Mackie + Plantinga: Solving The Logical Problem Of Evil

J. L. Mackie: “In its simplest form the problem is this: God is omnipotent; God is wholly good; yet evil exists. There seems to be some contradiction between these three propositions so that if any two of them were true the third would be false. But at the same time all three are essential parts of the most theological positions; the theologian, it seems at once, must adhere and cannot consistently adhere to all three.” (Mackie 1971: p. 92-3)

Alvin Plantinga: Theologian can consistently adhere to all three, Mackie, by adding a premise which does not have to be necessary true or even believed, but simply logically possible.

1. God is omniscient, omnipotent, and wholly good.
2. God creates a world containing evil and has a good reason for doing so.(Plantinga 1974: 26)

Or

3. God is omnipotent, omniscient, and wholly good.

4. It was not within God’s power to create a world containing moral good without creating one containing moral evil.

5. God created a world containing moral good.

6. Therefore, evil exists.(ibid p. 54-5)

Mackie, are (2) and (4) possibly true?

Mackie: “[P]roblem of evil does not, after all, show that the central doctrines of theism are logically inconsistent with one another […God] might not eliminate evils, even though it was logically possible to do so and though he was able to do whatever is logically possible, and was limited only by the logical impossibility of having the second-order good without the first-order evil ”(Mackie 1982: 145)

Note: I added  words to capture the brilliant works of Mackie and Plantinga.

Bibliography:

Mackie, J. L (1971) “Evil and Omnipotence” in The Philosophy of Religion, ed. Basil Mitchell. London: Oxford University Press.

_____________ (1982) The Miracle of Theism. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Plantinga, Alvin (1974) God, Freedom and Evil. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.

Photo Credit: Christ Koelle illustraiton in John Piper’s  poem: Job  and The Sister Disciples of the Divine Master

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16 thoughts on “Mackie + Plantinga: Solving The Logical Problem Of Evil

  1. Hi Prayson, thanks for all the Likes, it must have taken you a long time to read all our Posts, so good that you did, some are just too lazy to do so but of course they want us to read their Posts, anyway back to the topic by now you realise the Truth which is so much better then Trusting in mans own understanding, reasoning and logic but sadly this is what a lot do instead of asking for God’s wisdom so they can incress in the others but such is mankinds ego they think they know it all without asking for it but whats new!

    Just to recap on a few of our Posts…..

    In the begining God = The Godhead … and everything He made was good including The Devil, Evil one, The Destroyer, Satan etc or what ever you want to call him and also Mankind but they had free will and chose to do evil, how could they do that, how did you or me , the absence of Love is evil, without God there is no real Love, God is Love and Love can do no evil, good and evil cannot co-exist they are not in Unity, Satan creats evil but in the end good will have the Victory, it can be no other way because God is good and does no evil, does He agree with it, do you, do I ? No He tolerates it because of His promise and because He does not want any of His Children to perish, He is giving us time and it is running out.

    Christian Love from both of us – Anne.

  2. Unquestionably believe that which you said. Your favorite justification seemed to be on the internet the simplest thing to be aware of. I say to you, I definitely get annoyed while people think about worries that they just don’t know about. You managed to hit the nail upon the top and also defined out the whole thing without having side-effects , people could take a signal. Will probably be back to get more. Thanks

  3. My point is the ultimate starting point was the creation of all things by God and when He was done He proclaimed ALL IS VERY GOOD Gen 1:31 “Then God looked over all he had made, and he saw that it was very good!”

    So, it all began at GOOD. Then the fall happens and until the second coming and the establishment of ALL that entails, we have to deal with evil and EVERY evil there is today will be done by man. Every evil done has been done by man and God is not going to answer to anyone why He allows what He allows or neither will He explain why He intervenes where and when He intervenes. It’s just that simple.
    ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
    Our Earth is spinning at 1041 MPH at the equator.
    Our Earth is spinning around our Sun at 18.5 miles per second.
    Our solar system is moving through our galaxy at 155 miles per second.
    And our galaxy is moving through our local group at 185 miles per second.

    Sir, with all due respect, our planet is ALIVE. We have natural disasters because of the moving plant, above and below ground level. Is God supposed to hang out and stop every hurricane, tornado, wildfire, tsunami, etc.??? He will do what He will do, nothing more and nothing less.
    ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
    Here’s the problem I see with your statement about my religious book having gotten morality wrong.

    1) Before a person can call something bad, a person must know what good is.
    2) But before a person can call something good, he must have a moral framework to distinguish between good and bad.
    3) But before someone can have a moral framework to distinguish good and bad, he must have absolute moral laws to build that framework.
    4) But before a person can have absolute moral laws, he must have an absolute moral Lawgiver (laws don’t give themselves).

    Now the atheists and Bible attackers have backed themselves into a corner, because the only absolute moral Lawgiver you can have is God. This is why intellectually honest atheists, such as Richard Dawkins, rightly understands that an atheist can’t ever call anything bad or good —the atheist foundation doesn’t support such a stance. In his book, River out of Eden, he writes, “Humans have always wondered about the meaning of life…life has no higher purpose than to perpetuate the survival of DNA . . . life has no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind pitiless indifference” (emphasis added).
    ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
    I used quantum mechanics “natural law” in refuting your flawed logic that God could have created our world without evil and didn’t so He created evil.

    Quantum mechanics is to learn about matter and energy. The main things to learn are subatomic particles (things smaller than atoms) and electromagnetic waves (waves that are made of electric and magnetic parts). Quantum mechanics explains how these things behave with each other. The ideas of quantum mechanics are very difficult to understand. Hard mathematics are used to study subatomic particles and electromagnetic waves because they act in very strange ways. Quantum mechanics is important to natural laws of physics and chemistry.

    Here is what Max Planck, the father of quantum mechanics, has said:

    “As a man who has devoted his whole life to the most clear headed science, to the study of matter, I can tell you as a result of my research about atoms this much: There is no matter as such. All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a force which brings the particle of an atom to vibration and holds this most minute solar system of the atom together. We must assume behind this force the existence of a conscious and intelligent mind. This mind is the matrix of all matter.

    I regard consciousness as fundamental. I regard matter as derivative from consciousness. We cannot get behind consciousness. Everything that we talk about, everything that we regard as existing, postulates consciousness.”
    ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
    We are limited in scope and understanding. That’s why most, if not all, Biblical arguments really just come down to a simple concept called “faith”. Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. Romans 10:17

    2 Points to prove my point….

    POINT1 : Since God’s methodology in permitting evil is inscrutable, then one cannot object to God’s existence in the presence of evil. Many have taken the position that the world we live in is far too complex and delicately balanced for it to be any other way. If one event were to be altered, then such a disturbed consequence may preclude this world from having the same amount of good in it with a minimum amount of evil . So suggesting why God would allow evil is viewed as similar to suggesting why God would choose to part the Red Sea for Moses instead of simply evaporating it. Both accomplish the same task of allowing the Israelites to pass through the Red Sea. But if God were to fulfill another part of His plan by destroying the Egyptian pursuers in the collapse of the parted Red Sea waters, then evaporation would not be the preferred choice. Thus God’s decision to choose parting the Red Sea instead of evaporating would be considered inscrutable. God is said to be inscrutable when no direct knowledge is ascertained as to why God would permit or cause a specific event. When considering a scenario that such inscrutability envisages, it seems as though one really cannot begin to find a way in which a possible world, one with the same amount of good in it but with no or little evil, is even feasible. Now this seems to show that the non-theist goes beyond what is known or can be known in order to reject the existence of God on the basis of evil. Consider the claim that non-theists usually make when they say that God could create the same effects that exist in our world currently but with good causes in place of evil ones. I do not think that we can make this sort of conjecture for reasons exemplified in our physical laws. Our universe is interwoven with a delicate balance of interrelated causal chains. If we were to disturb one link in any causal chain, whether it be through time, space, or both, then serious repercussions would result. For example, chaos theory suggests that if a butterfly were to flutter its wings then certain weather conditions may be altered in another part of the world. This is called the butterfly effect. Given such a sensitive and delicate relation between two (or more) events, perhaps the causal chains that exist are far too complex to hypothesize an alternate world in which evil events do not contribute to good ones. Since no one can speculate how to have a better world than the actual one then the inferential problem of evil loses its probability.

    POINT 2. The presence of evil may actually contribute to the goodness of the whole of creation. Although this was capitalized on in addressing the logical problem of evil above, there are further reasons to consider evil as a possible link in the chain of maximally good events. And the only reason why God would want to allow evil in His plan of creation is if He had an overriding desire. Typically, theists affirm that God has such an overriding desire, namely that people are brought to a point of spiritual well-being or salvation. With respect to this as God’s primary motivation, the existence of evil is not so problematic. In fact, it seems to be quite instrumental given that there seems to be a correlation between immense suffering and pain and belief in God. If suffering yields up more believers in God for their spiritual well-being then it should not at all seem dubious that God would permit evil. Moreover, the presence of evil may actually have a spiritually therapeutic effect. Certainly everyone has said or has heard a parent say to a child, “I spanked you because I love you.” In the same way evil may be seen as an instrument of God to “correct, purify, and instruct.” Thus God may use evil as a way to advance someone’s ability to do good. If a child is disciplined then perhaps she will refrain from committing the same “evil” again. Likewise, a morally irresponsible person develops moral responsibility through the evil inflicted as a consequence of doing morally irresponsible things. Such notable theists as Irenaeus and contemporary philosopher of religion, John Hick, utilize this particular theodicy. Hick says that “in removing all occurrences of pain and suffering, and hence all challenge and all need for mutual care, we should have converted the world from a person-making into a static environment, which could not elicit moral growth.”

    The usual comeback by critics generally revolves around a possible world in which a causally linked chain of events does not include evil ones. After all, if God is omniscient (all-knowing) then He would know how to construct a world in which the same good events occur but without the evil antecedents. This leads us to the final objection to the inferential problem of evil we have to consider.

    Peace

  4. Dear Allallt,

    YOU: I’m afraid I didn’t read your whole comment because I took issue with the first point.

    ME: Really, if you are going to comment about my comment have the decency to read it all, if not, don’t admit to not reading it, it makes you look foolish and lazy.

    YOU: You are correct in saying that “cold” doesn’t exist; it is the absence of sufficient heat energy. Unlike heat, cold is the absence of active activity. The same is not so of evil. One can be evil for their inaction, no doubt. But one can also be good through in action (like not stopping another good).
    However, unlike cold, evil can also exist as an active activity; rape for example.

    ME: Sorry, I read this 4 times and still have no idea what your trying to say.

    YOU:
    If you accept that God micromanages the nature of Earth then God actively caused this. [catastrophes]

    ME: I don’t see how God, at this time, micromanages anything other than Heaven.

    There can be little doubt that He does care for each and every individual. The gospels tell us that He knows when the least animal in His creation is in danger, or is killed, so He does care on an individual level, but we must also face the fact that He does not give us what we want. He gives us what we need in order that we may fulfill our potential in His creation. The great Saint Augustine of Hippo expressed the view that we, through Christ, have become “like God”, a statement which on the face of it, contradicts the Genesis view that we are “created in the image of God”. But does it? After all, if, in the Fall of Man, we lost our direct link to God, then in Christ and the Spirit it is restored – but this still does not mean that God is going to micro-manage our lives! We still have choices, and though God may not like some of the choices we make, He is not going to interfere in them!

    I like to think that God has a way of getting us to follow a certain course or pathway through life. At times we go off in our own direction and get into difficulties of our own making. Things don’t work out as we would like, or they go very sour indeed. Suddenly we blame God – “if only God had prevented this”, or “God should have shown me the way He wanted me to go!” Perhaps He did, but we weren’t listening or looking in the direction He suggested or pointed.

    Since I didn’t understand you I read your posts 5 times and I think you are trying to somehow equate
    moral good / moral evil / natural evil / natural disasters
    but moral evil is when a person becomes evil from there own free will, natural evil is when you are born evil. There is no difference in moral evil and natural evil they are one in the same.

    Evil is the negative actions taken to harm others and goes against all natural law and is immoral. It is unfortunate that morality has been dismissed as religious dogma, as it is the moral fiber that we develop that gives us the strength and wisdom to govern ourselves, whether we are religious or not. The unfortunate debate of why God “allows” evil to exist found amongst theologians and some philosophers first presupposes that God can not be subject to the same universal laws that everything else in the universe is subject to.

    Why can’t God be all-benevolent, all knowing, and all powerful and yet still be subject to universal laws?

    Certainly as quantum mechanics develops it is entirely possible for God to be all benevolent, all knowing, and all powerful while still being subject to universal law. Why is it God’s fault that evil exists? Who said it was his fault? To argue the question of why God allows evil to exist is to diminish God’s benevolence, to question his knowledge, and to imply God is not all powerful. Why take up the question at all? God exists and Evil exists, and like magnets when polarized, like gravity and centrifugal force, they repel from each other and when reversed they attract.

    Good attracts evil, as darkness can not stand the light and will do what it can to surround it and ultimately consume it. But good does not aim in the same direction as evil, and any greater good defense should not be made in the justification of evil but made in praise of the glory of God.

    All things but evil aim towards the greater good, and let the greater good be defined as the greatest good to the greatest amount as God in all his benevolence has shown through the laws he has shown us, through the laws we have discovered, that evil is that which harms the greater good. To argue that natural disasters are natural evils is another fixation of blame so that God is at fault not only for evil but for all Earth changes and other changes that by the laws which govern them happen throughout the universe. Why is it evil if the Earth quakes or the ocean roars or comets come crashing down upon us. This is the universe that God and all he created lives in. If in the beginning there was nothing, but God spoke and said “let there be light”. There was obviously more than just nothing as there was first of all God, and in the absence of light, there was darkness. There was good and evil, and then God spoke and said “Let there be light.”

    Though surrounded by darkness, and threatened by evil at every turn the all powerful, all knowing, all benevolent God willed his light to shine and cast out the darkness in favor of a better way than nothingness, instead now there is everything and all things are possible as long as they conform to the natural laws of the universe. There is no greater good in allowing evil to exist and yet it does. However, to suggest that evil is something other than the willful harm done to others, is to suggest there are evils of which we can not control. What God can cast out, so can we. But if evil existed alongside of God, then casting the darkness out is all that can be done.

    It is strange to think that people would devise defense arguments for the existence of evil. Evil like God requires no defense, nor do the mechanics of the universe. There is no reason to defend the existence of Earthquakes as there is no remedy to be had if convicted and as such no reason to place earthquakes on trial. Why do earthquakes exist is a geological question not theological and the reason they exist surely adhere to the laws of physics.

    While good and evil may float somewhere adjacent to the law of physics in the world of quantum mechanics, they are still subject to laws of the universe and as such there is no reason to put good and evil on trial. Good, evil, and natural disasters all operate within the conflict of natural laws. For humanity, it is prudent and pro-survival to be good and not do evil to others and prudent to know that evil does exist and there are others who would do evil to you, and if they do, there are natural laws by which to find remedy.

    The natural laws of natural disaster and any remedy is in survival and it would be prudent to learn how to avoid living in earthquake prone areas and learning how to better prepare for any that might happen and prepare for oceans to roar and to do ones best to find a way to either escape the planet before a comet comes crashing down upon us or learn how to survive the aftermath. To act in this way is good and moral and of ones own free will. Let any natural evil be immoral and let natural disasters be what they are, the reality of a changing universe.

    Knowing the Glory of God is good. Feeling the Glory of God gives me chills of well-being.

    The Hebrew word for “glory” is Kabod; it basically means weight. In science it would be the mass of an object of matter. It is the substance of a person or thing. For God, it is who He is, His character and power. We know that God is love, (1 John 4:16); love is God’s character and power. God’s glory manifests and reveals His love.

    Moses asked God to see His glory. This was God’s reply, “I will make all My goodness pass before you, and I will proclaim the name of the Lord before you. I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion” (Exodus 33:19).

    God told Moses to stand on a rock that was near Him. This symbolizes Jesus the Christ, our rock. And the Lord said, “Here is a place by Me, and you shall stand on the rock. So it shall be, while My glory passes by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock, and will cover you with My hand while I pass by. (Exodus 33:21 – 22) To stand upon the rock is symbolic of coming to Christ and putting your trust in Him, your weight upon Him. As God’s glory passed by He put Moses in the cleft of the rock, symbolizing to be in Christ. It is God the Father who positions you in Christ, adopting you as His child. This is the place where God’s glory is revealed and received, the place we receive manifestations and revelations of the Father’s love and power.

    God’s love is a consuming fire. The sight of the glory of the Lord was like a consuming fire on the top of the mountain in the eyes of the children of Israel. (Exodus 24:17) There is something else that happens when we behold God’s glory; transformation. Transformation can be both painful and wonderful. There are things in us that are consumed as we behold God’s glory. The things that remain are refined and purified. People will sometimes turn away from the glory of God because they are afraid to let go of things that can not survive the glory. People are also sometimes afraid of letting go of their identity and becoming a new creation. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. (2 Corinthians 4:16) To be transformed by God’s glory is sacrifice.

    I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies (compassion) of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. (Romans 12:1–2) The word transformed is the Greek word metamorphoō it is where we get the word metamorphosis from. This is the word we use to describe a caterpillar being changed into a butterfly. It means to be changed into something new. It is the same word which is used to describe what happened to Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration in Mark chapter 9.

    When we are focused on Jesus the veil of our heart is removed so that we can behold the transforming glory of God. Nevertheless when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord. Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we have received mercy (compassion), we do not lose heart. (2 Corinthians 3:16-4:1) We are transformed from glory to glory, from one manifestation and revelation of God’s love to the next.

    Below is in an exert from A Sermon by C. H. Spurgeon from 1908.

    “In closing, I want one practical inference, and what shall it be? Draw it yourselves. Let it be this—there is an hour coming, when we must all, in a certain sense, see God. We must see him as a Judge. It becomes us, then, to think seriously whether we shall stand in the cleft of the Rock when he comes. There is a passage we would mention before closing—”I saw death on a pale horse, and hell followed him.” There was death on the pale horse; and the original says—”hades followed him.” You know the word hades comprises both heaven and hell. It means the state of spirits. Yes, death is after me and thee. Ah, run! run! run! but run as thou wilt, the rider on the white horse shall overtake thee. If thou canst escape him seventy years, he will overtake thee at last. Death is riding! Here his horse comes—I hear his snortings, I feel his hot breath; he comes! he comes! and thou must die! BUT, WICKED MAN, WHAT COMES AFTERWARDS? Will it be heaven or hell? O, if it be hell that is after thee, where art thou when thou art cast away from God? Ah, I pray God deliver you from hell; he is coming after you, sure enough; and if you have no hiding-place. woe unto you. See you that cleft in the rock, see that cross, see that blood. There is security, and only there. Thy works are but a useless incumbrance; cast them away, and with all thy might flee to the mountain with

    “Nothing in my hands I bring,
    Simply to thy cross I cling.”

    Yea, more than this, you will need divine aid, even in coming to Christ—

    “O, for this no strength have I,
    My strength is at thy feet to lie.”

    But, poor helpless one, if thou art but hidden in Christ. all is secure. Storms may arise, but you cannot be overwhelmed; old Boreas may blow until his cheeks do burst, but not a breath of wind can injure you; for in the cleft of the Rock you shall be hidden until the vengeance is overpast.”

    • The reasons I admitted I had not read your whole comment are (a) it’s true, oh forgive me my honesty and (b) it actually stops me from looking a fool if it becomes apparent I haven’t read the whole comment (something you may wish to consider). I don’t see how stopping to clarify a point before we try to build on it is a bad thing.

      As for the first point you didn’t understand, cold is an absence of heat; dark is an absence of light. Light (photons) and heat (IR radiation and molecular motion) are the actual things, and we have named deficits of them. I accept this. Evil is not simply an absence of anything. Centrifugal force is not the absence of gravity, it exists in its own right. Good and evil are like this. Another commenter used the Holocaust as an example of evil being its own thing–as opposed to just the absence of another thing, although I steered clear of it because you’d respond with something about freewill.

      I chose the 2004 South-East Asian tsunami. There is not will (except, perhaps, God’s) involved. So this evil is not a question of human or angelic freewill.

      Either God caused it, and is therefore evil.
      Else, He didn’t cause it but could have stopped it. He is therefore evil (I’d have stopped it if I could… but I’m not supposed to be omnipotent or omnipresent).
      In both cases, evil does not depend on human will.

      If God exists then God is responsible for naturally caused suffering. God is a consciousness responsible for suffering; that is evil. (To clarify your misunderstanding)
      If there is no God then there is no consciousness responsible for the tsunami then it is simply a tragedy, not an evil. But this is only so if there was no God that could stop it.

      Perhaps we don’t know God’s greater good. Well, this is a non-sequitur. So long as you maintain God is an omni-God (omnipotent, omniscient etc) then you must concede that whatever good comes from the 2004 Asian tsunami could have been achieved another way: this is a Being that used to part seas and stop the sun at noon and thought universe into existence.

      +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

      Morality has not been dismissed as religious dogma. Religious ideas of morality have been dismissed as religious dogma. Your religious book got morality wrong, and people have been trying to make stuff up about objective morality depending on God ever since. I reject that. You don’t have to spend long on my blog (allalltor.wordpress.com) to see that I do not reject morality as a dogma at all.

      I’ve no idea what you’re alluding to when you talk about quantum mechanics. Care to enlighten me? Where in duality and uncertainty and entanglement and virtual pairs and spectral lines and black body thought experiments do we get any talk of God or morality?

  5. 1. God is omniscient, omnipotent, and wholly good.
    4. It was not without [sic. I suspect you mean ‘within’] God’s power to create a world containing moral good without creating one containing moral evil.

    Here in lies he problem. How can God be omnipotent and simultaneously be unable to create a world with moral good and not moral evil (your terminology).

    I foresee the argument that moral good can only exist, can only make sense, so long as moral evil exists as a relative comparison point. And if such a relationship does exist–that moral good only exists in relative position to moral bad–then God is not actually a source of objective and absolute morality. In this case absolute morality cannot exist, and in a world without moral evil feeding the poor cannot be morally good. Conversely, without moral good rape could not be morally evil… I hope this is sufficiently clearly in contradiction to what most theists would posit about morality.

    I acknowledge that this was not your argument, that indeed God does provide absolute and objective morality, but it is an oft-held to stance that He does. So far that I can tell, to stand by the premise that God does provide such things is incompatible with relative positions of moral good and moral evil’s existence being the way they must exist.

  6. Robert,

    Perhaps a further illustration will help. If a person is asked, “Does cold exist?” the answer would likely be “yes.” However, this is incorrect. Cold does not exist. Cold is the absence of heat. Similarly, darkness does not exist; it is the absence of light. Evil is the absence of good, or better, evil is the absence of God. God did not have to create evil, but rather only allow for the absence of good.

    God did not create evil, but He does allow evil. If God had not allowed for the possibility of evil, both mankind and angels would be serving God out of obligation, not choice. He did not want “robots” that simply did what He wanted them to do because of their “programming.” God allowed for the possibility of evil so that we could genuinely have a free will and choose whether or not we wanted to serve Him.

    As finite human beings, we can never fully understand an infinite God (Romans 11:33-34). Sometimes we think we understand why God is doing something, only to find out later that it was for a different purpose than we originally thought. God looks at things from a holy, eternal perspective. We look at things from a sinful, earthly, and temporal perspective. Why did God put man on earth knowing that Adam and Eve would sin and therefore bring evil, death, and suffering on all mankind? Why didn’t He just create us all and leave us in heaven where we would be perfect and without suffering? These questions cannot be adequately answered this side of eternity. What we can know is whatever God does is holy and perfect and ultimately will glorify Him. God allowed for the possibility of evil in order to give us a true choice in regards to whether we worship Him. God did not create evil, but He allowed it. If He had not allowed evil, we would be worshipping Him out of obligation, not by a choice of our own will.

    If the origin of evil is free will, and God is the origin of free will, isn’t God then the origin of evil? Only as parents are the origin of the misdeeds their children commit by being the origin of their children. The all-powerful God gave us a share in his power to choose freely. Would we prefer he had not and had made us robots rather than human beings?

    No sane person wants hell to exist. No sane person wants evil to exist. But hell is just evil eternalized. If there is evil and if there is eternity, there can be hell. If it is intellectually dishonest to disbelieve in evil just because it is shocking and uncomfortable, it is the same with hell. Reality has hard corners, surprises, and terrible dangers in it. We desperately need a true road map, not nice feelings, if we are to get home. It is true, as people often say, that “hell just feels unreal, impossible.” Yes. So does Auschwitz. So does Calvary.

    God doesn’t exist for me, I exist for Him.
    God doesn’t answer to me, I answer to Him.
    I’m not living my plan, I’m living His.

    In my mind, I know and have accepted, that I will never know fully WHY until I meet Him and He reveals all.
    ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
    Dear Kenny,

    I’ve never heard of Gordon H. Clark or the book and so I Goggled it. I found His Christian philosophy is unique, and based entirely on propositional revelation, which means that…As God has revealed Himself to humanity He has made known a number of truths about Himself as well as truth about the human race. This is also known as “propositional revelation.” The idea behind propositional revelation is that God has revealed himself in a number of propositions, or truths, that humanity can fully rely upon. Statements about God’s personal nature, His plan, and His mighty acts in history are often given the form of propositions. For example, the Bible says that God does not change.

    I the LORD do not change. So you, O descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed. (Malachi 3:6).

    It also tells us that God will never leave us or forsake us.

    God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5).

    Therefore we find in Scripture a great number of these propositions or truth statements that we would not otherwise know. Scripture is clear that we must have some sort of knowledge about God before we can enter into a relationship with him. God first reveals specific truths about himself and these truths are recorded in Scripture. Then the Holy Spirit helps believers understand and correctly interpret these truths as well as apply them in their personal lives.

    In summary, propositional revelation simply means that God has revealed Himself to humanity in a number of truth statements. These statements can be relied upon for correct information about whatever subjects it speaks. It is important that people have some sort of knowledge about God before we can enter into a relationship with him.

    I then found a web site containing a summary of the 5 Chapters of the book you mentioned and the summary of Chapter 5 does not mention, “the ultimate cause of evil is our Lord”, but the complete opposite.

    Quote: “When God converts a sinner, and translates him into the state of grace, he frees him from his natural bondage under sin; and, by his grace alone, enables him freely to will and to do that which is spiritually good; yet so, as that by reason of his remaining corruption, he does not perfectly, nor only, will that which is good, but does also will that which is evil. (Col. 1:13; John 8:34, 36; Rom. 6:6-7; Phil. 2:13; Rom. 6:14, 17-19, 22; Gal. 5:17; Rom. 7:14-25; I John 1:8, 10). The will of man is made perfectly and immutably free to good alone, in the state of glory only (Heb. 12:23; I John 3:2; Jude 1:24; Rev. 21:27). This not only solves the problem of sin, but also the problem of every other philosophical attempt at a non-revelatory “faith” (which is no real faith at all).” End Quote

    http://www.apuritansmind.com/apologetics/introduction-to-the-writings-of-dr-gordon-clark/religion-reason-and-revelation/

    • I’m afraid I didn’t read your whole comment because I took issue with the first point.
      You are correct in saying that “cold” doesn’t exist; it is the absence of sufficient heat energy. Unlike heat, cold is the absence of active activity.
      The same is not so of evil. One can be evil for their inaction, no doubt. But one can also be good through in action (like not stopping another good).
      However, unlike cold, evil can also exist as an active activity; rape for example.

      Here is somewhere where the issue gets more confusing. Assume (as I am sure you could) that an omni-God does indeed exist. Assume also (as I’m sure you’ll agree is true) that nature, separate from human or Angellic will, can cause suffering. We could be talking about drought, crop failures, pestilence, famine, mudslides, earthquakes etc.

      For my purposes, as I just saw a memorial garden for the 2004 South East Asia tsunami, so I shall use that as an example.

      If you accept that God micromanages the nature of Earth then God actively caused this. On what grounds is that not evil?
      If you accept that God set up the conditions in which nature operates, but tends not to actively intervene (except in certain circumstances, hence the Bible), then didn’t cause it. He did set up the conditions to make it happen and He failed to stop it despite being perfectly able to. On what grounds is that not evil?
      If God is not morally responsible for acts of nature, then evil can occur independent of anything’s freedom of will; the tsunami happened killing thousands and displacing millions causing untold suffering and misery, and there was no will involved at all. Freewill does not account for evil (or suffering).

    • Evil is not the absence of good, it is an action in itself. For example the Holocaust was not merely the absence of a good, it was an evil act. Why did God not stop it? (Seeing as he is supposed to be all-loving and all-powerful). If I was to murder a group of innocent people, that would be evil, not just an absence of good.

      The free will argument is similarly flawed. We do have to serve God, we have no choice in the matter. If you do not worship God and do everything you are commanded, you will be tortured for eternity. That’s not free will. If there was an election and I said if you voted for anyone except my candidate I would torture you, would you say I had a free choice? God is a dictator not someone who cares about free will. The most valued virtue in religion is not love or understanding, its obedience.

      In your third paragraph, you say we cannot fully understand God but then say he is “holy and perfect”. Which is it? If we cannot understand him how can we know he is good?

      Why is the existence of evil necessary for free will?

  7. That’s a rebuttal? Come on you can do better than that. Those are two very weak and unconvincing arguments. For example what possible twisted reason could God have for creating evil? Why not tell us what they are (isn’t that what the Bible is supposed to be for? God explaining himself to us?).

    • Hej Robert,

      Thank you for your concern. Remember, Robert, Plantinga solved the logical problem of evil. I believe there is much to do(i.e emotional problem of evil).

      This simply shows that there is no logical inconsistency in believing an Omni-God and yet evil exist.

      The beauty of defense position, Robert,an like theodicy, one does not have to know what God’s reasons are 🙂

      What make this two arguments weak and unconvincing Robert?

      Prayson

  8. I was taught that evil is a byproduct of what was designed in us all. FREEDOM OF CHOICE…And that God did not create evil.

    At first it might seem that if God created all things, then evil must have been created by God. However, evil is not a “thing” like a rock or electricity. You cannot have a jar of evil. Evil has no existence of its own; it is really the absence of good and it is you and I that create evil, not God.

    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. So when God created, I was taught that ALL He created was good. One of the good things God made was creatures who had the freedom to choose good. In order to have a real choice, God had to allow there to be something besides good to choose. So, God allowed these free angels and we humans to choose good or reject good (evil). When a bad relationship exists between two good things we call that evil, but it does not become a “thing” that required God to create it.

    Good is the fundamental concept of Gods design, and we must, of our own FREE will, choose Him (good). When we choose Him and seek His ways we grow in our walk with God, we have the Word and we have the power of the Holy Spirit. All three protect us from creating and succumbing to evil.

    We studied Psalm 91 years ago at school and Pastor suggested we preface it with a little qualifying phrase that is, I believe, clearly implied by the rest of Scripture and a common sense knowledge of life. The phrase is: “Except that God in His love and wisdom allow it for the ultimate good…”

    He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”

    Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday.

    A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you. You will only observe with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked. If you make the Most High your dwelling– even the LORD, who is my refuge—then no harm will befall you, no disaster will come near your tent. For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone. You will tread upon the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent.

    “Because he loves me,“ says the LORD, ”I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life will I satisfy him and show him my salvation” (NIV).

    We know that God can always protect everyone. We know that He has sometimes protected many. We know that He will often protect some.

    We also know that God is sovereign and wise, not always choosing to do all of that which He is able to do.

    Peace

    • “We know that God can always protect everyone. We know that He has sometimes protected many. We know that He will often protect some.”

      Do you want to explain that to the family of the victims of the Aurora shooting? Apparently your god didn’t like those people in that theater. What an evil thing it is for you to insinuate that god protects people. The conclusion is that your god did not want to protect those who were injured and killed. Your god did not love them enough. Your thoughts here are sickening.

  9. Good morning Prayson,
    Have you read Gordon H. Clark’s treatise Religion, Reason and Revelation? I understand that in Chapter 5, God and Evil, the ultimite cause of evil is our Lord, in that He created it. What are your thoughts?

    • Hej Kenny,

      I sadly have not read Clark’s teatise. I have been dancing with that question for a long time since a Bible believing Christian is strained to hold that God is sovereign (Dan 4:35 Isa 40:17) everything (Ps. 148:8, Job 37:6-13, Ps. 135:6-7, Ps, 104:14, Matt. 5:45, even in bringing about disaster/evil (Amos 3:6, Isa. 45:7, Exo. 4:11 and Job 2:10) and also directs sinful human actions to pass(Moses and Pharaoh, Joseph’s story, crucifixion of Jesus et cetera) yet God himself commits no sin.

      If you hold that God did not only create all things but also preserve it and nothing moves without God willing it to be (Heb. 1:3, Col. 1:17, Acts 17:28, Neh. 9:6, Prov. 16:33) according to the council of his will (Eph. 1:11, Matt. 10:29) then I begin to understand the challenge before us.

      John Frame, philosopher and reformed theologian, contented that saying God is the cause of evil is quite problematic since we tend to associate cause with blame. Other terms could be use such as permit, decrees, foreordains, make to happen, but all in all, we are stuck with the problem same problem namely, if God bring about/permit/cause evil to be, is He to blame.

      Arminians tend to charge Reformed as making God the author of evil. I think they assume that since God is author of evil theren God is to be blame. As Reformed Christian, I will agree with Clark’s quote you presented, since I accept that charge but carefully show that being an author evil does not necessary make you evil.

      Wayne Grudem present a wonderful illustration of an author writing a play to show that God causes all things yet the blame does not fall on Him. He pointed out Shakespearean play Macbeth, where Macbeth murders King Duncan. Grudem explain that even though William Shakespeare cause/authored the death of King Duncan, it’s Macbeth who is blamed for killing Duncan.

      Many Arminian reaction to this would be like that of the Romans in Romans 9 when Paul explained that God has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens the heart whomever he wills. Paul argued v.19-23a

      You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory (ESV)

      I promise to write an article dealing with this wonderful and brain-heating topic.

      In Christ,

      Praysona

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