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.”