The Problem of Evil

If God controls all events in our world and in our lives that makes him responsible for everything that happens to our world and to us.  And everything includes all the evil and suffering we experience.  Mark Twain explains the problem as follows.

. . .nothing can happen without his knowledge beforehand that it is going to happen; nothing happens without his permission; nothing can happen that he chooses to prevent. . .[This] makes the Creator distinctly responsible for everything that happens. . .[It makes] the Creator responsible for all those pains, diseases, and miseries. . . [1]

The evil and suffering that exists in our world on a daily basis is beyond human comprehension.  All the crime, war, atrocities committed by governments, religious persecution, and natural disasters contribute to make this world a hell on earth.  It is doubtful anyone could perceive all the suffering that occurs in our world in a single day and remain sane.  When one considers all the injustice and suffering in this world, one must come to the conclusion that if God does control all events on our world, he is the most sadistic individual in the universe.

Now Christian will say that God did not cause all the evil and suffering in our world; it is the result of sin.  So who is in control—God or Satan?  Give us a straight answer!!  Do not tell us God controls all events on earth and than when pressed by questions of evil in this world respond by saying it is the fault of sin or Satan!  That is just another way of saying God does not control everything.  God allowing something to happen means he gives over control of what happens to someone or something else.  A simple rule of management is that one can delegate authority but one can never delegate responsibility.  So even if God allows something to happen, he is still responsible for that event.

The evil that exists in our world raised major questions about God’s existence or how he operates in our world.  Dr. James Sennett says he tells his philosophy of religion students that, if they are Christians and the problem of evil does not keep them up at night, then they don’t understand it. [2]  Weatherford notes that our experience of evil “is the most philosophically important evidence against the existence of an all-powerful, all-good divinity.” [3]  Ivan Karzmozov expresses a view most of us can share:  “If God could only create the world He desired at the expense of the suffering of millions of innocent children, then I would rebel and refuse to serve Him.” [4]

All the questions we have asked in the past few blogs tell us either God is not the person he represents himself to be or we are in error in our belief of how God involves himself in our world and lives.  Given human nature, I place my bets on the latter.  In the next blog, we will look at what the Bible says about this subject.


[1]   Mark Twain, Letters from the Earth (Greenwich, Conn.:  Fawcett Publications, 1962), p. 33.

[2]   James F. Sennett,  The Reluctant Disciple:  A Postmodern Apologetic.  Unpublished book, chapter 2, page 20.

[3]   Ray Weatherford, The Implications of Determinism (New York:  Routledge, 1991), p. 10.

[4]   Weatherford, p. 179.

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