Why is the World Full of Evil?
Why is the world full of evil? Some Christians answer this by pointing to “sin". Namely, that Adam and Eve sinned. This “sin” supposedly messed up everything and that is why evil is in the world. However, this does not really answer the question. Why could people that God made, end up sinning at all? Why does God give them that opportunity? Moreover, this does not get near to why there are things like floods, avalanches, and earthquakes. The question of this article is dealing with why God made the world the way that it is.
My reasoning runs along the lines of the Philosopher of Religion Richard Swinburne. The point is that once God establishes goals for the world, he is limited as to the kind of world he can bring about. Just like if you establish certain goals for building a house that will legislate against various other plans that could have been implemented.
Here are some goals of God that limit him in various ways, including his choice not to prevent evil:
LOVE – If God wants to make a world where love is a possibility, then he is forced to create a world where there is free will. This automatically limits God. To even create a world where there is love, God needs to allow freedom, which opens the door to evil.
Free Will – If God wants a world where there is free will, he needs to create a world where there are creatures that are at least somewhat rational and somewhat relational. Rational and relational creatures need space to learn and grow. As soon as there is space to learn and grow, there will be mistakes right along with successes.
Rational / Relational – Without rationality there is no thinking and hence, no learning and hence, no free will or free decision. Just animal-like instincts. Without relationality there is no love given or love exchanged. Opportunity for great thinking and relationships exists alongside the misuse of either of them.
Learning – Without learning there can be no rationality nor the ability to develop a mind to make a decision. However, what is needed for there to be learning?
Natural Laws – To learn, there needs to be at least some regularity in nature. Without some regularity, there would be no ability to learn and no strong sense of freedom of the will. Thus, the natural laws are there to help the learning process. In my view things like earthquakes are not evil, even though they cause destruction. They are just the manifestations of nature working according to natural forces.
We can see from the above that the answer to the problem of evil is that it is a necessary by-product of a very good world. The good goals that God has for the world necessarily limit what kinds of actions he takes in the world.