This summer I am going to dedicate each Friday to questions that students have asked me about God, faith and such. Some of these questions come were forwarded to me from Christian students or their skeptical friends. Others are questions that I have been asked in some way, shape or form many times. I do not claim to offer the final answer on any of these questions, though I do hope to offer something helpful.
So if God is all-powerful and creates everything, is God the author of sin?
My answer is no (and I think I have much of traditional Christian theology on my side). God created humanity and gave humanity freedom and it was humans who chose sin. Now some will not buy the difference there, they will simply say that since God is all powerful then God was the author of sin. To such people I say, we will agree to disagree 🙂 I think, to use an illustration, that there is a huge difference between allowing a child who is learning to ride bike to fall and pushing her over. In the same way, I think there is a huge difference between God allowing humans to choose sin and being the one who motivates them to choose sin.
Of course, if God knows the future and thus knows what humans will freely choose, is not God still guilty for allowing it to happen? In other words, even if God did not put the idea in Adam’s head but merely knew what Adam would choose, God still could have stopped it. And if we look at all the evil and suffering in the world, then we may say God should have stopped it. If I know a terrorist will detonate a bomb and do nothing to stop it, even though I easily could stop it, most would say I am guilty of a crime.
Honestly, this question causes me to pause. It causes me to pause because the world is an awful place much of the time. How can a good and loving God look at holocausts and genocide and rape and violence and not step in?
If God causes it as some sort of ultimate determiner of everything, then God is a monster, no different then Satan. If God allows it…that is where I struggle. Why? Why doesn’t God do more to stop it? Its a tough question and it does not one any good to pretend it does not cut right to the heart of faith. One answer that helps me a bit is remembering that I am finite and God is infinite. Without all the information, I do not know. In my anger that God does not do more, I need to realize that perhaps God has already done quite a lot. My daughter screamed and cried when she got shots as a baby, not understanding how much the vaccines would help her. I imagine a lot of our suffering, if we saw things from God’s view, may be similar.
Beyond that, I look at the alternative. If there is no God, then all those holocausts and rapes and genocides are pointless. If there is no God, then suffering and violence just might have the last word. But if there is a God, and further if this God is the God revealed in Jesus, then we have hope that a better day is coming. Suffering is not the last word, resurrection and new life is.
To me then, it is a choice:
1. In the face of suffering and evil, I have a lot of questions for God but have confidence that Jesus showed the way to live and hope that when Jesus’ work is complete there will be no more evil.
2. In the face of suffering and evil, I reject God and despair because life is dark, hopeless and painful.
For a variety of reasons, I choose the first option. Like so many questions, I do not think there is an air-tight answer nor do I expect all people with a rational mind to agree with me. But, speaking from my perspective, which is all I can do, option one is much more satisfying.