The following post is a response to a dear friend of mine’s question to my faith in regards to his own. This is not a vicious argument of any kind but rather a civil discussion that will almost knowingly result in and common disagreement apart from any motivation of persuading the disagreeing party, but rather simply a statement of one’s own belief. I may disagree with a certain position (religious worldview – “Secular” humanism) the same as you may disagree with mine. It does not affect our friendship but will ultimately affect our final destination. If you would like to challenge the position in another way other than civil discussion please privately message me or email me. Let’s not make another huge public comment thread. Email and or Facebook messaging will suffice.
If you would like to read the entire previous discussion from facebook please message me to acquire the link.
My favorite analogy (and I’m not sure if someone else came up with it but I honestly was just thinking of it one day) is comparing god to a omnipotent and omniscient fireman. Now, if you believe god created evil as he created every other thing in existence, then god is like a fireman who set fire to a building filled with a hundred people and then saved half of them while the rest perished. Should that fireman be praised for his heroism? Or should he be hated because he set the fire in the first place. If you believe that god didn’t create evil, then the only other alternative is that he allows it to exist while still having the power to rid the world of it. In this case, our fireman gives a book of matches to a dumb kid and suggests he go play with them in the cornered the building. The fireman watches as he sets the building on fire. Then he he saves half the people again while the other half die. Again, should he be praised? Or hated?
Your story really brings up one main apologist topic: Can a good God create evil? Fireman (god) setting fire to a building (evil) – how can people then worship him? Is he really good?
C.S. Lewis wrote an entire book explaining this quandary and his reconciliation of it: read The Problem of Pain by C.S. Lewis. He wrote this book while still grieving over the loss of his wife to cancer. Sooner or later everyone has to deal with the problem of pain—that is, the problem of evil. If God did not claim to be good, then the problem would be simple; but He does. If He were not all-powerful, as the finite godists say, there would not be a problem. If evil were not real, we could escape the problem. But such is not the case. The problem is very real.
What is evil?
Evil: Evil is a lack of something that should be there in the relationship between good things.
Meaning: Evil is, in reality, a parasite that cannot exist except as a hole in something that should be solid.
But if God made all things (fireman ill.), then that makes God responsible for evil, right?
- God is the author of everything
- Evil is something.
- Therefore, God is the author of evil.
But I would say that is not true and here is how I would “prove it.” (of course I say all this, understanding things of this nature do require a high measure of faith just as you must place a high measure of faith your own mind in regards to your ability to save yourself apart from something greater then yourself saving you.)
In the beginning, there was God and He was perfect. Then the perfect God made a perfect world. So how did evil come into the picture? Let’s summarize the problem this way:
(Definition of perfection—don’t have time to get into… skip ahead … J)
- God made everything perfect
- One of the perfect things God made was free creatures
- Free will is the cause of evil.
- So, imperfection (evil) can arise from perfection (not directly, but indirectly through freedom).
One of the things that makes men (and angels… i.e. Lucifer) morally perfect is freedom. We have a real choice about what we do. God made us that way so that we could be like Him and could LOVE freely (forced love is not love at all, is it?). But in making us that way, He also allowed for the possibility of evil. To be free we had to have not only the opportunity to choose good, but also the ability to choose evil. That was the risk God knowingly took. That doesn’t make Him responsible for evil. He created the FACT of freedom; we perform the ACTS of freedom. He made evil POSSIBLE; men made evil ACTUAL. Imperfection came through the abuse of our moral perfection as free creatures.
(-excerpts from “When Skeptics Ask” by Norman Geisler 59-62)
Also, you cannot forget that God in his perfection could have destroyed all because we disobeyed Him. Remember He is God and you are not. But rather he has made a way of escape which is found only through the sacrifice of His son Jesus Christ on the cross.I Thess. 5:9,10 – For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him.) SIDE NOTE #1 In regards to “Secular” humanism (for it is in no way secular but totally religious and based on faith) this verse came to mind and one must choose to acknowledge or disregard: Galatians 6:7-8 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth unto his own flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth unto the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap eternal life. SIDE NOTE #2 In the end, belief in God or belief in “not a god” requires a degree of faith because it is not empirically provable. Actually, I think Secular Humanism requires more faith given the evidence that the complexity of the universe has to offer.
– Notice: Any answers to this post from anyone must keep in mind the disclaimer given at the beginning.