God and evil

God and evil

“He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” Revelation 21:4

Stephen Fry is an actor-comedian and well-known atheist. Recently on Irish television he was asked how he’d react if it turned out he’s wrong, and God met him at the Pearly Gates of Heaven. What would you say to God? Fry responded, “I think I’d say, ‘How dare you create a world in which there is such misery that is not our fault. It’s not right. It’s utterly, utterly evil. Why should I respect a capricious, mean-minded, stupid God who creates a world that is so full of injustice and pain?’ That’s what I would say.”

The host then suggested that Fry may not get into heaven with that attitude, to which Fry answers, “But I wouldn’t want to. I wouldn’t want to get in on his terms. They’re wrong.” He goes on to praise the mythological gods of Greece for not presenting themselves as “all-seeing, all-wise, and all-kind.”

To Stephen Fry, it’s easier to believe in the impotent small “g” gods of mythology, than accept the all-powerful capital “G” God who allows evil, pain and misery to exist.

So let’s revisit the age old question of how and why evil exists in this world.

It might seem like there are as many responses to this question as there are religions. But in reality, there are only three basic answers; pantheism, philosophical naturalism, and theism.

Pantheism (Hinduism and Buddhism) denies the existence of good and evil because in their view god is all and all is god.

Philosophical naturalism (the worldview of Darwinian evolution) supposes that everything is a function of random processes, thus there is no such thing as good and evil.

Theism alone has a relevant response—and only Christian theism can answer the question satisfactorily.

First of all – Christian theism acknowledges that God created the potential for evil because God created humans with freedom of choice. We choose to love or hate, to do good or evil. History bears testimony to the fact that humans, of their own free will, have actualized the reality of evil through their choices.

Secondly – without choice, love is meaningless. God is neither a cosmic rapist who forces his love on people, nor a cosmic puppeteer who forces people to love him. Instead, God, the personification of love, grants us the freedom of choice. Without such freedom, we would be little more than preprogrammed robots.

Finally, the fact that God created the potential for evil by granting us freedom of choice ultimately will lead to the best of all possible worlds—a world in which “there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain”. For those who choose Christ, will be redeemed from evil by his goodness and will forever be able not to sin.