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Forget About “The Problem of Evil.” What About “The Problem of Good”?

earthWhen I talk to people about the existence of God, or when I read about this complex debate, it almost always comes up:

What about “the problem of evil”?

It’s the idea that if God exists, and if God is good, why is there so much evil in the world?

One of the main ways this argument is answered is by highlighting how God created people to be like him—to have free will. So although it can often bring pain to God’s heart, and pain to each other, we can use our freedom to do bad things. In this sense, freedom is a joy that also carries titanic responsibility.

Another argument is that God is simply not doing a very good job, and therefore not worthy of our respect.

As one of Woody Allen’s characters put it, “If it turns out there is a God, I don’t think that he’s evil. I think that the worst you can say about him is basically he’s an underachiever.”

Of course, I’m a Christian, so I believe God exists, that he is good, that he deserves love, worship and service, and that the way you know him is to know Jesus.

But in this blog I simply want to highlight a point of view I once overhead.

Some ask: “What about the problem of evil?” Couldn’t we also ask: “What about the problem of good?”

How do we account for all the good in the world? For the good people? The random acts of kindness? The evidence of light in tunnels of darkness? The poetry amidst the rubble? The surprising love when there are so many crushing reasons for despair?

If evil can be used as evidence that God is not present, why can’t good be used as evidence that he is?

Happy little girl

I’ve heard it said that there must simply be something positive in the human spirit, something not necessarily connected to God but which carries us onward and upward. But I’m not convinced of this. In fact, a strong argument can be made that things are getting worse, not better:

We have recently lived through the 100 bloodiest years in recorded human history with wars, ethnic cleansings, and the holocaust. There’s gaps between rich and poor, cases of corruption, a pornography epidemic, huge anxiety and medication rates for people of many ages. The list goes on.

Perhaps it depends on how you define “progress.”

Stephen Hawking says that “the human race is just a chemical scum on a moderate size planet.” He’s making a scientific observation. But of course I disagree; there’s more to the picture.

I see divine intention—God’s hand—in the world and it’s people. I see the presence of goodness in the midst of so much carnage. And this leads me to believe not only that the God-of-surprises exists, but is continually at work.

Because God is like that.

He continually foregoes the high and obvious road, and chooses the humble, the weak, the I-can’t-do-it-on-my-owns. He continually chooses the small tribe of people who don’t seem to stand a chance; the mocked carpenter from Galilee to set in motion the marriage of heaven and earth; the underdog to be the champion of a brighter, more beautiful day.

Because God gives himself to us, we give ourselves to others.

Does God exist? We should really consider the “presence of good” as a factor in the debate.

Author and pastor Tim Keller defines kindness like this: “an ability to serve others practically in a way which makes me vulnerable, which comes from having a deep inner security.” And when you look around, despite all evidence to the contrary, there’s a bunch of it going on.

In Christian thought there’s this thing called the “good news.” It’s the reality that God is; that he is love; the Jesus is the living King; that he offers forgiveness, freedom, purpose and eternity; and that we are patterned after this Jesus Messiah in God’s re-creation of the world.

So the good news isn’t just something you know—it’s someone you are.

And at the end of the day, maybe that’s one of the most convincing arguments for the existence of God.

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