God. A good God. Evil. A world. A world made by God. A world made by a good God. A world made by a good God has evil in it. What gives?
I’ve been slugging back and forth on an atheist’s blog concerning this topic, and I’m not sure if continuing to post and answer the challenges are worthwhile.
Not because I feel defeated. Not because I have a weak position. It’s just that I have a position that requires a first hand encounter with God. Everything I say can be torn apart without that connection with God. Let me ‘splain.
Instead of asking questions that we’ll never know the answer to, such as, “Did God create evil?” or “If God is all powerful, why doesn’t he stop evil?” let’s begin with what we can say with reasonable certainty.
God made the world.
God said the world was good.
God made men and women and intended to live with them.
Somehow a lying serpent ends up on the scene and tempts humans.
The men and women defied God and a mess was created.
The men and women of the world kept making it worse.
God tries again and again to make it better, but humans usually hold things up.
Good so far? We can’t say for certain whether God intended this to happen or whatever. Taking the narrative of Genesis as close to face value as I can, we see a good God making a good world, but the good world turns against him.
So somehow evil got into the mix. Now, we don’t know how that happened, but we do know that God himself came to earth (if you are a Christian that is!) and died to liberate humanity from sin. That’s where the death, resurrection, and eventual return of Jesus comes in.
OK, now, think about this. God is clearly not powerless against sin and evil. That’s what the resurrection shows (once again, I’m coming at this from a Christian perspective).
God is fighting against evil. In fact, he has beaten it, but not eradicated it. So, for some reason, evil is still hanging around. We don’t know why God permits things to be so, and it’s hard. Death, deceit, etc. all are painful and take their toll on us.
Nevertheless, as a Christian I can look at Jesus’ death and resurrection as a sign that God is working against evil. The ministry of Jesus that continues today is the beginning of God’s new reign that will once again come to earth.
I cannot explain why there is evil in the world or why it continues in the presence of a good and loving God. What I can say is that God has done something, is doing something, and will some day do a lot more.
Perhaps it becomes more bearable if we think of this time as temporary. This life is not the ultimate goal. God’s thinking on a grander scale. Perhaps that explains some of the Apostle Paul’s optimism about the temporary suffering in this world.