Summary: Eight in the series on answering objections to the faith.
Answering Our Culture
#8 – “If God is So Good, Why Is There So Much Evil?”
September 22, 2002
NOTE: I am greatly indebted to the books, "The Case for Faith," by Lee Strobel, and "True for You, But Not for Me," by Paul Copan.
There is no question that evil exists and that it is rampant. Anyone who would deny that is either living alone in a cave somewhere or delusional.
And yet Christians would say that God is good, and all-powerful. So why doesn’t God do something about it?
Could it be that God really is not all that good after all? Or maybe it’s a case of God not being all-powerful, as much as we would like to believe He is.
Maybe we would have to agree with Rabbi Harold Kushner, author of When Bad Things Happen to Good People, when he says that God isn’t all-powerful after all – that He would like to help, but He isn’t capable of solving all the problems in the world. “Even God has a hard time keeping chaos in check.” (Lee Strobel, The Case for Faith).
So what’s the answer? Is God capable of destroying evil? Is so, then why doesn’t He do it?
Why should I believe in a God who allows children to be molested and murdered, and allows bloody warfare in His name?
Why are innocent people made to suffer? Why is there famine and drought, where families and young children die when all they needed was some rain?
Why does God allow terrorists to strap bombs to themselves and take out innocent civilians, or to hijack airplanes and fly them into buildings, killing thousands at a time?
Why does He allow this?
These are tough questions. And I don’t pretend to be able to understand everything, so I will try to give some answers that I hope will give us a start on unraveling this deep mystery.
The first thing I would suggest in understanding why there is evil in the world is to…
I. Realize that God is all-powerful and perfectly good.
There is a line of logic that goes something like this:
An all-powerful God could destroy evil.
A good God would destroy evil.
Evil is not destroyed.
Therefore, there cannot possibly be such a good and powerful God.
On the surface, this sounds logical, until we realize that the standard being used to measure the ability and will of God is faulty. We are hardly objective in measuring such things, and just about everybody has an opinion about them.
Why is this so important to realize? Because in the midst of suffering and tragedy, we can forget it.
We get so focused on the horror of what is happening that we begin to wonder if God really cares at all.
So why doesn’t God destroy evil? Could it be that He is not really a good God?
Listen to Psalm 34:8 –
PS 34:8 Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him.
Many other verses tell of the goodness of God. In fact, the whole Bible is an outline of God’s goodness in His dealings with man.
After all, why would God bother to tell us how we can please Him, and how we can have a home in heaven if He was not being good beyond measure to we who don’t deserve it?
So God is good.
Could it be that God is not all-powerful? I don’t think so. Listen to Isaiah 40:25-26:
ISA 40:25 "To whom will you compare me?
Or who is my equal?" says the Holy One.
ISA 40:26 Lift your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one, and calls them each by name.
Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.
I’d venture to say that the Creator of the universe is plenty powerful, wouldn’t you?
BUT, did you know there are some things God CANNOT do?
Wait just a minute, Preacher! Didn’t you just get done saying God is all-powerful?
Yes, but hang on. Let me list a few things God cannot do, and you will see where we are going in a bit.
First, God cannot lie, according to Numbers 23:19. James tells us that God cannot be tempted, nor can he tempt people to sin.
In other words, God cannot do anything out of His character. The reason God cannot lie is because He is truth. He cannot sin or tempt to sin because He is pure.
He also can’t undo the past, create a square triangle, or make what is false, true.
So what do we make of all this? God is good and He is all-powerful to perform any and all things within His character, and yet we have evil. Why?