Evil and the God of Love
Why is there evil in this world? Why do bad things happen to good people?
Victor Stenger, an atheist, states the atheist’s claim. Due to the presence of evil in the world an omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent God cannot exist.
“The argument from evil starts with the empirical fact that evil (bad stuff) exists in the world (a scientific statement) and shows that a god who is at the same time omnibenevolent, omnipotent, and omniscient—the 3 O god—cannot exist.” Victor Stenger from “God: The Failed Hypothesis”
But is Stenger’s statement broad enough to embrace all of reality? He is a materialist. His worldview is too limited. The Bible gives another answer.
Behold, the Lord GOD will come with might,
With His arm ruling for Him.
Behold, His reward is with Him and His recompense before Him. . . .
Who has measured the waters in the hollow of His hand,
And marked off the heavens by the span,
And calculated the dust of the earth by the measure,
And weighed the mountains in a balance
And the hills in a pair of scales? Isaiah 40: 10, 12 (NAS)
How little we know about God. Are we capable of judging His wisdom or might? When God creates, are we capable of understanding whether He used the best methods or material? No, we cannot.
However, the Bible does not gloss over the problem of evil. Evil is real and present problem. The Bible examines the problem by asking questions. Why do evil men prosper? Why are good people caught in their schemes? Does God really love me? Does He care? People have asked these questions for a long time. The answers continue to elude us. Why is there evil in the world?
God is responsible for answering these questions. He does answer them and will answer them. Are we able to understand His answers?
The Christian Paradox
Other religions have less of a problem explaining evil. Hinduism believes in an eternal, cosmic struggle between good and evil. Neither good nor evil is powerful enough to win the battle. Buddhism considers evil to be an illusion. Evil, for Buddhists, does not really exist. Islam accepts evil as part of Allah’s will.
So, what’s the problem? There is no problem until you believe in a God Who is omnipotent and good. Before Christ was born, the ancient Greek philosopher Epicurus (341-270 B.C.) stated the problem like this:
“Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent.
Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent.
Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?”
Judaism shows signs of this struggle. The Old Testament (part of the Bible) shows us a God Who is omnipotent and good. God watches over His people. God is patient and kind. He will prevail. In addition, Greek philosophers (for example, Plato and Aristotle) also developed the idea of God’s goodness and omnipotence.
Christians believe God is love. God demonstrates His for us love again and again. God loves people so much that He sent His Son into the world to die for us. God is omnipotent. He sent His Son to redeem us. Why can’t He do something about evil?
Of course, atheists have so much fun with this. They see evil as Christianity’s fatal flaw. But atheists judge God from their materialist world view. How can a materialist say anything intelligent about God? It’s like a fish writing a book about astronomy. Fish live under water. How can they know anything about stars? It’s the same for atheists. How can one speak intelligently about something when he doesn’t believe it exists?
But atheists are drawn to this topic like moths to a streetlight. For example, according to George Bernard Shaw:
. . . God’s already achieved perfection [makes] Him a devil as well as a god, because of the existence of evil. The god of love, if omnipotent and omniscient, must be the god of cancer and epilepsy as well. . . . Whoever admits that anything living is evil must either believe that God is malignantly capable of creating evil, or else believe that God has made many mistakes in His attempts to make a perfect being.
How can believers respond to this? Is God hopelessly impotent, maliciously incompetent, or malignantly evil? Of course, He is none of these things. But how can we answer atheists? How can we defend our belief? I pray that the tabs below will provide some answers to these questions.