You’ve heard of the “problem of evil” (henceforth to be written PE)? If not, that’s okay. I will explain it here. Basically the PE is this: in light of God’s sovereign Character, how can we explain the existence of evil in the world? How can an all-powerful and all-loving God create, cause, and allow for evil to exist in the world, and even worse, in such copious amounts and in such terrible forms?
The problem with the PE assertion is that it makes some fundamental assumptions with respect to God and man’s nature and character, and the nature of reality in general, which simply do not stand up to rational scrutiny. Now, many, if not all of these underlying rational errors, I have dealt with in articles on this blog, probably more than once. But I thought it might be beneficial to write a summary in article form on the false assumptions which lead people to accept the PE as a paradox that has some logical merit and relevance to theological discourse.
This is by no means a comprehensive synopsis…and, given that it is relatively deep and detailed, this should tell you something. I submit that the false and arrantly irrational assumptions which underly the PE, in and of themselves, alone, suffice to illuminate with perfect clarity this baseless notion. Unfortunately, with religion it seems that all too commonly rational error and superstition are a boon, not a demerit.
What most immediately and predominately springs to mind as aiding and abetting the idea of the PE is the Biblically absent yet widely accepted notion of humanity’s Total Depravity.
The idea is this: man, because of “The Fall” (a term also Biblically absent) in the Garden of Eden was cursed with a pervasive “sin nature”. This means that existentially man cannot help but sin. In fact, man, by his very birth IS SIN, for all intents and purposes. Everything he does in his natural state is from evil He cannot understand, and thus cannot choose nor do anything that isn’t evil at root. And though the Church can often be seen equivocating most hypocritically the idea that a totally depraved reprobate who is infinitely wicked by nature is still somehow morally responsible for his actions, the fact remains that ALL of Christian orthodoxy asserts either plainly or implicitly that man—and even those who are saved by Christ are often featured in this assessment—MUST sin, and WILL sin. It is a forgone conclusion from birth, period, full stop. And though I have heard many times Christain apologists and theologians attempt, in cringe-inducing fashion, to explain how a TOTALLY depraved human being is not actually totally depraved, the fact is that, according to their own arguments, it is impossible for them to describe just where in the singularity of one’s individuality evil ceases and good begins. Thus, I submit that this whole convoluted and disastrous notion of Total Depravity contributes to the PE in a couple of ways:
If man disobeyed God in the Garden, and this initiated the race’s downfall, and if this was a function of God’s creating man with the ability to disobey, then how is God not ultimately responsible? How can we absolve God of blame when he specifically and in full control of his divine faculties created man with the distinct ability to wreck himself and all of creation along with him by doing evil, and this in perfect keeping with his normal operation? That is, the ability of man to choose evil was not a design error. It was a part of his proper construction and function. So…can we really blame the machine for simply doing what the maker designed it to do in the first place?
Next, does not the fact that after the Fall man becoming wholly determined to sin imply that man has made it impossible for God to abolish evil…since every man born MUST by nature do evil? Indeed, is not every man’s birth post-Fall an act in and of itself of evil—by definition of the pervasive sin nature which utterly and existentially defines him? And if we argue that God can, in fact, abolish evil by destroying all of mankind, is this not an admission that the Maker has failed in his creation? That the perfect God has created out of Himself that which is inherently imperfect by virtue of its innate ability to sin? Even the act of sending a Savior to redeem man implies a contradiction stemming from the Total Depravity of a failed creature that somehow corrupted the Perfect God’s perfect universe by simply exercising a divinely created, divinely-willed, and divinely-intended freedom of choice. For how can he whose very birth is an act of evil because of the categorical nature of his root existential wickedness and who is unable to see the Truth and accept God’s Provision except when enlightened by God’s Spirit, and this entirely of God’s doing, possibly be converted from darkness to light? In other words, how can God make Good, Evil? What is A cannot be made B without contradicting A and thus contradicting B. That is, Evil cannot be made Good without rendering both concepts entirely subjective, barren of any inherent objective meaning and value. In other words, God cannot make evil good just like He cannot make a square a circle without destroying both concepts…and thus He contradicts His ability to create those concepts in the first place.
Other irrational assumptions which underly the PE have to do with the commonly accepted Divine Characteristics: omnipotence, omniscience, and omnipresence. Now, I have dismantled these in previous articles, detailing how they are in fact inherent contradictions which destroy God’s identity by ascribing to Him attributes which wreck any distinction between Himself and His Creation. A God who can do anything can, by definition, BE anything; and a God who can be anywhere IS everywhere; and a God who knows everything must determine everything. And thus, the only conclusion to be drawn is that there is nothing that God ultimately isn’t, nowhere that He isn’t, and no act that he doesn’t. And in this context, God becomes utterly non-relative. That is, since there is nowhere that God ends and His Creation begins, the distinction is ruined and God’s very identity with it. In short, the false paradox of the PE is asserted via these Divine Characteristics as follows:
How can a God who basically knows everything and controls everything and is everything and determines everything NOT be responsible FOR everything, including all of the evil He claims He hates?
To conclude, the simple answer to the problem of evil is this:
It is rooted in assumptions that are rank, object, and arrant contradictions, and thus all of these assumptions must be rejected as impossible. Man, being a rational creature, and one who relies upon the conformity of his concepts to rational consistency in order to define and navigate reality, must stop pretending that claims to divine enlightenment and salvation is but an ideological and fanatical commitment to madness over reason; to ignorance and foolishness as the Most Noble Virtue; and to superstition over Truth.
In mathematics, if the numbers do not properly sum, then the equation is in error and reworked or discarded. In science if the empirical evidence is not forthcoming then proof is not accepted or asserted. And in philosophy—and the theological is inexorably philosohical—if the syllogism nullifies the concepts from which it is constructed then it is false, and no truth can be derived. We must throw it out and start again with new assumptions that are rationally consistent and thus can lead to meaningful and useful conclusions.
The fact is that there is no such thing as the Problem of Evil. It’s a contrivance from ignorance or willful deception, and must be dismantled and condemned as such. It presumes a definition of God that renders “God” a null hypothesis. That is, it makes God a contradiction in terms, and thus it demands that there can be no such thing. It pretends that an All-Powerful God can willfully create that which is contrary to both that power and his very Self. The solution then to the problem of evil is to reject it for the distraction from the truth that it is.
In my next article then, I will discuss what the world’s moral problem really is, and how evil contributes.