Did God Create Evil?
You can't be in Christian apologetics for very long without coming across some form of the statement, "if God is so good, why then does he allow evil?" In fact, even some believers struggle with this question. This is particularly true in times of trial or sadness. Yet, the key to this question remains, what did God intend, and why does it matter? We should start here. Genesis teaches us that when God made everything, He said that it was good, and when He made man, He said that it was, "very good." But what does that mean? How can God call something good without something not good, hence evil, to compare it to?
You see, that's the most important piece of information for us to understand as we attempt to unravel this thing called suffering. When God designed all of creation, He made it, "just so." He created it perfectly, and by that we mean that he created it in the way it was supposed to be. This, for the sake of philosophical argument, we'll call this good. Good is what God originally intended for mankind.
But if there is a way that things are supposed to be, then there must necessarily be a way that things aren't supposed to be. In fact, there would be an infinite number of ways that it shouldn't be because there is only one way that it was designed to be. For the sake of philosophical argument, we'll call all of these evil. So, by creating a way things were supposed to be, i.e. good, God also created the way things were not supposed to be, i.e. evil. So did God create evil, or did God create good which also created evil as a byproduct? It's a tough question, but it's crucial to understanding the root of suffering. Originally there was only one sin, only one command, "You shall not eat of the tree in the center of the garden." Everything was the way that it was supposed to be, as long as people did what they were supposed to do and avoided the sin before them. So why did God even allow for the possibility of sin? The answer? Choice.
We can debate the wisdom of God's creation all we want, but in the end, God wanted people to posses a self-will. He wanted a being who would choose to love Him even if given an alternate choice. If there is no choice, then there is only coercive love, if you can even call it that. You could say that God's desire to create choice is wrapped up in his desire to create love.
Yet, when man sinned, when they chose to do what God had commanded them not to, they ruptured the relationship between God and mankind, and God's entire design and purpose for their creation. They had chosen something other than Him. Again, if they did not have this choice, then it wouldn't have been a choice, and hence there would be no love in it. Did God know they would do it? That's a topic for another post entirely on the sovereignty of God, but let's stick with the topic at hand, shall we?
So we find ourselves lost in a world where things are no longer as God planned them, because of man's free will, and we also find ourselves subjected to suffering as a consequence thereof. So why then doesn't God change things? Why doesn't God simply make everything good? The answer is still choice.
You see, the nature of who and what God created man to be has not changed. He still desires beings that choose Him, and who choose to love Him. But that choice still means that others are free to choose. You see, to violate the free will of a human being is to violate the very reason for God's creation. It is a violation of the very essence of God Himself. That is why God doesn't freehandedly intervene in life, because to violate someone else's free will to give you the outcome you desire is still a violation of who He is and what He created.
So that means that the author of our suffering is man. Yes, it is our fellow human beings, all exercising their free will in a selfish and self-determining way that leads to suffering. That drunk driver who hit and killed a kid? God didn't do that, the driver did, and those consequences? That was never God's intention or design. It is a consequence of man's desire to exercise his self determination for his own pleasure, rather than following God.
So what then, should we say that God is wrong for not forcing us into good? Is God "not righteous" for not making every outcome the way that you want it? Humanity had perfection, we chose to have sovereignty. Just like Satan, we want it our way, and when you have as many people as have lived throughout all of creation, those desires are destined to come into conflict, because they're ours, not His, and this is not how it was created to be. So, did God create evil? In the most loose philosophical sense, yes, He did, but it was not God who chose evil. It was not God who unleashed evil. It was not God who authored evil in the lives of men, that was and still is, solely the wrong of each and ever individual. James tell us as much in the first chapter of his epistle when he writes, "13 Let no one say when he is tempted, 'I am being tempted by God'; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. 14 But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. 15 Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death."
God is no more the author of evil and suffering than He is of sin. Both are the fault of man, and both are far from what God designed and what He desires for us. There is much more to discuss on this topic, so please stay tuned for more as we explore this topic over the next few entries. Our next topic will be, "What is Death to God?"