I’m going to start off by saying this. Before I even started writing this post, I already knew that there would be multiple parts to this idea, thus I put in parentheses “pt. 1.” I can’t tell you how many parts there will be to this, but I can tell you, everything I’m about to say, I’m not proclaiming I’m right or wrong, I’m only putting my thoughts into words. If there is any part you may disagree on, please leave a comment, or send me a private message. I’m trying to make this idea as strong as possible, which part of that strength building process involves allowing the criticism to find its weak spots, and then coming back, integrating that critique, and rebuilding it into a much stronger idea. That’s all I have to say, for now, so let’s get started on my thoughts.
I have a co-worker that I speak to quite often. I like talking to him because we always find ourselves talking about a wide variety of topics, which many of them are deep discussions such as philosophical, political, and well, religious ideas. Although we tend to agree on most things, especially in the political sphere, we always seem to steer our conversations into a religious discussion, and I think it’s because we fundamentally disagree on religion in general. Why? Because my co-worker is a self-proclaimed Atheist, and I’m a self-proclaimed Christian. So yeah, you can see why we might disagree.
Although we disagree on several religious points, the one we sort of always get stuck on, as well as almost every other Christian out there is this.
How can a good God allow the suffering of the world?
As far back as there’s been Christianity, there has been this question to criticize it. The thought process is this, if God, the creator of everything, is good, and the world he created is good, then why is there evil in the world? I’ve heard a lot of answers to this question, and the most widely accepted answer seems to be this.
True love (good) for God cannot be achieved without free will, but there cannot be free will without there being a choice, i.e. good or evil. By freely choosing God, who is good, in the face of evil, then that is the ultimate good. So that is why there is evil.
The thing is, that doesn’t answer the question why is there evil? It assumes that evil is already there. If we’re supposed to recognize God created all things, then why can we not assume God created evil as well? Which funny enough, there is a verse, Isaiah 45:7, it says:
“I form the light, and create darkness; I make peace, and create evil. I am Jehovah, who does all these things”
– Isaiah 45:7
You can make your own conclusions about that verse, and many preachers have. Usually it is either, the translation is not correct, and it really doesn’t mean evil, or it is referring to the punishment of sinners, meaning, he punishes those who sin, which might be seen as “evil”. I think, no matter what answer you give, it feels like you’re dancing around the true answer, God created evil, and I want to take that idea at face value.
God created evil, but God also created Good.
And here’s a radical idea, and I’m not sure most people will be able to understand it at first. The human understanding of Good and Evil are not the same as God’s definition of Good. Human good and evil are only tools in God’s hierarchy to perform God’s grace, often described as the “greater good”. It’s funny, we still don’t have a very complete definition of what “God’s Grace” actually is, but we talk about it like it’s the easiest thing to understand.
Then you might ask, what is God’s definition of “good”?
That’s what I’m trying to figure out here, but I think it’s this. It’s knowing who we are, and seeing we aren’t good as we can be. And taking that knowledge of all our insufficiencies and working to become someone better. It’s the whole idea of the redeemer. I mean, that’s what Jesus announced himself to be, The Redeemer.
And when you look at many of the religions as a whole, that’s the general theme they seem to share, that you can be redeemed.
I know this is a lot to think about, so I want to end it here. If you have any thoughts on this, I encourage you to voice them in a comment below. It’d help me out.
thanks for reading,