The pain and suffering we experience in this world is at times overwhelming. It has caused many people to question the existence of God.
Tim Keller (2008) summarizes one such argument made by philosopher J. L. Mackie in this way:
“If a good and powerful God exists, he would not allow pointless evil, but because there is much unjustifiable, pointless evil in the world, the traditional good and powerful God could not exist. Some other god or no god may exist, but not the traditional God.” (p. 23)
This logic seems airtight, but only at first blush. Look a little closer and the imperfections of this reasoning come into focus. As Keller (2008) points out:
“Many other philosophers have identified a major flaw in this reasoning. Tucked away within the assertion that the world is filled with pointless evil is a hidden premise, namely, that if evil appears pointless to me, then it must be pointless. This reasoning is, of course, fallacious. Just because you can’t see or imagine a good reason why God might allow something to happen doesn’t mean there can’t be one.” (p. 23)
In other words, God may be using pain and suffering in a redemptive way, even though we feel hurt and confused and can make no sense of it. Our lack of understanding does not preclude his existence or limit his goodness.
Keller, T. (2008). The Reason for God: Belief in an age of skepticism. Viking.