Christians have been struggling with the problem of evil for a very long time, and none of them have been able to answer it satisfactorily in my opinion. The problem of evil goes something like this:
“Is [God] willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then is he malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?”
The biggest flaw in Christian theology (in my opinion) is the idea that any being that is all-good could conceive of, create and use a place like hell.
Fortunately, many churches have begun to creep away from the doctrine of hell, and instead say that the offender of god will instead be separated from god for eternity. They say this as if it’s a bad thing, and usually as if it’s also a form of torture, just not one that means eternal burning. I guess it’s a more sanitized way of torturing someone for eternity.
But I’d like to attack this from a different angle altogether.
The usual defense against the problem of evil is that the evil of the world is our fault, since we have free will. God had to create free will because He didn’t want robots. He wanted people who are freely able to make decisions between what is ‘right’ and what is ‘wrong’. Without evil, the decision isn’t possible.
I’m not sure why evil is needed in order to have free will. And if it is, why it’s necessary or even desirable.
Imagine a world where the choices were between:
- Very good
- Better than good
- Best possible outcome
There’s a world I’d rather live in. What’s the point of the option to kill, maim and rape thrown in there for the ‘free will’ options? The missing ‘evil’ versions of the choices doesn’t mean we’re robots, since we would still be faced with a number of problems that have multiple solutions. The only difference is we wouldn’t be considering the ‘evil’ versions of possible solutions.
Of course, many Christians will also say that the evil of this world is temporary, because god is eventually going to come back.
How does god judge the time is right? Does he have an evil rating system and once we humans have filled the quota, does it justify his return? Is there a big flashing red light up there in heaven that signals his return.
I bet god has a fireman’s pole leading down to earth – Ghostbuster style. That’s how god rolls…or slides.
You get the point.
Finally, we’re never confronted by our full possible range of choices to begin with. We are restrained by our environment etc. I might want to go downhill skiing right now, but it’s impossible due to the lack of snow around me and my lack of funds to reach a place that has the available snow.
In other words, our ‘free will’ is always being limited by the available choices, which is constrained by things out of our control, such as our environment at any given time.
If god is comfortable with that sort of constraint, why not offer the sort of constraint that would mean constant peace and stability?