God and Evil: The Case for God in a World filled with Pain – a book review

by Sarah Abbey

God and Evil: The Case for God in a World Filled with Pain (GAE), published this year through Intervarsity Press, is a book that deals with possibly the hardest questions humanity faces no matter one’s religion. Why is there suffering? Why is there evil and pain? And if God exists and he is good, how can we reconcile this with the evil we see and experience? The reality that people have wrestled with these questions for centuries demonstrates that in every generation we need men and women to reword the question and possible answers in modern-day vernacular for those who struggle to reconcile what they believe about God with what they experience on a daily basis. This is where GAE comes into play. After getting a feel for the books’ big picture and attention to detail, I was surprised at my final reaction. It’s a book I highly recommend, with only one word of caution.

Written from an evangelical perspective, GAE is a series of essays from today’s leading Christian philosophers and apologists, such as Paul Copan, William Lane Craig, Gary Habermas, William Dembski, and Francis Collins. Covering a wide range of topics related to evil – including horrendous evil, free will, hell, evolution, and the New Atheism – GAE is an intellectual and academic look at how Christians have responded, and can respond, to evil. Its goal is to show that when it comes to reconciling a good God and the existence of evil we can “…come to see that, while there are still unanswered questions, it is nevertheless reasonable to believe that even given the reality of evil, a creative, infinitely loving and omnibenevolent God exists.”(p.11)

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The strength of GAE is in its ability to grasp the big picture while also diving into the details. While detailed topics covered in each essay might intimidate and overwhelm the average layperson (who exactly is Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz and why should we care?), each author handles their specific subject in a concise way that is accessible. This is impressive because each chapter could be a book in and of itself. Yet the authors manage to communicate the main points of their argument as simply as possible. Readers will be stretched and challenged, but not beyond the breaking point.

The big picture becomes clear in the variety of angles tackled in the book. For example, how is evil a problem for theists, and how can that problem be reconciled? This is probably the most common question Christians are familiar with in responding to evil. Yet GAE also looks at how evil is a problem for all religions, including Atheism. Chapters such as “Evil in Non-Christian Religions” and “Evil and the New Atheism” demonstrate the big picture that far from being a Christian problem, evil is a human problem and that Christianity is actually the worldview that is able to best deal with evil in a way that is intellectually and existentially cohesive…

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