Summary of the Problem of Evil
Many Christians as well as non-Christians have struggled with the issue of evil in the world. The problem of evil has been a stumbling block for many and has caused many false views to invade the mind of mankind concerning the theistic God. Most of the issues arise from a lack of understanding concerning the nature and origin of evil. If the theistic God is omnipotent, omniscient, and all-loving then why is evil still present with us and why did He create the world knowing that evil would be present? Such questions demand answers.
Origin of Evil
Did God create evil? If God created evil, is God still all-good? If God didn’t create evil then where did it come from? The problem concerning this issue is that if God is absolutely perfect, then He cannot produce anything imperfect. The perfect beings created by the perfect God cannot do evil. Therefore, evil is not the product of the perfect God or his perfect beings. But, evil exists and there seems to be no solution for this problem. On the other hand, if one of the perfections that God gave to his perfect beings was the ability to choose, and these perfectly created beings choose to do evil, then the perfectly created being is responsible for the origin of evil. This does not make freedom of choice evil, it only allows for the possibility of evil. Through free choice the ability to rebel against the Creator was present, and evil was introduced into the creation through the act of rebellion. God gave the power to choose which made for the possibility of evil. But man is to be held accountable for the improper use of freewill and is also accountable for the consequences that stem from the misuse of freewill.
Nature of Evil
The question of ‘what is evil?’ is another problem that must be addressed. The reality of evil seems to be a difficulty for many. Many simply state that if God is the originator of everything and evil is something, then God is the originator of evil. The response to this issue is that God is the Creator of every substance and evil is not a substance, but a lack in a substance. Therefore, God did not create evil. Evil is the corruption of or lack in good things created by God. But evil is not a thing in itself; there is no such thing as pure 100% evil. A totally corrupted (rusted) car would be nothing at all. Evil is the absence or deprivation of something good that should be; a real lack of what is good.
Persistence of Evil
The problem with the persistence of evil can be stated that if God were all-good then He would destroy evil; and if God was all-powerful then He could destroy evil. But evil is not destroyed and therefore no such God exists. In response, one must remember that free choice would be destroyed if evil were destroyed. One would not have the ability to choose evil. Forcing people to choose good is not freedom. Forced love is not love at all; forced friendships are not friendships at all. If God forced man to worship Him, it would not be true worship. Therefore, if God were to destroy evil, then free choice would be destroyed along with good. But on the other hand, God is going to yet defeat evil without destroying freewill. God desires to defeat evil and is completely capable of doing so. He has not yet defeated evil, but in the future he will do so.
Purpose of Evil
It would seem that some evil does have a good purpose. But there is some evil that seems to have no good purpose at all. It seems apparent that there is useless suffering in the world; there appears to be evil without purpose. It could be argued that an all-good God must have a good purpose for everything, but some evil such as suffering has no good purpose. Therefore an all-good God does not exist. Just because we do not see a good purpose for some evil does not mean that it does not exist. God does have a good purpose for everything even though we do not understand it. In our finite state we know of many evils that have good purpose. God, who is infinite in knowledge, knows the good purpose for everything else that we do not know. To take it one step further, an all-good God is able to bring about good from evil. God is working out all things for the greatest good that is possible without destroying freewill.
Avoidability of evil
Why would God create the world knowing that evil would occur and the world would be in a fallen state? There must be a purpose for God creating the world that He knew would fall. God ultimately chose the absolute best possibility that could have been chosen. God desires a love relationship with mankind, but not all will choose this because many refuse His offer of unconditional love through His Son. Possibly, concerning those who reject, God considers it to be better to have loved and lost, than to have never loved at all.
All the objections concerning the problem of evil are an attack on God’s personal character. These character judgments are focused on God’s infinite power, infinite goodness, infinite knowledge, and infinite perfection. These are all qualities that the theistic God possesses. An attack on these attributes is an attack on the existence of the theistic God.