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A Good reason for Evil – Part 4

A Good Reason For Evil – Part 4

This is a transcript of a commentary from the radio show “Stand to Reason,” with Gregory Koukl. It is made available to you at no charge through the faithful giving of those who support Stand to Reason. Reproduction permitted for non-commercial use only. ©1997 Gregory Koukl

We’ve heard that uncomfortable truth, that westerners tend to believe – just like little children – that it’s our divine right to feel every pleasure and never encounter any pain or suffering. If we do suffer, we reason that God must be a cruel God.

Now I realize that some of you might be thinking, “Come on, Koukl, you’re really whitewashing this, aren’t you? How can so much egregious suffering be justified?”

I don’t at all mean to brush away the terrible impact of evil on people’s lives. But I’m talking about a frame of mind that we do seem to have, a frame of mind that we are first and our pleasures are first and God owes that to us. And if He denies us our pleasures to any degree, then there must be something wrong with Him.

Now if God is a good God, and He denies us our pleasures, then I’ll tell you one thing: there’s a good reason He does so. That’s what it means to be a good God. I’m not going to buy the infantile western idea that in order for God to be considered good, He has to give me everything I want, when I want it – or conversely, He must protect me from every injury and every difficulty. No, it’s fair to say that God has allowed suffering in the world for very good reasons, even though we’re not clear on all of those reasons.

By the way, what’s the alternative? If you conclude there’s no God because of the existence of evil, then there’s no possibility of ever redeeming that evil for good.

British philosopher Bertrand Russell said that no one can sit at the bedside of a dying child and still believe in God. My response to Mr. Russell is, “What would you say to a dying child?” What could an atheist say? “Too bad”? “Tough luck”? “Bum deal”? You see, in that circumstance, there’s no possibility of redemption for that evil. In fact, it doesn’t seem to make sense to even call it evil at all if there is no God.

But with God, at least there’s the possibility that the evil can be used for good. And certainly that’s the promise of the Scriptures.

And so, instead of the syllogism we began with four weeks ago, that “God created all things, and evil is a thing, therefore God created evil,” we can start from a different point. “All things God created are good – which is what the Bible says – and evil isn’t good, therefore God didn’t create evil.” Then we can progress to, “If God created all things, and God didn’t create evil, then evil is not a thing.”

You see, those two syllogisms are just as valid as the first one (if God created all things, and evil is a thing, then God created evil), and it seems that their premises are more reliable. The premises seem to be accurate and true.

So the questions we have to ask ourselves are: Do we have reason to think that God is good, and do we have reason to think that evil is not a thing? If we have good reasons to think those two things, then our new set of syllogisms work.

We can then strongly trust that when God does allow a privation of good (evil) to influence our lives, He does it not for evil designs, but ultimately for good purposes.