Atheism and the Problem of Evil

The problem of suffering and evil has historically been the leading cause of atheism. The thinking goes like this

God is good.
God is all-powerful.
Evil and suffering exist.
What gives? How can a good God allow suffering?

There are two extreme responses to this “predicament.”

1. Christian Science–I am not referring to Christians who go into the scientific fields, I am referring to Mary Baker Eddy and her particular brand of religion. Christian Science answers the Problem of Evil by denying that evil and suffering exist.

I once attended a Christian Science Church, just to say I had, and I was amazed, as the teacher taught about denying suffering, that half her audience was in wheelchairs. Hey, you can deny evil and suffering all you want, it’s there. Denying evil is not the answer.

2. Atheism–Rather than denying evil, which is pretty dumb, atheists decide to deny God. “Because evil exists, God cannot” is the logic. This is actually quite an admission by Atheists.

One thing that has always caused curiosity in me is why atheists never quit talking about God. I don’t think wood nymphs exist, which is why I never talk about them. Atheists have a very high view of God in some areas, one some believers could learn from.

My question, though, is how does denying God answer the problem of suffering and evil?

OK, God doesn’t exist, how does this deal with pain? How does this answer any questions about why bad things happen?

Let’s say a group of guys are playing basketball at The Y. Guys’ basketball games at The Y will get violent. There’s always a jerk who starts pounding on people. There is evil in the game.

A Referee is there to moderate the game. Jerk Baller is still pounding people, doesn’t stop one bit. Sometimes he’s called for fouls, and sometimes he isn’t, cuz pretty much every time he moves he fouls people.

The other players, getting frustrated at all the fouls, especially all the ones Jerk Baller seems to get away with, get mad. “How can so much evil fouling exist when we have a referee?”

If we use the above, there are two responses the fouled players can have:

1) Deny the existence of the fouls, man up and play through it. All the denial in the world won’t make those bruises go away, nor put in all the shots you missed because you were hacked.

2) Go the atheist approach, and deny that there’s a referee. If there’s no referee, then there’s no foul, there’s no right and wrong. But see, Jerk Baller is still hacking you every shot you take, whether there’s a referee or not.

Obviously, as with all illustrations, this one isn’t perfect. No referee is all-powerful, they will miss calls and even make bad calls, so it’s off a bit. But it makes the same point.

Denying God does not answer the problem of suffering and evil. In fact, denying God pretty much just leaves you with suffering and evil. That’s no answer.

I believe the problem to the conundrum–

God is good.
God is all-powerful.
Evil and suffering exist.
What gives? How can a good God allow suffering?

–is not with the first line–God is good. It is the testimony of Scripture that God is good–the goodness of God leads people to repentance.

We also can’t deny the third line–suffering and evil exist. They do. Take a look around.

Therefore, the problem must lie in line two–God is all-powerful. I believe we need a better understanding of this.

Many say “God can do anything.” This isn’t biblical, however. I did a post on this not long ago about whether God can create a rock too heavy for Him to pick up. In that post I list verses that say the things God can’t do.

Being all-powerful does not imply that God can do anything. God can do anything that is consistent with who He is. Part of His character is being just. He allows bad things to happen because people do bad things.

This is not to say that the amount of pain in your life equals the amount of sin you did. There are some who get more pain than others to no fault of their own. This is an unfortunate thing to witness or endure.

Evil and suffering exist because man rebelled against his Creator. That’s called justice. You reap what you sow. Man has sowed evil, so man will reap evil. The whole creation groans, even the animals, because of humanity’s rebellion.

Part of the answer to the problem of evil is for individuals to stop being evil. We are told to love others as Christ loved us. When we observe evil and suffering, are we moved with compassion to help, or do we merely have internal angst that makes us hate God and melt into a narcissistic corner?

Who is atheism’s Mother Theresa?

God actually entered into our suffering, showed His great love for us, by taking part in human pain. He took our sin on Himself and suffered and died because of it. But He also rose again, showing He has power over death, which demonstrated His power over sin.

This is the goodness of God. He deals with our bad by entering our consequences with us. Then He overcomes them, gives us new life that seeks to love others by entering their suffering with them and helping them through.

Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, your Creator who died for you, and you will be saved. Will you still need band-aids? Yup, we still live in a fallen world. But the believer’s hope is that a better world is on its way. We live for that one and endure this one.