We’re using the “Handbook of Apologetics” by Peter Kreeft and Ronald Tacelli to go over the arguments for the existence of God. Today, we will be covering the above subject in relation to the existence of God. Dr. Kreeft teaches logic in two major universities, so his arguments tend to be clear, concise and very helpful.
The Problem of Evil is uniquely important for three very serious reasons.
First, it is the apparent proof of atheism. There are many proofs or apparent proofs of theism, but there is only one argument that even claims to prove there is no God. There are many other arguments against theism, but none of them amounts to a proof or demonstration. For instance, there are objections to all the arguments for theism, but even if they are successful, these objections only refute the arguments as invalid and inconclusive. They do not thereby disprove God’s existence.
There are also alternative explanations for religious belief and experience, such as Freud’s, but even if these were successful and irrefutable, they would only provide an alternative hypothesis; they would not disprove the theistic hypothesis. There are also serious practical and personal objections against faith, such as observed wickedness and hypocrisy among believers, and the inconvenience and shock to one’s ego of having to repent of cherished sins. But these do not prove that God does not exist.
Two More Reasons
A second reason why the problem of evil is uniquely important is because it is universal. Everyone wonders why bad things happen to good people; some wonder why bad things happen at all.
Incidentally, this very wonder hints at a solution to the problem of evil. The fact that we do not naturally accept this world full of injustice, suffering, sin, disease and death—that we spontaneously cheer the poet (Dylan Thomas) when he says, so irrationally yet nobly: “Do not go gentle into that good night / Rage, rage against the dying of the light”—the very fact of our outrage at evil is a clue that we are in touch with a standard of goodness by which we judge this world as defective, as falling drastically short of the mark. The fact that we judge something evil might even be developed into an argument for the existence of the standard of Perfect Goodness implied in our judgment, and thus for the existence of the God of perfect goodness whom evil’s existence seems to disprove.
Thirdly, and most importantly, the problem of evil is not merely a theoretical problem but an intensely practical one. It is not merely the alienation between two concepts, God and evil, but the alienation between a little child and her father when she looks up through tears and asks him, “Why did you let me hurt so bad?” The heart of the problem is not found in words like ours, in a book, but in the words from the cross: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” It is a problem not on paper but on wood.
Kreeft, P., & Tacelli, R. K. (1994). Handbook of Christian apologetics: hundreds of answers to crucial questions (pp. 122–123). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.