items appear below:
1 Goodness and
2 Re. Goodness
and Evil: A Response
3 On "Goodness
4 Goodness and
5 The Existence
(Investigator 134, 2010
The two most
spoken words regarding the problem of evil are 'why' and 'how'. Why
does God allow such massive pain and suffering on the planet, and how
can God apparently stand back and not intervene to stop it?
problem of evil
challenges both the goodness and sovereignty of
God. If God is truly good and creates only that which is extrinsically
and intrinsically good, where has evil come from? If God desires the
best for creation, why does there appear to be such meaningless
suffering? How can it be morally justified? Does the Divine inaction
reveal that God is inherently impotent, indifferent or malicious toward
human beings after all?
paper I propose
to argue that God has indeed a reason for allowing evil into human
experience, and that for God not to allow evil would be to actually
place God in a self-contradictory position.
believe that God
is absolutely perfect, and cannot create anything imperfect, and that
perfect creatures cannot do evil. From the very beginning we are forced
to take God's perfection as the standard for what is good. So we cannot
look to God as the source of evil or we reject the notion of God as a
morally perfect Being. If we reject the notion of God as a morally
perfect Being, the problem of evil is no longer a problem, but the
inevitable consequence of a morally imperfect Being. Yet if God, as the
maximally Great Being, is morally imperfect, where do we get our idea
of morality from? We can only understand what is evil if we have an
idea of what is good. We can only recognise a crippled arm if we have
seen a healthy one. It is not just a matter of sight, it is also a
matter of function. According to the Christian view, God pronounced the
Creation good (Genesis 1:31), that is, it functioned properly in all
aspects. Evil, with all its ramifications, has disrupted, and on
occasions destroyed, the good function God has made.
have taken the view
that God is a morally perfect Being. Yet we see evil exists. Evil has
significantly corrupted the function of God's creation. Where then, has
evil come from?
frame it as
A perfect God
created all things good.
then been fashioned by God's power.
evil must have
come through that which is good.
If evil has come
what is good, then 'good' must have the ability to experience
corruption. God cannot be corrupted. So we must look to see what else
was created as "good" yet can also be corrupted. If God is morally
perfect, where else do we find a moral capacity open to corruption? If
such a capacity is open to moral corruption, yet was originally created
good, then it suggests an ability to change from good to bad. Who do we
see as having this ability? Certainly, human beings – who Christians
would assert have been created in the image of God.
sums up it up as
follows: "God is absolutely perfect. God created only perfect
creatures. One of the perfections God gave some of his creatures was
the power of free choice. Some of these creatures freely chose to do
evil. Therefore, a perfect creature caused evil" (Geisler 1999, p. 219).
puts human beings in
a unique position. To lose the very problem of evil that causes such
dysfunction in our lives, it appears we would have to lose the very
capacity that makes us truly human, the very quality people have fought
against oppression to preserve: the human right of choice. The very
'right' that people regard as a supreme value – the very Right that it
ours by "right" because we are in the image of the very God we question
over the problem of evil.
light of the
amount of suffering people experience, some ask could God not have made
a world where free choice still operated, yet was a world in which no
one chose to act in a wrong or evil manner? Yet if human beings have a
genuine moral free will, then such choices could never be guaranteed.
Wherever there is genuine free choice, in this or any possible world,
evil choices would always be a possibility. Even God cannot guarantee
perfect choices from free will creatures, otherwise they would not be
truly free to make them. To create free will creatures, and then hinder
their ability to choose, would be to place God in a self-contradictory
position and threaten to reduce human beings to the level of a pet or a
must ask what was
worth the risk to God to create human beings with free will? We may
find a possible answer in the Christian view of the image of God in
human beings. Ramm notes that God is truly free. For human beings to
share in that image, they also must have true freedom. This freedom
"must be freedom to radical opposites…to good or evil" (Ramm 1972, p.
129). An explanation of why God allows evil may be that is the cost
with which to mature the Divine image in creatures fashioned from the
'dust of the earth'. This places the answer to evil on an infinite
level, and offers ultimate purpose and comfort in the suffering of this
of the suffering
not caused by human free will? If human beings, bearers of the Divine
image and with dominion over the earth 'fell' morally, then the earth
would surely suffer under that oppression. Indeed, Paul acknowledges
that the creation does suffer because of the moral fall of human
beings, and that creation experiences futility because it, that is, its
function was damaged (Romans 8:20).
God's justice in the light of the extensive suffering evident upon the
earth. The Christian view maintains that God has appointed a day when
everything will be brought to rights and the impact and consequences of
evil fully addressed and dealt with (Acts 17:31). That such justice
does not yet appear to be administered now does not mean that it will
never be administered. Even in our own legal system, crimes are often
tried in court long after they have been committed. Offenders are often
placed on bail or held in remand, but the trial date does eventually
arrive and the verdict will be handed down.
groan that the
wheels of justice turn slowly but we do not deny that the process of
justice exists. Here is where the Christian can have faith that God
will not be seen to be indifferent, impotent or malicious in the light
of evil. Yet why might God not step in at our demand to alleviate
suffering and the consequences of evil before some final judgment?
Consider though, if a morally perfect Being, with absolute knowledge
and power, stepped in to correct the evil we see and experience, where
might such a Being stop? Having dealt with the tragedies afflicting so
many, would moral perfection be indifferent to the imperfections of
some of our own moral choices and actions? And who would feel free to
assert themselves absolutely blameless in every regard?
problem of evil may
in fact exist because of the humility of God; a divine humility that
has chosen to allow other consequences to exist outside of God's own
perfections. And far from causing us to question God's love, it may
reveal God has loved us to the degree of respecting our free will above
even the desire for a 'perfect' world. That in fashioning us as truly
free, God honours us as truly human. And in doing so, allows our moral
decisions to carry true significance.
N 1999, Baker
Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics, Baker Books, Michigan.
B L 1972, A
Christian Appeal to Reason, Word Books, Waco, Texas.
Re: Goodness &
There are aspects of
Bruce Bennie's article Goodness and Evil (Inv. 134, Page 63)
that I am unable to agree with. First of all I will begin with the
general observation that much of it is based on theological
speculations for which there is no sound evidence (1).
There is no
there is a God; that this God is morally perfect and, at the same time
responsible either directly or indirectly for imperfections in both
Nature and human nature. Indeed, all the facts gathered over hundreds
of years through careful scientific research lead to the conclusion
that the universe, life and humanity have arisen through natural
evolutionary processes (2).
Having said this, I
now be more specific in my critique of Bruce's article: On page 65 he
makes the following statement with regard to natural evil:
Yet what of
the suffering not caused by human free will? If human beings, bearers
of the Divine image and with dominion over the earth 'fell' morally,
then the earth would surely suffer under that oppression. Indeed, Paul
acknowledges that the creation does suffer because of the moral fall of
human beings, and that creation experiences futility because of it,
that is, its function was damaged (Romans 8:20).
clear in his article, but from his writing he appears to subscribe to a
literal interpretation of the Genesis myth which attempts to explain
evil entering the world through Adam and Eve's consumption of fruit
from the Tree of Knowledge of good and evil.
natural disasters existed well before the advent of humanity. There
have, for example, been at least five major global mass extinction
events that have occurred during the past 542 million years, with up to
20 to 50 percent of all genera on Earth during these events becoming
extinct over a period of a million years or less. (3)
cause of a global
mass extinction 260 million years ago was a giant volcanic eruption
that devastated marine life around the world (4). Not only did natural
disasters destroy life before humanity arose, but so too did disease —
dinosaur fossils show evidence of pathology such as developmental
abnormalities, trauma and injury, infection, osteoarthritis and
structural modifications (5). The world has never been a perfect place.
claims that evil in
human nature exists because God gave Humanity free will. If God exists,
then it's also possible that He, She or It gave Nature 'free will' in
the sense that the Cosmos develops naturally without any predetermined
divine plan. This would also explain the existence of what philosophers
and theologians refer to as Natural Evil — Nature has the inherent
potential and freedom to develop as it will.
claims that in the
end God will put right the world. Given the fact there is no sound
evidence that there is a God to put anything right, I think this is a
forlorn hope at best.
opinion all the
evidence points to the fact that it's up to us to make the world a
better place. If we can't find within ourselves the strength,
determination and wisdom to accomplish this task then it's possible
Humanity will go the way of the dinosaurs.
ON "GOODNESS and EVIL"
(Investigator 135, 2010
134, Bruce Bennie wrote on the Problem of Evil in his article "Goodness
and Evil". I thought it was a very good article, but I have the
problem of evil as
formulated by David Hume is as follows:
Is God willing to prevent evil but unable to do so? Then he is
attack mainly on premise 1 by arguing the free-will defence. If God has
given us free will, then it may be logically impossible for God to
prevent evil. Thus the existence of evil does not necessarily mean that
God is not omnipotent.
God able to prevent evil but unwilling to do so? Then he is malevolent.
God is both willing and able to prevent evil then, why is there evil in
that I would
like Bruce to consider is this. Christianity offers the hope of new
world order (heaven), where there will be no evil. Will there be
free-will in heaven? If so, how can God prevent the re-emergence of
answers the issue of moral evil, but does it answer the issue of
the problem of evil is to challenge premise 2. Maybe God has a good
purpose in allowing evil. I suggest Bruce consider this as part of his
argument as well.
GOODNESS and EVIL
John H Williams
(Investigator 137, March)
I'm not a fan of
theodicy, and regard it as 'rear-guard' rhetoric that earnest believers
employ to justify things that don't exist. They may rationalise about
the highly improbable, but a skeptheist applies a quicker, quite
effective 'bleedin' obvious' test to refined sophistries purporting to
offer a defence of supernatural beings and events.
Rogers' letter on
goodness and evil (#135 p.5) is an example of what I mean. Yes, there
is goodness and evil in the world, as one would expect, but to connect
them to a deity who is highly likely not to exist demands a large
amount of imaginative wishful thinking.
is, in my opinion, utterly meaningless and a complete waste of Earth
time, the only time we know we've got.
"Christianity offers the hope of a new world order" where there will be
no evil — and "Will there be free-will in heaven?" — beg big questions
which haven't been resolved. Is there in fact a god named God who lives
in place some call heaven?
to the being they believe in and have faith in, perhaps they could
incorporate the reality that its existence is hotly contested, ditto
for a supposed celestial residence?
just endured the
Vaticanised hype of Our Mary. Do sane, rational people believe that
there is a 'spiritual being' 'up there' who's just had her status in
the celestial pecking order upgraded, and who intercedes due to prayer,
allowing terminal cancer patients (if very fortunate) extra years or
decades of life? Or, more likely, a heroic Mary who lived and is now
non-theodicy which conforms to Ockham's principle of economy, in
minimising assumptions about life and death: Where were we before we
were conceived? We were non-existent, having been that way since the
initiation of time and space, and from the moment of death we all, in
an appropriately egalitarian manner, return to that non-existent state.
It's simple and rational: we all share exactly the same non-experience
— eternally nowhere, which is precisely where I perceive all gods
abideth faith, hope
and charity: if only there were more Christian as well as non-Christian
The Existence of God
(Investigator 138, 2011
In John Williams'
on "Goodness and Evil" (Investigator #137) he refers to a "deity who is
highly likely not to exist". John is making a general statement without
owning it as just his own opinion. John is an avid atheist, as are some
other writers in this magazine, but John is making an assertion that is
short on argument. John usually writes on creationism and ID. However,
I have never seen him engage any of the core arguments that are
relevant to the existence of God.
arguments that are
relevant to the existence of God (both for and
against) are typically:
The cosmological argument,
argument from sufficient reason,
problem of Evil, and
hiddenness of God.
like to know what
the basis of John's bravado is.
majority of people
on this planet believe in gods or a god or
some sort. After all, we live in a world that strongly appears to be
created and designed and so the existence of a creator/designer deity
seems "bleedin' obvious" (John's words). In addition, scientific
results from the last 100 years have confirmed that the physical
universe had a beginning and that the laws of physics and Big Bang
initial conditions are extraordinarily finely tuned to enable life of
any form to exist. It is the objections to the cosmological and
teleological arguments that are "refined sophistries" and "rearguard
rhetoric", to use John's own terms.
completed a debate on the fine tuning argument, which is available on
the Investigator web-site. I am quite satisfied that I
presented a good argument and that I addressed all of Kirk's
objections. Please let me know of any specific issues that I did not
address. John made no comment whatsoever on this debate. I get the
impression that he just waits for the dust to settle and hopes everyone
will forget before resuming his mantra. I think that the main reason
that John says he doesn't believe in God is not due to evidence or
reason, but simply that he doesn't want to believe.
problem of evil is
the major argument against the existence of an omnipotent loving God.
This topic was raised by Bruce Bennie and John should be grateful to
Bruce for giving atheists a free kick. I was mainly commenting on
Bruce's article and suggested that Bruce should develop his argument to
address issues with the free-will defence. I am not overly keen on the
free-will argument, as I believe it is only a partial answer. However,
I suggest that John directs his comments on this subject to Bruce.
presented a simple
argument for the mortality of the soul, which essentially is, "if we
didn't exist prior to birth, isn't it reasonable to presume that we
won't exist after death?" I agree entirely; it is a good argument.
However, the doctrine of the immortality of the soul is not a Biblical
idea. It was an idea imported into Christian tradition from Greek
philosophy. The soul is not inherently immortal. The Biblical view is
that God will raise the dead in the same manner that Christ was raised
from the dead. It is a physical resurrection, not the ongoing existence
of a disembodied soul.
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