The problem of evil is presented as follows:
An omnibenevolent God would want to eliminate evil.
An omnipotent God would be able to eliminate evil.
Yet evil still exists.
- God is willing to eliminate evil but not able. Therefore he is impotent.
- God is able but not willing. Therefore God is malevolent (lacking goodness).
- An omnibenevolent and omnipotent God must not exist.
Kenneth Samples in his book, Without a Doubt, provides 3 answers for how to respond to this objection to the existence of an all-powerful and all-good God:
2. God would allow evil for a time if it would produce a greater good.
3. For God to eliminate evil in a way that would produce a greater good, it might not be instantaneous or painless, even for Him.
The following video shares these arguments in much more detail:
After posting this video to Facebook, I received the following two comments:
1. “Without faith it is impossible to please God. . .” Theology is wonderful, but too often many are left-out, because it is complex, controvertible, and can be confusing. The BEST answer is we can trust that God is good, because Jesus died on the Cross for us, took our sins and shared our sufferings: (1 Corinthians 2:2), was testified to by the prophets and fulfilled the prophecies: ( e.g. Psalms 22, Isaiah 53) .” – Dennis Tsiorbas
2. “There’s a recently released book from CPH called “Making the Case for Christianity: Responding to Modern Objections,” where Dr. Angus Menuge’s chapter gives a wonderful response about how typical answers to that question (God has a plan, it’s for a greater good, good still outweighs evil, etc.) are all ultimately unsatisfactory, and the best answer to the question of what God is doing about evil is the cross of Jesus Christ. Highly recommend the entire book (save, perhaps, one chapter) to anyone interested in philosophy or dealing with typical “new atheist” objections.” – Joe Hanson
I agree with them and here is my reply:
I think explaining free-will and what life would be like if that were completely stripped away and explaining how God will allow evil for a time if it will produce a greater good are necessary to show how evil and the existence of an all-powerful and all-good God are not incompatible, but then closing with Christ as the ultimate example of this demonstration of God allowing evil to produce good is superb. Depending on the situation, I think this is a good baby-steps answer up to the cross of Christ. Just going straight to the cross of Christ is typically good, but for this objection I really do like to baby-step it, because through the process of the arguments it will dawn on the person for God to completely eradicate evil, God would have to remove all of us from this world, once that seeps in, and the person recognizes their sinfulness, the best answer of the cross is truly good news.
I like to ask people, “What’s the most evil act that has ever occurred in human history?” I offer that God dying in the person of Jesus by the hands of his own creation is the greatest act of evil ever to have occurred in history, and that from the worst evil, came the greatest good – salvation for mankind.