The Seed Blog: God and Evil
Well-meaning people, even Christians don't know how to make sense of some of the seemingly senseless and horrible things in this world. Things make some people honestly ask "How could there be a God in charge of this world when there is so much evil and chaos?" Or, even if they know in their heart God is real, some are asking "God, if you are All-powerful, and you really are good and loving, how could you watch this go on and do nothing?" The simple, overused answer given by many Christians, "Well, God didn't make the world that way—man did” just doesn’t cut it, because in the end, God in His Omniscience, still had to know what would happen, in His Omnipotence, could still do something about it, and therefore, is still ultimately responsible. All answers for why there is evil in the world, eventually come back to God in the end—so why?
Is evil, proof there is no God? I would really like for us to look at things from two perspectives 1) from a theological perspective (Not stop there. Some that ask just need love and support) 2) from a very real and practical perspective. Theologically, so many people have used this, "profound" argument that God could not exist because of the existence of evil. But just how sound is this reasoning? If you have ever felt this way, let me ask you a question: So many atheists like to remind us that if there is no God, there are no moral absolutes in the world; if there are no moral absolutes for right and wrong, why do you even feel evil has been done? What are you comparing the evil to, that makes it seem evil? Actually, you are assuming there is a good and moral law that has been broken. There would be no such thing, unless there was a Moral Law Giver; and yet, every person that argues God can't exist because of evil, does so out of an absolute certainty that a moral code has been broken by Him; that moral code would not even exist unless God was real. Therefore, in actuality, evil is a totally convincing argument that God does exist, rather than an argument against Him.
When you say there's too much evil in this world you assume there's good. When you assume there's good, you assume there's such a thing as a moral law on the basis of which to differentiate between good and evil. But if you assume a moral law, you must posit a moral Law Giver, but that's Who you're trying to disprove and not prove. Because if there's no moral Law Giver, there's no moral law. If there's no moral law, there's no good. If there's no good, there's no evil. What is your question?" —Ravi Zacharias
C. S. Lewis literally turned from atheism because of this very question. In his own words, here is part of his reasoning:
"If a good God made the world why has it gone wrong? And for many years I simply refused to listen to the Christian answers to this question... My argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust. But how had I gotten this idea of just and unjust? 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?.. Consequently, atheism turns out to be too simple." —C. S. Lewis
What seems to be the strongest argument against God on a shallow level, actually is a very powerful proof of His existence when you think it through.
So, if we establish this fact, and we see that evil is actually a proof of God's existence—Why doesn't God just stop evil from happening? Why doesn't He protect the innocent from pain? Why doesn't He just take away the evil people? Let's say God did decide to just stop evil everywhere it happens, where does He stop? To a righteous God, aren't our thoughts of lust, unforgiveness, hatred, and obsession with self just as evil? Do they not lead to the same destruction eventually? If God decided to stop all evil before it hurt anyone; if He decided to strike down every person who committed evil, He could start with you because He would not be truly just, unless He included you. He decided to stop all the evil in the world one other time—it was called the Great Flood. Do you not understand that we are all filled with evil? We are a fallen race that continually chooses self, at the expense of hurting others. Some of the worst evils we blame and hate God for in our lives, are brought on by our own choices to sin, and yet we hold Him accountable, and have the audacity to ask Him, "Why?!"
Why does God even give us the freedom to think about, and commit evil in the first place? Why did He allow us to even bring evil into the world, knowing it would cause such pain and destruction? You cannot ever have real love, without the natural and inseparable combination of freedom of will. Freedom without choice, is a logical contradiction (meaning you cannot have freedom, and have no choice, at the same time). Where there is no real choice, there is no real love, only control, manipulation, and forced obedience; the greatest evil of all, is to take away the ability to choose or reject real love. It is the only thing that is so wonderful and desired, that it trumps any pain and trouble caused by the abuse of the freedom, even to God Himself. Nothing of great worth is valued, unless there is a chance for great loss; there is no great joy, without the possibility of great pain and suffering. With the real choice to love and serve another, comes the intrinsic ability to hurt and take from another. God knew the pain and trouble we would cause with our real freedom to choose love or hate; He saw the outcome, and He hated it. Do you think that the terrible things happening in this world could possibly hurt us more than Him? It tore His heart out to see us suffering in this mess we've created with our choice, so, He created a way to save us from this evil, even before the first sin was committed; but, He loves us so much more than we can understand; that He was not satisfied with just saving us from our own destruction; He had to actually come to us, become one with us, and share in the very worst of it all. Jesus loved us so much that HE just had to share in our pains; feel everything that we have felt, so that He could show His love, so He could care for us in all the pain of our evil, and He caught our disease. It killed Him horribly. In His passion for us, despair over our pain, and hatred of evil that caused it all, He has allowed Himself to suffer more than any of us. In the pain that freedom to choose real love has caused, Jesus has paid a higher price than anyone—physically, spiritually, emotionally, and mentally—He could not leave us to suffer alone, so He voluntarily joined us in the worst.
Why doesn't God just stop evil? The entire Bible was written to reveal His plan in doing just that; it is called, "Redemption" (Meaning liberation, rescue, deliverance, release); but in His wisdom He had to do it His way, and in His time. God was not just a Victim of circumstance, in having to deal with the evil our poor choices have caused. This evil, though hated by God, has a purpose to serve, or God would not have allowed it. To answer that question, “What purpose could evil possibly serve?", you must first ask another question, “What is the real purpose of life?" Is it just to be happy until you die? Is it to get as much stuff as you can until you die? Is it to have the most fun until you die? Is it to be the healthiest and wealthiest until you die? Why are you here? John 17:3. If we live for ourselves, we will never understand the existence of evil. If we live to know Christ, it will be clearer. After our fall into pride and our selfish state of mind, what would happen if there were never any bad circumstances? If we were protected, no matter what we did? If we never had to suffer through anything that required patience, strength, selflessness, humility? If everything we needed and wanted was always there, and we lacked for nothing? If we didn't have to struggle for anything? If we never had anything to lose, or risk? You tell me—from the bottom of your heart—what would we be?: What are children who get everything they want, with no consequences? Brats! James 1:2-4, Romans 5:3-5, 1 Peter 5:10-11, James 1:12, 2 Corinthians 12:9-10, 1 Peter 1:6-7. Character and strength have never formed without struggle, risk, sacrifice, and even loss and suffering. Our weakness & desperation has caused many of us to leave our own sin and self-focus, in search of the One who can save us. The evil that we sometimes face, reminds us of our own faults; the pain others cause, sometimes reminds us of the pain we have brought in our own sins, but even here, when we can see some of God's purpose in allowing the very evil He hates, God gives a very clear answer, when we directly question, "why me" in times it seems He allows evil—especially, if it involves believers. In John 21, when Jesus informs Peter of the evil that will fall on him in his old age (as he is taken prisoner and executed for his faith), Peter asked Jesus, "So, what about John? What will happen to him?" Jesus basically answered, "Whatever I do in someone else's life is My business, what is that to you? Don't fret over their lives, you worry about you!" Job 13:3, Job 23:3-4, Job 24:1: Job complains extensively to God about why the innocent have suffered evil, and the evil people have seen good days, but, surprisingly, God doesn't give the justifying answer that we, as Christians would like to hear: Job 38:1-4, 21, Job 40:1-2. God gives the same answer that Peter received from Jesus—none. God powerfully argues that we, in our very limited knowledge, have absolutely no way of understanding how He is working, and that we should stop accusing Him in our ignorance. In humility, Job finally realizes this, and answers God accordingly: Job 40:3-5, Job 42:3-6. God loves and blesses Job abundantly after this. But God does have to correct Job in his accusations. When we question God’s actions, when we question why God has allowed things to occur as they have in our lives, it is understood and even appreciated by Christ, who has been there as well. He is hurting with you—but when we accuse God in bitterness and unbelief, when we hold Him accountable, and question His very Character, we have now crossed the line, in our own self-righteousness. We are saying to our Jesus who loves us so much, who hates evil so much, that He has given His life for us: "I don't trust Your wisdom, I don't trust Your motives, I don't trust Your heart! I want, what I want!" For reasons we may or may not understand on this earth, He has chosen a path that is exactly what we need—stop living in the world he decided was not best for you right now—for a reason, and in faith, start living where he has truly placed you now.
God had to give us the capacity for evil, to have the capacity for real love; He had to give us a true choice, even if abused. He has used evil to bring ultimate good in some ways we will never see until we are with Him in Heaven (Because, He is outside of time). He has used evil to grow our character, patience and faith; He has suffered with us through the evil that He had to allow, in order to share in our pain; He has paid the ultimate price to remove this evil, without having to remove us—even though we are part of the evil. We can question Him; cry out to Him; complain to Him—but never attack His heart or character! When we do, we show that we still have some evil in our own lives to deal with. What have you put God on trial over, in your heart? God hurts with you, but it may not ever be for you to know why, this side of Heaven, but if you know He is God, and you know He is good, there comes a time when you will trust Him, love Him, follow Him, in complete surrender. To know Him is more important than to know why.
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