If God exists, why does He allow evil? Why does God let bad things happen?
By Christopher Jethro
Last Updated: Dec 13, 2017
Last Updated: Dec 13, 2017
In this section of the site, we'll first take a look at why these sorts of questions by no means disprove the existence of God and should never cause one to doubt their Christian beliefs. The better question is why would a perfect God come down and suffer for you? Secondly, we’ll see where the Bible gives us clear answers to this question!
Why these questions don’t disprove God’s existence
For a long time, atheists have tried to refute Christianity by asking “why does your good God allow evil?” In philosophy, this topic is usually known as “the problem of evil”. The atheist attempts to argue that if an all-powerful, all-good God exists then there can’t be evil in the world. However, this question is a terrible objection to Christianity, easily refuted, and partially based on circular reasoning.
If there is no God, there is no evil
Ironically, the question itself forces atheists to accept the existence of God. You see, if God does not exist, then evil does not exist. "Evil" would just be nothing more than some human philosophy attached to emotions; worthless opinions of what people currently think is taboo in a relativistic mindset but not actually evil.
The atheist is saying that evil does exist by the very question itself. In order for real evil to exist, God must exist. Without God, humans would simply be coincidentally evolved life-forms that create various ideas and concepts within their society which they refer to as “good” and “evil”. In such a case, “good” and “evil” would be nothing more than created concepts and stimuli responses.
If evil truly exists, it demonstrates the existence of God. This is because, for atheists, evil isn’t real - it’s just human philosophy and perception based on relative “truths”. In order for atheists to even use this objection, they must abandon their beliefs in subjective morality and accept objective morality (which requires the existence of God). Therefore, if human suffering is truly wrong, it not only proves objective morality (and therefore the existence of God) but it demonstrates our desperate need for God.
Why can't evil exist without God?
Atheists want you to believe that morality evolved - that morals came from early human beings inventing and applying principles to help their race survive. In other words, they try to define evil by “that which doesn’t help advance society”. But does that make sense? Hitler tried to eliminate weak races, so by the atheist’s logic, Hitler was good because his actions were socially advantageous. For the atheist, rape for example isn’t really evil; it’s simply taboo, it’s just socially unacceptable. According to atheism, humans evolved and are just animals. But animals rape each other all the time in the wild and it is technically socially advantageous because it helps spread genes.
If you don’t understand yet, then let me ask you these questions: Is rape evil? Prove it. Can you? How? Is it wrong just because you say so? In world of relative “truths”, what makes your opinion superior to another’s? What makes your judgment a true standard? If humans evolved then rape can’t be evil; animals rape each other all the time in the wild. I thought atheists believe we are just animals, so what makes humans special all of the sudden? Atheists can’t prove anything to be evil; it just doesn’t really exist from their worldview, evil only exists in their mind.
Why are atheists bothered by pain and suffering anyways? From their standpoint, humans are just evolved creatures, just animals. What makes our death truly worse than animal road kill then? Animals die all the time; for nature, pain and death are normal experiences for life - not evil.
5 reasons why God lets bad things happen
Now that I've addressed why this question can’t be used by atheists to object Christianity, let’s answer it! First of all, as a disclaimer, I want to admit that as mere humans, we can’t have a full and complete understanding of why God allows certain things. However, the Bible does provide a lot of insight on why God lets bad things happen.
1. Free will
People have a free will. With this fee will, we cause all evil. If humans did not exist, there would be no evil in the world. Think about it. It’s true. We cause all evil (then usually blame God for it). If you really want God to stop evil at its true source, then God would have to destroy all humans. All evil begins in the mind; before we commit the action, we think of it first. For God to stop all evil: God either needs to destroy us all, remove our ability to freely think, or remove free will and make us stoic robots.
We often think of how bad others have been, like murderers and rapists, but then claim that we ourselves are “good” people. When you do this, you are neglecting to acknowledge how you too have contributed to bringing hurt and pain into other people’s lives. God could easily identify 50 or more people whom you have wronged or hurt (whether physically, emotionally, financially, etc.). People literally commit suicide for being verbally abused in some way. We have all brought evil in this world. The problem is us, not God.
These sins can’t be covered by some meager good works, but only by the blood of Christ. Don’t ever ask ‘why does God let bad things happen to good people?’ because people are not good. Only God is good and we all need Him. Instead, we should wonder “why does God let good things happen to us bad people?”
2. Rejection of God’s authority
Mankind would have lived in a perfect world in the Garden of Eden as God takes care of and protects us. But mankind rejected God. This first started with disobedience in the Garden, and we continue to reject Him anytime we sin. By doing so, rejecting God’s commandments also means rejecting His rule over you. If you reject God’s authority over you, then you don’t get the benefits of His rule such as protection! We can’t be under His personal care and provision unless we come to the Good Shepherd, Jesus.
Consequently, God cannot be held responsible for evil in this world because we reject His authority over us. It doesn’t make any sense for a person who refuses to repent and obey God to complain about how He doesn’t protect them. Make Jesus your God if you want His help!
Imagine Germany complaining to America during World War II “why does America let bad things happen to us?” Outrageous right? If you want America’s benefits, then you must live here and adhere to our laws. Likewise, if you want God’s benefits like protection, you must accept Jesus as your God and repent.
If you want evil to stop, then you need God. Good news - that’s part of the Gospel message. Jesus Christ came not only to die for your sins but also to bring the Kingdom of God (this is essentially God’s reign/rule/supreme authority over people that brings restoration to all things through the Holy Spirit). Get under God’s authority and submit to Him, then the benefits of serving the King can come over you!
3. Satan is allowed to operate when people sin
Satan is usually the one who brings pain and suffering in the world. Of course, you might wonder, why does God let Satan cause evil? This has essentially already been answered in the above section. When people sin and reject God, God has no obligation to protect you from the devil!
Again, it is usually the devil who causes evil. Yet his damage can be prevented if God protects us. But God will only protect us when we follow His ways and submit to Him. This protection comes from calling the blood of Jesus down over us.
If you sin, God’s protective hand will be lifted! Sin affects nations as a whole as well. Entire nations will suffer earthquakes, bombs, shootings, hurricanes, etc., because of radical supporters of gay-marriage and abortion in the country. God's protective hand is lifted when people are sinning and rejecting His commandments.
4. God's judgment & wrath
Some suffering comes from God’s judgments on sin. Again and again in the Bible, God would send plagues, famines, cause wars, etc., in order to execute punishment on sins both towards individuals and nations as a whole. In the Old Testament, God often punished Israel for worshipping other gods. If you've read any of the Bible, you’d be aware of multiple examples of this took place. I might recommend reading the book of Judges in the Bible so you can see how God made Israel vulnerable to raids and captivity when they rejected Him.
In some of these cases, it is not God directly doing these things, but lifting His hand of protection against the devil as already explained in the above section. Furthermore, some people think God’s wrath is only existent in the Old Testament. However, God does not change and His holy wrath can be found in the New Testament as well where God killed people for lying to the Holy Spirit (Acts 5:1-10), killed Herod for receiving worship as a god (Acts 12: 21-23), He blinded a sorcerer for his evil (Acts 13: 8-11), and Jesus Himself threatened to kill Jezebel’s children for acts of adultery (Revelation 2: 21-23).
There are consequences for sin both in this lifetime (and eternal consequences after death if you are not saved by Jesus). Support of gay-marriage and abortion, for instance, and guaranteed to bring God’s wrath on sinful nations.
Sometimes people wonder why God allows people to starve to death in certain nations. I’ve personally been to the poorest nation in Africa, and while many are desperate for food and water, everyone can’t help but notice the heavily practiced witchcraft there. Virtually every tribe has a witchdoctor whom they serve. They literally dedicate their babies to Satan at birth by tying cursed black ties around their hands. Others worship a false god (Allah).
For their witchcraft and worship of Allah, one could easily infer that God is letting them reap their consequences for involvement with evil spirits. Similarity, India may be known for a poverty/food problem, but they are also well known to worship thousands of false gods (Hinduism). They have an idolatry problem, so the one true God doesn’t bless their land.
5. Suffering for Christ
In the Old Testament, God allowed Satan to attack Job in order to prove and test Job. Later, Job was rewarded for his faithfulness, so there was a purpose in it all. The Bible gives us many New Testament examples, such as the apostle Paul, who had to suffer greatly for the sake of the Gospel. Our Heavenly Father allows these trials to teach us, change and refine us, and also to bring Him glory. We won’t always understand, but God has a purpose for us obedient followers of Christ and often they are for the greater good in ways we don’t realize. Jesus said “blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake” (Matthew 5:10) so we should embrace – not complain about – any persecuted we face as Christians. As God’s children, the Bible says our Father does not ignore any evil of Christians and can use trials to discipline us for “whom the Lord loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives” (Hebrews 12:6).
Simply put, the Bible clearly says that Christians must face tests, trials, persecution, and suffering for the Lord in several places (Matthew 24:9, Acts 14:22, James 1:2-3, 1 Peter 1:6-7, 1 Peter 5:10, Revelation 2:10). These trials are necessary for refining our character (e.g., making us more patient, loving, compassionate, etc., towards others).