It is written:
“They show that in their hearts they know what is right and wrong, the same as the law commands, and their consciences agree. Sometimes their thoughts tell them that they have done wrong, and this makes them guilty. And sometimes their thoughts tell them that they have done right, and this makes them not guilty.” (Romans 2:15)
Atheists often invoke the problem of evil, pain and suffering in an attempt to try and disprove the existence of God. However, their argument actually shows that God exists: for without an ultimate Law of goodness by which evil is judged, how can anything be truly identified as evil?
C.S. Lewis was one of the modern apologists who hit upon this point while he was still an atheist. In his book, Mere Christianity, he wrote:
“My argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust. But how had I got this idea of just and unjust? A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line. What was I comparing this universe with when I called it unjust? If the whole show was bad and senseless from A to Z, so to speak, why did I, who was supposed to be part of the show, find myself in such violent reaction against it? A man feels wet when he falls into water, because man is not a water animal: a fish would not feel wet. Of course I could have given up my idea of justice by saying it was nothing but a private idea of my own. But if I did that, then my argument against God collapsed too—for the argument depended on saying that the world was really unjust, not simply that it did not happen to please my fancies. Thus in the very act of trying to prove that God did not exist—in other words, that the whole of reality was senseless—I found I was forced to assume that one part of reality—namely my idea of justice—was full of sense. Consequently atheism turns out to be too simple. If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning: just as, if there were no light in the universe and therefore no creatures with eyes, we should never know it was dark. Dark would be a word without meaning.” (C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, 38-39 (Kindle Edition); HarperCollins E-Books)
Sam Harris (one of the modern day proponents of atheism as shown in his book Letter To A Christian Nation) fails to address this fact. Very simply, in the act of trying to disprove the existence of God, atheists who appeal to the problem of evil, pain, and suffering actually affirm His existence!
Jeff Vines is a modern day author who describes how this powerful moral argument shows us the existence of God. Being asked to attend dinner with several people, a man named Dan interacted with Jeff.
“So, Jeff, how can you believe in God with all the evil in this world!? Have you ever heard of the Holocaust? Stalin? Lenin? War? Starving children? Tsunamis? Earthquakes? Wake up, man! There is no God!”…I cleared my throat, gathered my thoughts, and looked toward Dan to ask him a question he was not expecting: “Dan, can you and I interact on this issue for a moment?” “What do you mean?” he responded. “Well, you have asked a great question, but I think the question itself needs to be analyzed. Would you help me with this issue?” Hesitantly, but confidently, Dan said, “Sure. What do you want?” “Well, first of all, once you admit that there is such a thing as ‘evil’ in the world, are you not also assuming that there is such a thing as ‘good’? 4 After all, how can anyone know the definition of ‘evil’ unless he knows the definition of ‘good’?”…The origin of the moral law within every human heart is perhaps one of the greatest objective proofs of God’s existence. No matter where you travel in this world, absolute moral law exists within every culture. Equally astounding is the fact that even in communist, war- torn countries where God has been thrown out of the public arena, the masses continue to live in testimony to His existence in private. In fact, people in communist countries possess a moral law that is astonishingly similar to those nations in which religion is not restricted, where God is alive and well….After hearing that ‘good’ and ‘evil’ as absolute categories can only exist if an absolute moral law is present to sustain them, I asked Dan if he knew anyone who had the knowledge and authority to give this absolute moral law to which all humanity must conform. “Well, it’s sure not the religious hypocrites of this world or people like you!” Dan responded in anger. In wholehearted agreement, I confirmed that all men were tainted by their finiteness and could not possibly give an absolute moral law under which the rest of humanity should live. Such absolute law could only originate from an absolute moral lawgiver. Only the creator and sustainer of all things would have the authority, knowledge, and power to implant within all creatures the ability to distinguish between ‘good’ and ‘evil.’ What is most interesting is the fact that no matter where you go in the world, the basic understanding of right and wrong exists, and only when evil men set out to tarnish and corrode such understanding do the atrocities of our world occur.” (Jeff Vines, Dinner With Skeptics: Defending God In A World That Makes No Sense, 144-263 (Kindle Edition); College Press Publishing Company)
Isn’t it interesting that the moral codes of the nations of the world have amazingly similarities? This strongly points to the existence of God, the Source of the moral code inherent within mankind. Lewis also wrote about this:
“I know that some people say the idea of a Law of Nature or decent behaviour known to all men is unsound, because different civilisations and different ages have had quite different moralities. But this is not true. There have been differences between their moralities, but these have never amounted to anything like a total difference. If anyone will take the trouble to compare the moral teaching of, say, the ancient Egyptians, Babylonians, Hindus, Chinese, Greeks and Romans, what will really strike him will be how very like they are to each other and to our own. Some of the evidence for this I have put together in the appendix of another book called The Abolition of Man; but for our present purpose I need only ask the reader to think what a totally different morality would mean. Think of a country where people were admired for running away in battle, or where a man felt proud of double-crossing all the people who had been kindest to him. You might just as well try to imagine a country where two and two made five. Men have differed as regards what people you ought to be unselfish to—whether it was only your own family, or your fellow countrymen, or every one. But they have always agreed that you ought not to put yourself first. Selfishness has never been admired. Men have differed as to whether you should have one wife or four. But they have always agreed that you must not simply have any woman you liked.” (C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, 5-6 (Kindle Edition); HarperCollins E-Books)
The problem of evil, pain and suffering does not disprove the existence of God; rather, it reaffirms His existence!
The atheist is on very thin ice indeed when appealing to the evil and suffering in our universe as an argument against God’s existence.