Why would God allow evil? Why would God allow catastrophes? Why would God allow suffering? So many ‘why’ questions, so little time to answer them. Wait! Can we answer them? Do we need to answer them? Asking why God would do x is crazy! I suppose we can just speculate. However, using these ‘why’ questions rhetorically to try to mount an objection against Him is crazy, not a good argument, and is self-serving.
Let’s dissect things and reading between the lines… The use of the word “would” in the question usually implies that the person asking –
- (a) does not believe that God exists and
- (b) finds some “problem” with the way things are and
- (c) believes that if God existed and was sovereign, He would guarantee that things would be a certain way, namely the way he thinks the way ought to be.
In other words, what he sees the world to be like, he finds inconsistent with how he believes God should have done things, and he believes that since God has failed at doing things the way he would have done them, that therefore He does not exist. This is the part that’s most silly. Think about that for a moment.The audacity to think that God's ordering of reality based on His omnipotence is faulty compared to the way we would order reality given our limited knowledge. Click To Tweet
Though most would not plainly say this, at the heart of the question is the implicit belief that the person asking knows more than God, including God’s own reasons for choosing to deal with the world a certain way. When we ask these types of questions we are –
- (a) presuming that God has NO rational basis for dealing with the world as he is claimed to have and
- (b) that he himself has the more rational view of how, if he were God, would have dealt with the world.
When a person holds this view, he holds it –
- (a) without considering God’s ultimate purposes for dealing with the world as he has and
- (b) without considering how even small changes in the lives of one person may impact the greater historical outcome of God’s ultimate purposes (aka free will of creatures and the sovereignty of God), and
- (c) without considering the vast difference between an omnipotent being and himself.
This is one of the reasons asking “why would God…” is silly. “Why did/does God…” is somewhat less silly, but still problematic. Using “did/does” usually means that there is a general belief that God exists and that the person asking is simply trying to better understand things.
But “why” is used in questions to get a reason or a purpose for a thing. This is asked for numerous topics including hell. We can either assume there is no purpose or assume that there is a purpose which we don’t know but would like to know. Using “did/does” usually implies purpose and our ignorance of that purpose. Among the reasons we may ask would be –
- (a) we’ve read what God has to say about the topic in general and haven’t gotten our answer or
- (b) have not read what God has to say or
- (c) have read what God has to say and find the answer unsatisfactory
The response to (a) is simple – He is silent on the matter. If we trust Him in general, there is little reason to doubt Him with regard to the specifics. Silence does not mean that there is no purpose. We simply don’t know and He has not told us. The answer to (b) is simple as well. It’s a genuine question with an answer that believers may help one another with. The answer to (c) is similar to (a) – finding an answer unsatisfactory should really lead to us to simply trust Him. If we find something personally troubling, understanding the character of God should lead us to trust His dealings with humanity. For this, we can look at what is revealed in Scripture.
God’s purposes are God’s business. If He had intended for us to know something, the answer would be available. Things He did not intend for us to know, we may merely speculate about. The least reasonable position is to think that He had absolutely no reason for ordering things a certain way. To claim that, one must have full insight into the mind of God in order to say that there is no reason or purpose for the type of world He has ordered – an impossible mountain to scale.