The existence of evil and human suffering is perhaps the strongest argument atheists have advanced to create doubts in the minds of Christians. The atheists seek to exploit the existence of human suffering in the face of an omni-benevolent God as a contradiction, and since human suffering is undeniable then God must not exist. Indeed, this is a challenging subject and Thomas B. Warren’s book is devoted to tackling this very issue head on. The book is a product of the final chapter of Warren’s doctoral dissertation in Philosophy entitled “God and Evil: Does Judeo-Christian Theism Involve a Logical Contradiction?” which he defended and was awarded the terminal degree from Vanderbilt University. Those familiar with dissertations and defending such before the scholars can imagine the amount of preparation and thought that went into this question. While the book is based on a dissertation for scholars, it is written at a level that all can profit from studying.
The book begins with a survey of the attacks atheists launch against Christianity on the problem of evil. It includes excepts of quotes from prominent antagonists to Christianity including J. L. Mackie who stated that there is no rational proof for the existence of God, David Hume who argues that the existence of a good God and existence of evil demonstrate a logical contradiction, and others from antiquity who have dealt with the problem of evil and suffering.
Warren goes on to delineate the divine attributes of God as all-powerful, all-knowing, all-good, and all-just; and demonstrates that there is no contradiction between God’s attributes and the existence of evil. Then, Doctor Warren goes on to explain that the world is an ideal environment designed to accomplish God’s purpose, which is to provide the human race a life of freewill so one’s soul may choose to serve God. If one subscribes to the false concepts of predestination, total hereditary depravity, etc., then a contradiction does indeed exist between a loving God and human suffering. However, when one realizes that man has been given free moral agency, placed on an earth designed for the free exercise of this agency, and has the opportunity to prove himself by obedience to the gospel as a soul destined for heaven, then the contradiction has been removed. Dr. Warren defends what he calls “Biblical Theism” against the attacks made by atheists using J. L. Mackie’s line of attack using the problem of suffering and existence of God as a framework for the refutation.
Thomas Warren goes on to deal with the subject of natural calamities; which often plague people with doubts. Indeed, it is difficult at times to see the good in disasters larger than the person such as a tornado or hurricane; however, that does not mean that good does not overcome. The writer reminds his readers that it is imperative that one remembers that this world is NOT our home. The world is a temporary dwelling but heaven and hell are eternal abodes based on what one does with the time given on this earth. This truth cannot be overstated nor should it be underestimated!
Warren also deals with all types of suffering—animal and human suffering. One word of caution…a person who is suffering may be naturally overwhelmed with emotions that cloud their ability to look at these items objectively. It is imperative that we study these matters before the difficult days come, because the difficult days will come!