Genesis 2:17, “But you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”
God allows evil in the world because humanity freely chose to disobey Him in the Garden of Eden. When Adam sinned he brought spiritual death to all mankind, was cursed with the knowledge of both good and evil and brought death to the natural world (paradise was lost). Afterward, humanity began living in the fallen state of sin with only himself to regulate the evil in his heart. Sadly, the first example of man choosing evil over good after the fall was Cain murdering Abel (the sons of Adam and Eve) in Genesis 4:7-8 and the choice of evil over good has continued to this day.
In the 3rd century before Christ the Greek philosopher Epicurus came up with the following argument against God known as the “Epicurus’ Trilemma,” it goes as follows; “If an all-powerful and perfectly good god exists, then evil does not. There is evil in the world. Therefore, an all-powerful and perfectly good god does not exist.”
The conclusion to his trilemma is simple, “If evil exists, then God cannot exist.” The philosopher David Hume popularized this argument against God based on evil in the 18th century. Hume wrote, “If God is unable to prevent evil, he is not omnipotent [all-powerful]. If God is not willing to prevent evil, he is not good. If God is willing and able to prevent evil, then why is there evil?”
In both arguments against God from evil, the philosophers are using a definition of evil as, “morally wrong.” When they refer to evil they mean things like murder, child abuse and the like. However, without God existing as the ultimate “Moral Law Giver,” there cannot exist an “objective right or wrong” because evil itself is just a matter of one’s opinion. Therefore, the atheist has the real “problem with evil” because without appealing to a higher law how can they define what is evil? They cannot.
If God doesn’t exist, then neither does evil and any argument against God using evil is self-defeating because its first premise (evil exists) cannot be established.
On the other hand, if evil does exist (which everyone knows it does), then there must be a God that gives each person the ability to recognize evil, i.e., “a moral compass.” The story of God creating Adam and Eve gives the best explanation for why humanity has the knowledge of good and evil, and why most people choose evil. In summary, Adam and Eve freely chose to disobey God by following Satan’s temptation and eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 3:1-24). Since that time mankind has not only known goodness but also evil. The argument for God from evil then goes like this, “If the knowledge of evil exists, God exists. The knowledge of evil exists. Therefore, God exists.” In trying to use the knowledge of evil to disprove God, it actually does the opposite and proves that God exists!
The good news is that evil doesn’t win. Jesus came to die on the cross to destroy the power of Satan and bring redemption to all those effected by evil (1 John 3:8). Jesus also promised to one day return and to once and for all rid the universe of evil (starting with those who love to do it; i.e., “sinners”). Therefore, choose God and His goodness today by accepting Jesus as the Lord of your life. And in times of evil look to the cross to find the love and comfort of Jesus Christ.
Do you believe Jesus is the answer to the problem of evil?
- If you haven’t already, repent for the evil you have done.
- Live in the goodness of God by obeying Jesus’ commands.
- When you meet someone who has a problem with evil- let him or her know Jesus already solved it!