Alan offers biblical insights and perspective as he unpacks the question, “Did God Create Evil?”
Did God create evil? Well, Judeo-Christian theology teaches that God made all things. Now many people conclude then that if God made everything, then God made evil. And if God made evil then that would make God evil. But that thinking is based on a mistaken premise, that is, it presumes that evil is a thing. So let me clarify. Evil is something but it’s not some thing.
Now you’re probably thinking well it doesn’t, how does that clarify anything, right? Well here’s what I mean by that. Evil is something but it’s not a thing. It’s not stuff. It’s not made up of atoms. It’s not made up of molecules. It’s not made up of matter, right? It’s not some cosmic goo that contaminates things. It’s not the lint that gets caught in your bellybutton. You can’t buy it at a store. You can’t put in your pocket. You can’t flick it at a friend, right? Now, as I said, although evil is not a thing, it is something and here’s what I mean by that. Evil is a privation of good. It is the absence of good.
So let me offer an illustration. What is a doughnut hole? You might be thinking those are those you know warm, sugary, soft things that we eat and they’re super good. But that’s not what I’m referring to. A doughnut hole is simply the place where there is no doughnut. It’s not a happy place, I don’t want to be there. Or how about this, what is a shadow? Well, it’s the place where there is no light. Or what is coldness? Well it’s the place where there is no heat. Notice each of these things is defined not by what they are but by what they are not. And so evil in the same way is not defined by what it is but by what it is not. It is the absence of good. Evil results when goodness is missing.
Philosopher William Dembski puts it this way. He says evil always parasitizes the good. Indeed all our words for evil presuppose a good that has been perverted. Impurity presupposes purity. Unrighteousness presupposes righteousness. Deviation presupposes a way from which we’ve departed. Sin, the Greek word “hamartia”, presupposes a target that was missed, and so on. So therefore evil is not a thing and therefore God can’t be responsible for creating it.