‘Why would a good God allow evil to exist’
As a Christian I often hear this question asked by atheist or detractors of Christianity. As if it demonstrates that either there is no God or our God is evil to allow such evil take place in the world as we see regularly. Understandably the question may even throw many Christians off and cause them to wonder ‘why’. Why would the loving God that we worship and profess allow such evil. In fact if God is the creator of all doesn’t that mean that He even created evil. After all you can’t just take credit for the good right?
While I can’t claim to have the perfect answer for this question I can confidently say I’m not burdened by this argument and if you’ll read a little longer I’ll share a few reasons why.
First off I don’t believe evil is created, but rather enacted, performed if you will. So really the question falls here in my opinion, however we are left with why would God allow it to happen, and why would he create creatures that perform evil acts. This is where we have to look deeper. Before we move into a discussion of free will lets discuss evil.
For the atheist and the like let’s ponder the question of what is evil? As a Christian I have a standard that defines what is good and evil. God has clearly laid it out in Biblical text and placed it in our hearts. Therefore I can collectively agree with the Word of God as to what evil is, however I would argue that atheist have no such ability. For what is an atheist standard of good and evil based on? Some would say law, some would say cultural norms, some would say their opinion or any other reason one could concoct. The problem is however that there is no true standard to go by and therefore there is no true evil.
Let’s tackle a few potentially evil acts. We’ll start with what would seem to be an easy and obvious one. Most people in general would agree that murdering a baby is evil. That has not always been the case though. In fact there have been numerous cultures that have sacrificed infants throughout time. It was neither illegal or considered evil, but rather a sacred act by the culture at the time. So by the atheist rule of the day it was acceptable (other than a few potential dissidents who felt differently) and therefore good. Nonetheless by God’s standard it has always been evil because His law does not change. Thou shalt not murder (a very specific act in the Hebrew language,,,,,not simply kill as often stated).
Now let’s look at something a little more disputable. Lying. God’s word is clear that lying is unacceptable and therefore evil. Most would agree that lying is wrong, however most practice it at one point or many. In fact there are probably few to none that have never told a lie. We as a society have even decided to slice this evil act into good and bad by creating the term ‘white lie’. I mean it’s ok to tell a little white lie to spare someones feelings, right? By God’s definition……NO. Society feels differently though and generally accepts this practice. Even many Christians (wrongly so). Once again we see the problem with defining evil without a set standard. Even a topic as simple as lying gets convoluted and impossible to define as evil or good. Without a God there is no defined standard. The simple fact is that without a God there is no evil or good, but only an individuals opinion on the matter and since none of us are gods then no one’s opinion holds any more authority than the other. At this point what does any of it matter and who are we to condemn or praise action. It really does boil down to a chaotic society. When we have a flexible standard we will surely begin to flex our morals to our benefit, often at the suffering of others.
At this point the opening question has no weight and should no longer be asked by an atheist as there is no evil.
There are some that do believe in a God and just refuse to follow Him and would make the argument above typically followed by I don’t want to worship a God like that. This is the most ridiculous statement I can think of. Even as an atheist ( I was until age 32) I confessed this as a stupid position. Think about it. You’re saying that even if an all knowing, all seeing, all powerful God exist you’re going to rail against Him and accept your fate to an eternity in burning misery. Talk about the supreme cut off your nose to spite you face act. Honestly I think there are very few people that actually believe in God and hold this position. Instead it is typically uttered by a non believer in an angry tone to belittle a God they confess not to believe in. It’s funny that such a fairy tale can infuriate so many. I’ve never seen this scorn poured out a child over the Easter Bunny, but there is just something about a God that holds your fate in His hands that gets to people. It scares them and they leash out. Of course there probably are some that do believe and have become jaded and make such statements. I imagine these individuals to be childlike with their emotional control. Ultimately letting their emotions supersede their logic. It’s kind of like a toddler screaming I HATE YOU at his parents because they took a toy away.
Back to the ‘Why’. Why would God allow such evil to take place? Why would He create people capable of such evil? This is where the answer becomes much more subjective, but I’ll share my opinion on the matter for those that care to read further. First I would state that I believe each of us are capable of any amount of evil. I believe this is clearly demonstrated throughout history, and with a small amount of introspection and honesty I think most will agree. Let’s take a quick look at history. How do you think Hitler was able to practically have an entire Nation support his genocide effort? How do you think so many countries have considered slavery acceptable? How about those cultures that sacrificed babies? How about an entire culture that considers pedophilia acceptable (Islam). The bottom line is evil does exist and if the environment is right most of us will partake in activities and events that we would think heinous otherwise.
There is a flip side to that as well. I believe each of us are also capable of good and redemption. Hero’s are often found in the most unlikely of characters. An average Joe rushes into a burning building risking his own life to save someone else. A Soldier gives their life for a cause they believe in. You get the idea. The point I’m getting act is that whether evil or good our actions are our own. We have a choice to follow good and we have a choice to follow evil. Most of us kind of hang around the middle-right, being more good than evil. Nonetheless even Mother Theresa fell short of God’s standard and therefore required redemption. It is by the grace of our loving God it is available to us.
The Christian God being the only true and perfect God created a plan that allows our forgiveness to be granted without sacrificing His just rule. You see a perfect God must also remain a just God and therefore cannot simply ignore and forgive your sin, however God thought this through. All things were created through Jesus and therefore all things can be atoned by His innocent blood. Christ willingly accepted his death on the cross though he had done no wrong and as a result His blood was spilled so that you may live by his side. Think of it as a ticket that was bought in advance. All you have to do is believe and confess acceptance of the Savior and the ticket is yours. From there you can begin working out the kinks and start your walk to an everlasting life.
PS. One last touch on the allowing evil to exist. For me this has always been pretty simple. I compare it to parenting. If you accept that God and eternity are a reality then you must also accept that this tiny fraction of a time on Earth are truly small in the big scheme of things. Rather than spend eternity with a-lot of fearful drones He has allowed us the freewill to determine our destiny. He has given us a path to follow and even granted us forgiveness in advance. Unfortunately in this model there will be horrendous acts that occur, however if you stay true they will be meaningless in the big scheme of things. Much as I let my children fail and suffer consequences looking to a long term outcome God does so with His children.