A few months ago I wrote a short review of Norman Geisler’s book “If God, Why Evil?”. I received a comment on my post from an atheist who had hoped for more of an answer to why evil. I did answer back and had planned to explore this topic a bit further but had not gotten back to it. Then my alarm work me up early Friday morning July 20, 2012 to the news that people had been killed at a midnight showing of the movie “The Dark Knight Rises” and once again we see evil raise its ugly head.
The problem of evil is usually directed from unbelievers to believers in a question which takes the form of , if God is all good and all powerful why is there evil? If He is all good He would banish evil and if He is all powerful He could rid the world of evil. Since evil exists, God must be either not all good or not all powerful or both. Evil is usually thought of a problem for theists only. What gets left out is that the atheist, the humanist and the Darwinist also have to come up with a solution to the problem of evil.
That evil exists does not seem to be an issue. Regardless of your belief system almost everyone recognizes that evil exists in the world. We may quibble about what is and is not evil but almost everyone will eventually call some act or person evil. Abortion is one example where the Christian would call it evil but others call it a right. Still in most instances we can agree that specific acts are evil. The mass murders by the Hitler, Stalin or Pol Pot come to mind. So the existence of evil is not generally in question, just why it exists.
I need first to define my term, what is evil? It is a hard word to pin down, in some ways it is like the Supreme Courts definition of pornography, we know it when we see it. Webster’s online dictionary defines evil as morally reprehensible, sinful, wicked, an evil impulse or arising from actual or imputed bad character or conduct. I think the problem with defining evil is that evil is not a thing but a lack or corruption of something. Just as darkness is the absence of light so evil is the corruption of what is good and moral. We cannot know something is evil without first knowing what is good and moral. Only then can we, by comparison, call something, some action or someone evil.
Next time I will look how the problem of evil is presented to Christians and the Christian answer to the problem of evil. To my readers, this will of course not be an exhausted look at the problem of evil. Books have been written on this subject and by people more learned and intelligent than me. My hope is to whet the appetite, answer a few questions and hopefully cause you to explore the topic on your own.
Have a blessed day,