The Problem of Evil: Why Does God Allow Evil to Exist?

The "problem of evil" is a philosophical question dating back thousands of years. Read a Christian perspective on this idea. 

Updated May 13, 2022
The Problem of Evil: Why Does God Allow Evil to Exist?

The "problem of evil" is a philosophical question regarding how the following three ideas can coexist: God is almighty, God is perfectly good, and evil exists.

Saint Basil the Great, an influential Christian of the 4th century, offers an answer to the "problem of evil", saying "No one who is in this world will deny that evils exist. What, then, do we say? That evil is not a living and animated substance, but a condition of the soul which is opposed to virtue and which springs up in the slothful because of their falling away from good."

The "problem of evil" can also be understood as analogous to light and darkness. Darkness doesn't exist other than an absence of light, as evil doesn't exist on its own, but only as an absence of virtue or a turning away from God. Because God gave mankind free will, we are autonomous beings responsible for our actions. Evil is given the possibility to manifest as we are given the freedom to choose virtue or vice, good or evil.

What Is the Problem of Evil?

Read an edited transcript of Philip Ryken from the video above:

People often think that the problem of evil is a real problem for Christians or for other people who believe in God. I actually think the problem of evil is even more of a problem for people who don't believe in God, because if you think evil is a problem, that assumes that there is a good and that there isn't evil, but how can you have that standard unless you believe that there really is a God who governs a moral universe. I also think that the problem of good is an even bigger problem for people who don't believe in God than the problem of evil is for Christians, because how can you explain the beauty of the universe or the joy in a mother's heart as she welcomes her baby into the world, or any one of a thousand other wonderful marvelous things in the world that God has made.

So we should put the problem of evil into perspective and realize that it may not be as much of a problem as people sometimes think. But I think the main thing to say about the problem of evil is that we believe in a God who has actually done something about the problem of evil. And God himself in the person of His Son has entered into this world in all of its fallenness and brokenness and himself has suffered the hardship and loss of life in a fallen world. And more than that has died to redeem it. And it's our hope in Christ in his sufferings, but also in his resurrection that gives us the hope of a perfect world in which all things are made new. And I think rather than really a problem for Christianity, evil is one of the greatest strengths of Christianity because we believe in a savior who will redeem a fallen world.

Did God Create Evil?

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