If God exists why does He allow there to be evil and suffering? A number of philosophical reasons have been offered in order to show as to why the following question cannot be answered coherently, thus demonstrating an explicit lack of genuine love and omnipotence in the character of God. These objections can stem from suggesting that if God exists, that He would be ‘essentially’ good; God would/should/could destroy all evil but doesnt; and even that logically speaking, evil contradicts the character of God.
Could it be that if God is all-powerful, he “could” get rid of evil, or that if God were all-loving, he “would” get rid of evil? It seems we have a logical dilemma on our hands since universally we can all agree that evil in fact exists. Is it the case then that God is not all-loving, not all-powerful, thus not perfect, thus ceasing to be God? A relatively new resurgence of public [and to a degree pop-phenomenon] arena of contentious atheists have risen called the ‘New Atheists’. A large central message to their movement persists toward the goal of establishing religion as poisonous, and God as a moral monster (see C. Hitchens, “God Is Not Great”; R. Dawkins, “The God Delusion”, chp. 3; S. Harris, “Letter to A Christian Nation”)
Before I answer the questions above, I would like you to consider the following statement by George McLeod regarding the crucifixion of Jesus, “The cross must be raised again at the center of the marketplace as well as on the steeple of the church. I am claiming that Jesus was not crucified in a cathedral between two candles, but on a cross between two thieves; on the town garbage heap, at a crossroads so cosmopolitan they had to write His title in Hebrew, Latin, and Greek. At the kind of place where cynics talk smut, and thieves curse, and soldiers gamble, because that is where He died and that is what he died about and that is where churchmen ought to be and what churchmen should be about” (‘Only One Way Left’; The Iona Community, pg. 38).
In regards to the “what” question of suffering, it is easily settled from the philosophical appeasement offered to us by 4th century philosopher St. Augustine (354-430 AD). Both of his arguments ran as the following:
- 1) All things that God created are good
- 2) Evil is not good
- 3) Therefore, evil was not created by God.
- 1a) God created every thing
- 2a) God did not create evil
- 3a) Therefore, evil is not a thing.
Augustine writes, “Where is evil then, and whence, and how crept it in hither? What is its root, and what its seed? Or hath it no being?” On this note, Augustine replied, “Evil has no positive nature; but the loss of good has received the name ‘evil.’” (‘Confessions’, VII: [V] 7)
Friends, there is no logical inconsistency with the existence of God and the existence of evil. The “why” question of evil ultimately points us to Christ; particularly we should ask, “If Jesus is God and the Son of God, then what is God doing on a Cross?” It comes to this by which we understand God is not outside our understanding of evil but became directly apart of it. He has not lost sovereignty.