Neil deGrasse Tyson asserts that he does not believe in God because if God is All Powerful and All Good, then that isn't God. Apparently God is somehow obligated to prevent evil and tragedy according to Mr. Tyson's flawed logic. Mr. Tyson is wrong because he misunderstands God's purpose plan and will - as do millions of others.
Many have a false conception of God in that they believe He is somehow obligated to protect us from evil. After all, if he is All Good and All Powerful and All Loving, shouldn't he protect us? He should take care of us, no? If God is all those wonderful things, why doesn't he just take away evil and tragedy? For that matter, why not just put us in Heaven to begin with and be done with it? After all, He created us - we did not ask to be created.
God never says in the Bible He would prevent evil and tragedy. In the Scripture more often than not, God allowed evil to occur. You'll recall that in the book of Job, God actually incited Satan to bring great tragedy on poor Job - not once, but twice. Jesus himself told us that we would have difficulties in the world, but we were to take heart in spite of it. Jesus tells us He has overcome the world, but that apparently did not include the cessation of evil - that will come later. It is true that Jesus did many amazing things. But Jesus never stopped evil from occurring. He resolved several evil situations as only He (or His Father) could, but He rarely, if ever, prevented evil or tragedy.
We need to understand why God allows evil and does not prevent it. Some background first...
Let's recall that Lucifer, the angels and Adam and Eve were all in God's presence. Lucifer and the angels were created to serve God and obey Him. Adam and Eve were directed to not do one simple thing - and they failed when tempted. Pride was found in Lucifer. He rebelled. 1/3 of the angels joined Lucifer in a war in Heaven. So, even though they were all in the direct presence of an Almighty God, they still chose to rebel. They failed. God did not prevent their failures; He allowed them.
Now, God tells us in Matthew 5:48 that we are to be like Him - perfect. No grey areas - perfect. Seems unfair, right? After all, you're a pretty good person, correct? You haven't murdered anyone. You're certainly not evil like Charles Manson or Hitler! You haven't done anything REALLY bad, and you try hard to do the right thing. You're not perfect, but, hey - who is? So, based on your own relative scale, you're better than 95% of the world's population. Well, maybe 90%. You're no Billy Graham or Mother Theresa, but hey - who is?
But God says perfect! That's outrageous you may cry out. No one can do that, right? Indeed, no one can, but God makes provision so that we can be declared perfect by believing on His Son, Jesus who paid the price for our sin that we could never pay. We sincerely acknowledge that we are sinners and sincerely believe that Jesus was the Son of God and God in the flesh and that he rose again after three days. He died on the cross and shed His blood as the payment for our sins. Our past, present and future sins are then declared paid for and we are fully reconciled to Christ by believing on Him. We call that salvation, and it is rooted in sincere and abiding faith.
But where does the evil come in? Why allow evil and tragedy at all? What does any of this have to do with evil?
The Bible tells us that Jesus is coming back for His Bride, His Church. We don't know why Jesus wants or needs a bride, God just tells us that Jesus is coming back for His Bride, His church - all those people who are truly saved. As we have just determined, you have to be declared perfect to get into Heaven. But that's not enough. We must also be faithful. Spouses have a legitimate expectation that their spouse will be faithful. Jesus expects the same. Thus, we will be allowed to be tested. After all, the ones who were in His presence disobeyed and fell. They each could not do the one thing that they were told not to do. And we are told to be faithful and believe on Him. The New Testament tells us in several places that those who are faithful until the end are the ones who are saved.
In order to be faithful, we must have opportunities to demonstrate faithfulness. In His sovereign wisdom, God elected to create an overwhelming sinful existence where our faith would be tested time and time again. We have to have experiential knowledge of evil, and we cannot be spared any kind of evil - even the most grotesque and horrific forms of evil. Our natural existence is one whereby God has allowed the intermediate authority of Satan to be the "prince of this world". God has to demonstrate to us that the only tenable existence is one whereby He is totally and absolutely in complete command. So, for a time, He has allowed an "intermediate authority" according to His purpose plan and will. The Bible tells us that God does place limits on Satan. God is never "not in total command". As strange as it seems, God is using even Satan to accomplish his purposes.
The notion that God should prevent evil runs counter to God's perfect purpose plan and will. It is heresy of the highest order. We are to trust God and be faithful, no matter what the circumstances are.
N. Patrick Marica contributes incisive Christian commentary on this blog on a regular basis. He has been the Director of Godly Training Ministries since 1993. He has his MA from Liberty University in Marriage and Family Therapy. He is the author of the forthcoming book: The Walk Applied". He has been married to Kathy since 1985. They have 2 adult daughters and an extraordinary son-in-law.