In the wake of the terrorist attack in Christchurch, New Zealand that killed 49 people and seriously injured 20, some may be asking themselves, “Why did God allow this to happen?” Particularly since the targets of the attack were two mosques, the concept that God would allow evil in a place of worship is hard to wrap your mind around.
Patrick Madrid has tackled this question in the past on The Patrick Madrid Show. It is common after acts of evil and violence for listeners to ask him for answers about good, evil, God’s love, and whether God exists at all.
On the question of why God allows evil in the world, Patrick said, “There are a few answers to that. But before I give you the answers I want to tell you they are not emotionally satisfying. Intellectually, I hope so, for your sake. But emotionally, you’re not going to suddenly feel better and comforted by this. You’re not going to say, ‘Oh, okay, now I get it. I have no problem with evil anymore.’ It’s not going to be like that.”
Patrick first addressed the concept of evil existing at all, and that believing evil exists presupposes that there is a transcendent, objective quality that makes something evil. For those who hold a materialist or atheist worldview, how can something actually be evil?
“If God doesn’t exist, if there is no supernatural order and all that does exist is the natural order, then here’s what happens with the problem of evil. There can’t be anything that you could say is transcendentally, objectively evil. All you could really say is, ‘I don’t like this. This makes me sad. This makes me angry. This hurts me. I don’t want this.’ But we couldn’t really talk about evil as such, because then we’re getting ourselves back into this world of transcendent realities that are immaterial. And that can’t be true if the atheist worldview is true.”
So assuming that God exists, and that evil exists, why does God allow evil in the world that He created? Why does He allow humans, who are made in His image and likeness, to commit evil acts?
Patrick explained, “God creates us out of love and for love. And what I mean by that is God created us to have a relationship with Him. So He made us out of love and He made us for love. But here’s the thing. You can’t love somebody, you can’t be in a real, authentic relationship with somebody if you’re not free. So we know we have free will, because we know that God created us out of love and for love. He wants that loving relationship with us. That’s where we get to the heart of the problem of evil.”
Because God has given us free will to love and do good, that leaves open to us all the choice to hate and do evil. And we can see the results of that throughout the world. God gives us great power, but also great responsibility.
“God does not step in and fix everything. He doesn’t zoom in and stop things from happening. Sometimes there are miracles, but that’s very, very unusual. Normally what happens is God permits things to happen because we have freely chosen to do things, that have led to other things, that have led to other things. The ramifications are kind of like throwing a pebble in a still pond. Maybe you’ve seen this, and you’ve seen the ripples that go out. That’s what sin is like. And it causes all kinds of unintended consequences.”
Please join us in praying for an end to hatred and violence in our world, and for all those impacted by the Christchurch terrorist attacks. May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.