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An explanation of how the world is full of death and suffering and God, at the same time, be good.
And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day. (Genesis 1:31)
Try to imagine putting yourself in the position of a person who has no background knowledge of Christianity, a person who did not grow up in a Christian home, never attended church, and has been indoctrinated in evolutionary concepts through the education system. If anything, this person has been taught against Christianity by his/her parents, and by teachers in school and college.
Imagine a Christian who meets this person and tells him there is a God of infinite love who made the world and cares for us. After this non-Christian listens, it wouldn’t be surprising to hear him respond with the following:
I don’t see any God of love. All I see are children suffering and dying. I see people killing and stealing. Disease and death seem to be everywhere. Nature is ‘red in tooth and claw’ as a poet once stated. It’s a horrible world. I don’t see your God of love. If your God does exist, He must be a sadistic ogre.
The problem is that this non-Christian is looking at a fallen world. As Romans 8:22 states: “For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now."
When this person considers what is being told to him about the God of creation, he then, in a sense, blames God for the horrible world we live in. Without an understanding of Genesis and the account of the Fall, he won’t comprehend at all how there can be a God of love amidst the groaning.
It’s vital that Christians understand what occurred in the universe as a result of Adam’s fall into sin.
Now for a Christian, when a loved one dies or some tragedy strikes, it’s understandable to ask God why these things happen. However, there are many Christians who also blame God and become angry at Him because they don’t understand the real reason for the existence of death and suffering. I believe a major cause of this is that many Christians have been indoctrinated to believe that God “created’ over billions of years, and that death, disease, and suffering are a part of this creative process. But this is not really the God of the Bible.
If we can believe Genesis 1:31, then we realize that God created everything very good. So what happened to bring about this groaning world?
It’s vital that Christians understand what occurred in the universe as a result of Adam’s fall into sin. You see, the groaning, horrible world we now see around us (even though there’s still a remnant of beauty from the original Creation) exists because this is what we as human beings, in essence, have asked for!
In Colossians 1:17 and Hebrews 1:3, we learn that Jesus Christ, the Creator of all things, upholds all things by the Word of His power. As John Gill states in his commentary: “The whole frame of nature would burst asunder and break in pieces, was it not held together by him; every created being has its support from him, and its consistence in him; and all the affairs of Providence relating to all creatures are governed, directed, and managed by him, in conjunction with the Father and the blessed Spirit… preserves every creature in its being, and supports it, and supplies it with the necessaries of life; rules and governs all, and providentially orders and disposes of all things in the world, and that by his all-powerful will.”
The reason for our very existence – even at this very moment – is because He holds us together by His power. What an awesome thought! No wonder the Psalmist in Psalm 139 exclaimed, “such knowledge is too wonderful for me. It is high, I cannot attain unto it."
Personally, I believe what happened at the time of the Fall was this:
God gave Adam a choice: choose God and His absolutes, or choose autonomy (i.e., man makes his own rules). Adam (and, as rebellious creatures, we in Adam) chose life without God. We didn’t want God’s rules; we wanted to determine truth for ourselves. As a result, God, as a righteous Judge, gave us, in a sense, what we wanted (and deserved). He has withdrawn some of His power—and look what happens. Everything is running down and falling apart. We are now experiencing the judgment of a taste of what life would be like without God—this mess is really our fault.
In Deuteronomy 8:4; 29:5 and Nehemiah 9:21, we read how the Israelites, when they were in the wilderness for forty years, didn’t see their clothes or shoes wear out (and their feet didn’t swell.) This was obviously a miracle of preservation from the Lord. Imagine if God were to do this with everything in the entire universe—then nothing would wear out. There would be no disease or suffering. This, of course, is how it will be in the New Earth after the restoration.
When you think about it, God is so merciful to us. Even though we have a predisposition to want life without God because of our rebellion in Adam, our Creator has given us only a taste of what this is like. He still upholds things so we can live in this world. If God were to withdraw even more of the Word of His power, then things would become much worse. And the more God removes His restraining influence from the nations (remember it is God who raises up Kings and destroys kingdoms), the more we would see the horrible sinful nature of man expressed in evil deeds.
I believe we can see a practical example of this before our very eyes in this nation of America (and other countries). What happened? This was once a great Christian nation. God’s laws were respected and by and large obeyed. But now we observe a nation full of fornication, wickedness, murder, deceit, haters of God, inventors of evil things, children disobedient to parents—and even a Church that, for the most part, has compromised the Word of God with the teachings of sinful finite men. More and more people are rejecting the God of the Bible. Evolutionary teaching is rampant. We see a nation that seems to have lost a sense of right and wrong—there doesn’t seem to be an understanding of God’s absolutes. America appears to have lost its moral basis. Other once-Christian countries (e.g., England) are even further along than America.
God has a warning for all nations. In Romans 1, we read that when people reject God’s Word, God gave them up and gave them over. Romans 1:25 states:
Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever.
This of course is a very apt description of evolution. And it is also an apt description of those Christians who compromise with evolution and/or millions of years teachings. They are in essence placing the word of sinful fallible people above God’s Word—thus worshipping the creature more than the Creator.
I believe Romans 1 is describing what happens when God removes more of His restraining influence and Word of His power. Things will degenerate even more. And what will be the result? Paul describes it for us in Romans 1:28-32:
And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, Without understanding, covenant breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.
Oh America and other once-great Christian nations! Return, ye backsliding children, and I will heal your backslidings (Jeremiah 3:22). Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon (Isaiah 55:7).
Answers in Genesis is an apologetics ministry, dedicated to helping Christians defend their faith and proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ effectively. We focus on providing answers to questions about the Bible—particularly the book of Genesis—regarding key issues such as creation, evolution, science, and the age of the earth.