Romans 1:18-20 The anger of God is against all the evil deeds of men who in their wickedness bury and silence the truth about God. That Truth has been made evident to all people ever since the creation of the world; the complexity, design, magnitude and order of Creation clearly shows God’s eternal power, divine nature and existence. Whoever denies God is without excuse or defense. (Paraphrased – BR)
One of the most common declarations we hear from professing atheists or casual agnostics is along the lines of: “I don’t believe in God because of all the suffering and evil. If God does exist, he can’t be good if he just sits back and does nothing.”
Case closed, conversation over for most people because the vast majority of people, even Christians, cannot respond effectively. While a short little devotion like this won’t even scratch the surface, let me just give you some random thoughts off the top of my head to think about.
- Evil exists because free will exists. A true relationship of love cannot exist if the choice not to love doesn’t exist. Evil is what results when free will is exercised against perfect love that God created originally. God did not create robots programmed or forced to love Him and do good. God created us as agents of free will, able to choose good or evil, love or rebellion. You cannot truly love, obey or do good unless there is a genuine choice involved.
- Evil is the deficit of anything that is not perfectly good. To the extent is falls short of perfectly good, that is the degree to which some act or choice is evil (from a human perspective). Cheating on a school test is a “little evil” compared to murder which is very far away from being good. All “less than perfectly good” acts are evil, but as humans we see degrees of evil. Something is built into our spiritual knowledge that some evil is more evil. People don’t say “I can’t believe in God because there are people who shoplift bubble gum”. They say “I can’t believe in God because there are people who rape and murder little children….” Morality and degrees of consequences are built into the universal knowledge in every human heart.
- Evil is one of the strongest PROOFS for the existence of God. As finite humans, we understand the need for justice and accountability. If someone rapes and murders your little daughter, then the existence of our moral outrage and need for justice is a proof of the existence of the child’s father. The wickedness of humanity in all its mind boggling severity and volume, is irrefutable proof for the existence of final accountability and justice by Someone Higher than us because we all know and believe that every vile and evil act should “get what it deserves” in the end. Humanity is incapable of justly punishing all wickedness, and indeed, we see truly evil people appearing to get away with unspeakable wickedness all over the world. What follows is a divinely-originated and common conclusion for most that “in the end, they will pay, you reap what you sow, if not in this life, the next”. Where did that moral outrage and need for justice come from? The animal and plant kingdom have no sense of morality and judgment… only humans do. Why? Because we are created in God’s image… evil is one of the strong proofs of God’s existence because of unique sense of morality and judgment. We understand a human Judge who must (and should) rightly punish a murderer. How much more then does that sense of justice prove their must be an Eternal Judge who presides over all humanity for all time?
- Evil proves that a transcendent form of “good” exists. You cannot have evil without having good to compare it to. Otherwise, evil would just what we would consider “normal”. “Good” is not subject to human opinion… rape is evil, feeding the hungry is good. Man didn’t determine that; it is part of our spiritual nature. We just “know it” (the divine law of our Creator God written on our heart). That does not exist in the animal kingdom in any form, so it proves something is different about humans, something that could have never “evolved”. “Good” transcends mankind. It is not subject to a people with hardened hearts or seared consciences who might declare they think murder or child molestation or thievery is good. Even if 90% of the world declares and genuinely believes “rape is good”, does that make it good? Of course not, we still know rape is evil (which begs the question for America: even if five Supreme Court Justices and 40% of society declare that murdering babies in the womb is good, and a human right… does that mean in reality abortion is not evil?) Where did “transcendent good” come from? The existence of transcendent “good” proves God exists, and evil is only evil compared to that “good”. If a “transcendent good” exists, then it stands to reason it must come from an Intelligence/Person/Being that is transcendent (above humanity) as well. Morality cannot come from inanimate material. Morality only exists in intelligent, self-aware moral beings.
- Whatever exists does indeed exist because God allows it. God is sovereign… so the fact that He allows evil (albeit temporarily) then BY DEFAULT means evil will be used to accomplish His will and bring Him glory despite humanity’s motives. The spiritually blind cannot understand that. They cannot fathom of GOD who allows evil (even briefly) and in His infinite power and knowledge, uses that evil to display His sovereignty, love and glory. It is a very small (and idolatrous) view of the God of the Bible when humans dictate what God should and should not allow.
- In reality most people who say “I can’t believe in God because of evil…” are just parroting talking points and easy excuses that most Christians cannot defend. It is a quick way to end any conversation about God, sin, eternity and accountability. The truth is, the Bible tells us that people KNOW the truth down deep, but they suppress it so that they can pursue the very sin and evil they say proves God doesn’t exist.
Once we understand how and why evil exists, and accept that God is sovereign, then we are left to discover HOW God uses evil to make “ALL THINGS [even evil] work together for good to those that love Him” (Romans 8:28). Some examples for you to think about: to warn us about the consequences of evil, to humble us and show us our need for both a Savior and a Protector, to strengthen us because we all grow in the face of adversity and suffering, to provide opportunities to help others and empathize with them, to demonstrate His power and love when we see God give people blessing and victory despite even severe evil.
Think It Over: “I can’t believe in a god who would allow evil or send people to hell”. Good, me either. That God doesn’t exist, so don’t waste your time believing in it. The true Creator God is far more powerful and loving than all of mankind’s wickedness and hatred. He is fully capable of fulfilling His will, accomplishing His plan and displaying His glory despite evil. THAT is our Creator, the GOD you can believe in.