The Problem of Evil

redchair Life on this planet has had, according to the Darwinist, millions of years, ages upon ages, to perfect itself and its functions. So, how is it possible that pain and suffering exist in our world in such pandemic? Life was supposed to be evolving into something increasingly better, more advanced, more fit. Yet somehow all the data, scientific and anecdotal, points to an increased debauchery and evil in our societies and cities.

We are becoming more violent toward one another instead of less. We are initiating more war between nations, not fewer. Our tastes and amusements have become more decadent and self indulgent instead of less. We’re valuing the life of others less instead of more. In short, we’re bringing more evil into the world every day instead of aiming to alleviate the suffering we’ve endured for ages, at our own hands and the hands of one another.

The scriptures foretell of our increasing trend toward moral decay. Paul warns the young pastor Timothy, “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God…ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (2Tim.3:1-7)

“Without natural affection”.

If any one trait defines Western societies current personality this would be it. From the unrelenting voice of those who want to abort their unborn children to the inordinately high divorce rates that plague almost every Westernized society we have evidence to support the claim that we have largely lost the ability to maintain even the most natural of affections. A friend of my wife had a child in the NICU of their local hospital. Another mother delivered a premature baby that was also placed in the NICU. After that mother was released, she left the hospital and never returned. The child was placed in the care of the state and if not for the paid staff at the hospital no one would have been there to love and care for that baby.

It seems the Bible rings truer to what we see in life than do the theories of the evolutionary atheist.

It is this evil and suffering in the world that has caused many to question if God exists. It is when we see the pain of a poverty stricken family or the suffering of those with terminal illnesses, to which modern medicine as of yet has no remedy, that the voice of reasoning speaks up and questions how we could ever believe there to be an omnipotent, omniscient God.

We rebel against the evil and suffering not realizing that our rebuke of evil has a correlating effect of positing a standard of rectitude we believe the world ought to adhere to.

To say that something is evil is to identify its opposite effect as good. In short, to express outrage over evil and suffering is to acknowledge an objective system of morality whereby we measure good and evil. That something must represent reality, and not nonsense, and it must be greater in scope than whatever provincial ideologies we embrace. It must be a global morality, an omnipresent, omnipotent Goodness that is Supreme.

Our very outrage over evil demands there must be a God. We must reckon for the very idea of evil in our minds and our indignation at its presence.

The great thinker C.S. Lewis believed that the problem of pain was indicative of a God who desired through revelation and experience to commune and relate to His creation. C.S. Lewis makes the case that, “[Christianity] creates, rather than solves, the problem of pain, for pain would be no problem unless, side by side with our daily experience of this painful world, we had received what we think a good assurance that ultimate reality is righteous and loving.”

That one would believe suffering and evil are not as things ought to be indicate we have had a revelation concerning what life should be on the earth. When what we experience does not take that shape, rather than attributing it appropriately to the destructive nature of violating the designers plan, we childishly deny the designer altogether. Our protests speak volumes.

It indicates that we believe there is goodness and blessing available to us. From where do we gather the conceit to assert such a faith? Why would we ever believe, knowing what we know about nature and the world, that anything other than struggle and animal suffering is available to us on the Earth?

This planet is seemingly bent on havoc. There have been disasters for centuries on the Earth without any man made cause or intervention. From the Tunguska explosion to the 1958 Lituya Bay Megatsunami, the Earth has been a planet in turmoil.

Pompeii, an ancient city in western Italy, was buried by an eruption of Mount Vesuvius in ad 79. According to the New Oxford American Dictionary excavations of the site began in 1748 and revealed well-preserved remains of buildings, mosaics, furniture, and the personal possessions of the city’s inhabitants. Despite any efforts they may have employed there is simply no fighting a volcano.

The destruction of the city of Pompeii was not at the hands of invading marauders but rather at the hand of the Earth itself.

The tsunami of southeastern Asia in 2004, the hurricanes in the United States and the earthquakes in China, Haiti, and Chile, the Japanese tsunami of 2011, all point to the truth that, as far as the natural world would indicate, the balance of natures offering is violence and chaos.

This theory could be further supported by watching a simple documentary on the wilderness of Africa or the jungles of South America. The persistent violence and bloodshed in the animal kingdom is a stark reminder of the ferocity with which nature meets itself.

Philosopher and Theologian William Lane Craig aptly states, “given an atheistic worldview, picking out human flourishing as morally special seems to be arbitrary.”

Most can hardly watch as the crocodile attacks the watering gazelle and thrashes it about in its final moments, drowning it before it enjoys its meal. We cringe as we see the injured zebra desperately evading the pursuit of a ravenous lion.

If we are nothing more than a highly evolved beast of the field then why would we ever assume anything better is available to us than what all other animals on Earth experience? From where do we gather the hubris to assume our experience should be any different?

C.S. Lewis weighs in again with the question, “If the universe is so bad, or even half as bad, how on earth did human beings ever come to attribute it to the activity of a wise and good creator? Men are fools, perhaps; but hardly so foolish as that. The direct inference from black to white, from evil flower to virtuous root, from senseless work to a workman infinitely wise, staggers belief.”

There is either a congenital madness that affects the whole of man-kind or else we have had truth revealed to us from the source of that goodness. C.S. Lewis offers, “It is either inexplicable illusion, or else revelation.”

The inescapable implication of the presence of moral certainty in the hearts of men is that it could not exist without the recognition of a supreme lawgiver. Morality would not exist and indeed is meaningless without God. As author Richard Taylor, an atheist and ethicist concedes, “To say that something is wrong because … it is forbidden by God, is … perfectly understandable to anyone who believes in a law-giving God. But to say that something is wrong … even though no God exists to forbid it, is not understandable….” “The concept of moral obligation [is] unintelligible apart from the idea of God. The words remain but their meaning is gone.”

The word ‘evil’ came out of hiding on September 11th, 2001. We had long forgotten what evil was and what it looked like. Yet when faced with the atrocities before us that day we were able to clearly identify it once again.

We did not watch the footage of the tragedy in New York City and declare it to be illegal, though it was. It’s illegality was not what made it so horrific. It was the conspicuous presence of evil in the heart of men that caused September 11th, 2001 to be such an awful moment in the hearts of most Americans.

The anti-theist, incapable of positing meaning, purpose or an eternal soul in humanity, cannot ascribe the events of that now infamous day as evil. He can call it illegal, and indeed it was, but he has denied himself the capacity to call it evil, tragic, or even a shame.

Evil descends from understandings of morality, not legality. Morality has to do with accepted and unacceptable human behavior regardless of the laws that pertain in any given republic.

Laws spring from mens ingenuity. From where does morality spring if not from God? How do we account for some of the same acts (i.e. murder, theft, lies, adultery, infidelity) being considered immoral or unacceptable in nearly every civilization and culture in any place or era? There must reside within us a universal standard of morality that measures and defines the affairs of mankind.

The fact that the word evil exists and has definition indicates a faith residing in the soul of mankind that such things ought not and need not be. It indicates we believe there is goodness available to those who live on earth. We would not be repulsed by suffering and give tireless effort to diminish it’s influence if we did not believe goodness was possible.

This faith does not come from the empirical data we gather from the natural world, a world full of sorrow, inequity and death. A world full of volcanos and hurricanes, meteors and tsunamis, of hungry lions and slow zebras. It must come from somewhere and something else. The Hebrew word for this “something else” is “qadash”. In English we would say it was something ‘Holy’.

Again, William Lane Craig says, “if God does not exist, why think that we have any moral obligations to do anything? Who or what imposes these moral duties upon us? Where do they come from? It’s hard to see why they would be anything more than a subjective impression resulting from societal and parental conditioning.” In short, without a moral lawgiver, there is no obligation to honor a moral law.

The great tragedy of the skeptic’s denial of God is the loss of objective morality. For if there is no God to establish and maintain laws of what one ought, or ought not, to be or do, then it becomes thoroughly subjective, flights of fancy, to ascribe virtue or vice to any thought or act of man.

When shaking off the reality of God we lose more than the moral inhibitions that have restrained our hedonism. We lose the ability to define virtue when we cease to define vice.

In a world without absolutes nothing is ugly but nothing is beautiful. Nothing dies but then, nothing lives. Nothing is evil but nothing is good. We can never be told our actions are selfish, wrong or unjust but likewise we can never be told we have shown integrity, sacrifice or love.

We lose both vice and virtue in our attempt to free ourselves from the fetters of moral absolutes.

No longer can a preacher approach a congregation and declare adultery, murder or abuse to be a moral transgression. However, the eulogist also loses the ability to point to the courageous service of a fallen soldier and call him a hero.

We lose more than the shackles of a Puritan worldview and the liberty to appraise acts and ideologies as evil, we lose the ability to recognize and name goodness. Life becomes, what William Lane Craig describes simply as, “absurd”.

The skeptics objection is often presented as the apparent inequity between faith in an Omni-potent, omni-benevolent, omniscient God and the evil and suffering that we so regularly encounter in our world.

What the skeptic fails to consider is that, in the Christian worldview, God’s omni-benevolence, meaning His good will towards mankind, extends beyond time into eternity. God’s great desire is relationship with mankind and, as such, is not preempted by, but often served by, temporary sufferings on the earth and in time.

Paul asserted that if you were to place all the sufferings this world brings on one side of a scale and, on the other side of the scale place all the glory of knowing God here and the promise of spending eternity with Him there, that the suffering was no comparison to the hope we possess.

He said, “I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” (Rom. 8:18).

In short, if God, in His omniscience, chooses to allow temporary suffering to bring me an eternal reward then He is, above all, being good to me!

We understand this dynamic when we take our children for stitches, or when we admit a loved one for open heart surgery, yet somehow we miss it when God is the loving parent and we are the child.

Any denial of His existence, predicated upon the existence of evil or suffering, is the byproduct of human reasoning misunderstanding the claims of faith regarding God and man on the Earth. What we are saying is, if we were God, we would not allow sufferings to exist. Since suffering does exist we declare there must be no God or else a God who is either impotent, uncaring or both.

All because He is not acting in His office as God in the way we believe we would if we were God. Nonsense.

We assume, with all the faculties of a finite mind, that we understand the cosmic complexities inherent to the work of an infinite God. Pure intellectual arrogance.

Our understanding of evil is testimony to the reality of every man’s “measure of faith” in a Holy God. We must realign our worldview with that of the revelation of God in the scriptures.

The real wonder is not that there is evil in the world, or that there is pleasure in the world, but that the world maintains pleasures even amidst the presence of evil.

What we have felt all these centuries is the echo of truth in our souls. Evil is a deviation from God’s plan. Suffering was not the original design and goodness is indeed available to mankind. The way things are is not the way things ought to be. This we know all too well. The good news is there is an answer to the question.

How could a loving God suffer all the evil and pain that is so capriciously rampant in the world? He can’t. That’s why He was manifested and walked among us. It’s why He refused to pick up the sword and establish a natural kingdom. It’s why He refused to become intoxicated on the cross. He felt every pain, every torture, every pang of hunger and every whip of abuse. He took all the evil and suffering of the world on Himself at Calvary. He made a way, through His own suffering and death, to eliminate the effect of evil on the earth. He became the answer to the question of evil and the problem of pain.

That seems to be a great reason to believe.

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