Sunday, 18 July 2010

Why do bad things happen?

This is a difficult one for Christians, at least those Christians who say that God is all-powerful and entirely good. If he’s all-powerful then surely he could stop bad things happening; things like earthquakes, plane crashes, grievous illness, mass murders. If he were all-good then wouldn’t he stop these things if he had the power to do so?

I had to mention this issue in my final essay of the year (just finished and sent off, hooray!). Obviously, it’s a massive question that many people have written whole books about, but I thought this little explanation from C. S. Lewis was wonderful. It’s from Mere Christianity, pages 47-48 and I’d love to know what you think. Elegant and clear, or simplistic rubbish?

‘God created things which had free will. That means creatures which can go either wrong or right… If a thing is free to be good it is also free to be bad. And free will is what has made evil possible. Why, then, did God give them free will? Because free will, though it makes evil possible, is also the only thing that makes possible any love or goodness or joy worth having. A world of automata – of creatures that worked like machines – would hardly be worth creating. The happiness which God designs for His higher creatures is the happiness of being freely, voluntarily united to Him and to each other in an ecstasy of love and delight compared with which the most rapturous love between a man and a woman on this earth is mere milk and water. And for that they must be free.’


  1. I think this is spot on.

    If God saved all the children, banished evil and gave us no choice but Him, then there would be no faith. One thing makes God's love special is that we choose it. In spite of the evil and suffering we see, we have faith in Him.

  2. Cheers Rob. So why do you think some people hold up the existence of evil as stone-cold proof that God as described by Christians does not exist? Do they reject C.S. Lewis' argument or are they not aware of it?

  3. I like this passage and think it's a good explanation for human evil. What about earthquakes, tsunamis etc though?

  4. Ah, I think Dr F-L will come onto that question in a few weeks' time! And see if you can get hold of Greg Boyd's book, 'God at War'. I think he touches on this issue a bit, at least.