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Come Reason's Apologetics Notes blog will highlight various news stories or current events and seek to explore them from a thoughtful Christian perspective. Less formal and shorter than the Web site articles, we hope to give readers points to reflect on concerning topics of the day.

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Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Why God Doesn't Reduce the Evil in the World?

The invention of the automobile was a pivotal moment in human history. The locomotive had been around for nearly 100 years and was instrumental in moving people and goods long distances. But the fact that locomotives ran on rails didn't make it functional for short trips to varying destinations. People still had to rely on horses or horse-drawn buggies.

When the mass-produced automobile debuted, it changed everything. People had significantly more freedom once they owned an automobile. They could choose to go where they wished at any time they wished. They could take luggage and supplies with them. Roads, being much cheaper to build and maintain than rails, also began to appear everywhere and highways stretched across the country opening up even more opportunities.

Of course, as the number of drivers increased, the number of accidents increased as well. Cars could be dangerous, especially to pedestrians. If cars were placed on tracks, the number of fatalities could have been decreased, but doing so would defeat the purpose of the automobile. A car on rails is an amusement park attraction, not an automobile.

God Created Humans as Free Creatures

I offer the automobile as one kind of illustration to help answer one objection for God's existence. When I'm on college campuses, I usually hear the question "Why would an all-good and all-powerful God allow evil in the world?" I normally offer the Free Will defense, stating God wanted to not simply create creatures, but he desired creatures that could freely choose to love him. Some may acquiesce to the idea that God would have to allow people to choose and therefore some kind of evil is inevitable, but many offer a second objection. They usually ask, "But why would a good God allow so much evil? There's just too much suffering in the world for God to exist."

Of course their objection is loaded with assumptions. One may be that God could just remove all the truly evil people in the world. The first question I have is where should God draw the line? How much evil should he allow and how much should he quell? You may think that a gang-banger who kills people should definitely be included, but then we've lost a Nicky Cruz, who later went on to become a powerful evangelist, leading thousands to Christ. What about cheats and liars? How did you do on your taxes last year? God will at some point remove all the evil in the world; that day is known as Armageddon, the end of the world. Until then, God allows the rain to fall on the just and the unjust alike.

Couldn't God just suppress the evil people do?

Another assumption is that God can somehow tamper with someone's evil desires, yet not have people lose their autonomy. They seem to be saying that we could have a world much like our own, where human beings are truly free, yet their freedom to choose evil ways is suppressed. Just how does God do that? An all-powerful God could take away the ability of people to choose to kill or rape or steal, but what would be the result? God would be making them something less than full human beings. They would be limited to run on the tracks that God provided for them rather than have the freedom to choose their own path.

If we recognize God as wholly good, it would be an evil thing for God to change a free creature to something that is less than free. No one wants to be a Stepford Wife against his or her will. Just as an automobile is reduced to something less when it is placed on tracks, so human beings are reduced to something less when their ability to make free choices is removed.

We do see a lot of evil in this world. But that doesn't mean God is doing nothing about it. We see God working to stem the evil through his teachings and through his church. That's one reason Christians are so passionate about issues like human sex-trafficking, feeding the poor, and ministering to those with drug and alcohol problems. It's also why we're so passionate about issues like abortion and same-sex marriage, where others would resist these moral principles. We want to stand against evil, even though it can be unpopular. However, to assume there can be less evil in the world without substantially altering the free choices of human beings is to assert more than one can prove.

We can think of it this way: the first and greatest commandment is to love God with one's heart, soul, mind, and strength. To not love God is a sin; it's evil. Believing in God would go a tremendous way in stopping murders and rapists from their evil ways, too. So, how many atheists are willing to let God forcibly change their minds about His existence?

Image courtesy Thomas Mielke and licensed via the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Generic (CC BY 2.5) License



  2. Is It not better to talk in terms of our choice to sin, rather than "free will" (which we do not entirely have, and renders God a deist deity)? I prefer not to use the free will defence because God cannot be sovereign so long as man is, and because philosophers have long distinguished freedom of spontaneity from liberty of indifference, since Augustine on the freedom of the will.

    1. I prefer the free will defense because Middle Knowledge of Molinism does pretty well at keeping God and man both sovereign.

  3. I find it funny (and ironic) that people, especially Atheists, keep asking this question to defend their belief: Why wouldn't a loving God suppressed evil in this world?

    My answer: He does. Through Christians, sharing His words through the Bible, fighting immoralities, and inviting them to listen to the loving God on what He has to say. The problem is, they don't listen. He's telling us to stop but we don't listen and yet asking "Why wouldn't He suppress evil?"

    If you're asking, Why can't He just use His power and stop evil with the snap of His finger? He choose to talk to us, not just use His power and control us. Because we are not objects to Him. To Him, we are His companions, friends, and sons.


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