Why God Allows All Kinds of Bad Stuff: A 4-Step Response



(The FreeThinking Theist)


May 19, 2020

Why does God allow all kinds of bad stuff? 

That’s the million-dollar question! 

We can answer it in four steps.

Step One

We first need to recognize exactly WHY humanity exists. That is to say, what is the objective purpose of life? It stands to reason that if God created humanity on purpose and for a specific purpose, then there would be objective facts about humanity irrespective of the subjective opinions from humanity. 

That’s great, but how would we know such a thing? How would we discover the objective purpose of life? 

It seems that we would need some divine revelation. Jesus made it clear when he summarized the entire Law into two simple and easy to remember commands:

1- Love God first

2- Everybody love everybody

So, that’s the first step in answering the million-dollar question! The objective purpose of life is all about LOVE. 

Step Two

The next step in answering the million-dollar question is to realize what exactly is required for a genuine true love relationship — what I refer to as a MAXIMAL love relationship (the best kind of love to have with contingent beings). 

One “key ingredient” to the kind of love worth wanting with contingent beings is FREE WILL. More specifically, what philosophers and theologians refer to as libertarian freedom. That is to say, the best kind of love is only possible if humans possess libertarian freedom. That means that something or someone else is not causing or determining all of my thoughts and actions.

Moreover, a woman with libertarian freedom could resist the flirtatious advances of a man — or not. And if she chooses not to resist a man’s advances it could lead to a true love relationship. However, if a man slipped a drug into a woman’s drink so that she loses the freedom to resist or not to resist, then, it’s obvious that this is not a “maximal” kind of love. This is similar to what The Joker did to Harley Quinn in the Suicide Squad movie. The Joker changed Quinn’s nature against her will. This is clearly not LOVE, it is the epitome of EVIL! 

I digress… 

Since God created humanity on purpose and for the specific purpose of love, God also creates humanity with libertarian freedom so that the kind of love worth wanting — the maximal kind of love — can be attained. 

Step Three

The next step in answering the million-dollar question is to point out the fact that true love — or maximal love — never fails (1 Cor 13:8)! It never comes to an end. God desires an ETERNAL love relationship with each and every person into the INFINITE future.

As Buzz Lightyear would say, “To infinity… and beyond!” 

So, God gives humans libertarian freedom into eternity so that we can experience INFINITE love with no end.

Step Four

Alright, now here’s the final step:

With love and eternity in mind, this same ability that allows us to experience true and maximal love is also the same ability — when used in a “backwards” manner — that allows us to resist God’s love, his grace, and his commands.

This is easy to remember because LOVE spelled backwards is EVOL. 


The question is raised: If we have this free will in Heaven, doesn’t that mean we will SIN in Heaven? 

My response: No, not necessarily. You see, you CAN sin in Heaven, but you never WILL sin in Heaven (and an omniscient God knows how humans would and will freely choose). 

How did I reach that conclusion? Paul tells us in 2 Cor 4:17 that these “light momentary afflictions prepare us for an ETERNAL weight of glory beyond all comparison.” Paul is telling us that all this BAD STUFF prepares us for eternity! 

You see, Paul answered this “million-dollar question” a couple thousand years ago. But the question is raised: HOW does affliction and all this “bad stuff” prepare us for eternity? 

The answer: Because we learn over time. We learn just how stupid it is to NOT obey God’s commands. We learn how stupid it is to NOT follow the commands of Jesus all the time. We learn how stupid it is to NOT always love God and all people all the time. 

We learn to always trust God — and not trusting God is the epitome of stupidity!

We learn from affliction and all of this “bad stuff” so that one day, after you wake up to a perfect state of affairs in the presence of God and all evil and suffering has come to an end, YOU will not take this perfect state of affairs for granted — unlike Adam, Eve, Satan, and a third of all the angels. They took perfection in the presence of God for granted and wrecked it. After experiencing this world with all of this pain, evil, and suffering, will you take a perfect state of affairs in the presence of God for granted?

I, for one, will not!  

You see, this is how God can guarantee the “Perseverance of the Saints” — for eternity — without ever violating the libertarian freedom of humanity and true love! 

So, to answer the million-dollar question: “Why does God allow all kinds of bad stuff?” Because of LOVE! Indeed, that answer is counter-intuitive, but after examining all the data, it is a logical response. 


In summary, God created humanity for the purpose of love. The best kind of love requires libertarian freedom. Maximal love is eternal and never fails, but the same ability that allows humanity to experience love is also the same ability that allows humanity to resist God’s love. This resistance results in all kinds of pain and suffering. God allows us to experience all kinds of affliction so that we can learn not to take a future perfect state of affairs for granted.

So, as crazy as it sounds, the pain and suffering resulting from moral and natural evils are gifts that Adam, Eve, and Satan did not possess.

Bottom line: Don’t forget the words of Jesus: “In this world you will have trouble, but take heart, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

And also the words of Paul: “God works for the good of those who LOVE him…” (Romans 8:28).

Stay reasonable (Isaiah 1:18),

Tim Stratton


This blog is a summary of a conversation I had with Jorge Gil Calderon. Click here to watch the interview followed by a question and answer session. 

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About the Author



(The FreeThinking Theist)

Timothy A. Stratton (PhD, North-West University) is a professor at Trinity College of the Bible and Theological Seminary. As a former youth pastor, he is now devoted to answering deep theological and philosophical questions he first encountered from inquisitive teens in his church youth group. Stratton is founder and president of FreeThinking Ministries, a web-based apologetics ministry. Stratton speaks on church and college campuses around the country and offers regular videos on FreeThinking Ministries’ YouTube channel.

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