Evil as Evidence for God: Part 3

*This is the conclusion of a three-part series on how evil can be evidence for the existence of God. In the first post, we defined evil as anything that “ought-not-be” and concluded it must be viewed as an objective reality. In the second post, we showed how the three-fold morality of C.S. Lewis’ help us better understand objective evil and morality. 

 

The Existence of God Best Explains Objective Evil

As stated earlier, Richard Gale stated that if God existed He would have a reason to allow or permit evil for occurring. At least, that was how he described a justified evil. Also, as was stated earlier, his definition and description of justifying evil pointed towards an inner moral compass. Using Lewis’ three-fold morality, one could argue that this compass was placed in every human by God, therefore making evil and morality objective. And to add to that, it would only make sense for God to exist if evil and morality are objective.

To be sure, there are people who believe objectively in good and evil, but if their arguments are examined, it is clear that they really have no reason to believe this if they do not believe in God. Ronald Dworkin was one of the most popular advocates for believing in objective good and evil without believing in God. He argues that man is even responsible for living well. Two questions would flow from this argument. First, what does it mean to live well? And then, ultimately, if we are responsible, who are we responsible to? Dworkin admits that responsibility to ourselves is not a sufficient answer. [1]

This would again point towards God as being the objective ruler on what is good and evil. It makes the most sense to say that, yes, man is responsible to live a moral life; and it is God who holds us responsible. “An absolute morality above our culture and biology implies an absolute Person behind all things,” writes Tim Keller.[2]

If we can conclude that evil is objective, we are still left with the question of what do we do with this objective evil? How do we best explain the existence of both God and evil? Many skeptics will say that the two cannot coexist. A good, loving God cannot possibly allow evil in the world He created.

No-see-ums 

There are two ways we can address these issues, and the answers themselves help us understand why its only makes sense to believe in God and objective evil. Both are sufficient answers and help explain the presence of evil and a good God in our world.

First, we can show that it is possible for a just God to allow evil in the world while maintaining His goodness. J.L. Mackie attempts to argue that if a good God existed He would not allow unjustifiable evil in the world. Since Mackie believed there was unjustifiable evil, he concluded that God could not exist.[3] Mackie’s argument is not an uncommon one. It says that, “Because evil seems pointless to me, it must be pointless.” This level of skepticism reveals a great level of faith in one’s own reason and ability.[4]

Mackie’s view again goes back to arguments that have already been discussed in this paper. First, how is Mackie defining which evils are unjustifiable? What is his standard? The second response to this objection is what Alvin Plantiga calls a “noseeum.” Plantiga uses this argument to explain that just because we as humans cannot see a justifiable reason that God would allow evil in a situation does not mean that there isn’t one.[5]

Secondly, to address the issue from a much more specifically Christian perspective, perhaps God and evil can exist, and because God is all-good and all-powerful He can even take evil and use it for the good of those who love Him.[6]

Tim Keller puts it this way: “Many people assume that if there were good reasons for the existence of evil, they would be accessible to our minds…but why should that be the case?” Logic plays a role here, but so does experience. A good example of this is the story of Joseph in Genesis. Joseph, the arrogant youngest son of Jacob, was hated by his brothers. One day they threw him into a pit and left him to starve. Eventually, they sold him into slavery in Egypt. Joseph at the time could probably see no good reason for the evil that his brothers had done to him. However, God would soon use him as the second most powerful man in Egypt to save his family from a horrible famine that came.[7]

Keller concludes, “With time and perspective, most of us can see good reasons for at least some of tragedy and pain that occurs in life. Why couldn’t it be possible that, from God’s perspective, there are good reasons for all of them?”[8]

Conclusion

Nevertheless, there are many instances where we as humans cannot see a reason for evil, and this creates a problem. However, the problem makes much more sense when evil is objectified through the lens of belief in God. To conclude, let us summarize the argument that is being made in order to see the main picture.

First, it makes sense to conclude that evil is objective. As Lewis said, he had this inward sense of just and unjust. He knew within himself what was right and what was wrong. He also notes that the same people that think it is subjective will also turn around and say that people should fight for posterity, education, and the good of mankind.[9]

To make evil subjective does not provide a sufficient answer, but rather only causes more confusion. If there is no objective standard for evil, who is to say that the Holocaust was evil? Even those who say they do not believe in God, or objective evil for that matter, have an inner sense of a moral standard. A person will say they do not believe in right and wrong, but the moment they feel they have been mistreated, they will declare, “That is not fair!” Also, if a person wrongs you, many times they will make excuses for it. But the fact that they made an excuse shows their belief in an objective standard.[10]

Secondly, if evil is objective, it would make the most sense that God is the one who makes good and evil objective realities. If someone is going to believe in objective moral standards and objective evil, it makes the most sense to assign some extra-natural or supernatural standard from an outside source.[11] God is the standard that makes the most sense. Because to be logical, if the standard is not found in God, it will again become subjective. No other philosophical system can argue for a truly objective standard.[12]

Therefore, we can conclude three things from this. First, we can all conclude that there is evil in the world. There are things that “ought-not-to-be.” Secondly, if we are going to believe in evil, it only makes sense that we must believe evil to be objective. Finally, if we believe evil to be objective, it makes the most sense to believe in a God who defines this objective evil, as well as objective good and morality.

 

 

References

[1] Keller, Tim. Making Sense of God. New York: Viking. 2016. pp. 189.

[2] Making Sense of God. pp. 190.

[3] Mackie, J.L. The Miracle of Theism. New York: Oxford University Press. 1982. pp. 150.

[4] The Reason for God. pp. 23.

[5]Plantiga, Alvin. Warranted Christian Belief. New York: Oxford University Press. 2000.

[6] Romans 8:28

[7] The Reason for God. pp. 23-24.

[8] Ibid. pp. 25.

[9] Lewis, C.S. Miracles. New York: HarperCollins. 2002.

[10] Mere Christianity. pp. 17-18.

[11] The Reason for God. pp. 26.

[12] Bahnsen, Greg L. Always Ready. Nacogdoches: Covenant Media Press. 2011. pp. 169.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s