Why Life Hurts: Understanding Why God Allows Pain, Suffering, and Evil

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Death and suffering is everywhere!

When human beings do bad things to one another, this is moral evil. But so-called natural disasters are often considered evil as well because of all the suffering they cause. Earthquakes, tidal waves, floods, and so forth, are all examples of what might be termed natural evil. One helpful approach to solving the problem of evil has to do with defining evil. Christian thinker Augustine defined evil not as a thing in and of itself, but as a parasite on good.

Something that is lacking is not a thing in itself. For instance, if you have a hole in your jacket, the hole is not something, but rather is something that is lacking. Similarly, Augustine considered evil something that is missing. Indeed, it requires good to exist because it is a parasite. In this sense, Augustine defined evil as a privation — a lack of something — rather than a thing or substance. This solves some important criticisms. If evil is not an actual thing, then God cannot be the author of evil. God is the author of good, but we make moral choices that result in evil. Atheists, skeptics and other critics of Christianity often argue against God on the basis of the reality of evil and suffering.

But do evil and suffering really mean that God does not exist?


Why does God let bad things happen?

Some Christians have responded by turning the skeptic's argument on its head. They do this by asking on what basis is something deemed evil? If there is some moral standard the critic is basing their position on, then the problem of evil becomes an argument for not against the reality of God. After all, in order to call something good or evil, there must be an underlying standard of right and wrong. Theists argue that this standard is rooted in God and His nature.

We know His moral law exists so we recognize the reality of evil and suffering. But unless there is a moral standard, we have no real basis for calling anything good or evil. As we noted earlier, there's a difference between moral and natural evil. Moral evil is explained by the fact that human beings commit evil against one another.

People lie, cheat, steal, hurt, and more. This does not argue against Christianity, but instead proves the point that there is something very wrong with human nature as it now is. But what about natural evil? Couldn't there be less suffering? Why doesn't God stop things like earthquakes and tsunamis? Again, this ties into the broad Christian explanation of the human predicament. Paradise has been lost due to human moral shortcomings. As a result, we live in a fallen world, east of Eden.

As a result, "We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time" Romans , NIV. The good news is that although this is not the best world, it is the best way to the best possible world. Some day God will ultimately and finally overcome evil entirely. Before continuing, it will be helpful at this point to pause and explain another important point.

Evil and suffering can refer to not only physical pain, but emotional pain, too. Consequently, there are differences in approaching the problem of evil depending on whether one is doing it intellectually, in a detached sort of way as we are doing in this article, versus ministering to those in need of compassion. In this sense, there is an intellectual way to address evil and also an emotional way to address it. Both are important and both require our attention, but there is a difference. But couldn't God have created a world without evil? We have two options: separate from our sins by trusting in Christ, and dwell with God forever; or cling to our sins, in which case God will grant our wish and separate us from Himself for eternity.

When we understand the origin of death and the Gospel of Jesus Christ as proclaimed in the Bible, then we can understand why this world is the way it is and how there can be a loving God in the midst of tragedy, violence, suffering, and death. Which view of death do you accept? Is it one that makes God an ogre responsible for millions of years of death, disease, and suffering? Or is it one that places the blame on our sin, and pictures our Creator God as a loving, merciful Saviour who wept over the city of Jerusalem, who wept at the tomb of His friend Lazarus, and who weeps for all of us?

But we showed above, atheism provides the basis for no coherent ethical theory. Thus atrocities in the name of atheism are not inconsistent with it. And the corrective for faulty application of Christianity is not atheism but correct biblical application of Christianity. This was thoroughly documented by Rudolph Rummel b. Between 1, and 4, people were executed for heresy over its year span. Thus its rate of carrying out the death penalty was lower than the state of Texas today, and Stalin killed that many before breakfast.

Furthermore, Inquisition trials were often fairer and more lenient than their secular counterparts—indeed, some criminals uttered heresies precisely so they would be transferred to the Inquisition courts from the civil courts. They killed fewer than 25 people, and were stopped when Christians protested at the travesty of justice in the unfair trials. While many people attack Christianity for the Crusades, an increasing number of historians regard them as a belated response to centuries of Islamic aggression.

The Muslims quickly conquered the Iberian Peninsula well before the Crusades.

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Also, just think about the historic centres of Christianity such as Jerusalem, Antioch, Alexandria and the rest of North Africa—they are now Muslim lands, converted at the point of the sword. And after the crusades, the Muslim Turks conquered the ancient land of Asia Minor, the birthplace of the Apostle Paul, the site of many of his missionary journeys and home of the Seven Churches of the book of Revelation. In this, they were following the example of Muhammad himself. Strive against the disbelievers and the hypocrites and be stern with them.

Why Does God Allow Pain & Suffering? Finding Hope When We’re Hurting

Jesus reserved some of his strongest criticism for the hypocrisy of the Pharisees. But he in no way condemned the righteousness that they stood for in public. Matthew —3 records:. Thus the charge of hypocrisy was not an attack on the morality they preached but on their failure to live up to it.

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He actually told his followers to be even more righteous than them Matthew We are so upset by hypocrisy precisely because we recognize that something intrinsically good has been debased and let down by a failure to meet the standard proclaimed. The atheist criticism amounts to preferring that we both say and do the wrong thing rather than say the right thing and do the wrong thing. We have supplied this link to an article on an external website in good faith. But we cannot assume responsibility for, nor be taken as endorsing in any way, any other content or links on any such site. Even the article we are directing you to could, in principle, change without notice on sites we do not control.

Also Available in:. Related Media. References and notes Note, my booklet Why would a loving God allow death and suffering? Return to text. See documentation in Sarfati, J. Walker, T. The healthiest people had the strongest immune systems, and this was turned against them. Desmond A. Darwin, C. Sarfati, J, Refuting Evolution 2 , ch. Nora Barlow, p. Norton, NY, Templeton, C. Martin, W. Dawkins, R. Quoted in Oliphant-Smith Debate , p. Hattersley, R. Parris, M. Catchpoole, D. Answering the Euthyphro Dilemma , creation. Wilder-Smith, A. Sarfati, J. Motyer, A. Gurney, R. Creation , 18 3 —75, ; creation.

For the time frame, see Sarfati, J. See also Refuting Compromise , p. MacArthur, J. The theological implications of the Fall, what was affected, are discussed in Refuting Compromise , ch. Creation , 19 3 —64, ; creation. For a thorough treatment of the implications of the Fall taught by Romans ch. Creation , 21 1 —85, ; creation. Holding, J. There are pluses and minuses of both types of cultures. However, the countries most influenced by the Reformation are the most individualist, with all the prosperity that individual and property rights can bring.

This is due to the rediscovery of the biblical doctrine of justification by faith, which elevated the independence of the individual. So while biblical culture was collectivist, and must be understood in this context, many of its teachings subtly addressed the downsides of this type of culture and laid the foundation for the positive aspects of an individualist one. See Robbins, J. See Bates, G. Creation , 29 2 —15, March ; creation. Wieland, C. The Greatest Hoax on Earth? Cited in Strobel, L. See also Catchpoole, D. The Creation Answers Book , ch. See also the articles under creation.

Cosner, L. Creation , 22 2 —, ; creation. Creation , 23 3 —75, ; creation. Allen, J. Creation , 17 3 —18, , creation. Freeman, T. Creation , 19 2 —90, , creation. McDougall, I. Lubenow, M. Creation , 12 2 —, ; creation. Lennox, J. See also review by Cosner, L. Creation , 26 3 —28, ; creation. Ostrom, J. Chin, K. See Refuting Compromise , chapters 8 and 9 see Recommended reading. An eternal perspective on creation: Lita Cosner chats with Randy Alcorn, writer and founder of Eternal Perspectives Ministries , Creation , 34 2 —43, ; creation. Grigg, R. Verderame, J. Creation , 20 3 , ; creation.

Moring, M. Wilder-Smith, Ref. Russell, B. Paul Edward, p. See Barnes, P. Lewis and evolution , creation. Lewis, C. See Sarfati, J. For example, if welfare policies mean that a woman is better off financially being a single mother than marrying the working father of her child, then they will incentivize single motherhood and discourage the biblical ideal of a family with a married mother and father.

Bergman, J. Creation , 22 3 —67, ; creation. It is beyond the scope of this article to take sides on Calvinism vs Arminianism. See also Sarfati, J. Creation , 36 1 —19, ; compare creation. Rummel, R. Kamen, H. Creation , 22 2 —35, ; creation. Spencer, R. Lundstrom, L. Quoted in Lundstrom, Ref. See also Wieland, C. Helpful Resources. Hard cover. Video DVD. Soft cover. Christianity for Skeptics. From Creation to Salvation. Design, Death and Suffering. Why would a loving God allow death and suffering? One Way Journey: Death Please Nana What is death?

Walking Through Shadows: A Testimony. GB January 14th, Hello Jonathan As discussed, I checked the Hebrew in Isaiah and I would have to say I disagree with you, on the authority of Strongs ra'ah H which means bad or evil it comes from the root Ra'a which means to spoil or take to pieces. God has created everything and without Him nothing was made that was made, yet we maintain the devil created himself apart from God!

Revelation is awkward, it says the devil will be tormented for ever and ever easy to say phrase but does it really mean for one eternity and if that wasnt enough then another following it! But of course the devil is the bad guy and doesnt ever deserve redemption so we can NEVER translate it that way, he has to be punished. That is why God created evil and that is why even the adversary will be redeemed at the end. God bless you in your search. Jonathan Sarfati January 14th, GB January 13th, Thanks for your answer Jonathan. I will check that word evil in the Hebrew. Which version in English do I accept, and use for everyday use or do we all have to carry many versions around and not trust our translators?

Please God do not let my tradition, even as it is , which is quite some way off from orthodoxy, make your word void. Why believe only some parts of the Bible, albeit misunderstood, and not the whole thing? Jesus was the only descendant of Adam who never sinned. By grace, God spared only Enoch and Elijah from physical death, as He will do for believers when Jesus returns. That allusion to Matthew —23 should indeed be a solemn warning, but not for the reason you claim.

These people addressed Jesus as Lord and evidently had done the most amazing works in His name. Clearly, to believe in Christ and His works on our behalf, as John says: For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.

But they were clearly relying on their own good works for salvation. What they never did was plead what Christ had done for them. GB January 10th, Hello Jonathan. God says through Isaiah that He creates evil and good. He often says He will bring evil against other nations, even Israel. So to say that God is not responsible for evil rather sets you against God. With regard to your take on death, the Bible says that flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God, yet we were given this nature by God to live on this earth, so it consigns us to the only way to inherit this Kingdom is by dying and being sown as a seed and raised up in newness of life and newness of body,so death, however unpalatable, has been interwoven into the whole story from the very beginning.

Whether we like it or not, God, for whatever reason has woven death and suffering as an intrinsic part of this experience we call living. Fortunately it is not a real story but an allegory, or is it!? Which is something I have found evangelicals shy away from, and are the poorer for it. God bless you in your pursuit of Him. Jonathan Sarfati January 10th, More likely, theological liberals shy away from the sound answers to their arguments that have long been known to informed evangelicals.

Some were even in my article, e. One error is to use the fallen condition of the world as normative. Now death is part of this world, but it clearly was not that way in the beginning. Luther affirmed in his Genesis commentary: Had Adam kept the divine commandment, he never would have died, for death came into the world through sin. Note the important difference. Isaiah is mistranslated by the KJV. You really should check other translations at least, if not the original languages. John C. ZA January 10th, As a Christian, this topic is the greatest hurdle to a complete belief.

For the record there is no doubt about the historical truth past, present, future of the Scriptures and I am a young-earth believer. But, I struggle with these: 1. God is an omniscient, omnipotent Creator. He is eternal and thus not part of created time and space. Given these 3 attributes, He created a universe in all its magnificence and then created man in His image.

If that is true, then why did He allow this image to sin against him? The image had no part in the fact of its being. Why then would this God actually knowingly place people on this magnificent planet with the intent that they would helplessly rebel against Him and become His enemies? It means that not a single human other than the God-Man, Jesus has any option to be holy as He is holy. In other words I am condemned before I was born.

It is this argument of the atheist that places a huge strain on my own faith, because there is absolutely no logical rebuttal in my view. I have read countless arguments by Christian thinkers on this topic and never found a single answer that actually makes sense. My apologies if this sounds harsh; it is just that a life-time spent contemplating this issue is tiresome. The thing is that one cannot believe the argument unless there is faith and that is something only the Holy Spirit can provide. Which seems to indicate that our image is an extremely weak one, if not non-existent.

That leaves a rather empty spirit in its trail. Sorry about your struggles. All the same, this looks hardly any different from The atheistic argument summarized in the article. I showed that there was a key missing premise that the atheist has no hope of providing, so the argument is unsound. About the afterlife, fortunately we now have tangible evidence, from One who rose from the dead and never died again. We do have the Imago Dei still, but after the fall of our forefather Adam, it is a broken image.

Indeed we would be helpless in our sin without the grace unearned favour of God. James T. US January 5th, Dr Sarfati about the part where you talk about atheist and morals. Indeed, that is all they have. However, as you are undoubtedly aware, none of this explains why something is right or wrong, just that it has survival value.

See Bomb-building vs. AU January 5th, Unnatural, it may sound but suffering, though unpleasant, brought me to know my Lord Jesus otherwise I would not have come to realize. In a single day I was made penny-less and homeless and removed from my children somewhat similar to what Job went though in his life.

Answers for the problem of Evil, Pain and Suffering | ykazaluwow.ml

Had Jesus the Lord told me, before I left Hinduism, all the suffering that I would face I would have remained as Hindu or embraced the faulty evolution science. HE has a perfect plan in everything he does, including my life. The God of Abram, Isaac and Jacob is still the same today. Steve M. US January 4th, Woe, this article was fantastic!! I was just reading from evolutionary philosopher Michael Ruse who is saying the Achilles heel of the Christian is the suffering universe and this answers this. Michael should read this. I do not like what Michael and other anti-Creator authors are telling the church which is Science and Christianity can co-exists as long as the Christian can accept that none of the miracles of the Bible including the resurrection of King Jesus Christ not being true.

In effect they want the church to stop believing in real Christianity which requires supernatural God events for a form of Christianity with good teachings only and everything else being made up stories. The church is doing this now with examples in United Methodist Church passing in their book of disciple statements that teaching a Creator God in schools is something they oppose. This is a direct attack by the enemy of this world and set to destroy the church.

But we know they will never succeed in destroying the true church of King Jesus Christ. However, many are being misled. AU January 4th, The "five points", with refernce to Scripture, sum it all up best. I think they were all martyred. Say what you like about God and human suffering—He plays fair!! Any-thing else would be incompatible with a just and loving God. Thank you for your comments. Well, just about anything can be found on the www.

I've read some of these articles as well. None of them deal adequately with the moral hazard problem. Something is amiss if there were such an eternal incentive to commit a great temporal wrong He condemns in no uncertain terms. It would seem to be incompatible with the biblically-revealed justice and goodness of God if there were such a gaping chasm in the moral universe He created. Randy S. I believe atheism is a short-lived sport of fools and have emailed you why. People of a future evil generation will no doubt rise up and mock the atheist of our day, for to them, God will be a continual and terrorizing reality.

NL January 3rd, Jonathan, First of all thank you very much for this article. I have learned a lot. I would like to respond to a part of it: What about aborted babies and mentally handicapped? That was the solution to my sinful acts: for past, present and future. But even therefore God has given a solution by making the Lord Jesus for us to sin.

He has, as it were, said: I also take the blame on me. Both solutions shall bring me into heaven with a wonderful future. If there is a solution for the source of sin in me, than is that also there for babies and the mentally handicapped. Jonathan Sarfati January 3rd, Indeed, compare the response to Johannes B. Dante D. US January 3rd, The Problem of Evil is not a logical problem for Christian Theism, as it can be resolved quite easily, but it is an emotional problem.

This seems to make the Problem of Evil both the strongest and yet the weakest of secular arguments against the existence of God. In reality, however, the Problem of Evil is really a problem for the unbeliever as they must first contrive a definition of evil that is coherent with a worldview without God. If evil doesn't exist then one can't appeal to its existence to disprove the existence of God. Especially not since the existence of objective evil depends on the existence God.

"Evil, Pain, and Suffering" Video Transcript

Jeremy W. CA January 3rd, Thank you for this thorough, detailed explanation. I have tried debating, and found it fruitless at least to my knowledge, who is to say what happens when their heads hit the pillow , so when anyone tries to bring it up any more, I just summarize it down to. May I suggest turning the argument back at them, as per the section Do atheists really have a case?

Why should we be on the defensive against their weapons, when they can be deflected back at them? Your article should be printed and distributed in book form. I think that it could help belevers and non to cope with the explanation of evil. Thank you too. There is already a shorter version as a booklet , and a translation into Chinese is in progress. Kobus V. ZA January 3rd, Very good and rather comprehensive treatment, however, it seems when these issues of evil are addressed, the father of them all is absent to a great extent. He that seeks to destroy might be successful most of the time, and surely it is only God that thwarts the efforts of that old serpent.

We get a glimpse of the insights of Daniel Defoe, but what should a Bible believing Christian make of the role that the devil plays in all the suffering. Or would that be giving the devil too much acknowledgement? Would like to read a bit more of the role the devil plays in the bigger picture and reduced to every day human life. Johannes B. SE January 3rd, Hello and thank you for this nice article!!

Really appreciate all the hard work you do here. The article helped a little to sooth my distress that comes often due to recent doubts I have about God. There are still some things that I can't understand. Maybe this is not in the scope of this subject but I will give it a try anyway: Why would a loving God send a majority or maybe even a vast majority to a place of darkness or fire for eternity?

I know from personal experience that many people are evil in their hearts, but a vast majority? Maybe Jesus talked about the wide gate to depict the situation of his time, and that things are better now. But then arises a new question: Why would God allow people to commit evil things back at Jesus' time then?

Why Life Hurts: Understanding Why God Allows Pain, Suffering, and Evil Why Life Hurts: Understanding Why God Allows Pain, Suffering, and Evil
Why Life Hurts: Understanding Why God Allows Pain, Suffering, and Evil Why Life Hurts: Understanding Why God Allows Pain, Suffering, and Evil
Why Life Hurts: Understanding Why God Allows Pain, Suffering, and Evil Why Life Hurts: Understanding Why God Allows Pain, Suffering, and Evil
Why Life Hurts: Understanding Why God Allows Pain, Suffering, and Evil Why Life Hurts: Understanding Why God Allows Pain, Suffering, and Evil
Why Life Hurts: Understanding Why God Allows Pain, Suffering, and Evil Why Life Hurts: Understanding Why God Allows Pain, Suffering, and Evil
Why Life Hurts: Understanding Why God Allows Pain, Suffering, and Evil Why Life Hurts: Understanding Why God Allows Pain, Suffering, and Evil

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