March 28, 2017

Where did evil come from?

What made the first created people decide to disobey God? What about the angels who were created to serve God but rebelled against Him? Where did evil come from? Fortner attempts to answer that question in today’s devotional yet his answer seems to fall short. It seems true that God was not surprised by evil, but to say that God ordained makes me think we are puppets.

Would an Internet search provide the answer? I took seven hits and found these results:
  1. Unlike God and the angels, we have no power to resist evil and will always yield to its attraction. This fits the biblical descriptions of fallen humanity, but it was not true of Adam and Eve before the Fall. Sin entered the world then, not before they sinned. It suggests God created them with a propensity to sin, but they were made in His image so that isn’t right either.
  2. God created evil. This page quotes Isaiah 45:7 as saying: "I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things." However, this is a misinterpretation of the word “evil” which actually means “calamity” and usually refers to events resulting in loss or misfortune. Yet God can use calamity for His good purposes. We might call them ‘evil’ but biblically, evil is totally destructive and anti-God. This website also says that evil originated with Satan, and asks why God didn’t nip it in the bud by destroying Satan. However, that does not explain where the devil got the evil idea to rebel against God.
  3. God created humans with the power to choose so there was always the possibility that we would choose to do evil. This seems closer to a good answer. Alvin Plantinga says, "To create creatures capable of moral good, therefore, (God) must create creatures capable of moral evil; and He can't give these creatures the freedom to perform evil and at the same time prevent them from doing so. As it turned out, sadly enough, some of the free creatures God created went wrong in the exercise of their freedom; this is the source of moral evil." In other words, evil happened not through nature or nurture, but choices.
  4. Evil is the absence of what should be. God said His creation was ‘good’ and His intention was that we love Him and one another. However, love involves making a choice (otherwise we are robots). The opposite of choosing love is evil and it must exist if love is to exist. This short video explains better than my short paragraph. 
  5. God created the ability to choose, from another short video that sounds almost like a pat answer. It focuses our God-given capacity to make choices and says Adam and Eve exercised that freedom and made a wrong choice. By doing this, sin entered the world. Yet the rebellion already existed for the angel Lucifer — who was also allowed to choose, and he decided he wanted to be god, to usurp his Creator. So evil in humanity is the fault of a wrong choice, and before that happened, evil came into the world because of another wrong choice. (Dr. Woodrow Kroll)
  6. God allows evil for a time to test us. The sixth page is a cult definition, similar to those above but shallow. It falls short in explaining where evil comes from and has a non-biblical idea of redemption. However, it does show that all ‘religions’ struggle with this question about evil.
  7. Evil evolved. The last page takes the idea that evil gradually evolved because of human fear and jealousy. The author does not believe the Bible is the Word of God, and his ideas are fanciful but without substance or based on any authority but his own ideas.
Reading these helped me understand the diversity of opinions. Some of them took verses out of context to explain their point of view and that is always unwise. Others did not consider the entire biblical message, also unwise. I landed on #4 and #5 as ringing true to the purposes of God. We cannot fully grasp this and other inaccessible answers because we do not have a full capacity to understand God. One thing is certain:
“For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.” (Romans 5:19)
Jesus, I know that You can stop sin. You did that with a pagan king (Genesis 20:6) and have done it many times for me. Yet You did not create robots. We are people with the ability to choose. Sin messes us up, even that ability to choose is messed up. However, redemption through faith in You restores our God-given faculties. Without You, I cannot do anything good, but with You I can obey You. Evil does not have to win — because You defeated it on the Cross.

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