HOW CAN I BELIEVE IN GOD AND PAIN?

“How do you expect me to believe in God,” asked Woody Allen, “when only last week I got my tongue caught in the roller of my electric type-writer?”

For a while now, at least in the Western world, the existence of any form of pain, suffering, or evil has been regarded as evidence for the non-existence of God. If a good God existed, people reason, these things would not. But they do and, therefore, God does not.

My job takes me around many different parts of the world in order to answer people’s questions about the Christian faith. I find it fascinating that I have never been asked this question in India, a country that certainly knows a lot more about suffering than many of us in the West. I find it even more intriguing that Christians who write books in situations where they have known unspeakable torment because of the gospel do not normally raise this as an issue for themselves either. Why?

There are so many ways in which questions concerning pain can be raised. It can be raised because of personal loss and suffering or because of a personal interest in the issue of theodicy, to name but two. However, regardless of the way the question is raised, it normally comes down to a moral complaint against God. “How could you allow this to happen?” The complaint is against God’s moral character. “Can I really trust God if I see this happen?” But if you are sure that you can trust God, regardless of the pain you find yourself in, there is no temptation to turn you away, as you realize God is the only one who can help.

Firstly, let’s deal with the argument against God’s existence. Ravi Zacharias has dealt with this thoroughly in his book 

Can Man Live Without God

. If you argue from the existence of evil to the non-existence of God, you are assuming the existence of an absolute moral law in order for your argument to work. But if there is such a law this would also mean that there is such a God, since God is the only one who could give us such a law. And if there is such a God to give us this law, then the argument itself is flawed, since you have had to assume the existence of God in order to argue that God doesn’t exist. It is an attempt to invoke the existence of an absolute moral law without invoking the existence of an absolute moral law giver, and it cannot be done.

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