How Can Evil And A Loving God Coexist?

How Can Evil And A Loving God Coexist?

Wednesday’s Column: Third’s Words

Gary Pollard

Note: This is not going to be a quick read. Any answer to the question addressed is going to require some theological/philosophical consideration. 

Stephen Fry is a well-known actor, activist, humanist, and athiest. When asked what he would say to God in a face-to-face, he replied, “Bone cancer in children, what’s that about? … How dare you create a world where there is such misery that is not our fault?” There’s more to the quote, but this sums it up. 

“How can evil and a loving God coexist?” At some point, we have to confront this question in our own faith. Some can accept the problem of evil as being a byproduct of a fallen world. Others – especially those who have experienced evil firsthand – have a hard time justifying the two. 

Most answers offered sound something like this: “The creation groans with the pains of childbirth up to now. Man, as a free moral agent, transgressed God’s law and brought the consequences of sin upon humanity. God cannot look upon evil, and certainly does not cause it. Every good thing and every perfect gift comes down from the father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.” 

While the principles in this explanation are correct, it fails to address the question on at least two levels. One, it does not answer how God could allow evil to affect humans. We exist, technically, against our will. Two, it utilizes jargon. It’s easier to say religious-sounding things to answer difficult questions, but anyone struggling with this problem knows how frustrating this answer can be. It doesn’t address the question, and sometimes comes across as avoiding it altogether. 

The following is based on personal study, as I’d wrestled with this problem, too. To be very clear: God loves us, and the existence of evil does not change that at all. This question was answered for me through an unrelated study that put a few things into perspective. Here’s the condensed version: 

God created reality, and it was flawless (Gen 1.31). In fact, Jesus described heaven as being a return to this flawlessness (Matt 19.28). The code of reality was intact. God didn’t force us to love him, he gave us freedom to choose for ourselves. According to Romans eight, nature was fundamentally affected by the choice we made. This choice essentially introduced a bug into the code of reality. God didn’t create evil, we did. 

Even though our choice has consistently been rejection – and we’re solely responsible for messing everything up – he still gave up everything to give us a second chance. Yes, Jesus sacrificed himself on a cross. This was extremely selfless and loving in itself. But this was NOT the only sacrifice he made. 

Jesus – the one who designed and built reality (John 1) – permanently demoted himself for humans. He gave up his status to die for us (Heb 2.7). He’s in the father’s chair right now, but will step back down after the end of time (Heb 1.14; 2.8-9). He is still God, but permanently lower because he’s still human, too (I Tim 2.5; I Cor 11.3; I Jn 3.1-3; Heb 2.11-18). 

So, how can evil and a loving God coexist? We’re stuck with the way reality is now, but he fundamentally changed himself to give us a second chance. He works full-time to get his family home (Rom 8.27; I Tim 2.5; I Jn 2.1-2). We changed the terms, but he changed the consequences. The most powerful entity in the universe stepped down – forever – knowing most of us would ignore it. When we look at it that way, it puts our own culpability into perspective and demonstrates God’s infinite capacity to love. 

Photo Credit Of Stephen Fry (Flickr)
Noting God’s Glory on a Cold Day 

Noting God’s Glory on a Cold Day 

Friday’s Column: Brent’s Biblical Bytes

81121814_2462862270639428_5746232403106463744_n

Brent Pollard

“The heavens are telling of the glory of God; And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands.” (Psalm 19.1 NASB1995)   

A cold wind bit my exposed skin as I walked to the mailbox. Three cats wove between legs desiring a petting. I wanted to hurry back to the house but feared inadvertently kicking one of the lovable, purring furballs. I carefully made my way from the shadow into the direct sunlight. I felt the warming rays of the sun on that same exposed skin. I closed my eyes but could still sense the bright light of that gaseous ball some 92 million miles away. As I coaxed the cats back up to the house, I contemplated our life-sustaining star.  

How is it that we happened to find ourselves in the “sweet spot” in our proximity from this sphere of hot plasma? Were we any closer, the conditions on earth might prove too hot to support life. Were we any further away, the conditions on earth might prove too cold to support life. If you do any searching into this happenstance, you will encounter the expression “Goldilocks zone.” You may recall Robert Southey’s story of the titular Goldilocks who decided to make herself at home in the house of three bears. She tried the food, chairs, and beds of the absented creatures, finding the baby bear’s things to be “just right.” 

Somehow we found ourselves on a planet in that spot, which is just right. Atheists say that this is the result of chance. I was reading a site contributed to by those departing the Christian faith as they discussed this very topic. The original poster to the forum said that this habitable zone’s existence was a remaining hurdle for him in his desire to cast off the reality of God. Commentors threw out what I would consider a straw man argument, stating that life is possible elsewhere; it is just that evolution would produce a different result. Thus, some other lifeforms would be having this same discussion about how their planet was in the “right spot.”  

Of course, that does nothing to explain how we found ourselves in just that right spot. It was an explosion from nothing (i.e., Big Bang) that scattered the known universe’s material. Gravity also resulted from this explosion somehow. This gravity enabled the cosmic debris to coalesce into the Earth, Sun, and all the tiny dots of sparkling light observable in the night sky. Yet, despite its chaotic beginning, the earth was situated at the proper distance from the sun to allow life to get sloshed together inside primordial oceans.  

Those simple lifeforms, defying every observation today that things go from a state of order to disorder, managed to grow more complex over eons of time. Yes, there were untold dead ends in which mutation brought about disastrous results. But finally, homo sapiens (“wise man”) emerged at the animal kingdom’s apex, the hairless primate, to ponder his existence. With his technology, he created machines that enabled him to communicate over much distance instantly about how the Goldilocks zone is just the illusion of an Intelligent Creator.   

Call me crazy, but I think it takes more faith to believe that pure chance put us into the sun’s sweet spot. It is much easier for me to accept an Omnipotent God created us and placed us inside the Goldilocks zone He made. Thus, the perfect proximity from our star declared God’s glory to me! As such, as I felt the sun’s warmth on a cold day, rather than think of it merely as a hot ball of gas heating me, I could imagine those sun’s rays were the arms of my Heavenly Father holding me in His loving care.