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Evil

Are there good people?

This past summer I had the privilege of spending a weekend with a group of junior high students. My talks from that weekend are posted here and here. This question came during a time of Q&A after my talk on why God allows evil.

If you are interested in having me speak at your church, camp, or youth group, click on the Endorsements & Speaking page to see my list of topics and contact me at Speaking Requests or email me at contact@coffeehousequestions.com. You can select a topic from the list or suggest your own. I am happy to help in any way I can. God bless!

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If God, Why Evil?

This is probably the most common objection to Christianity and the most difficult to answer. Watch as Ryan walks through different responses with a group of junior high students.

If you are interested in having me speak at your church, camp, or youth group, click on the Endorsements & Speaking page to see my list of topics and contact me at Speaking Requests and email me at contact@coffeehousequestions.com. You can select a topic from the list or suggest your own. I am happy to help in any way I can. God bless!

Why does God allow evil? Interview with Dr. Clay Jones

This question is probably asked more than any other, and it is one of the most common objections against the Christian view of God. If God is all good and all powerful, why doesn’t he stop evil? Questions like these are frequently asked and it is important for Christians to respond well.

God Evil

Dr. Clay Jones, an Associate Professor of Christian Apologetics, joined me to discuss his new book, Why Does God Allow Evil? This book covers a wide range of questions helping you to have answers for some of the toughest questions.

What is evil? Why do bad things happen to good people? Why didn’t God create a world with free creatures who always choose good? How does eternity relate to our suffering here?

Listen and get answers to these questions and more!

What are other questions you have about the problem of evil? Comment below!

You can follow the Coffeehouse Questions Podcast and have it automatically downloaded to your device by subscribing on iTunes. If you don’t have iTunes, find the podcast and follow on SoundCloud or search “Coffeehouse Questions with Ryan Pauly” on your Android podcast player. Finally, if you’d rather stick to the radio, you can listen to the show on 100.1 KGBA every Saturday night from 9-9:30 PT.

Like the Facebook page or follow on Instagram to interact with Ryan and his guests on future shows. Your questions and comments help to make the show more interactive. So, send in those questions at contact@coffeehousequestions.com, FacebookTwitterInstagram, or by text at (714) 989-6927 (Google Voice number for texts only).

If God created Satan, does evil and sin come from God?

One of my former professors, Dr. Clay Jones, recently released a book titled Why Does God Allow Evil? One of the classes I took from Dr. Jones also went by the same title, and it was arguably the most important class I have taken so far. What I realized is that even though we can’t know the exact reason God allows evil, we can still have good answers when asked.

It is also a good reason I took this class because this question comes up more than any other when I am speaking to students. Here is a recent message I received on Twitter.

Ryan, help! Why does God allow evil? Perhaps a bigger question is why Satan? If God created Satan, does evil & sin come from God?

This question is very similar to another common one that is asked. Some people ask, “If God created everything, and evil/sin is a thing, then didn’t God create evil?” The first step in answering this question is to first define evil.

What is evil?

Evil is usually thought of as something that is morally wrong, causes harm to someone, or a sinful behavior. In Understanding The Culture, evil or sin is defined as any action or inaction that violates the will of God. When we look at evil in this way we see that evil is not a thing. Since it is not a thing, it is not something that comes from God.

Instead, evil is the absence good. We can have good without evil, but we cannot have evil without good. Dr. Frank Turek explains it by saying that if you take all the rust out of a car you have a better car, but if you take all the car out of the rust you have nothing. In the same way, evil is the privation of good. It is the mistake in something, and if gone, if you have something better.

So, why Satan?

God did not create Satan evil. Satan began as an angelic-like creature who chose to rebel against God. This rebellion was only made possible by free will. Why does God allow evil? One reason is that God allows evil in order to keep our free will intact. Free will is the perfect good that God desires for his creatures. It is free will that allows us to freely love or reject God. This is what is required to have a loving relationship with someone since you cannot force someone to love you.

In response to the original question

God allows evil in order to keep our free will intact. Satan was created as a good creature with free will to choose to love or reject God. It was Satan’s rebellion against God that brought evil into the world and led to the fall. Therefore, evil and sin did not come from God.

Is free will really worth the pain and evil it causes? Read my previous article on the value of free will.

Reader Response: How can God be loving and command killings?

A few weeks back I posted the blog How can God be loving when he commanded killing in the Old Testament? (Video). This video was part of a Q&A filmed up at Hume Lake this past summer. After posting the video, I received a comment from an atheist pointing out seven different issues/questions that he had about the video. So, I have taken the time to record a podcast with my response to his objections. Click on the link above to see the objections yourself, and then listen to the podcast below to get my response!

Comment below with your thoughts on my response!

You can follow the Coffeehouse Questions Podcast and have it automatically downloaded to your device by subscribing on iTunes. If you don’t have iTunes, find the podcast and follow on SoundCloud or search “Coffeehouse Questions with Ryan Pauly” on your Android podcast player. Finally, if you’d rather stick to the radio, you can listen to the show on 100.1 KGBA every Saturday night from 9-9:30 PT.

Like the Facebook page or follow on Instagram to interact with Ryan and his guests on future shows. Your questions and comments help to make the show more interactive. So, send in those questions at contact@coffeehousequestions.com, FacebookTwitterInstagram, or by text at (714) 989-6927 (Google Voice number for texts only).

How can God be loving when he commanded killing in the Old Testament? (Video)

If you are interested in me speaking at your church or youth group, click on the Endorsements & Speaking page, look through the speaking topics or suggest your own, and contact me at contact@coffeehousequestions.com. I am happy to help in any way I can. God bless!

Does God send good people to hell?

I had the privilege of writing an article for the newly released Apologetics Study Bible for StudentsThis bible was released on July 1st, and is a great resource for your students. Here is just one of over 130 answered questions.

Does God send good people to hell?

This may be hard to take in, but it’s necessary to recognize that there are no good people. Jesus states in Mark 10:18, “No one is good except God alone.” Jeremiah 17:9 says, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick.” And the Lord looked down to the earth in Genesis 6:5 and saw that “the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” Therefore, the first step in responding to this question is to recognize that we are broken, sinful beings and that only God is good.

We only need to look at the last century to see many examples of human evil. 20-26 million died in camps in the Soviet Union under Joseph Stalin. 300,000 were tortured, raped, or killed in Nanking, China. Another 20-43 million starved to death and 46,000 scholars were buried alive under Mao Zedong in China. 1.2 million Armenians were killed by the Turks from 1915-1923. Six million Jews were killed in concentration camps and another six million of Slavic decent under Adolf Hitler. And in the United States there have been over 55 million babies killed since 1973. This list could keep going because these aren’t rare occurrences. This is what humans do!

These atrocities were not committed by just a few individuals. As Dr. Clay Jones, professor at Biola University says, “It is the average member of the population that commits genocide.” The police battalions that were responsible for capturing, transporting, and executing Jews in Nazi Germany were composed of ordinary men. These men had ordinary jobs with families before joining the Nazi police battalions. You have to ask yourself this question, “If my life had turned out differently, could I have been a guard at Auschwitz?” The answer is “Yes”, because they were ordinary humans just like you and me that committed these acts.

Now you may be thinking, “I am not the same as Hitler, Mao, or Stalin. I do good things.” Well there is a difference between a good person and a person that does good things. We have created the idea in our culture that if you do good then you’re good, and if you do bad then you are bad. However, this is not the view that Jesus held. Jesus was very clear in that only God is good. Therefore, doing a good act doesn’t make you a good person. It only makes you a doer of good.

A better question is, “Do bad people go to hell?” That answer seems obvious. The more important question to ask is, “How could anyone possibly enter heaven?” We are broken and don’t deserve to be with God forever. Hell is the place of eternal punishment for those who have sinned against God, and we all deserve to go there. But this is where we recognize the tremendous grace and compassion of God when He sent Jesus to die for us. Romans 5:8 says, “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Recognizing our brokenness makes Paul’s words sink in that much more deeply. It is a miracle God pursues us, heals us, forgives us, reconciles us, and brings us into right relationship with him.

How is an eternal hell an example of a loving God?

Last week I wrote Vengeance: A Lesson From Captain America Civil War. In this post, I talked about how we should stop letting vengeance consume us and instead trust that justice will come. That justice is promised to us by God. We see this in Romans 12:19 which says, “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” Vengeance is the Lords and we need to trust in him and his perfect justice.

However, this may cause problems for some people. The problem for some is that God’s justice means that many people will go to hell. This seems to make God’s love and God’s justice be in conflict. “If God is love,” they might say, “then hell wouldn’t exist.” How is an eternal hell an example of a loving God?

Well as Greg Koukl states in his new book, The Story of Reality, people who ask this question are on to something. “Hell is not an example of God’s love. It is an example of his justice. His love is demonstrated by his free offer of pardon from hell, which many decline. But they will not be able to decline his justice.”[1] It is important to be able to separate these two characteristics of God. God is completely loving and completely just. His love is made perfect through the death of Jesus on the cross by which all are offered a free pardon from hell. If we refuse the free offer of God, then we will face his justice. And as Greg says, “They will not be able to decline his justice.”

Finally, it is important to point out that God is not sending people to hell. Instead, people go to hell as a result of their sin. Without Christ’s forgiveness, we are guilty. It’s like being sick with a curable disease and refusing to see a doctor. When we die, we cannot blame the doctor for our death. We also don’t say that the doctor killed us. It was instead the disease that killed us, and it is our own fault for not accepting the doctors help and curing us. In the same way, we are guilty and have to go to God to be forgiven. Those that reject God’s help cannot blame him. It is a free gift that is offered to every person, yet many reject it. When we reject God’s love, then we will face his justice.

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Discussing The Story of Reality with Greg Koukl

[1] Greg Koukl, The Story of Reality, 162.

 

Are evil and God incompatible?

Evil exists inside of our universe and appears to be incompatible with an all-loving God. However, the existence of evil is evidence for the existence of God.

The biggest argument against the existence of God is the fact that evil exists in our universe. Many believe that if God is all-loving and all-powerful, evil would not exist. Since evil does exist, God cannot exist. What this fails to recognize is that there may be good reasons for God to allow evil to exist in this world.

First, we are able to have a better understanding of evil when we have an accurate view of eternity. This life is not all that there is. If God exists, we will live for an eternity and the evil of this world will shrink down to non-existence.

Second, we can also understand the existence of evil when we understand free agency. God created each person with the ability to freely choose love. In order for love to be a free choice, one also has the ability to hate. This is the cause of much evil.

Third, we have the problem of limited knowledge. There is no way to understand the purpose God has for allowing every evil act. Now I’m not using this as a cop-out. I’m not saying “we just can’t understand” every time God does something we don’t like. There are many responses to difficult questions that I have dealt with here. What I am saying is that in order to understand everything we would have to have knowledge of everything, and since we are limited beings we simply don’t. When we recognize this, then we can know that even though we don’t understand it, God may have a good reason for allowing the evil in our lives.

Naturalists will use this argument against Christians to show that God does not exist. What they fail to understand is that without a mind, free will, or an objective moral standard, there is no evil. Evil cannot exist if we are only physical beings. We would only be reacting to our chemicals and one would be unable to judge another for actions committed. So, rather than evil being used as an argument against the existence of God, we see that evil only exists because God exists.

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The following blog series comes from a paper I wrote for J. Warner Wallace on his book, God’s Crime Scene. He has given me permission to post my summary of each chapter for this series. This is a short summary of the eighth chapter, not an exhaustive look at all of the possibilities. If you would like more information, you can purchase God’s Crime Scene here, visit his website, or email me and I will provide further resources.

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