The Problem with the Presence of God

This seemed like a Philosophy question to me, but if it doesn’t fit the criteria please feel free to direct me to the right place.

Anyhow, a group of friends got into a debate tonight about the presence of God in the midst of evil. I don’t know the answer, I don’t know that there is an answer, but I thought I’d propose it to you all to see your thoughts.

The debate is this: we were talking about evil, and if God is present where there is evil, and if God is within the souls of even Satanists, because God ultimately gives us what we want, so He’s not going to force Himself on us if we choose to reject Him…but then what does that mean overall, isn’t God everywhere, even in the worst evil? And if God isn’t everywhere, then how can He be God? Which begs the question…the state of being we call “Hell” is defined as the complete absence of God, but how can God not be in Hell if He’s God?

Someone also brought up the point that we never defined “there” in the question “Is God there?” In other words, is God within us, or around us, does it matter?

I know that’s a lot of questions, feel free to give your thoughts on one, or all, or to find fault with the questions themselves and deconstruct the whole debate. I’m very interested in your thoughts and look forward to reading what people have to say. Thank you in advance for your time and thoughts.

God bless,

Dogma #70 of the church: “God co-operates immediately in every act of His creatures. (Sent. communis.)” (see here) Which means that God is an active participant in every act, be they good or evil (charity, rape, love, torture… you name it). And this is not something I invented… this is what the CC says - infallibly as a dogma. Cute, eh?

God is everywhere, even in evil situations. But that doesn’t mean that he’s causing those situations. Because of Free Will, God will not only allow us to make our own choices, whether good or evil, but also experience the consequences of those choices. But that doesn’t mean that he likes or supports what we are doing. If we are doing something good, he is there inspiring us to do good. If we are doing evil, then he is there making good come from that evil.

Thank you for your replies; I knew the Church must have a teaching on it, i just wasnt sure what the correct answer was, thank you for pointing it out to me Spock. SPBlitz, i like your comment on God freely choosing the endure the consequences of evil and such, I wil see if that happens to help in the debate with my friends.

How does this correspond to Hell then? As i said is God not totaly absent from those in Hell? How is that possible for an omnipotent, omnipresent Being?

Also, what about the Satanist example of someone who chooses to reject God and wants only evil and Satan in his soul, God acts against our wishes and continues to be there anyhow? What does this mean in the grand scheme, i thought God only gives us what we trily want, thus going to Hell becomes essentially our choice and He is just fulfilling our desire?

Sorry for the stream of conscious.

God bless,

Look at dogma #69:God keeps all created things in existence. (De fide.)” God “keeps” bullet in existence which will take the life of a victim. God keeps the electrodes in existence which cause unspeakable pain to someone.

You guys say that God does not “like” it, and does not “support” it. Maybe he does not like it, but he sure supports it, since without his active participation those bullets and those electrodes would crumble into nonexistnce. And if he does not “like” it, he sure enough does not “dislike it enough” to do something about it.

According to you, this unchangable and immutable God is “dragged” into participating in all those evil acts, against his better judgment and against his will. Who can be forced to participate? Can you remind me why do you worship such a “weakling”, who is an unwilling, yet active participant in all the actrocities of the world? After all, if God did not “will” to participate, he would not do it… he may not have willed the activities, but he willed his participation - which makes him a willing co-rapist and co-torturer. Should make you think… but will it? I doubt it.

God is everywhere and in everything by virtue of the fact that He is God and everything has its being in Him. He is in us and around, for nothing would exist if God did not hold it in existence at every moment. But it is only Sanctifying Grace that allows us to participate in a filial way in the Life of God, the Most Blessed Trinity, and makes us His particular dwelling. Souls in the state of mortal sin do not participate in this Life and they are not able to draw supernatural benefits from it- merit, joy, wisdom, etc.

If you use the image of the soul that St. Teresa of Avila uses- then the soul is like a beautiful castle with many rooms and all of perfect crystal. At the very center of this castle is the Life that gives the whole place light and warmth and from which living waters flow. The soul in the state of grace is indescribably beautiful and the waters that flow from it are crystal clear, and, moreover, as it advances in the spiritual life it enters ever more deeply into itself, nearer and nearer to the Source of its beauty. In contrast to this, the soul in the state of mortal sin is completely blackened as if by soot. It does not experience this light and warmth. It is not able to enter into itself and is blinded, ignorant of and incapable of experiencing any of its own beauty. The waters which flow from this castle are filthy and putrid smelling. Although the Light may be at its center, it is to this soul as if it were not, for all it can experience of it or draw from it, without the benefits of Sanctifying Grace.

The soul may enter the castle by the doorway of prayer, St. Teresa tells us, btw.

Reminds me of a video:

Recall that all things, which seem good and evil at once, work towards the greatest good of them all: Heaven. Even Satan, in his hatred of all that is good, is God’s instrument. And Satan isn’t even truly “evil”; he cannot make horrible abominations that are evil and evil alone. He had to “steal” good things from God to make sin possible!

So, like, for the “evil” soul, God is with them all the time, but the illusion that He is not there is granted? In other words, in a soul’s rejection of God it creates an absence of God, but only in its own mind?

I think this is called insanity. No wonder this secular world is so insane.

Yes, I think its more that the soul is incapable by its rejection, of participating in even the smallest way in this Presence. And this State becomes complete and permanent at death. Its very sad.

Your acknowledging those acts are wrong, interesting.


The debate was fault to begin with. Evil is not a thing or a nature, but “a thing is called evil if it lacks a perfection it ought to have.” I suggest this part of St. Aquinas CT for more indepth study.

This just seems like a way to diminish responsibility for humans. I shot someone, but it isn’t my fault, since God should have just made the bullet disappear (even though I know full well how a bullet acts in this universe and the damage it does). Everything’s God’s fault, then?

But where did you get the idea that God only gives us what we truly want? He is more or less limited in the good He can pour out in us by our expectations- that is, our faith and love. But He doesn’t make Himself subject to our every petty and irrational demand. (Good question though! God bless!)

  1. In a purposeless universe evil is an illusion.

  2. God is ultimately responsible for everything because He created everything.

  3. God permits evil because it would be a greater evil not to create anything…


No, the participation is NOT active. It is continual, therefore He ‘keeps’ things in existence, but it is not an active participation, that is where you are confused.

And certainly He has done and continues to do something to stop the evil and bring things back to the order and good He Intended at their creation- He sent His Son to redeem and Save humanity. He shed His own blood for this end. And He will come again at the end of time to definitively set things right, once and for all. God didn’t bring evil into the world, humanity did by our sins (which are nothing more than a rejection of Him). So what responsibility do you really suppose God to have here?

  1. Such a universe would be unrecognizable to itself.

  2. So, I am responsible if my children commit some crime, solely because I participated in their creation?

  3. No, it wouldn’t be. He is goodness in Himself. He is under no obligation to create us or anything. But love has that inclination to pour itself out and express itself outside of itself.


  1. So, I am responsible if my children commit some crime, solely because I participated in their creation?

You are not directly responsible but you are responsible to some extent because the crimes would not have occurred without you. You could foresee the possibility that they would commit crimes but like God you know that is outweighed by the immense value of existence…

  1. No, it wouldn’t be. He is goodness in Himself. He is under no obligation to create us or anything. But love has that inclination to pour itself out and express itself outside of itself.

I did not state that God is obliged to create anything! As you rightly point out, Love is necessarily creative. It would be a greater “evil” if Love didn’t create anything. In other words it is absurd to raise the problem of evil in a Loveless universe… :slight_smile:

Of course it makes me think. It makes me think how many people are so convinced that they could do God’s job better than God when we are all so poor at running anything else. Kinda like ‘Bruce Almighty’ but not funny in the slightest.

For a very long time I have been waiting for some one to produce a **feasible **blueprint of an accident-free universe but entirely in vain… :wink:

Ah, I get ya. I was thinking evil in the strictest sense, but you are absolutely right. :slight_smile: And we remember that God is the perfect Image of this self-giving love within Himself: God is Trinity precisely because He is Love. The Son eternally begotten of the Father, the Holy Spirit poured out between Them.

Yes. God is ultimately responsible for everything. The point is - which you guy miss - that God is sovereign, God cannot be forced into something against his will. If he did NOT will something, then it would NOT happen. By the way, the bullet does not do anything on its own, if God does not maintain its existence during its trajectory.

This is one of the reasons why I don’t care what those ancient guys say - because they are “too far out”. Evil is a voluntary action, which is aimed at causing deliberate harm to someone, not some lack or privation of good.

What nonsense. Either God is “forced” by our actions to maintain that bullet in existence (against his will) or he volitionally does the same thing. In the first case God is our “slave”, in the second one he is a willful participant.

Full responsibility for everything.

“Bruce Almighty” was a very dumb movie. To give “omnipotence” without “omniscience” is ridiculous joke - and yes, it is not funny.

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