When Satan told Adam and Eve they could know Good and Evil, he was not wrong. There is evil in the world.
There is Natural Evil.
Fires, hurricanes, floods, and tornadoes bring devastation and destruction to animals, and humans while destroying large portions of the earth. There is pain and suffering due to mental illnesses, diseases, and accidents.
There is Moral Evil.
In Sura after Sura, when the Koran commands its faithful to kill Christians and Jews, evil is made manifest.
When Humas decapitates babies, rapes women in public, and compels family members to watch their loved ones die before their own bloody and violent execution, all in the name of their god, Allah, evil is present.
When Hollywood exploits the demonic world for financial game, evil is present.
In 1949, in Cottage City, Maryland, when Jesuit priests were called to perform an authentic exorcism on behalf of fourteen-year-old Ronald Edwin Hunkeler, real evil was present. His case inspired the 1971 movie, “The Exorcist” starring Linda Blair.
For centuries, philosophers and theologians have tried to understand why there is evil in the world.
The non-religious person can deny the existence of evil, and attribute what happens on earth to the evolutionary process of natural selection. It is all a matter of the survival of the fittest, but there is no natural, or moral evil, only the cosmos.
The naïve religion of Christian Science denies that evil is something intrinsically real. To defend God’s goodness and omnipotence in the face of the apparent existence of evil, Christian Science reasons that, ultimately, good is the reality and evil the illusion.
But evil does exist, and it is real. The Judeo-Christian faith does not dismiss evil as a natural process of the universe, or deny its existence as a fantastic illusion. Rather, the people of God have tried to understand the presence of evil in a universe created by God whose self-revelation is one who is holy, just, and good.
The religious skeptic mocks the idea that a good, omnipotent, and omnibenevolent God would create a universe that allowed the presence of evil. In his book, God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything, the antitheist Christopher Hitchens argued that God cannot be good because there is so much pain and suffering in the world. God cannot be omnipotent, or He would stop every expression of evil.
The truth of the matter, says Hitchens, is that God does not even exist. At least there is no evidence God exists. “Exceptional claims,” declared Hitchens, “demand exceptional evidence.” The practical problem was that no evidence ever satisfied Hitchens, who died on December 15, 2011, at the age of 62. His mind had been made up against God, and held captive to unbelief.
His legacy is one of lawlessness. “If God does not exist, anything is permissible” was uttered by Ivan in ‘Brothers Karamazov’ (Fyodor Dostoyevsky, November 11, 1821 – February 9, 1881).
Conservative Christians reject the arguments against God by Secular Humanists, a naïve cult leader, and the antitheist. The quest to understand the origin of evil continues. To date, it has proven to be elusive, though various theories have been set forth as a theodicy, or a vindication of God.
Some alarming ideas have been discussed as the Church wrestles with the problem of evil. The word evil (Gk. poneros; injurious behavior to self or others) is used in its broadest form, from headaches, to Hamas.
One popular solution, which far too many Christians have embraced, is that a particular attribute of God must be given up, or at least modified, beginning with God’s sovereignty.
The argument is that if man is to have free will, God must limit His sovereignty. To be free is to have the choice to do evil things, a choice that is exercised by every person who reaches the age of consciousness for “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). While God does not create evil, evil cannot be avoided if there is free will.
From this unworthy ideological fountain flows other, equally unworthy, thoughts about God. Maybe God is not powerful enough to stop evil, or maybe He is not loving enough to care that evil exists. Perhaps God is not knowledgeable on how evil is to be terminated.
Anticipating these assaults on His perfect essence, the Word of God refutes each one. God is sovereign. He is omnipotent, and He is omniscience, and does whatsoever He will, for what He decrees is wise. “Great is our Lord, and of great power: his understanding is infinite” (Psalms 147:5). Moreover, to question the love of God is also an assault on His character. 1 John 4:8 declares, God is love.
“The love of God is greater far
than tongue or pen can ever tell;
it goes beyond the highest star,
and reaches to the lowest hell.
The wand’ring child is reconciled
by God’s beloved Son.
The aching soul again made whole,
and priceless pardon won.
O love of God, how rich and pure!
How measureless and strong!
It shall forevermore endure—
the saints’ and angels’ song.”
~Frederick M. Lehman
While man’s will has enslaved him to sin, and placed him in bondage to death, it does not explain why man chooses to do wrong rather than to do right. Therefore, the Free Will argument to explain the origin of evil is insufficient. It is insufficient because it limits itself to Moral Evil.
The Free Will argument cannot resolve Natural Evil, or why creation should convulse, causing death and destruction. A tree falls, a house is destroyed, and people inside die. The earth suddenly opens and swallows up people, trees, and buildings. Freedom of the will cannot explain why. The Bible connects earth’s groanings with the Fall, but the mystery remains. Study Genesis 3:18; Romans 8:22-23
Another idea in theodicy is to note that good cannot exist without its opposite. We would not know warmth unless we have been cold. We would not know the satisfaction of eating if we have never been hungry. If there is good, there must be evil. If there is pleasure, there must be pain, if the full attributes of God are to be displayed, such as mercy, grace, restoration, and redemption.
Twentieth century British philosopher of religion John Hick (1922 – 2012) believed he found the solution to the problem of evil by postulating that Christian faith is not built on propositional evidence, but on religious experience. As a result, Hick developed his “soul-making” theodicy in which he argued that “God allows evil and suffering in the world in order to develop humans into virtuous creatures capable of following His will” (Encyclopedia of Philosophy). To develop humans into virtuous creatures, God made man in such a way “the divine reality was not unambiguously manifest in him” (Evil and the God of Love, p. 279). Though what God created was good, God created us unfinished.
Based on his evolutionary view of mankind, Hick looked forward to future perfection in God’s heavenly Kingdom through a cosmic struggle. The harshness of life provides a robust texture and character that would not be possible without an imperfect world.
Men are not to be thought of on the analogy of animal pets, whose life is to be made as agreeable as possible, but rather on the analogy of human children, who are to grow to adulthood in an environment whose primary and overriding purpose is not immediate pleasure but the realizing of the most valuable potentialities of human personality. (EGL, 258)
As attractive as this position is to some, it does not explain why there must be so much pain and suffering. Why is there so much evil in the world? Why must six million Jews die in a Holocaust? Why must babies be slaughtered to satisfy the blood lust of Hamas? Why can there not be some low-level evil to teach a moral lesson, such as a splinter in a toe, or a broken bone? Of what value is there in a slow painful death from cancer, or property destruction from a hurricane? Do these things add any value to our understanding of good?
While there is no consensual clarity on the origin of evil, there is clarity as to how evil has been judged, and how sin can be forgiven, and eliminated, and that is through the death of Jesus Christ.
Because of Jesus, any person can call upon the name of the Lord and be saved.
Because of Jesus, every Christian can look for a new heaven and a new earth werein dwells righteousness.
The beginning of creation, including evil, may still be mysterious, but Calvary is simple, real, and understandable.
Jesus Christ shed His blood as an atoning sacrifice for sinners. All who believe in Christ shall be redeemed, by the blood of the Lamb, and given a robe of righteousness to wear for time and eternity.
Those who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, including Hamas, shall be saved from the ultimate penalty of pain and death, in a place called hell. Thanks be unto God for His unspeakable Gift.