Why would an all-knowing, all-powerful, eternal God create something as ignorant and useless as I am? If God is in control, why is there pain and suffering and tragedy? Is there a logical explanation for these things and a variety of related issues? It may be that you will feel that we are walking in this lesson where angels fear to tread, and the traditional approach to this kind of inquiry has been to say that "you just have to have faith." This implies that we cannot comprehend the answers and just have to trust God. It is true that we are limited in our understandings, but we can know a great deal-enough to see that there is a logical reason for our existence! This discussion requires some non-traditional thinking which we hope will stimulate you and excite you!
God did not create evil!! Evil is the consequence of the existence of God. One way of understanding this is to think through the law of parity. This law says that for every situation there is always a mirror image. In biology, we speak of bilateral symmetry. If something has a left eye, it will have a right eye. If something has a left lung, it will have a right lung. These are examples of bilateral symmetry.
In psychology, we speak of id and ego. In physics, we speak of matter and antimatter. All of these are examples of ways in which parity can be applied. God is love and God is good, according to the Bible. What is the parity form of love? Obviously, the answer is hate. What is the parity form of good? Obviously, it is evil. What this suggests is that because God (love and good) exists, there is also an existence of the opposite of God's qualities. Because God exists and God is good and love, there will be the absence of good and love, which is evil and hate. Because evil and hate were not personified in anything or anyone initially, there was no dualism. Only if evil has an agent to work through does it have any power or effect.
The point of all of this is that God did not create evil so that man could spend eternity in hell. Evil has existed before the beginning. It is a consequence of God's existence. The Bible speaks of God allowing evil, but the context of all passages relating to evil and man. portray evil consequentially, not as a conscious creation of God to afflict and condemn man.
We are not the only beings that God has created. God has also created angels. We are told that we are created a little lower than the angels (Hebrews 2:7), and we are told we will become as angels when we die (Mark 12:25). These angelic beings that God created were created with the ability to choose between good and evil, and some of them chose evil! (See II Peter 2:4; Jude 6.) We might ask why God would have created the angels so that they could choose evil or perhaps why He should have created them at all. There are all kinds of philosophical and theological possibilities to this question, but human theories are probably not worth the paper they are written on. Suffice it to say that, if beings are created without the ability to choose, they are merely robots or pawns. Love is not possible unless we have the option not to love. We recognize this in sexual matters. If there is sexual love without choice, we call it rape; and we all recognize that rape is not really love. Realizing that we have not answered all questions that could be asked about why God created angelic beings who could and did embrace evil, let us move on.
We now have a situation in which evil has force. Evil is now operational through Satan and his angels. The insidious destructive power of evil is now working, and there is a need for a platform in which the struggle between good and evil can be carried out. The situation is similar to a human having an idea. If I want to test and evaluate an idea, what do I do? I take a piece of paper (a lower dimension than myself) and I formulate my idea for a critic to challenge (my wife, my business partner, etc.). I want my idea to be successful. (God is not willing that any should be lost, but that all should inherit eternal life - II Peter 3:9.) If my idea is a poor one and is flawed, my critic will destroy it. I could pull out a gun and shoot my critic, but what would that prove about the validity of my idea? God could destroy or isolate Satan, but what would that prove? It would prove that God can destroy, but it would prove nothing about the superiority of good, love, etc. It seems that the reason for man’s creation is somewhat similar to what we have just described.
The book of Job projects what we have been describing. Here is a Clayton paraphrase of Job beginning with chapter 1, verse 6.
Let me point out that it is not God that afflicted Job. God allowed Satan to afflict Job but God did not do it. It is also not God that afflicts you. It is Satan who brings the problems into your life—not God. Job had severe problems and losses, but he stayed faithful to God. Now let us go to the 2nd chapter, verse 1 (Clayton paraphrase).
Notice once again that God drew the line on what He would allow. Now we might look at this incident and say, “That was a terrible thing that God did to innocent Job.” How did Job look at it? In Job 42:5, Job looked back on what had happened and said, “Lord, before all of this I had heard of thee byte ear, but now mine eye seeth thee.” He went on and praised God, because he saw the reason for his creation and he sensed he had served a purpose in God’s plan.
How much will we remember in eternity of the pain that we have had on the earth? You go to the dentist and you get a novacain shot. Why? Because you are willing to gamble 30 seconds of the needle against what seems like three hours of the drill - right? Seventy-five years of suffering will not seem like much in the context of eternity.
You and I
So why has God created man? The answer is seen in the story of Job, but we can see even more as we reason and think. I have a reason for being! Bad things have happened in my life. I have a retarded son who has recently lost his vision; my wife is diabetic with visual complications; I have had bad things happen to my other children; I am sure that there are more problems ahead. As a Christian, I can say, “OK, I don’t like it, but I know God will not give me more than I can handle (I Corinthians 10:13), and I know that God will make good come out of these bad things (Romans 8:28; John 9:1-7). How do atheists handle the same problems that I have? I do not believe that they can. If this life is all there is, and if our purpose is solely to enjoy and extract all that we can from this life, then tragedy is a catastrophe. The purpose of pleasure is impossible, and life is meaningless.
Lesson 6 Questions
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