- Religion and Philosophy
The difficult questions about God: why does He allow evil?
The difficult question about God: Why does He allow evil?
As we look around at the terrible things that happen in the world on a daily basis, we have to ask the question, “How can a loving God let this happen?” In fact it leads to an even more basic question and that is “Why did an all knowing, all powerful and all present God even create this world knowing that this situation could and even would develop?” And so the question buzzes around in our minds. It has always done so. As far back as in the book of Job, the writer attempts to deal with it. It is only when Job discovers a new understanding of God that he finds peace.
As an off shoot to that question come another couple of closely related questions: “Why do bad things happen to “good” people and why do seemingly “bad” people sometimes seem to prosper?” In the Luke’s Gospel, the disciples of Jesus ask him about the people who died when the tower of Siloam collapsed and killed 18 people (Luke 13:4) “Were they more wicked than all other men?” The answer is no, they were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.
In Psalm 73 the writer Asaph struggles with this same problem as he sees the wicked prospering and the righteous suffering. It is interesting to see how he deals with this problem..It is only when he draws near to God that he finds an answer. So the question that puzzles many today and often leads to serious doubts about the nature of God continues. It is not new and really has to be answered if we are to find understanding and peace of mind in this troubled world.
Part of the problem that faces us in today’s world is that as in the past so we in the present, continue to not fully understand what is going on in the realm of spiritual reality. In a rather simplistic way we have ascribed good things in our life as a reward from God and identified bad things as either coming directly from God, or at the very least being allowed by God, to happen.
So in the example in the man born blind as reported in John 9, his blindness was ascribed to either his sin or the sin of his parents. Jesus answers in verse 3 that neither sinned, but that what happened to him actually fulfilled a purpose. A difficult truth to be seen by the blind man but after receiving his sight he also advanced in his understanding and faith.
Firstly it needs to be understood that there is a war going on. This war exists in the spiritual realm of eternity and extends into our physical world. The book of Revelation explains this battle. As soldiers in the front lines, followers of God are not going to be exempted from the effects of this battle. Paul explains it to the Ephesians as “We do not wrestle against flesh and blood but against the principalities, powers and rulers of darkness in this world, and against spiritual wickedness in heavenly places” (Eph. 6:9)
What we need to realize is that this serious war that takes place in the physical and spiritual realm is often difficult to understand in the day to day struggles of life. What is certain is that the effects of this universal struggle between good and evil is often going to have devastating results in our lives. Some are caught in the crossfire of evil out of control. A good example would be the war and atrocities in Sierra Leone that were caused by the greed for so called “Blood Diamonds”. Others face the normal challenges of living and dying in a world where tragedy is no respecter of persons. Sometimes it is simply part of life and sometimes the result of plain stupidity and carelessness – someone falls asleep while driving when tired and so a fatal accident happens.
Secondly it must be realized that when good and bad things happen they are a part of this world that is inhabited by humans who are part of Adam’s world. We no longer enjoy the benefits of a Paradise existence where there is no sin. Why did God then create us with the inherent ability to sin? A difficult question, but perhaps all other questions hinge on how we understand this one.
Mankind was created in the image of God and so there are certain Godly characteristics that we share with God. Firstly a spiritual part that sets us aside from being only animals. Secondly the freedom of choice that allows us to choose between good and evil, to hate or to love, to be greedy or generous; and we can go on and on. What we have though, as a part of Adam and Eve’s family, is the ability to sin. When we make that choice, as we inevitably do, we are excluded from the presence of God who is without sin. Read the creation and fall of man in Genesis again. (cp. Romans 5:1-10)
Today the battle field that we are facing is the life we live now. The good news is that God did not abandon us. He did not do so in times past and He does not do so today. Believing in God, doing His will and enjoying the blessings that come with it is the obvious best choice. In the struggle between good and evil we must choose the right side. The victory has been won in Jesus Christ, who through the Holy Spirit who lives in us (Acts 2:38). He ensures that no matter what the world throws at us, nothing can separate us from the love of God (Romans 8: 36-39). Where the love of God extends into people and nations, peace and goodwill become part of that life and that nation. When greed, hate, violence and corruption take over, a person and even a nation will suffer the consequences. .
Does this mean God has abandoned us? No not at all. In the big picture there is a war going on and we are part of that war whether we like it or not. All we can decide is on whose side we want to be and the decision will not only affect our lives in the here and now, but also in eternity.