How Can God Exist When There is Evil?

Thursday, March 27, 2008 | Labels: | |

The Christian Apologist Ravi Zacharias has tackled the question "How can a God exist when there is so much evil in the world?" brilliantly in his work entitled "Can Man Live Without God" as well as in his countless visits to hundreds of campuses worldwide where he was asked some of the toughest questions by Atheists and skeptics. This is an excellent question and deserves attention.

For me to attempt to do Ravi's arguments justice would take great lengths, and therefore I encourage everyone to take a look at his online radio series as well as his works themselves. His arguments are vast and complex at times so I will, within my limited intellect, make an attempt to examine one of his answers to the question.

The following is an excerpt from Ravi's book "Can Man Live Without God" in the Question and Answer section where he was asked by a student at Harvard University, "There is too much evil in this world; therefore, there cannot be a God."

"...When you say there is evil, aren't you admitting there is good? When you accept the existence of goodness, you must affirm a moral law on the basis of which to differentiate between good and evil. But when admit to a moral law, you must posit a moral lawgiver. That, however, is who you are trying to disprove and not prove. For if there is no moral lawgiver, there is no moral law. If there is no moral law, there is no good. If there is no good, there is no evil. What then is your question?..."

You can read his entire answer from the Q and A at:

When one places the idea of evil within the frame of their question they are assuming what is known as a dualist system of morality. Dualism in theology is defined as "the doctrine that there are two independent... eternal principles, one good and the other evil" ( To frame the question in this way is to assume that good and evil exist, and therefore God does not exist because there is evil.

As Ravi so eloquently puts it, when there is Good and Evil there must be a way to differentiate between the two, this is a moral law that governs the individuals ability to discern between the two and to assume this moral law is to assume that there is a moral law-giver that governs it.

This places the questioner in a predicament, as without a dualist system of good and evil the question itself becomes incoherent. You see, my generation has it in their minds that Good and Evil are not absolute, they are relative. What one culture may perceive as good another may perceive as evil. If there is no absolute Good and Evil how can the questioner state "There is too much evil.." How does God allow evil if there is no such thing as evil? Furthermore, by the relativist standard just because we may perceive something as evil does not mean another culture will. Therefore, God does not allow evil, and as Ravi often states, "the question self-destructs."

You will find that this argument is repeated many times even so by myself. It is illustrative of the contradicting ideas my generation has embraced. Our questions are often not even rooted in a coherent system of questioning and we are using these incoherent questions alone to disbelieve the existence of God. For a question as important as the possibility of eternal bliss or eternal damnation, one would think we should at least frame our argument against God coherently.

If you are not much of a reader, you can listen to Ravi's online radio excerpt where he discusses these ideas further in his series entitled: Why I Am Not an Atheist. Each MP3 is about 12 minutes long.

Part I:
Part II:
Part III:
Part IV:

Craig Chamberlin