Our “Quick Shot” series offers brief answers to common objections to the Christian worldview. Each response is limited to one paragraph. These responses are designed to (1) answer the objection as concisely as possible, (2) challenge the objector to think more deeply about his or her claim, and (3) facilitate a “gospel” conversation. In this article, we’re offering “Quick Shot” responses to the objection, Quick Shot: “If God exists, he would not allow evil and suffering.”
“What kind of evil and suffering are your talking about? If you’re talking about the evil things humans do to one another, there may be a good reason why God would allow this to happen, especially if He values love. Our ability to love is dependent on our ability to act freely; true love cannot be compelled or pre-programmed. But this kind of pre-requisite freedom is dangerous, right? It means that some of us – if we freely choose to ignore the moral teaching of Jesus, for example – will freely commit evil acts. This is the dangerous price of freedom. But according to Christianity, God has a plan to eventually right all the wrongs committed by humans. Doesn’t that kind of God seem loving and just?”
“What kind of evil and suffering are your talking about? If you’re talking about the suffering that comes from ‘natural’ disasters, like floods, fires and tornadoes, there are several reasons why God might allow such suffering. There are times when ‘natural’ evil is either caused or aggravated by our free choices. Humans often rebuild along earthquake fault lines and known hurricane pathways, and we frequently cut corners on building guidelines in order to save money. God may tolerate some apparently ‘natural’ evil because it is the result of human free agency (something God must allow for love to be genuine). God may also tolerate some ‘natural’ evil because it is necessary for our survival. The same weather systems that create tornadoes also provide much needed thunderstorms. The same plate tectonics that allow for earthquakes are also necessary for soils regulation and surface temperature stability. Can you see why much of the ‘natural’ evil we cite is necessary?”
“What do you have in mind when you label something as ‘evil’? Why are you calling this act or behavior ‘evil’ in the first place? What standard are you using? Is evil just a matter of personal opinion? If so, we could eliminate all evil by simply changing our minds. But, that won’t work, will it? If you think that some acts and behaviors are objectively, transcendently evil – even if individuals or groups disagree – that would require an objective standard of ‘rightness’ that transcends individuals or groups (including nations). That kind of evil, the evil you are describing, requires a transcendent God as the unchanging, objective standard of rightness. Just as shadows cannot exist without sunlight, true evil cannot exist without the true standard of rightness we know as God. Evil doesn’t prove the non-existence of God; instead it requires God as the standard by which we judge something and call it ‘evil’.”
Our “Quick Shot” series was written specifically for the Cold-Case Christianity App (you can download it on Apple and Android platforms – be sure to register once you download the App). When confronted with an objection in casual conversation, App users can quickly find an answer without having to scroll beyond the first screen in the category. Use the App “Quick Shots” along with the “Rapid Responses” and Case Making “Cheat Sheets” to become a better Christian Case Maker.
For more information about the scientific and philosophical evidence pointing to a Divine Creator, please read God’s Crime Scene: A Cold-Case Detective Examines the Evidence for a Divinely Created Universe. This book employs a simple crime scene strategy to investigate eight pieces of evidence in the universe to determine the most reasonable explanation. The book is accompanied by an eight-session God’s Crime Scene DVD Set(and Participant’s Guide) to help individuals or small groups examine the evidence and make the case.
J. Warner Wallace is a Dateline featured Cold-Case Detective, Senior Fellow at the Colson Center for Christian Worldview, Adj. Professor of Christian Apologetics at Talbot School of Theology, Biola University, author of Cold-Case Christianity, God’s Crime Scene, and Forensic Faith, and creator of the Case Makers Academy for kids.
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