The problem of evil is a main reason people indicate they don’t believe in God. How we think God and suffering co-exist in the midst of personal suffering can cause us to wonder if God truly exist. I suggest HERE how we can decide what God is really like. Why would a Creator not love us and others how we were seemingly created to love others?
Why is freedom so important?
The majority of evil results from the freedom to be kind or cruel toward others. It seems God creating freedom necessitates one being able to do as much harm as they can do good. There is not some divine or “greater purpose” in the suffering of innocent people. But authenticity, the highest good in relationships, is impossible without freedom. Not even an almighty God can force true love. God, like parents, had a choice – to not create or to create knowing suffering was a possibility in the pursuit of intimacy. Divine love limits divine power.
Saying God can’t may seem sacrilegious, but a God who can prevent evil but doesn’t is no different than a parent who stands by and watches their child being physically or sexually abused. Are you dissatisfied with conventional answers such as: “It’s all part of God’s plan;” “God wants to make you stronger;” “God’s ways are not our ways;” “You didn’t have enough faith;” “Everything happens for a reason” (Thomas Oord, God Can’t: How to Believe in God and Love after Tragedy, Abuse, and Other Evils, p.11). If evil is some grand scheme God can control, why does the Bible say God hates evil so much?
God doesn’t cause or allow evil!
Most agree God doesn’t cause evil but some say God allows evil to bring about a greater good. Oord reminds us greater good doesn’t always come about. A surgeon may have to break open your chest to save your life, but what purpose is served from rape, torture, betrayal, murder, deception, corruption, incest, and genocide as if part of some good plan? From this twisted perspective, evil is good! When we say God allows, it gives the impression God stands by when God could stop evil. No one respects those who stand by in the name of freedom while individual rights are being violated. God can’t control or violate freedom and love perfectly. God can only stop evil with the help of others so to not violate freedom. Or not create freedom!
What about miracles if God can’t supposedly control?
It may be easier to explain God’s uncontrolling nature if miracles could be refuted. Miracles happen as many attest, but miracles don’t happen because people grovel at the feet of an arbitrary God who has to be begged to love more. A good God surely is always working to heal, but so many biological and environmental factors are involved. Maybe it is not a stretch to say God can’t control human freedom as well as non-human factors. I am convinced God will intervene by all means when circumstances allow. Miracles can happen when God’s uncontrolling love aligns with countless factors known and not known.
It matters if God supposedly knows the future.
A young woman may ask God for wisdom in marrying their partner. All think it is a match made in heaven, but the husband becomes abusive and the children suffer. What kind of God doesn’t warn if God knew this was going to happen? Evil is the result of current and unknown future human free decisions. Not even an all-powerful God can create and guarantee life without death, violence, suffering, and struggle and yet there be free will necessary for genuine relationships.
God is not a magic prayer genie!
A good God surely doesn’t cause or want us to suffer. Praying doesn’t make God more caring. God is already doing all they can in a free world. Jesus’ prayer to avoid the Cross may be the best model in times of suffering. Jesus asked God to intervene but God if you are unable please stay close to me. Pretending God can simply heal without accounting for freedom can makes one’s suffering worse. Did I not pray enough? Did I not beg enough? Did I not behave enough or have the right attitude? It isn’t that we didn’t pray enough with the right words so God will answer.
Is God a mystery and we can’t understand evil and suffering?
Some appeal to mystery by declaring God ways are not our ways to rationalize their interpretation of the Bible, but how can we have a relationship with a God we can’t understand with the brain God gave us? How we are supposed to know and love like God if God is mysterious? The Bible says to be perfect like God, but we can’t know what this means if we can’t know what perfect love is. God’s love surely is like perfect human love. If God calls favoritism evil but plays favorites, this plainly makes a supposedly loving God evil.
Why did God even create?
God knew the risks of freedom as do human parents. Are we wrong to bring children into a world hoping they will want to reciprocate our love but knowing our children could cause suffering or suffer at the hands of others? Suffering is avoidable only if God had not created or allowed freedom. Few argue that no freedom is better than freedom. God and parents risk creating which can lead to great joy or great pain. One is not possible without the other.
What is God doing?
God is tireless in working through individual lives to change the world. Hitler may have been stopped if others had gotten involved in his life as a child or when plotting his evils early on. Perhaps the only way to defeat evil in us, other than destroying at the first hint, is for us to persevere and overcome evil. Also, suffering can enable us to be of use to others in a world where suffering is inevitable if any freedom is present. Martin Luther King’s suffering moved the scales from the eyes of many how they tolerated bigotry.
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