If God is perfect and his creations are perfect, why did he fail several times? He had to impose suffering upon the human race because Adam and Eve defied him by eating of the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Failed! He had to flood the planet 1,600 years later wiping out all but eight humans. Failure! He had to confuse human language after Nimrod and the Tower of Babel incident so that they could not effectively communicate with each other. Failure! How is this a track record of a perfect being?
This is number 17 of the 50 questions Christians can’t answer. I heard a joke once that asked the question, “Why did God make man?” The reply was, “He became bored with the monkeys.” A funny response, but not very helpful if you are really looking for an answer.
To suggest that God failed several times and is therefore imperfect because of human failings is a logical fallacy sometimes called the false dilemma. It suggests a black or white choice and no other option. Either God is perfect and can only create perfect beings, or God is not perfect, and therefore his creations, (humans) are also imperfect. There is no question that people are flawed, but that does not mean God is somehow deficient in His character.
At times we are presented with only two choices, but if you give it some reflection, there are more options available to us. Choices are not always black or white, on or off. Different variables, conditions, and the actual context of the argument can provide us more than just the two options stated.
The reasoning goes like this. If God created everything, and evil exists, (few would dispute this) then God must have created evil. One way to address this dilemma is to look at what evil is. Evil is the absence of good, or some might say the absence of love, just as darkness is the lack of something we call light or cold is the absence of heat. Evil is not something in and of itself but comes about from the deficiency of something else.
God did not create evil, but He did create creatures who could choose to love and follow Him, or chose not to. As humans, we have the choice to love or not to love. This choice has been repeated with every single person who has walked the earth after Adam and Eve.
Mark Mittelberg put it this way, “The ability to love always entails the ability to not love. If we didn’t have the ability to not love, we would be robots or puppets – preprogrammed to go through the motions, perhaps, of what love would look like, but never being able to express the real thing.”1
Scripture tells us that creation was good. There was no sin, no suffering, no death. Why then would God give humans the ability to sin? That would be another blog post, but He did, and as free will creatures we choose to, and evil entered the world.
When God created Angels, they also had the choice to love or to not love. They are also intelligent, free will beings and some of them choose to not love their Creator. When you give a creature a free will you will always have the possibility that it will choose evil and this is not God’s fault, not His failure. Some Angels fell and all humans fail, but thankfully we all have the free will to choose the gift of salvation He offered us.
Our acts of rebellion are on us, not God. The fall of Adam and Eve and the exile from the Garden of Eden, the flood, the Tower of Babel are all acts of divine intervention. Had we been allowed to go our way, the end result may have been absolute self-destruction.
God is holy; God is just. God is also loving and forgiving. In our human failings, He always offers the option for salvation. Between His judgment and his love, He offers Jesus as a path to dwell with Him forever. Since God is just and holy, all that is evil must be eliminated, but his love also demands that He would save and forgive. Jesus is the answer to this seemingly conflict of character. It is always a mistake to place the God of the Old Testament against the God of the New Testament. Why? Because they are one in the same.
Stating that God “…had to impose suffering upon the human race” is very misleading. Michael Horton explains, “Our immediate problems are not necessarily our deepest or our most serious. We focus on the symptoms because they are right in front of us. And they are real: loneliness, abandonment, guilt, fear, depression, broken relationships, and financial or health issues. But Jesus Christ is the answer to the deeper and wider problems that we all face. He did not come just to give us our best life now. He came to give us eternal life. He came to free us from the curse of death and hell and the tyranny of those habits that poison our relationship with God and each other.”2
If we can understand this, then we can understand why David said in Psalm 51:4 that he sinned against God alone. This declaration comes after sleeping with the wife of one of his soldiers and then sending that soldier out to certain death just to cover up his deed. And scripture tells us this was a man after God’s own heart.
The track record of God remains unblemished. He is a just and holy God that also loves and forgives. If you have problems with His interventions in the Old Testament, then you are going to have problems with Matthew 25:31-46 where Jesus said He will be judging and separating those who choose love and not to love.
1. Mittelberg, Mark. “How could a good God allow so much evil, pain, and suffering?” The Questions Christians Hope No One Will Ask, Tyndale House Publishers, 2010, pgs 141-143.
2. Horton, Michael. “Jesus is Lord.” Core Christianity Finding Yourself in God’s Story, Zondervan, 2016, pg 132.
Has God Failed? by James Glazier is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.