Skeptics like to ask, “Why is there evil in the world?” Do you hear the arrogance in that question? Let me rephrase it slightly for how they are really asking it: “Why is there evil in the world, and not in me?” They can see the evil in others (which is true), but they can’t see the evil in their own hearts (which they’re blind to). It’s easy to push evil off as “everybody else’s problem” isn’t it? It’s easy to see it in others, but not in themselves. That is the height of arrogance (i.e. evil). I want to discuss how a skeptic can break through his own skepticism and see evil and good and God for what they are.
If a skeptic were to look into his own heart, he would see it for what it is—evil. The moment he sees himself as evil (and not just others), he will have an answer to that question. Perhaps a better question for the skeptic would be, “Why does God allow evil in the world?” If the skeptic ever could get to the point in believing in “God”, then he could very well ask this legitimate question. This second question (which is God-centered) is completely different than the first question (which is only man-centered).
The first question, “Why is there evil in the world?” asks about this vague concept of “evil”. But, "evil" can't be defined in a man-centered question. To prove this, just ask 10 different people what evil is. You will inevitably get 10 very different answers. Evil cannot be defined by a “majority rules” caucus. We, as humans, know evil when we see it, but within a man-centered worldview, we cannot define it.
On the other hand, the second question, “Why does God allow evil in the world?” does define evil. It defines evil as something that God shouldn’t allow. At this point, the skeptic is still thinking in terms of God as good and all-powerful (a very true, natural and correct assumption). The question sets up two diametrically opposed “forces”: God versus evil. It assumes that evil should not be allowed to continue and that God should stop it. Because this question is asked as a dichotomous question, this provides the question with a very good and honest framework. The skeptic is essentially asking, “We have this supposedly “good” God that “controls” everything, so why does he allow all these evil things to happen?”
That is an excellent inquiry and one that every human being asks or should ask. Why should a more powerful and good “force” allow a weaker and bad “force” to continue on? At this point, the skeptic will either accept God for who He truly is or reject Him for who he thinks God is. In attempting to answer this question, the skeptic’s view of God will become crystal clear to himself. But in reality, it’s the skeptic’s view of God that will determine how he answers the question. It is vitally important for the skeptic to understand, correctly, who God is. The stakes are high, and, unfortunately, many a skeptic have chosen the wrong view of God and thus ended up with a wrong view of evil. This happens when the skeptic’s evil heart (which was established by the first question) can blind him to the truth.
So, what basic attributes of God are called into to question at this point? Well, the skeptic usually asks if God is all-powerful (or not), all-just (or not) and all-loving (or not). If just one “not” is chosen, the skeptic will create a distorted view of God. For example, if He is all-powerful (check), all-loving (check), but not all-just (uncheck), then of course God would allow evil—He’s not just! Evil gets a heyday because God looks the other way! Or, for another example, say He’s all-just (check), all-loving (check), but not all-powerful, then evil would exist because He’s weak! That view essentially says, “even if God wanted to stop the evil, He couldn’t”. In short, if the skeptic doesn’t believe all three attributes of God (all-powerful, all-just and all-loving) he will inevitably come to a wrong conclusion about God and he will never answer his question of evil correctly.
He will, however, answer his question about evil in a wrong manner and will thus proceed to walk away from God (due to his “weakness”, “unjustness” or “unloving” attributes). In addition to him turning away from God, the skeptic will unwittingly embrace evil—the very thing he wanted destroyed. He will either ditch his concept of God and go back to the original question of evil (in a hopeless man-only worldview), or the skeptic will just despise God for all His “weaknesses” and “faults”. How sad for the skeptic to go so far with a good question only to be controlled by his emotions. His conclusion will be to hate God for who he thinks He is, but never for who God truly is (unless the skeptic turns to Satanism, in which, he would accurately know who God is and yet despise Him because of His holiness, justice and love).
But, there is hope for the skeptic, actually. There is hope in the very asking of these two questions. And whether a skeptic has answered these questions thousands of times in his life (and come to thousands of wrong answers), the question will continue to be asked until the right answer is found. It’s one of the peskiest questions of all time and it never stops begging for an answer.
In the very asking of these questions, the skeptic reveals his heart’s deepest question, “the world shouldn’t be this way.” In other words, the question assumes that there is an “ideal” for this world out there somewhere. It assumes “evil” is bad and should not be allowed to exist. It assumes God should defeat evil (if He has the power to do so). It assumes there is a better prototype for life.
Those are all good assumptions. Any skeptic that is asking questions based on those assumptions is on the right track. The other kind of skeptic—the one who has thrown his hands up in the air and has just accepted evil as “a part of life” continues to feed evil the lethargy it needs to exist and thrive. The true skeptic—the one who isn’t lazy and doesn’t want to ignore these biting questions, the one who “doesn’t want to accept things for how they are”—is the one who has hope.
I can speak from experience on this matter of hope. I, too, questioned why evil existed in my life. I just "knew" there was a life of peace out there (somewhere) and I wanted it. Here is the hope I found: there is a God and His name is Jesus. He is all-powerful, all-just and all-loving. He does care that the evil in the world (and in our own hearts) hurts us. He does plan to put a stop to it in His own time. But, even as I’m writing this essay, God is putting an end to evil in the world. He is destroying evil one heart at a time. He can do it for you, too, and any other skeptic who doesn’t want to see evil triumph.
If you have questions about Jesus, feel free to contact me at Email Bibleartbooks
. I’d love to give you some answers regarding any spiritual matter that you may have. God bless you.
Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, and saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. —2 Peter 3:3-7
August 12, 2010