Quest for Truth 164 The Evil Question

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Testing out a new recording and podcast platform, we talk a little about some of the quirks of technology, and hope to bring back the chat room soon. With a long topic anticipated, we get into a quick segment of…

Meet the Hosts

Nathan has been busy with his church, and a time to teach the young people there. We don’t have Chris on hand, since he had to take time away for another doctor visit. Keith shares a little word on the ongoing ordeal with the Va. Maybe it’s good news, maybe not, but more delays to be sure.

Main Topic

It’s the age old question. The more you answer it, the more people still raise it. It definitely ranks in the top 3 or 4 questions that young people ask today, and credit it to their claim of why they identify as being atheist.

If God is good, why is there evil in the world?

To research the argument, Keith found an article on the web site of Atheist Republic). We won’t have time to address the entire piece, but it begins with an old claim that is often pointed to as a proof that God doesn’t exist.

The Basic argument comes from the philosopher, Epicurus.

  1. Is God willing to prevent evil, but is not able? Then he is not omnipotent.
  2. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent.
  3. Is he both willing and able? Then whence cometh evil?
  4. Is he neither willing nor able? Then why call him God?

Keith describes how a basic truth table works, which seems the basis for the table above. Two inputs, which may be either present or not, each condition results in an outcome. For example if two switches controlled a simple, series circuit, an attached light bulb will either light, or it won’t. The comparison is made, because in each of the examples in the argument of God and evil, there is no logical truth outcome.

In each of the statements, the implication is that there is indeed evil in the world. In each of the statements, the atheist claim is that God exists. The resulting options are that he is weak, evil, good, or apathetic. In the end, the atheist only serves to claim there is a God, but he just doesn’t like the God he sees. That proves nothing for his case. Atheism means you have no belief in a supernatural being. Tying a god, of any kind, to the problem of evil is not atheism.

The real issue is an outcry of evil, and it soon becomes clear that the atheist defines evil differently than a person of faith.

Definitions of evil

To a person of faith, evil means sin, or a moral shortcoming. It’s rebellion against God. To the atheist, evil takes on a wider dimension. It encompasses moral evil, but also natural disasters, or tragedies. Any manner of suffering, regardless of a human element qualifies as evil to the atheist. It seems a ridiculous proposition that hardship or loss should be banned from taking place, in an attempt that only a comfortable outcome should result. All things valuable are the results of enduring a hardship. Just because a thing is lost, crushed, killed, or destroyed doesn’t mean the end. Quite the opposite, it usually needs to happen for new life to thrive. It’s called nature, and any reasonable person who studies science will know this.

  1. Natural disaster, or mass genocide.
  2. Children dying of hunger.
  3. Neglect of the aged, children dying of preventable disability and disease.
  4. Birth defects.

The above were summarized, but other than the mention of genecide, a moral failing, the rest might fall under nature. Granted, it is tragic when birth defects strike, or people go hungry. Measures should be taken to care for the weak in our society. It would be a moral evil not to, and a tragedy in nature that caused the weak, sick, or broken bodies.

We try to make a point that natural calamity does not equate to evil. It’s nature, the circle of life, by design, the earth has to release pressure, and maintain balance in the form of storms, earthquakes, and the like, or it would cease to be a living planet. How is that evil? The alternative is… no living planet… no human race… our determination is that nature doesn’t qualify under the banner of evil.

The word evil needs better clarification. If it is to mean a moral evil, then it means there is also moral good. A free choice. The hard question to ask then is, if there is a God, why do we have to choose between good and evil?

Lets look at the Epicurean statements again.

  • Whether god is good, but weak… we have a free choice of good and evil.
  • whether God is malevolent and unwilling… there is still a free choice of good and evil.
  • Whether you believe God is indeed good, and capable… there is still a free choice between good and evil.
  • Whether you believe God is powerless or unwilling… there is still a choice between good and evil.

To me, the real question for the atheist is to answer where evil comes from, when the possibility of no god exists. The blame can’t be lain at the feet of God… in your way of thinking, there is no God. But there’s still evil. Who is responsible? If humanity, and the culture we live in is our only highest authority, then humanity and culture is your answer. Even if you say that a good God exists, the answer is the same. We refer to the events as recorded in Genesis 3 to point to as humanity as the source of evil, not God.

our conclusion then is that it is indeed possible for God to exist. A good God, who is generous enough to grant us the capacity to freely choose to do good, or evil, and not intervene in our choice. Eventually, he will. A day will come where he will judge, in all fairness, and righteousness, and the need for weapons of evil will cease to exists.

With time running short, we try to at least mention more of the atheist objections to God, but we couldn’t get to them, and give them as fair a Look as we would have liked. If you feel we need to return to this topic, drop us a line. There are more arguments than just the basic ones mentioned.

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