Defending Your Faith 101: Sources of Evil and Suffering
by Teri Dugan
“We need to know God’s plan so that we can make sense of tsunamis, fires, cancers, strokes, rapes, tortures, and the fact that, except for the Lord’s return, the only thing that will prevent us from watching everyone we know die will be our own death. If we don’t understand that our good God can have a good purpose in allowing evil, we’ll live confused Christian lives.”
-Dr. Clay Jones, Biola University
Suffering, whether it results from natural or moral evil, is suffering nonetheless and we all experience some form of it in this life. No human is immune. Understanding sources of evil can help us explain it to those who ask, or correct those who lay blame at the feet of God. As Christians it is our duty to give an answer to those who ask about the hope that we have in Christ Jesus, always doing so with gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3:15).
There are three major factors in identifying sources of evil:
Factor #1: The value of freewill
It would not be possible for things like love, relationship, and intimacy to exist without freewill, and it would not make sense to create beings with freewill and not allow them the possibility to misuse it. This is what happened with Adam and Eve, and from the few clues we get in Scripture, this is what happened when Satan and his angelic followers fell.
God created Adam and Eve and gave them everything. We don’t really comprehend how awesome it was for them to be in paradise, able to walk and talk with God face to face, but they chose to throw that all away in an effort to “be like God” (Genesis 3:5). This also seems to be the cause of Satan’s fall from Heaven, a desire not just to be like God, but to be God (Isaiah 14:13-14).
Sometimes people will say, “why do I have to suffer and pay the penalty for the sins of Adam and Eve, I wasn’t even there?” Actually, we were there “in Adam’s loins” and therefore present at the ‘Fall.’ Through modern science we now know that we carry the genetic material (DNA) passed down from our original parents. Since Adam and Eve are both our spiritual and physical parents (and could only reproduce after their own kind) they passed their fallen nature on to us…
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