When you watch the news, it seems as if this world is always falling apart. That narrative is constantly in the faces of Americans. Public police killings of African Americans. Riots and disorder. Then there was the murder of well over a dozen police officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge. Across the globe, and more recently, you have the terror attacks in France killing scores of people. ISIS’s reign of terror extending across the world. More recently, a French priest was beheaded during mass service by Islamic terrorists.
The question you’ve may have asked (that I have certainly asked) is “Where is God?”
I am also sure that you have expressed similar doubts. This is one of the greatest problems facing Christianity today. What do we do with the existence of evil and suffering? It’s existence arises this question. If God is the source of moral goodness, then why would a all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-loving God allow evil and suffering in the world today? This is a difficult topic to grapple with. I cannot tell you how many times I have talked to individuals who expressed their frustrations. They will say something along the lines of, “I can’t believe in a god who would or allow people to be abused.” It’s led a lot of people to conclude that the reason why evil exist is because there is no God.
However, the conclusion, evil disproves the existence of God, does not solve the issue of the problem of evil. I would argue that God cannot destroy without eliminating free-will. I would also argue that evil, ironically enough, ultimately points to the existence of a all-loving and perfect God. Moreover, God offers a solution as to how he’s going to deal with evil.
At face value, the existence of evil and an all-loving deity are not logically incompatible. God endows his creation with free-will. Humans are free and moral agents created by God and they must have free-will to freely come to known God and to love Him. If God would intercede and eliminate all evil and impose His will upon his creation, then free-will would be destroyed. Instead, God has to work through our own free-will. Alvin Plantiga explains:
The heart of the Free Will Defense is the claim that it is possible that God could not have created a universe containing moral good…without creating one that also contained moral evil. And if so, then it is possible that God has good reason for creating a world containing evil.
If there is even the slightest possibility of God having good moral reasons for allowing evil to exist, then it follows that God and evil are not logically inconsistent.
Moreover, I would argue that evil proves the existence of God. When stating that evil exists in the world, one is actually comparing it to a moral standard. As C.S. Lewis writes:
A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line. What was I comparing this universe with when I called it unjust?… Of course I could have given up my idea of justice by saying it was nothing but a private idea of my own. But if I did that, then my argument against God collapsed too—for the argument depended on saying the world was really unjust, not simply that it did not happen to please my fancies.
C.S. Lewis’s reference is human understanding of objective moral values and duties. It is apparent that proponents of the problem of evil understand what is morally wrong or what is morally good. My question would be if there is no God, what gives you the right to impose onto people what is morally right or wrong? If God doesn’t exist, then there is no such thing as good or evil and therefore, how can we tell someone what they’re doing is morally wrong? Michael Ruse was brutally honest as to the consequences of morality in a secular paradigm where he said “the man who says that it is morally acceptable to rape little children is just as mistaken as the man who says, 2+2=5.”
Any sane individual reading Ruse’s remark about morality knows that’s patently false; Even to the most dedicated of atheists. I remember reading an article a while back about a woman totally dedicated to the idea of morality is relative. She was an anthropologist working in Africa. While over there, she witnessed the women in that culture were being subjected to female genital mutilation and sexual slavery. She wrote about her dedication to the idea that all truth claims are a power trip and no one should be able to impose their truth claims onto other people. But she shockingly wrote “what I am witnessing in Africa is evil.” When she went to the government to see how she could help the women, the government refused. They simply replied, “you are just imposing your western individualistic views onto us. You see it as sexual slavery. That’s not the way we see it.”
The problem of evil ultimately presupposes right and wrong and the premise that “God does not exist,” ultimately fails. This because when we start to realize the premise, there is no God, ultimately leads us to a conclusion that what is happening to those women in African isn’t wrong. If the premise is leading us to a conclusion we know is not true, then you have to change your premise. The argument of the existence of evil disproves the existence of God is a hopeless proposition.
If you want to know how God feels about human evil and injustice, look to the cross. Yes, we don’t know the reason God allows evil and suffering to continue, but we know what the reason isn’t, what it can’t be. It can’t be that he doesn’t love us! It can’t be that he doesn’t care. How can we know for sure? It’s through the cross we see the heart of God laid bare. God so loved us and hates suffering that he was willing to come down and get involved in it. Jesus Christ paradoxically hated evil and loved us. But he couldn’t destroy evil without destroying us. Why? Because we are sinners. We have fallen short and imperfection cannot be in the presence of perfection. Jesus hated death but loved us so much that he would rather die than destroy us. The hero died for the villain. Who’s heard a story like that before?
You say you can’t believe in a god that would allow people to abuse others? Christianity is the only religion that says our God came to be abused for us. God knows what it’s like to lose a love one because of evil men. Because of the resurrection and judgement day, we can confidently trust God that he is going to make the world right again. We can rest knowing that in the end, God is going to make everything right.