It’s a common argument that plagues nearly everyone. Survey the world around you for only a short time, and it becomes clear that we live inside a universe where evil runs rampant. If this is true, how do we reconcile the Christian idea that a loving all-powerful God created the world? Would this perfect God create a world so clearly dysfunctional? Or does the existence of evil merely put the nail in the coffin of the idea of God’s existence? I wrestled with this issue many times, and in some ways I still do. Yet I’m convinced that a loving all-powerful God does exist, so like many people, I’m always on the search for an adequate explanation of how a perfect Creator and an imperfection creation can both exist.
Dinesh D’Souza has written a new and thoroughly thought-provoking book on this problem called GODFORSAKEN. D’Souza suggests that he presents compelling truth for God’s existence and a reason for why God allows so much evil to exist. Interestingly, he uses many arguments from science to prove his points. The book surrounds the scientific idea of the Anthropic Principle to explain God’s allowance of evil in our world. Basically, with consistent laws of nature, our world is perfectly designed to produce and sustain creatures like us. D’Souza argues that for humanity to exist, evil must be allowed to exist. The same world that produces evil is the same world that produces humanity. Any changes in the design of our world would mean that humanity could not exist.
D’Souza reveals the inadequacy of many past theodicies, but I found his to be just a newer updated version of a Greater Good Theodicy. A Greater Good Theodicy means that God allows evil in order to bring about a greater good out of that evil. In the case of GODFORSAKEN, God allows evil to bring about the greater good of a world where humans can live and have free will. I must admit that D’Souza’s arguments are solid and very convincing. However, I found the book to make less of God than most people are accustomed. Essentially, GODFORSAKEN tries to comfort people with the fact of evil by saying that human life is a result of a world where evil is necessary, and this is surely better than non-existence.
Greater Good Theodicies fail because they make evil a necessary reality to God’s creation, as if God could not create without it. If God wants to bring about good, he can surely do that. But if he wants to bring about a greater good, he has to use evil to do it. Yet there’s really no indication that any greater good is brought out of evil. What good could be greater than a good produced by a good and loving Creator in the absence of evil? The Bible presents us with a God who is omnipotent and omnibenevolent, a God who could easily bring about incredible good without the use of evil. He doesn’t need evil, so there is no greater good from evil. Is redemption better than innocence? Was the reality of fallen humanity and the need for Christ to die for it better than an unfallen humanity who enjoys God forever? Obviously, the gospel is beautiful and great, and it is an incredible good, but we can’t say that God intended for humanity to fall and Jesus to have to die when he created. Certainly, he knew humanity would fall, and the plan for redemption existed eternally in his mind before creation, but a good, loving, and omnipotent being would have preferred the existence of evil to have never occurred.
So while I found many great insights from D’Souza’s book, I don’t think it presents the answer to our problem. Evil exists, and I believe a loving and all-powerful God exists. Though the improper use of free will answers the problem of evil in my mind, I can’t say that God viewed free will as a greater good. I believe God loved individual free human beings, and this love allowed them to make choices that make our world one laced with evil. I think D’Souza does a great job of describing how our world works as a result of the fall, but I don’t think he describes creation the way God originally intended it because the Bible doesn’t describe evil as necessary.
Nevertheless, GODFORSAKEN is a worthwhile read for anyone interested in the issues of the problem of evil. Though I don’t believe it provides and adequate answer to the problem, it does have some very insightful thoughts throughout it. In the end, the problem of evil is an issue people will continue to wrestle with.
I received this book for free for review from Tyndale House Publishers