The Problem of Evil

How Can a Good God Allow Evil to Exist?

Let’s face it. Some questions can be difficult to answer. When Christians share their faith, skeptics and unbelievers are quick to reject. One common objection deals with the presence of pain and suffering in the world. Skeptics argue that if God were good, He would want to prevent evil, and if He were all-powerful, He would be able to prevent it. They conclude that if evil exists, a benevolent, all-powerful God does not.

Some people argue that evil doesn’t really exist. Just like darkness is the absence of light, so evil is thought to be the absence of good. But we are left wondering why God allows good to be absent. Others argue for the necessity of experience. Maybe we must experience suffering so that we do not repeat wrong behavior. Perhaps God allows suffering and evil in the same way a parent may discipline a child who insists on playing in the street. Yet the necessity of experience does not seem adequate to explain the abuse, injustice, and atrocities in the world.

To fully explain the existence of evil, we must explain the existence of sin. In Romans 5:12 the Apostle Paul writes, “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.” Adam, Eve, and their descendants are responsible for evil, sin, and suffering. In fact, the entire creation suffers under the weight of this sin (Romans 8:22–23). And it all began with a choice to rebel against God’s law. Norman Geisler notes, “God created only good things. One good thing He made was free will.”[1] Free will keeps us from being robots. We can love, worship, and relate to God because of it. But it also enables us to choose what is wrong.

A helpful illustration of this principle can be found in a car wreck. Imagine driving up to an accident where a new car has been completely totaled. Hopefully, nobody was hurt, but it is clear that the vehicle is not worth repairing. No one would snap a picture of that car and send it back to the manufacturer with the demand, “Why did you build a wrecked car?” We recognize that when it left the showroom, that car was in perfect condition, but someone wrecked it. Likewise, the world that we live in has been wrecked by sin. It is no longer in its original condition.

So does that mean there is no hope? Evil exists. God isn’t to blame for it. And we just need to deal with it? Not at all! The fact that evil exists means a moral law exists, which points us back to God. While Christians acknowledge that evil exists, we also know that the same God who created this world loves us too much to leave it in its current condition. Instead of removing the possibility of evil by denying us a free will, God overcame the presence of evil at the cross. When His plan is complete, suffering, sickness, and death will be things of the past (1 Corinthians 15:20–26). Because of the gospel we can have atonement, restoration, and hope. When God makes something good out of nothing, it is called creation. When He makes something good out of evil, it is called redemption.


[1] Geisler, N. (2011). If God, Why Evil? A new way to think about the question. Grand Rapids, MI: Bethany House. p. 33.

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