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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Did God create evil?

This question is not answered so simply as one might first imagine. Indeed, this is a question that has preoccupied philosophers and theologians down through the centuries. After all, if God truly created everything, doesn't that necessarily mean that He created evil as well? Aren't things like hurricanes, earthquakes, volcanoes and tornadoes ordained by God? Don't we call them acts of God?
First, we must admit that many of the things which we (humans) regard as evil are naturally occurring phenomena that are not properly characterized as either good or bad. While hurricanes, earthquakes, volcanoes and tornadoes can have devastating impacts on us as humans, they are the products of impersonal forces of nature caused by water temperatures, air temperatures and currents, gravity and other dynamic forces beneath the surface of the earth. Loss of life is often a consequence of these natural occurrences, but it would be completely unfair and inaccurate to characterize this loss as the motivational force or purpose behind these events.
Is it evil for a lion to hunt and eat a zebra? Is it evil for a bear to catch a salmon swimming upstream to spawn and eat it? Is it evil for an eagle to swoop down into a meadow and snatch up a rabbit to feed its young? Or do these seemingly ruthless and violent events help to nourish and sustain the survival of both species?
Likewise, we often characterize a sunset, flower or tree as being "good" things. Even so, a sunset is merely the product of the fact that the earth turns on its axis while orbiting the star at the center of our solar system. The flower and the tree both serve real purposes within the ecosystems to which they belong (providing shade, oxygen, food, erosion control, animal housing, etc.) Hence, we must be careful in what we evaluate as being evil and good.
Nevertheless, Isn't God responsible for disease and death? Didn't he create the viruses and bacteria that have caused so much human pain, suffering and death?
God is certainly responsible for death as a possibility for mankind. According to Scripture, God offered mankind a choice between life and death. God offered to teach mankind the way of life - the difference between right and wrong, good and bad; but mankind rejected God's offer and chose to make their own decisions about right and wrong, good and bad. This choice resulted in death for them, and a majority of mankind has continued to make the same choice that our ancestors made so long ago. (Read Chapters 1 thru 3 of Genesis)
As Creator, God is also ultimately responsible for the many kinds of bacteria and viruses that we find extant on this planet. Once again, however, we must ask ourselves the question: Are bacteria and viruses inherently evil? Haven't some bacteria and viruses proved to be useful and helpful to mankind? (e.g. Lactobacillus acidophilus lives inside of our bodies and helps us to digest food - the cowpox virus helped to save countless people from developing the deadly smallpox virus) Moreover, haven't sinful practices of mankind introduced some of these bacteria into environments and places that they were not originally designed to inhabit? Hasn't mankind also strengthened and worsened the effects of some of these microbes by tampering with them and abusing antibiotics? Haven't some the "bad" microbes also been responsible for the development of drugs and treatments that have helped many humans? Hasn't exposure to some of the "bad" microbes also served to strengthen the human immune system over time and ensure its survival? Hence, is it really fair to tag God with the responsibility for this microbial "evil?"
Doesn't designating something as "good" effectively create its counterpart (evil)? In other words, by creating the good, didn't God inadvertently create the evil too? If I lay a solid foundation and build a strong house out of the best materials that I can find, does that make me the builder of the shack that someone else has erected next door to spoil the beauty of my home? Is God really stuck with the responsibility for having made it possible for someone else to erect something that is inferior and alien to what he's created? Is that fair?
Finally, Didn't God create Satan and his demons? Isn't this the ultimate proof that God created evil? Scripture informs us that God created a Cherub named Lucifer who was perfect as originally created. Ezekiel 28:12-14 However, this creature allowed vanity and jealousy to take root in his heart and he sinned. Genesis 3:1-5, Isaiah 14:12-15 and Ezekiel 28:15-18 Later, in the New Testament, we learn that "his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven," and that he initiated a war in heaven and has been responsible for deceiving the entire world. Revelation 12:4, 7 & 9 So God did create the Cherub and lesser angels who later became Satan and his demons by their own choice.
So, No Virginia, God did not create evil.

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