The existence of evil and suffering in the world is, in my opinion, the biggest blockage that stops people becoming Christians. A lot of people think that suffering disproves the existence of God.

Now when you look at what professional philosophers and theologians say about this issue you see that no one really hold this position For example here is Professor of Philosophy Chad Meister on this issue:

Most people writing at the popular level aren’t aware that professional philosophers of religion, theists and atheists alike have agreed in recent years that this version of the problem of evil has been decisively rebutted and is therefore unsuccessful. That kind of consensus doesn’t come very often in philosophy! There is no logical contradiction between the two claims, for it could be the case that an all-powerful, all-knowing and omnibenevolent God has good reasons for allowing evil to exists and persist perhaps, for example, for the greater good of one or more persons.[1]

Meister is saying that an all-powerful, all-knowing and all loving God might allow temporary suffering for a greater good.  It is a bit like a mother who takes their child to the doctor for a tetanus shot. The mother loves her child, knows more about her child and is more powerful than her child but allows her child to go through temporary in the form of a tetanus shot for the greater good of that child not becoming sick in  the future. The child could be thinking “Mummy loves me, she knows more than me and she is stronger than me so why is she letting this man put this sharp needle in me?”. God may put us through temporary suffering for greater good in the future. In fact I have met many people who have experienced temporary pain which, in the future, they have been able to see have been for greater good. That in a small sense is why philosophers, secular and religious alike reject the idea that evil and suffering disproves God.

As Tim Keller says “If you have a God great and transcendent enough to be mad at because he hasn’t stopped evil and suffering in the world, then you have (at the same moment) a God great and  transcendent enough to have good reasons for allowing it to continue that you can’t know. Indeed, you can’t have it both ways.”[2]

 

[1] Chad Meister – God Evil and Morality in God is Good. God Is great: Why Believing in God is Reasonable and Responsible. (Downers Grove: IVP, 2009), 108

[2] Tim Keller Rason for God, 25

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