‘If God created the world, then why is it so evil?’
It will be helpful to begin this part with an observation that most religious traditions seek to address the problem of evil by determining how to limit its influence in people’s lives. By this I mean that most religions recognise evil as a problem which affects individuals and communities alike. Of course, as we have seen, the degree to which humanity is influenced by evil differs from person to person. Factors such as environment, emotional intelligence, and upbringing all seem to play a part in determining how a person matures and the way in which they will engage or refrain from evil. It also needs be noted that sometimes there is no explanation for moral evil such as when a person commits a random or savage act that is totally out of character with their nature and upbringing.
Now, one problem people have with the idea of God as a kind, loving heavenly Father who loves people and is essentially good, is the sense that it is totally at odds with the evil and chaos evident in the world today. Not just in the present day but throughout the centuries and in virtually every part of the world. Indeed, some people argue that if the world is the product of a good and loving God, there is sufficient reason to challenge the existence of God because evil suggests creation is neither perfect in design or outcome. Likewise, the idea that God maintains control over everything in the world is also problematic in the face of human suffering because a second question arises:
‘How could a loving God allow evil to happen in the world?’
Behind this question are two assumptions about the character and nature of God. Firstly, if God is perfectly good (as believers attest to) then surely he would not want people to suffer. Secondly, if God is all powerful, he would exercise his power and alleviate or remove suffering from our world. As already noted, the very presence of evil and suffering in our world has often been seen as calling into question God’s integrity and ability to design the world. The logic of such an argument goes something like this:
- Suffering exists in the world because of evil actions
- Evil actions imply the world is not perfect but flawed
- As God is the designer of the world, it must be concluded that God has made some mistake in the construct of the world
- Or that God is capable of both good and evil?
More, in the next post…