The Problem of Evil

Some Thoughts


“Sooner or later I must face the question in plain language.  What reason have we, except our own desperate wishes, to believe that God is, by any standard we can conceive, “good”?  Doesn’t all the prima facie evidence suggest exactly the opposite?  What have we to set against it?

We set Christ against it.  But how if He were mistaken?  Almost His last words have a perfectly clear meaning.  He had found that the Being He called Father was horribly and infinitely different from what He had supposed.  The trap, so long and carefully prepared and so subtly baited, was at last sprung, on the cross.  The vile practical joke had succeeded…Step by step we were ‘led up the garden path.’  Time after time, when He seemed most gracious He was really preparing the next torture.”


C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed (New York: Bantam Books, Inc., 1976), pp. 33-35


What is Evil?


Evil Acts (Murder)

Evil Books (Pornography)

Evil Sickness (Cancer, Blindness etc.)


What makes these thing evil?  Is it a substance like a virus that infects what is good and makes it evil?  Is there a “dark side” of the universe that rivals the “good side” and they are in conflict?


Look at this argument.


  1. God is the author of everything.
  2. Evil is something.
  3. Therefore, God is the author of evil.


If we want to get around this argument then we can deny evil exists like the pantheists.  But we already saw the falsity in that.  Evil does exist and it doesn’t have to be a substance to be real.


How about evil being the absence of good?  Or evil being a parasite that can’t exist without its host or like a hole in something that should be solid?


A heart that lacks kindness may commit a great evil such as murder.


Or how about evil being a case of bad relationships?


I take up a good gun, put in a good bullet, point it at my good head, put my good finger on the good trigger and give it a good pull …. a bad relationship occurs.

Where Did Evil Come From?


In the beginning God created a perfect world.


  1. Every creature God made is perfect.
  2. But perfect creatures cannot do what is imperfect.
  3. So, every creature God made cannot do what is imperfect.


How do we get away from this? 


What about our definition of perfection?


  1. God made everything perfect.
  2. One of the perfect things God made was free creatures.
  3. Free will is the cause of evil.
  4. So, imperfection (evil) can arise from perfection (not directly, but indirectly through freedom)


Does freedom make us morally perfect?

Does forced love equal real love?


To be truly free we had to have not only the opportunity to choose good, but also the ability to choose evil.  God risked that in creating free will.


Two Kinds of Depravity


                              Metaphysical                                       Moral


Where                    In Matter                                     In intention or will


Lack             Of Being or Powers                               Of Good Purpose.


Effects                   What it is                                    What is does


Leads To               Nonexistence                     Wicked Acts


End Result             Totally Depraved                         Totally Depraved Person

                              Car is rust spot on                       is one who has no in-

                              Road.                                         tention of doing good.



Is Free Will the ability to desire?


Or is Free Will the ability to decide between alternatives?


Is Freedom totally unfettered with unlimited options and one can do whatever one wants, or is freedom an unfettered choice between limited options?


God created the fact of freedom, we perform the acts of freedom.  God made evil possible, man made evil actual.


Did evil come from the abuse of our moral perfection as creatures?


Why Cannot Evil Be Stopped?


This is the classic argument that has been around for a while.


  1. If God were all-good, He would destroy evil.
  2. If God were all-powerful, He could destroy evil.
  3. But evil is not destroyed.
  4. Hence, there is no God.


Can evil be destroyed without destroying freedom?


Freely given love is the result of freedom.  The greatest good is freely given love.


Some of the assumptions in the above argument are arrogant.


  1. Just because evil is not destroyed right now does not mean it will never be.
  2. The arguer assumes a timeless viewpoint he cannot claim.


What about this change in the argument?


  1. If God is all-good, He will defeat evil.
  2.  If God is all-powerful, He can defeat evil.
  3. Therefore, God can and will one day defeat evil.


Does this vindicate God?


What about the Purpose of Evil?


The agony seared question of “Why do I suffer?”  We cannot answer each one as we do not have the proper perspective.  We cannot see in the eternal.


Here is the skeptics argument.


  1. There is no good purpose for much suffering.
  2. An all-good God must have a purpose for everything.
  3. So, there cannot be an all-good God.

Is there a difference between our knowing the purpose for evil and God having a purpose for it?


Does God indeed have a purpose for evil?


What about pain?

Leprosy or Hansen’s disease.


What about suffering?

Joseph, Job etc.


What about the cross?  What does that tell us about God’s purpose for pain and suffering?


What About Hell?


Why does there have to be so much pain and suffering.  Couldn’t there be just one less sin?  Wouldn’t it be better to have one less person in hell?


The Universalists Argument


  1. The greatest good is to save all men.
  2. Even one person in hell would be less than the greatest good.
  3. Therefore, God cannot send anyone to hell.


How does Free Will and freely given love play in this argument?  Do men go to hell because of their free choice or because God sends them there?


Are there two kinds of people in the world?


  1. Those who say to God, “Thy will be done.”
  2. Those to whom God says, “Thy will be done.”


John 3:18

“He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.


John 3:36

“He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”


John 5:39-40

“You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me; and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life.



John 8:24

‘Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.”


John 12:48

“He who rejects Me and does not receive My sayings, has one who judges him; the word I spoke is what will judge him at the last day.


Luke 10:16

“The one who listens to you listens to Me, and the one who rejects you rejects Me; and he who rejects Me rejects the One who sent Me.”


Couldn’t God Make a World Without Evil?


Here is the argument.


  1. God knows everything.
  2. God knew evil would occur when He created the world.
  3. God had other nonevil possibilities.  God could have:
    1. Not created anything
    2. Created a world without free creatures.
    3. Created free creatures that would not sin.
    4. Created free creatures that would sin but would all be saved in the end.
  4. Hence, God could have created a world that did not either include evil or hell.


Create Nothing.

Is an eternal nothing better than something?

When God created all things and said, “It is good” what did this say?

Would it be better for a moral God to make a non-moral world?

If something is non-moral how can we compare it to anything either moral or immoral?

Can a non-moral world ever be good?

Can we compare nothing to something?


Without Free Creatures

Are non-free creatures robots?

Is a world of robots a non-moral world?

Even is this world is non-moral and there would be no possibility of immoral evil does that exempt the world from physical degeneration?  What about physical evil?

Would this be a trading for one evil for another?


Free Creatures that would not sin

Is it logically possible to have free will and not sin?

Jesus, Adam


Does everything that is logically possible always become reality?

If God tampered with our free will so we would not sin would our will still be free?

Would a world of freedom but with no sin allow such good as:


  1. Courage in the face of fear and danger.
  2. Self-sacrifice in the face of need and opposing selfishness.
  3. Giving love in the face of hatred.


Creatures Free to Sin but All Saved

If there is free choice but all are saved does God not manipulate that freedom?

Some say God will never stop pursuing someone until they make the right choice.  But does God go against some peoples wills and force them to love Him?  Is forced love a divine rape as some say?

Can a relationship be forced on a person?


Why Did God Choose This World?


If this is not the best world could it be the best way to the best world?  Is evil overcome in this world?  How?  What about the eternal separation of those who through freedom chose the “eternal quarantine”?  How does that overcome evil?


  1. Creation
  2. Fall
  3. Age of free Choice
  4. Judgment – Confirmation of Free Choice
    1. Heaven – Best of all possible worlds
    2. Hell – eternal quarantine of evil