There are only three possible answers to the question, why?
Firstly, we can imagine that the universe is just imperfect. It’s always been imperfect and we just have to get used to it. People get sick and die, it’s just the way it is. Life sucks and then you die.
Secondly, we can say that everything is perfect just the way it is and that it is our perceptions that are wrong. This is the position of Buddhism and the Eastern religions.
The third option, is that the universe was created perfect, but was corrupted. This is the Christian position. Paul says it like this, “…the creation was subjected to futility, not by its own will, but because of the One who subjected it…” (Romans 8:20).
The positions we adopt have consequences on how we live our lives. Those who take the first option tend to be pretty fatalistic. They have no hope. If they are realistic, they know that they and their loved ones will experience horrors in this life and that they will all die—this is just the way it is. This is why they focus on pleasure in this life—“Let’s eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we die.” (1 Corinthians 15:32) There is no hope. It seems to me quite depressing and difficult to live with. It is the foundation for a life of addiction.
The second position, the Eastern one, held by many in the Eastern part of our world, requires me to retrain my mind to deny what is in front of my eyes. If I am consistent in this view, I have to declare everything as being equally good. So, my one nephew having cancer is just as good as my niece who just got married. There is nothing that is better or worse than anything else. Everything just is. I once heard the Eastern philosopher Alan Watts say that kicking your grandmother was just as moral as anything else you might do. I find this very difficult to accept. No wonder it takes people years of meditating and training their mind to achieve these levels of mind control in Eastern spirituality.
The third position makes sense to me. God created the universe perfect, declaring it, “Good.” But, as a consequence of Adam and Eve’s disobedience, God subjected the entire universe to futility. This word, futility, is ματαιότητι in the Greek. It’s the same word used in the Greek translation of Ecclesiastes 1:1 where Solomon says, “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.” In Ecclesiastes, Solomon looks at the meaninglessness and bleakness of life.
This view says that God tainted His own world (Romans 8:20). Why would He do this? For the most important possible reason—to lay the groundwork for salvation. When Adam sinned, he separated himself from God, the very person he was created to live in relationship with. Without this relationship, man is not man. The futility in the world—the disease and violence, etc.—is meant to make us say, “What the heck?” It makes us angry and gives us the deep feeling that this is not right—the universe should be different. It’s broken, how can it be fixed? This is where the gospel is such good news. Jesus came to free us from sin and to save the universe from futility. Paul tells us that creation will be liberated from its bondage when we are. The universe is connected to us. When we are made like Jesus (in the coming age), the universe will also be transformed. Revelation shows us that God will make a new heaven and a new earth and that they will be together as one. Best of all, we will be reunited with God in full fellowship. We get a taste of our liberation now, in Christ, but our full liberation comes after we die, or when Christ returns, whichever comes first. The consequence of this third view is hope. Yes, I weep with those who weep. I fully expect to one day succumb to disease and death. I see my body deteriorating before my eyes. Yet, I live in hope. The universe will one day be restored to its original glory. I will be given a new body, made by God’s hands that will never degrade. This third view fits the facts as we experience them and also provides us with hope for the future.
C. S. Lewis wrote: “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” The Problem of Pain, pg. 93
Which view do you hold?