Where is God in the Pain, Suffering and Evil?

Throughout the years, the single biggest question that people have about God is some version of the question "How could a loving God allow so much suffering in the world?" That being the case, I thought that would probably be the best question to start this new site with. So, let's take a look at this very important question.

First, I think it's important to make a distinction with this question. As much as this question comes up, there tend to be two completely different reasons why people will ask about God and suffering. The first is usually the result of some sort of tragedy that has occurred that has either directly affected someone or has had a significant impact on them. Think, for example, of the Sandy Hook shootings...most of us were not directly affected by that, but the gravity of that event shook us all.

The other reason that this question comes up is that someone who is opposed to theism in general, and Christianity in particular, will attempt to argue that a loving, all-powerful, all-knowing God is logically impossible in a world in which evil and suffering exist. Rather than struggling with some sort of personal pain that they may be experiencing, they are simply making a philosophical argument based on logic.

It is probably far easier to deal with the second form of this question, so let's take a look at that first before we address the larger, more difficult question...

Part of the issue with thinking that an all-loving, all-powerful, all-knowing God would never allow pain and suffering is that it makes a number of assumptions and ignores a number of very important items of fact. Another way this challenge is referenced, in philosophical circles, is traditionally called the "Problem of Evil."

One major issue here is that one must accurately identify and define what they mean by evil. Most critics will say something about evil being defined by describing it's effects, such as the pain and suffering we already mentioned. However, that does not seem like a very robust concept of what evil is. And, in fact, it over-complicates and mis-characterizes what evil is.

Evil, simply put, is the absence of good. This is an important thing to realize. It is not a thing. It does not have properties or attributes. It really isn't anything that itself can be described except to describe it as what it is not.  It is that which is not good.
For that reason, it is clear that the existence of God is not incompatible with the existence of evil. A loving God would, it seems to me, want to create creatures who freely choose to love Him rather than being created to simply praise Him for lack of choice. That would be like creating robots that just randomly and repeatedly vocalize adoration for you but only because that is all they were designed to do. It would not be genuine.  It would be mechanical and synthetic.
It is a logical contradiction to say that someone could be made to "freely" do something or feel some way. Not even God could do that because God is a God of order and the possibility of such contradictions being true would lead to chaos. It would mean that one of the fundamental laws of logic had failed. And if that law fails, everything else we think we know is obsolete.
As we can see, the existence of evil does not show that God as described in the Bible is logically impossible. This does not prove that God exists. It does not actually prove anything other than the fact that it is possible for God to exist even though there is so much evil and pain and suffering in the world.

Remember, however, that this only addresses the cold, hard, factual, logical side of this issue. It does not address, and is not intended to address, how do reconcile God's goodness with the fact that someone's mother or father, husband or wife, child or some other loved and cherished person in their life would be stricken with cancer or killed in a car accident. It doesn't touch on how we can deal with tragedies that we are faced with in our own lives.

That will be the focus for the next article as it will be a more lenghty issue to tackle.

For more resources regarding the logical Problem of Evil:

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