Friday, July 26, 2013

Read Along: Ch 16—Is Evil Only a Problem for Christians?

Today we continue with Chapter Sixteen in the Read Along with Apologetics 315 project. This is a chapter-by-chapter study through the book Is God Just a Human Invention? And Seventeen Other Questions Raised by the New Atheists by Sean McDowell and Jonathan Morrow. (Hear an interview about the book here.) Below you will find an audio intro for Chapter Sixteen, a brief summary of the chapter, a PDF workbook with questions for the chapter, and some notable quotes. You’re also encouraged to share your comments and feedback for each chapter in the comment section below. Feel free to interact!  Index page here.

[Audio Intro] – Jonathan Morrow introduces this chapter.
[Chapter 16 Study Questions] (with kindle locations) – PDF study guide.
[Podcast Feed RSS | Podcast in iTunes] – Click to subscribe to the audio.

Chapter Sixteen: Is Evil Only a Problem for Christians?
(pages 210-223]
Chapter 16 examines the most difficult question raised against Christianity: the problem of evil (or of suffering). The authors lay out the problem as it is most commonly expressed in two different forms, showing that the logical problem of evil has been put to rest and the probabilistic problem of evil is not as strong as some would claim. In addition, the authors point out that everyone (not just Christians) must give an answer to the problem of evil. In doing this, they show that Christianity offers the greatest answer to the problem of evil.

Randy Alcorn contributes an essay which points the reader to take an eternal perspective on the issue of pain and suffering, showing that there is a purpose behind it, as well as a better future which awaits.

Notable quotes:

The writings of the New Atheists aim to put God, especially the God of Christianity, on trial for evil. This diversionary tactic is often effective because it draws attention away from their own view of the world and they are rarely forced to grapple with the gravity of the problem of evil on their terms. (p. 210)

The incarnation of Jesus demonstrates that God is not aloof or uninvolved in our world. He stepped into our existence, experienced all that we have ever experienced and more, and was crucified in our place to conquer death and evil, to redeem all of creation, and to make all things new. (p. 216)

As N. T. Wright points out, it is almost as if the entire story of the Bible is God telling us what he is doing about evil at personal, social, political, and cosmic levels, and the culmination of that story is the person of Jesus Christ. (p. 217)

When the storms of life hit, remember that God is always with us in the midst of whatever evil we encounter; he will never leave us or forsake us. Moreover, God will redeem the evil he allows in our life for good, even if we don’t see it immediately or at all. Finally, suffering is temporary and leads to increased faith now and glory in the future. The cross is the greatest reminder of God’s goodness and love. He knows, he cares, and he is with us in the midst of it. (pp. 218-219)


  1. What does the story of Joseph teach us about God’s purposes?
  2. Does God’s answers to Job shed any light on how we should approach the problem of evil?
  3. How would you describe the Bible’s answer to the problem of evil?
Recommended Reading
Next Week: Chapter 17—What Good Is Christianity?


  1. Bob Seidensticker July 27, 2013

    No, evil isn't a problem only for Christians, but the Problem of Evil is. Juggling the ideas of an omnipotent, all-loving god would could cure any disease or prevent any crime but chooses not to is a problem for the Christian but not the atheist. Let's get rid of the make believe so we can focus our energies on solving the actual problems.

  2. Ex N1hilo July 27, 2013


    According to a famous atheist, we live in a universe where "there is at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind pitiless indifference."

    And yet, for some reason, atheists cannot stop talking about "right" and "wrong." When the news breaks that someone they know is raped or murdered, they recoil as if the incident was not just a case of matter and energy working in accordance with the laws of physics, not merely an example of survival of the fittest in action. As if some real, objective evil had taken place.

    This is the atheists' Problem of Evil.