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Don Stewart :: Did God Create Evil?

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Don Stewart

One of the great questions facing those who believe the Bible is the problem of evil. If God is all-loving and all- powerful, then why do we have evil in the universe? Did God create evil? If so, why did He do it? Would that not make Him a bad God?

The other possibility is that God is a good God, but does not have the ability to do anything about evil. This would mean that God is a good God, but not all-powerful.

So which is it? Is God a bad God and won't do anything about evil, or is He a good God and cannot do anything about evil?

Actually there is a third possibility. God is neither bad nor limited in His power. It is true that if God created evil it would make Him a bad God. But this is not the case. Evil came as a result of sin, and sin is something that God did not want in the universe.

Christianity Recognizes Evil

Unlike many religions, Christianity recognizes that evil does exist. The Bible, in both testaments, acknowledges that the world is presently in an evil state.

Humanity Is Responsible For Evil

However, the origin of evil lies not with God but with humanity. When God created human beings He gave them a choice to obey or disobey. When Adam and Eve chose to disobey God they brought evil into the universe. Evil is an action or relationship, not a created substance.

Did God Create Evil?

One passage of Scripture seems to teach that God created evil. In the King James Bible Isaiah 45:7 reads the following.

I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace and create evil: I the Lord do all these things

However this is not what the original Hebrew says. The word translated "evil" is the word ra. It also means sorrow, calamity, disaster, afflictions, and adversity. Modern translations have correctly translated the passage with a different English word such as the following example.

I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, the LORD, do all these things (Isaiah 45:7).

Therefore the Scriptures do not teach that God was the originator of evil.

God Gave Humanity Choice

God did not create evil and neither is He to blame for the evil in the universe. God could have made people in such a way that they would be robots who would react when God made them do so. But that would not give humanity any significance. God decided to make people in such a way that they could choose whether or not to obey Him.

Evil Was The Choice Of Humankind

Furthermore, much of the evil in the universe is due to the direct choice of individuals. Murder, stealing, lying, and such cannot be blamed upon God. People choose to do these things and must be held accountable.

Natural Disasters Are A Result Of A Fallen World

What about earthquakes, floods, volcanoes, and famines? Though natural disasters such as earthquakes and famines are not caused by humans, humanity is indirectly responsible for their occurrence. They occur as a result of our sin. When sin entered the universe everything was affected. Suffering and evil go together. The perfect working order is now tainted by sin. The Bible says that the entire creation is now suffering.

For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God; for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies (Romans 8:19-23)

He Is Able To Do Something About Evil

If God is a good God then why is there evil in the universe? Is it because God is not good, or is it because God is not powerful enough to deal with evil? Asking this question infers God is either unable or unwilling to deal with evil. But neither is the case.

God is certainly able to do something about evil. The Bible teaches that God is all-powerful.

Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is there anything too hard for me? (Jeremiah 32:27).

The fact that God is powerful enough to deal with evil is not the issue. He has demonstrated time and time again that He has the capability to end evil.

God is also a God of love who cares for His people. The Scripture teaches that God always has the best interest of humanity in mind in every decision that He makes.

Summary

The Bible recognizes that evil does exist but God did not create evil. Evil came as a result of humanity's choice. Natural disasters are a result of humanity's original sin. Therefore God cannot be blamed for the evil that continues. Humanity is directly or indirectly responsible for evil.

CONTENT DISCLAIMER:

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.


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