The (Believers) Problem of Evil

Isaiah 45:7

King James Version (KJV)

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

For those who believe in a god, especially a loving, merciful god, evil is a real problem.  Some say that satan causes evil in the world, others that evil is god’s way of testing our faith.

As far as I can see it, these, and other arguments like them, all fall flat.  I could write a whole book against these arguments (and many have), but instead, I think my position can be summed up with the following quote attributed to Epicuris:

Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent.
Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent.
Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?

The first quote, from Isaiah, pretty much shows that the god who Christians like to claim as being a god of love, is also a god of evil.  Their Bible is pretty unequivical about it: the LORD creates evil.  It really can’t be any other way, if, as they say, their god created everything, for by default, he must have created evil as well as good.

To surrender the cause of evil to an unseen and amorphous entity is to refuse to take any responsibility for the evil that humans visit upon each other.  When you accept that evil is a product of human activity, you can then look it straight in the eyes and tackle it head on, instead of pawning it off to an imaginary god or gods.

There are many reasons that I am an atheist; there is my love of science, my thirst for knowledge, and my instance on truth, no matter how ugly it may be.  Still, the two quotes above make a very powerful, yet simple, argument against believing in any god or gods.  They are a beginning point for shuffling off the imaginary coil of belief and moving onto a life of real responsibility those with who we share this planet.


2 thoughts on “The (Believers) Problem of Evil

  1. *ponders*

    I think the subject of “evil” is a challenge for believers and nonbelievers – for a myriad of different sorts of reasons. I think for believers, “evil” is something that is simply the “counterpart” of good (in the absolute sense) – which makes it easier for believers to divorce “evil” from themselves as individuals.

    For many nonbelievers, the subject of “evil” is a nuisance because of the desire to mark it as a “believer’s bane” – perhaps as a convenient way to dismiss “evil” as a nonexistent thing, as much as we dismiss any god as such.

    Thing is…evil isn’t a “thing”. It isn’t a “counterpart/point” to anything. Evil is a series of decisions-turned-actions that each and every human being is capable of – which creates the conundrum for believers and nonbelievers alike. “Evil” is *just* a word – but its meaning is a chameleon.

  2. On the whole I agree with you, however I see an obvious response that an apologetic is likely to make to your points.

    That is, you are being over simplistic and that God is both able and willing to do away with evil and that is precisely the point. From the Christian point of view, belief in God does not rely on absolute proof, but on faith in the unknown. Its also about mankind having the freedom to chose to believe in God or not.

    If there were a God and he did away with evil then he would be a God who would be easy to prove and a God who would be easy to believe in.

    There is also the point that evil people will do evil things, and not so evil people may also on occasion do evil things. This is a function of the aforementioned freedom. A God who constantly intervenes to undo evil is a God who does not grant freedom to his created beings and he effectively becomes a dictator. This is not at all what Christian doctrine teaches.

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