Well, Professor Chalcedon was making us think last weekend, wasn’t he? I started a comment on his post The forbidden tree and realized that it was going to be 400+ words, which is a bit silly in comments, so here it is.
One of the early heresies of the Christian era was the Gnostic idea that God did not creat[e] 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.
It seems to me that many are working very hard to not charge God with creating evil, but…John 1: 1-3 says this:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2The same was in the beginning with God. 3All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.
That’s pretty comprehensive.
Dave Smith’s link says this:
Now evil is not something in itself, but a lack of something that should be present, e.g. a lie lacks in truth. God does not create evil since it is not a thing to be created. Evil is an imperfection, lack or void in God’s creation.
Huh? We are to believe that an omniscient, omnipresent and omnipotent, creator God, created imperfectly. That doesn’t work very well with me.
Another link I found uses the analogy of a hole, saying this:
For example, holes are real but they only exist in something else. We call the absence of dirt a hole, but it cannot be separated from the dirt.
Which is all well and good but, the hole was created by the removal of the dirt-by something, water, ice, a chipmunk, a shovel, an auger bit, an asteroid, a thermonuclear bomb, whatever, the hole was created out of the dirt.
In industrial controls, we learn a very strict form of logic, because electrons don’t really care what we think, or feel, and in addition we live and die (professionally) by Occam’s razor. The simplest answer is almost always the correct answer. So let’s plot this out
IF: God is outside time, AND
IF: God created everything that was created, AND
IF: Evil exists
THEN: God created evil.
As Cathy said, “No true Scotsman…”
That does leave the question of why, though?
Like Dave’s link, I end up at the book of Job. Job is the only righteous man in history (and many Jews say he is apocryphal). The link puts it this way:
Job is a righteous, God-fearing man (Job 1:1); however, God allows Satan to inflict Job with horrible disasters and disease to test his loyalty. Satan wants to show God that Job’s faith is false (Job 2:3-7). Under intense suffering Job argues with “friends” about the suffering of the innocent. Towards the end God enters the debate and responds:
Who is this that obscures divine plans with words of ignorance? Gird up your loins now, like a man; I will question you, and you tell me the answer! Where were you when I founded the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding… [Job 38:2-4; NAB]
Will we have arguing with the Almighty by the critic? Let him who would correct God give answer! [Job 40:2]
God responds by telling Job that His wisdom and power are beyond man’s ability to understand. Also man is not in control of the universe: his virtues alone do not ensure earthly happiness. Job humbly closes the debate with the words:
I have dealt with great things that I do not understand; things too wonderful for me, which I cannot know…Therefore I disown what I have said, and repent in dust and ashes. [Job 42:2-6]
In truth, God doesn’t answer Job’s charge, does He? He changes the subject and asks Job, “Who are you to question Me?” Well, there’s no answering that, is there?
And that, I think, is where we end up. God did indeed create evil, just as created everything else. What we do not know, and may not know in this lifetime is why, although I suspect it was to help us to become more Godlike. But it’s well above my pay grade.
For me the real evil in Job, is not his suffering (testing we could say) all that he had is eventually returned at least double. But what about his first family, who were killed in the testing, they remained dead, a testimony to the power of evil.
And for those who want a set of sermons on Job, try Jessica’s favourite internet Pastor, Gervase Charmley, here.