The Problem of Evil - proof that God
On Friday, December 14th, 2012 a gunman who shall remain unnamed so as to deny him any further fame, entered the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton Connecticut, and shot and killed 20 students and 6 adults. Before driving to the school for the rampage he had killed his mother, and when finally confronted, he killed himself bringing the death toll to 28. In a news conference that same day, Gov. Dannel Malloy summed it up succinctly: "Evil visited this community today".
This article is being written, as it turns out, on the 20th anniversary1 of the Oklahoma City Bombing on the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building which killed 168 people and caused 680 nonfatal injuries. Additionally it caused an estimated $652 million in damages.
These are but a couple of drops in a sea of evil that in one way or another touches the lives of every single human being that lives and has ever lived. This curse upon humanity is paradoxically an affirmation of the truth of God for Christians, while for those unwilling to believe, it becomes a reason (in their mind) why they shouldn't believe God exists. Why is that people can look at the same evidence and come to diametrically opposed conclusions? How can consideration of a single issue - in this case the existence of evil - result in such radically different reactions and beliefs from people? One might ask the same questions of a phenomenon at the other extreme of the moral continuum - miracles.
Why do miracles
cause some to believe, while others only see in them only something to
either scoff at or be
angry at; or to make accusations that people are being "misled"? In both cases (reactions
to the problem of evil and the reaction to miracles) the root cause is
the same: an unwillingness to acknowledge God as Lord who will bring all
created things under his control and under his judgment. The mere
thought of God as Lord manifests
itself for many as statements of unbelief. As particles in the
atmosphere are the core around which moisture coalesces to form rain
drops or snow, likewise miracles and the problem of evil are items around which unbelief can coalesce and be
The Hypocrisy of those touting the Problem of Evil as a problem for the existence of God
One merely needs to consider what atheists claim to believe to see the hypocrisy in this objection. I say "claim to believe" because it is clear that in their heart of hearts, they don't really believe what they claim. It's merely an excuse, a pretense to justify their refusal to believe God and be subject to him, and thus be free to do and believe what they want - which is the core problem. But let's hear it from one of their biggest cheerleaders, and a chief evangelist for atheism Richard Dawkins:
If this were true, and they
really believed this, then it would be as Fyodor Dostoevsky wrote: "If
God does not exist, then everything is permitted."3
Because according to that belief, there is no evil and no justice. But
the fact that so many people - including atheists - find the
existence of evil to be a problem shows clearly they don't really
believe either premises of Dostoevsky's famous adage. Meaning when you
get right down to it, atheists do not believe the core tenets of atheism
and evolution - that there
is no meaning, no purpose to life, only the blind forces of physics.
They don't believe everything is permitted and nothing is to be judged. Or put another
way, they agree with Gov. Malloy - that evil visited Sandy Hook on that
day; when they should really be saying there is no such thing as
evil - if they want to be consistent with their worldview. Such
agreement - that evil visited Sandy Hook - validates the moral argument
for the existence of God, which has been formulated4 as follows:
The fact that most, if not all even hard hard core atheists and evolutionists would acknowledge that the wanton killing of innocent children such as want happened at Sandy Hook is truly evil; as was the Oklahoma city bombing demonstrates that objective moral values do exist. Which leaves them in a quandary. How can they claim the Sandy Hook massacre is evil, while at the same time saying evil doesn't exist? How can such agree that the beheading, raping and kidnapping of people by ISIS (or anyone else) is evil if evil does not exist? If, they believe, as they say they believe, God does not exist, then everything is permitted. If we are just the results of forces acting on electrons and selfish genes doing what selfish genes do, then there is no right or wrong, no evil, no need for judgment, and indeed no one apart from the world who can judge the world.
But clearly most atheists don't live that way, nor at their core do they believe that way. Most atheists hypocritically want to affirm the need to restrain, if not punish evil. But that is inconsistent with what atheists in general believe. "Survival of the fittest" states the the biggest, strongest, most fit animals should survive. Since in their view people are merely higher evolved animals, the principle applies likewise to humans. The principle is not concerned with right or wrong - the lion doesn't evaluate whether it is right or wrong to kill the antelope, nor does it (I assume) feel remorse for doing so. Thus the same principle should apply to the human animal - without regard to considerations of right or wrong. Thus in theory, someone bigger and stronger than any given atheist is, merely following the tenet of survival of the fittest, if they kill said atheist and take all their belongings. In a Darwinian worldview, they are totally justified in doing so.
Let's dispense right now with arguments along the lines of good behavior benefits society and so is better for humans overall and is thus the more "fit" way to live. First because the question is not about a nebulous society. Laws of physics and selfish genes don't care about societies. (And even if such a gene came about that favored morals - it wouldn't be because morals actually exist, it would be because some creature lived a little longer than another.) Second this brings to light the failure of the Darwinian worldview to account for the objective, but non physical entities of "right" and "wrong". Because in a Darwinian worldview - there is no objective right or wrong, just "selfish genes" and "blind physical forces" so there is no reason not to kill someone if you think you'll be better off for doing so.
But if other atheists were to observe such a murder, most would not say - that's okay, it's merely "survival of the fittest" at work; there is no evil, so no need to judge that person. Yet that would be the logical position based on their world view. But that is not in fact where most atheists take their stand. Most would state the actions of such a murderer are wrong. And in that statement and belief, they are denying everything that they claim to believe: that all things are permitted, and we act not as moral creatures, but as a result of the purposeless, moral-less forces of physics that in their worldview created the universe and life.
Thus the "problem of evil" fails because at the core - people are moral beings made by a moral God, and every act of evil that causes revulsion proves it, and reminds us of that fact. Thus the problem of evil fails as a reason why God doesn't exist; rather it reaffirms that a moral God does exist.
We've just considered the problem of evil from a worldview perspective. Alternately, the problem can be raised as a philosophical question. It typically goes like this: How can a God who is all good allow evil? If they want to be particularly disparaging to God, they couch it in terms to diminish God: If God is all powerful and all Good, how can evil exist? Their conclusion - God is either not all powerful or he is not all good. Either case denies the revelation of the omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent God of the Bible.
But the answer to the philosophical question is equally is easy, perhaps easier. Those who make the philosophical argument are arguing on the basis of the logical fallacy of an appeal to ignorance. Simply put such people - sinful, corrupted, and certainly not omnipotent presume to know what a sinless, uncorruptable, omnipotent God would do or allow. They don't know, but they presume to know. In their pretense of knowing what a sinless, uncorruptable omnipotent God would or wouldn't allow or do, they commit this fallacy.
On the other hand, Christians have a
view of evil that is consistent with what is observed: that evil exists,
and that moral beings have a responsibility to restrain evil. (Rom 13.4)
Furthermore, the Christian can affirm, and categorically state, based on
revelation from God, that:
The third point - God will punish all unrepentant evil doers - is of course a point of contention for atheists. Who is this God who will to judge them, who calls them evil, who calls them to repent? They do as Adam and Eve did, thinking they know better than God as to how to live and what will make them happy. But as surely as God told Adam he would die for disobedience:
Likewise, he now tells people everywhere they will die for the disobedience of disbelief in the one he has sent:
What is an atheist to do with this statement? On the one hand, in denying there's such a thing as "evil" he denies there such a thing as "sin". On the other hand he knows he's not perfect. If he's ever lied, cheated, stolen , looked with lust, etc. (and he has) he's a sinner who will die in his sins. The penalty for sin - as God told Adam - is still death. And the death God is referring to is total separation from God in the lake of fire:
While atheists will likely look look at
such scriptures as "fairy tales", the question of problem of evil
nonetheless leaves them in an awkward position. Consider their options:
1. Deny Evil exists -
2. Affirm evil exists, but deny
there is an omnipotent God who will judge
Like the blind leading the blind (Matt 15.14), not only are they ignorant to justify their belief with an appeal to ignorance, the Bible calls them fools for saying there is no God, when the very nature of things - the problem of evil, among other things such as the grandeur of the creation (Rom 1.20)5 tells them otherwise.
3. Affirm evil exists, affirm there
is a God who will judge, but claim they don't care
Clearly that picture is a picture of torment and despair. Despair because there is no hope of escape for those who find themselves there.
So the problem of evil is indeed a problem - but not the believer in God; it's a problem for the unrepentant unbeliever. But it need not be - for God has offered salvation to everyone:
My advice: accept God's salvation now
while you can. For a day will come, like when God closed the door to Noah's
ark (Gen 7.16), and the opportunity to accept God's gracious offer of
salvation will be lost. For those who miss that opportunity, as
scripture says there will be "weeping and gnashing of teeth." (Matt
2. Richard Dawkins, River Out of Eden: A Darwinian View of Life
3. Fyodor Dostoevsky's The Brothers Karamazov (1880)
4. This is typically how William Lane Craig presents the
5. Rom 1.20: