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It seems to me that when it comes to the problem of evil, there is an existential gap between the atheist and the Christian. The logical concerns of the matter remain for both of them: how could God be both all-powerful and all-loving if there is so much evil and suffering in the world? However, the existential dimension — how we actually feel about the existence of evil — seems to differ.

I’m not an atheist, so I will not claim to speak fully or adequately on their behalf. Nonetheless, I have heard atheists claim that from the perspective of someone who lacks the transcendent-natured religious experience of a believer, the problem of evil is overwhelming, which makes it that much harder to believe.

Contrarily, I, as a Christian, experience a different level of the existential implications of evil. From my perspective, evil exists, but God is doing something about it. Not only is He doing something about it, but His Holy Spirit empowers me to combat the evils I will confront in my lifetime. Even when it doesn’t look like God is actively involved in putting an end to a certain evil — say, when someone is suffering from an illness or terrorists continue to kill innocent people — I still have hope that in the grand scheme of things “the meek will inherit the earth” (Matt. 5:5).

The existence of evil may be awful, but I maintain hope that the meek will inherit the earth rather than the violent, and justice will prevail rather than oppression. And, from my perspective as a Christian, I believe my hope is grounded in God himself, as opposed to mere wishful thinking.

Of course, this does not solve the logical issues associated with the problem of evil. Neither is this some kind of argument against atheism. But I believe that when it comes to matters of religion and questions of God, it is vital for us to be aware of what perspectives we bring into these discussions. I think it is important for atheists and believers to recognize that there is a kind of existential gap between us, and it’s important to think about how this gap might influence the way we approach issues of religion. (I’m of course generalizing, and I understand that some individuals might be different than my characterizations, but it’s important to acknowledge those difference too).

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