The problem of evil and morality

One of the most popular types of objection is commonly known as "The Problem of Evil." Within this we have the questions: Why does God allow people to do bad things? and Why does God allow suffering? (For example disease or disaster.) The suggestion is that either God isn't good or all powerful. Surely if He is both he would  always stop these things from happening. Wouldn't He?

It is important to note that this is not an objection to the EXISTENCE of God. It presupposes that there is a purpose and objective moral standard to the universe. These things SHOULD NOT happen. Doing "Bad things," is WRONG. For this to be the case there has to be a creator, a designer with a purpose and morality behind the universe. It only makes sense if  "God made man in his own image" Genesis 1:27. (And if God has a moral character.) The how and when are not important here, it is the why that makes the difference.

If there is no creator, no God, then our existence is an accident of happenchance. The result of an incredible series of random and pseudo random events. If that is the case then we are not the pinnacle of creation but just another note in the diary of a purposeless universe. It would mean we are of no more value or significance than a pile of leaves blown together by eddies of wind. There is no significance if that pile is blown apart. It is not WRONG or EVIL it just happens. Similarly, if there is no creator then we have no significance. Things we do in that case would be without objective value. Now you do not have to know our even believe in a moral creator to choose to live by a moral code. But it is just a choice. Sam Harris, in his book "The Moral Landscape," endeavours to establish morality in a naturalistic world. The problem is that this requires the presupposition that the prosperity of mankind as  a species is objectively the highest priority. Why should that be if we are just the results of chance? Subjectively I will see myself as of the highest importance. But if we are not created special then why should our survival our thriving be more important than anything else? There are plenty of voices, who from a naturalistic position, would argue that the highest priority is the survival of the planet and its ecosystem. To them people actually represent a serious threat to "The highest good." Without a creator we do what we like. We can choose to act according to a moral code, be that the ten commandments, national laws or an international declaration or convention on human rights, but that is still just a PREFERENCE unless there exists a standard beyond ourselves. If I deny the existence of God I can adopt a set of morals similar to those of any believer. I can conclude that it is better for me to live that way. I can join with others to live in a society that adopts those standards. I can conclude that I'll be happier that way. However someone else might conclude that they would be happier if they break those rules. They might decide that it's worth the risk, that they can beat the odds, to cheat, steal or murder their way to happiness.  The society built on subjective morality can defend itself by force against such lawless behaviour. But only because they don't like it, not because it is wrong! In a a causeless universe the wind blowing a tree over and a terrorist blowing up a bus full of people are morally equivalent. Both as meaningless.

If we were not put here on purpose then there are no purposes. I could say that the purpose of the heart is to pump blood around the body. That presupposes a designer who have it that purpose. Otherwise it is an accident which, when it pumps blood around my body, I like and when it goes into arrhythmia it is functioning just as well. Similarly, if sin cells grow to cover our insides and regulate temperature without a designer, they are no better than those that grow into a cancer. You could argue that evolution gives a purpose. So a mother is supposed to care for her young because that "Is best for the future of the species." But we have already seen that there is no objective value in our species unless a creator gave it. If neoDarwinian evolution is the guiding force then the mother who neglects or kills her children is simply writing her genes out of the pool. The child who dies of some disease is simply preventing their inferiority from being passed on to future generations. In fact the person who breaks the rules of society, the cheat, thief or killer could be the one who takes the species to the next stage. It is no different in reasoning from the individual that broke with convention and walked upright, or spoke, or grew an opposable thumb. We could say "No. I don't like that behaviour." But, unless we were designed, if is no different from any other experiment that would have had to have happened to get us here.

It is difficult to conclude an examination of this worldview because it has no conclusion. Here we are, maybe we will kill ourselves off tomorrow, no matter.

So what of the Christian worldview? If there is objective morality people often disobey it. If the world, the universe, our bodies, were designed with a purpose then something has gone wrong.
There have been a multitude of volumes written about this, but here is my attempt to summarise the key points. God created us to have consciousness. For decades philosophers and science fiction writers have discussed the question, "What if we develop a machine with true self awareness?." What would constitute it being alive and what would the moral consequences?. Would it have rights? This is being to be discussed in the halls of power as Artificial Intelligence develops. If a driver's car runs someone over, is it the developer's fault or the car's?  Really we are recognising that a God of love could not frog match us into utopia at gunpoint. Given every opportunity for good out original ancestors opted for rebellion. We are told that this that or the other natural crisis, famine or health issue is caused by human actions - greed or exploitation. That has been the trouble since the beginning. The natural world is broken because we broke it. Given the choice we still have a tendency to rebel. Even those who hold to solve sort of morality. Those who reject God but hold to a relative morality like to change the rules to accommodate their desires. Self styled prophets claim a word from above that permits them to do as they like in their cults. Even those who acknowledge God's objective and non-negotiable standard try to find some sort of a get out our work around to allow for their sins. However, even those who write their own moral code fail to live up to it. The Moral compass is broken. If you read about the recent TV series WestWorld, you find that the writers were not just discussing the rights of artificial life. They were also acknowledging that people would love to have a place where they can be bad, even rape and murder, and get away with it. That is what people are like, and without that option then watching it played out as a fantasy by others is the next best thing.

If that's what we are like, shouldn't God just wipe us all out to prevent more pain? But does love give up on a loved one (or more) if there is any other way. The point of the cross is that we can all die the death that is called for, but that we can also have a new life and ultimately live in the fullness of a new nature.

The question we ask in response to this objection is, "Which worldview makes the most sense of everything?"

The worldview which says that everything is basically meaningless.  There isn't really anything "Evil" or "Wrong" in the universe. Just things we don't like.  Let me sum this up by quoting part of an interview between broadcaster Justin Brierley (JB) and Evolutionary Biologist Richard Dawkins (RD)

JB: When you make a value judgement don't you immediately step yourself outside of this evolutionary process and say that the reason this is good is that it's good. And you don't have any way to stand on that statement.
RD: My value judgement itself could come from my evolutionary past. 
JB: So therefore it's just as random in a sense as any product of evolution.
RD: You could say that, it doesn't in any case, nothing about it makes it more probable that there is anything supernatural.
JB: Ultimately, your belief that rape is wrong is as arbitrary as the fact that we've evolved five fingers rather than six.
RD: You could say that, yeah.

Or the worldview which says that there IS a way that things should be and a right way for us to treat each other. One that acknowledges that we have broken things, but that God has actually intervened to give us a way to overcome and change. That even when we don't understand why things happen, there is a reason even if we don't know what it is, and ultimately a hope.

Let me sign off with the words of C.S. Lewis,

“My argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust. But how had I got this idea of just and unjust? A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line. What was I comparing this universe with when I called it unjust?”