Summary: There is a subject that comes up many times whenever we talk to the lost about the God of the Bible and His nature. It has led many people to reject God and has challenged Christians in their faith. The topic: the problem of evil. How would you answer it?
There is a subject that comes up many times whenever we talk to the lost about the God of the Bible and His nature. It has led many people to reject God and has challenged Christians in their faith. The topic: the problem of evil. The problem of evil has represented the most serious objection to the Christian faith. Some very brilliant philosophers have thought that this problem conclusively refutes belief in the Christian God. Just consider this for a moment: think of some terrible tragedy that seems to have no positive value whatsoever: the genocides of Hitler and Stalin; a child suffering terrible pain as he or she slowly dies of cancer; an African baby dying of starvation; a little child being molested, etc. We can keep coming up with terrible things that men and women do that are evil. This has caused so many unbelievers to ask, “How could a good God allow this?”
This is a common argument, and it is an old argument. The earliest record I know of the problem of evil being described is from a philosopher in about 300BC named Epicurus. That sound may sound familiar to you. When Paul was in Athens he had some dialogue with men who were Epicurean philosophers. Epicurus said this:
“Either God wants to abolish evil, and cannot; or he can, but does not want to. If he wants to, but cannot, he is impotent. If he can, but does not want to, he is wicked. If God can abolish evil, and God really wants to do it, why is there evil in the world?”
What Epicurus, philosophers, and unbelievers are trying to say when they give this argument is that we as Christians cannot logically accept these three premises: God is all-powerful, God is all-good, and nevertheless evil exists in the world. If God is all powerful, he should want to get rid of evil. He must be able to prevent it and rid the world of it.
We need to be ready to answer this argument against God. If we are sharing the gospel with people as we should, this topic will come up. So how do we deal with it? I would like to begin by making three assertions:
1.God is Good
2.God is Powerful
These three statements are true. God reveals Himself as being good and holy. He reveals Himself as being powerful. And scripture makes it clear (as we see on a daily basis), there is evil in the world. The unbeliever says that the third assertion is mutually exclusive from the first two; they all cannot be the case at the same time. But I disagree. The presence of evil does not in some way make God impotent or evil, and the presence of evil in no way contradicts God’s nature. God is Holy. He does no moral evil. God is light, and in Him there is not even a hint of darkness (1 John 1:5).
What we see in this argument and many others is that unbelievers make is that they build a straw man argument, misrepresenting the Christian worldview. They say that God is evil when, if they wanted to represent God correctly, they would do as we do: We begin with a presupposition about what the Bible teaches; that God is holy and good, and then we try to fit the presence of evil into the picture in such a way that His holiness is not violated. But, of course, most unbelievers really have no desire to do this. They are just grasping for reasons to take God off the throne so they can sit on it themselves.
The problem of evil, and unbelievers accusing God of evil, I believe, can be answered in many ways. I would like to look at three briefly in this article. And let me preface these three points by saying this: I am dealing with the objections of unbelievers here. The purpose of this article is not to deal with the question of why God allows Christians to suffer.
If I were confronted with this argument against God, I would respond with one of three questions, if not all three during the dialogue:
1. Who are you to argue against God?
2. By what standard do you make such a judgment?
3. If God were to rid the world of evil, what would happen to you?
WHO ARE YOU?
At times, I am not compelled to respond to an objection directly depending on who it is offering it and their motives for doing so. Most people who offer this argument about God and evil usually don’t want one anyway. Because of this, I attack what the issues really are, first being their autonomy, pride, and arrogance for trying to use God as an excuse for their rebellion.