How can a loving, all-powerful God allow bad things to happen?

Maybe we can begin with a simple idea of a loving, all-powerful God NOT allowing bad things to happen and let’s see how that works out.

Joe loves chocolate cake.

Joe loves chocolate cake so much that he wants to eat a huge chocolate cake every day. But if Joe eats a huge cake every day, he will become obese and increase his risk of getting a heart attack; that’s a ‘bad thing’.

So, to stop this bad thing from happening, God must NOT allow Joe to eat too much cake.

Where does God draw the line? What about drawing the line at the first slice so that Joe never gets any cake at all? What about allowing Joe to eat one small slice a day? And if Joe is allowed to eat one small slice a day, should God set any conditions before Joe can eat his slice of cake? Maybe Joe should go for a brisk, half-hour walk before he is allowed to have his slice of cake?

How appealing is that?

What about global warming? Is that another ‘bad thing’ that God shouldn’t allow?

What should God do to stop global warming? For example, one of the biggest contributors to global warming is the gas produced by billions of farting cattle being raised so that billions of people can have steak for dinner. Should God decide how many steaks we are allowed to eat in a year? What if God decreed “No more steaks for dinner!”. What about hamburgers? No, no meat ever! Everyone must be vegetarian.

And no more milk either because billions of farting dairy cows also contribute to global warming! So no more milk!

How appealing is that?

Where does a loving, all powerful God draw the line to stop bad things happening?

God has already drawn the line and it’s called ‘freewill’.

Freewill is God’s way of delegating authority to human beings to manage their own affairs, both individually and collectively.

And because human beings are imperfect, not all consequences will be pleasing; bad things are bound to happen when human beings exercise their freewill.

Freewill and Consequences are two sides of the same coin.

Where do we draw the line to stop bad things happening?

That is the real question we should be asking.

Where do you draw the line in your own life? For example, how much responsibility do you take for your health? Considering that 95% of illnesses in modern society are caused by lifestyle choices, what are you allowing yourself to do that will increase your risk of bad things happening to your health?

Where do we draw the line collectively? In a democracy, the voters delegate authority to the government to draw the lines in the road and also to draw the line on speed limits to prevent too many, unnecessary ‘bad things’ (aka accidents) from happening. But how much power do we allow the government to exercise before it oversteps the line and encroaches on our freewill?

How we do we draw the line collectively as a human race with dominion over the earth?

The Good News!

The gift of freewill comes with an awesome toolbox!

The bad news is that most human beings have neglected to open it!

See my article "My understanding of the nature of God" and in particular the section on 'delegated authority' to lay a foundation for this conversation.

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