Why Doesn't God Do Something about Evil?
David Hume famously said of God “Is he willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is impotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Whence then is evil?
Since Hume wrote that, there have been many responses to his line of questioning which have shown that this is a logically flawed argument. Some of these are quite good and are worth reading. Nevertheless, while the problem has been logically addressed, every time we see something terrible happen on the news or experience it in our lives, we feel the reality of evil and wonder why God doesn’t do something about it. In reality, though, He is.
The entire Christian story is about how God is addressing the problem of evil.
In the beginning, God created everything perfectly. It was complete and without fault. However, humans messed things up, and ever since the Fall of man, God has been about the business of fixing things.
Christianity makes a big deal about Christ dying on the cross. The reason for this is because we believe He is the solution to the problem. Christianity takes the problem of evil seriously, and the ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus is God’s solution to that problem.
The problem with the problem of evil is that it is not simply an external issue. The evil is in us, too. For God to just get rid of all the evil in the world right away, He would have to get rid of us as well. To really address the problem of evil, God must take care of the evil in humans.
Ultimately, God’s work in the world is about making everything as it should be.
Evil is a twisting of the way things were meant to be. Humans, for example, have a broken relationship with God, other humans, and creation. We have great capacity for sharing love and creating beauty, but we sometimes choose to hurt others and destroy the world around us instead. God fixing the evil in humans is about renewing humans into the perfect creations we were meant to be - creations that create not destroy.
Whether you understand God’s solution to the problem of evil or not depends, in large part, on how you see the problem. Is it something solely external to humans that happens to us, or, is it also something that is in us? If you think it is the former, then it will probably look like God is not doing much. If you think it is the latter, then God’s reaching out to us will take center stage in any discussion of how He is addressing evil. The solution depends on what the problem is.