The problem of evil is usually presented like this, "How can an all-powerful, all-loving God exists when there is so much evil in the world?" That seems to be a hard question, and even though the argument fails logically, it intuitively strikes people as an objection needing an answer, and Christianity does offer one. Christianity teaches that God simply isn't done with us yet. God allows evil for certain period of time in order to accomplish the purposes He set out for man and His creation. Once those purposes are complete, He will vanquish all evil. The cross of Christ has guaranteed that Jesus has triumphed over death and sin and the Christian rests assured that evil will not exist for all eternity. In a relatively brief period, God will vanquish all evil yet preserve our freedom to exercise our love towards Him forever.
What other worldview provides a better answer?The interesting thing in this question, though, is that it isn't incumbent on only the Christian to answer it. Evil is recognizable in any religious system or non-religious system. Every worldview needs to account for the problem of evil; not just Christianity. How do the other belief systems measure up?
When someone offers an objection to God on the basis of the amount of evil in the world, they are conceding at least two things:
- There is an objective "good" whereby we can measure actions and label them as good or evil.
- The fact that evil actions exist means there are problems in the world that need to be solved.
These questions pose significant problems for other worldviews. Atheists, for example, cannot ground their understanding of evil in anything objective. Evil becomes relative to the individual or the community, and therefore true, objective evil cannot really exist. An atheist who claims that the natural world is all there is would say that's just the way the world works. People are born and they die and eventually our sun will be extinguished with no thought at all toward humanity. The result of an atheist worldview is that suffering will never be able to be overcome. Cruelty is woven into the fabric of life and there is no hope of vanquishing it.
Eastern faiths such as Hinduism and Buddhism would provide a different understanding. They hold that the evil we experience is as illusory as our earthy existence. We have forgotten that we are one with the divine and we need to become one again. Only by being liberated from the cycle of life, death, and rebirth through enlightenment can one escape the karma that is responsible for our discomfort. Once this happens, evil will vanish like the illusion it is. The result of this view is that they ignore the reality of evil and ignore the reality of suffering people experience.
Positions taken by other beliefs:
- Atheism (naturalism): No God exists
Result: Suffering will never be overcome
- Pantheism: No evil exists
Result: Ignoring reality, ignoring suffering
- Modified theism: God is limited in power and cannot control evil
Result: A God not in control—ergo no God at all.
I've made the claim that Christianity is both internally consistent and externally coherent. It does not contradict itself in its own claims, even though it makes claims about huge concepts like the nature of God, the nature of man, how people work, and the nature of morality. It also helps us make sense of the world and how we experience it. Looking at how other worldviews answer the problem of evil shows that the difficulties their positions create are far greater than the challenge to the Christian. Christianity offers both a compelling understanding of the fact that real evil does exist and it offers the believer the hope that one day that evil will be vanquished.