How can physical evils like tornadoes and cancer be explained
By: The John Ankerberg Show
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|If God exists, why is there evil in the world? What is evil? Where did evil come from? Why doesn’t God intervene and stop all evil? How can physical evils such as earthquakes, tornadoes and cancer be explained? Is there a good reason for the existence of hell on which even some atheists would agree? What about those who have never heard the Gospel?
Copyright: 2003, Number of Programs: 8, Cat. No. EVL
Keywords: Natural Disasters, Physical evils, sickness, cancer, tornadoes, Romans 8:1-39, Romans 5:12
- Ankerberg: We’re talking about, “Why does God allow suffering?” How can physical evils like tornadoes and cancer be explained? And how can it be explained by “free choice”? And Norman, I was struck this week, in the news there was a girls’ soccer team that was out playing. It was a rather clear day, and out of nowhere, lightning came out of the sky. I don’t think there were even clouds there. There were no warnings ahead of time. Boom! Lightning came and killed some of the girls. We look at events like that – and we’ve all got stories like that – but if there’s a God who is all powerful, who is in charge, who knows everything in advance, and a God who loves us, how can things like that happen? How do we fit this scenario of suffering, if you want to say almost needless suffering, suffering that is not attached to something that we did. It just comes to us, like tornadoes or hurricanes, we need to have the “big picture” and we need your help. We’re glad that you’re here. Start us off.
- Geisler: Well, the big picture is that there is a good God and He made only good things. One of the good things He made was free will. Free will brought evil into the universe. Now the problem is, you can explain moral evil by free will, but how do you explain physical evil by free will? I mean, who freely caused the hurricane or the tornado? Or who freely caused the lightning to strike? How do we explain those physical evils? And the answer is, in brief, all physical evils are connected to free choice. And I can make it very simple in biblical terms: Adam sinned. That was a free choice. His sin had consequences on, not only himself, but the whole human race. So, the whole creation was put in bondage, Romans 8:20-21 says. Romans 5:12 says, “By one man sin entered the world, death by sin, death passed upon all men.” So to make it very, very simple and biblical, all the physical evil in this universe resulted either directly or indirectly from free choice, and we can see a lot of it right from Adam’s.
- Ankerberg: Yeah. Now, some people would just say, “You’re just wrong. I mean, how can free choice cause hurricanes?” Alright? Let’s go through this list and let’s slow this down and see if we can come to an understanding. First of all, last week we were talking about Philip Yancey’s book and the illustration he used about lepers. Can we understand that there are some good reasons, some good purposes that God allowed pain? And we saw from that that there was. Review that for us quickly and then let’s move on.
- Geisler: Well, the backdrop is this: God has to have a good purpose for everything, but we don’t have to know that good purpose for there to be one. So, even if I can’t tell you a good purpose for every physical suffering in this world, there still is one. And no one can say there can’t be one because he’d have to be omniscient in order to say that no one, even God, has a good purpose. So, let’s suppose I’m a failure in the next few minutes and that I can’t convince anyone that there are good purposes for physical evil. Does that prove God doesn’t have one? Or Geisler is dumb? See, just because I’m dumb doesn’t mean God’s dead. God can be alive and know things that I don’t know; and the Bible tells us that He does: “The secret things belong unto the Lord our God, and unto us and our children the things that are revealed.” [Deut. 29:29] But God hasn’t left us in the dark. He has given us some knowledge and we do know some good purposes for evil. We know a purpose for a pain in the chest. We know a purpose for a pain in the side. We know a purpose for a pain in our tooth, etc. We know the leprosy thing. Pain is to keep us from self destruction.
- Now, to get into the particulars, how do all these connect with free choice? 1.) Some evil we bring on ourselves. You smoke too much and get cancer of lung, do you blame God? No. 2.) Some evils we bring on others. If I abuse my children, my free choice was used to bring evil on them. 3.) Some evil is brought on others indirectly, not directly. If I am lazy and I find myself in poverty, then poverty is indirectly a result of laziness.