Why doesn’t God give medical progress a push?

Questions about God, the Bible and the Christian culture

(Click here to read Monday Musings ... the place where I discuss the thinking that went into this article.)

Question: Why doesn’t God supernaturally reveal to the people he loves how to prevent cancer, how to cure it, how to obtain the vaccines for every illness? God could inspire men to have medicines and vaccines at any time. Why wait while millions of people die every day?

Answer: Thank you for asking such an important question. The world is demonstrably full of suffering — and an omnipotent God could relieve all of it in an instant! But he doesn’t... and this fact has kept many people away from God. So, your question is well taken — but it is also impudent. It implies that God should be doing a better job.

But instead of ducking for cover from lightning bolts, I’m going to take your side. In fact, I think your question is too easy on God. I think we need to put him solidly on the hook for all human suffering! Your question falls well short of that... suggesting that ramping up his inspiration so that people could invent better medicines would make human suffering okay somehow.

Now, I like that idea. God created a world where we humans would progress in knowledge, science and engineering... so it would not be out of order for him to speed things up supernaturally. But seeing to it that we have more, better or quicker medicine does not answer the question that is hanging in the air. Why is there evil in the first place? Why didn’t God create a better world?

God created us and our physical environment so that we could advance collectively as a species. Look at what we’ve done in agriculture and medicine. But we are still back on the gradient here... and your question would never really be answered by advancements in medicine here or there. There would always be some child dying of cancer that could be saved if we only had the next medical advance, etc., etc. This is one of the heartbreaks of being human in modern society.

So, let’s get off the sliding scale and ask the big question: why does God allow human suffering at all? Or perhaps better, why didn’t he create a world where human beings never get sick and live forever? … I mean… he created this universe to operate this way. Why didn’t he make one that works another way... one that fulfills his purposes but does not involve suffering and death?

Answering this is the only way I can answer your question... so let’s get at it.

Many people are surprised to discover that there are many things that our “omnipotent” God cannot do. For instance, God cannot make a square circle or a married bachelor. These are senseless notions… they are silly and illogical… and if you brainstorm, you can come up with an endless list of things like this that God cannot do.

But one thing stands out on that list. God cannot create a being with free will... and set things up so that being cannot make bad or evil choices. That’s as illogical as making a married bachelor. Human beings are free moral agents by definition... and “free” comes at a price to both God and humanity.

One of those costs to humanity was the creation of evil. Evil puts the brakes on everything... including itself... so it is an entity that must exist in a world where free moral agents will sin. Now, God created evil! (Isaiah 45:7). But don’t get the wrong idea. He did not create sin. We do that. Evil is a necessary component in a system that has not been fully redeemed (Romans 8:22).

This is hard to “sell”... but if you look for it for a while, it will begin to make sense. I’m going to give you an example of how evil works... and I think you will see how it is necessary in a sinful world… but I will use the word suffering instead of evil because this is one of its meanings.

When contemporary people hear the word “evil,” they automatically think of Hollywood’s version of spiritual evil — things like Satan, the devils and demons. That’s not the biblical sense of the word. Evil simply means the bad things that happen… as the following example will illustrate.

Many people use their free will to drink alcohol to excess. They could have chosen to live temperate and productive lives instead... but they didn’t. That choice... that action was a sin. Its outfall is not sin; it is evil. Alcoholics often physically abuse their wives and children, abandon their families, develop alcohol-related health problems, take themselves out of an aggressive role in the economy. All these things involve sinful actions, but they are not categorically sin. They are categorically evil.

Evil is the result of sin... and not sin itself. But can you see how this kind of evil also restrains sin? God fine-tuned the level of evil so that his kingdom may progress more so than it may be impeded. But he can’t just give everyone a free pass until the process of redemption is complete.

The people experiencing medical stress in your question suffer from being alive at this point in time where evil is still part of the algorithm for redemption. God knows the timing. He certainly could reach down and fix things as you suggested. But this would end up hurting more people than it would help. Remember, not only does God know everything... he knows every possible thing.

Now, I realize that I am banging on about the philosophical and theological aspects of suffering... but that these ignore suffering’s emotional toll... and no matter what people are suffering, they are suffering emotionally the most. I’m bringing this up because, although we can “prove” that it’s logical for suffering to exist under the aegis of a loving God — and the emotional suffering is part of that — the emotional part tends to get in the way of the logic functionally. I mean, who cares what you can prove logically when people are suffering!

Try telling a family who has just lost a toddler to leukemia that this will ultimately help God’s kingdom (Romans 8:28)... or that going through the deep distress of mourning is part of the refining fire that God is using to make them a better disciple (1 Corinthians 3:13). That’s all true... but emotional suffering shuts down the logic processing. That’s part of what makes suffering suffering. It isolates us... and I did not want to leave this question without acknowledging its importance.

Got Questions Ministries has some articles on this too. Click here and here to access those articles.

Reasonable Faith Ministries has two short videos on the topic of suffering and evil. First, they discuss the logical problem... because we can show that it is logically possible for a loving God to exist and to cause and/or allow evil things to occur to his children. Click here to see that video.

The second video addresses the atheistic challenge that follows their defeat in the first challenge. They say, although we agree that it is logically possible for God and evil to coexist, we think it is highly unlikely. Reasonable Faith Ministries refutes that idea. Click here to see that video.

I pray that this all helped you more than it confused you. God bless you.

 

(Mainsail Ministries articles often have a preamble where I discuss the thinking that went into them. These are called Monday Musings — and if you haven’t read the one associated with this article — consider doing so at the following link: 20220103 Why doesn’t God intercede to accelerate medical progress?).

(For comments, or to join the Monday Musings mailing list, contact us at mainsailep@gmail.com. To submit a question about God, the Bible or the Christian culture, click here.)