If God is all powerful, all knowing and good, why does evil exist in the world?
Logically, this statement can be countered in a number of ways:
- There is no God
- God is not all powerful, all knowing and good
- Evil does not exist
There is no God
This is one of the arguments used by those who wish to deny God. As I am not one of those I shall say no more here.
God is not all powerful, all knowing and good
Traditional theology would claim that God is all of these, but Process Theology says:
I am not sure that I really understand Process Theology (yet), so I shall largely pass this by, however, if you accept the arguments of Process Theology, the problem of evil goes away as God is not all powerful.
This argument can also be countered by claiming that God could prevent evil, but chooses not to and there are several arguments in this space.
God wishes us to have free will to choose to believe or not, and if there were no evil we would have no choice but to believe. However, with free will comes the ability to do evil. This still leaves the question of where evil comes from, and what about natural evil, like earthquakes.
Evil does not exist
Again there are a number of different arguments in this space.
The Moore shift turns the argument on its head and says that because God is all powerful, all knowing and good then evil cannot exist. However, it makes no attempt to explain how to reconcile this with our observation.
That which we see as evil is not in fact evil. This might seem counter intuitive, but the argument is that as some pain, for example, leads to childbirth, so some evil leads to moral improvement. This approach sees life as a Vale of Soulmaking. The question for this approach is whether all of the great evil we see in the word is necessary for our betterment.
There is also the argument that in attempting to rectify one evil a greater evil is created, in other words, that this is the best of all possible worlds. For example, try to imagine a world in which there was no suffering or evil. There would be no need to do anything as you would always be protected. Voltaire attacked this idea in Candide. Again, I find this difficult to believe – that there is not one small change that we can make to this world which would not make it, in some way, better.
For me Process Theology perhaps holds the best answer to the question, with perhaps the Moore shift coming second, but the others do not hold water. So I am left with something that I don’t (yet) understand) and something which doesn’t attempt to explain!
What I do know is that many people who are suffering pain or evil find comfort in the God who suffered on the cross, rather than finding it a time in which they reject God – Job being perhaps the best known example.