The problem of evil is a bigger problem for atheists than Christians

by David Robertson

Lots of people, when asked why they don’t believe in God, will say something like, “Because there is so much evil in the world”. It wasn’t the case for me. One of the reasons I became a Christian was studying the horrors of the Holocaust. I visited Auschwitz for the first time last year. It was so upsetting. If there is no God, then to me, this world is hell. What’s often used as a reason to not believe in God can be used as a reason to believe.

I think that all of us have a sense of evil and a sense of good – I don’t think that morality is relative. The modern mantra of “It’s true for you but not for me” is false. There really is such a thing as good and evil. To me this truth actually leads to God, rather than away from God.

So here’s the problem of evil in a nutshell. We say that God is omnipotent – that he is all powerful, so he could destroy evil. We say that God is good, so he would want to destroy evil. So then atheists will argue, that because evil exists, a good omnipotent God cannot exist. Otherwise, he would stop evil. It’s a simple argument, but for many people it is devastating.

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We shouldn’t shelter Christians from arguments like this. Some of our young people grow up in churches where they are not asked to think about these things, and we try to protect them. So the first time they come across a problem like this, everything gets blown apart and they lose their faith. That doesn’t need to be the case. There are lots of contradictions within this argument, especially when compared to the attitude of many atheists today.

Atheists such as Richard Dawkins claim that evil doesn’t actually exist. In his book, River Out of Eden: A Darwinian View of Life Dawkins writes: “In a universe of electrons and selfish genes, blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference.”

So for this kind of atheist thinking, there is no evil. There is no purpose. Nothing, but blind, pitiless indifference. Sometimes I ask God why such terrible things happen in the world. I get upset. But I would be in the pit of despair if I thought that the universe had no purpose, no good and no evil, and it all happened for no reason at all…

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