“All the stuff in the news lately about wars and shootings is pretty depressing. How can there be a God that is good when the world has so much suffering?”
– Troubled theist
It is true, there is evil that exists in the world, much of it human-caused. If there is a God, why does he allow this? They can be attributed to human’s God-given Free Will, bestowed unto them to give the opportunity to act morally of their own accord. Good deeds that are freely chosen have more value than good deeds that are forced, I hope we can agree. The weight of these occurrences can be overwhelming, and I commiserate with you — let us explore the ways in which one could reconcile these ideas.
I’ll ask you, is the freedom of humans worthwhile if the amount of evil in the world outweighs the amount of good done by humans? Is the ability of one dictator to starve an entire population worth human’s ability to follow God if they choose? I wonder, is God truly focused on the wellbeing of His creations, humans, at all?
In order to give an appropriate response to your question, I wonder to what sort of evil you are referring. For example, in North America, it is commonly accepted that eating dog, cat, or horse meat is evil, based on those animals’ importance in North American culture. In other countries, such as France with horse meat, it is very accepted and not at all evil. If the presence of what is “evil” changes over social borders, it must be a social construct, wouldn’t you say? And then if evil is, in fact, subjective, not objective, how could God enforce it? If He is truly in all moments, how could He determine when an act is evil and when it is not? If He is truly in all places, how could he change his morals for the locations of each act? And if God is unable to enforce evil, He is not all-powerful.
So, assuming that your definition of evil is one that transcends most cultures and time, why would God allow for the work of evil? Or, if you do not tend towards theism, why does religion continue to perpetuate the idea of evil, when God is depicted as being good? Well, as outlined below, the place of a Devil allows for control of citizens.
If residents of a religious population have fear of attending a Hell or being otherwise punished, they will be more encouraged to act in accordance with laws and contribute towards a smoothly running society. If the church says to abstain sex before marriage, it is to ensure that children are born into dual-income families in a presumably stable household. Now, in modern society, these rules are not as useful, as the main issue has been taken care of through birth control and the ability to have a single income family. In this way, it could be argued that God allows evil to help citizens care for themselves.
I hope I have given you some tools to construct your own response to your question. Believe what you will, reader, but take some time to reflect upon my analysis.
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