If God is good, why does he allow evil?
by Chris Plekenpol
“Why do bad things happen to good people?”
“Why do bad things happen at all?” I think is a better question.
We look at the greed on Wall St. We see greed to genocide in Africa, and cry out that there is something wrong with the way people treat each other. There is a problem on our earth.
Have you ever watched animals kill each other? Just go to YouTube and type in animal violence and you can catch a glimpse at the horrors that animals undergo. I just watched an older lion be brutally attacked by four younger lions establishing their presence in the pride. No one seems to pronounce judgment on the animal kingdom. However, most universally agree that animal cruelty is wrong. Why? Most would say the humans “know” better. How are we to know? If we are merely a product of random chance plus time, then there is no good and there is no evil. We merely live in a world of Survival of the fittest: only the strong survive.
Now, for some reason most of us believe that things should be different for human beings
Many have given up in God, because if there was a God then he would be powerful enough to not let evil happen on earth. He would stop evil in its tracks before it did any real damage. But if evil still exists and there is a God then perhaps, God is good then he might be a quasi-God of some kind that can produce life but have no means of ruling it. Or maybe God does have the power to stop all the evil, but he doesn’t, and therefore cannot be good. He is just another kid with a magnifying glass making life for all of us “ants” very painful.
But let’s pause before we go deeper into this discussion. If there is no God then that doesn’t mean terrible things don’t happen. It just means we are left hopeless that anyone cares or can do anything about it.
Okay, back to the discussion.
Many who have undergone the severe tragedy of losing a loved one or experienced immense pain in life have come to that very conclusion that God cannot exist. Why would a good God let so much evil go on?
Now on what basis should God stop evil? Should he punish really bad sins right away? What evil should God stop and which should he not stop? Should he stop just rebellious actions by greedy, murderous people? What about someone who tells lies that lead to people mistrusting one another and ruining a marriage. Does God take them out or maybe turn them into robots so that they never sin again? As we all know, evil actions are the result of evil thinking. Perhaps God could sound a searing alarm in our heads that only each one of us can hear when we think an evil thought. If that happened, I would be personally doomed with tinnitus.
It sounds silly, but that is really what would have to happen for God to prevent people from doing evil and still at the same time grant them minds of their own.
We want God to not allow evil. We also want God to let us do what we want. We want our own personal God that doesn’t let bad things happen, but isn’t too controlling either. I guess what we really want is to be God. Having his power, but our own authority.
Let’s look at it this way. God gives people the opportunity to share in his love which is perfect or to love things that aren’t perfect that will ultimately destroy us. In America, we like choices, so we like that part. Now when we choose loving ourselves, as opposed to loving God, we inevitably hurt another one of God’s creation. We do evil. Now, how is God supposed to handle that? He could intervene in the moment, which we don’t like, because we don’t want to be told what to do we like self-discovery and he could tell the selfish person to stop that. Or is issue a divine punishment. But how much punishment would be enough? And again when would he punish? After the act was committed or when the thought was committed that led to the act?
God is a judge. However, he doesn’t punish every action right away. This is why we see sex traffickers, murderers, corrupt government officials seemingly getting awaywith it.
God being a just God actually does give people what they ask for. If they want to be separated from God’s love, then he allows them to be separated for eternity.
Now the problem of evil is so bad that all people are condemned. All are guilty in some degree of evil. God is good and will see that justice is served. Jesus said that if you hate someone in your heart, you are guilty of murder. God does know our thoughts. Some people were raised in a supportive environment where one was taught how to handle evil impulses. Others were raised where murderous impulses were carried out. To be just, God condemns the thought equal to his condemnation of the act. The condemnation leads us to the uncomfortable topic of Hell.
The evil you witness around the globe and in your private world is so bad that it needs to be dealt with. God doesn’t leave mass genocide unpunished. He doesn’t leave the abuse of women and children unpunished. He deals with evil. I think we are okay with that. We want evil punished, but it’s the severity of the punishment that makes people uncomfortable.
CS Lewis in his book, The Great Divorce, doesn’t compare Hell to a place where people are angry about going there, but rather a place of one’s own choosing. People have the choice to choose God’s love which is perfect or to choose to love a created thing. Paul, that same New Testament writer, wrote that God gave people over to their impurity because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator. We said in a previous post we are designed for worship. We are designed to worship God. Worshiping anything else leads us to a place where we worship ourselves or something we’ve created. This breaks our love relationship with God. We choose our destiny.
See the post about Can we know God and His love personally for an explanation of how God reconciled the world to himself.