Many Christians leave the faith due to a lack of understanding of the problem of evil. To prevent this from happening, we need to be reflective on whether or not God is justified in permitting evil.
I am just finishing up a summer session at Biola University in the Masters of Apologetics track on “Why God Allows Evil,” a required course that students must take since it is the number one stumbling block for skeptics. Dr. Clay Jones has spent the past several years studying the subject, and has come to the conclusion that most Christians “only pay lip service to evil,” explaining that we fail to realize the depravity of humanity, and our own personal sinful natures. We can be spiritually unreflective. We can forget that if it wasn’t for Jesus, we’d all be damned to hell. Yeah, that seems harsh and super unpopular in today’s culture, but God is a Holy God and sin cannot exist in His presence. So, if we carry sin into eternity with us because we didn’t receive salvation from Christ, we won’t be near God. We will be in Hell – a place absent of love.
Atheists and skeptics often use the problem of evil to explain away any possibility of a loving God. What they don’t understand is free will. When God created people, He wanted voluntary worshippers, not robot beings who don’t have choices. He has provided just enough evidence of His existence through the natural world and the resurrection of His son, Jesus Christ. He does require us to have faith: to believe in the evidences He has provided, but also to recognize there is an element of trust in what He hasn’t provided—all the answers. If we had all the answers, would we have a choice?
In the 20th century, more atrocities were committed against each other than in any other century. Over 55-million people were murdered in WWII alone. It is no coincidence that just prior to this century, the Origin of Species was published, and many embraced naturalism as the reason for our existence. Science sat in the throne of God. This new philosophy discounted thousands of years of established truths within the culture; Biblical truths that validated man as being created in the image of God and therefore, of great value. Darwin took that value and flushed it down the toilet. We no longer had any intrinsic value—how could we if our ancestors were simply apes? We were created out of nothing but physical matter and, after all, only the “strongest survive.”
The most difficult point to grasp is that no one group is immune to this murderous tendency. Millions have died at the hands of people of all worldviews, from atheists to Christians to Muslims and so on. If you read Ordinary Men, the book tells of a story of how a group of policeman were turned into mass murderers. In the face of the cultural climate of the Nazi regime, these everyday men, some who were cops and others businessmen, had pressures on them to “perform their duties,” and shot thousands of Jews, women, children, older and defenseless people. This shows that any one of us might become one of these “ordinary men” and be Auschwitz-enabled (one of the extermination camps set up by the Nazis). Could we truly say we wouldn’t do the same? Of course our initial reaction would be “absolutely NOT!”, but if we were completely honest, each person, given the same pressures these men faced, might “do our duty” as well. All of humanity can sink to the lowest levels of evil, no matter what your worldview.
Why do bad things happen to good people? Perhaps we should ask ourselves “who is really good?” Even Jesus Christ, the sinless one, had a terrible thing happen to Him. He did absolutely nothing wrong, and yet was killed in one of the most torturous murders in all of history.
We need to understand the Christian worldview is the only view that offers a solution to the problem of evil, a terrible condition of humanity. There is one way, and His name is Jesus Christ.