More Christian semantic games

I’m subscribed to the “Question of the Week” newsletter — because I love you, my readers, because I love you — and I’ve been meaning to write about an answer they sent out, actually cross-posted from their new spin-off site (My admittedly shallow understanding of the distinction is that Got Questions is more about helping Christians experiencing theological confusion, while Compelling Truth is more about evangelizing and converting us heathens.) The question being answered here is, “Did God create evil?”

It sounds like they understand the problem of evil at first.

God is the Creator of the world. Not only that, He’s the Creator of the cosmos and all reality. He is not confined to the reality humans have access to, but He did design it and speak it into being. Everything humans experience is in existence because God’s power holds all things together. If this is so, what is responsible for the origin and continuation of evil? If God made everything and holds everything together, is He accountable for evil as well?

Looking at things from a human perspective, it would make sense. If God created all things, He must have created evil.

Okay. Yes. It would make sense. But in the next sentences, we get:

However, evil is not a ‘thing’ like a rock or a puppy. Just as cold is the absence of heat, evil is merely the absence of good. Therefore, creating good was all that was necessary for its opposite to come into being.

Huh?? One, you just said that God created “all reality,” not simply physical objects. Two, you go on to say that God created good; wouldn’t the fact that good is “not a ‘thing’ like a rock or a puppy” rule out that possibility too? Three, this is just stupid. If creating good also necessitated that evil came into being, then the most complete way to describe this event is, “God created good and evil,” not just “God created good.”

Moving on …

The real question of evil is, Why did He allow Satan and the other fallen angels and the first two humans the choice to reject Him? We do not know the mind of God, but as an omniscient Being, He knew of the rebellion long before it happened.

Heh, hold on. “We don’t know the mind of God, but here’s what must have been in the mind of God.” Always love that!

This is not to say He created evil, however. But He did allow it. If He didn’t, He would not be sovereign. The only conclusion we can come to is that God’s purpose was to create a world in which His glory could be manifest in all its fullness, and that included His allowing evil to exist. The universe was created to display God’s glory (Psalm 19:1), and the wrath of God is revealed against those who fail to glorify God (Romans 1:23), just as His glory is on display through His mercy and love to the fallen creatures.

I have no idea what that “He would not be sovereign” part is about — doesn’t being sovereign mean you do get to disallow things? — but there’s plenty in the rest of this paragraph to dissect anyway. They really are saying that goodness isn’t good without suffering to juxtapose it with. Maybe that’s true in a very basic, epistemological BS sense. But come on. Is all the suffering out there necessary in order to appreciate the good? I mean, if we had one fewer earthquake, one fewer child starving, one fewer person raped and beaten and left to die — would we not be able to understand good things anymore? I certainly don’t think that’s true. Nobody knows about every single cruel act and tragedy as it is, so we wouldn’t be affected if a few of them just didn’t happen in the first place. This implies that God allows more evil to exist than is necessary to display his glory. And allowing evil to exist, when you’re omnipotent and omniscient, leaves you morally responsible for that evil yourself.

Besides all that, if the purpose of evil is to “manifest in all its fullness” the glory of God, then they’re just redefining “evil” to be a facet of “good”. So Satan is just helping God be more awesome, I guess? So Adam and Eve made the right choice when they disobeyed God, because it gave God the opportunity to tell the universal narrative he was aiming for all along? This makes no sense. I don’t know … all I can say is that maybe, for their holy book, they should have chosen a dictionary.

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  1. This “evil is the absence of good” thing is a really ridiculous apologetic, even by Christian standards. Anyone who thinks about it for more than 30 seconds can see that it isn’t true. If you wait in a dark alleyway for me, knock me down and steal my wallet, you’re not just failing to do a good deed for me; you’re positively committing an evil deed.

  2. Aristarchus

     /  December 6, 2011 at 12:13 am

    Even if evil was just the absence of good, it doesn’t solve the problem. The problem just becomes “Why did God only create this much goodness, when he easily could have created much more?”

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