By Published On: 10th May, 2024Categories: Nuggets0 Comments on Theodicy 1580 words2.9 min read


or, What’s the problem with Evil?

In recent times we have heard much about the blessings and goodness of God.  But let’s be honest, there is much in the world, indeed probably in our own lives, that is not good.  We have aches and pains, there are cancers and other diseases.  There are earthquakes, hurricanes, floods and droughts.  There are wars, genocides, murders and muggings.  Why?  If we can experience the exquisite joys of love, then why do we suffer the agonies of hate?  If God is good, why is there bad in the world?  If God created everything, did He create evil?

Around 300 BC a Greek chap called Epicurus proposed the following ‘problem of evil’:

“Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?

Then he is not omnipotent.

Is he able, but not willing?

Then he is malevolent.

Is he both able and willing?

Then whence comes evil?

Is he neither able nor willing?

Then why call him God?”

And even more recently, the character Lex Luthor in the movie ‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice’ stated, “If God is all powerful, he cannot be all good. And if he’s all good, then he cannot be all powerful.”

We talk of evil events, but also about forces of evil, and even of ‘The Evil One’.  But what is evil?  Usually we think of evil as a force opposed to good.  Thus, if God created the forces of gravity, light, magnetism etc, did He also create the force of evil?  Did God create coldness, or thinness, or shortness or a vacuum?  All of these are not something of themselves, but merely a way for us to identify the absence of something.  Coldness is the absence of heat.  Darkness is the absence of light.  A vacuum is the absence of air.  And so on.

We may then be able to define evil as the absence of good.  Thus the term evil has meaning and use, but it is not some actual, tangible, created thing or force.  Evil is a relative term used to mean anything that deviates from the will or moral perfection of God.  Evil is the lack of God-ness.  Therefore, we cannot say that God created evil, but maybe He allows it.

If God is ‘all good’, how could He ever allow evil?  A common argument goes that if God is perfect, then anything created by Him must be less than Him, and therefore less than perfect.  In order for God to have completely and totally avoided the problem of evil, there were only 2 possibilities:

First, He could simply have created nothing at all,

Second, He could allow nothing in His creation the capacity for moral free-will.  But a universe incapable of evil is also incapable of love, nobility, sacrifice or success.  Logically it stands to reason that God allows for the potential of evil because such freedom is intrinsically the same that allows for the potential of nobility and virtue.

So we can say that God gave us the freedom to choose love, nobility, justice and virtue.  But equally we can choose to NOT have these.  Not to have love is to hate.  Not to have nobility is to be animalistic.  Not to have justice is to have oppression.  Not to have virtue is to be immoral.  This freedom of choice is the greatest gift a loving God can give.  And once given, would you expect, or desire, that it be taken back?

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