Q: If pain & evil exist, then how can your God be good?

One common argument against the existence of God is the ubiquitous presence of pain and evil in our world. Modern thinkers often conclude that horror and injustice make the existence of a loving, all-powerful God implausible.

Interestingly enough, it is the last two generations of Europeans and Americans, generations that have experienced a radical decrease in suffering, that have struggled the most with the problem of pain, much more so than previous generations that experienced much greater suffering in general.

In Apologetics for the Twenty-First Century, Louis Markos holds that the reason for this shift dates back to the eighteenth century writer Jean-Jacques Rousseau, who philosophized that humans were inherently good. Until then, people had accepted pain and suffering as a result of the inherently sinful nature of man. "Because we misunderstand—or refuse to accept—that we are fallen, we imagine that we ourselves (apart from God) can eradicate evil and suffering through state-funded public education, universal health care, and free-market capitalism...we are left angry and bitter when we do not get what we think we deserve," Markos says in chapter 15.

"Because we misunderstand—
or refuse to accept—that we are fallen,
we imagine that we ourselves (apart from God)
can eradicate evil and suffering..."

Arguments have been made that if God is all-powerful and all-loving, that he would do anything he wants and eliminate suffering. The philosopher Alvin Plantigna refutes these claims by pointing out that God does not do irrational things, i.e. make a square a circle or simultaneously give and not give us free will in order to combat suffering. Many scenarios exist by which God demonstrates his love and power by using evil for good. In this way, God ensures our free will and shapes us into the people that he would have us be.

Apologetics for the Twenty-First Century

Louis Markos

Using the work of C. S. Lewis as a starting point, Markos examines the key popular apologists and arguments that shape the intellectual defense of the Christian faith today. 

All other arguments aside, we see in the incarnation and crucifixion of Christ a God who suffers for us and with us. He experienced full suffering himself on our behalf and is therefore a God who can truly empathize with our pain. While God does not promise that we will not suffer, he does promise to be with us when we do.

Excerpt modified from chapter 15 of Apologetics for the 21st Century by Louis Markos.

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