Daily Archives: March 24, 2012

Science, God and Evil

A common quandry in religion is “If God is good and God is omnipotent, then why is there so much evil in the world?” This question is often used by atheists to bolster their case against the existence of God.

Many answers to this quandary have been proposed, from the existence of an active devil, to freedom of choice, to “there is no God”, to “it’s part of the mystery.”

Let’s consider a scientific perspective. Scientists observe the world and try to describe or explain it. It’s valid to suggest that there is evil in the world. The scientific perspective is that the existence of evil tells us something about the world. If we assume that God exists, evil’s existence tells us something about God also. The atheist uses the existence of evil to conclude there is no God, but another perspective is to suggest that evil’s existence informs us about the nature of God.

God and evil appear to co-exist. If you believe in God, you might then conclude that God has “chosen” to allow evil and deprivation to exist.

Why would God choose this? That is not something that anyone has figured out, although there are many ideas about that. Can I suggest that God, although an omnipotent being, is not the same as a “powerful person”. In expecting God to rule out all evil, we are expecting God to behave as a human would. That expectation is probably a mistake.

Scientific reasoning applied to this subject might be: God and evil exist together. This tells us something about the nature about God. If God exists, and is truly benevolent and all powerful, then “thinking scientifically” we would conclude that evil exists in the presence of an all-knowing, all-powerful benevolent being.  The next step would be to deduce what is meant by “all-powerful.” Clearly, “all-powerful” does not mean a being that stamps out evil at every opportunity.

What does “all-powerful” mean? That is truly something to understand more deeply.