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The problem of evil is well-discussed in philosophy (and somewhat less well discussed on Christianity.SE). Examples include the apparent contradiction within an omni-benevolent, omniscient God allowing children without brains to be born or animals to be trapped in forest fires and burn alive.

The most common theodicy is probably the free will one. But that doesn't address scenarios where no humans are involved - for example animals being killed in disasters without anyone noticing and (hopefully) learning a lesson from the event. Animals trapped in a natural disaster area (let's pick earthquakes or meteors, to not get into "climate change is a punishment" arguments) are killed violently or cruelly (think burning alive in a forest fire). If a human did that to an animal today, or even failed to intervene when it was within their power and they could safely do so, they'd be shunned (in most cultures). Yet God has been doing just that for millions of years, despite His power to slightly alter natural laws.

What are the most rationally convincing answers in the Bible to this human-independent problem of evil?

Another common theodicy, "God works in mysterious ways" wouldn't qualify because that can justify absolutely anything, making "God" indistinguishable from pure chance.

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    While this is an important question, it isn't framed in a way that works on this site. It seems to be in search of a text (or rather, several), and doesn't begin from a text -- a necessary element for biblical hermeneutics! – Dɑvïd Oct 28 '15 at 12:58
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    @DanDascalescu At the risk of saying "ditto" to David's remark, this question needs to frame itself within a text. You could ask, "Why did Adam and Eve sin", or "Did God create the devil", citing the appropriate texts and getting an answer-with the exception to your concern about animals, which one can question whether or not animal 'tragedies' are in fact evil. Joseph responded to your question, and yet within it's present form fails to meet Site Directives. Please consider editing your question, and allowing his and other answers: otherwise it stands a good chance of deletion. Thank you! – Tau Oct 28 '15 at 13:38
  • @Tau: why deletion? Isn't closing enough? – Dan Dascalescu Oct 28 '15 at 23:29
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There are several reasons, and none of the following propositions should be read independently of the others. These reasons are not in logical sequence, and should be read in their totality.

  1. The Lord is the sovereign executive. No one can second-guess or question his decisions whether angelic or man.

Dan 4:34-35 (NASB)
34 “But at the end of that period, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever;
For His dominion is an everlasting dominion,
And His kingdom endures from generation to generation.
35 “All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing,
But He does according to His will in the host of heaven
And among the inhabitants of earth;
And no one can ward off His hand
Or say to Him, ‘What have You done?’

  1. The Lord possesses eternal life, and as the sovereign executive he provides that eternal life to whomever he wills. For example, the sons and daughters of Job (whose ages are never mentioned) had perished, which caused Job terrible anguish. At the end of the narrative of Job, these sons and daughters appear to have eternal life. This eternal life is more extensive and intensive than the mortal life they had on earth.

  2. There is an invisible conflict, which appears in the first two chapters of Job and in several places of the Christian New Testament. (For example, the sons and daughters of Job had perished because of this conflict.) This conflict appears related to two poles of tension.

    • The condemnation of creatures created in spiritual life (fallen angels)
    • The salvation of creatures born in spiritual death (redeemed mankind)

This tension has to do with the apparent "evil" of the Sovereign God who had created his creatures by divine decree for the pleasure of their suffering and subsequent destruction. However the tension described in the preceding paragraph, which concerns the salvation of creatures born in spiritual death, is that the elect among mankind are the poor, the broken, and the destitute (in distinction to the wealthy and the wise of the world).

In summary, the Hebrew Bible and the Christian New Testament appear to allude to the following:

  • Recognize that we are broken in sin
  • Recognize that the Lord God is sovereign and righteous (irrespective of our perceptions to the contrary)
  • Recognize that there is an angelic conflict rooted in the tension of God's purposes for the elect (both angels and mankind)
  • Recognize that the Lord God provided his remedy to sin for man, which stems from his love for the fallen world

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