As we have in the last two posts about the problem of evil and the question of free will, we continue to wrestle with the idea of a god in a one-dimensional, material world. Does it help to propose that God is not the cause of evil but simply allows it? Will this proposal protect the ideas of God’s goodness and our free will? Why, then, does an all-good, all-powerful God allow evil? What if God allows evil so people know the difference between God who is good and evil that is bad? What if the evil we suffer now will all be resolved by paradise in eternity?
But if God is all-knowing and powerful, why can’t he create us so we know what we need to know from the start? Why can’t God create an eternal paradise from the start? If God is all-good, why doesn’t everyone suffer equally; why do some people never suffer and other people suffer in horrific ways?
In the end, the idea of “allowing” evil cannot save God from a reasonable accusation that either He is not all powerful and knowing or He is not all good. What if this accusation leads us from the common human experience of evil to biblical texts that suggest God is the cause of evil? Consider Isaiah 45:7 that describes that God makes peace and creates evil? Didn’t God know that rejecting Cain’s sacrifice would result in the murder of Abel? Wasn’t it God who taunted the devil into attacking Job? Why did God bring Jacob and his family to Egypt if He know they would adopt the corruption of the Egyptians and so enslave themselves? Here we can be sympathetic with atheists and agnostics who have not found any answers for these questions or have found the answers proposed unsatisfying.
The failure to answer these questions is what makes all religions except one essentially the same and explains why so many people have abandoned religion altogether. More about that next week.