According to this thinking, the existence of evil and the existence of God are mutually exclusive. If God exists, and he is good, the argument goes, why would he allow such terrible evil and its resultant suffering to continue?
As Christians we may occasionally wrestle with this conundrum ourselves, and we are very likely to hear it spoken by friends or others who are not believers. The natural reaction in such situations is for us to try, where appropriate, to explain the temporary necessity of evil in the plan of God – that God must allow evil in order to grant us free moral agency and the opportunity to develop the character he seeks.
This explanation for the existence of evil is one that makes sense to most Christians and it is one which the Bible itself addresses. In his epistle to the Romans, the apostle Paul summarizes the situation in saying that “… the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God (Romans 8:20-21).
In these verses we could easily substitute the word “evil” for “decay,” and the sense is clearly the same – God allows the present situation in order to fulfill his purposes in our lives. And, as Paul specifically stresses, in the long run allowing evil to exist will be worth the end results: “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18).
However, this argument is a theological one that may make little sense to many whose minds have not been opened to understand the plan of God (Luke 24:45, Ephesians 1:18). But there is another and much simpler explanation that we should consider giving to others who question God’s existence in the face of the evil that is evident in the world. To say that the undeniable existence of evil indicates that God does not exist, we must also admit that by the same argumentation, the undeniable existence of good in the world must indicate that he does exist.
Although it does not explain the existence of evil, this answer is as sure as it is simple in showing that evil does not prove the non-existence of God. If an individual can see this, it is likely that they may be receptive to begin to understand the underlying reasons the Bible gives for the present existence of evil in the plan of a good and loving God.