The Problem of Evil

In this Crisis Magazine classic, Benjamin Wiker argues that not only does evil fail to disprove the existence of God, but without God, we would be unable to recognize evil.

 

As an advocate of the Intelligent Design movement, Im very often confronted with the following rather pointed criticism: "Well, if the world is designed, then weve got to blame the designer for all of the evil in it, dont we? Backaches and headaches, cancer, cats playing with mice, parasites, floods, Nazis, slavery, starving childrenthe whole mess would have to be laid at the designers door."

Indeed, the presence of evil has been used, time and again, as a kind of trump card thrown down in debate against theists in general and design proponents in particular as the unanswerable objection, a lock-tight logical proof of atheism. In slightly expanded form, the logic runs as follows: If God exists, He is all-powerful and benevolent. If He is all powerful and benevolent, He wouldnt allow _____. But _____ exists; therefore, God does not exist.

We must understand, however, that this is not a mere debating tactic on the part of the atheist, but a formalization of a very human cri de coeur: "I cant believe God exists. There is so much evil in the world." Simply put, evil is a real problem, and odd as it sounds, we need to keep it that way.


Keeping Evil as a Problem

Keep it that way? As tempting as the above syllogism might be, either to our hearts or our heads, if we are to take evil seriously, it must be rejected because it is self-devouring and, hence, self defeating. If God does not exist, then there is no evil in the world. We can illustrate this seeming paradox by watching how quickly the cri de coeur is undermined in the most thorough and powerful denial of design: Darwinism.

Charles Darwin himself famously complained in a letter to Asa Gray, "I own that I cannot see as plainly as others do, and as I should wish to do, evidence of design and beneficence on all sides of us. There seems to me too much misery in the world. I cannot persuade myself that a beneficent and omnipotent God would have designedly created the Ichneumonidae [parasitic insects] with the express intention of their feeding within the living bodies of Caterpillars." Rather than such apparent natural cruelties being the result of divine intention, Darwin chose to hang them on the vagaries of natural selection. As a result, the presence of evil was rendered unproblematic because we could only expect a mixture of good and bad results from evolutions ongoing natural lottery.

Witness, however, the jaws of defeat already devouring the victory: If the universe and all things in it are the unintended result of the purposeless ebb and flow, expansion and collapse, explosion and fusion of matter and energy, then we have lost the grounds for complaint about all the evil in the world. The dust cannot complain to the cosmic wind that blows it recklessly hither and thither.

The irony, then, is that, while the "misery in the world" helped to confirm Darwins belief in a world without design, consigning the cause of the misery to evolution meant, ultimately, giving up the existence of evil. As the Voltaire of contemporary Darwinism, zoologist Richard Dawkins, has rightly noted, from the perspective of evolution, while such parasitism as Darwin complained about may seem "savagely cruel," the truth of the matter is that "nature is not cruel, only pitilessly indifferent." For Dawkins, this is "one of the hardest lessons for humans to learn." In a cosmos in which a creator is absent, things are "neither good nor evil, neither cruel nor kind, but simply callousindifferent to all suffering, lacking all purpose."

Paradoxically, then, eliminating God because of the existence of evil means embracing an impersonal, que sera sera cosmos utterly indifferent not only to our complaints but even to the distinction between good and evil itself. And the same goes for those who retain a distant God who, for some strange reason, gives free reign over nature to the blind, careless demiurgic powers of natural selection. In either case, the outcome can only be an object of complaint if it was initially an object of intelligent intention.

In one sense, this is very helpful, for it provides the proper response to the all-too frequently served atheists platitude that the presence of evil is the coup de grace that finally and decisively puts theology out of our misery. As it turns out, the only victim of the coup de grace is the cri de coeur. But thankfully, the cry of the heart is so deeply human that we cannot embrace cosmic indifference. We are repelled by a heartless universe and cannot shake our conviction that evil really is a problem. The solution to the problem of evil cannot simply be the dissolution of the existence of evil. Therefore, we had better look more carefully at evil as a problem.


The Problem of Deciding What Is Evil

Understanding evil as a problem is not an easy task, however. In debates about the existence of evil, we often overlook the unpleasant but illuminating fact that while we all agree that evil existsand I do believe, in his heart of hearts, even Dawkins knows that it existswe dont all agree on the particular evils we would include in our list of complaints. That is no small point.

One might think, for example, that we all agree that disease is evil and that its elimination is an unambiguous good. For Darwinism, however, the elimination of disease itself becomes a problem because disease and other hardships help weed out the unfit. As Darwin noted in his Descent of Man:

"With savages, the weak in body or mind are soon eliminated; and those that survive commonly exhibit a vigorous state of health…. We civilized men, on the other hand, do our utmost to check the process of elimination….. There is reason to believe that vaccination has preserved thousands, who from a weak constitution would formerly have succumbed to small pox. Thus the weak members of civilized societies propagate their kind. No one who has attended to the breeding of domestic animals will doubt that this must be highly injurious to the race of man."

Or to take an even more interesting example, even though Dawkins rightly concluded that evolution removes God and hence considerations of good and evil from the cosmos, he has also released a jeremiad against religion as an evil wed all be better off without. Just after the horrifying destruction of the Twin Towers on September 11, Dawkins railed against the "faith-heads," each equipped with an "after-life-obsessed suicidal brain," a brain of the "Abrahamic kind" that "teaches the dangerous nonsense that death is not the end."

To be fair to Dawkins, the horror of the attack may have driven him momentarily to extremes of passion. (At least we can be thankful that his passion drove him back into the realm of sanity again, where he was willing to affirm publicly that evil is real and a real problem.) But there is an important lesson here. The crises and consequent passions of the moment often skew our more balanced assessments both of what things are evil and, further, what we would do about them if suddenly we were granted omnipotence to treat the problem. Unfortunately, human beings are more fickle than farsighted, and their judgment undulates even upon the waves of headaches and hormones, let alone the larger shocks of events like 9/11. So the problem of identifying what is evil often depends upon when we are asked.

There is yet another difficulty in defining evil, one that was implicit in Darwin and Dawkins but which we need to make explicit. As radically different accounts of happiness and the human good become more pronounced and sharply defined, we shall find that more and more, one persons joy is anothers sorrow, and one groups victory is anothers sign of impending darkness.

For example, some years ago, the news came of the first baby born from sperm bought over the Internet. And just who was doing the peddling? A lovely organization called Man Not Included (MNI) that caters especially to lesbian couples (and to a lesser degree, single-by-choice women, whatever their nuance or persuasion). Once the registration fee is paid, lesbians can search the MNI database for donors and click on those with the desired characteristics. They need never get closer than a mouse to a male.

To frustrated lesbians, who may now have sperm delivered right to their front door for home insemination, this news offered a golden ray of hope. For others, however, the news was bleak rather than bright, one more oppressive sign that the sun was setting on modern civilization.

The result of this increasing divergence is that the very same thing is seen to be both dawn and dusk, a cause both for celebration and lamentation. To drill in the point, for Planned Parenthood and NOW, the legalization and increasing availability of abortion worldwide over the last 25 years is a great sign of hope, an unprecedented shimmer of light finally bursting forth after countless millennia of oppression by men, a joyful release from the slavery of biology. For those who oppose abortion, however, the last quarter-century has been the darkest on record, a remorseless slide into the depths of a barbarism previously unknown.

Thus, if we dig below the surface of the universal cri de coeur that "there is so much evil in the world," we soon find its actual referent is all too frequently not universal. It can mean, as we have just seen, both that abortion rights are not yet universal and that abortion exists for anyone at all. The problem of evil, then, resides not merely in the presence of evil. In no small part, evil is problematic because we do not agree upon what things actually are evil.

Further, such divergence about good and evil has a ripple effect that distorts more particular levels of seeming agreement, especially in regard to what should be done oncethe evil has been identified. Show a picture of a malnourished, deformed two-year-old orphan from Ethiopia, and a sad, pained expression steals over the faces of all. "Ah, yes," one would say, "there is so much evil in the world." Yet, the harmony turns to cacophony once we ask what should be done about it. If you still doubt, imagine throwing the picture into the center of a table around which are seated representatives of the United Nations, Planned Parenthood International, the Vatican, and the government of Ethiopia.

In sum, the vexing problem of evil is, if anything, even more frustrating than we thought. We cannot opt for a solution, like evolution, that simply eliminates the problem by eliminating the distinction between good and evil. Nor can we take for granted that there is real agreement on what things are actually evil, or if we find such agreement, what should be done. Alas, the contradictions even extend to the individual, who often changes his mind with his mood. Of course, the ramifications for theology are immense.


The Problem of Evil and God

Given all of the above, it is not very clear exactly how we could get from "There is so much evil in the world" to "I can’t believe God exists." Not only does the denial of God undermine the reality of evil, but since we cannot agree on what things actually are evil or, if some semblance of agreement exists, what to do about it, it is difficult to see exactly what we expect of the divine.

To illustrate, if we were all suddenly given the power to eliminate evil and make the universe right again, each in accordance with his or her own list, we would very quickly end up in a chaotic and destructive free-for-all far worse than the condition we were trying to escape. The only way to avoid such chaos would be to lay aside all our differing opinions and figure out exactly what things are evil.

But here we run into yet another problem. Not only are we confused about what is evil. We are also unaware of how much of a problem evil is; that is, we don’t truly see how deep and pervasive are the evils that actually afflict us.

Imagine the following: We, bemoaning all the evil in the world, cry out that we cannot believe God exists. No sooner has the conclusion escaped our lips than God abruptly appears. Of course, being God, He is not only all-powerful and so can remove all the evils, but He is all-knowing and so can see all the evils.

"Do you wish me to remove all the evil from the world?" God asks.

"Yes! Yes! Please do!" we cry.

"All the evil?" He asks again, leaning forward and looking straight through our eyes and into our hidden depths.

Well, we don’t really know about all the evil, do we? We begin rummaging around nervously within. Oh dear! Unkind words, unfulfilled promises, nagging resentments, and a thousand other failures in everyday charity. Sins of our youth, sins yet to be committed, sins of omission. The new clothes, new car, theater tickets, baubles, and toys we bought even while we knew that the money could have saved a thousand lives or made the poverty of a thousand more lives bearable. Even more frightening, what of the sins hidden even from us?

"All the evil?" He repeats yet a third time.

Under the omniscient gaze, we are made rather keenly aware that somehow all the evil in the world is not out there, and that we hadn’t really considered, in our cry of the heart, the evil within the very heart that cries. The problem with suddenly getting rid of all evil is that (at least in this imaginative exercise) we are making such a request to an all-powerful, all-knowing Being, and hence we’re likely to be caught in the very dragnet that we bid God to cast. This is all the more frightening given that we are often oblivious to the faults in ourselves that others find so painfully obvious.

In attending to omniscience, weve stumbled upon an oft-neglected aspect of the problem of evil. We generally focus on the problem of evil as if it were merely a problem of power. That is, we look to the heavens and cry, "Why dont you do something?" or we look dejectedly down at the earth, shake our heads, and mutter, "If there were a God, he would have done something about this. And you wonder why I’m an atheist!"

But the problem of evil is not one that could be solved by power alone. Power exercised in the elimination of evil devoid of the penetrating knowledge that can accurately identify evil, root and branch, is either chaotic or ineffective. It is chaotic if it is governed by confusion about what is evil; it is ineffective if it does not get to the hidden roots of evil.

Again, we see the necessity of God insofar as we have discovered the necessity for divine wisdom. As we have seen, our disagreements about evil can only be settled by determining what things actually are evil. But that would take a divine-like mind, a mind that adheres unerringly to truth by its very nature and is not swayed by the passion-driven storms of human partiality. Further, we must admit that evil must be eliminated at the very roots, and for this, once again, we will need an omniscient being who won‘t let us hide the evils within us, evils that would have to be eliminated if the world is to receive more than an ineffective whitewashing.


The Problem of Not Being God

We have seen that a good part of evil is human in origin, what we usually call "moral evil," and that moral evil often involves distortions in our judgment that in turn cause us to disagree about what actually is evil. We must also recognize another, more subtle aspect of the problem of evil: Human judgment is not only distorted, and hence entangled in disagreement, but humanthat is, not omniscient. This fundamental lack of omniscience, independent of the distortion of sin, makes our assessment of "natural evil," the kind of evil that so disturbed Darwin, problematic as well.

As it is often such natural evil that turns men away from theology and to an atheistic mode of science, I shall use science to make the point. The history of science is littered with the grandest claims of omniscience. I say "littered" because all-encompassing theories rise and fall like so many civilizations, displacing each other at fairly regular intervals. The reason for this pattern is simple: The universe is nearly mind-numbing in its complexity, from the farthest reaches of the most distant galaxy to the densely intricate subatomic microcosmos and everywhere in between. The gap between our human capacities and the awe-full immensity of the universe accounts for the cyclic pattern of scientific discovery and revolution.

This pattern allows for a humble recognition of the actual circumscribed realm of human intellectual competence. The order of the cosmos from the eye-view of omniscience is something we strive for, not something we have attained. Human reason is competent but not omni- competent. The problem is not that the universe is unintelligible; it is that the intelligibility of the universe lies within but also exceeds our human intelligence.

It is fair to say, then, that we do know many things, but that we do not know the overall design of the universe and how the myriad particulars fit in. We see some aspects of it quite clearly; others we find confusing or utterly confounding. Our efforts yield both victories and humilities. After much hacking through a set of difficulties, scientists break into a clearing and gaze happily upon a suddenly illumined landscape, but soon enough new difficulties arise, and they see how small a clearing actually was gained and how much lies dense, entangled, and unknown beyond it.

If we did comprehend the design of the cosmos, then of course we would have achieved omniscience and therefore would be in the best possible position to judge its design. But that is an important admission, for in it, we recognize that only the perspective of omniscience could judge the design, both in whole and in regard to any of the parts. Simply put, distinguishing between things that are actually evil, things that only appear to be evil, and things that are harmful or painful but necessary or beneficial to bring about a larger good would take an omniscient eye, not a merely human one.

With this in mind, we may return to Darwins statement: "I cannot persuade myself that a beneficent and omnipotent God would have designedly created the Ichneumonidae with the express intention of their feeding within the living bodies of Caterpillars." Again, such parasitism cannot be called evil if it is the result of evolution. To call it evil, both Ichneumonidae and Caterpillars must somehow be understood as intentional results of God. But if that is the case, then knowing we are not omniscient, and God is, we cannot properly judge His designs or their beneficent order and intent. The best we can say is that we dont know how such parasitismwhat appears to us to be a natural evilcan fit into Gods designs.


The Answer to the Problem of Evil

It might seem at this point that the problem of evil has been solved and that, as it turns out, evil is not really a problem after all. Once we realize that there is so little agreement on what is evil or what to do about it, and that our merely human judgment is either stunted or partial, then we must confess that our complaints are without merit. Only God could know the big picture, and into that picture backaches and headaches, cancer, cats playing with mice, parasites, floods, Nazis, slavery, and starving children all somehow fit.

But such a conclusion seems to commit the same kind of error as evolution. We cannot solve the problem of evil by dissolving the reality of evil. We seem to be caught in a trap. On the one hand, the oppressive weight of evil leads us to deny the existence of God, but if we deny God and pin evil on the mindless and indifferent lottery of evolution, then evil itself disappears. On the other, if we recognize that in order to retain evil, the cosmos and its contents must be the intentional result of an intelligent creator — a creator whose ultimate designs are beyond our merely human reach to fathomthen evil seems to disappear into the inscrutable depths of omniscience. What could release us from this trap?

The trap is all the more excruciating because, even after all of the above is taken into account, there seems to be a great excess of suffering, especially in regard to the innocent. We still want to cry, Job-like, to those inscrutable depths, "Who are you to orchestrate everything around us puny and pitiable creatures, leaving us shuddering in the darkness, ignorant, blasted, and buffeted? Its all well and good to say, Trust me! Itll all be made right in the end, while you float unscathed above it all. Grinding poverty, hunger, thirst, frustration, rejection, toil, death of our loved ones, blood-sweating anxiety, excruciating pain, humiliation, torture, and finally a twisted and miserable annihilationthats the meal were served! Youd sing a different tune if you were one of us and got a taste of your own medicine."

What could we say against these depths if the answer we received was not an argument but an incarnation, a full and free submission by God to the very evils about which we complain? This submission would be a kind of token, a sign that evil is very real indeed, bringing the incarnate God blood-sweating anxiety, excruciating pain, humiliation, torture, and finally a twisted and miserable annihilation on the cross. As real as such evil is, however, the resurrection reveals that it is somehow mysteriously comprehended within the divine plan.

With the Incarnation, the reality of evil is absorbed into the deity, not dissolved into thin air, because God freely tastes the bitterness of the medicine as wounded healer, not distant doctor. Further, given the drastic nature of this solution, we begin to recognize that God takes the problem of evil more seriously than we could ever have taken it ourselves.

At the same time, it’s not just a question of God‘s submission to our condition. In order to solve the problem of evil, we also need to be delivered from our ignorance, our confusion, our shortsightedness, our willful distortion of truth, and our weakness in the face of evils we recognize but choose nonetheless. We need to be cured of imperfections and led by and to more than human wisdom, and all this must be done in a way that is, as it were, fit to the capacities of human nature. We need, that is, to have the very wisdom and mercy of God made flesh.

And finally, since we are burdened by the presence of natural evil, the very evil about which Darwin complained, all the world must somehow be redeemed. That is, in our cry of the heart, we not only wanted things made right in regard to human beings but also a new heaven and a new earth, released from the current ambiguities and cruelties.

This is the full answer given by Christianity, an answer to the entire problem of evil. Of course, this answer can only and ultimately be grasped as the answer by the gift of faith. The most an essay such as this can do is remove the obstacles and prepare the ground for the seed to be dropped. But that, I hope, is no small thing.


Benjamin D. Wiker is the author of the upcoming
The Darwin Myth: The Life and Lies of Charles Darwin (Regnery, May 2009).This article originally appeared in the December 2003 issue of Crisis Magazine.

Benjamin D. Wiker

By

Benjamin Wiker is Professor of Political Science and Senior Fellow of the Veritas Center at Franciscan University. His newest book is The Reformation 500 Years Later: 12 Things You Need To Know. His website is www.benjaminwiker.com, and you can follow him on Facebook.

  • Barb

    This was a wonderful and understandable argument.

    Fiat Voluntas Tua

  • Francis

    Great post! Thank you. It’s not just about evil but also about misfortune and lack of full satisfaction, anything we don’t like. Maybe it should be called “The Problem of Frustration” — or the problem of “Why am I not God?”
    Your post reminded me of a long dialogue on Catholicism in a novel that can be downloaded for free from the Internet (http://www.lulu.com/content/714983). Here is a small part of it:

  • Chessie

    Thank you for the clarity of this article. I think an extension of what you wrote might be the resolution of the problem of people not agreeing on the definition of “what is evil”. The answer has been available for the past 2000 years, but so many people ignore it. The answer is the Truth as taught by the keeper of absolute truth by Divine edict… none other than the Catholic Church.

  • Mary

    As I read this essay it occurred to me that when God created man He gave us a mind to comprehend evil and a will to choose right or wrong, evil or good. It’s man that’s chosen to distort this truth by today’s standards that good and evil are practically reversed. Now ask yourself how did this come to be? By evolution or Satan? Heaven and Hell exist for a reason. Right or wrong are there as guides for us as we live our lives. If one chooses to live a life following Jesus it’s a path of good intentions and Love for one’s fellow man. In today’s standards that’s a difficult life to live. Why because if one sees something at work that’s wrong but if you report it you could lose your job, all because you chose to do the right thing, so some people choose to look the other way. When one claims to be a Christian it’s a life of constant battles against good and evil. For Satan wants you to spend an Eternity with him, for he blew his chance when he got evicted from Heaven. God made Hell for a reason.It’s man that doesn’t want to believe Hell exists so man can go on doing as he pleases and thinks no one is watching. The fact of the matter is, God is not only watching He’s sent prophets to lead the way and sent His Only Begotten Son to Save Us from our sins.
    The choice is up to each and everyone of us. Heaven or Hell? Whom do you want to spend Eternity with, Jesus or Satan? What could be plainer than that? Good or bad, right or wrong, rich or poor, free or slave, black or white, north or south, day or night, cold or hot. How many opposites does man have to see, hear or feel to find his way in this world before he knows in his heart ,”The Way The Truth and The Life”.”Choose This Day Whom You Will Serve As For Me and My House I Choose To Serve The Lord”. Remember, “The Evil You Embrace On Earth Will Embrace You For Eternity”, then ask yourself was it worth it? Never in my mind, how about yours? Years ago, Sept 2003 as my unemployment ran out and I gave the landlord notice I was evicted from my apartment of 5 years. Many things happened in this apartment, whereby I changed the locks half a dozen times, most people would have moved. As I stood in my shower crying out to God after a 3 day eviction notice I heard the Voice of Thunder speak these Words so clearly,”They Evicted You Like They Evicted Me, From My Schools, My Homes, My Churches, You Stand For My Word”. Wow, I realized God was watching and He saw what was happening to me and I don’t think He was too pleased by His Words. He knew what they did and how I tried to do the right thing. He honored me that day with His Voice for I trembled that day in the shower and every time I remember what He said and The Sound of His Voice. Trust me God’s Watching and Waiting and Jesus is coming sooner than you think, Be Ready for He’s coming For His Bride.”Look Up For Your Redemption Draweth Nigh”—————Mary

  • Turzovka

    If God wanted all robots he would have made us like the angels incapable of sin. But a husband has greater satisfaction and love for a beautiful bride that chooses to be with him instead of one who is forced to marry him. Hence, the trial and the suffering. But no matter how great suffering on earth is in human terms, in eternal perspectives it is the tiniest of burdens. Heaven is an infinite number of years of peace and joy and wonder and happiness. Those innocents who suffer here most on earth, by and large, will be rewarded most greatly in heaven. They may very well be the luckiest or most chosen ones of us all. 50 years of suffering and sadness should not be ignored, we must do all we can to alleviate our brothers’ pain, that is part of our trial. But in a more transcendent sense of it all, those 50 years are like receiving a moment of pain from the doctor’s syringe for a tuberculosis vaccination. That brief moment of pain and suffering saves one from a lifetime of greater horrors. Our time on earth patiently and suffering with our trials is our own reward. Trust God.

  • Jack J Szpytman

    Yes, there is an intelligent design. It comes from the Plan of God. It takes spiritual knowledge and spiritual intelligence to come to the understanding of God’s Design. My website: http://www.universal-flood.net explains in great detail this source of God’s Word and His Work in creation, sanctification, and salvation. Jack

  • Deborah

    I just went through two variations on “The Problem of Evil” for the last two weeks, while helping my son on his first year University Philosophy course. I was grateful, time and time again, over that fortnight, that my father had educated me so solidly and well in the process of understanding my faith. I could hold my own, with no philosophy background, in the argument.

    I enjoyed the research so much that I plan on taking the same course myself this fall. I have already saved your article; it brings new colour and depth to an argument I helped him present.

    Wonderful!

  • Shawn

    Why does the universe have to be either indifferent or designed? Can’t it be both? Just because the creation is indifferent doesn’t me the Creator has to be. Is it not possible that God designed an indifferent universe to serve a purpose? Sort of like how we design a sport that has rules that are indifferent to the player in order to sort out one player from another? Clearly the material universe is in fact indifferent. But the spiritual world behind the scenes is where the indifference ends and reality takes over. Perhaps the universe is designed to sort us out in some way. More and more I believe this place has a specific purpose…training souls. We are here to experience the whole thing, good and evil, pain and pleasure, in order to learn and grow and choose. Like Genesis says, we start out ignorant, fall into evil and pain, and are ultimately redeemed after death. We subject our children to the pain of schooling, not for the pain, but because of the growth that the pain produces. I believe we are subjected to this life so we can be prepared for the one that follows.

  • cathy zeng

    The truth seems to divide people, some love the freedom of abortion and birth control, others have come to see these things as very evil. The truth divides,yes, but if one is willing to wrestle with it, the truth will unite and heal. the truth is somebody, Jesus.

  • Jim M

    Dr. Wiker does a good job showing the emptiness of atheism. We all know intuitively that there is evil. This intuition alone is proof of God’s existence. The problem of evil is an even greater problem for the atheist than the Christian.

    However, at the end of the essay he says this: “This is the full answer given by Christianity….”

    I disagree. He left out a very important part of the Bible. Genesis 1-3. God’s original creation was perfect – without sin, defect, disease, and strife. The animals were all vegetarian. There was no bloodshed – UNTIL Adam and Even sinned. Their conscious choice to rebel against their Creator brought all the problems that we see today. It is NOT God’s fault – nor was it His original plan! He does speak of a new heaven and earth released from it’s current ambiguities and cruelties and I too am looking forward to this new world. God does promise to redeem the world, but it is important to remember that this redemption is a RESTORATION to God’s original plan. No death, disease, crying, bloodshed, etc. Acts 3:21 says this: “He must remain in heaven until the time comes for God to RESTORE everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets.” What is He going to restore it to? Revelation tells us. If it is a restoration, then it must originally have also been created like this. SO the current state of affairs that we find ourselves in is due to God’s punishment of sin. Romans 8:18-25. Here Paul tells us that the creation itself was cursed (see also Genesis 3:17-19). It is in bondage and groaning awaiting the day it will be restored and released from it’s bondage. The current suffering and evil we see in the world has more to do with mankind than with God. Complaining about our suffering is like a smoker who complains about getting lung cancer. We are all responsible for Adam’s original sin and therefore we all share the blame for the suffering of today. There are not totally “innocent” people. It is why we cannot ask God to get rid of all the evil in the world. He would have to do away with us as well.

    Actually God did an amazing thing. He did make a way to take away all evil, once and for all. He took upon Himself all the evil of the whole world and experienced more suffering than anyone ever has or eve will experience. Jesus died in our place to pay the penalty for this evil. Those who believe are cleansed of evil and they are forgiven. Their sins are taken away. Then God begins the work of changing us from the inside out. This is the only solution to the evil in the world. That change is slow and we still choose to sin, but God is at work changing us. This is the only solution to the problem of evil that we each face.

  • Jeff G

    Well said, Jim. Only the WHOLE story of Creation actually makes sense of good and evil.
    Who mentioned “naive creationism” up above? I would say the naivete lies rather in thinking we can mix and match the creation stories of Darwin and of Scripture to our own pleasure — decide for ourselves which bits of Genesis to declare naive!
    As in, OK Lord, I believe you did genuinely (in some sense) create everything — and you SAY you did it in six days — but, c’mon — we know that couldn’t be. Just between you and me, you didn’t really mean what you said, right?

  • Harry Dale Huffman

    Read the new blog at http://theendofthemystery.blogspot.com for not only a simpler view, but a real breakthrough (so it’s not just simpler, it’s more relevant and enlightening) that harmonizes the ancient testimonies with modern science. So far there are only 6 posts there, that are best read in sequence starting with the earliest. This new knowledge is a fundamental test of each person’s mental allegiance: to new truth or to current unquestioned dogmas (ancient or modern).

  • frickfricker

    Your explanation is probably one of the best and most comprehensive out there, the only thing missing would have been the availability of TRUE disobedience (evil) in order to provide real CHOICE, and therefore actual FREE WILL.
    Still, I have never seen the problem of evil so perfectly drawn to the incarnation. I am astounded and inspired! In that regard, you are truly evangelical, if I may say so without offending you!

    We have some self appointed “free thinkers” in our town who bleat about evil and disproving God. Read “Why literal belief is dangerous” at http://www.nwanews.com/nwat/Editorial/76708 to see their perspective.

    Another aspect of the Left and atheists is their misunderstanding of benevolent control. They are used to all authority doing what it can (whether legally granted or not) to “fix” things; hence their disposition for fascism and totalitarianism (socialism, communism). True benevolent authority includes patience! (The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. 2 pet 3:9)
    Thanks again for your awesome post, it will help. I will post further letters to the editor in response to their silliness. I have been working on one with this flavor, but am constrained by 500 words or less!

  • carl grant

    I spent half an hour of my not totally worthless time composing a responce only to have it vanish as I was told my website was not in the right configuration. No I didn’t forget to delete the text below. WHY?

  • Anthony Flood

    Dr. Wiker’s stimulating essay provoked a reply by me which appeared in the March 2004 of Crisis and was followed by his response. Both may be read here:

    http://www.anthonyflood.com/hewouldifhecould.htm

    I submitted to the editor of Crisis a rebuttal, but he declined to publish it:

    http://www.anthonyflood.com/wikerrebuttal.htm

    I accepted that decision without prejudice to Dr. Wiker. Just because he hasn’t had the opportunity to respond doesn’t mean he can’t.

    I would be grateful to the reader who tells me where Dr. Wiker has even implicitly addressed my rebuttal’s points, if he has in fact done so in any of his subsequent writings. To relay that information to me, or to “stand in for” for Dr. Wiker, so to speak, the reader may write me at anarchristian@juno.com.

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