Written By: Michael Clark
There are many arguments for the existence of God. The moral argument for God’s existence is a very simple and powerful argument against atheistic philosophies. However, atheists also have challenging arguments to theism. This is a common argument that atheists use against God’s existence:
1) If God is not all-powerful and all loving then God does not exist.
2) If God were all-powerful and all loving then God would not allow evil and suffering (E&S) in the world.
3) Evil and suffering is in the world.
4) Therefore, God does not exist.
Logically, this argument follows, but are all the premises true? Christians agree with premises “1” and “3”, but premise “2” presupposes “God’s will” as a defeater for God’s existence. The atheist using this argument must prove that an all-powerful and all-loving God would not allow E&S in the world. It is possible that God allows E&S for purposes that are beyond our understanding. This is not special pleading; it is simply showing that premise two is possibly false, and therefore, is an unsubstantiated premise. As a result, the burden of proof rests on the atheist to explain why and how an all-knowing God could not have any good reason to allow E&S.
In response to the atheist, the Christian could argue that the atheist has limited knowledge and cannot know all of the possibilities and purposes of why God would allow E&S. In fact, there may actually be some good philosophical reasons why God would allow E&S to occur. First, consider that God could have created any kind of world he desired. There were an infinite number of possible worlds that God could have created, but He chose to create THIS world. Does this mean that God’s nature of being all-powerful and all-loving is compromised? Consider this basic argument concerning why God might prefer to create a world with the capacity of free will over a world without the freedom to choose:
1) Love requires the freedom to choose. Coercion denies the freedom to choose.
2) It is better to love and have freedom of choice than to be coerced.
3) An all-loving God prefers to do that which is best, and would prefer love and a free world over a coerced world.
4) But a free world would entail the capacity to reject God’s desires.
5) Rejecting God’s desires would be evil, and suffering would be inherent.
6) Therefore, E&S (given God) is not incompatible, but is consistent philosophically and theologically .
After making these conclusions, it is easy to see that the problem of evil and suffering can only make sense from a Christian worldview. To conclude that God does not exist does not get rid of the problem of E&S. After pointing this out to the atheist the Christian is in a good position to argue that if God does not exist then there is no such thing as objective evil and suffering. The atheist must face the logical out-working of his own philosophies.