Summary: How do you reconcile the existence of evil with the existence of a good, all-powerful God? Part 5 of a series inspired by Philip Yancey’s book "Disappointment with God."
If God’s so good, why does evil exist? Good question, and a question that theologians, philosophers, and even sceptics have dealt with for centuries. Several possible answers have been proposed, but each one seems to spark more questions. And we’re not going to be able to exhaustively answer that question here this morning in just 20 minutes.
What we will do is give you a bit of a framework to help you understand how a good and loving God could allow evil and suffering to be so prevalent in our world.
The problem that we face really boils down to three statements which at first glance seem to contradict each other. You could take any two of them and have no problem, but when you take all three together, that’s when you need to think a little harder.
Three Statements that Appear Contradictory:
A. God is all good.
B. God is all powerful.
C. Evil exists.
These three statements don’t seem to go together. If God is so good and evil exists, why doesn’t he do something about it? He must not be able to, in which case he is powerless. But if God is able to eradicate evil, why doesn’t He? He must not be so good after all. And that’s the dilemma. Kind of a Catch-22.
So let’s look at these statements again, one at a time. We’ll go through the first two fairly quickly and then spend a bit of time on the third.
A. Is God all good?
Men and women throughout history would answer this by saying yes, without a doubt. God is entirely good. He provides for our most basic needs, and chips in for a lot of our wants, too. He blesses us with life itself. He gives our lives meaning and purpose. He embraces us with His love and tender mercy.
And many people, including me, would say from personal experience that God is good. No question. He loves me and has never given me any reason to doubt that.
And the Bible itself would say that God is good, without any hint of evil.
James 1:17-18 (NLT)
Whatever is good and perfect comes to us from God above, who created all heaven’s lights. Unlike them, he never changes or casts shifting shadows. In his goodness he chose to make us his own children by giving us his true word. And we, out of all creation, became his choice possession.
1 John 1:5 (NLT)
This is the message he has given us to announce to you: God is light and there is no darkness in him at all.
Psalm 34:8 (NLT)
Taste and see that the LORD is good. Oh, the joys of those who trust in him!
Is God all good? YES
B. Is God all powerful?
Well, let’s see. Just by speaking, God created the world and everything in it. He created the stars and arranged them in galaxies throughout the universe. He gave life to every plant, every animal, every person. He set the moon in orbit around the earth, and organized all of creation at the sub-atomic level. He built Mount Everest, and wrote the blueprint for your DNA. From the vastness of space to the minute details of life itself, God is in control. Seems to me that the creator of the cosmos is pretty powerful.
Let’s see what the Bible has to say…
Isaiah 40:25-31 (NLT)
"To whom will you compare me? Who is my equal?" asks the Holy One.
Look up into the heavens. Who created all the stars? He brings them out one after another, calling each by its name. And he counts them to see that none are lost or have strayed away.
O Israel, how can you say the LORD does not see your troubles? How can you say God refuses to hear your case? Have you never heard or understood? Don’t you know that the LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth? He never grows faint or weary. No one can measure the depths of his understanding. He gives power to those who are tired and worn out; he offers strength to the weak. Even youths will become exhausted, and young men will give up. But those who wait on the LORD will find new strength. They will fly high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.
Is God all powerful? YES
Of course, answering “YES” to both of those questions leaves us in a bit of a bind. If God is all-good, it seems logical to believe that He would want to destroy evil. If God is all-powerful, it seems logical to believe that He would be able to destroy all evil. So why does evil still exist?