DID GOD CREATE MAN AND WHY DO WE SUFFER?
And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man who was blind from his
his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his
parents that he was born blind? Jesus answered, Neither hath this man
sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made
manifest in him (John 9:1-3, KJV).
The problem of human suffering has been an area where
argued and debated since the time of Job and before. This discussion
has a personal relevance to me because I have a son who was born blind,
mentally retarded, with cerebral palsy and muscular dystrophy. I can
testify to the pain of having your baby unable to reach out for the
bottle, unable to reach out for the rattle, unable to mimic, imitate,
and do all the cute, rewarding things that babies do. Atheism offers no
answer to this dilemma except abortion or euthanasia. In classic
evolutionary theory a child like my son is less fit, and thus if he
cannot survive, that is just what natural selection is all about.
From a biblical standpoint, there are answers that are
constructive, understandable, and useful in making decisions. We do
have the complete story of my son and his long struggle in a book
titled Timothy, My Son and My Teacher
which can be borrowed by
Why would an all-knowing, all-powerful, eternal God create something as
ignorant and useless as I am? If God is in control, why is there pain,
suffering, and tragedy? Is there a logical explanation for these things
and other related issues? Maybe you feel that by bringing up these
questions we are walking where angels fear to tread. The traditional
approach to this kind of inquiry has been to say that “you simply have
to have faith.” This implies that we cannot comprehend the answers and
just have to trust God. It is true that we are limited in our
understanding, but we can know a great deal--enough to see that there
a logical reason for our existence!
Many silly explanations for the problem of pain and suffering have been
given by religious people over the centuries. Some have said that God
is testing us--that God is trying to find out who is worthy and who is
not worthy. Such answers indicate a very poor understanding of the
nature of God as we learned in an earlier lesson. If we understand that
“in him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28), then surely
we know that God does not need a silly experiment to find out who is
worthy! If we understand anything about grace, we know that none of us
are worthy in the sense that people are applying that word.
This discussion requires some non-traditional thinking which we hope
will stimulate you and excite you!
THE ORIGIN OF EVIL
God did not create evil!
Evil is the consequence of the existence of
God. One way of understanding this is to think through the law of
parity. This law says that for every situation there is always a mirror
image. In biology, we speak of bilateral symmetry. If something has a
left eye, it will have a right eye. If something has a left lung, it
will have a right lung. These are examples of bilateral symmetry.
In psychology, we speak of id
and ego. In physics, we speak
and antimatter. All of these
are examples of ways in which parity can
be applied. God is love and God is good, according to the Bible. What
is the parity form of love?
Obviously, the answer is hate.
What is the
parity form of good?
Obviously, it is evil. What
this suggests is that
because God (love and good) exists, there is also an existence of the
opposite of God’s qualities. Because God exists and God is good and
love, there will be the absence of good and love, which is evil and
hate. Because evil and hate were not personified in anything or anyone
initially, there was no dualism. Only if evil has an agent to work
through does it have any power or effect. Evil is not an object like a
rock or a tree. Evil is a choice of a sapient being.
The point of all this is that God did not create evil so that man could
spend eternity in hell. Evil has existed before the beginning. It is a
consequence of God’s existence. The Bible speaks of God
allowing evil, but the context of all passages relating to evil and man
portray evil consequentially, not as a conscious creation of God to
afflict and condemn man.
We are not the only beings that God has created. God has also created
angels. We are told that we are created a little lower than the angels
(Hebrews 2:7), and we are told we will become like the angels when we
die (Mark 12:25). These angelic beings were created with the ability to
choose between good and evil, and some of them chose evil! (See 2 Peter
2:4; Jude 6.) We might ask why God would have created the angels so
that they could choose evil, or perhaps why He should have created them
at all. There are all kinds of philosophical and theological
possibilities to this question, but human theories are probably not
worth the paper they are written on.
Suffice it to say that, if beings are created without the ability to
choose, they are merely robots or pawns. Love is not possible unless we
have the option not to love. We recognize this in sexual matters. If
there is sexual love without choice, we call it rape; and we all
recognize that rape is not really love. Realizing that we have not
answered all questions that could be asked about why God created
angelic beings who could and did embrace evil, let us move on.
We now have a situation in which evil has force. Evil is
operational through Satan and the angels who followed him into evil.
The insidious destructive power of evil is now working, and there is a
need for a platform in which the struggle between good and evil can be
The situation is similar to a human having an idea. If I want to test
and evaluate an idea, what do I do? I take a piece of paper (a lower
dimension than myself) and I formulate my idea for a critic to
challenge (my wife, my business partner, etc.). I want my idea to be
successful. (“[God] is ... not willing that any should perish, but that
all should come to repentance.” See 2 Peter 3:9.) If my idea is flawed,
my critic will destroy it. I could pull out a gun and shoot my critic,
but what would that prove about the validity of my idea? God could
destroy or isolate Satan, but what would that prove? It would prove
that God can destroy, but it would prove nothing about the superiority
of goodness and love.
It seems that the reason for man’s creation is somewhat similar to what
we have just described. There are numerous biblical passages that
convey this concept to us. In Ephesians 6:12 (KJV) we read “For we
wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities,
against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world,
against spiritual wickedness in high places.” It is clear that there is
a battle between good and evil. The forces of evil use spiritual
terrorism to defeat good, love, and peace. In Ephesians 3:9-11 (KJV)
Paul talks about the fact that God’s plan, His purpose in creating man
from the very “beginning of the world” was “to the intent that ... the
principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the
church ... according to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ
Jesus our Lord.”
I find it very strange that in our world of video games, Star Wars,
Stephen King, and constant horror movies full of spiritual creatures,
people can ridicule the idea that we have a spiritual purpose. The
history of this battle goes all the way back to Job.
The book of Job projects what we have been describing. Here is a
Clayton paraphrase of Job beginning with chapter 1, verse 6.
There was a day when the angels of God came to present
before the Lord, and Satan was among them. And the Lord said unto
Satan, “Where have you been?” “Oh I’ve been hacking around the earth,”
Satan replied. God asked, “Have you seen my servant Job? He doesn’t
have a thing to do with your evil system!” Satan answered and said,
“Well, why shouldn’t Job serve you! You’ve given him everything he
could possibly want! Take away the goodies and he’ll spit in your
face!” God said, “Okay, go ahead and take away the goodies, but don’t
touch his body.”
Let me point out that it is not God that afflicted Job. God allowed
Satan to afflict Job, but God did not do it. It is also not God that
afflicts you. It is Satan who brings the problems into your life--not
God. Job had severe problems and losses, but he stayed faithful to God.
Now let us go to chapter 2, verse 1 (Clayton paraphrase again).
Again, there was a day when the angels of God came to
themselves before the Lord, and Satan was among them. And the Lord said
unto Satan, “Where have you been?” Satan replied, “I’ve been hacking
around the earth.” God asked, “Have you seen my friend Job? I let you
take away all he had and he’s stayed with me! How about that, Satan?”
Satan said, “Okay, you won that round, but let me touch his body and
he’ll spit in your face.” “Go ahead,” God replied. “Touch his body, but
don’t kill him.”
Notice once again that God drew the line on what He would allow. Now we
might look at this incident and say, “That was a terrible thing that
God did to innocent Job.” How did Job look at it? In Job 42:5, Job
looked back on what had happened and said, “Lord, before all of this I
had heard of thee by the ear, but now mine eye seeth thee.” He went on
and praised God, because he saw the reason for his creation and he
sensed he had served a purpose in God’s plan.
I would like to suggest to the reader that you can take the name “Job”
out of the book of Job, and you can replace it with your own
name--because you are Job (or as my wife used to say “Jobbette”). I have
had a lot of pain in my life--perhaps just as you have. I cannot say to
you that I am glad that my son was born with multiple birth defects. I
lost my wife of 49 years on May 9, 2008, and the pain of that
separation will be with me until I die. The fact is, however, that I
still find great joy in life and in living. When I was an atheist, I
had to look at life as the best that I was ever going to have. Now as a
Christian I can look at life as the worst I am ever going to have to
tolerate. Look at the difference between those two views!
How much will we remember in eternity of the pain that we have had on
the earth? You go to the dentist and you get a Novocain shot. Why?
Because you are willing to gamble 30 seconds of the needle against what
seems like three hours of the drill. Seventy-five years of suffering
will not seem like much in the context of eternity.
Please do not assume that I have all the answers as to why bad things
happen to good people. On the other hand if we have even a partial
understanding of why God created us, we can live through the bad things
that come our way knowing that there is a better world coming in which
the bad things will no longer exist. “And God shall wipe away all tears
from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor
crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are
passed away” (Revelation 21:4, KJV).
Lesson 6 Questions
Return to the Main
Intermediate Correspondence Course.