Did God Create Evil?
The Theological Doctrine Cannot Be True as Long as Evil Exists
The Theological Doctrine’s core beliefs are that God is omnipotent and He is wholly good (Mackie, 1955). Omnipotence is defined as having unlimited power. Wholly good is portrayed as absent of bad. If this were true, evil could not exist. If God had unlimited power, He would prevent evil. If He were wholly good He would not create evil or permit it to exist.
Theists purport that God is both completely good and with unlimited power, however when the doctrine applied to justifying how evil can exist, as shown above, it must contradict itself to explain why evil exists.
Evil is Necessary for the Existence of Good
An argument that good could not exist without the presence of evil is often used (Mackie, 1955). However; if God is the creator of all things, He would be the creator of evil. Thus, the doctrine belief that He is wholly good is a conflicting statement; how can a God create evil and still be wholly good?
Using a comparative argument, opponents argue something cannot exist without the opposite of that thing in existence. For instance, redness cannot exist without ‘unredness’ (Mackie, 1955). How else would we be able to name something without a comparative substance to weigh it against? That is in how we measure it. Good is not only defined as the opposite of a bad experience. It can be identified by the emotions it evokes from our internal experiences. Good can be described as laughter, happiness, and peace. The argument that we cannot feel these things without death and despair is irrational. A person can experience love and laughter without having suffered heartbreak and tears. As a consequence, some theists argue evil does not exist as an opposite, but as a means to achieving good.
Evil Exists as a Means to Good
The argument that evil exists as means to good also contradicts the theological doctrine that God is wholly good, as well as omnipotent. Theists contend that without the obstacles of good, people would not search for ways to remove evil through such measures as curing disease and researching solutions to make the world better (Mackie, 1955). What is not addressed in this argument is how murderers and rapists being present on Earth is resulting in any sort of overcoming of evil. We, as a society, are subject to these people and their evil acts with no benefit coming from their evil deeds. There may be reactive good that comes from such acts, such as harsher sentences for the perpetrators or a community coming together in support of a victim, however; arguing that the good resulting from intentional acts of evil is beneficial is akin to stating if a person breaks someone’s bone in order to care for their injury, it is a good thing. That is senseless.
A wholly good God does not need motivating factors to influence His children toward good. Nor does an all-powerful God need anything other than His own power to remove evil. If an omnipotent God wants good to exist in the world He has the power to create only good in the world. He has the ultimate power to steer people toward good, if He is, indeed, unlimited in power. However this argument limits God to causal power (Mackie, 1955). This very argument removes God’s ability to be omnipotent while evil exists. As does the argument of free will.
Free Will Prevents God From Stopping Evil
Most often used is the argument that God granted humans free will and thus cannot interfere with human decisions to be good or evil (Mackie, 1955). This also eliminates the theological doctrine’s claims of God being omnipotent because free will also implies that God binds himself to his own laws (Mackie, 1955). A truly omnipotent being cannot bind himself to any law. He would have to freely choose it. If He is freely choosing to allow people to commit heinous acts of evil then He is either ignoring or condoning evil. Thus, he also cannot be wholly good.
Additionally, if God were to bind himself to free will to humans, such a conviction infers that free will is more important than good, and thusly God cannot be wholly good (Mackie, 1955). There is no justifiable benefit of humans having free will that is more important than eradicating evil. A God who supports free will and its power binding implications combined with a greater importance than stopping pain is neither omnipotent nor wholly good.
When justifying the existence of evil while upholding a theological doctrine without exception, it is impossible to have both the explanation and the doctrine be accurate. If God is truly omnipotent He holds the power over humans and life. If He is choosing to permit evil to exist to serve as a counterpart or means to humans creating more ‘good’ then He is not wholly good. If He is permitting evil to exist due to free will, He is binding himself and cannot be omnipotent. Thus, to explain why God permits evil to exist, the Theological Doctrine must be discarded as the core of who or what God is.
Accordingly, my question to theists is this “Is your God partly bad, or limited in power?”
Can God be both WHOLLY good AND unlimited in power while evil exists?
Mackie, J. L. (1955). Evil and Omnipotence. Mind, 64(254), 200–212. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/2251467