Dr. Ravi Zacharias is Founder and President of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM) and he has spoken all over the world for 43 years in scores of universities, notably Harvard, Dartmouth, Johns Hopkins, and Cambridge. Dr. Zacharias is well versed in the fields of comparative religions, cults and secular philosophies.
As Carey Nieuwhof mentioned above, he could ask any question he like and Dr. Zacharias would be able to give a satisfactory answer due to his extensive knowledge. So for the purpose of keeping this interview concise, they have decided to tackle the problem of evil and suffering.
In Dr. Zacharias' latest book, "Why suffering?", he presents what the secular philosophers call a "trilemma".
The Christians believe God is all Powerful. The Christians believe God is all loving. And yet the Christians also know that there is suffering. This is incongruous!
How can an all-powerful and all-loving God, sit back and watch evil and suffering go on in the world? Therefore, the secular philosophers call this a trilemma, or the "the evidential argument against the existence of God".
Dr. Zacharias' response to that will be "Why is it a trilemma? Why is that not a quad-lemma, or a quinte-lemma? Because it is also true that God is all-wise and God is eternal. If you bring those two elements into the equation, it changes the paradigm!" God has many more characteristics that need to be looked at when it comes to the issue of evil and suffering.
One simple example will be how baby will need some shots for vaccination purposes. It will hurt, but the mom knows that it is for the good of the child and it is out of love.
Even to raise the question of evil and suffering assumes that there is good. If you assume that there is good, you assume a moral law. If you assume a moral law, then you must assume a moral law-giver. And that is what people are trying to disprove, which in the end breaks down the whole question.
If there is no moral law-giver, there's no such thing as good. If there's no such thing as good, then there's no such thing as evil. If there's no such thing as evil, then the question of evil will disappear.
In other words, the question of evil cannot stand on its own without the reality of God.
The answer Dr. Zacharias gave is: No.
Every time the question of suffering is raise, it is raise by a person or about another person. This means the question carries intrinsic worth of personhood. And you cannot assume that without a theistic framework.
Yet, many people have a mindset that they do not need God to become a good person. If the world just go according to the general idea of being good, it will be a better place. God does not have to come into the picture.
Theoretically that is true, however, the answer of goodness then comes from self-referencing judgement - "I decide and determine what is good". So then, are we willing to give that prerogative to our neighbor and everyone else too? How will we be able to arrive at an objective standard if we are doing it apart from a transcendent, objective worldview?
"In every other worldview, you find the way of being good and the way of not being bad. But in the Christian message, Jesus Christ didn't come into this world to make bad people good. He came into this world to make dead people live. That's the reality."
We cannot attain salvation by lifting ourselves up by our own ethical standards. Every other worldview is good versus bad. The message of Jesus Christ is grace, mercy and forgiveness.
Even if we set our own standards, there will be times where we fall short of our own subjective standards and need redemption.
Therefore, with regards to the question of suffering and evil, there is a logical problem, an existential problem and a theological problem.
"Pain and suffering are God's megaphone." - C.S. Lewis
Physically, pain is an indicator in this world to indicate something is wrong. How much more in the infinite wisdom of God can pain be an indicator that there is something wrong with our relationship with Him?
Remember, there is a cross and a hill called Calvary. There is a suffering Savior and a relationship where He gives us comfort.
God does not conquer in spite of the dark mystery of evil. He conquers through evil, suffering and pain, making you the person He intended you to be through that.
We might be looking for an answer, but what we need is a person - Jesus Christ.
CLICK HERE for your copy of "Why Suffering?" by Dr. Ravi Zacharias and Vince Vitale