Making sense of evil and suffering within a Christian worldview

A long journey through the night
A long journey through the night

One thing I’ve noticed in talking to atheists who grew up in Christian homes is that they often leave their Christian worldview behind because of a disappointment with God. For some reason, they get this idea that God is our cosmic butler. We can do whatever we want in order to be happy, and if we want any help in this, then we just ring for him. When we encounter disappointment, our tendency is to just leave God behind.

Paul Copan explains the high points of the problems of evil and suffering in 17 minutes. (H/T Apologetics 315)

The MP3 file is here.

The video is here:


  • the question itself reveals that we are moral beings
  • the problem of evil is the great interrupter of human well-being
  • every philosophy of life has to address this question
  • is God required to give us a life that is easy and comfortable?
  • evil is a departure from good, i.e. – the way things ought to be
  • a way things ought to be implies a plan for what ought to be
  • human evil implies a plan for the way we ought to be
  • free creatures have the ability to deviate from the plan
  • where does this plan for the universe and us come from?
  • how can there be a way we ought to be come from?
  • evil is the flip side of good so where does good come from?
  • God’s own moral nature is the standard of good and evil
  • where does evil from natural disasters come from?
  • how dangerous natural phenomena preserve Earth’s habitability
  • there is a benefit from tectonic activity
  • similarly, God lets humans freely choose knowing harm may result
  • people are free to try to find meaning in something other than God
  • God is able to use negative things to bring about positive results
  • e.g. – when good people suffer, they can comfort and care for others
  • can people be good enough on their own without God?

I do think it’s worth thinking about whether the New Testament portrays God as our cosmic butler, just waiting on us hand and foot so that we can be happy. Personally, I think you’d have to be crazy to get that impression of God from the Bible. Especially from the life of Jesus, who suffers in order to do the will of his Father. Wouldn’t it be funny if atheists were disbelieving in a God of their own making? Suffering in the pursuit of goodness has always been the center of the Christian life. I’m not sure where people get this idea that God’s job is to make us happy, according to our own desires. Seems kind of shallow. Certainly not Biblical. Do people even read the Bible any more to find out what God is really like? Maybe that’s the problem.

5 thoughts on “Making sense of evil and suffering within a Christian worldview”

  1. At a deeper level, we participate in Christ’s divinity when we suffer in our obedience to him – we don’t seek out the suffering for its own sake. But life, either way, is suffering. At least the Christian worldview makes the suffering comprehensible and endurable.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Some atheist guy on YouTube who calls himself “Paulogia” has been putting out videos aimed at debunking William Lane Craig’s videos illustrating his arguments for God’s existence (cosmological, moral, fine-tuning, etc.).
    His latest one is an attack on the logical problem of evil and suffering, and Dr. Craig’s argument that evil and suffering do not make an all-good, all-powerful God logically impossible.
    Over 760 people responded in the comments section, and as far as I could tell (and I scrolled WAY down), not one mentioned Jesus Christ, or the points you brought up in your last paragraph above, WK. Not one. So I did. And this was before I read your post. We’ll see if anyone responds.

    In the meantime, all I DID see was fawning adulation for the two atheists (some other guy who calls himself “Prophet of Zod”), ad hominem attacks on religion in general and Christians in particular, a vitriolic hatred for Dr. Craig (what did he ever do to them?), endless strawman attacks on the argument itself (demonstrating their almost complete misunderstanding of it), and raging against God Himself in the vilest terms.

    BTW, Dr. Craig responded to one of “Paulogia’s” attacks on his (Craig’s) video on the evidence for the Resurrection in one of his recent Reasonable Faith podcasts, and absolutely massacred him. Craig essentially exposed the guy as a complete NT illiterate, but did it so graciously that that might have been what set the guy off.

    Oh yeah, almost forgot. “Paulogia’s” and his fellow atheist’s attempt to rebut WLC’s argument also fails miserably. Unless someone knows better than an omniscient, omnipotent, all-wise, all-loving and perfectly righteous Creator-King of the universe how He ought to be running the show.

    No takers? Didn’t think so.


  3. Only for the pretend Christians that deny the fall is suffering and evil an issue. A simple study of the Bible explains the existence of evil. How it is is ultimately dealt with through the work of Christ.

    I see it more as another issue of assuming the world view of other religions as a method to disprove Christianity.


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