What is evil?
The previous post pointing towards a little side debate I have going with Stephen Law turned into a really interesting discussion about the existence and source of evil. From the atheist bench the argument goes something like this:
If God is the source of all things and we know evil exists, then God must be responsible for the existence of evil.
The theists then respond:
No no. God did not create evil. He created free will, thus we all have the possibility to disobey God and choose evil. Satan was the first to make this choice.
The atheist then retort:
But why? Why would an all loving God create us with an inherent possibility to choose that which is evil? If Satan is the source of evil, then God created him with the capacity to become such; therefore, God must still be the source of evil.
There are some good points raised here, but I think there is a flaw in the starting points. Let me attempt to offer a few points that may help bring a bit of clarity to this idea of evil.
First of all I'm hearing the work 'evil' often used as if it is a separate ethic; independent of what we call good. Perhaps some think this is the case then make the right conclusion form the wrong assumption: If evil exists it must have a source. The leap is then made to "the devil".
This is not an uncommon belief, but I think it is flawed from the very start. Evil is not a separate ethic. Evil is the denial, perversion, twisting or otherwise manipulation of an already extant good. Now according to Christianity this "extant good" is God. If anything in this existence is to be ultimatly good, it can only be so by being in conformity with the character of God. There are many things that we call "good", but I would say that the use of the word "good" in an ultimate sense, does not apply here. We would be better to say: "I find this to be agreeable to me", or "This give me pleasure". In each of these cases we can then put a moral spin on the word "good" and ask: "I hear what you are saying, but is it "good" for you to feel these things?" Only if there is God does such a question have any meaning.
The question is then raised:
Why would God create us with the inherent ability to act against His will?
I'd respond to that by asking, what if what I've been saying all along is true? What if the calling on our lives is to be created out of love, by love, for love, to love and to be loved? What if this ethic of love, that most all humanity acknowledges as the greatest of virtues, really is the highest calling on our life? What if God, being the ultimate anchor of all reality, is Love?
Love must contain the option of being rejected. If the option of rejection is not present, then love is not 'true'.
The next question the atheists raise is:
If the calling on our life is love, and God is love, why would anyone reject a God like this.
I think the root of this objection is based in the idea that love is simply a warm fuzzy feeling that is always desirable. I would submit that this is not the case at all. To love God is to choose to submit to his authority. Now when you have your own program you are running this is not an easy task. In fact, I'd say it's impossible. Impossible, I say, without the same resurrection power that raised Christ from death. There is a reason Jesus says we must be 'born again'. We do not have it in us to conform ourselves to God's character. We must submit to Him and let Him change us.
So when I hear Matt say: "why should I submit to His judgment? I have my own standard. " it sends chills down my spine. He is echoing the words of the first fall in all creation and the same defiant words repeated down through history. If God is true, these are the words of death.
In the context of where Matt said these words he was responding to his conscious which tells him "suffering is bad". He went on to say: "If God decided to wipe out an entire people (as I believe he did a few times in the OT), you have no basis for saying that this action is anything other than good."
His sentiment is correct. ANY human should feel revulsion at such destruction of life. Having those words read to me as a child prompted me to tell my mom, through tear stained eyes, "STOP! don't read this to me any more!". I believe will all my being that was an appropriate emotional response to such things. I believe God feels the same way. He tells us He takes no pleasure in the destruction of the wicked. I believe Him.
I would say the sin Matt is committing is not his feeling of horror at these events, it's revealed in the statement: "I have my own standard". It's not trusting God. In short, that's the only sin there ever is. That's what evil is.
If God is true, Matt is evil...
If God is true, I am evil...
If God is true You are evil.
What could be done about this? We are all doomed to destruction.
Look to the cross. Look to Easter. Trust Him.