If God exists, why do 21,000 people starve to death every single day? Let that sink in for a moment… 21,000 people. That means someone dies of starvation every four seconds. In fact, while you were reading this paragraph, two more people died. Now ask yourself why God would stand idly by while so many people live and die in misery. Doesn’t he see them suffering? Doesn’t he care?
People have been grappling with questions like these ever since the idea of an omnibenevolent god was first invented. It is commonly referred to as the problem of evil, and many Christians have acknowledged that it is the greatest obstacle to belief in the existence of an all-loving God. There are many responses to the problem of evil, but I want to focus on one in particular.
I’ve had more than a few Christians tell me that all the suffering in the world is not the fault of God, but rather the fault of humanity. The idea is that although God wants us to love him, he wants us to do it freely. If he simply programmed us to love him, we would be nothing more than a bunch of robots and our love for him would be meaningless.
So God gave us free will so we could choose to love and obey him. But consequently, we also have the freedom to not love him and to disobey him. And that includes the ability to hurt people. Therefore, people starving to death every four seconds isn’t God’s fault; it’s humanity’s fault for not obeying God’s command to feed the hungry.
At first glance, this response to the problem of evil makes a lot of sense. In fact, I used this very response on an atheist coworker back when I was a Christian. But what I didn’t realize is that it neglects one important detail: According to Christian theology, God can do anything (as long as it isn’t a logical contradiction). And if God can do anything, all you have to do is think outside the box for a moment and come up with a better system.
For example, if I were God, I would make it so people didn’t have to eat and drink in the first place. I would make it so they could get all the energy they need just by breathing the air. See how easy that was? No more thirst or hunger.
Still, there’s the problem of people intentionally hurting each other. How do we stop people from hurting each other without affecting free will? Easy. We just affect it a little bit.
If I were God, I would make it so people were free to do anything they wanted except for one thing: hurting each other. If the only reason we need free will is so we can choose to love or reject God, then why not give us free will to do that but not free will to hurt each other?
In case you’re confused, what I’m saying is that I would design humans in such a way that they were incapable of harming one another. For example, if a man with a gun found his wife in bed with another man, then no matter how much he wanted to shoot them, he would find himself incapable of doing it. His brain literally would not allow him to pull the trigger.
Of course, all the philosophers and psychologists would speculate as to why this is, but they would probably conclude that it’s the result of natural selection (animals that are unable to hurt each other are more likely to survive and pass on their genes).
See what I did there? As God, I ended world hunger and stopped people from hurting each other without affecting their freedom to love or reject me and without even revealing my existence.
It amazes me how often Christians forget that their god is supposed to be omnipotent. If God is all-knowing and all-powerful, then surely he could set up a system better than the one in which 21,000 people die in agony every single day. I know I could. That’s why I would be a better god than Yahweh.