One of the first questions or counter arguments to the existence of God is the existence of evil and suffering in the world. Many simply ask, “How can there be a God with so much suffering and evil in the world?” I would start by asking a different and paradoxical question, “If there isn’t a God, how can there be evil too?” C.S. Lewis talked about this,
My argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust. But how had I got this idea of ‘just” and “unjust”? … What was I comparing this universe with when I called it unjust? … Of course I could have given up my idea of justice by saying it was nothing but a private idea of my own. But if I did that, then my argument against God collapsed too – for the argument depended on saying that the world was really unjust, not simply that it did not happen to please my private fancies… Consequently atheism turns out to be too simple.
(C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, p.31)
Tim Keller points out,
…modern objections to God are based on a sense of fair play and justice. People, we believe, ought not to suffer, be excluded, die of hunger or oppression. But the evolutionary mechanism of natural selection depends on death, destruction, and violence of the strong against the weak – these things are all perfectly natural. On what basis then does the atheist judge the natural world to be horribly wrong, unfair, and unjust? … If you are sure that this natural world is unjust and filled with evil, you are assuming the reality of some extra-natural (or supernatural) standard by which to make your judgment… In short, the problem of tragedy, suffering, and injustice is a problem for everyone. It is at least as big a problem for non belief in God as for belief. It is therefore a mistake, though an understandable one, to think that if you abandon belief in God it somehow makes the problem of evil easier to handle (Tim Keller, The Reason for God, p.26)
As to the existence of evil, Christians believe that we live in a fallen world. In the beginning of human history man was perfect. God created human beings in His image and gave us complete freedom with only one rule, do not eat of one tree in Eden, ONE tree on the entire planet. In essence God gave us a choice, obey Him out of love, or choose ourselves over Him. The Bible says that a serpent tempted Adam and Eve telling them that to eat of the tree they would be like God and gain the “knowledge of good and evil.” Ultimately they failed and took all the universe with them. When this happened, man was separated from God, and suffering entered the world. Einstein once said that evil was like darkness. Darkness is not a physical entity but an absence of one, the absence of light. In the same way, evil is not an entity, but an absence, the absence of good, or the absence of God. Evil could not exist without good, but good can exist without evil. Evil is the perversion of good things.
When the first man fell, a God sized hole was created inside man. All mankind clamors desperately to fill it with everything but that which is meant to be there. C.S. Lewis wrote, “If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.” That world being the original perfect one God made for us before we chose to fall. But because God IS good, He had a way for us to be redeemed already in place. The penalty of sin is death, spiritual and physical, and God decided to take it upon himself to set us free through Him. We will get to this in more detail later. First we must acknowledge there is a God, and to do that we have to look at the evidence.
The Reason For God – Tim Keller
Mere Christianity – C.S. Lewis