Why is there so much evil in the world?
Our world is a dichotomy between beauty and disaster, good and evil, and goodness and cruelty. We all live somewhere in between these. We all live with the tension of how we know things should be and how they are. Many look at the beauty of creation and are instantly convinced that a good God created our world. Others look at the evil in our world and are equally convinced there couldn’t be a good God and probably no god at all.
This is also true of some of the most brilliant scientists who have studied our universe. Some have concluded there must be a divine cause for all they have viewed. They see the order of the universe and the life cycle of every creature as proof that there is divine intelligence behind it all. They are further convinced by the logic they see in the structure of the molecules and atoms that make it all up. They believe everything they see points to a master planner. On the other hand, other brilliant scientists look at the same universe and conclude there is no master planner or divine intelligence behind what they see.
Why do these scientists not see a master planner or a divine power behind the universe? It is often because of the disorder and chaos they observe. They have observed things happen that causes them to question the ordering of the universe.
Perhaps they are no different than you. Just when you think you have life figured out and things seem to be in order, a tsunami hits and kills thousands of innocent people. A serial killer goes on a rampage and kills many innocent children and teens. A friend of yours is struck down with cancer in the prime of their life. Or you see someone who cheats their way through life get a promotion rather than some hard-working, honest person.
There are no easy answers to the problem of evil. In fact, there is no full answer to it at all. But we can uncover some clues that may help us in the search for our answer.
Going back to the first book of the bible, Genesis, we see from the beginning that God endowed men and women with the freedom to choose right or wrong. In the Garden, people were given the choice between obeying God and choosing their own way. You guessed it, they chose their own way – just like we do.
Some ask, couldn’t God have made a perfect world with perfect people who couldn’t sin or disobey? According to Genesis, God did make a perfect world with perfect people who were made in God’s image. Part of what it must mean to be made in God’s image is the ability to choose right from wrong, good from evil.
I suppose God being God, He could have made what would have been essentially robots – beings who don’t think or feel or show emotion. These essentially equate to inanimate objects. The dictionary defines inanimate objects as “being dull or lifeless.” When we think of these types of objects, we might think of furniture – something that doesn’t move, think or feel.
Given this, can you really have the same type of relationship with your favorite chair as you can with another human being? Isn’t it true from the time we are born, relationships – to be close to another human being. Even pets give us this feeling of relationship and the sense that both they and us are alive.
Just as we don’t crave or need a relationship with a robot or inanimate object, God doesn’t either. He wants a relationship with people who have the freedom to love Him or choose not to love him. Even though relationships with other people are unpredictable and often messy, aren’t we willing to take this chance to be in relationship with someone we love and who loves us?
You see, without the freedom to say no to God, we also don’t have the freedom to say yes to Him. This is the stuff that real and authentic relationships are made of.
And even when we choose to put our trust in God and develop a relationship with Him, we live in a world, and are surrounded by people, who are choosing their own way rather than God. The results of this are tragic for both them and us at times. As people chose sin over obedience to God, they suffer the consequences of broken lives and broken relationships in a very broken world.
Sometimes we are an “innocent victim” of sin perpetrated by others; but many times our wounds and pain are self-inflicted. Either way, we get it that we live in a broken world where evil often seems to run rampant.
If we can’t really control or stop evil, can we learn anything from it? Perhaps evil all around us and even within us will drive us toward God – the only remedy to evil and our pain. Hopefully, as we understand the power and propensity of evil, we will realize we have no answers within ourselves to diminish its deadly influence, but that we will come again and again to the only one who has power over the evil that otherwise will destroy us (Colossians 1:21-23)