Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Atheist objection of the existence of evil is a contradiction.

Atheists claim that the existence of evil contradicts God's existence.  This is itself a contradiction and an absurdity.  If God doesn't exist, there is no eternal standard of good and evil, to judge something as evil.  Consequently, no evil exists that can contradict God's existence.  Ultimately all Atheists are saying then is something very banal and irrational: things I don't like exist (because what more can evil be then "stuff I don't like" in a Godless universe) and so God doesn't exist.  Because existed, he would only allow realities that I like.  How childish.

In any case, humans are aware of evil pretty universally, meaning that they are aware of God, whether or not they like it.  This means two things.  Namely, that God clearly exists, but also why he allows evil or why he created a universe where evil (which comes about via the free will of angels and humans) could exist in the first place, is a great mystery.  Clearly free will can't be the whole answer, since God could have created humans or angels in such a way that they would always use their free will correctly (as it is in heaven!).  

Nevertheless, God has redeemed us from all evil in the cross of Jesus.  And if he created a world in which evil was possible and then suffered its worst effects for our sake, then we can't very well complain about it.  Even if he didn't redeem us, we would still be his creatures and that would be that.


  1. One possible corollary to your argument, if I've understood it correctly: The denial of natural theology will lead to the denial of publicly recognizable standards of morality.

    Another: The Christian answer to the existence of evil is only comprehensible to believers, that is, within the Church.

  2. I don't think it's that easy to dismiss, as assuming the existence of a good God evil is not "stuff I don't like" but "stuff God doesn't like", and since omnipotence is generally considered an attribute of God, the existence of evil represents a pretty durable contradiction for the skeptic (and a mystery for you).

    Now it is interesting that goodness seems to be a more essential attribute for God in the public understanding than omnipotence; more people would place evil outside of God's control, by his choice or by his limitations, than to say that God's a big jerk who doesn't care about me or my concerns. Many athiests admit the possibility of a theism with the latter representation of God, treating God's existence as a separate issue: I'm thinking of Christopher Hitchens, who proclaims that God does not exist, and a good thing too!

  3. Mike, I think you've missed my point. Of course that there is an all powerful God and that evil exists is a difficulty- as I admit in the post above. The point I was making was that the moment you say "oh, well, because evil exists, God can't exist" you've contradicted yourself because you're positing an eternal standard of good and evil, which would be God.

    Furthermore, I would point out that it is illogical to say that God is good but not all powerful, because if God is the creator, logically he is at least powerful enough to creator the universe and therefore would have power over each and every individual thing in the universe. If that were so, then he would be able to will in or out of existence each individual thing- including evil persons and events.

  4. Mike, I think you were thrown off by the title a little bit. I've changed the title of the post to make my point a little clearer.

  5. Jack, that is the reason why denying God is viewed as a rational response to recognizing the existence of evil, because by denying God you can deny the reality of evil as well. If anyone does posit the existence of real metaphysical evil and yet denies God, I agree that would be silly, but I don't think it's that common.

    Also, I agree with you on what creation entails, but that doesn't hold for all conceptions of theism: it is possible to hold to a theogonic myth of creation where God does his best with what's on hand "in the beginning," the result being "good" and the best of all possible worlds but still containing elements opposed to God, e.g. all that Kushner stuff on wrestling the Leviathan, etc.

  6. You are correct about the theogonic myth stuff. Could it be though that this too would only result in evil becoming merely arbitrarily "stuff I don't like"?

    I think so. Here's why.

    If nothingness, chaos, and evil are realities that have ontological validity along side God and goodness, then they equally define the real and the natural. Consequently, choosing evil becomes equally valid response to reality as choosing the good- because evil would be just as real as the good. If this were true, then nihilism would set in because it would be meaningless which way you would go- both would have equal ontological real as choices.

    In the end, evil could have no reality as a revolt against the natural order. The badness or goodness of nothingness would simply depend on whether one preferred that side of reality or not. Consequently, evil would just be "stuff I don't like."