The problem of evil existing in a world created by a perfect God is a challenge for many people. Is it possible to find answers while still maintaining faith?
Once and for all, 21st century science has established that the cosmos is not eternal. Indeed, our finely-tuned universe (space, time, matter, energy, natural law, etc.) had a beginning!
Many scholars have tried to identify a mechanism by which the cosmos could have made itself, but the only feasible option to explain the origin of the cosmos appears to be a transcendent Creator. It is here that the unbeliever, confronted with the evidence against random chaos theory, attacks the notion of “Special Creation” on philosophical grounds. One of the primary questions that is always posed is, “If God is real, and God created everything, why did he create evil?”
For many people, the so-called “Problem of Evil” has become a daunting barrier to God.
“Why did a personal, loving God create a world in which evil exists?”
“Why did God give man freedom to commit evil acts?”
The response to these questions isn’t simple, but it can be summed up in one word, “Love”. Throughout the ancient scriptures we learn that God’s nature is Love. We also learn that his desire for mankind is Love.
“Surely, an all-knowing God of Love would not allow evil to exist in His world.”
Well, let’s look at the logic: How could God allow for love without the potential for evil? God could have created organic robots programmed to forever say, “I love you,” but such creatures would be incapable of a real love relationship. Love is a choice, and the scriptures say God desires a real love relationship with His creation. Love is not real unless we have the ability to not love. If God is all-knowing, He knew that in a world that involved choice, there would be much evil. However, there would also be the capacity for real love.
Philosopher Alvin Planting writes:
“An all loving, all powerful, all knowing Being could permit as much evil as He pleased without forfeiting His claim to being all loving, so long as for every evil state of affairs He permits there is an accompanying greater good.”
The scriptures tell us that the potential for love outweighs the existence of evil, especially if evil can only exist for a time. Evil is a side effect of love. Suffering and death are side effects of evil. The scriptures explain that these side effects are only for a time. Evil serves the limited purpose of establishing real love relationships between creation and the Creator, and evil will be done away with after that purpose is achieved.
Yes, the “Problem of Evil” has kept many people from God. The recurring philosophical question remains:
“How can an all-loving and all-powerful God allow pain, suffering and evil in the world?”
Maybe it’s a simple change of perspective. Rather than treating the existence of pain, suffering and evil as theoretical stumbling blocks that keep us from God, maybe we should view pain, suffering and evil as profound and temporary mysteries that drive us closer to God.
For now, the “Problem of Evil” permeates all things, but we wait for a time when True Love conquers all:
“For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever” (I John 2:16-17).
Sources: Randall Niles, www.AllAboutGOD.com, www.GotQuestions.org, and www.AllAboutTheJourney.org.