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God and Evil

Updated on June 8, 2011

I am writing this article in response to a question about original sin. Why did God make man sin if God loves man? Good question.

I love the story of the Garden of Eden. In the story, God creates everything, then gets modeling clay and makes a little statue in their image, then breathes the breath of life into the statue. There is a theory the thing created in the image of God is male on one side and female on the other, fused back to back. Later on, the story goes that the thing, "Adam," is lonely, so God puts Adam to sleep and pulls one of his ribs out to make Eve, so goes the popular translation. However, I have been taught that the very ancient Hebrew word we are translating as "rib" is never used to say "rib" anywhere else except in this story. So the speculation is that God perhaps put the male/female being, Adam, to sleep and then ripped his female and male halves apart so Adam could have company.

God puts Adam and Eve in a garden that has clear boundaries. It must have clear boundaries because it has a middle. If a thing doesn't have sides, it can't have a middle, can it? So we know the Garden of Eden had clear boundaries because smack dab in the middle of the garden is the place where God decides to put the trees of Life and Knowledge, side by side. God says it's fine to eat the fruit of Life but the fruit of Knowledge is forbidden.. We have the closed Garden with the forbidden Tree in the middle, right beside the non-forbidden tree. You can't miss it.

In my faith we write what we call "midrash" which are stories we use to try to explain missing pieces of the Biblical puzzle. I'm writing one right now, actually, and here it is.

God puts the trees in the middle of the park and says to the brand new, childlike humans, "It's okay to eat this fruit but it's not okay to eat that fruit. Never mind that the fruit of Knowledge looks even sweeter and gooder than the fruit of Life. You can't have it. If you eat it, you'll die. Really, I mean it. Now I, the Omniscient All Powerful God, will go away where I can't see what you are doing. Be good now."

Well, of course we all know what happens. Eve is fooled by the Serpent into eating the fruit, and because she is a woman, she makes her husband, Adam, do it, too.

"Why did you do that, Adam?"

"I don't know. My wife told me to."

The first hen-pecked husband.

The All-seeing, All-knowing God comes back and says, "Oh, you're hiding and I can't see you. Come out, come out, wherever you are!"

"We don't want to come out because we're naked," they reply.

God replies with a reasonable question, except for the fact that God is omniscient, "Who told you that you were naked?"

As if God doesn't already know. Yet, despite what seems to be clear entrapment, God severely punishes Adam and Eve by kicking them out of the garden and cursing them, telling them that they will have painful childbirth (like all the other animals) and that from now on they will have to work for a living and it will be damn hard. And you can see that this is about 97% true since all but about 3% of us have to work damn hard for a living to this very day.

And what happens after they are ejected from the Garden? They meet other people! Where did they come from?

Personally I think that if you take this story literally, God is represented as a scheming, duplicitous and spiteful being. But since I believe that God is a being far beyond our ability to comprehend, I believe that the literal interpretation of this story of original sin misrepresents the true nature of God.

After a journey of several decades either hiding from or searching for God, much like my progenitors, Adam and Eve, I have found that I cannot hide from God and need not search for God because God is everywhere. We cannot understand God because God is infinite and we are not. God understands us better than we could ever understand ourselves, because God is both outside and inside time, and sees our whole lives like a word or two written on a page. Yet God is even greater than this.

Rabbi Rami M. Shapiro, in his book, "Open Secrets," says that evil is not the opposite of God, but a manifestation of God. He quotes Isaiah chapter 45, verses 6 and 7: "... I make peace and create evil. I, the Source and Substance of all, do this." According to Rabbi Shapiro, "God is All... God is the sole reality..." God is even the negation of God, both finite and infinite, all powerful and powerless, unspeakably beautiful and hideously ugly: All, the "Source and Substance of everything and its opposite."

In the Garden of Eden drama, therefore, all the players are God: Adam, Eve, the animals, the Trees of Life and Knowledge, the Serpent, and even the fig leaves. What does that mean?

That, my beloved friends, is the journey.


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    • Tom Rubenoff profile imageAUTHOR

      Tom rubenoff 

      8 years ago from United States

      Thank you so much, TWF, for your deep and moving comment. I believe our individuality is a temporary state the Universe has assumed for the purpose of exploring experience. Many people believe that God is everything and its opposite. If that is true, then to blame God for evil is to blame yourself. As a temporarily individualized part of God, you are responsible for both your joy and sadness. To adopt this attitude is very empowering.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Somewhere in here is a terrifying idea, one that I've had myself and have been very uncomfortable with. That God and Satan maybe flip sides of the same coin.

      When one reads through Job it is hardly reassuring, but chilling. God Himself seems to be deliberately calling Satan's attention to Job with the obvious knowledge of what will happen. It also begs the question that if God in His perfection cannot look upon evil (if I remember my Aquinas), why is Satan in His presence?

      Bit by bit Job's torments escalate until he reaches a breaking point and a faithful man in a tearful rage questions the goodness of God Himself, who basically says, 'What's it TO ya?' God then scolds Job's friends for insisting some sin must have provoked God's actions, and most interestingly God is speaking as if those torments were delivered by Him and not some other (Satan).

      Though I do not look upon natural events like tornadoes as evil (they are the result of a natural mechanism that behaves as it does, without consciousness or intent) I have come to wonder the nature of what I'm worshipping.

      I've found myself in a period of doubt, feeling within me the conflict of Old and New Testament portraits of the Supreme Being. Though once and for a long time I felt deeply stirred by a loving Presence, I am of late equally disturbed by its absence. I realize I understand nothing.

    • Tom Rubenoff profile imageAUTHOR

      Tom rubenoff 

      8 years ago from United States

      Thank you!

    • SamboRambo profile image

      Samuel E. Richardson 

      8 years ago from Salt Lake City, Utah

      I think the tree of life is found in the King James Bible: Gen. 3:22, 24. Kind of obscure, but that seems to be it.

    • karengibsonroc profile image

      Karen Gibson Roc 

      8 years ago from Los Angeles


    • Tom Rubenoff profile imageAUTHOR

      Tom rubenoff 

      8 years ago from United States

      Hi Incomeguru, I compared the King James Bible to the Jewish Study Bible, and it seems the two trees appear only in the Jewish Bible. In the King James Bible there is only the Tree of Knowledge.

      I like the ET interpretation, Someonewhoknows. It picks up on the identity of "other" the story gives the God character.

    • someonewhoknows profile image


      8 years ago from south and west of canada,north of ohio

      If,you believe ET's -advanced beings came to earth and manipulated our creating us in their Image genetically then the Summarian God was an ET.

      According to the story these ET's or some of them wanted to create a slave race to mind gold that they say they needed to use to protect them from cosmic rays in their living environment.The scientists that created our bodies however created us with free will and they wanted us to be able to reproduce.Otherwise they would have to replace us as we died over time.Allegory is symbolic of what supposed to have happened.Not necessarily the whole truth and nothing ,but the truth.

    • incomeguru profile image

      Oyewole Folarin 

      8 years ago from Lagos

      "God says it's fine to eat the fruit of Life but the fruit of Knowledge is forbidden" where did you get this information from, i mean the trees, one with the fruit of life and the other with the fruit of knowledge?

    • Tom Rubenoff profile imageAUTHOR

      Tom rubenoff 

      8 years ago from United States

      Interesting. In the story, it seems that knowledge, free will and choice bring Adam and Eve to the loss of paradise. Certainly, no one commenting here believes that these things are bad, but it seems that choosing knowledge over obedience is what got Adam and Eve into trouble.

    • someonewhoknows profile image


      8 years ago from south and west of canada,north of ohio

      We,know why Man and woman were created.

      It,was to temp them and for them to know good and evil.

      Knowledge brings both to understanding.

      Free will,brings understanding to both.

      The choice is ours to make.

    • Tom Rubenoff profile imageAUTHOR

      Tom rubenoff 

      8 years ago from United States

      Couldn't agree more. Thank you!

    • SamboRambo profile image

      Samuel E. Richardson 

      8 years ago from Salt Lake City, Utah

      Commendable, to continue with faith in the face of seeming illogical stories. It is a wise person who refrains from judging something about God as "wrong" when stories don't make sense. A child may judge their parents as "mean" when they deny something or scold the child. In the same way, it would be unwise to judge God based on the experience we have, at this time, which isn't much.

    • Tom Rubenoff profile imageAUTHOR

      Tom rubenoff 

      8 years ago from United States

      Thank you, Ruby :) I love to provoke thought. There's no telling how it will react!

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Richert 

      8 years ago from Southern Illinois

      Wow, What can i say? This makes a lot of sense to me. I know there is a God. The story of Adam and Eve, makes no sense to me at all. you are correct, life is a journey and someday we will know the truth. Thank you for a very thought provoking piece.


    • Tom Rubenoff profile imageAUTHOR

      Tom rubenoff 

      8 years ago from United States

      Thank you, Tom :)

    • Tom Cornett profile image

      Tom Cornett 

      8 years ago from Ohio

      Visiting....reading....smiling. Thanks Tom. :)

    • Tom Rubenoff profile imageAUTHOR

      Tom rubenoff 

      8 years ago from United States

      Rabbi Shapiro teaches that there are necessary and unnecessary evils. There are the naturally occurring evils of disaster and disease - these are necessary to existence - and then there are the unnecessary evils we inflict on each other. We only inflict such evils on each other when we lose sight of our oneness in God. Therefore, yes, it is true to say that if one hardens ones heart to do evil against others, one is in effect blocking God out.

      Thank you.

    • dallas93444 profile image

      Dallas W Thompson 

      8 years ago from Bakersfield, CA

      Flag up!

    • Apostle Jack profile image

      Apostle Jack 

      8 years ago from Atlanta Ga

      God gave us a choice.Good or evil are positive and negative consequences are the results of those choices.

      We are good or evil as we choose to be.Not even God will come in if we close our door.

    • Tom Rubenoff profile imageAUTHOR

      Tom rubenoff 

      8 years ago from United States

      Excellent question! And "love" - what exactly does that mean? Let's agree that to love means to care deeply about a person or thing. If we regard all creation as the manifestation of God, then we can include ourselves as manifestations of God. A manifestation is really an extension of the self into "reality." If we can assume that God loves God, we can assume that God loves us as part of God. But it is just that - an assumption. Sometimes one might look at what goes on and conclude that God does not like us very much. Personally I think that God loves us, because when I love my fellow humans, I feel balanced - I feel "right." When I am angry at or fearful of my fellow humans I feel badly - "wrong."

      I did make a mistake when I rephrased the original question. Rohiworld's question was about God controlling everything, not about loving humanity.

    • CyclingFitness profile image

      Liam Hallam 

      8 years ago from Nottingham UK

      Great hub Tom

      How do we assume that God loves man?


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