When an unbeliever challenges us “If God is all-powerful and loving, why is there evil and suffering in the world?” They have provided us with a lot rope to use to either hang them with and/or defend ourselves from their objection. They mention important concepts such as “God” , “all-powerful and loving” and “evil and suffering” which are packed with assumptions they are making. To handle this objection, we don’t want to answer immediately, rather we want them to clarify from what authority and source they are deriving these concepts from. Here is a way we can deal with this common challenge:
Make them aware of the obvious.
Clearly they are critiquing the Christian God, however, these questions are meant to make them verbally state the obvious. But why? This will provide a basis for the next question to ask them.
- Which god are you talking about?
- You mentioned God is all-powerful and loving, where did you derive these attributes from? In other words, which God are you referring to
- Which god has an inconsistency with the evil and suffering in the world?
- Are you talking about the Christian God?
Make them aware of what kind of critique they are performing.
When they talking about evil and suffering, they are appealing to some kind of standard derived from a source. They can firstly be performing an external critique, that is, they are appealing to their own standard of evil and suffering derived from their own experience of the world. Secondly, they can be performing an internal critique, that is, that are appealing to the Bible’s very own standard of evil and suffering, with the reality of evil and suffering found in the pages of Scripture. Unbelievers might not even be conscious of what kind of critique they are using, so these questions can help:
- What standard of evil and suffering are you appealing to?
- Are you deriving the reality of evil and suffering from the Bible or your own experience?
- External Critique: If they appeal to an external standard of evil and suffering, then you have a basis for performing an internal critique of their position by challenging their standard of good and evil, and reveal that they have no basis on their worldview.
- Internal Critique: If they are appealing to the reality of evil and suffering as described in the Bible itself, then you only have basis for providing a negative apologetic. You can only provide an answer to the problem of evil found in the Scriptures.