A fellow traveller in life’s journey, F, once stated, “But since you believe in [God] you must blame him [for] floods, earthquakes and of course rapes. Of course, all these things happen because THERE IS NO GOD.” Another atheist wrote, “for what purpose could God possibly permit so much evil to be in the world?”
Before I start, it might be helpful to remind ourselves that when an atheist displays his anger at God, or at all the evil that God allows in the world, that person is talking about, and sometimes even raging about two things that don’t exist in the atheist world-view. I know, it’s weird, but they do it over and over and over. For Christians, on the other hand, we have no problem acknowledging that both God and evil are realities with which we much deal on a daily basis.
The Bible explains, in too much detail to discuss fully here, that God uses the Christian’s suffering here on earth as a character developer in preparation for our duties in heaven. Suffering, pain, disappointment - things that we label as being evil are God’s primary tools for bringing about God-like or Agape love in His servants.
Why evil? Why not use good people to do good things in order to teach us what we need to know? Well, there’s a couple reasons for that. First of all, evil people are all that God has to work with. There has only been One good person on earth and we killed Him. That being the case - satan ignites the evil that is in us and he uses it in many and various ways. he takes things like the rape of a child and he uses it in an attempt to destroy us. Because sinful creatures who are oozing corrupted self-love are the only medium at God’s disposal, He takes the evil that is in us, He takes the consequences of that evil and He uses those things to actually transform the characters of those who are willing to be used by Him. Learning agape love, or what I call other-love, as demonstrated in the life and death of Jesus, is the ultimate purpose of our life on earth. Some have called agape love “the currency of heaven.”
People throughout the world desperately want this other-love to exist. At some level, we all recognise that this is the kind of love that we need for our families and for humanity itself to survive. What most people don’t get is that this type of love is developed in us via suffering. And that is what atheists absolutely cannot stand. The atheist’s aversion to suffering resembles that of two-year-old children. In the atheist mind-set anything that isn’t pleasurable is pronounced bad, regardless of what it might do for our character in the long run. Atheists want the rainbow but not the storm. The fact is, beginning with conception and continuing until our last breath -
. Without self-giving, there is no other-love.
. Without suffering, there is no self-giving.
. Without suffering, there is no other-love.
In the beginning, God’s power and character were fully present on the earth. Evil was not allowed to inhabit this domain or cosmos and it was “very good.” We made the freewill choice to live a life separate and independent from God. Because God is compassionate He has allowed us to experience only a small portion of what we wanted. He knew that we would be destroyed if He withdrew His presence completely. Instead, He has pulled back His “hand of protection” to a limited degree, for a short period of time. According to the Bible, as history draws to a close, God is gradually pulling back His influence a little bit more every year. An example of this is given in Romans chapter one. Here God is referring to the consequences for the whole world because of those who deny His existence. It says in part, “Because of this [denying God], God gave them over . . .” The chapter then lists various evils with which the world’s population is currently struggling.
I believe this is the reason that people are seemingly UNABLE to do what it takes to stop the progress of, for example, HIV. To many of us, the answer seems so simple.
Stop screwing strangers.
Be faithful to your spouse.
Don’t become involved in adultery.
If you aren’t married, then be celibate.
Don’t become involved in the death-culture of IV drug use.
It appears to many of us that people are not WILLING to do the one thing, the only thing that would put an end for all time to STD’s of all stripes. On the other hand, it may be the case that it’s not as simple as people being unwilling to be responsible. It may well be that since God has pulled back His hand of protection, the current level of evil in the world has made it literally IMPOSSIBLE for those who hate God to behave in a sexually responsible, reasonable and logical manner. It may be accurate to say that the rape of a child takes place because God is almost but not totally absent from the scene. I'll explain below why that is only partially true.
We are seeing in our world today, the results of the decrease of God’s active influence as well as the increase of satan’s active influence. “Because of the increase of evil, the love of many will grow cold.” The rage, the disdain for human dignity, the destruction, the hate - all that we see on the daily news, including the destruction of a child’s character through the act of rape is really a description of satan’s character; the news is just a review of what satan and those who possess his character have been up to that day. And that’s the world that we chose. Therefore we have what we have. The Bible tells us that at the end of history, those who are in rebellion to the reality of a Creator, those who want to live as though God does not exist will get their wish completely fulfilled. They will experience the complete absence of God’s love and protection. They will experience it for all of eternity. The total and complete absence of love will be so excruciating that the closest description we can give is that it will be like being burned alive.
So, that’s the answer to why there is the presence of evil. In the next and final post, I will explain clearly both where God is when an evil act takes place and why He allows us to revel in evil even as it destroys us and our relationships.