Monday, May 25, 2009

Who Created Evil?

The debate about who created evil is an important one since atheists and skeptics use the existence of evil in their arguments against theism. It is incumbent upon all Christians to understand what the Scriptures say about the God they worship and the existancxe of evil in the world. If God created everything, and if evil is in the world, does it follow that God created evil? We are told as Christians to believe what the Bible says. Even the popular children's song, “Jesus Loves Me”, has in its lyrics,
“Jesus loves me, this I know for the Bible tells me so”.
So, let us read what the Bible says.

In (Genesis 1:1) we read,
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”
The New Testament says in (John 1:3),
“All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.”
So, we now know that God made everything through Christ, but are there any Scriptures that specifically say God is the author of evil? The closest we can get is (Isaiah 45:7),
“I make peace and create calamity”,
and (Amos 3:6),
“If there is calamity in a city, will not the LORD have done it?”
Ok, can we then point to any passages that might elude to God condoning evil? Probably the best examples would be the time Joseph confronted his brothers who sold him into slavery,
“you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good”
(Genesis 50:20), and (Exodus 9:16) when God sent Moses to Pharoah with this message,

“.....I have raised you up, that I may show My power in you, and that My name may be declared in all the earth.”

There are those who claim that these and similar Scriptures prove that God is the author of evil.

Now, if you’re coming from the persuasion that God has foreordained the entire course of events in this world as Calvinism teaches, then reason and logic would suggest that God must be the author of sin. However, Calvinist who teach that God is the author of evil would be wise smart to pay attention to the following quote from (John Calvin) himself:

“It is helpful, I think, to understand that sin is not itself a thing created. Sin is neither substance, being, spirit, nor matter. So it is technically not proper to think of sin as something that was created. Sin is simply a want of moral perfection in a fallen creature. Fallen creatures themselves bear full responsibility for their sin. And all evil in the universe emanates from the sins of fallen creatures.” Calvin goes on to state unequivocally that, “God's role with regard to evil is never as its author. He simply permits evil agents to work, then overrules evil for His own wise and holy ends. Ultimately He is able to make all things--including all the fruits of all the evil of all time--work together for a greater good.”

The biggest defenders of the idea that God created evil are followers of John Calvin's teachings. Seems to me that there is a bit of a schism in the ranks of the Calvinist movement.

Two verses used to defend the belief that God created evil are (Isaiah 45:7) and (Amos 3:6). In both instances the word evil, not calamity is used in 12 of the 21 Bible translations I have. It is important to note that all but one of the translations using the word evil were published before 1948. This is important because of the discovery of the (Dead Sea Scrolls) in the caves of Qumran in 1948. Fine tooth investigation of these Scrolls has revealed that the proper translation for these verses would actually be disaster or calamity, not evil. Now some may argue that a calamity is an evil, because it causes pain and misery and so they will still argue that God is the creator of evil.

When speaking of evil in regards to the nature of sin, it should be observed that there are three kinds of evil: physical, metaphysical, and moral. Physical evil is anything causing harm to man weather it be by order of nature directly, or through the various social conditions under which mankind naturally exists. I would say that accidents, sicknesses, and even most deaths would directly be caused by nature, while poverty, oppression and some diseases are the results of imperfect social organizations. Then we would have mental suffering, anxiety, disappointments, and remorse as a result of a both natural disposition and social circumstances. Metaphysical evil would be anything that limits an object in nature from attaining their ideal potential of existence. Some examples would be a lion killing a gazelle for food, harm or death to the gazelle would a metaphysical evil. Another metaphysical evil would be a tornado knocking down a tree thus limiting the tree’s ability to keep growing. Depending upon ones perspective, metaphysical evil can be a beneficial evil, the tree dies and becomes fertilizer for new growth, while the killing of the gazelle insures the survival of the lion. Finally we have moral evil, which is anything that would deviate from what society has deemed as normal behavior, usually by someone who knows what society has considered normal. Historically, these standards have been set by various religious communities and followed by the societies they influence. It should be pointed out that bad behavior due to ignorance would not be considered a moral evil, because a person must have an understanding of what is considered moral to be in violation of such morals. One could say that ignorance is an excuse for bad moral behavior. In conclusion, I would suggest that evil is essentially a negative, not so much in the acquisition of anything, but the loss or deprivation of something necessary for perfection. While there are certain evils that benefit us like the killing of a gazelle by a lion, or the pain of injury to alert us of bodily harm, most evil is bad. So we can say that in a world originally created by a perfect God, evil or sin is anything that falls short of the perfection of what God originally planned before the fall of man.

The term sin, in the ancient Greek language, means to miss the mark. We all sin when we miss the mark set by God. God's mark is perfection every time. Man can never achieve the ability to hit the bull’s eye every time so anything short of that perfect mark is sin. We can conclude that evil is the absence of perfection. In the same way that darkness is the absence of light, cold is the absence of warmth, and hate is the absence off love, evil is the absence of a perfect God. When I speak of evil as to whom or what is responsible for its creation, I mean the evil that is in the realm of morality.

So let's start with Satan and see if he is the creator or author of evil. Like men, angels were given free will and it was an angel named Lucifer who Isaiah wrote about in (Isaiah 14:12-16) when he said the morning star wanted to be worshiped like God and was cast down for his sin. Sometime following day one and two of God's creation of the heavens and earth, and prior to God creating man, Lucifer chose of his own free will to rebel against God. We can ascertain, then, that evil as we know it began at the spiritual level first as committed by Satan. That does not mean however that Satan created evil, because as we learn from the book of Job, outside of God’s will Satan has no power. (Job 1:9-12) So we can conclude from this that Satan is not the author of sin, or evil, because he cannot create anything.

Next we must investigate Adam to see if he created evil. In the beginning man, nature, and God were all in a perfect tri-unity of harmony, communing with each other as man was given dominion over all that was in the world. Paul tells us that it was not until after Eve was tempted by Satan to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil that sin or evil entered into the world. (Romans 5:12) Like Satan, man was given free will to either follow God or not, and man choose not to. We can surmise then that just as Satan was the first to commit sin at the spiritual level, man was the first to commit sin in the physical world. However like Satan, man cannot create anything without the will of God, and even then only with what God created for man to use in his inventions and discoveries. So our investigation leads us to the conclusion that, like Satan, man may have sinned but he is not the author of it. In Paul's letter to Romans, we learn man's offense allowed evil to come into the world, but Paul does not suggest he is the author creating it. (Romans 5:18)

We have examined the obvious choices and still do not have an answer. Maybe this little analogy of a father who gives his son a baseball and bat will help. Now I realize this is not a perfect analogy, but it does help to look at things from a father's perspective. As a gift of his love for his son, a father gives a baseball and a bat to his eight-year old boy. The boy goes outside to play with his new toy. He grabs the bat with his hand, rests it upon his shoulder and throws the ball in the air with his other hand. As the ball descends he swings the bat at the ball. To his complete enjoyment, the boy hits the ball squarely and it goes sailing into the air. As the baseball flies across the yard, it enters the neighbors yard and smashes into their living room window. As would be expected the neighbor confronts the boy about his window, and tells the boy he needs to fix that which he broke. The boy’s father gets involved, apologizes to the neighbor and promises to fix his window. The father must do this because the boy has no means of rectifying the mistake he made. While the father himself did not break the neighbor’s window, he does accept the responsibility for giving his son the ball and bat that allowed for the possibility that something bad could happen. In return the boy will have to suffer the consequences of his actions by mowing lawns to pay for the window or even loosing the chance to play with his ball and bat. The boy himself will not pay for or fix the broken window, his father does, and so it is with our father in heaven.

We have all been given the gift of free will and with it is comes the potential for committing sin, and we will. God has already accepted the responsibility and paid for our sins even though He himself did not commit the sin that enabled the whole of mankind to fall. (Revelations 13:8) We cannot do anything on our own that would satisfy God for our sins, just as the little eight year old has no way to satisfy the neighbor for breaking his window. Our father in heaven did what a loving father would do, He paid for the window we broke. He became man and fulfilled the requirements needed to become the perfect sacrifice to pay for our sins. (Philippians 2:7-8)

I have concluded that evil is not a thing created, rather, evil is a the result or byproduct of disobeying God's law, and the Scriptures tell us, “Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness.” (1 John 3:4) God desires for us to choose Him willingly, He is not some kind of a cosmic rapist that would force His love upon us. However, if we choose not to love God, than an emptiness is created in our hearts, and sin or evil will fill that gap. Evil is a natural probability when free will is allowed to exist in ones nature, and like Lucifer, we were given free will to make that decision possible. Thus, evil is the absence of God's love and only the receiver can deny that love. John tells us that God is love, and that we did not love Him but that He loved us first. (1 John 4;19) That being said, we also then must conclude that, a perfect and responsible God must take responsibility for the actions of His creations. So even though God did not create sin, He did pay the price for it like a truly loving Father would, so that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)

I pray that those who have ears to hear will hear His voice and call upon the name of the lord Jesus Christ.

1 comment:

  1. thank you for giving the satisfying answer of what i was questioning for! God bless you.