One of the early heresies of the Christian era was the Gnostic idea that God did not creat evil. This is not what we read in Isaiah 45:7: I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord do all these things – or in Genesis where He plants the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Evil thus existed before Adam and Eve – mankind came to know it through the fall of our first parents. Adam and Eve could not have known what evil was before the Fall – but they knew God and they knew His command – which was not to eat of the fruit of that tree. In so doing, they did, indeed, become like God – they knew good and evil – and, as far as we know, we are alone in the Cosmos with God with this knowledge.
With the Fall, the problem of evil became mankind’s burden; God had tried to spare us it, but we insisted. I say ‘we’ advisedly, because even if you do not believe we inherit the taint of Original Sin, you can see in yourself the desire to do good and the failure to do it, and the desire not to do evil and yet to do it. We all say, with St Paul: “Oh wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?”
Only Christ can do that. Only the God who created evil as well as good can redeem his fallen creation. The mystery of evil cannot be solved by positing some other creator with whom the One God fights. All things work to the good if we are in God, we are told, but outside of that, what should work to the good goes in the other direction. We are like children who have the keys to a very powerful car but do not know how to drive it properly. We abused the goodwill of the Father – indeed we abuse it still in our stubborn sinfulness. Twist and turn as we will, we cannot escape the snares of sin by ourselves. The chains of sin drag us down to hell. Only when we see the King of Glory set it aside on the Cross in our stead can those chains be broken.
How easy, indeed how comfortable it would be, to be able to claim that God created only wat was good, but this is not what we are told in Scripture. The devil himself is a fallen angel, and, having fallen, it comforts him to drag souls to the place of ever-lasting fire. We know that in this world, and the next, there is only one sin which cannot be forgiven – the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost. For the Catholic Christian, there is the recognition that some sins can therefore be forgiven in the next world – where we shall be pruged ouf our sins and restored to everlasting life.