In my previous post I showed how evil in the world cannot be used as a proof against God’s existence. However, this still leaves an important question outstanding: even if God didn’t create evil, why does he allow it?
This is an especially pertinent question since the Bible teaches that in the future God will establish a society (the new heavens & new earth) where there is no evil … and by implication populated by men and women who cannot or, perhaps, will not choose anything but good.
So why then have we been given this moral freedom now … what purpose can it serve?
In the article Augustine on Evil I had previously linked to, the following solution is proposed:
“A world that had never been touched by evil would be a good place, but it wouldn’t be the best place possible. The best of all worlds would be a place where evil facilitated the development of virtues that are only able to exist where evil flourishes for a time. This would produce a world populated by souls that were refined by overcoming evil with good. The evil is momentary. The good that results is eternal.”
These, and more, are virtues which are only developed and exercised when facing bad situations. In a world, like the one promised, where only goodness exists there could be no concept of these traits; they simply cannot exist if everything is perfectly good.
So now, for a time, we do face evil so that we may become a people with a moral maturity that simply cannot be attained any other way. As the article puts it:
“It appears that a deeper, more profound good results when virtue is won by free, moral souls struggling with evil, rather than simply granted to them as an element of their constitution.”