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Part 11 God allowing evil isn’t an argument against His power or His love

If God was all-powerful and all-loving He would not allow evil

Here the atheist is using attributes of the Christian God to nullify His existence.  If evil exists, the Biblical God, who is all-powerful and all-loving cannot.  I will show you how this is false by retelling a discussion I had with a university professor.

During dinner, at a family member’s birthday party, I was discussing Biblical issues with my nephew and two nieces.  The oldest is an on-fire Christian who was attending Chico State at the time.  During dinner as we sat together at a separate table, I was giving them tips on how to share their faith and how to grow in knowledge.  They were listening attentively as I shared my expertise and experiences.

As we ate my nephew asked about an apparent contradiction in Matt. 27:5 where Judas hangs himself and throws the money away.  In Acts 1:18 it says Judas died tumbling down a cliff and he bought the field with the money.  After dinner I asked my brother in law for a Bible and we talked through the contradiction.  A party guest to my right, a college professor of sociology, overheard our conversation and said to another relative the Bible is full of contradictions.  It was loud enough so I could hear it, so I turned to him and asked show me a contradiction.  Instead of looking through the Bible he said, “If the Biblical God is all-good and all-powerful then the existence of evil contradicts the existence of God.”  This set off a conversation on spiritual topics for over an hour.  I was not only able to answer him but I was able to remain calm, as he ranted and raved against the Biblical God.  I did my best to be an ambassador for Christ in his eyes and model for my nephew and nieces how to share your faith.  This was a unique opportunity to share with an atheist and to equip three young Christians.

If the Biblical God is all-good and all-powerful does the existence of evil contradict the existence of the Biblical God?  Here are some highlights of the conversation.

  • Steve “Where is the contradiction of a good and all-powerful God allowing evil?”
  • Professor, “Because this God would not allow evil.”
  • Steve “How do you know that?”
  • Professor, “It is common sense.”
  • Steve “Are saying God couldn’t have a good reason for evil?”
  • Professor “Absolutely!”
  • Steve “How do you know that?  Do you know the mind of God?”
  • Professor “I don’t know God’s mind; no one can know the mind of God.”
  • Steve “Then why are you saying God doesn’t have a good reason for evil.  If you don’t know the mind of God then you cannot know He doesn’t have a good reason.”

In order to say there is no good reason for God to allow evil is to say you know the mind of God.  You are also judging the motives of God.  Let me share how God can accomplish good in the face of what appears to be evil with an illustration.  A bear is caught in a trap and a hunter wants to free him.  The bear doesn’t trust the hunter and growls at him.  The hunter then aims a rifle with a tranquilizer at the bear, further convincing the bear the hunter is out to kill him.  With the bear semi-conscious, the hunter pushes the bear’s foot deeper into the trap to release it but the bear again interprets it as harm.  Finally, through the efforts of the hunter the bear is free and runs off.  The bear was not capable of interpreting the hunter’s motives.  He ran off thinking the hunter was evil.  The same goes for our relationship with God.  We are not in position to see all the variables and the impact they have upon the future.  To judge an all-knowing and all-powerful God from such a limited position is ludicrous.

He asked me, why does God remain silent?  I told him I am in agreement with him that a God who has not revealed Himself is useless.  However, God has revealed himself through creation, the Bible, and His Son Jesus Christ.  He then asked me why I believe the truth of the Bible.  I went through 6 proofs I memorized using my fingers (Is God the Author of the Bible parts 4-8).  My oldest niece was writing them down as she took notes.  He seemed impressed with my evidence for trusting the Bible and was satisfied with my answer.

He then asked me what the source of evil is.  I said we are!   God gave us a free will.  Adam and Eve were in the garden and because of their disobedience to God, sin was passed down to everyone.  He felt God testing Adam and Eve was a silly story (I should have told him it doesn’t matter what you feel; only matters is it true).  I then told him how Jesus went to the cross and paid for our sins.

He said he used to argue with his Jewish brother and it had divided them; so he decided to no longer argue religion.  I said we are all betting on our beliefs and that when we die we will see if we made the right decision.  Everybody plays because everybody dies; that’s why it is important to discuss spiritual issues.  Everything I’ve told you I believe but some of these topics are difficult issues and it is possible I could be wrong.  He was stunned by that statement.  He said it was refreshing to hear me say I could be wrong because the truth is I could be right.

I finished by saying man is the source of evil and not God.  God can and does accomplish good out of the evil of this world.  Even though some so-called Christians have done horrible things it doesn’t mean Christianity is false.

As we finished our conversation he had calmed down and gained control of his emotions.  He found himself enjoying our talk and we parted amiably.  I believe he left rethinking some of his positions.  The existence of God and evil are not contradictory.

To conclude this series I want to return to my opening story about Sophie in part 2.  What could a Christian say to someone whose child was murdered by the ruthless Nazis?  The first thing that comes to my mind is what could an atheist say?  An atheist would say to Sophie, “I am sorry for your loss but it’s just tough luck; better luck next time.”  For the atheist there is no hope, no possibility of good news.  In the end all life ends in nothingness and the atheist can offer no true comfort.

However, it is different for the Christian.  We have our hope centered on Jesus Christ and what He did on the cross.  I would tell Sophie that her little girl is in heaven waiting for her.  The only hope she has in this life is in Jesus Christ and Him alone.  Even if we don’t always know why bad things happen, we do know God loves us and wants us to come to a saving relationship with Him.  Sophie, turn to Jesus for the forgiveness of your sins.

God has a plan to use the ugliness of evil and suffering to accomplish good.  He does this through His Son Jesus Christ.  Turn to Him and turn away from your sin; He will forgive you and give you eternal life.  This is the good news of the Gospel.

Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

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{ 6 comments… add one }
  • Tom Wright July 18, 2011, 9:08 pm

    Hi, Steve;
    The following caught my eye:
    “Everybody plays because everybody dies; that’s why it is important to discuss spiritual issues.”
    How can you assume an atheist considers the afterlife if he/she is an unbeliever?

    “An atheist would say to Sophie, “I am sorry for your loss but it’s just tough luck; better luck next time.” For the atheist there is no hope, no possibility of good news. In the end all life ends in nothingness and the atheist can offer no true comfort.”

    There you go again! So an atheist cannot have compassion? Why does offering true comfort have to include an afterlife? Sophie could have been an atheist.

  • Steve July 19, 2011, 11:11 am

    Tom,
    I am not assuming you believe in the afterlife. What I am proposing is, we all have views and we need to reason to the best explanation. If you are right when we die we all go out of existence. If I am right, then anyone who has not accepted God’s free gift of grace, upon death will suffer punishment. That is why I said discussions about spiritual issues are so important. You are currently betting there is no afterlife. That is fine but you better make sure you are not wrong.

    If someone is going to die, what hope can you offer? If a loved one is dead, what hope can you offer to the person who is still alive? This doesn’t mean you cannot have compassion, I never said that. But you cannot offer hope after death. Jesus offers that hope. Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life.” What we earn from sin is separation from God for all eternity. However, the free gift of God is life everlasting; this is good news. If Jesus is who he said he was, then he can offer real hope to Sophie. She can receive this gift of eternal life and be with her daughter in heaven.

    The atheist can show compassion to Sophie but when she asks where her daughter is, all you can say is she went out of existence; she is in the ground never to be seen again. There is no hope in that message.

    The words of Jesus: John 14:1-6 (NASB) “Let not your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. [2] “In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. [3] “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. [4] “And you know the way where I am going.” [5] Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way?” [6] Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me.”

    Jesus says only through me can you find true comfort. Only through Jesus can anyone’s sins be forgiven. Comfort for Sophie is only possible if she submitted her will to Jesus. I am not saying she needs to submit her will to a religion or a church but to Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins. Religion saves no one; only Jesus can prepare a place in heaven for his forgiven followers.

  • Tom Wright August 8, 2011, 8:32 pm

    Steve;
    Interesting discussion.
    You say:
    “Everybody plays because everybody dies; that’s why it is important to discuss spiritual issues.”

    But everybody doesn’t play which includes atheists and members of other religions (who won’t be in a Christian heaven…right?) So it’s the fear of eternal damnation that drives this and other ” fear of God ” controls of religion……”you better make sure you are not wrong”. If I am wrong, will I burn in hell with all the Buddhists and Jews? Not bad company.

    You say: “This doesn’t mean you cannot have compassion, I never said that”. What you said was: “An atheist would say to Sophie, “I am sorry for your loss but it’s just tough luck; better luck next time.” This is compassion?

    You say: “Comfort for Sophie is only possible if she submitted her will to Jesus.”
    Why does offering true comfort have to include submitting her will to Jesus and promise of an afterlife? Sophie could have been an atheist.

    I don’t think you answered this one…..

    Tom

  • Steve August 13, 2011, 5:36 am

    Tom,
    I said “Everybody plays because everybody dies; that’s why it is important to discuss spiritual issues.” You replied “But everybody doesn’t play which includes atheists and members of other religions (who won’t be in a Christian heaven…right?).” I think you misunderstood what I meant. You play because you die; everybody is going to die; everybody is going to place their bet on what happens after death. Are you going to die? If yes, then you are placing your bet on what happens after death. Everybody plays whether you like it or not.

    Will you be in hell? According to Christianity, everyone has broken God’s laws and a just and Holy God has to punish all law breakers. That punishment is separation from God for all eternity (hell). As I stated previously, the problem is sin, the solution is belief in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. I am placing my bet on this solution. You are placing your bet on atheism. According to your belief, when we die and we go out of existence. End of story!

    I can offer comfort to anyone who needs it and it doesn’t matter if they are Buddhist, atheist, Hindu, or any other belief system. The comfort I give is talked about in Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” I can tell anyone about the forgiveness available through Jesus Christ. If they accept the free gift, God will dramatically change their life through the power of the Holy Spirit and when they die they will be in heaven. Anyone can avail themselves of the free gift of God, which is eternal life in heaven. I can only offer the comfort; I cannot force anyone to receive the free gift. At least I can make the offer to Sophie. If she says to me, “I don’t believe in the forgiveness Jesus offers,” then she is rejecting the comfort I am offering.

    Tom what can you say to Sophie about her dead daughter? What comfort do you have for her?

    Steve

  • Britton August 21, 2016, 6:16 am

    Hi Steve,

    I will lead out by saying I grew up with atheistic values, then moved into paganism, and have recently been studying monotheistic religions, namely Christianity and Islam.

    It has been a struggle for me but I can say I do believe in God and I believe God is good. I have a couple questions. One is a hypothetical (and potential reality) situation and one is about the Bible. And I am not very learned on the Bible so I think I am seeking clarification.

    So the hypothetical situation deals with the apocalypse. If and when this event does happen, what happens to the souls of the children who weren’t able to learn about the biblical God. Are they damned for eternity or are they eternally saved because they have not eaten from the tree of knowledge of good and evil? Also, what happened to all the souls that existed before Jesus Christ appeared on the earth? It seems hardly fair that they were all eternally damned because God hadn’t showed up in human form yet.

    My next question is about the Bible, and I could be wrong in my interpretation here so please bear with me. Doesn’t the bible say that only 144,000 souls will make it into heaven? 12,000 from each of the tribes of Israel or something like that? So going back to the apocalypse scenario, what happens to the souls who were not able to develop an identity in Christ? My focus is on children here.

    So as I said, I believe in God and I believe God is good but I really struggle logically with some of the teachings of the Bible. Is it not good enough that I turn my mind towards peace, humility and compassion and try to live as a humble servant but do not live as a righteous Christian? I have Christian friends who seem to walk the path of God and others who don’t, I have atheistic friends who are compassionate and others who are cold. I think for me, the focus needs to be on genuine Love, rather than religious dogma. I know you can only offer me your opinions as a human being but every bit helps.

    God bless and Namaste,
    Britton

  • Steve Bruecker August 21, 2016, 11:02 am

    Britton,
    Your questions were so great, I thought I’d conduct our conversation via email. This makes it private and gives you the freedom to continue to ask questions directly to me.

    Steve

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