Many atheists and others who reject the biblical God have attempted to cast judgment on God and render Him weak in the face of evil or try to do away with Him altogether. In a recent discussion with several atheists, Action Faith Books Press engaged the argument concerning the existence of God from the view of evil. The argument was in the context of the recent persecution of the Jews across Europe,
“In light of jewish (sic) history, I would agree with [another in the discussion], that this opinion (God’s oversight of the Jews) is delusional. If God exists and watches over Jews, that has not prevented Jews to experienced (sic) terrible things throughout history and in many different places of the world. God watching over the Jews is clearly not helping them.”
Our reply was as follows:
“Yours is a faulty old argument even academic atheists do not use anymore because it is a logical fallacy. First, when you admit to people experiencing terrible things, as the Jews, you acknowledge objective moral evil. Otherwise, you cannot call what happened to the Jews (and Christians and anyone else who disagreed with Hitler) terrible. And if you acknowledge moral evil, you have to admit to objective moral good. That means morality (good and evil) are external to human judgment. That is, you set up a standard concerning how things ought to be and ought not to be and that this applies to all humanity, that is, a standard of goodness and corruption due to the absence of goodness, by which you admit to as evil.
God is the intelligent Designer of the universe, and His good character provides a moral standard or moral context to discern evil (Paul Copan, “How Do You Know You’re Not Wrong?: Responding to Objections that Leave Christians Speechless”). God is the source of all goodness. God created humanity. Humanity decided not to follow God but turned to objective evil from objective good. Therefore, humanity is the source of evil. Now if humanity is the source of evil, why are you transferring evil deeds from humanity to God? By doing so, you reveal your own corrupt reasoning and refuse to accept the goodness that comes from God. Therefore, you are just like Hitler and even worse by projecting on to God, who is higher than Hitler, evil that exists in humanity. Therefore, you stand guilty of worse atrocities than Hitler. It is false to assume that God cannot stop all evil.
Let’s bring it back to you. Did you ever think that God wanted to teach you a lesson about your own evil and false judgments about Him and others? Yes, you too stand guilty of doing evil to God and others. By allowing you to engage in evil thoughts and actions and suffering their consequences, He is showing you the true nature of evil so that you will turn from it to Him and not be harmed to the point of death.”
The source of evil is one of the most pernicious allegations against the Christian faith. Sometimes, Christians do not have an answer for those who accuse God of perpetrating evil, the inability to stop it, or being evil Himself. This argument simply comes back to the accusers. They fail to realize that when they admit to evil in the world, they establish an objective standard for identifying certain actions as evil. In doing this, they then have to admit that objective good also exists as a basis for the standard for evil. How can one identify evil without some standard?
They also fail to realize humanity’s own rebellion against God, thereby entering into corruption. Many point their fingers at God and others and ignore themselves as the perpetrators of evil deeds. This is faulty thinking, for in admitting others as evil, they must themselves look into the objective moral mirror and judge themselves. The Apostle Paul makes this same argument when writing,
“Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things. But we know that the judgment of God is according to truth against those who practice such things. And do you think this, O man, you who judge those practicing such things, and doing the same, that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?” (Romans 2:1-3)
Paul establishes two truths about humanity and evil. First, when people judge others, they admit to objective morality. In doing so, they also judge themselves for the same thing of which they judge others. By admitting to objective morality, they also admit to objective truth.
Second, evil is not greater than God, and God could stop evil if He wanted. However, he has a greater purpose for it. This greater purpose is called the “richness of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering.” He also explains this higher purpose: the goodness of God leads to repentance. Since the standard for objective evil (wrongdoing, disasters, suffering) is objective goodness found in God, God uses goodness to bring people to recognize their moral corruption so that they will turn from its destructive effects to Him and be saved from destruction. Such an action on God’s part magnifies His goodness. God conquers moral corruption one person at a time and will eventually bring it to a halt. God showed that He had the power over moral corruption by sending His only Son, Jesus Christ, to die for the sins of the world and conquering evil through His perfection and death through the resurrection.