Why Does God Allow Evil?
By Sam Troyer
March 1, 2023
Why did God do this to me? If He knows the future, He had to know the miserable outcome of his creation! WAR, FAMINE etc. How can one believe and trust a God who “allows” so much evil? Is He impotent or does He just not care? Couldn't He have created a world that didn't have sin and death? Why did God place the forbidden tree in the garden if He actually didn't want anyone to eat from it? Again, surely He knew the outcome!
Let's explore some of these ageless questions. I'll preface this with:
“Shall the thing formed, say to him that formed it, why hast thou made me thus?” (Romans 9:20)
“Why dost thou strive against him? for he giveth not account of any of his matters” (Job 33:13).
To ask these questions we risk appearing as a petty criminal challenging the judge presiding over his case.
In the beginning...God. Our mortal minds cannot grasp this concept. Where does God come from? He stretched out nothing into dimension, and laid it at the beginning of an endless line which came to be called ‘time.’ His word was His only tool. God's physical creation (nature) doesn't have a will. It is mechanical, you might say. It cannot love nor can it hate. But even the beauty and intricate detail in nature seems to not have satisfied God's ultimate intention.
What He does next seems daring....did He take a risk, or was He just exercising faith? Just as an artist seeks to express their creativity through creating images, God also exercised His creativity and made a living self portrait! He formed a being, who like Himself, stood completely apart from nature, above all other creation. Then He did the unimaginable, He breathed His own self-perpetuating life into this vessel of clay He had made. Physical nature was now linked to a human soul, infused with divine, eternal life. We are a mini replica of the essence of God.
When we explore creation, we see all life forms in three's.
Þ Time is past, present and future.
Þ Natural kingdoms on earth are animal, vegetable, and mineral.
Þ Life on earth is divided into 3 main branches: bacteria, archaea, and eukaryotes.
Þ Sun emits alpha, beta, and gamma rays.
Þ Soil has 3 basic elements: nitrogen, phosphorus, and potash.
Þ There are three primary colors from which all colors are derived: red, yellow, and blue.
Þ We are body, soul, and spirit.
Þ Flesh is covered by 3 layers of skin.
Þ Our blood has 3 main cells: platelets, red, and white cells.
Þ Our non material self (soul) consists of, mind, will, and emotion.
Þ Within the realm of emotion, we can love, hate, or be indifferent.
Þ We are capable of thought, word, and deed.
Þ Space is height, width, and depth.
Þ Just as God's persons are 3, His attributes are also three: omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent.
When Adam rose up off the earth and shook the dust off his brand new body, he was morally neither good nor bad - like a 300 page book with the first 150 pages blank. We have to assume that he lacked wisdom, because wisdom comes from experiences.
The command not to eat from the tree of knowledge was literally the only thing God withheld from them. Was this a necessary piece of the puzzle to strengthen their moral compass? The tree itself had three attractions. It could satisfy hunger. It was lovely to look at. And most of all, it could satisfy the desire to become immediately wise in the knowledge of good and evil. They probably realized by now that there were some things they didn't know. They were completely innocent, properly warned, and well informed. Was it a trust thing? After all, Satan said God was holding out on them. Like so many today, they wanted instant gratification and enlightenment.
As God watch this unfold, did He have to suppress the urge to step in and repeat his warning? In a sense, God had limited Himself when He made Adam in his image. God couldn't violate their personhood by invading their wills because He had made them autonomous beings. He also couldn't just annihilate them. They were created with His eternal spirit! Satan definitely played a role in this catastrophic chain of events, but he was only an advisor, at best. It was their choice, just as today we have a choice.
Was Adam deceived? I don't think so. I think he made a choice to stand by his bride. He was going to crash and burn with her no matter what that might mean! (Side note: Jesus was the second Adam and He also didn't leave his bride to fend for herself either!)
It seems at this point, God had tried an experiment that had failed miserably. Free will, with no strings attached proved to be an expensive gift. God had sought a family and ended up with contenders for preeminence!
Could God have created humans incapable of sinning? No, because to exclude all possibility of sin, their freedom of will couldn't be higher than that of animals. Remember He said, “Let us make man in OUR image.” For God to create what He desired, He was limited, in a sense, to create a being who had the power to choose.
GOD IS LIMITED??? It may shock our senses to think in terms of God being limited, but this isn't limited in the normal sense of the word. God is limited to those means that are consistent with His end. In this case, His end was to make a person in His image.
Þ A witness is limited to telling the truth.
Þ A lover, is limited to love. He has the freedom to not be a lover, but if he would be a lover, he doesn't have the freedom not to love.
Þ A historian is limited to facts. He can write fiction if he chooses, but if he wants to be a historian, he is limited to facts.
There are things God cannot do, not for lack of power, but for want of conformity to His own nature and purpose. By choice, God cannot do that which is arbitrary or unjust.
Think about a 4 year old child misbehaving. The parents can forcibly prevent any action, but a good parent understands that it isn't going to be productive to violate the child's freedom to choose obedience. The parent would like to invade his soul and change his will, but we don't have that option. Not even God has rightful access to the sacred seat of an individual’s soul. To forcibly invade the control and command room of the soul would constitute “divine rape.”
God created us in His image and He respects our individual autonomy. His only recourse is persuasion. Anyone who will not be persuaded, exercises their God given right to stand in defiance of the highest goodness, wisdom, and law. Remember it isn't God's will that any should perish but many will because it is their choice.
Moral capacity is a 2 way street. There is no up without a down. You can't have in, without an out. God cannot “create” character. Only by facing morally opposing options, weighing the value, and then following through with a choice do we develop character.
But why sin—why must we have that option? The tree of knowledge was a two way street with “good and evil.” When God created a man who could love, He created a man who could also withhold that love. In the shadows of every good choice is its evil counterpart. If we get rid of the concept of evil, the positive would disappear with it.
God can be good without the presence of evil, but He cannot be known to be good by someone who doesn't have the knowledge of evil. When God created light, shadows became possible. Love is only possible where hate is also possible. To be loved is only possible where it is freely and voluntarily given.
Death has no hold on those who have been reconciled to God. Death is the release from this limiting body of flesh and blood. Death is the graduation into our eternal inheritance.
IT IS JUST THE BEGINNING! We will not find ourselves on a fluffy white cloud where we will fiddle away eternity playing impractical little harps and fanning tiny wings! There won't be eternal 11:00 am services with pious prayers. Death is the release of a captive bird into a universe of discovery!
We will reside in a splendid city set on a brand new earth with trees, grass, rivers, sunshine, and animals in abundance. We will eat, drink, dance and sing. Possibly, there will be new frontiers to conquer and new planets to fashion. We will continue to learn and grow. The utopian dream will finally be realized!
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