Title: If God, Why Evil?: A New Way to Think About the Question
Author: Norman L. Geisler
Released: February 1, 2011
Publisher: Bethany House
Pages/Format: 173 (Trade Paperback)
Genre: Nonfiction, Christian Apologetics
Source: Bethany House Reviewers
The problem of evil is perhaps the most difficult question the Christian must face. If God is all-good and all-powerful, why is there suffering in the world? Can’t God put an end to murder, rape, and starvation? What about earthquakes, hurricanes, and tsunamis? Why couldn’t a perfect God have made a perfect world?
In If God, Why Evil?, Dr. Norman Geisler carefully answers these tough questions, using step-by-step explanations and examples. He walks readers through time-tested answers but also provides a new approach revolving around whether or not this world is the “best of all possible worlds.” All this adds up to comforting news for believers: We can rest assured that God is both loving and all-powerful.
One Sentence Review: If God, Why Evil? is a concise, academic, and logically presented argument for the co-existence of a loving, all-powerful God and our present world filled with evil and suffering.
If God, Why Evil? is a concise analysis of the major questions people have about the seemingly incompatible co-existance of a loving God and widespread evil and suffering. Geisler outlines the arguments against the theistic worldview and then poses counter-arguments. For example, when addressing the “problem of evil’s persistence,” he poses the anti-theistic argument this way:
The argument from the persistence of evil is one of the oldest and most difficult of all arguments against God. It has been used by skeptics from time immemorial.
Briefly put, either God cannot abolish evil or He will not. If He cannot, then He isn’t all-powerful; if He will not, then He isn’t all-good. Logically, it can be stated as follows:
- If God is all-good, then He would destroy evil.
- If God is all-powerful, He could destroy evil.
- But evil is not destroyed.
- Therefore, no such God exists.
He then goes on to prove this logic wrong, presenting counter-arguments such as “God can’t destroy evil without destroying freedom.”
Geisler presents his arguments intelligently and his logic is extremely difficult to refute. Even though this is a short book, it comprehensively answers a wide range of questions.
This book is definitely on the dry side. There are no anecdotes, just pure philosophical logic, so if you are looking for a short academic treatment of the problem of evil, this is an excellent book to start with. If you are looking for something with a bit more personality, I would recommend If God Is Good by Randy Alcorn, which is a much longer work with a number of personal stories woven into the text.
The back cover blurb for If God, Why Evil? asserts that Geisler “provides a new approach [to the problem of evil] revolving around whether or not this world is the ‘best of all possible worlds.'” [emphasis mine] Perhaps I’m nitpicking, but I think this is a misstatement by the publisher because, as Audre Lorde said, “There are no new ideas. There are only new ways of making them felt.” This is most certainly true when you’re talking about the philosophy of evil and suffering, which has been discussed and debated for eons past. Geisler’s approach (that this world is the best possible way to the best world achievable, i.e. the New Earth) is certainly not one you hear every day, but I have a very hard time believing that it is actually “new.” Someone else in the last 4,000+ years has surely thought of the same argument.
Though If God, Why Evil? is certainly not what I would consider an enjoyable read, it serves its purpose well, which is to present a clear case for the compatibility of a loving, all-powerful God and this present world filled with evil and suffering. The arguments found within are presented so clearly and concisely that one could easily adapt them for use in a debate or as a witnessing tool. Christians and skeptics alike will be edified and challenged by this product of Geisler’s astute mind.
About Norman Geisler:
Norman L. Geisler (PhD, Loyola University of Chicago) has taught at the university and graduate levels for more than 50 years and has spoken and debated all over the world. He is currently the Provost and Distinguished Professor of Apologetics at Veritas Evangelical Seminary in Murrieta, California. He is the author or coauthor of more than seventy books.
Purchase If God, Why Evil from Amazon