The problem of evil is one of the most difficult issues to wrestle with for any religion that claims a single, all-powerful, all-good God. The issue can be summed up in one question, “If God is all good and all powerful, how can evil exist in our world (wouldn’t he have to do something about it?!)?”
Lately, though I have heard a (slightly) different question. Some people believe that certain amounts of evil are necessary in our world, so that we have the ability to choose (and the freedom to choose beats the heck out of being robots). Many that believe this still feel this way—
“I understand that some evil needs to exist, but why doesn’t God at least step in a little bit more on the REALLY BAD things like (child murders, genocide, etc.)?” aka “Why doesn’t God draw a line somewhere?”
My weird path to thought...
I love M Night Shyamalan movies…at least before he fell in love with himself and started making flat out weird stuff. I loved the old-school Shyamalan, trick ending stuff…particularly The Village. If you haven’t seen it, don’t, because I’m about to ruin it for you.
The whole movie is about a Pioneer-style community that some people made together in the wilderness somewhere, apart from the modern world around them. The kids that were raised there knew nothing of the outside world with all of its problems. All they knew was the world they were presented with, and its problems.
My thought is this…
As we look at the world around us, we see extreme forms of evil and cry out for God to at least draw a line somewhere—to stop the worst kinds of evil from existing. But what would that look like –for God to really step in and stop extreme evil in our world?
Well, first of all, after eliminating the ability to act in those evil ways (such as genocide) he would have to completely remove our ability to imagine those types of evil. After all, it would be a strange feeling to be able to contemplate evil, but never really be able to act on it (for reasons we would never know). It would be like this big invisible wall that we couldn’t cross, but could see the other side. No, for God to draw a line somewhere, he would have to completely remove our ability to imagine it.
What a great world that would be--where things like genocide and child torture not only don’t happen, but can’t even be imagined!!
But would it be that great? After all, if we couldn’t imagine those things existing, we wouldn’t know we were freed from them! Something else would be at the helm of the “worst evil” we could imagine and we would be begging God to “draw a line” against such blatant evil.
So my question is…
How do we know that we aren’t living in a world like The Village, uncertain of another reality we can’t even imagine?
How do we know that God (in his love) hasn't already drawn lines to protect our world from worse evils than we could ever evin imagine? If he had, we wouldn't even know it...we would be sheltered from it.
My (temporary) Conclusion...
The problem of evil still stands as a difficult one that I will probably wrestle with until I die…only my faith allows me to continue without my questions in this area answered—Why does evil exist at all in the presence of a loving, all-powerful God?
However, what we cannot do is ask God to draw lines, eliminating the worst evils while still giving us the freedom to make choices…after all, how can we be so sure that He hasn’t already done this?