Last week we hosted three nights of “Dialogues Veritas” which is latin for Truth Dialogues. We spent weeks surveying students on campus here in France, basically asking two questions:
1. Why do people (or you individually) not believe in God?
2. If you could ask God a question, what would it be?
After collecting the results – and it’s not often a French student thinks about these things – we compiled the top 5 questions/objections students have concerning God. These were:
- If God exists, why is there so much injustice?
- God and science are incompatible.
- God exists, so what?
- I don’t see any proof.
- Why are we on earth?
These are all great questions. I hear them every week talking to students on campus. And Christians should honestly take the time to consider them, to remain relevant to the culture. I personally haven’t thought through them all in depth, but the one that intrigues me the most is the first. It has to do with the problem of evil, which I find terribly complicated.
The problem is, God is loving, just, all powerful, and ever present. Yet injustice, evil happens. These seem to be contradictory. Couldn’t – wouldn’t – shouldn’t a loving and all powerful God intervene before an earthquake hits Haiti or as a kidnapper moves to take a child or a murderer strikes?
Our typical answer is that it’s all man’s fault. When Adam ate that apple it broke our relationship with God, others and the nature around us. That’s true, but it’s an awful lot of blame to hold on our shoulders, especially considering that God is standing by permitting all of it! Does God’s silence make him somehow complicit in our evil? How can this be resolved?
I’ve heard and read a number of thoughts on this. At the end of the day, God is still a perfect and loving God, in whom there is no darkness. Some have said that if God were to systematically intervene the world would become absurd. Their free will usurped, people might test God to see what would happen next. It makes me think of the evil villain whose plots are always foiled by the super hero, but it doesn’t stop him from plotting and trying.
I really like what Alan Scholes says in his book The Artful Dodger. He doesn’t rest on one argument but relies on two schools of thought that go back to the roots of Christianity. One says that in order for us to be capable of love, we have to have free will, thus the possibility to choose not only good, but also evil. (I have issues with this full line of logic because we’ll have free will in heaven, be fully capable of loving God, yet there will be no evil.) The second idea has to do with moral maturity. In order for us to grow to moral maturity we need to be in an environment where tough choices have to be made. That sounds a lot like our environment doesn’t it? So God chose to give us free will knowing that would produce an environment for us to grow mature and responsible with that free will, morally mature.
This brings out something which I find essential to this discussion. God’s perspective is infinitely bigger than our own. Just as a doctor might have to even cause us some pain for our ultimate health, God has eternity in mind. He is good, all good, and we can trust him. Why is there so much injustice? Even though God’s not to blame, he sees it, enters into it and works to redeem it just like he did on the cross. And he wants us to do the same.