One of modern atheists’ and skeptics’ criticisms of God is that He should stop evil. They are fond of quoting horrible circumstance X, and saying that if God existed and was good, He would certainly, at a minimum, stop X. Fill in the blank with whatever horrendous circumstance could happen: rape, pillage, slow painful child death. But the reasoning is quite flawed.
Let’s say that whatever is in the list of X, God does stop it. No more of all those horrible things. What are we left with? We are left with another list of things slightly less horrible: punching, stealing, malnourished people living in trash cans. These things would be the new “worst evil that could happen.” Surely someone would say that if God was good, He would certainly, at a minimum, stop this. How could a good God look on while people are living in trash cans?
Let’s say God stops those evil things also. No more stealing, no more beatings, everyone is fed well and has a home. What are we left with? We are left with another list of things slightly less horrible: discrimination, damage to property, rude insults to people who have lost loved ones. These things would be the new “worst evil that could happen.” Surely someone would say that if God were good, He would stop this. You do not think so? I have observed people getting passionately angry when their cars got dented, enough to possibly cause a heart attack. Our country has decades of emotional turmoil over discrimination between one group and another. Surely, if God were good, He would stop racism.
Let’s say God stops those evil things also. No more discrimination, damage to property, or insults. What are we left with? Evil intents. Surely God, if He was good, would stop people from having hate in their hearts. We now have non-threatening workplace laws that protect people from feeling threatened at the workplace. They protect people from feeling threatened, whether or not a real threat actually exists. How could a good God allow people to feel threatened, when civilized countries do not even do so?
If we continue down this line of reasoning, we are left with:
- A sterile society where God prevents everything that is not righteous.
- No evil thoughts, actions, or deeds.
- Everyone must be comfortable and have their hearts desire.
Such a society is not logically possible. It would eliminate all bravery, courage, and compassion, for there would be no situations that required these traits. God would have to stop every word or deed that is not perfectly righteous, something that would destroy freedom.
But the atheists are already protesting: come on, surely God could stop the worst things and stop somewhere? Why could He not stop the worst things, the most horrible things, and still allow some other evil? If God were good, would He not stop the worst evils?
Possibly. How do we know that He does not do this now? No matter how horrible things are actually in the world, we can easily imagine evil that is still worse: longer pain, more death, increased suffering. If increased evil is logically possible, it could be that God is stopping it now.
So the objection that says God can be ignored because He allows evil disappears when examined logically. The atheist and skeptic, in the name of reason, has presented us with an emotional argument not based in logic but in an emotional appeal laced with bias. In the end, all other logically possible worlds are not actually achievable, for the only way to get to a world with love, compassion, and bravery is to allow situations where these things are required.