Question: Why do bad things happen?

If God is Omnipotent and Omniscient than how or why do bad things happen?

Omnipotence means all-powerful, and omniscient means all-knowing.  So if there is a God, and if God is “that”, why do bad things happen?

In the book of Job in the Hebrew Bible there is a story of a faithful man who was stricken horribly by illness and loss and poverty.  He was tempted by his wife and friends to curse God because that certainly would have been justified.  He did not.  But finally he did rage, wanting to know “why”?

The response was silence, a whirlwind, and a recitation of all the great things God has done – none of which human beings could possibly understand.  I always hated that answer.

In response to that timeless question some say it’s because God either wants to test your faith, warn you, punish you, or make of you an example to others – all of which possibilities make of this all-powerful/all-knowing God somewhat of a “bully”, in my opinion.

There are those who will draw attention to ideas like God’s will, fate or destiny:  which rule out judgments like “good/’bad” as accurate descriptions of what’s going on because whatever it is:  it was meant to be, so…“it’s all good”.

(That doesn’t help a lot when your child has Leukemia or your planet’s natural resources are dwindling; when tsunamis hit and, try-as-you-might, you just can’t pull yourself out of poverty.)

Others say it’s got nothing to do with God.  Rather, it’s more a matter of  “karma” – of your having set into motion a chain of events by virtue of your own actions, whether of this life or a past life; whether individual choices or collective; and whether or not they were made consciously.     Those choices would include the creation/toleration of cultural/political/economic institutions of power that negate and abuse individual worth and value, and the interdependence of all life:  sexism, racism, homophobia, animal abuse, environmental degradation, and the like.

I’d like to say that while asking “why bad things happen” may be an interesting past-time, it is not USEFUL because there are so many potential reasons, with or without God, over which we apparently have no control.  Things happen!

But noticing which ones we DO have control over CAN make all the difference – in terms of “what happens next”.  And, whether or not that’s going to be experienced as good or bad, holistically speaking.

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