There are those who cannot believe in God because there is so much evil and suffering in the world. They especially cannot believe that a loving God could allow the tragedies and disasters that plague the planet. To these, the Book of Mormon explains thoroughly why evil exists and why a loving God allows it.
Agency is one of the greatest gifts bestowed upon mankind by a loving God. In fact, agency is an eternal principle that permeates the universe. Every living thing has the ability to choose. In order to have choice, there always must be two opposing things to choose from. This is why the Lord gave Adam and Eve two conflicting commandments in the Garden of Eden. The Garden was paradise; there was no sickness, corruption, or death, but life was static — there was no birth, either. The Lord gave the commanment to multiply and fill the earth, but also the commandment to avoid eating fruit from the “tree of knowledge of good and evil.” Partaking of the fruit meant breaking a commandment, but it also rendered Adam and Eve mortal and capable of bearing children. It almost seems like an unfair setup, but it guaranteed their agency.
In the Pearl of Great Price, Moses explains the commandment:
But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it, nevertheless, thou mayest choose for thyself, for it is given unto thee; but, remember that I forbid it, for in the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die (Moses 3: 17).
In the Book of Mormon, the prophet Helaman said,
And now remember, remember, my brethren, that whosoever perisheth, perisheth unto himself; and whosoever doeth iniquity, doeth it unto himself; for behold, ye are free; ye are permitted to act for yourselves; for behold, God hath given unto you a knowledge and he hath made you free.
He hath given unto you that ye might know good from evil, and he hath given unto you that ye might choose life or death; and ye can do good and be restored unto that which is good, or have that which is good restored unto you; or ye can do evil, and have that which is evil restored unto you (Helaman 14:30, 31).
The Book of Mormon prophet, Nephi, said,
But behold, all things have been done in the wisdom of him who knoweth all things. Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.
And the Messiah cometh in the fulness of time, that he may redeem the children of men from the fall. And because that they are redeemed from the fall they have become free forever, knowing good from evil; to act for themselves and not to be acted upon, save it be by the punishment of the law at the great and last day, according to the commandments which God hath given.
Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself.
And now, my sons, I would that ye should look to the great Mediator, and hearken unto his great commandments; and be faithful unto his words, and choose eternal life, according to the will of his Holy Spirit; And not choose eternal death, according to the will of the flesh and the evil which is therein, which giveth the spirit of the devil power to captivate, to bring you down to hell, that he may reign over you in his own kingdom.
Thus, the presentation of oppostion in all things guarantees men and women their agency to choose between good and evil. God entices mankind to do good, and Satan entices mankind to do evil. There have been times in the history of the world when whole societies have chosen to do good. The Book of Mormon presents us with one:
And it came to pass in the thirty and sixth year, the people were all converted unto the Lord, upon all the face of the land, both Nephites and Lamanites, and there were no contentions and disputations among them, and every man did deal justly one with another.
And they had all things common among them; therefore there were not rich and poor, bond and free, but they were all made free, and partakers of the heavenly gift. And there were great and marvelous works wrought by the disciples of Jesus, insomuch that they did heal the sick, and raise the dead, and cause the lame to walk, and the blind to receive their sight, and the deaf to hear; and all manner of miracles did they work among the children of men; and in nothing did they work miracles save it were in the name of Jesus.
And it came to pass that there was no contention among all the people, in all the land; but there were mighty miracles wrought among the disciples of Jesus. And it came to pass that there was no contention in the land, because of the love of God which did dwell in the hearts of the people. And there were no envyings, nor strifes, nor tumults, nor whoredoms, nor lyings, nor murders, nor any manner of lasciviousness; and surely there could not be a happier people among all the people who had been created by the hand of God.
There were no robbers, nor murderers, neither were there Lamanites, nor any manner of -ites; but they were in one, the children of Christ, and heirs to the kingdom of God. And how blessed were they! For the Lord did bless them in all their doings; yea, even they were blessed and prospered until an hundred and ten years had passed away; and the first generation from Christ had passed away, and there was no contention in all the land (4 Nephi 1:2, 3, 5, 13-18).