Following up on yesterday’s post, have you ever noticed the weird co-dependency between God and evil? As I’ve said previously, if a good God were to exist, the consequences of His existence ought to be good rather than evil. Yet evil does exist, and is widespread. The Christian answer to this contradiction is to suggest that evil is somehow necessary in order to accomplish a greater good. But we don’t even need to look at the specific excuse of “free will” to see that there is something very fishy about this proposed explanation.
Think about it. God is supposedly the only self-existent being. That means the only constraints and necessities are those which are either inherent in His own nature, or else created by God Himself. If sin and evil are going to be necessary in order to do good, that’s a constraint that is either present in God’s nature—i.e. God’s nature is such that it makes sin and evil necessary!—or else God deliberately commanded that good cannot be achieved in the absence of evil. Either way, if evil is necessary, it’s because God makes it necessary.
I don’t think many Christians would approve of that observation, but what are the alternatives? Suppose it was not necessary to resort to sin and evil in order to accomplish the greater good. What then? That would mean that God could have accomplished the same good results without resorting to sin and evil—but He chose to use evil means anyway! That’s an evil God, folks.
Nor does it help to suggest that God avoids the stain of guilt by merely “allowing” evil instead of actively initiating it. Fallible mortals might be innocent, if their negligence was unintentional and was committed through ignorance. An omnipotent and omniscient deity does not have that excuse. A sovereign God is responsible for the consequences of how He exercises His sovereignty. If He subtly “arranges” things so that some other poor saps have to take the fall while He comes out smelling like roses, that makes Him even more wicked and diabolical, not less so.
Suppose God could have achieved good results without evil, but was able to achieve even better results by making sin and evil part of His “grand design” for history. Is that any better? No, that’s an even less reasonable alternative. First of all, isn’t a lesser good without evil morally superior to a “better” result obtained via evil means? Wouldn’t God be better glorified by a plain wooden altar than one gilded with stolen gold? But that’s the least of the problems here.
The deeper problem is that this alternative proposes that Good itself is irrevocably flawed and imperfect: God Almighty, with all His infinite knowledge and infinite wisdom and infinite power, cannot accomplish as much by Good alone as He can achieve by resorting to evil. Good by itself does not have the power to do good: you have to have evil to do good.
Again, where would such a constraint come from? If God is the only self-existent being, then either God’s nature requires evil in order to do good, or else God deliberately decreed it, just because He wanted to. Would you worship a God who was either evil by nature or else deliberately decreed that good could only be accomplished through evil?
If God could do a lesser good without resorting to evil, then the lesser good would be morally preferable to any goal requiring evil means (assuming that sin and evil really are bad things, of course). In other words, the possibility of a lesser good means evil is not necessary—in order for there to be a necessity of evil, it must not be possible to do any good at all without resorting to sin and evil.
That is a seriously messed up philosophy of good and evil, and it’s one that even Christians would reject, if they could. But they can’t do that without admitting that a world created by God would be free from the evil we find in real life. It’s an inherent and irreconcilable contradiction, and the only thing Christians can do about it is try to obscure the problem.