The Fall of Man
After their creation on Day 6 humans lived in a perfect paradise called the Garden of Eden. There was no evil, pain, suffering or death.
God instructed Adam and Eve that they may eat the fruit from any tree in the garden apart from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. The serpent tempts Eve to disobey God’s command and eats the fruit. Adam also eats some. This was the first or original sin. God gave punishments to Adam, Eve and the serpent and they were cast out of the Garden of Eden. The greatest punishment was that mankind would be subject to death.
Many Christians believed that the actions of Adam and Eve led all of mankind to be born in a state of original sin. The sin of Adam being passed on to all of mankind through the act of sex. This is one of the reasons why baptism of newborn babies was seen as so important to help cleanse a person of the sin they were born with. Human nature was corrupt and more likely to commit evil acts. The relationship between mankind and God was broken. Only Jesus’ death of the cross could help bridge that gap.
Most Christians today do not take this story literally but rather view it as an explanation for why mankind behave in an evil way. It conveys a truth about human nature by which we often do things we shouldn’t.
The Problem of Evil
The characteristics above pose a problem in relation to the existence of evil and suffering in the world.
God is omnipotent so can stop suffering yet chooses not to. He is omnibenevolent so would want to stop suffering yet chooses not to. He is omniscient so can see evil and suffering before it takes place and chooses to do nothing. This is called the Problem of Evil.
For many people the logical conclusion is that God does not exist. However, this cannot be a suitable answer for a Christian. There has to be another answer for why an all good, all powerful God allows evil and suffering.
Answers to the Problem of Evil
- Evil and suffering is caused by an actual being or force called the Devil
- Human beings are responsible for moral evil in the world as they choose to act in harmful ways and have been given freewill by God. It is an abuse of freewill.
- Natural evil is viewed as a fair punishment for the disobedience of Adam and Eve.
- Suffering brings us closer to God and helps us to grow spiritually
- Don’t question why God allows evil and suffering. It is simply part of God’s plan, which humans will never truly grasp.