Why did God make the world the way it is – Why does He permit evil and suffering
By: The John Ankerberg Show
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|If God exists, why is there evil in the world? What is evil? Where did evil come from? Why doesn’t God intervene and stop all evil? How can physical evils such as earthquakes, tornadoes and cancer be explained? Is there a good reason for the existence of hell on which even some atheists would agree? What about those who have never heard the Gospel?
Copyright: 2003, Number of Programs: 8, Cat. No. EVL
Keywords: All Powerful God, Physical evils, Moral consequences, evil and suffering
- Ankerberg: God’s reputation is on the line here. Why did He make the world the way it is? Why does He permit evil and suffering? There’s got to be a good purpose. Christians are saying, “Yes. There is.” And we’re trying to talk about those purposes. And in talking about physical evils, we’re not talking just about things we decide to do ourselves–the moral consequences that we choose; but the fact is, we’re also talking about, “Why do things come to us?” For example, tornadoes and lightning and hurricanes and cancer–we didn’t choose those.
- And Norm, give us the big picture again before we go on here. What is the big picture in terms of physical suffering and evil? Why does God permit this?
- Geisler: God permitted all evil to defeat all evil. He permitted all evil to bring a greater good in, and that’s the justification. Why did He permit physical evil? Because physical evil is necessary in a moral universe to produce the moral good He is trying to produce. Pain is God’s megaphone to arouse a morally deaf world. Pain keeps us from self destruction. It has to be out of our control for it to be really effective. All of these things we learn from Philip Yancey’s book, Where Is God When It Hurts? But also, there is some evil, physical evil, that cannot be accounted for by any direct or indirect act of free will; for example, a tornado or a hurricane. Those are by-products. In other words, in a good physical world you have to have air; you have to have winds, where you are going to get a tornado. Sooner or later a tornado is going to spawn. You have to have water to drink and water to swim in and water to enjoy. Well, sooner or later somebody is going to be drowned in that same water. These are by-products of a good world. God purposed the good. There is a by-product, what is called in war “collateral damage.” Well, you have collateral damage in a good universe where God has a good purpose to defeat evil, there’s going to be collateral damage in this kind of universe as well.
- Ankerberg: Yeah, and that’s a hard one for us to understand. We can understand it and not understand it at the same time. It’s like parents who love their little kids, when they’re just learning to walk, will allow that child to try to get up and bang their knee and maybe worse. Why? Because if you kept them in a highchair the whole time, they would never learn to walk. So for the higher good of letting them learn to walk, you allow pain and suffering to happen.
- Talk about this thing of permitting and producing.
- Geisler: Well, we permit evil that we can produce a greater good. I permitted evil every time I let the kids take the family car. You know? Because they could have crashed. But, I was permitting basically their free choice. I was permitting their growth; I was permitting their ability to develop as individual human beings and that’s a greater good. The collateral damage that may or may not happen is part of the risk you take with freedom, both as a parent and that God took with the universe. In God’s case, of course, He can rescue people by resurrecting them from the dead. I can’t permit my kids to do it, so I can’t watch my kid jump off a cliff, for example, but I can let them, when they’re 16, take the family car and they might get in an accident. God can allow people to jump off a cliff, because not only can He perform a miracle if He wanted to, He’s going to resurrect all of us from the dead someday. So He can permit more evil to produce more good than we can, but the rule is the same: that we may permit as much evil to happen by free choice as we can reasonably control. And so we let our little babies fall but we don’t let them take poison. God, on the other hand, can permit more because He knows more and can do more and can therefore rescue us from the ultimate fatality, which is death.