Does all the evil in the world show there is no God?
The Big Questions (Templeton)
The challenge to faith of the existence of evil – How can a good God allow evil to flourish in the world? – is the oldest and deepest challenge to faith. If we look in the Bible, we see it’s not asked by the sceptics. It is asked by the real heroes and heroines of faith.
Abraham asks, “Shall the Judge of all the Earth not do justice?” (Genesis 18:25)
Moses says, “How and why have You done evil to this people?” (Exodus 5:22)
The whole book of Job is taken up with this question. (Job 1-42)
And I asked myself that question as I stood for the first time in Auschwitz-Birkenau where, in the space of a couple of years, a million-and-a-quarter human beings, including a quarter-of-a-million children, were gassed, burned, and turned to ash. Where was God at Auschwitz?
And suddenly, standing there, the answer came to me: God was in the words, “Thou shalt not murder.” (Ex. 20:13)
He was there in the words, “Thou shall not oppress a stranger.” (Ex. 23:9)
He was there in the words, “Your brother’s blood is crying out to Me from the ground.” (Gen. 4:10)
And when God speaks and human beings don’t listen, there is nothing even an all-powerful God can do, because if there is one thing He will never do, it is take away our freedom.
I call the faith of the Hebrew Bible, ‘God’s call to responsibility’. He is telling us, “I alone cannot eliminate evil from the world and still allow you to be human, still allow you to be free. Therefore, I need your help in putting out the fire that is consuming civilisation in its flames.“