The problem of evil and suffering

Various types of evil and suffering are evident in the world. This can cause problems for many Christians, as they believe in a loving, powerful and all-knowing God.

Types of evil and suffering

There are two types of evil and suffering:

  1. Moral evil and suffering – this is suffering caused by the actions of humans. Examples include acts of murder, and war.
  2. Natural evil and suffering – this is suffering that is caused by nature and has nothing to do with the actions of humans. Examples include earthquakes, floods, tsunamis and disease.
One cause of human suffering is natural disasters, such as tornados

How evil and suffering cause problems for religious belief

The existence of evil and suffering is important because it can cause problems for Christians’ belief in God. God is described as all-loving, as stated in Psalms 103:8: The Lord is compassionate and gracious. Some Christians cannot believe that an omnibenevolent God would design a world full of natural evils. They find it easier to believe these are random acts of nature.

Some Christians also find it hard to believe in an omnipotent God. They question why God would allow humans to cause so much evil and suffering if he had the power to stop them from doing so.

Another problem relates to the idea that God is omniscient. This means God would have known about all the evil and suffering that would come from him creating the universe the way he did. Some Christians therefore wonder why he did not create the universe without this potential for evil and suffering.

This suggests that, because evil and suffering clearly exist in the world, either God does not exist or he cannot be omnibenevolent, omnipotent and omniscient.

Some religious people find that when they experience evil and suffering, it can present a challenge to their faith. They may reject religion as a result.

Question

What is the problem with evil and suffering for Christians?

Christians believe in an omnipotent and omniscient God, so some find it difficult to understand why evil exists in the world when God has the power and knowledge to prevent it.