We’ve been exploring the Problem of Evil over the last few posts. We’ve examined the problem of evil itself and described what evil actually is (a lack of good). We have seen that there is no logical problem with both God and evil existing together.
As much as these arguments might make sense, they probably still don’t make you feel good about evil. We as humans have a distain for evil. For most of us, if we had the power to stop a particular evil act, we would. So why doesn’t God just wipe out all evil? I think there are several reasons why God allows evil. Remember that the premise we are working off of is that God is not trying to make sure everyone lives a pain free and happy existence. We are working off the idea that God has created a world in which the greatest number of people will be drawn to Him. Given that premise, here are 3 reasons I believe God allows evil:
God Allows Us To Make Our Own Choices
“I will force you to love me!”. Have you ever heard those words? I would be willing to bet that no one that has heard those words spoken to them has ever actually felt loved. Controlled, dominated, oppressed and fearful are all more accurate feelings to describe hearing that someone is going to force you to love them. God isn’t going to force anyone into a relationship with Him. God gives us freedom to love Him or not. True love can only exist in this way.
We are not God’s robots that are simply programmed to love Him. You can’t truly love someone if you are being forced to against your will. But the same freedom to love also allows for freedom not to love. God allows us to commit unloving acts as well. Many acts of evil we see are the direct result of people making choices not to act in a loving manner. While God never wants to see us behave in this way, he will allow it to preserve our freedom.
God Gives Us Opportunities To Do Good
We don’t have to look far to see evil occurring in our world. Mass shootings are becoming more and more commonplace. Terrorism still and probably always will exist. Crime and theft are present no matter how many police officers we have. Natural disasters such as fires, earthquakes and tsunamis occur every day. These events leave people shattered and broken. They also bring out the best in us as human beings. We rally around the afflicted. There are people that dedicate their whole lives to serving others. If we want a world with compassion in it, we need to have situations in which we can display that compassion. Evil give us opportunities to share God’s love with others.
God Gives Us Reasons To Turn To Him
In the same way that evil allows us to act with compassion towards our fellow human beings, it also can draw us deeper into our relationship with God. God will sometimes use evil to get our attention and refocus us on Him. In his book The Problem of Pain, C.S. Lewis makes the following observation:
“We can ignore even pleasure. But pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”
It is on our greatest times of need and anguish that we search for comfort and asked to be comforted. These situations allow God an opening to enter into our lives and for us in turn to accept Him.
I would also guard against the idea that God isn’t stopping acts of evil. When we see so much evil taking place, it’s easy to believe that God is doing nothing. But how exactly would we know this? If evil is being prevented, we would have no way of knowing. We have all seen instances where an act of evil was averted by a seemingly random set of circumstances. Our tendency is to attribute these events to luck, but certainly God could be at work in these situations.
There are other reasons God could allow evil and suffering, but these three points should lead us to believe that God has sufficient reasons to allow evil to exist. If a non-believer wants to object that there is still too much evil in the world, what they would have to show is that God could have created a world with less evil that would draw more people to him. I don’t think that is possible to demonstrate.
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