|Series Theme: Problem of Evil & Suffering|
Title: 2. Why Doesn't God Do Something?
series that considers the problem of evil and suffering
This is the second of a series of pages on the problem of evil in the world. We hope you'll read them all through thoughtfully and carefully and come to see the reality of how things are and why you can be secure in God's love.
In the first page we asked, “What is Evil” and saw that it is anything that causes wrong harm to us. We saw that the vast majority of harm to human beings is caused by human beings.
1. How can God allow evil?
This is a question that many people ask. A man sitting on a bus once saw a dog caught in a barbed wire fence on his journey to work. On the return journey he saw the dog was still there and retorted, “How can there be a loving God who would allow such suffering to continue?”
But the question is much bigger than a single suffering dog.
There are millions of starving people in the world. There are millions of sick people in the world. There are millions of people dying every day, some very painfully, some very slowly. Where is God in the midst of all this?
2. What do you want God to do?
When we face all this pain and anguish, and something in us wants to cry out, “God where are you? Why don't you do something about this?” perhaps there is a quiet reply from God that most of us don't hear: “ What do you want me to do ?”
A conversation with God might then follow the following lines:
(You) “I want you to stop this suffering!”
(God) “How do you want me to do that?”
“What do you mean?"
“How do you want me to stop people being nasty to other people?”
“Kill the most evil people!”
“That will only deal with a tiny part of the evil being done in my world.”
“Well stop people being evil!”
“You mean you want me to take away their free will, their right to choose how they behave?”
“No… perhaps just those who are really bad.”
“You mean child abusers, say?”
“What about the screaming mother about to hit her baby?”
“Er…. perhaps. Well you could help her.”
“Yes, I'm there for her the moment she turns to me and asks for help.”
“Can't you help even if she doesn't ask?”
“You want me to override her mind, her free will?”
“No… there must be another way.”
“It sounds like you want me to make you all robots who have no choice, no option, just to be good?”
“No, I just want you to help. Many people only do bad things because of their bad circumstances.”
“It sounds like you think less of them than I do?”
“What do you mean?”
“You say they aren't responsible for themselves, that they are less than the responsible beings I created them to be, people less than people.”
“Yes it is! I see them as people with dignity, people able to make decisions for themselves, people I respect to make their own choices, but you take away their dignity, you make them irresponsible and undignified. I see they have great potential and allow them to rise up in their circumstances, I allow them to rise to their greatness and I'm there to help them achieve it the moment they ask me to help, but I'm not going to demean them by overriding them and treating them as slaves.”
3. The Problem of our Greatness!
That is the difficulty, if we're able to be honest about it.
At the beginning of the Bible we are shown that God gave mankind the world to enjoy and to rule over.
God made the first two human beings much more than mere animals.
When you compare human beings with the rest of the living creatures you see that we have a variety of characteristics that are lacking in animals:
This is the problem we face - mankind has such tremendous potential for both good and bad.
Mankind has the ability to choose to live in either peace and harmony, or in selfishness and dissension.
If we want God to intervene then we must either ask Him to take away our free will, or come in some other way that will win us away from our selfishness and lead us into some other lifestyle.
4. Reject the Robots idea!
Let's reject this idea of God taking away our free will, making us robots so that we can only do good.
Once we remove free will we also remove love, beauty, creativity and so many of those other characteristics that make us what we are. We would cease to be human beings.
This is not an acceptable solution!
5. Live by Rules?
Supposing we could convince every one that the lifestyle God laid out in the Bible for the nation of Israel was faultless.
When you read the laws He gave them it should have produced a society that was full of peace and harmony, full of justice and social care. The laws are not in question.
But there are two problems. Problem number one is that most of us don't like living according to rules. We find them restrictive and inhibiting (drivers exceeding the speed limit is a good example).
Problem number two is that Israel couldn't live like that! They are the proof that a society cannot do it!
As we observe their history, as recorded in the Old Testament of the Bible, we see that again and again they drifted away from their relationship with God and then the quality of their life as a society also deteriorated.
6. A Relationship?
In fact, what we see by observing Israel historically, is that their ability to live as a just and caring society relied entirely on their relationship with God.
What the record shows us is that they were able to follow the rules when they were more concerned to please God, as part of their relationship with Him.
When they drifted from Him, they found they had no motivation to keep to the laws of society that God had given them and very soon “every man did what was right in his own eyes”.
This meant a self-centred lifestyle, which soon deteriorated into an uncaring, self-seeking society with a variety of social ills - much like our own society at the beginning of the twenty first century.
7. To Summarise
What have we seen so far?
8. The Central Problem
We need to keep reiterating the question that so many people ask when facing the problem of suffering: “Why doesn't God do something?” We need to keep facing the alternatives first considered:
9. Try Harder!
This leaves us with a sense of hopelessness, a sense that perhaps there is NO way out of this problem, a sense that we're stuck with a self-centred humanity and a powerless God, so all we can do is try harder!
Yet in the past century we have seen tremendous advances in education and in science and technology, but the condition of the human race in many ways is just as bad, if not worse.
We have family breakdown, violence sparked by an increasing variety of “rages”, racial disharmony, as much poverty as ever, and so the list goes on.
Politicians keep coming up with new initiatives which fail to solve the problems, scientists keep making new breakthroughs that promise a better tomorrow that never comes, philosophers say there are no more answers and sociologists struggle under ever mounting loads.
Our godless society is left only with “Try harder!” How depressing.
10. The Christian Answer
How dare a Christian suggest they have an answer!
Well, it is not their answer but an answer they claim God has provided, an answer that can be analysed and assessed for value, and for that you'll need to read the third page in this series.
Thank you for reading this far. Please persevere and read the next page as well.