The problem of evil, pain, and suffering is difficult to bear on a personal level. Christians should be careful not to too-quickly dismiss the concerns of people who have experienced these very-real realities. However, the presence of these in our world does not rule out the existence of God. In fact, the presence of evil only makes His existence more likely. One may not understand why God chooses to allow evil, pain, and suffering to occur now, but scripture makes it clear that one day all pain will end and God’s ultimately justice will be accomplished.
Three centuries prior to the birth of Jesus, Greek philosopher Epicurus posed an enduring question related to the existence of God: “Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil?” Two thousand years later Epicurus’ words still resonated and influenced the writings of atheist philosopher David Hume. (Hume 1779, 186) A 2018 Barna study showed that this question is still important today; the “problem of evil” is the highest barrier to faith for members of Gen Z and second highest (after Christian hypocrisy) for Millennials. (Barna 2018)
The question as originally posed appears on its face to be a logical proof, suggesting God must be either unable to prevent evil, unwilling, or a combination of the two. This line of reasoning rests on the idea that an all-loving, all-powerful God could not have a reason to choose to allow evil to occur. However, this conclusion does not necessarily follow: it is possible that such a God could exist and choose to allow evil for some unknown reason, even if this possibility initially seems unreasonable. It is not logically impossible for God to allow evil, regardless of personal opinions as to the reasonableness of such a God existing. Christian philosopher Peter John Kreeft makes just such an argument, stating, “Even David Hume… said it’s just barely possible that God exists… there’s at least a small possibility.