By and large, one of the main reasons which leads people to depression and denial, including the denial of God, is the problem of evil. As absurd, illogical and inconsistent as it might seem, yet it is this the lack of understanding of evil which accounts for the atheism or the disbelief in God for many people.
If a rock falls down a cliff and crashes another one, we would not identify that as an evil action, would we? If the wind erodes a cliff, that is not counted as an evil action, is it? The fire that burns the wood logs in a cold day is something we enjoy, so we wouldn’t say that the fire is being so evil.
Thus, we clearly associate the concept of evil and good with feelings, not with some factual or materialist truth. When we say, “Why does God create evil things?”, what we’re really saying is, “Why does God create suffering?”
Therefore, the real problem that atheists or those who refuse to believe in God have is not evil per se, but their feelings, even though they claim to be adherents of materialist evidence. Scientists would proclaim that it is facts what matter in science, not feelings. This is precisely what they themselves conflate and confuse because they deny God based on their feelings. This is so ironic.
Interestingly, they use feelings and suffering, which make sense only in a spiritual and deity domain, to prove that God does not exist – if this is true, then feelings have no meaning and no scientific truth.
In the religion of Islam, there is no problem at all with regard to the understanding of evil. Human beings have been created by the Creator for one ultimate purpose: to get to know God, so the ability of learning is inherent in us. When we are born, we know nothing, as the Qur’an says, “And Allah brought you out of the wombs of your mothers while you knew nothing, and gave you hearing, sight, and intellect so perhaps you would be thankful.” [16:78]
Naturally, we are learning machines. We learn through mistakes, through trial and error, from observing others, from other people’s experiences and books. So, the ability to learn is essential for us.
In this regard, suffering has exactly the same function: to expose us to a special condition of learning. Suffering could be difficult, painful, hard, but nothing can replace it when it comes to learning, specifically getting to know God, which is the most sublime purpose of life. In short, suffering or evil has to do with the process of knowing God. Even in this life, we witness the importance of suffering when it comes to learning and growing intellectually.
In truth, atheists are lazy people. They cannot cope with this type of process of learning, that’s why they come up with the idea that God does not exist. For a believer, suffering opens up a dimension of learning that otherwise is not possible. Actually, it is exactly this suffering or the concept of evil which convinces us that there is a Creator.