WND: Why Is There Evil in the World?

Buffoon Award

Everyone who has ever given even a moment’s thought to theology has been gripped by a philosophical problem that has bedeviled theologians for millennia — the problem of evil. It’s been years since we wrote a serious post about that subject — see Charles Darwin, Francisco Ayala, and the Problem of Evil, followed by Francisco Ayala on “Darwin’s Gift to Religion”.

Since then we’ve written Kirk Cameron & the Problem of Evil, but like everything else involving Cameron, it was really about the problem of Cameron’s idiocy. The issue came up again in Answers in Genesis vs. Intelligent Design. AIG claimed that the Discoveroids’ “theory” of intelligent design has no answer to the problem of evil, but the bible does — evil is our fault because of sin, of course.

Today we have an opportunity to revisit this topic, thanks to the Drool-o-tron™. It alerted us with its blaring sirens and flashing lights, which compelled us to look at the blinking letters of its wall display — they said WorldNetDaily (WND). As you know, WND was an early winner of the Curmudgeon’s Buffoon Award, thus the jolly logo displayed above this post.

The faithful device had locked our computer onto this article: The big question about God. It’s written by a frequent contributor to WND, Greg Laurie, whom they describe as “the senior pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, Calif., one of the largest churches in America.” We know you’re eager to learn what he says, so here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us. The rev begins by stating the problem:

When it comes to questions about God, there is one that always seems to top the list: If God is so good and loving, then why does He allow evil? Why does He allow injustice, tragedy and other things?

Then he criticizes the question:

By asking, “If God is all good, then why does he [fill in the blank]?” we are, for all practical purposes, the ones who determine what is good and what is not good. When we ask that question, what we are really saying is that God is not all-good, implying that if he were all good, then he wouldn’t allow those things. The premise is that we decide whether God is good or not. So when did we become the moral center of the universe? And who are we to say that God is good or that God is not good?

Yeah — who are we — mere humans! — to decide what is good? Your humble Curmudgeon is no bible scholar, but even we are aware of two famous incidents in scripture where mere men did indeed seem to know good from evil, to the point where they questioned whether God was good. There was the long argument between Abraham and God about the fate of Sodom and Gomorrah. Abraham objected to God’s announcement that He intended to exterminate the population of those cities, and he told God that it would be unjust to kill the good along with the rest. And what of Moses’ reaction when God announced His intention to exterminate the Hebrews because of the golden calf incident? Moses argued with God and won the argument. The Good Book even tells us, in Exodus 32:14 (King James version, of course):

And the Lord repented of the evil which he thought to do unto his people.

Regardless of what the bible says, the rev declares that it’s wrong for us to even try to think about such things. If you didn’t understand his words which we quoted before, he goes on to make his position absolutely clear:

God is good because he says he is good. Some may argue that this is circular reasoning, but remember, we are talking about God. We have to go to the highest authority possible, which is God. God is good because he says that he is.

Nothing wrong with circular reasoning — not when one is dealing with theology. The rev doesn’t mention it, but he’s discussing Socrates’ Euthyphro dilemma — “Is what is moral commanded by the gods because it is moral, or is it moral because it is commanded by the gods?” The rev obviously prefers the latter alternative. He then says the same thing two or three more times, just in case you didn’t already understand his position. Finally, he moves on to something slightly different:

Let’s come back to the question Why does God allow evil? It is a valid question to ask. Why do we see the things in the world that we see? It’s because human beings were created with something called a free will.

Then he gives us what you’ve been expecting:

Originally, the first humans had it pretty good in the Garden of Eden. Adam was living in a veritable paradise. His basic job responsibilities were to enjoy all that God had made, to walk in fellowship with God, to think of some clever names for the animals and to spend time with his wife, Eve. How good is that?

Of course, Adam and Eve were attracted to the fruit God had forbidden them to eat, and they ate it. Then sin entered the world. If they had not sinned, the curse of sin would not have come into the world. And if the curse of sin had not come into the world, then we would not have the problems we have in our world today.

So the rev has given us two different answers to the problem of evil: (1) How dare you try to decide what’s good — that’s God’s decision; and (2) it’s all the fault of Adam & Eve. Nothing very original here. Oh, wait — here’s something we haven’t encountered before:

So why should we be held responsible for what some guy named Adam did so long ago? Here is the answer: If you or I had been living in the Garden of Eden, we would have done the same thing. Adam just did what any of us would have done.

Got that? It’s not even Adam & Eve’s fault — it’s your fault too because we’re all scum! Isn’t theology wonderful? Let’s read on:

Why did God make it that way? Why didn’t he make it so there wasn’t any temptation or evil? Wouldn’t everything have been great? Yes, and we essentially would have been robots. We would have loved God because we were programmed to love God, and we would have done what God wanted us to do because we had no other choice. Instead, God gave us free will.

Don’t blame God. Yes, he created you, but it’s your choice to be the wretch that you are.

We can only handle a limited amount of this stuff, so we’re going to skip several paragraphs. This is the rev’s conclusion:

Why does God allow evil? Here is the short answer: I don’t know. But God can take the horrible things that happen in this world and turn them around for good. Christians, and Christians alone, have the hope that one day when we die, all of our questions will be answered. All of our tears will be dried. All of our pain will be gone. There will be no more suffering and no more sickness. There is a better day coming. That is what we hope for.

We trust, dear reader, that it’s all perfectly clear now, and all of your questions have been answered. There’s no need to thank us. We are pleased to perform this Curmudgeonly service.

Copyright © 2014. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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19 responses to “WND: Why Is There Evil in the World?

  1. All this jiggery-pokery with “free will” laid on by apologists and theologians is in any case a logical dead end when weighed against the creator god’s omnipotence and other supposed attributes. An omnipotent creator wouldn’t have any trouble at all making a world with people who have free will but who are still immune to evil’s temptations. Even if the supremely difficult task could accomplished of demonstrating that susceptibility to evil is a logical consequence of free will, the assumed creator would still be able to make a world free of that logical consequence. That is what it means to be “omnipotent,” a requirement many apologists and theologians conveniently sweep under the rug.

    Stepping even further back, who planted the seed of evil in the first place if an omnipotent, omniscient, omni-benevolent creator deity is behind it all?

    No, any rational appraisal of the theological prestidigitations and backbends that are commonly engaged in with the Problem of Evil, must conclude that it’s all elaborate verbal disguises for intellectual nullities.

  2. Aaargh [edited out], “… wouldn’t have no any trouble at all making…”

    [*Voice from above*] Your transgression is no more! (Even your failure to close the tag in this comment is repaired.)

  3. You missed something. Adam and Eve were disobedient, which is somehow the definition or urfather of all sins. God could have punished Adam and Eve (sent them to their room, not allowed them to watch TV, whatever) but rather he expelled them from his garden (along with a few assorted other miseries) but then God transfers their mistake to the entire human race, as if their behavior were genetic. So, God invented sin, not Adam and Eve; they just made a mistake that apparently we are to be punished for.

    Later, God thought again about what he had done and decided maybe it wasn’t quite right (again, God admitting another mistake), so he takes on a humanly guise (Jesus) and arranges to sacrifice himself, to himself, to protect us from himself. Amazing.

    And we are to believe this?

  4. “Why does God allow evil? …. It’s because human beings were created with something called a free will.”
    Translated: “why does god allow the rapist to rape? It’s because rapists were created with something called free will.” To which I’d like to add (and pun totally intended): f**k the (free will of the) victim.

    “Why did God make it that way? Why didn’t he make it so there wasn’t any temptation or evil? Wouldn’t everything have been great? Yes, and we essentially would have been robots.”
    God has made it that way in the realm called Heaven. Everything there is supposed to be great. Apparently the rev – and many more christians – will turn into robots in afterlife.

    My question has been answered indeed, though I had found the answer quite a time before you provided it, SC. As a consequence I’ll never convert to christianity.

  5. @Steve Ruis: You left out a step in God’s course corrections —
    at one point where He saw He hadn’t gotten it quite right, He drowned 99.99999999999999999999999999+% of all land life on Earth in an attempt to rid the world of evil.

    Then He saw it still wasn’t right, and came as Jesus, arranging to sacrifice Himself to Himself to protect us from Himself. (BTW, that’s a nice touch, Steve.)

    What worries me is that looking around the world today, it doesn’t take a Godlike insight to see there is still evil all around us, and I wonder what His next “Final Solution” is going to be? (Perhaps I should not use that term on the day after the 70th anniversary of D-Day. I mean no offense; just want to make the point.)

  6. Ceteris Paribus

    Pastor Greg says:

    Originally, the first humans had it pretty good in the Garden of Eden. Adam was living in a veritable paradise. His basic job responsibilities were to enjoy all that God had made, to walk in fellowship with God, to think of some clever names for the animals and to spend time with his wife, Eve. How good is that?

    Not good enough. A truly omniscient deity would have created an Adam with sufficient IQ to have only asked his God to provide a talking snake that could tote a golf bag, and an animatronic Eve that could go fetch cold beer.

  7. Ceteris Paribus proposes

    a talking snake that could tote a golf bag, and an animatronic Eve that could go fetch cold beer.

    Sounds like the plot for a great movie: Genesis meets the Stepford Wives

  8. Olivia summarizes the theological problem by asking: “Why is there someone like Megalonyx in the world?”

  9. Charles Deetz ;)

    So we have an imperfect world, with imperfect people, and an imperfect bible. So what is this explanation about the perfection of the creator? Sounds like he’s as much a slacker as his two teen creations that live in my house.

  10. Retired Prof

    The trouble with discussing the problem of evil is that everybody talks about evil as if it can be objectively identified, yet all of us have in mind our own subjective idea of what it is. Some are thinking about all unfortunate events, others just those that somebody commits intentionally. But the central problem is that “evil” is a relational word; it expresses the speaker’s attitude toward an event or action.

    This situation leads only to an endless cycle of pointless bickering. From the viewpoint of a human deer hunter, wolves are evil. Anti-hunters, (and the wolves, if they could talk) would say the hunter is evil. Deer would view both as evil. From a broader perspective, one might say that nah, nothing’s evil here. Just a three-way predator-prey relationship in action.

    You can see, then, how theologians, by taking the broadest possible perspective, could justify saying that what looks like evil to us is an illusion springing from our tunnel vision. They define the deity as far vaster than we can possibly comprehend, and claim that his plan is just as grand as he is. Everything is working out according to that plan. We should quit griping and exercise enough faith to endure our troubles with gratitude, or at least with equanimity.

    The Bible as a whole doesn’t espouse that view. As has been pointed out, it assumes evil exists and assigns blame for it variously to Satan, Adam and Eve, humanity in general, and God himself. It’s really no help at all, except to skilled cherry-pickers.

    What’s more, people who took the “evil is an illusion” viewpoint at face value and acted on it would be encouraged to neglect preparations for disasters or to acquiesce in assaults on their well-being by criminals and tyrants.

    So maybe evil is a necessary illusion. Even if it is, we need to pay closer attention to what we mean when we argue about it.

  11. They end up playing these word games and dancing in endless circular reasoning all because they can’t accept the reality of moral relativism. Kant’s categorical imperative is probably the best case for moral absolutism but there are still objections you can throw at it like a fork in a blender.

  12. Showing the ill-effects of many years of exposure to toxic Creationist rhetoric, our Curmudgeon falls prey to the sad and lonely vice of quote-mining. I have placed in bold the portion of Olivia’s words he shamefully suppressed:

    “Why is there someone like Megalonyx in the world? Such a magnificent paragon as he has absolutely ruined all other men for me.

  13. Mark Joseph

    “Is what is moral commanded by the gods because it is moral, or is it moral because it is commanded by the gods?” The rev obviously prefers the latter alternative.

    In fact, the rev’s “explanation” in a completely garden-variety response from a fundamentalist, the same one that I would have given 20 or 30 years age. That is why christians don’t any have moral qualms about genocide; consult William Lane Craig for details.

  14. From the wingnut:

    “Why did God make it that way? Why didn’t he make it so there wasn’t any temptation or evil? Wouldn’t everything have been great? Yes, and we essentially would have been robots.”

    Hang about, where does that leave the theology of “heaven”? Isn’t that meant to be a state of sinless perfection as well? A robotic nirvana, presumably? Or do our immortal souls retain free will in that exalted state? This apologetics business is so difficult.

  15. Mark Joseph

    @Steve Ruis

    You missed something. Adam and Eve were disobedient, which is somehow the definition or urfather of all sins. God could have punished Adam and Eve (sent them to their room, not allowed them to watch TV, whatever) but rather he expelled them from his garden (along with a few assorted other miseries) but then God transfers their mistake to the entire human race, as if their behavior were genetic. So, God invented sin, not Adam and Eve; they just made a mistake that apparently we are to be punished for.

    That’s not the half of it. According to the fundamentalists, all of the nastiness in the world is due to the “curse”. Before the “fall” lions ate coconuts (no one asked the coconuts what they thought about all this), and the malaria and bubonic plague parasites, along with the critters that cause smallpox either didn’t exist, or were benign.

    So, not only did god kick Adam and Eve out (great Dad, huh?) of the garden, but he twisted the entire world to be “red in tooth and claw” and unnecessarily cruel. Conclusion: god is a sadist, who enjoys seeing people suffer and die from malaria, schistosomiasis, sleeping sickness, and smallpox, as well as guinea worms and river blindness, to say nothing of tornados, hurricanes and earthquakes. Hardly a surprise that Paul Erdös referred to god as “the supreme fascist”.

    I have not seen this argument, which recently popped into my mind, before this, although I can’t really imagine that it is original, but I think it needs to be developed more fully into an anti-theistic argument.

    This is the sort of god that creationists believe in; of course, what can you expect from people who have managed to convince themselves that plants are not alive?

  16. When you consider what God supposedly ordered the Israelites to do to the Canaanites, and what God supposedly did to the entire Earth with Noah’s Flood, and what God supposedly did to Sodom and Gomorrah, how can the religionists consider their God to be righteous? And how then can they condemn the likes of Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot and any other genocidal maniac? And the Discoveroids are constantly blaming Hitler on Darwin! Hitler was a piker compared to Yahweh.

  17. Are supernovae, i.e. the “death” of stars, also the result of original sin? If so, we have the curious situation were stars “died” well before a talking snake tempted Eve into sharing forbidden fruit with Adam. Or maybe stars don’t count, being lifeless the way rocks are. Still, in a deathless universe, entropy must in some sense have been held in check, and so decay or deterioration of any sort in it would be quite an odd thing.

  18. I thought Muslims were expecting the last days with their deity? It is only a Christian thing now? How bad? Those who have died for virgins have done so in vain.

  19. The xtians also don’t pay attention to their own BS. they claim in their buyBull that A&E were created perfect and innocent so there is no way they would have realized that they were doing wrong. So gawd (the evil twit) set up a scenario to test them in a matter that any parent would know is stupid. I.E 5yr who never saw a gun is told by idiot dad never to touch it. His 5yr friend comes over and sees it and says lets look at it and persuades him and a round is fired. The only person there guilty of anything is the dad who is psychotically stupid…sounds like gawd to me.