The Problem of Evil

There are many issues that must dealt with within any worldview.  Perhaps chief among them for Christianity is that of the problem of evil.  If God does indeed exist and He is the loving and powerful God the Bible says him to be, why is there evil in the world?  If is he is loving he would not want it and if he were powerful he could prevent it.  As has already been shown, New Atheists claim that religion actually fosters evil instead of restraining it.  How does a Christian worldview account for evil?

We first have to determine if there is indeed a problem in the first place.  It is assumed that a loving God would not want evil into his world because evil is a negative forces that harms those who God loves.  It also assumed that a powerful God would work to prevent such evil from taking place.  Therefore, God cannot be both loving and powerful if there is evil in the world.  Since we all agree evil exists, then there must not be a God.

Yet, there are fallacies in this line of thinking.  First, this assumes that evil serves only a negative purpose.  In other words, if God had a beneficial reason to allow sin into the world, it would not contradict the fact that he is loving.  Therefore, a loving God would allow evil to enter into his creation if that evil served a good purpose.  Can evil ever be used for good?  In the book of Genesis, Joseph said just that.  Joseph was sold by his brother into slavery out of jealousy of their father’s affection.  Through a series of events orchestrated by a powerful God, Joseph finds himself in Egypt with a position second under Pharaoh.  God used him to save the lives of many from starvation.  When confronting his brothers years later, Joseph states, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.” (Genesis 50:20)  Here we have God allowing evil to take place for a beneficial purpose.  So, the God of the Bible is not presented as a contradictory God who loves but inflects evil upon his people.  Instead he is seen as a God who allows for evil because it can be beneficial and therefore loving to his people.

Second, the factor of free will must be taken into account.  Throughout the Bible God gives commands to his people.  Would God give a command that could not be broken?  The existence of a command suggests that there is an alternative that is displeasing to God and harmful to his creation.  If the alternative did not exist the command would not need to be given.  So, because a command is given the alternative must be a real choice that men are free to choose.  Then the question must be posed, would a loving God force Himself upon a people who had no other choice.  This would not appear to be loving at all.  Therefore, the opposite choice must be in existence.  If God is perfect, than that which is opposed to his will is imperfect or evil.  Evil, then, exists as the alternative to a forceful God.

As finite beings, grappling with the problem of evil is a difficult and challenging quest.  From a Biblical perspective evil exists because a loving, powerful God allowed it to exist.  This loving, powerful God allowed to exist for a beneficial reason that at times is not readily perceived by mortal man.  The atheistic alternative is an evil that serves no purpose and can only serve to cause harm.  Yet, the more challenging question the atheist must grapple with is how to establish just what evil is and how to deal with it.  Once again two worldviews stand in sharp contrast with each other.  One offers reason and hope while other can only struggle with the meaningless of random events.

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