How Can A Good God Allow Evil To Exist?

How Can A Good God Allow Evil To Exist?

Perhaps the most perplexing question, ironically by both believers and unbelievers alike, is how do we reconcile a good God with an evil world? How can the two co-exist? How did this all begin? Why does He allow it? And when will it end?

Admittedly, these aren’t easy questions and they don’t have easy answers. And even with the answers we do have, there’s just some things we won’t fully understand on this side of eternity. For example, we know that evil exists due to free will but why would God choose certain paths for things to play out the way they did, with certain people or beings? Why did He pick or allow a certain timeline over another? We don’t always know…

But thankfully, if we believe that God is truly GOD, that He came in the form of a man named Jesus to redeem us back to Himself, and that He lives in us today by the Holy Spirit, then we can rest assured that He’s a bigger answer than our biggest questions!

Does Evil Disprove God? How Can God Exist If There’s Evil In The World?

A common objection from atheists and unbelievers is that there’s too much evil in the world for there to be a God, and thus, evil disproves God’s existence. They’ll also add that if God does somehow exist, then He can’t be good because He allows evil to exist. What these questions and objections often miss, however, is what even is good and evil to begin with? How do we define or understand them?

Evil by nature is the antithesis of good or the absence of good. So to say that evil exists, we must assume that there is also good to derive evil from. Meaning, evil first begins with good and comes into existence as a depreciation or failure of that. When we acknowledge the existence of good and evil, we’re applying moral law to be able to differentiate between the two; moral law being what is right or wrong.

What is evil vs. what is good is a moral judgment as a product of moral law. If moral law says something is right or wrong then we exercise moral judgment by identifying what’s right or wrong according to that moral law. But since laws, moral or otherwise, cannot exist without a law-giver, if a moral law exists, and it does, then there must be a Moral Law-Giver. We call Him, God.

If a Moral Law-Giver doesn’t exist, then moral law doesn’t exist. And if there’s no moral law, then there’s really no such thing as good and evil to take issue with.

Thus we can say with confidence that the existence of evil and its acknowledgment actually proves God’s existence. How? Because we all recognize some form of a moral law and a moral law must have a Moral Law-Giver because laws don’t create themselves – they’ve given. Not arbitrarily by some nebulous system, laws are given by an intelligent being capable of reason and thought. Admittedly, as a society, our moral laws and standards can vary and are really screwed up. But still, regardless of where or how far off our moral compass is, we all have some sense of morality (right and wrong). The Scriptures affirm this innate morality given to all people.

When Gentiles, who do not have the Law [since it was given only to Jews], do instinctively the things the Law requires [guided only by their conscience], they are a law to themselves, though they do not have the Law. They show that the essential requirements of the Law are written in their hearts; and their conscience [their sense of right and wrong, their moral choices] bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or perhaps defending them. 📖 Romans 2.14-15

Every human innately has some sense of right and wrong, discerning good from evil. And this sense (moral law) comes from a Moral Law-Giver – God.

Why Does God Allow Evil?

Ultimately, we don’t know why God allows evil in one particular situation but not another. What we do know is that evil exists as a product of free will – the ability to choose.

We know that evil was first found in the devil, Satan, also known as Lucifer (Ezekiel 28.15) when he chose to rebel against God. Like the angels, God has given all beings free will and autonomy to make choices. Why would an all-knowing God give free will to creatures that He ultimately knows will use it against Him? As best we can tell, it’s simply because love requires it.

While we know that God is love in form (1 John 4.16) and the standard of love, love in practice by definition is choosing someone’s highest good. That means for love to be real and authentic love, it must possess the ability of choice – by its very design. Meaning, that if you don’t have any other choice, as in you are in essence a programmed machine, then it’s not love and merely just a consequence of your programming. God could‘ve created beings that automatically worship Him by default, but it wouldnt be authentic. He created beings that could make the choice to love. Therefore, God loving His creation and thus giving us the ability to choose or reject Him and His ways, has allowed evil to enter the world and persist today.

This is why the most powerful decision you can ever make is to willfully choose God – purely out of love. Because true love is a choice. And likewise, God honors our choice to choose or reject Him. But like all choices, they have consequences, both good and bad. When we consider the dynamics of spiritual warfare, we are agents in the battle of Satan’s rebellion against God. When we reject God and live by sin, the devil and evil itself are glorified. But the beautiful opposite is just as true. When we give God our yes, making Him our Lord and Savior, living by His ways, the devil and evil itself are canceled and God is glorified.

Why Doesn’t God Just Destroy All Evil Now?

Whether we want to admit it or not, humans as a creation are evil (Jeremiah 17.9) because all sin and even the mere association of it is offensive to God. We’re not evil because we were created evil by God’s original design. No, His original design was for us to be “good. But we cannot achieve “good” or righteousness apart from Him. We literally need God in order to become good or even live for Him! This embarrasses the notion that we have to “get right” before coming to God. We can’t. We need Him to get right! And because of sin’s hold on the world, we’re wrong by default and unworthy.

How are we wrong, unworthy, or evil? We’re evil by both being born into and participating in this sinful world + also descending from sinful lineage. Romans 3.23 affirms this saying that all have sinned and continually fall short of the glory of God.” The psalmist David also speaks to this In Psalm 51.5 saying “I was brought forth in [a state of] wickedness; In sin my mother conceived me [and from my beginning I, too, was sinful].” Meaning, we’re inherently sinful and there’s nothing we can do of our ownselves to fix this. We needed and still need a Fixer!

The truth is that if God were to just destroy all evil, that would include us, by His standards, and everything along with it. Instead, God has gracefully chosen to redeem His creation, giving us time and forgiveness to turn to Him, to prepare for the next life, and to get as many people as we can to come with us back to Him.

Nevertheless, do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years is like one day. The Lord does not delay [as though He were unable to act] and is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is [extraordinarily] patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. 📖 2 Peter 3.8-9

Plot twist: But one day… God will destroy all evil, pain, and suffering, and will make us “good” in our final state to come.

And He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be death; there will no longer be sorrow and anguish, or crying, or pain; for the former order of things has passed away. 📖 Romans 21.4

But for now, He has a plan and a desire to play this out His way, and then the end will come (Matthew 24.14). Meaning, it won’t always be like this. A day of reckoning is coming! This is usually where somebody will ask, ‘well then why does God have to destroy everything and make us wait if He’s so powerful?’ 🤣 Like bro… We’re not God! Understand this: Part of what makes God, GOD, is that He’s sovereign. Meaning, He rules as He wills, whether we understand it, agree with it, or not. We can understand some of the plan without understanding all of it and why He picked this path, way, or time. When you’re the creator of everything, you get to call the shots. 🤷🏾‍♂️

But Why Does God Take So Long To Fix Things?

Again, we don’t fully know why God has picked this timeline of events. According to creationist scholars, the Earth is approximately 6,000 years old and as of 2024, it’s been 1,991 years since the death and resurrection of Jesus. So when God come? 😃

One thought to keep, as 2 Peter 3.8-9 alludes to, is that God doesn’t look at time the same way we do. In fact, God literally exists outside of time because He created it. Time, like space and matter, has a beginning and sets boundaries for God’s creation. Boundaries that He is not bound by as Creator. Meaning, what’s considered a really really long time for us is not a long time for God because He transcends it.

Is Morality Obective?

Contrary to popular belief, morality is not necessarily objective in the ultimate sense. Remember, morality is based on a moral law, which we give moral judgments from or based on. But a moral law necessitates a Moral Law-Giver – God. When people reference a moral law, acknowledging something as right or wrong, they’re also appealing to that Moral Law-Giver. Some people and religions are their own moral law, ex. what they “feel” is right, what the “universe” says, other spirits, and on and on.

When people are referencing something or someone as right or wrong, they’re appealing to that higher power or authority – even if it’s their own feelings. Thus, morality isn’t ultimately some objective standard, it’s a standard by someone. It’s subjective to a source because laws and standards aren’t self-created, they’re given. The real question is by who’s standard? Who’s deciding what is right or wrong as a moral law?

When it comes to God, He is the standard of good because He’s GOD. Meaning, He doesn’t just be or act good, He IS good (Mark 10.18, Nahum 1.7, Psalm 100.5, Psalm 119.68). God doesn’t just match some objective standard of what good is or should be, God defines what good is and should be, and look like. There’s a big difference between saying God is good (as we know it) and saying that God is the literal definition of “good” and everything that good should and shouldn’t be.

In looking at evil’s role in the world, this also makes sense logically. As the point of origin for all existence, God would have to define what “good” is and is not. If God has always existed (because He’s infinite and transcends time) then good has always been around too. Thus, evil is a recent occurrence in the eternity timeline. And evil is simply a deviation from or the lack of good. We can’t define evil without a standard of good to base it upon first.

God doesn’t just be or act good, He IS good. He’s not just truthful, He IS truth (John 14.6). God brings meaning and purpose to our lives because we don’t create and define ourselves apart from Him. And with His meaning and purpose also come His standards and moral laws.

Do Good And Evil Apply To God?

Good and evil apply to God but we must also understand that God is the standard of good, and evil is anything lesser than that. Meaning, God being “good” defines what good really is. God isn’t necessarily subjected to what our definitions or feelings are about what good and evil should be because He, literally, gets to define what good and evil are, and how they apply to Himself as well as us.

Throughout the Scriptures, we overwhelmingly see God abiding by the standards of good that He also gives to us. We see this in the person of Jesus as well. But there are exceptions. For example, murder is the unlawful killing or taking of human life. But if God is GOD and the ultimate giver and decider of life, it’s not unlawful for Him to take a life because it’s rightfully His choice. So it would be untrue to say God is a murderer or is somehow wrong for taking life that is His right to do so. Contrastly, we don’t have a right to take a life for however and whatever reasons we please. This right is exclusive to God. We must be careful not to judge God by our own rules and standards that He is Lord over or the rules and standards He gives to us specifically. Unsurprisingly, God also gives us commands and standards that are specific to us as humans and don’t apply to the animal kingdom. As God, He rightfully gets to decide what and how this goes.

Lord Over All

In the 10 Commandments, for example, God gives humans the instruction to remember the Sabbath day of rest (Exodus 20). And from the beginning of creation, we see God Himself observing the Sabbath day of rest (Genesis 2.3). However, later in Mark 2.23-28, we see God in the form of Jesus declaring Himself Lord over the Sabbath, allowing the disciples to pick food and He Himself even later healing people on the Sabbath – which were typically forbidden. This was more about Jesus challenging the notions of what they believed the Sabbath to be and not be rather than just exempting Himself from it. But the reason He could do so is because as God, He gets to set the rules and standards for Himself and for us, v. 27-28, “Jesus said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath [and He has authority over it].”

To be clear – we’re not God. So, we shouldn’t expect to have the same rights and privileges when it comes to the do’s and don’ts of life.

Worthy Of Worship

Another example of how good and evil apply to God vs. how it applies to us is found in the observation and participation of worship. As Creator and Sustainer of all, God desires to be worshipped because He’s God and has quite literally earned that right. And you would too if you’ve created and still hold everything together. 🤷🏾‍♂️ Contrastly, we don’t have the right to be or want to be worshipped, so doing or desiring that would be considered prideful and thus sinful of us. For God, however, it’s not prideful for Him to want to be worshipped as it’s His right to do so.

Not only is God rightfully worthy of worship, but He’s wired us by design as beings for worship. And because of this wiring from our Creator, God also knows that all things other than Him can’t fulfill us like He (Creator/Sustainer of all) can. ‘But isn’t it arrogant and ego-tripping to demand worship unto yourself?’ No, not when you’re literally God. It’s arrogant and ego-tripping for humans to assume a right of worship that was never ours to ascribe to ourselves to begin with.

Humility is a willingness to be known for who we really are. So, when God invites (and commands) us to worship Him, He’s doing that out of true humility – who He really is. Because when God looks at His creation, He knows that there’s nothing as worthy as He is or is even comparable to Him. So when God says ‘worship Me,’ He’s literally saying I am better for you than anything you could ask for or even imagine. Knowing this, why would a good and loving God willingly allow us to worship a counterfeit when He knows that He truly is our best thing?

God directing us to worship Him is not idolatry and the ego trip like it would be for us (because we’re not God and don’t have that right). God wanting our worship is more about directing the hardwired nature/need to worship towards the one being who can actually fulfill that – because He created us. The Creator is always greater than the creation and it would be unloving to allow us to pursue/worship things that will inevitably fall short of ultimate fulfillment when He solely holds that ability.

What does this all mean? It simply means that good and evil as we know it do apply to God but not always in the same way as it does for us. Some may claim that this claim is a fallacy because it essentially means that God is exempt from His own rules. However, that would be a false premise to assume that God is limited to the standards He imposes on us as an equal when He is not our equal. He is by every definition, greater than.