8. Suffering and Evil: The Probability Version

In the previous video we saw that the existence of suffering and evil doesn't logically rule out the possible existence of God.

It's possible there is a God who has perfectly good reasons beyond our current understanding for allowing the suffering and evil we see in the world.

But is it likely that such a God exists?  Or should we think that the existence of suffering and evil means there's probably no God?

This video deals with that idea...


"Suffering provides empirical evidence that the existence of God is highly unlikely."

  1. We are not in a position to say that God probably lacks good reasons for allowing suffering and evil.  We are limited in space and time, intelligence and insight whereas God knows everything from beginning to end.

  2. Relative to the full scope of evidence, God's existence may well be probable.  The probability of God's existence may well increase if we consider more information than simply the existence of evil and suffering.

  3. The Christian worldview entails beliefs that increase the probability of the existence of suffering and evil as well as God (see below).  If Christianity is true, it's not at all improbable that suffering and evil should exist.
  • The main purpose of life is not happiness but rather to know God and that this alone brings true and lasting fulfillment (better than mere 'happiness').  Suffering can help people know something is wrong with the world and that they need to know God.
  • People are in a state of rebellion against God and his purpose.  Human beings are capable of terrible evil acts that demonstrate this.  Christians aren't surprised at moral evils in the world.  They expect it. 
  • God's purpose is not restricted to this life but spills over beyond the grave into eternal life.  Christians can say, "Our pain in this life will not endure forever but our lives with God WILL!"
  • The knowledge of God is an incomparable good.  Relationship with God is the ultimate human fulfillment.  So even on their worst days of suffering, a Christian can say, "God is good to me."

So the intellectual arguments from the existence of suffering and evil, ultimately fail to disprove God's existence.


1. What's your view of God? 

If he ACTUALLY exists, do you think (like Stephen Fry) that you would get to stand and judge him, tell him off or tell him he owes you better?

Or is your thinking more like a guy I met once who said, "I'm not sure I want to meet God because I'd expect him to be so awesome that my face would melt or I'd explode because I'm so tiny and sinful compared to him."?

Which of these two views of God do you identify with most?  And why?

2. If God ACTUALLY exists, do you think he knows FAR more than we do about everything?  If not, why call him God?  But if so, why should anyone be certain he probably wouldn't create a world in which suffering and evil came to exist?  If he exists, isn't it INEVITABLE that he has perfectly good reasons beyond our current understanding for allowing the suffering and evil we see in the world?

As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
(Isaiah 55:9)

3. What other kinds of evidence should we consider that might increase the probability of God's existence?  What kind of evidence do you think makes the existence of God more believable? 

4. How does the Christian worldview (and the 4 doctrines the video describes) make sense of the suffering and evil that exist in our world as it is now? 

5. Why do you think it is that countries that have endured the most hardship often show the highest growth rates for Christianity?  Why should they find the Christian worldview compelling?

6. "Not only does God exist, but he loves you, he seeks after you, he offers you hope.  And in time he will make all things new."  Stop and think.  "What are the implications for me IF THIS IS TRUE?"

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Look! God’s dwelling-place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death” or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.’
(Revelation 21:3-4)