Excuse Against Hope
The Question of Evil
If God exists why does he allow Evil in the world?
It is impossible to overrate the incredibly profound implications that this objection has in the minds of people. In this study you will find that not only is the question of evil the most frequent excuse against hope and God, but most incredibly, in the very objection itself, it reveals to us that we all have an innate knowledge of no less than five fundamental characteristics of the God we say we don’t believe in.
“If God exists, why does he allow suffering?”
“If God is real why does he let bad things happen to good people?”
“How can God permit a baby to die of cancer?”, “If God was real, why did he do nothing to stop the rape and murder of my daughter?”
“I can’t believe in a God that lets children die of hunger, or made diseases and plagues or hurricanes and earthquakes”
“If God exists, why are there mosquitoes in the world?”
Every reason given above, and many more not noted, are in the same train of thought, rejecting the knowledge of God because of the Problem of Evil.
Please understand that I do not make light of any of those things noted above, the denials of God based on those reasonings are both emotional and heart-rending, they have caused the stumbling of many and even of some of the most intelligent philosophers in history, including the late and great Antony Flew. Antony Flew was effectively the last philosophical Atheist who was able to argue a systematic philosophy for atheism, a position he later renounced in his last book title “There is a God: How the Worlds most notorious Atheist Changed His Mind“. No Atheist since Antony Flew has been able to come close to the rational method employed by him, a method in which he also had eventually seen the flaws of.
The question of evil is as old as civilisation itself, even the Old Testament of the Bible has men questioning the practical reality of God based on what they see around them (Psalm 73:1-14, 2 Chron 32:10-15), this evidently being, at least, a three thousand-year old argument.
The answers given for the questions above have ranged from clear to some of the most convoluted I have read. Some come to the answer Biblically, others come to it while trying to appease modern ideas concerning existence that the Bible rejects.
In this first part, my desire is first to prove to you that the The Bible is true concerning both our innate knowledge of God and our wilful rejection of him, in spite of the argument of Evil. Is it possible that embedded within the greatest argument against his existence resides an inbuilt knowledge and confession of his existence?
Part 2 will deal with the argument itself and how the Bible addresses the question, both of the sovereignty of God (which the argument clearly acknowledges), the free will and responsibility of man (which the argument ignores), and the fall itself which needs to be explained.
Romans chapter 1 informs us that all of mankind knows God exists, it says;
“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;
19 Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. 20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:
According to the Bible, that which might be known of God is revealed in man, and it goes on to give the reason saying that God had shown the knowledge of himself to man. But then the Bible goes on in verse 20 to say that all of creation itself clearly brings an understanding of God by the things that are made, and even knowledge of the eternal power of the Godhead himself, what an incredible claim. No doubt if this is true, man is indeed without excuse.
But the Bible goes on to tell of why so much of mankind have now come to reject what is self-evident concerning God, in the very next verse saying:
“21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools”
There has been a tremendous change within both the hearts and minds of many who have rejected that which is plain to them. I intend to show that this transformed foolishness is represented and revealed by the oldest argument laid against God, that in itself proves knowledge of God and most interestingly, the Godhead.
There are theological terms that describe the characteristics of God when studying in a Bible seminary, terms that, through the study of the scriptures we come to understand who God really is. My desire is to show you that the five fundamental characteristics about God are already known by us all, even without such study. Most incredibly, they are imbedded in the argument most used to deny him.
“If God exists, why does he allow evil in the world?”
“…Why does god allow…?”
This part of the argument assumes that God has the power to prevent evil. But this is no small power, it presumes that God can turn the hearts of man and the elements of nature. It presumes that both spirit, matter and even time are at his fingertips to do with them as he wills; whether it is to prevent the murder of a mother, prevent a meteor from crashing upon a city, or extend the life of a father; all things in the universe are at his command according to the basic presumption made by this statement. This is no small power, it has as its lot a power that can control all the elements of existence.
The claim is that God is All Powerful, in theological terms it is referred to as Omnipotence. But who told the arguer that God has such power? The Deists of old believed that God had the power to get things going in the beginning, but has since let it all go the way of nature. Who told the arguing agnostic that God actually has control over what a man might do or think, how an object in outer space may track or even what it is to extend life?
Both the agnostic doubter and Theology tell us God is Omnipotent.
“Why does god allow evil…”
This part of the argument presumes both the existence of evil (an absolute notion that is inconsistent in a universe without an absolute standard of its counterpart known as “good”, to measure evil by), most importantly that there is a true awareness at least that the existence of evil itself is inconsistent with the existence of God, presuming clearly that God is not evil but good.
But not ‘good’ like you or I, not ‘good’ like ‘good coffee’, but a good that is diametrically opposed to everything inconsistent with it to the smallest degree, perfectly good, All good! In Theological terms this is referred as Omnibenevolent. But who told them that God is good? Why could it not be the God that Richard Dawkins believes in, one who is;
“… jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.”
Richard Dawkins; The God Delusion.
Dawkins seems to have no problem with this description of God, so why does almost everybody else presume God is good, unless they have some form of inbuilt awareness of his character, his Godhead? Man generally likes to think of himself as ‘good’, and the Bible teaches that we are made in the image of God, so it seems almost instinctive to assume of an Omnibenevolent creator.
“…Why does god allow evil in the world”
The argument presumes two other attributes here, 1/ That God knows evil is occurring all over the world at any one time, and 2/ That God might be wherever evil is looming to prevent it exacting its influence against man and beast.
God would need to know not only that a thief is about to break into my home in Melbourne, but that a Solar flare is about to be expelled from the Sun emitting an Electro magnetic pulse that will destroy all Telecommunications and much of the power grid on Earth, similar to the Carrington event of 1859. He would need to know ALL the evil that can come upon the world and the people of the world at any one time. He would need to be All Knowing, in theological terms this is referred to as Omniscient.
But not only would God need to be all-knowing, he would need to be everywhere present at the same time to practically prevent all evil. This too is naturally assumed from the argument “…Why does God allow evil in the world?”. Being everywhere present at the same time is known as being Omnipresent in Theology.
If god exists, Why does he allow evil in the world?
Friends, the fact that this argument has been around since the beginning of civilisation also presumes that the Character of God and his nature does not change, he seems very much in our minds to be the same yesterday, today and forever (Heb 13:8). In Theological terms this is referred to as his Immutability, he simply does not change, according even to those who deny God, he is the only perfect and true constant.
Who would have thought that, imbedded within the greatest argument that is set to excuse and deny the existence of God, is contained the five fundamental Characteristics of God that we all seem innately aware of. He is;
- Omnipresent, and
All this knowledge about God framed by those who claim to not know him, in the greatest argument set to disprove his existence. How can it be that we can universally know so much about something or someone who does not even exist?
Could it be that “That which may be known of God is manifest in them”?
The Bible claims that Jesus “was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.” (Jn 1:9), do we all truly have illumined with each one of us the knowledge of God?
If that is true, if “the invisible things of him from the creation of the world, are clearly seen, even his eternal power and Godhead”, then we are all indeed “without excuse”.
Pr Edi Giudetti