If God is Love, Where Does Evil Come From?
Vol: 54 Issue: 22 Wednesday, March 22, 2006
“Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.” (1 John 4:7-8)
“All things were made by Him; and without Him was not any thing made that was made.” (John 1:3)
If God is the Creator of all things, then where does evil come from? And why is it that God simply doesn’t banish its existence from the universe? If God is omni-everything, how can it be that He must BATTLE against it?
These are seemingly unanswerable questions, giving rise to the atheist’s creed; “If your God is love, I see no evidence of that attribute in creation. All the death, disease, pain and suffering seems to be out of place if this God of yours is love. Surely an all-powerful God could, and a loving God would, eliminate all evil. Since evil exists, then no such God exists.”
When someone states that they do not believe in God because a good God would not allow evil, they make a fatal error in logic. The recognition of ‘evil’ arises from the logical conclusion some acts are ‘right’ and some are ‘wrong’.
How do we know which acts are morally right or wrong? It is discerned on the basis of a moral law: a universal sense that certain states of affairs are right and others are wrong.
For example, no one could seriously argue with the statement that it is better to love a child than to torture it. What is the basis of this moral sense? Some would argue that it is based on cultural customs or traditions.
In some Islamic cultures, it is acceptable to wantonly kill infidels, or murder women for violating Islamic honor. Under the Taliban, Afghan women were routinely taken to the soccer stadium and publicly executed for ‘crimes’ like failing to wear a burkha. Yet Islam has a strict moral code, nonetheless.
The point is that social customs, attitudes, traditions or feelings cannot determine a universal sense of right and wrong. A universal sense of right and wrong can only come from a source outside ourselves. The recognition of a universal moral law is by default a recognition of a moral Lawgiver.
Logically, using the existence of evil to prove there is no God is like using a Dell computer to prove there is no such thing as a computer.
C.S. Lewis said that, “… evil is God’s megaphone to a non-believing world. Evil speaks of moral law. Moral law demands a moral Lawgiver, and it is He that we call God!”
Human beings confuse ‘good’ and ‘evil’ with ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ all the time. It is that confusion that fuels the ‘a good God wouldn’t create evil’ argument.
‘Right’ and ‘wrong’ are human moral issues. ‘Good’ and ‘evil’ are OUTCOMES, and are entirely in the Hands of God.
“And we know that ALL things work together for GOOD to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
Consider the most ‘evil’ events to befall the earth during the 20th century. World War One was certainly evil. (But it put Jerusalem in British hands after 400 years of Ottoman rule)
World War II was even more incomprehensibly evil. Adolph Hitler’s madness resulted in the attempted genocide of the Jewish race and the deliberate destruction of more than twelve million innocent people in the gas chambers.
(But the subsequent cry of ‘never again!’ by the Holocaust’s survivors resulted in the restoration of Israel to the Land of Promise just in time for it to reclaim Jerusalem in this generation)
As Joseph stood before his brothers who had sold him into slavery in Egypt, he comforted them by saying, “Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life.” (Genesis 45:5)
What Joseph’s brothers did was SELL THEIR OWN BROTHER INTO SLAVERY. Does that qualify as an ‘evil’ act? They MEANT it for evil, but God used it for good.
A knife, used to stab a man in the stomach in a barfight, would be an instrument of evil. The SAME knife, used to remove an appendix and save a life in an operating theater, would be an instrument of good. It is the OUTCOME of its use that characterizes it as ‘good’ or evil’. In either case, it remains a knife.
God created the universe to function according to the laws of physics. It is so delicately balanced that one of those laws demands that ‘every action must result in an equal and opposite reaction’, for example.
God created us to have a personal relationship with Him. But in order for this to be possible, we have to be able to choose NOT to want one back, or the choice would be meaningless.
I cannot experience love from you unless you have the capacity to do otherwise. If you have the capacity to not love me, and you choose instead to love me, then that choice has validity.
On the other hand, I can program my computer to greet me by telling me it loves me. Of course, I haven’t done so because it would be meaningless. My computer cannot love me. It has no choice — it would ‘love’ Saddam Hussein if I programmed it to.
And I cannot love it because it cannot love me back.
That makes the capacity for evil — to choose NOT to love, necessary to that choice TO love. And without the choice to love, our existence would have no meaning — secular OR spiritual.
Suppose God did eliminate evil from creation? For God to eliminate evil, He would have to eliminate our capacity of choice and thus our capacity to do both evil and good. And such a world is inferior to the one we have: one where love is possible, despite its inherent evil. What kind of God would do this? Only one kind. A God of love.
In order that we might not suffer the penalty of our evil choices (sin), He, like a loving Father, paid the penalty for our sins. He allowed his only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to be murdered on a Roman cross — arguably the most evil act in the history of the universe.
But this act of great evil gave rise to the greatest act of love in the universe: paying the penalty for the wrong choices we make, which are the result of the way He created us in the first place!
Right and wrong are human moral choices arising out of our human moral code. Whether they result in good or evil outcomes is up to God according to His plan. Our job as Christians is to trust Him. God knows what He is doing!
The greatest evil in the history of the universe resulted in the greatest Gift ever bestowed on mankind.
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)