WHY DOES GOD ALLOW EVIL?

devil

Earlier I reblogged Thoughts On Hell, Sin, Grace, Works by Mark Knox, author of Notes from the Crossroads. That resulted in sean samis visiting Thoughts On Hell, Sin, Grace, Works, leaving some very thoughtful comments, and a dialogue worth reading. I suggest visiting.

What apparently concerns sean samis the most is the subject of this post. Why does God allow evil? That question I cannot truly answer. What the Bible makes clear in the Book of Genesis is that Satan initiated sin, and Adam and Eve, in their pride, decided to disobey God. Nonetheless, sean samis finds the assertion that God does not sin unsatisfactory. Thus, he asks the following:

Why does God not make us all rational, morally informed, and conscientious, AND ACTUALLY FREE?  He could, why didn’t he? (from here)

ACTUALLY FREE, that is, possessing a free will. Apparently, sean samis believes God could have so constructed us that we would not want to do evil. Yet sean samis believes we could still have a free will. He tries to make a logical case, but there is a problem. We really do not know what God can do. We can only hazard a logical guess.

Is sean samis‘ proposition logical? In THE SEARCH FOR THE MOST VIRTUOUS VERSATILE BLOGGER — PART 9, we examined the subject of evil. In truth, men do not agree as to what is good and what is evil. Imagine if we did. Would the mere fact we agree as to what is good and as to what is evil mean world peace? Would men stop sinning? I doubt most would think so, but why not? What would we be missing?

In a response to  sean samis‘ comments at THE SEARCH FOR THE MOST VIRTUOUS VERSATILE BLOGGER — PART 9, I observed the following about evil.

Each of the seven deadly sins stems from the absence of a certain virtue. Instead, of exercising self-control, we do not.  Why do we exercise self-control? We do it out of love. That is why even a prideful soul, because he loves himself, is capable of virtue.

Who achieves the greatest virtue? Those who love God. These souls find it easiest to love others besides themselves. Because they love God, they learn to love God’s creations, including their neighbors. Instead of living in strife, those who love God love each other. Those who love God can trust and cooperate with each other. (from here)

What I believe faith ultimately requires of us is to believe that God loves us. If we can accept the fact that God loves us, then if we cannot love Him in return we are in a sorry state indeed. Yet even so, even if we make the wrong choice, we cannot blame God. Because we have free will, to love God is our own choice to make.

Could God have made us so that we would understand the wisdom in loving Him, that we would know that loving God is an unavoidable necessity? Perhaps, but what about free will? If we love God because our nature gives us no choice in the matter, would we still have a free will? Logic suggests an answer of “NO.”

Because He wants us to love Him of our own volition, God did not construct us so that we have no choice except to love Him. But if we have the choice of not loving God, then does it not also logically follow that we can choose to do evil?

8 thoughts on “WHY DOES GOD ALLOW EVIL?

    1. Thanks for the link. Its appears you are primarily responding to Mark’s assertion.

      God does not have “free will” because he does not HAVE to have free will. He simply IS will; which I believe is the point you also were making throughout that section.

      I think Mark immediately explained his assertion as best he can, but I look forward to seeing what he can add.

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  1. Tom, I think I understand Ravi Zacharias’s explanation, I also think it’s either weak or wrong. In any event, it is entirely irrelevant to the argument I have tried to make. In reply:

    1. I am not arguing that existence of evil indicates non-existence of God. Not at all. My only point is that God is capable of being evil and that logical arguments purporting to “prove” God is only good are severely flawed.

    2. The phrase “God is good” is meaningless if “good” is whatever God does or says to do. There must exist moral facts or moral order distinct from God for that phrase to be meaningful. There must be a law God might conform to or not. Whether such a moral law is an “absolute moral law” is inconsequential at this point. The source of such a law is also inconsequential for reasons that follow.

    3. Zacharias states that “if there is such a law this would also mean that there is such a God, since God is the only one who could give us such a law.” Zacharias trips here over the meaning of “law”. The word “law” also refers to statements of just how things are: ex: “law” of gravity. One need not assume that “law” was “given” by someone, and to assert that it must have been makes the logic circular.

    4. But, for the sake of argument, let us say that whatever moral “law” there is was “given” by God. Certainly, if I was arguing for the non-existence of God, such a given would be fatal to my argument. But what I argue is only that God has the ability to be evil. If God gave the moral law, that does not preclude God from giving us a law to obey which he himself freely ignores. If God could be evil then hypocrisy is not ruled out.

    Zacharias’s argument does not exclude the possibility that God could “give” a “law” which God did not conform to himself; that God could tell us to behave in a certain way while God himself behaves quite differently. If God were evil (I hope he is not.) such hypocrisy would not be surprising.

    5. Ravi Zacharias’s argument is irrelevant to my point in that it does not show that a “law-giving” God is necessarily good.

    Regarding the existence of God, Zacharias’s argument is a semantic argument and weak for that reason. It depends on accepting the notion that moral law must be “given” by someone, but it fails to show that “law” in every significant sense must be “given” by anyone. Definitions of words (like “law”) function as propositions in arguments; logical proofs depend on the accuracy of those propositions. When the chosen definitions are not logically necessary, the resulting “proof” is weak. Since the meaning of “law” employed by Zacharias is not necessary, the “proof” is not necessarily true. Logic 101.

    The problem of evil cannot be used (logically) to prove anything about God’s existence. At most it raises questions about God’s character, but it can’t prove God is evil or that God does not exist.

    Again, let me be clear: I only argue that God COULD BE EVIL, not that God is evil. Those are two very different ideas.

    Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all.

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  2. yeah, you can have choice in how to behave, or have no choice, and really what possible “in between” status could there be? like being “sort of pregnant.” Merry Christmas to you and yours, Tom.

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  3. Well said, Tom. I think sometimes, and we have all been at this place in our faith journey, we find ourselves asking questions that, while not unimportant in some aspect of our faith, are ultimately unanswerable. These questions without answers ultimately prove to be mere distractions, when the questions we should be asking in faith is “What is my role in God’s plan?” and “How am I to live this life?”- those questions are answerable, even if the answers sometimes aren’t initially available to us. As I quoted in my last response to Sean- sometimes we just have to live the questions until we eventually live ourselves into the answers. You know where I stand on the subject of free will and, like you, I believe we walk ourselves into hell one decision at a time.
    Thanks, as always, for a thoughtful and insightful post.
    Mark

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    1. Mark – Thank you.

      What I hope Sean will eventually understand is that I have heard Ravi Zacharias (http://www.rzim.org/) explain better than I can.

      If you argue from the existence of evil to the non-existence of God, you are assuming the existence of an absolute moral law in order for your argument to work. But if there is such a law this would also mean that there is such a God, since God is the only one who could give us such a law. And if there is such a God to give us this law, then the argument itself is flawed, since you have had to assume the existence of God in order to argue that God doesn’t exist. It is an attempt to invoke the existence of an absolute moral law without invoking the existence of an absolute moral law giver, and it cannot be done. (from http://www.rzim.org/a-slice-of-infinity/how-can-i-believe-in-god-and-pain/)

      And thank you for your post.

      Like

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