In philosophy of religion class at seminary, I learned that the best argument a non-believer has against a loving, personal God, as Christians understand Him to be, is the problem of evil. How could a loving, all-powerful God allow evil in the world? If he is all-powerful, He has the power to prevent suffering of innocents. If He is just as He is said to be, how can He allow serial killers to prey on their victims? Why should pedophilia, rape, murder, abortion, lying, cheating, and suffering exist?
The problem of evil is a good argument for the non-believer. At times in our lives, even believers ask these questions. Sometimes the pain is so great that believers lose their faith, like when a child dies and the parents are left to grieve. Often, people explain suffering by blaming someone or asking who sinned as in the New Testament? Jesus answered that no one sinned; in that instance, the suffering was so that God’s power could be shown. But the best known sufferer in the Bible, Job, did not lose his faith but rather learned an important lesson. Who was he to question God?
So, why does God allow evil to exist? The answer: free will cannot exist without the possibility of evil. Good is not good unless there is the possibility of evil. Love is not love without the possibility of hate. Joy is not joy without the possibility of misery. God values our right to choose enough that He allows us to suffer for it. We value our freedom, too. God could have made us believe in Him, love Him, worship Him, but where’s the fun in that?