The Problem of Evil
When you share your faith with others, at some point the “problem of evil” is going to come up in some form.
The “problem of evil” is structured like this:
· The universe is full of suffering and pain; thusly it is imperfect.
· God is good and perfect, and so it follows that His creation would be perfect.
· Therefore, God did not create the universe.
I myself wrestled with this problem just a few short years after becoming a Christian. The company I worked for donated a large sum of money annually to a very famous non-profit children’s hospital. As part of that donation, executives from my company were sent on weekend-long tours of the facility and to meet some of the families that had been helped. That year I was one of the ones chosen to go.
Most of the children in this hospital are/were terminally ill. I don’t think it’s possible to spend a weekend surrounded by young children dying from disease and not wrestle with the question of how a good God could allow such a thing… but what’s interesting is that I was the one wrestling with this question- not the children or the families. The families themselves actually talked openly about their faith and how this experience has made them closer/stronger. It was actually one of the families that ended up helping me- think about how backward that is.
Observation 1: Typically Asked by the Periphery
It is almost always those on the periphery of suffering that struggle the most with this question. It’s the loved one of a person going through hardship, not the person. It’s the business executive touring a hospital, not the patients. It’s the prosperous and peaceful country, not the impoverished and war torn country.
Observation 2: This is Exclusively a Christian “Problem”
The problem of evil is really only a “problem” once one assumes the Christian worldview. Atheism has no problem of evil because it is built upon the assumption that evil does not actually exist, but is just the natural outflow of an uncaring universe. Most eastern religions are built upon the concept of “karma” which asserts that evil happens to evil people. In that case, there is no problem of evil because a child that dies of cancer must have done something to deserve it (even if it was in a previous life). In Islam, the problem of evil is the either the result of sin on the part of the individual (a state of kufr) or is the result of a direct testing of the faithful from God as part of the struggle of life (Jihad).
This is an important observation because we all, every culture, inherently recognize that the world around us is “not what it should be.”
Observation 3: The Problem is a Christian Proof
While it may seem counter intuitive, the problem of evil is actually strong evidence that Christianity is true. The idea that suffering and evil are not good requires a sense of what is good. Any explanation of the problem of evil must address a couple of different questions. It must address the fact that evil exists AND it must address the fact that we are able to see evil as bad.
Atheism and occultic religions only address the fact that evil exists. They fail to address the fact that we inherently know that evil is not what should be. In fact, their explanations imply that evil is necessary and to be expected/desired.
The Christian narrative is that the world was created good by a good God, but that humanity rebelled against that God causing a separation. Because God is perfection, then a separation from that God means a universe that is decidedly NOT perfect. The only means of reconciliation is through Jesus Christ.
As you can see, only the Christian narrative addresses the fact that evil exists AND the fact that we all have an innate longing for something better.
That longing that we all have for a universe free from pain and suffering is strong evidence that the Bible is True and that Jesus Christ is the answer to that longing inside all of us.