Wed | Dec 1, 2021

Letter of the Day | Why evil exists

Published:Wednesday | April 24, 2019 | 12:00 AM


Irreligious people, in a smug manner, often argue that the Christian God is either powerless or evil, because a good God would never allow senseless atrocities. The examination of why a benevolent God would permit evil in the world is known as ‘Theodicy’.

These supposedly enlightened individuals rarely address the evidential problem of evil from a philosophical or theological standpoint. Christianity is seen as intellectually inept; therefore, unbelievers do not even bother to seriously interrogate the Christian position on theodicy.

However, natural-order theodicy proposed by some Christians will show that it is secular critics who need to refine their arguments. This perspective applies the principle of ‘cause and effect’ governing the natural world to explain the existence of evil.

According to the Christian tradition, an omnipotent God created a perfect world for the enjoyment of human beings. But Adam and Eve disobeyed God when they listened to the serpent and ate the forbidden fruit. The action of disobedience caused them to sin against God and the effect of sin is evil.

Because of the actions of Adam and Eve, the perfect order of the world has been corrupted by evil. Hence, the natural-order perspective teaches that God will not necessarily intervene in the natural world to stop evil.

Due to sin, the world is chaotic and, as a result, human beings have to design mechanisms to minimise chaos. If God were to disrupt the natural order by consistently solving every infraction to prevent human discontent, then society would not evolve beyond a rudimentary level.

Moreover, an activist God directly solving human problems would cause individuals to react irrationally to even minuscule violations.

There is also a difference between the existence and intention of evil. God preventing the existence of evil is insufficient to halt evil. For evil to be eradicated, He must also stop the formation of evil thoughts. Such activism by God would undermine autonomy and make humans mere robots.

Varying degrees of evil

Also, before one praises the destruction of evil, it must be noted that varying degrees of evil exist. A businessman will think that investing in fossil fuels is prudent, but environmentalists and their supporters may say that he is greedy and wicked.

In addition, those positing that an omnipotent God should have created a natural order operated by different laws to exclude evil do not understand the nature of their argument. Any change in natural laws will establish a world with different notions of morality and immorality.

Atheists critiquing Christianity with insufficient knowledge are not different from the unthinking believers they oppose.