An old question: Omnipotent, Omniscient, Omnipresent?



I do apologise first because I do expect this question has been asked here many times before. But I was unsure where, so I pose it again. I think it is so important, I find it is the one part of Catholicism (and faith in a God of this nature, in general) that troubles me.

How can bad things happen if God is Omnipotent, Omniscient, Omnipresent?

I know bad caused by people could be because free will, but also what about naturally occuring bad things that happen like natural disaster and illness?

Thank you!


Well, you hit the nail on the head: there are two kinds of “evil” in the world: natural and personal.

Personal evil is easy to puzzle out, personal evil is the willful choice of individuals or groups to disobey the right as proclaimed by God through His church. When we turn away from God in such a manner, we are finding evil or, as theologians of the past have put it, we are stumbling into the absense of good. The important point of personal evil, however, is that it is by our choice and of our own free will.

Natural Evil is more of a challenge at first… except I would postulate that such a thing as natural “evil” does not exist at all. Natural evil is merely our perception of some event which has occured as “wrong.” This is not the case. When a volcano erupts and kills people, what evil has occured?

Is death in and of itself evil? Certainly it is not, otherwise God is guilty of murder for every human who has died. Death, rather, is just punishment for the fallen nature we took on with original sin… but it is NOT in and of itself an evil.

We cannot know the place and time of our death, nothing is certain… the mistake people make is taking the TRAGEDY of an event like a volcanic eruption and mistaking this with EVIL. These are two entirely different concepts. Are we sad that people have died? YES. Is it evil that people’s lives have ended and they have gone on to eternal life? No, it was their place and time to stand before St Peter and be judged.


Matthew 24

6 And you shall hear of wars and rumours of wars. See that ye be not troubled. For these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. 7 For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; and there shall be pestilences, and famines, and earthquakes in places: 8 Now all these are the beginnings of sorrows. 9 Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall put you to death: and you shall be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. 10 And then shall many be scandalized: and shall betray one another: and shall hate one another.


Well, I think what you are saying is that if God is the above, then why doesn’t He ‘stop’ anything bad from happening to people.

Rather, you should be asking why ‘should’ He?

Sure, it would be very pleasant to live in a world with no disaster, no sickness or death. . .wait a minute, Adam and Eve had that world and gave it up to ‘become like gods’ themselves.

Well, it is true that Jesus redeemed us so that we no longer will be barred from heaven should we live our lives for God. But we still have ‘temporal consequences’.

It’s like a child who has hit, and broken, a window with his baseball. The child apologizes to the owner and is forgiven. . .but. . .there still remains a broken window which must be paid for, and installed.

The consequences of that original sin exist for us because, while we have been forgiven, we still have that ‘broken window’ which will not be fully repaired until the Second Coming. Because we have lived so long with the knowledge of The Fall and of the Resurrection, we have become, I feel, desensitized to the real meaning of each–the incredible, the unbelievable evil that was the fall, and the incredible, the unbelievable redemption of humanity through Christ’s death and resurrection.

We have the opportunity, in all the ‘disaster’ that is a part of natural law in a broken world, to, ourselves, pay back for the evil. Every time we pitch in to help others, every time we do things to help out, we are helping to repair that broken window.

Every time we experience a disaster or illness, there is, like Noah’s rainbow promise, the ‘chance’ to bring good out of evil, joy out of sorrow, and meaning out of chaos. . .if we so choose.


:thumbsup: Well stated Tantum Ergo!:thumbsup:

In addition, God offered us Free Will so that we choose our own destiny. Suffering is part of our humanity, and Christ suffered as we suffer in order that we be redeemed through Him.

I don’t know about you, but I look forward to that day when I stand with God in Heaven and see how each choice I made has had an effect (hopefully positively) on those around me - and I hope to be able to ask God, “hey, if I had chosen Y instead of X, what might have happened?” and He will be able to show me. Of course, at that point, I doubt I will much care, I will be in the Glory of God!:slight_smile:


Thank you everyone,

That really helps me to get a better understanding!

Can I just ask another thing though. I do apologose for asking a stupid question, but I never quite fully understood it:

What makes the Original Sin such an ‘incredible unbelievable evil’? I know of course that Adam and Eve turned away from God, and towards the Devil, but what makes that worse than our personal sins, when we give in to temptation, or act other than how God would like? Why is the original sin different and worse?

Sorry I hope that is not too stupid to say.



No, it’s not stupid.

It is harder for us to understand since, because of original sin, we ourselves have a tendency to concupiscence, or evil. We have also had centuries of written and oral history, and currently decades of media overload, which have desensitized us.

Adam and Eve knew God in a way that we can only imagine. They lived in a paradise that we can only imagine.

And they freely chose to disobey the God whom they knew, not just as words in a book, or a ‘presence’ or a concept or a belief. . .the God they knew ‘face-to-face’ as loving Father. Knowing Him as they did, having had no experience of anything but good and perfect love, they wanted not only that, but to have even more–to be ‘like gods’ themselves.

It is such a incredible evil that, had we ourselves no knowledge of the story and were told it, we would be in shock. The incredible pride, the selfishness, the greed, the sheer chutzpah of two ‘creations’ thinking that they not only should be, but deserved to be, gods, and that the Being who had created them and given them everything was trying to ‘deny’ them their ‘rights’.

And even with this willful disobedience, which they tried to cover up, and to cast blame on each other and the serpent, God still had mercy. He could have annihilated them forever and it would have been perfectly just–a creator can do as he chooses with a creation, can display it or break it if it does not meet his specifications, and no one questions his right to do so.

And yet. . .God not only gave them the world, even though because of their sin the world itself became subject to evil. He gave them the chance for redemption. He gave them the opportunity to repent themselves and to choose to do good–and finally, even though they could never, never made amends of themselves for their sin, He sent His only Son who then made the amends for them–a perfect sacrifice in suffering and dying on a cross, and then by His resurrection making all humanity once again ‘saved’.

Imagine that you did something totally evil and wrong which deeply, even fatally wounded the son or daughter of the person you wronged. . . and imagine him not only forgiving you fully, even though you could never make amends or bring his child back to life–but also having another child of his be physically punished for your wrong even to the point of death. Now imagine all 7 billion people living now, and the countless people who have lived and died, and all those who will be born and die, doing the same evils to the same man, over and over and over, and each time he forgives and each time his child takes the punishment to death for every single person. . .

and you have a little idea of both the magnitude of The Fall that made such evil possible to humanity. . .

and the magnitude of mercy of the Father whose Son redeemed us.


Oh thank you
and thank you for the metphor at the end, it really does over whelm, the Lord’s infinite mercy! It is more than I can comprehend, but to know that it is so great. I will remember it in my prayers tonight, for most sincere worship and praise!


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