Benevolence in a Damaged World: Part 1

The issue that I am going to discuss today is arguably the biggest challenge to the Christian faith.  It is over the problem of evil.  It simply goes as this:

 

  1. If an omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent god exists, then evil does not.
  2. There is evil in the world.
  3. Therefore, an omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent god does not exist.

 

This idea was first proposed by the ancient Greek philosopher Epicurus.  Though this argument is so old, it continues to affect the minds of many people today in our culture.  This argument is actually the reason the great Christian apologist C.S. Lewis became an atheist in the first place.  And it causes some people to struggle, and I would also say that this might be Satan’s number one tool to attack people in their personal lives.  If a relative dies, a common question to ask is “How could a good God do something like this?” or “Does God even exist?”  I have to admit, it is a very good argument, and it is definitely the hardest one to tackle.  Lets break it down.

 

The claim of this argument is basically, since there is evil in the world, then God either doesn’t have the power to stop it (taking away His omnipotence), He doesn’t know about it (taking away His omniscience), or he doesn’t care to stop it (taking away His omnibenevolence).  Therefore, since God is required to have all of these qualities, then He doesn’t exist.  I have decided to break this up into many parts due to the fact that there is so much to it.  First, we need to define evil.

 

Evil is not a thing in it of itself.  I like to relate evil to cold.  Cold is the absence of heat, cold is not a “thing.”  We can measure heat, but we cannot measure cold.  There is a point where it cannot get anymore cold.  “Cold” is not a thing, it is a word we use to describe the absence of heat.  Likewise, darkness is not a thing either.  It is simply the absence of light.  Evil is the same way, there is a point where something cannot get anymore evil, and the only place where this exists is hell.  Anything good comes from God, so if hell is the complete absence of God, then nothing can get anymore evil than hell.  This is a really important point to understand because, if evil is not really a thing, just the absence of something, then evil was not necessarily created, therefore God did not create evil (a common claim).

 

The main character of God that I wanted to talk about was His omnipotence.  I’m going to come right out and say, I do not think God can do all things.  However, in no way do I think that this undermines God’s omnipotence.  God cannot create a circular square, or a rock too heavy for Him to lift.  He cannot do things that reside outside of the philosophical laws of logic.  So, it would make no sense to say that God can create people with free will and not the ability to walk away from Him.  Man has chosen to walk away from God, therefore we have brought evil upon ourselves.

 

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