If God Is Good, Why Is There Evil?

While I have addressed this question In another article, it consistently comes up within apologetical encounters, so I think the question is worth re-visiting. The implicit assumption inherent in the question is that the presence of evil is somehow inconsistent with the existence of God. I suppose this could be the case depending upon the nature of the God in question. Notice that the question uses the term God, but as is often the case, the particular God in question is not defined. One’s definition of God and His, Her, It’s attributes will affect how the believer in said God would respond. If this question is directed towards the God of the Bible, then a biblical response is in order. When one examines the God of the Bible, one will easily find that there is no such inconsistency between the existence of the Triune God and evil.

Given the fact that this question/objection typically comes from the mouths of atheists, a brief response can include the demand to define “evil”. An objection to the biblical God on the basis of the existence of “evil” doesn’t make much rational sense if the concept of “evil” remains undefined. Furthermore, the apologist should press the atheist on the issue of the objectivity of that which he/she has defined as “evil”. Is the definition given “objective” in the sense that “evil” is “evil” independent of what others may think? Or is the atheist giving you an arbitrary, subjective, and opinion based definition of evil? If so, why is the God of the Bible subject to the atheists subjective standard of what he/she considers to be evil? Furthermore, I think a more serious question to ask the atheist is “How can there be objective evil” in an atheist universe. In a world where there is no God, no transcendent foundation for morality and moral laws, what obligates people to act in particular ways other than perhaps, the desire for self preservation, or the preservation of the species?

This is why being aware of one’s own worldview is so important. If we were to help the atheist out a bit, it would be helpful to suggest that it will not work to arbitrarily define “evil” from within one’s own worldview, and then thrust that definition upon the God that grounds the other person’s worldview. Rather, to demonstrate that evil is inconsistent with the God of the Bible, the questioner must do an internal critique of the biblical worldview. In other words, he/she must hypothetically grant the truth of the biblical worldview and show that on its own terms, the existence of evil is inconsistent with the God of the Bible. However, what will one find after scouring the whole of scripture for this apparent logical conflict? Well, they will find that given the truth of the Bible: God has morally sufficient reasons for allowing the continued existence of evil, and that one day he will put evil in its proper place. An atheist is free to reject this explanation, but, if the truth of the Bible is granted, then there is no logical conflict between the God of the Bible and the existence of evil since we are given a clear biblical picture as to how they can co-exist, and how God will eventually dismantle and remove the affects of evil upon his creation. Reject the biblical response to evil, and accept an atheistic understanding, and what you will find is either a rejection of the existence of objective evil altogether in which case (there is no problem of evil), or relegate evil to the subjective whims of however one wishes to define It. Hopefully, the problems with this method is easily seen.

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