Of all of the arguments against the Bible from a stance of pure logic which I have ever heard, the only one which seems to be able to stand up to honest, logical scrutiny in even the smallest way is the Problem of Evil.

Clearly, from a Biblical standpoint, we can say that our free will, given to us by God, causes the sufferings that man brings on other men. The common rebuttal to this: that God's omniscience would cause Him to know the things we will do and thus render free will an illusion, can be shown to be invalid through some simply logical reasoning. Namely, that it is sound logic to say that "correlation does not prove (nor imply) causation", and that God's knowledge of our actions (even if it is beforehand) correlating with our choice to undertake said actions, by no means proves the causation of our actions on the part of God. We are still left with bearing the responsibility for said actions and their consequences, as God's foreknowledge of our choice does not compel us to choose that option. Furthermore, the idea that God exists "outside of time" lends support to this argument (although it is unnecessary in this argument).

Unfortunately, this argument cannot be used to explain the suffering found in nature (animals hurting animals), nor can it explain natural disasters. Is there a theologian or apologetic scholar who has written to explain a way to rationalize this? Is there anyone here who has studied this in depth and can offer a rationalization?

  • I see the parallels, but my comment focuses mostly on the suffering not directly caused by humans, i.e. natural disasters and killing by animals in nature. The free will of humans is clearly the reason why people bring suffering on others, but why do other bad things happen?
    – jaredad7
    Commented May 5, 2014 at 3:04
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    Human sin brought all suffering into the universe. So whether it's directly or indirectly caused by humans, it's still a result of sin.
    – curiousdannii
    Commented May 5, 2014 at 3:27
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    Impossible to answer this question unless you explain what you understand evil to be. I see no evil in natural events so would find it very difficult to answer your question. Commented May 5, 2014 at 14:16
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    @gideonmarx So, your rationale here (if I may take the liberty of interpretation) is that there actually is no evil in natural events, and the Problem of Evil in that regard is therefore null. That's a very interesting point of view which I haven't before considered. I think most people view natural disasters that devastate human communities as evils, though, so I'm not sure many people would accept that reasoning. As far as I'm concerned, however, it's just as good as anything else I've seen discussed; i.e., I don't see a logical reason WHY those disasters necessarily NEED to be evil.
    – jaredad7
    Commented May 5, 2014 at 14:21
  • One less thing to worry about. Commented May 6, 2014 at 9:52

1 Answer 1


I haven't personally read Alvin Plantinga, but I've read that he tried to answer question of "natural evil" in a very interesting way. See some short description here http://www.iep.utm.edu/evil-log/#H6 and more in his books: "The Nature of Necessary", "God, Freedom, and Evil".

What I personally think is that there is a great problem of perception. I think that St Augustine might also went that way in his "Confessions". I think that what we perceive as "evil" is often some disordered good (or not well understood good), for everything that God created was good - even microorganisms living, fighting, suffering and dying in our bodies.

So from where this disorder comes? I think that Moses gives us a hint. In first book of Bible he is describing some ancient events. He couldn't see it himself and we don't know how he came to have knowledge about them - maybe God or his angels directly described it to him or maybe it was brought to him in a visionary dream or maybe Moses in prophetic spirit recognized grains of truth in myths preserved by people. It is not important.

What is important is that among other things he tells us a story of punishment, and this punishment is essentially a suffering from natural causes: pains from body, unfriendly environment. This punishment is an element of justice, it is not evil.

It is important to make some distinctions here. For example someone could say that to kill someone is an evil thing, but this is not true. To MURDER someone is evil and when you look at Ten Commandments in Hebrew then you will see that there is no "thou shalt not kill" but "thou shalt not murder". Are there situations where killing is acceptable? Yes, there are and you can find some of them described in the Bible. You can also use your common sense: if you are suddenly attacked and you act in self defense and kill whoever attacked you then it is not considered evil.

Similarily, it is not evil in itself to make someone suffer. But it is evil to make someone suffer without proper cause. For example, Bible recommends using force in education if it is necessary for saving someones' soul. What is REALLY evil is disobedience to God. And that was not created by him, for he is not disobedient to himself, but this is a product of our ancestors' use of free will.

All other things may be seen by us as "evil" but in reality they may be just misunderstood acts of justice, of punishment and of workings of nature. Natural disasters aren't evil and suffering of animals isn't evil in itself.

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    As it reads, this answer is a series of personal opinions. Please reread the question and revise.
    – Steve
    Commented May 5, 2014 at 12:59
  • @Steve, that would be unreasonable since my answer was marked as accepted by OP. Commented May 5, 2014 at 13:05
  • @GrzegorzAdamKowalsi I don't see your question addressing: "Unfortunately, this argument cannot be used to explain the suffering found in nature (animals hurting animals), nor can it explain natural disasters. Is there a theologian or apologetic scholar who has written to explain a way to rationalize this? Is there anyone here who has studied this in depth and can offer a rationalization?"
    – Steve
    Commented May 5, 2014 at 13:10
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    Hi, there. The link the answer provides discusses the things I asked for in my question. It provides a Theologian as well as theological rationale for the topic I asked about. The answer also provides a secondary rationale separate from the link provided. It is a very good answer.
    – jaredad7
    Commented May 5, 2014 at 14:17
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    welcome (from me) to the Christianity Stack Exchange. i want to apologize to you, Grzegorz, in lieu of the community, for the harassment you are receiving. they do it to me, too. while i think your answer is fine and within the norms of the website, i do not agree with every point in it. but it is a good answer. i personally like Plantinga (i really like his takedown of Richard Dawkins ) but no one is right about everything. personally, i think the Problem of Evil is a Problem. Commented May 6, 2014 at 7:09

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