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Biblical Studies Journal Volume 6, Number 1

December 19, 2002

The Supposed Problem of Evil

By David Ridley Stroop


The Problem of Evil is usually stated something like this:

"If there is an all-powerful, all-knowing, loving god, surely he would not allow the evil that we know exists. Surely he would know about that evil, be able to do something about it and want to do something about it. But since he hasnít, we must conclude that there is no such god."
Letís see if there is a logical fallacy here. Besides an explicit postulate, there is also an unstated assumption.

The explicit postulate, the one which the problem attempts to test, is: "there is an all-powerful, all-knowing, loving god."

The unstated assumption is: "A human can reliably know what any possible all-powerful, all-knowing, loving god should do about evil."

But, no human has enough knowledge to reliably determine what an all-knowing god should do about evil. The amount of knowledge required would, itself, be very like that of an all-knowing god.

So, the postulate under test cannot be tested by humans. The supposed Problem of Evil does not prove there is no all-powerful, all-knowing, loving god.

So, we have found the real problem with the Problem of Evil. That problem is the belief is that people can reliably determine, on their own, what is evil and what should be done about it. But only God is capable of reliably determining what is evil and what to do about it. Only he is all-knowing. All others proposing answers to these questions must be either wrong or lucky guessers.

The real problem in the Problem of Evil is arrogance.

Isaiah 55:8-9 (ASV) "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith Jehovah. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts."
But, it is not just the atheist who makes the mistake of presuming to be able to determine what is evil. Believers also sometimes believe that they are themselves capable of reliably determining what is evil, even concerning topics about which God has said nothing. Anyone who does this, makes himself feel wise and important. But they really should feel ashamed, because they have placed himself in a position of equality with God. (Have you ever felt wise and important?)

God himself says this is evil. ("You shall have no other gods." Ex 20:3.) And if he should decide that it is better to allow that evil to persist for a while, rather than correct it immediately, that is totally up to him.

Isaiah 5:20-21 (ASV) "Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight!"
Occasionally, people lose a child or suffer some other extreme loss. Sometimes we hear them say something like, "If the loving God really existed, he would not have allowed that to happen," or like, "I cannot worship a god that would let that happen."

While it is natural for us to feel extreme anger when we experience extreme loss, we need to work through that and realize that we should not make the same mistake shown in the Problem of Evil. That mistake is the belief that we know what God should do. It is an understandable mistake, and we all make it, but it is still a mistake.

Romans 8:35-39 (ASV) "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or anguish, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Even as it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; We were accounted as sheep for the slaughter.

"Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

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