This is the second post in a series answering the question of how evil exists in a world that is ruled by an all powerful and all good God. If you have not read the first blog I suggest that you read it here.
A paradigm shift that I think all Christians need to make when dealing with the problem of evil is that God is not concerned with making us happy He wants to make us good. We usually have in our minds that Gods greatest goal is for our happiness and this is frankly not the case.
Gods greatest goal for us is to become good, not for us to be happy.
With that understood God gave us free will and the ability to do good. God did not want robots, He wanted beings that would freely choose to do good because their choosing would mean more than being programed to do good. Unfortunately, with free will came the possibility to do bad, and this is how evil can exist in a world that an all knowing and all powerful God rules and reigns.
Think of it like a mother who gives her teenage daughter the keys to a car and asks her to pick up her little brother from the mall. Now imagine that daughter, instead of picking up her brother heads to a party that ends with her in a drunk driving accident. Is the mother responsible for the evil her daughter has done? No. Was the mother able to prevent the daughter from doing such evil by never giving her the keys? Yes. But even though the mother provided the possibility for the evil she is not responsible for it.
The same is true of us and God. God in essence gives us the keys of free will. We are able to do what we want, when we want, where we want. But when we choose to evil it does not reflect on God being evil, nor does it reflect on God not being all powerful or all good.
Furthermore, when we choose to do good it is a greater good then if we were simply programed to do so. If God had simply programed us to do good every time, it seems that there is little to praise our actions for. We don’t praise a computer for working and doing what it is supposed to do. We do praise a child for not lying after breaking the lamp. You don’t praise a child for cleaning his room because he would get spanked if he didn’t, you praise him for doing it on his own accord.
Some philosophers will now object that God could have, if he were all powerful, created a world in which everyone freely chose to do good. But this would be one that God is essentially choosing everything for us, though maybe indirectly. He is in fact rigging and changing the game until it fits his criteria. This assumes that once God sets the board there is only one way the the game could play out. It’s as if we are playing a board game that God invented and He wishes us to play a certain way. When we choose to play differently then the path He intended, God changes the rules or hits the restart button. But if God is constantly changing the rules in order that we ‘freely’ choose the way He desires, we really are no longer choosing freely anymore. Free will is eliminated if God chooses to intervened in every moment that we choose evil.
Some may argue that it seems that God never intervenes, but this is assuming that we would know when He does. But there is no reason to think that we would know when God alters reality, and it is possible that God has intervened many times without us knowing.
In the end we are left with the frightful fact that evil exists because of our actions. God created a world in which was evil was possible and though that was not Gods will that evil come about, much like the mother giving her daughter the car keys, it has. God is not responsible for this evil. God is not also lacking in power or goodness because evil exists. Gods will has allowed it. . . for now.