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Why Is There Something Instead of Nothing and If There Is a God, Why Is There So Much Suffering?

Disclaimer: I make no pretense of having a complete and water tight answer to these questions that have been the focal point of philosophers and theologians for millenia. Furthermore, what follows is a very brief consideration of these questions. It is assumed that the reader has a basic knowledge of Biblical teachings. The serious student is encouraged to study the book (not mine) mentioned on the bottom of this page.

Why does God exist?
I submit the following for consideration: It is rightful that a perfect God – a God perfect in wisdom, perfect in power, perfect in love – exist. In God, there is such infinite wonderfulness and beauty, marvelousness, greatness, love, perfection and wisdom – that He HAS to exist. We sense the reason for God’s existence when we gaze into the wonders of space and when we examine the delicate perfection of a flower and when we observe the love of a mother for her child … this overwhelming sense of the infinite love and perfection of a God, who if He didn’t exist, He sure ought to, and if He ought to, then how could He possibly NOT exist? This conviction grows in the human spirit with each new discovery in God’s vast creation, and seizes it with rapture, awe, and admiration. Does my reasoning sound too emotional? By their very nature, finite logic and observation are, and must always be, utterly unable on their own to sufficiently answer the fundamental questions pertaining to the reason for existence. But, must we then be left forever clueless? The Bible teaches that God created us in His image, and as such, I believe that it is possible for us to understand these things - if but only in a small way - through the aid of the Holy Spirit acting on the heart. Here, finite reason must bow low. It is rightful that God should exist. And, that is enough.

Why couldn’t the universe self-exist?
I personally don’t find such a proposition satisfying. I believe it is no mistake that humans have a deep spiritual thirst that can only be satisfied with truth and purpose. To say the universe is all that exists with no God beyond, would be a very cold reality, devoid of any meaning that truly satisfies. Some suggest that the universe is advancing through evolutionary processes to produce increasingly more and more advanced, intelligent creatures and civilizations, and believe they find meaning and satisfaction in this. I find that I can not do so, however. Evolutionary processes, as defined, are brutal and cold-hearted, and there is little hope that processes driven by brutality would ever create a congenial universe. Merely knowing that the universe is marching towards increasingly more and more advanced and complex progeny can provide but little spiritual satisfaction. Why would it be rightful for such a universe to self-exist?

So, if God is perfect, why do we live in an imperfect universe? Did a perfect God create imperfection?
God created the universe perfect. God did not create imperfection, or sin. According to the Bible, sin originated with Lucifer. Lucifer was created perfect. But God gave Lucifer, and the Holy angels the power of choice, just like He has also given humans the power of choice. We can choose to live in harmony with God’s love and wisdom, or we can choose to disregard God’s ways and chart a course of our own choosing. Lucifer chose the latter, and was transformed from an angel of light to Satan, the adversary (or enemy) of good.

If God knew this would happen, why did He give us the power of choice?
Due to the nature of love, love is a choice. If God programmed angels and humans to do what is right, they would be incapable of love. We would be mere robots, and wouldn’t be able to share with God in the appreciation of love and beauty. God wanted to be able to share Himself with creatures that could understand. For this reason, sharing His love with robots would never satisfy.

So, why couldn’t God have just chosen not to make Lucifer? Why didn’t He avoid creating him, and only create those who He knew would freely choose to do what is right?
Free choice is a mystery. Lucifer didn’t fall because he was given an inferior spirit. God doesn’t pull spirits out of a hat and give to one this spirit of choice and to another that spirit of choice. God breathes the same spirit of life into each of His creatures. We are the ones who choose who we are going to be.

(Note: It is popular these days for secularists to argue that free choice is an illusion. Such a conclusion is devastating to our sense of personhood and of personal accountability, nor is it necessitated in the least by scientific observation. I freely admit that I can not explain how free choice operates, nor do I know of anyone who can. This is humbling to the human mind that has been conditioned to believe that it should be able to figure out something that on the surface seems like it should be easy to explain if it is true. I believe that when discussing free choice, we are dealing with a spiritual dimension of existence that goes beyond that which can be mapped onto the neurons of the brain, and hence, we may probably never comprehend it on an intellectual level. But, we sense that we have freedom of choice - that "we" have something to do with our decisions - that they are not merely the innescapable result of the 3 laws of Newton being played out in the brain. I suggest that this sense is NOT an illusion but rather that it is a spiritual discernment of a spiritual fact that is integral to giving meaning to our existence, to our personhood, and to our sense of personal accountability, no matter that it is humbling to the intellect to admit to something it is powerless to explain.)

Why didn’t God simply destroy Lucifer when he sinned, rather than let him cause all these years of suffering and woe?
Of course, God could have done so. But, let’s suppose that He did. It is important to realize that in the early stages of Lucifer’s sin, his sin didn’t look so bad to the other angels. That is why so many of them went along with him in his rebellion. If God had then destroyed Lucifer, it would have been very difficult for the angels to understand why He did so, and others would question whether God was really fair. Other angels would likely rebel against a God who they suspected just destroys whomever He pleases, and those who continued to serve God, would most likely serve Him out of fear rather than out of love. In order for the universe to understand the true nature of sin, God has had to let sin take its course. Never has sin shown its true colors more fully than when it nailed the Creator on the cross. Satan has made a number of accusations against God. It is to counteract these accusations so that the universe may be one day placed on a secure footing, that God is presently allowing sin to take its course. This time is rapidly drawing to a close.

If God is infinitely intelligent, why couldn’t He have found a better way?
Let's consider the prayer of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, the night before His crucifixion. Jesus prayed that if it were possible, God would not require Him to drink from the cup (the woe of the crucifixion and the sense of the withdrawal of the Father's presence.) If God could have found a better way to save us and could have spared Christ from the cross, no doubt He would have done so. It seems, however, that infinite wisdom found no better way.

I will not get into pointless disputes as to whether God can make a rock so big He can't pick it up, or whether He could turn the number 3 into an even number. But, I will suggest that simply due to the nature of reality, when God began His creation, He had only two choices: Either He could create beings with free choice, despite the risk involved, or He could choose not to.

So, why did God decide to go ahead and create beings with the power of choice, when He foreknew all the misery, suffering and woe that would happen as a result? Wouldn’t it have been better for Him to not have created anything at all?
I offer the following, not as a complete answer, but for consideration:

God is not insensitive to the suffering of His creatures. He feels it all as though it is happening to Himself. Not even a sparrow falls to the ground without His notice and empathy. When we consider this, God is suffering much more than any of His creatures because He feels ALL of it! Nowhere did God experience this suffering more keenly than on the cross, when in the person of Christ, He bore the accumulated guilt and condemnation of the entire world as though He Himself had been responsible. As we come to understand the cross, we have utterly no reason to suppose that God takes our suffering lightly, even though much of our suffering may be the result of our own sin. God doesn’t even take the suffering of those who will be ultimately lost lightly, even though the gift of salvation was freely offered to them and they rejected it. I believe it can be truly said that God feels our suffering even more deeply than we ourselves do.

When the war between God and Satan is over, the universe will be forever free from the possibility of sin arising again because all of God’s creation will know the horrible consequences of it. The eternal joy and fellowship of love between God and His people will so far outweigh the momentary suffering that we experience today, that our suffering will hardly seem worthy of mention. God knew us even before He created us, and He loved us. It was because of His infinite love for us and His desire to give us a chance to live with Him for eternity, that He decided it was worth the cost.

Some Scriptural Considerations

“Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.” Psalm 30:5

“Affliction will not rise up a second time.” Nahum 1:9

“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” Romans 8:18

“For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:17-18

“Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2

“And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21:4

For Further Study:

God, Godel, and Grace by Clifford Goldstein. (Look it up on Amazon.com or the like). Be prepared for some heavy, but fascinating reading! I wrote the bulk of the above page for a class I taught at a Christian school several years ago, before Goldstein's book was published. Interestingly, many of the above thoughts are ellucidated distinctly, and probed very deeply (much more so than here) in his thought provoking book. A must read for those who love to dig deep!

Last updated July 9, 2005

Image of Hubble Ultra Deep Field by NASA and ESA

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