If God Allows That, I Won’t Worship Him
by Jason Wisdom
One of the most common objections raised against the existence and/or goodness of God is the problem of evil and suffering. If God is good and powerful, then why does He allow so much pain and injustice? Admittedly, this is one of the most difficult and sensitive topics that we can discuss. It touches all of us. For that reason, I want to say from the outset that I do not suppose that what I am about to offer solves the problem. Even if we had an answer for every why question, that would not take away the pain of what we experience. Thus, I hope it is clear that I approach this topic with great timidity and humility.
I want to address one particular objection that is often raised by skeptics of Christianity. I have seen and heard it put many ways, but most recently I encountered it in this form: “If your god exists, he allows children to be raped. Children! Why should I worship him?” Again, I do not want to make light of this issue. This objection has tremendous rhetorical power. It immediately provokes an emotional response. Even so, I do not think it is a very good objection–let me illustrate why.
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Suppose that God supernaturally intervened tomorrow and rearranged the world so that child rape was no longer possible. Do you think that would convince skeptical people that God is good and worthy of worship? Hardly. After all, He still allowed it to happen in the past. So, what would need to happen is that God would need to design the world from the beginning in such a way that child rape was always impossible. Now, suppose that He did exactly that. Do you think people would still raise this objection? Of course we would. We would just fill in the blank (God allows __________) with the most horrendous evil that was possible in that world. We would be no less outraged. But what if God created a world where that particular evil was also eliminated? It would be the same result. We would just fill in the blank with the next highest injustice on the list. I hope you can see the problem.
Alright, now let’s skip ahead several cycles. Suppose that God created a world where all of the things we would put on our “gratuitous evils” list were somehow rendered impossible–rape, murder, untimely death, natural disasters etc. But suppose that it was still possible for people to catch the flu. The flu was the worst thing that could happen to a person. Of course, we cannot even imagine such a world (and there are so many things that would have to give way to even make such a world possible), but I think you can see…