When life hits us hard, when the blows and punches rain relentlessly down on us, when we are, already on the ground, kicked and kicked hard we ask: Why? Why o God? Why me? Why now?
Needless to say, we have no choice but to stand up and keep on going but still we ask those questions.
That’s called the problem of evil. How can a good, loving god allow this?
This is a tough question that causes many believers to lose faith in God and it is the most potent and yet the weakest weapon of atheists.
We think that life/God is not fair because we automatically assume that we are good and we deserve better but upon further reflection we can clearly see, if we are honest, that we have done some evil things in our lives. There is no one who has not done something evil at some point in his life. Of course some have done more evil than others but no one is completely innocent. So, it is unreasonable to expect that we deserve no punishment at all.
For the most part evil things are happening because God loves us so much that he gave us the greatest of all gifts, freedom.
He could have made us robots who are slavishly doing always the right thing but he loves us so much that he gave us our precious freedom.
Moreover, if we had not this freedom then we would never experience love.
True love is an act of free will. You cannot force someone to love anything or anyone.
By giving us this freedom God made it possible that we can choose evil rather than good.
That’s the reason why God allows man to do evil things.
But then there are these other evil things happening which we have a hard time coping with like a baby with cancer or entire cities wiped out by tsunamis.
As hard as it is for a theist to cope with that, at least we can be assured that God allows these things to happen because He has good reasons to do so even if we cannot know those reasons.
Everyone has to face the problem of evil in his life at some point in time but as bad as this problem is with God it is inifitely worse without God.
For an atheist there is no deeper reason why we are here in the first place. We’re just the product of blind natural processes and everything that happens in this world is merely the result of blind natural processes and there is no such thing as good and evil. In other words: All the pain and suffering is happening because it just was bound to happen. If you happen to suffer it’s just bad luck. You suffer for no good reason at all.
The problem of evil is a bigger problem for atheism than it is for theism. The atheistic world is truly an unjust, cruel world indifferent to the suffering of all its creatures.
But whether we are theists or atheists, the moment we are complaining that something evil is happening to us we are admitting that God exists.
Why? Because by claiming that evil happens to us we are presupposing that evil exists.
By presupposing that evil exists we are presupposing that objective moral values exist.
Objective moral values can only exist if there is a god, an absolute moral authority.
Otherwise everything that happens is relative to the observer. What one person considers as evil another person might consider as good.
That’s why the problem of evil is the most potent and yet the weakest weapon of atheists.
It’s the most potent weapon because it appeals on an emotional level.
It’s the weakest weapon because it fails completely on an intellectual level.
To even argue “I cannot believe that there is a god who lets such evil things happen.” presupposes the existence of God and the argument therefore fails completely.
At the end of the day there are only three options when we are confronted with the problem of evil.
1. Become an atheist.
2. Go over to the dark side.
3. Strengthen our belief in God and deepening our understanding of His nature.
Neither option can change or prevent the problem itself but option #3 is the best, most reasonable, most productive, most meaningful way to cope with it.
God is good, loving, just and merciful and everything that happens, happens for a good reason.
We cannot know what He, the creator of the universe knows and we cannot see what He in his infinite wisdom sees but we can know that He loves us all and everything that happens happens because he loves us all.