Why Does God, Who is Good, Create Evil?
form the light, and create darkness:
how does the Lord create evil? Why
is there so much of pain and suffering in the world?
The great thinkers of the ages have never come up with the answers to
these questions. C.S. Lewis, after going through his own apostasy from
Christianity, may have came the closest – becoming one of Christianity’s
most avid advocates. During his teenage and apostate years, he felt that the
strongest force for atheism was expressed in a poem of Lucretius:
God designed the world, it would not be
J. R. R. Tolkien, and others of his friends, persuaded Lewis to deeply
consider Christianity, it turned his life around.
As he considered the Christ, he came to the conclusion, “that only two
views of this man are possible. Either
he was a raving lunatic of an unusually abominable type, or else He was, and is,
precisely what He said. There is no
middle way. If the records make the
first hypothesis unacceptable, you must submit to the second.
And if you do that, all else that is claimed by Christians becomes
credible – that this Man, having been killed, was yet alive, and that His
death, in some manner incomprehensible to human thought has effected a real
change... in our favour.”  After
gaining his deep appreciation for Christianity, in regard to evil, pain, and the
suffering that comes with life, Lewis poignantly states that if you “Try to
exclude the possibility of suffering which the order of nature and the existence
of free wills involve, ...you find that you have excluded life itself.” 
Schweitzer – considered by some to be the greatest humanitarian and a great
thinker of the last century – was a devote student of the teachings of Jesus.
He mastered philosophy, music, theology, medicine, and became the world’s
authority on Bach’s timeless organ music, and he also could build an organ.
His great intellect and all his learning lead him to "Reverence for
Life" – all life. He built a hospital in
all of his 80 years of learning, Dr. Schweitzer, could not answer the
"great questions: What is the meaning of evil in the world? …In what
relation do the spiritual life and the material life stand to one another? And
in what way is our existence transitory and yet eternal?" 
He left these questions unanswered, but knowing of God’s love he
focused his life on loving by relieving the sufferings of others.
Herman Melville had similar questions, "How can a God that is good
create evil?" He wrote the classic book, Moby Dick, trying to deal
with this question. In the Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám – the great
Persian thinker – he struggles with the same questions, and after listening to
the world’s philosophers discuss these questions, he said, "I went out by
the same door wherein I went." The questions remained unanswered!
of the great validations of the truths of the restoration of the fullness of the
gospel of Jesus Christ through the instrumentality of the Prophet Joseph Smith
is that it not only answers the above questions but also several other
challenging questions: Who are we? Where
did we come from? What is our
purpose in life? Where do we go –
after death? None of the great
thinkers, including Lewis, give meaningful answers to all of these questions,
which are gloriously now available to us through the latter-day restoration in
this last dispensation of the gospel. We
will find that at the heart of why a loving Heavenly Father allows (creates)
evil is because agency (free choice) is at the heart of His perfect plan of
happiness for His children. One of
the grand ironies of the plan is that He brings perfection out of imperfection,
a fullness of joy out of the deepest of sufferings, pain, and despair –
through His Son’s infinite atonement.
Jesus, "And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you
free." (John 8:32) This He does in the midst of trials, adversity, and
amongst many in bondage, as we come unto Him.
For He is “...the way, the truth, and the life...”
(John 14:6) He means us to be free
individually from sin and as a heavenly society, as part of His ultimate plan of
happiness – filled with joy unspeakable.
Apostle Paul so aptly said, “...the natural man receiveth not the things of
the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them,
because they are spiritually discerned.” (1 Cor. 2:14)
The evil in the world has led many to doubt God’s existence; it is one
of those doctrines not understood or appreciated by the “natural man.”
Even though this doctrine has been brought into light and understanding
through the restoration of the fulness of the gospel, much of it is taught in
the Bible, as we will see.
the restoration we learn not only that we had a premortal existence (Abraham
3:22-28; Jer. 1:5) with our loving Heavenly parents, we are literally their
spirit offspring (Acts 17:28; Heb. 12:9; D&C 76:24) – making us gods in
embryo – and we are each of infinite worth!
We sat in premortal councils where Father’s plan of happiness was
outlined for all of us and each of us. We
rejoiced – “shouted for joy” (Job 38:7) – as this infinitely loving
opportunity was extended to us to make this mortal journey in our path to
godhood – to perfection like our Heavenly parents are perfect. (Matt. 5:48)
As we looked at them, we knew that any price was worth paying to be like
them. We saw that any trial or
challenge would be worth it; in fact, we saw that life’s challenges were
actually extended to bring growth in our lives and were necessary because of
free choice. Further, we saw that we
would sin. The need for a Savior was
clearly manifest, and Father’s firstborn (Romans 8:28-29; Collosians 1:14-15)
offered to be our Redeemer – foreordained (1 Peter 1:19-20) to bring
perfection to Father’s plan because of His infinite love for us, as well.
premortal, Lucifer offered a different plan that would save all mankind, but
would take away free choice. (Moses
4:1-4) Father knew that to take away
our agency would destroy the plan. Father
will force no man to heaven; it would not be heaven were that the case.
Lucifer rebelling against Father’s plan brought about a war in heaven,
and a third part of the hosts of heaven followed Lucifer, and they became the
devil and his angels and were cast down to the earth. (Rev. 12:1-10) The Lord
could have cast them into outer darkness, but that would have denied the
opportunity for opposition for us here on earth, which we needed for our growth
and development. We learn further,
through the restoration, “that there must needs be opposition in all
things...” – otherwise, there would be no existence. (2 Nephi 2:11-29)
We knew that through the atonement, we could overcome all things, and
that this was the path to perfection. We
saw that sin, suffering, pain, and challenges would help us better appreciate
the sacrifice of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and these would only bring
us closer to Him when properly appreciated.
asks the question, “How art thou fallen from Heaven, O Lucifer, son of the
morning!” (Isa. 14:12) And then he gives the answer in the verses following as
Satan sought to “exalt” himself “above the stars of God.”
His pride had led him to believe he had a better plan to save all by
taking away the agency (free choice) of man.
We honor God because he is the author of our agency,
perfectly personifies love, patience, humility (opposite of pride),
long-suffering, gentleness, meekness, and all the other wonderful attributes of
godliness and goodness. As we come
to know God, we come to honor Him because of these marvelous characteristics.
This is His power. (D&C 29:36-37) We exercise true faith in Him as we
focus our body, minds, and spirits on 1) the truth that God exists, on 2)
modeling our lives after His character and attributes, and on 3) asking the
question, “Are we doing everything we can to fulfill our own personal missions
in mortality to honor Him.?” In
this faith we will find His love, joy and peace, as we treasure up His word.
In so doing, we are promised that we will not be deceived. (JS Matt. 37)
The great deceiver, who sought to destroy the agency of man, will not
have power over us. What a
remarkable promise and assurance from our infinitely loving Heavenly Father and
His Beloved Son.
the Book of Job is a great lesson regarding pain and suffering.
He was foreordained and agreed to perform an incredibly difficult
mission, as a type and shadow of the Savior’s mission.
Job teaches us to always trust in the Lord in spite of any and all pain
and suffering we may endure, the Lord will more than make it up to us, and in
the end we will say, “Thank you, Lord!” with deep feelings of gratitude.
Roy Mills says, "Some spirits choose a life of extreme sacrifice or
nearly unbearable suffering. The light of God shines brightly around these
people, and in heaven they are thought of as mighty spirits, because they come
to earth to suffer so that others can grow in understanding and love... These
courageous souls choose their conditions in order to inspire love, compassion,
caring, patience, or forgiveness in others...” 
When we succor the suffering, reach out to the poor, the widow, the
fatherless, etc. the Lord is very pleased when we do it with His pure love in
our hearts, and especially when we share His glorious gospel message.
There is no more important message. That
is why the gospel means the good news! It
is THE BEST NEWS! Through the
atonement, Christ has overcome all things, and as we come unto Him, we know that
He will help us overcome all obstacles and sins in our lives on our path to
eternal life, which is the greatest of all the gifts of God.
viewed then, every challenge and trial is an opportunity for growth.
Like C. S. Lewis, we will be Surprised by Joy, as we come to
understand Father’s plan. “Adam
fell that men might be, and men are that they might have joy.” (2 Nephi 2:25)
Rejoicing in our trials as well as our blessings will lift us out of the
mire and darkness of life, that so many find themselves.
“...all things work together for good to them that love God.” (Romans
Neal A. Maxwell said that there are three reasons for life’s challenges: 1) a
natural consequence of mortality; 2) the sins or mistakes we make; and 3) those
given us by a loving Lord for our growth and benefit.
“For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth” (Heb. 12:6), and he loves us
all. Let us thank the Lord for our
chastisements and challenges as well as our uncountable blessings; they all have
a Divine purpose. When they come,
and they will, let us ask the Lord what lessons He wants us to learn from them.
Viewed from His perspective, we know that they will always be for our
eternal good. He loves us with an
infinite love and can and will turn every bad thing into good as we listen to
the Spirit – asking how we may best benefit from these challenging
8:5 Thou shalt also consider in
thine heart, that, as a man chasteneth his son, so the Lord thy God chasteneth
thee. Ps. 94:12 Blessed is the man
whom thou chastenest, O Lord, and teachest him out of thy law;
Prov. 13:24 He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth
him chasteneth him betimes. Heb.
12:6 For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he
receiveth. Rev. 3:19 As many as I
love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.
D&C 59:7 Thou shalt thank the Lord thy God in all things.
21 And in nothing doth man offend God, or against none is his wrath
kindled, save those who confess not his hand in all things, and obey not his
commandments. D&C 95:1 Verily,
thus saith the Lord unto you whom I love, and whom I love I also chasten that
their sins may be forgiven, for with the chastisement I prepare a way for their
deliverance in all things out of temptation, and I have loved you— D&C
101:2 I, the Lord, have suffered the affliction to come upon them, wherewith
they have been afflicted, in consequence of their transgressions; 3 Yet I will
own them, and they shall be mine in that day when I shall come to make up my
jewels. 4 Therefore, they must needs be chastened and tried, even as Abraham,
who was commanded to offer up his only son. 5 For all those who will not endure
chastening, but deny me, cannot be sanctified.
we see agency (free will) led to the Fall and thus to sin, pain, suffering, and
life’s challenges. Ironically, the
Fall is a major and necessary step in the Father’s perfect
plan of happiness. Another of
the grand ironies of the universe – perfectly exemplified by our Savior – is
that as we surrender our will to the will of the Father, then we can be totally
free – as our Redeemer so succinctly said: “And ye shall know the truth, and
the truth shall make you free... If
the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.” (John 8:32,
36) The Holy Spirit will guide us to all truth, if we choose to listen and to
hearken to “the still small voice.” (1 Kings 19:12; 1 Nephi 17:45) His
angels are there for each of us and all of us and speak the words of Christ by
the power of the Holy Ghost to bring about the Father’s great work of bringing
to pass the immortality and eternal life of His precious children, as they may
choose to hear and hearken. (2 Nephi 32:2-5;
Nephi 2:8 Wherefore, how great the importance to make these things known unto
the inhabitants of the earth, that they may know that there is no flesh that can
dwell in the presence of God, save it be through the merits, and mercy, and
grace of the Holy Messiah, who layeth down his life according to the flesh, and
taketh it again by the power of the Spirit, that he may bring to pass the
resurrection of the dead, being the first that should rise...
26 And the Messiah cometh in the fulness of time, that he may redeem the
children of men from the fall. And because that they are redeemed from the fall
they have become free forever, knowing good from evil; to act for themselves and
not to be acted upon, save it be by the punishment of the law at the great and
last day, according to the commandments which God hath given.
27 Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and all things are
given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and
eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and
death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that
all men might be miserable like unto him.
Therefore, let us use our agency in the midst of
all the challenges of this life to be grateful for them and to follow Him, who
will lead us through them all back to the Father and a fullness of joy with our
loved ones; for we can overcome all things through Christ. (Matt. 11:28-30)
C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain, pp 13-14
Albert Schweitzer, Out of My Life and Thought
Page posted by SDA
June 16, 2011