A real problem that exists in our world today deals with the immense amount of suffering and evil that takes place. In fact, the atheist will commonly use this argument to try and show that God does not exist. From the atheistic worldview the problem of evil challenge against the existence of God goes something like this: If God is all powerful, then why does he not eradicate the world of evil. They draw two conclusions from this argument, either God does not exist or he is not all-powerful. The second argument against God by way of suffering and evil states, If God is all good, why so much evil and suffering? Coupled together, this argument against the existence of God probably represents the most serious challenge to the Christian worldview.
What answers can be given to those who would pose such statements against Christianity? First, on the Christian worldview, it was the human race that threw the world into its' current condition. Evil, on this planet, never existed until temptation was succumbed to by the first humans. So, evil was not God's fault (James 1:13), but man's misuse of his God given freewill that brought it into the world. Also, on the Christian worldview, one day, God will make everything right again (Revelation 21:3-4).
Knowing this information made a tremendous impact on the woman who lost six of her children. She commented before my wife and I left, that without God she couldn't imagine how to deal with life. At one time during Jesus ministry a mass exodus of followers took place. Jesus turned to his disciples and asked if they wanted to leave, at which Peter responded, "To whom shall we go (John 6:60-68)." This is not a proof for God, but as our friend rightly believed, without God, all this world has to offer is despair. Jesus came to offer life and to offer it to the fullest (John 10:10).
If evil is recognized, that means a good standard must exist by which we can see evil. If there is a good standard and evil can be recognized, then a moral law must exist. A moral law presupposes a moral Law Giver or God. Suffering and evil exist, but one day, the moral Law Giver will make everything right again. Why some suffer more than others cannot be sufficiently answered, but God has a purpose and reason and will one day make all the suffering seem insignificant when we come into his presence.
- An excellent article on the problem of evil by Peter Kreeft.