Is God omnibenevolent? Then how come He doesn’t stop all the evil in this world? How come God didn’t prevent Hitler from carrying out his genocide against the Jews? How come He doesn’t cure all those with terminal diseases? If God is running the show, how come He’s doing a terrible job at it? As a Muslim apologist, I’m lead to believe that the problem of evil doesn’t substantiate a strong disproof of God’s existence due to various reasons. In this article, I aim to prove the logical inconsistencies and fallacies with the problem of evil.
What is the problem in the first place? Although there are various forms of it, they all boil down to this:
Premise 1: If God were all-powerful, he would be able to prevent evil.
Premise 2: If God were all-good, he would by all means prevent evil.
Premise 3: Evil certainly exists.
Conclusion: An all-powerful omnibenevolent God doesn’t exist.
In this article I will be refuting the following arguments:
(1) It is impossible for an all loving God to co-exist with evil. Since it’s self-evident that evil exists, it follows that God can’t logically exist.
(2) Although God and evil can logically coexist, it is highly improbable.
Can God and evil co-exist?
a) In order to assert that God and evil can’t co-exist, the opposition must be able to prove that God has absolutely no morally sufficient reasons for allowing evil to occur. Given our natural limitations in time, space, insight and intelligence it is impossible to uphold that argument against a transcendent sovereign God who has always existed. We simply don’t have the resources to help us make that argument. We are inherently limited in that nature. An evil which may seem pointless to us within our limited framework may bring about a remarkable change that might not even emerge until centuries later and perhaps even in another land. This is all just to emphasis on the notion of our intellectual and physical limitations.
b) Can God create an evil-free world? Of course he can, but what’s the use? What gain is there in God creating robots that involuntarily do good? Through learning from mistakes, combating evil and voluntarily performing good actions, human beings are subject to intellectual, emotional, psychological and spiritual growth. It should be noted that nothing is created evil. Through free will, humans are able to make good or bad decisions. Sure, some inherently have a higher tendency to do wrong due to their genetic build up, however, no one is forced into doing it. Had we not been given this free will, we would be no different than God’s robots. Freedom without the ability to disobey is like a one ended stick, a logical contradiction.
c) The purpose of this world isn’t to live in bliss but to attain proximal closeness to God through hardship and servitude.
“For indeed, with hardship will be ease; Indeed, with hardship goes ease; so when you are relieved, still toil, And to your Lord direct [your] longing.” (Qur’an 94:5-8).
There is no such thing as a trouble-free life. Even Sigmund Freud conceded that he “cured the miseries of the neurotic only to open him up to the normal misery of life.” The character of Imam Ali ibn Abi Talib (as), the holy Prophet’s (sawa) cousin, perfectly resembles this. He (as) experienced over 20 years of psychological suffering by staying silent and not revolting for the sake of the ideological unity of the people at that time. One’s character only progresses when it’s faced by difficulties. To assume suffering is all bad ignores the myriads of merits that come through suffering. Besides, suffering in this world through material loss has no effect whatsoever on our status in the hereafter. Therefore, to assert that those born into poverty are at a disadvantage in the pursuit to God is completely incorrect.
Therefore as you can see, evil is a result of human free will, which without, we would be God’s robots. You could only arrive at a conclusion that claims those who die young, who are born handicapped, who never get married or who don’t do this or that miss out on the best of life if you lack a perspective of the afterlife where each person is judged and rewarded based on his/her specific experiences and choices. There is absolutely no contradiction between man mad evil and the existence of a God. The purpose of this world isn’t to cater to all of our needs but rather to be a means of our journey towards God, be it through suffering or not.
“Every soul will taste death. And We test you with evil and with good as trial; and to Us you will be returned.” (Qur’an 21:35)