James Dew – God and the Problem of Evil

Feb. 2018

Many times in our lives we find ourselves wondering, “if God is good, why does He allow evil?” In this article, we interview James Dew as he presents 5 views or theories as to why God allows evil to be in the world. Hopefully one of these resinates with you. EOF hopes you enjoy this Christian philosophical discussion.

EOF: For the newbie to this subject, could you briefly describe the issue that we are going to talk about; the problem of evil? Maybe explain that and why it is an important subject to think through.

DEW: The problem of evil is a problem that results from the presence and existence of evil in the world in comparison, and in relationship to, our belief in God. When we think about the kind of God that Christian theism affirms and the kind of evil that we see in the world, it seems as though these two are incompatible with each other. There just shouldn’t be or couldn’t be a world where both this God and evil are present. It has been variously described and used throughout history to attack Christian theism but in short it is this: Christian theism affirms that God is all-powerful, that God is all good, and if we take these two together, then it seems that it should also follow that since he is all-powerful, then he could eliminate evil. And if he’s all-good, then he would eliminate evil.

Given theism, we just don’t expect to find evil in the world and yet that is precisely what we find. We find a world not just with evil in it, but lots and lots of evil; horrendous evils, unconscionable evils. In many cases, they seem to go unchecked. The problem of evil is precisely the relationship between this evil and the kind of God that we worship. How could these possibly both be true? Atheists and critics have, of course, argued that because of the presence of this evil, it is impossible to believe in a God like that described by Christian theism. Christian theists also sometimes have a problem here simply because evil hurts them and worries them. So it is not just the atheists who will have this question. Sometimes it is even believers who have this question. In short, in either case, whether it is coming from the atheists or the Christian theists, the issue is the same. Why is there evil in this world when we have a God like that described by Christian theism?

The reason we need to think that through is both for our own well-being, when we have the question so that we can be able to answer it for ourselves, but also as an apologetic against an atheist that brings that up as proof that there is no existence for God. Yes. We have the objection raised by the atheists and we need to be able to answer that, but then for our own peace of mind and our own coherence of our faith, we have to make sure that we are thinking it through ourselves, as well.


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