I examined Atheism and Pantheism (part 3 & part 4) concerning the problem of evil, so it is appropriate for Christianity to take the stand. I will show the Bible contains the answers hurting people are looking for. Where Atheism and Pantheism fail, Christianity gives us real answers to a real problem. My first point has to do with the source of evil.
God did not create evil and suffering
Evil can be defined as the absence of good. If there is no good there is no evil. According to Christianity evil exists, it is real, but it is does not exist apart from good. It is not some thing you find on the ground and have to step over it. Since it has no existence on its own, when God created the universe and everything in it, He did not create evil. So if God didn’t create evil, where did evil come from? Why didn’t God create a world without evil or suffering?
The answer is He did. We read in Genesis 1:31 God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. Evil and suffering were never part of God’s original design. Evil is the result of people abusing their free will. God decided to give men and women free will because this is the only way we can enjoy the highest value in the universe, which is love. Jesus said the first and greatest commandment is to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and the second is like the first, love your neighbor as yourself.” Without free will we could never choose to love, because in order to love we must have the choice not to love.
God forcing us to love, instead of our free choice, would be like those dolls with the string in the back of the neck. Each time you pull the string the doll says, “I love you.” This is programmed love. True love can only occur when a true choice not to love is involved.
Right from the beginning people chose to abuse free will and reject God. What God created was good and our bad choices are what we would call evil.
There are two kinds of evil, moral evil and natural evil. Moral evil is rooted in the actions of humans. We act in evil ways when we are selfish, abusive, when we hurt others, and so on. Moral evil can be demonstrated in the actions of the terrorists who destroyed the World Trade Center murdering thousands.
Reflecting on the all the world’s moral evil, the Rock Group the Moody Blues wrote a song called “The Question.” They asked why is there so much evil? The words go like this:
“Why do we never get an answer, when we’re knocking at the door. With a thousand million questions, about hate and death an war. ‘Cos when we stop and look around us, there is nothing that we need. In a world of persecution, that is burning in its greed.”
The writer says we don’t need an answer because we are the source of hate and death and war. Evil is rooted in our persecution and greed.
As a public school teacher I have seen the devastating results of moral evil. Kids coming to class after dad beat up mom or girls with years of sexual abuse from a trusted relative. At least 4 of my ex-students are currently in prison for murder.
A human hand with a sharp metal instrument can stab someone on the street and kill that person or a similar sharp metal instrument can be used in a hospital cut out a tumor that saves a life. Good or evil is a matter of choice. God is not to blame for moral evil.
Natural evils are earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, diseases, and so on. The Bible indicates that natural evils are also a result of the sin of mankind. The Apostle Paul writes in Romans 8:22 “We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.” God gave man dominion over the entire earth, including all living things, and the result of human sin has been brought disaster upon the entire creation. Paul says since the fall of man, the creation has been under a process of decay and it is longing for God to return to create a new heaven and a new earth. One current writer said this about natural evil, “When we humans told God to shove off, he partially honored our request.” Nature was adversely affected. Genetic breakdown, disease, pain and death can be traced back to the sins of humanity. He concluded by saying, “We are born into a world made chaotic and unfair by humanity in revolt against its creator.”
God is not the author of evil, we are. God simply created a universe with the potential for evil. You may ask, “Couldn’t God have foreseen all the evil and taken care of it?” Yes but he had a different plan. If you are a parent didn’t you take a chance and have kids knowing that your children might go bad or could completely reject you and cause you great hurt when they grow up. And you still wanted to be a parent? In the same way God knowing we would reject Him thought it was worth the risk of rejection because many would turn back and desire to spend eternity with Him. God decided we were so valuable He came to earth as the man Jesus to suffer and die on the cross so we could join Him in heaven. The greater good outweighed the risk of evil. God is the author of good and we are the authors of evil. Where is God when we hurt? He has been actively working for our benefit through His Son Jesus Christ.