FAQs about the Faith
Does Evil Prove that God Doesn’t Love us?
One of the strongest objections to the existence of the biblical God is the existence of evil (moral, physical suffering, natural disasters, etc.). The argument is that the reality of evil is opposed to the concept of a loving and all-powerful God. If God were powerful enough and loving enough, then He would abolish evil. But since evil exists, then God is either not loving or not powerful. Either way, evil is said to disprove the God of the Bible. The Greek philosopher Epicurus (342-270 B.C.) argued this: if God wants to prevent evil, but cannot, then He is not all-powerful; if He can prevent evil, but will not, then He is not good. If He has both the power and the will to eliminate evil, then why is evil in the world?
A couple of serious issues with this view have often been raised: first, with no God, and no ultimate standard by which to call something evil, then those who bring up this problem have created their own additional problem. Let the objector define that standard by which anything is to be judged as “evil.” If there is no ultimate standard of goodness, then how can one consistently talk about evil? Second, much of what is called “evil” can be directly attributed to the free will of humankind. God could abolish evil by destroying free will, but it is doubtful that many would desire this. Yet there are other flaws to the position.
To argue that evil and God cannot co-exist, one must assume that there are no good purposes or outcomes that can be served by God allowing evil and suffering to exist. God, who not only is all-loving and all-powerful, is also all-knowing and all-wise. This is the God we are talking about, not a dumbed-down version of God who is no wiser or greater than our finite minds can allow. He is able to do far more abundantly beyond anything we can think (cf. Eph. 3:20). This means that there may be reasons of which we cannot be aware for why He might allow evil to continue for a time. We cannot cite our ignorance of reasons as a reasonable argument to deny God. Ignorance is no argument. Who can really prove that the existence of evil and the existence of an omnipotent and omnibenevolent God are mutually exclusive? That argues what cannot be proved because it would require knowledge of all factors that may contribute to an understanding of this issue. That would make one God, and then, the argument wouldn’t be necessary because that one would understand.
Scripture does not ignore this issue. In fact, the whole theme of the Bible is built upon the reality of evil (i.e., God’s plan for salvation). This theme culminates in God Himself entering into this world of sin in order to suffer on our behalf, and it is this very suffering that proves once and for all that God loves us more deeply than we can comprehend (cf. John 3:16; Rom. 5:8). In other words, no one can look at the cross of Christ and argue that God does not love us. He Himself has been touched by the evil in this world, and contrary to what many argue, He has indeed done something about it. The gospel is the result.
As for His power, let no one assume that God will not deal with evil in His time. People who argue that God would do something about it if He were powerful enough miss the point that 1) God has done something about it in Christ, and 2) God will do something about it in final judgment. Evil has a day of reckoning (cf. 2 Pet. 3; Acts 17:30-31).
The fact that God has not yet brought this judgment argues for His longsuffering and desire that all people be saved from sin (2 Pet. 3:9). One day that will end, but, in the meantime, we need to pay attention to the opportunities we have to be saved by His grace. Both His power and love are demonstrated in His reaching out to us in order to save us, but those opportunities will not last forever. Our lives are but a vapor.
Of course, this is a deep and serious issue, and we recommend that those who so desire pursue further studies regarding God and the problem of evil and suffering. More importantly, we need to pursue a relationship with God Himself, who loves us and has given ample time for people to repent of their sins and turn to the Shepherd of their souls.
To consider further why God hasn't yet stopped all evil, click here.