Is God good? If so, then why is there evil and suffering in the world? Have you heard this before? If you’re like me, you’ve wrestled with it yourself.
It’s a legitimate question that we must answer.
Epicurus (Greek philosopher, 4th cent. BC) is believed to be the first to argue the following:
- If an all-powerful and perfectly good god exists, then evil does not.
- There is evil in the world.
- Therefore, an all-powerful and perfectly good god does not exist.
David Hume (Scottish philosopher, 18th cent. AD) said…
“Is he [God] willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then is he impotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then is he malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Whence then is evil?” (Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion)
Theologians and philosophers throughout history have responded to the scoffing of skeptics and accusations made by agnostics against a “good” God creating a world where evil is possible.
From Irenaeus, Augustine, and Aquinas to contemporary voices like John Hick, Alvin Plantiga, and William Lane Craig, a great deal of ink has been devoted to the issue of theodicy (moral defense of God in the face of evil).
I personally subscribe to the Trinitarian Warfare Worldview proposed by Greg Boyd. It is a serious theological, as well as philosophical, treatment of the problem of evil. See my summary of Greg’s views here.
Is it logical for a good God to create a world where evil is possible? Yes, I believe so. However, philosophy (logic & reason) must also make room for theology (natural & divine revelation) for a full, satisfactory response.
God has expressed his true nature in the cross of Jesus. Contrary to the sentiments of Richard Dawkins, the crucifixion is not a “petty” matter inconsequential to human history and the cosmos.
In orthodox Christian perspective, the cross of Christ is the climax of incarnation. God displays the depths of his love for all of creation by bearing the ultimate consequence of the evil our free will has brought into the world.
We also learn that God’s omnipotence doesn’t look like that of Zeus, king of the gods. The power of God is revealed in Jesus’ giving of his life by his own free will for the purpose of reconciling a broken humanity.
Greg Boyd writes…
“The cross refutes the traditional notion that omnipotence means God always gets his way. Rather, the cross reveals God’s omnipotence as a power that empowers others—to the point of giving others the ability, if they so choose, to nail him to the cross. The cross reveals that God’s omnipotence is displayed in self-sacrificial love, not sheer might. God conquers sin and the devil not by a sovereign decree but by a wise and humble submission to crucifixion. In doing this, the cross reveals that God’s omnipotence is not primarily about control but about his compelling love. God conquers evil and wins the heart of people by self-sacrificial love, not by coercive force.” God of the Possible, p.18
The logic is sound, but the true beauty of it is only discovered in faith.
Do you find this video helpful in articulating God’s righteousness in the face of evil? Let’s renew our belief in the goodness of God by looking upon Jesus as the full and final revelation of his character.