Deconversion, Evil, Problem of Evil

Origin of evil

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I think most of us religious or non-religious have wondered at some point why there seems to be so much evil in the world. The “Problem of Evil” argument was something that always lingered during my life as a Christian.  I just could not understand why or how a good God could allow such evil.  I was taught that we live in a fallen world as a result of our choice.  Mankind through Adam and Eve chose to disobey God and this created the fallen world scenario when they ate from the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

I learned that the “Doctrine of Depravity” explained our fallen world and that I was born cursed with a sinful DNA.  I was born a sinner and had no chance from the beginning.  That sinful DNA would activate and I would have a ticket to hell issued as soon as I reached the age of accountability.  This is why Jesus came to save us because we were born destined for hell unless we believe on him. Ultimately after hearing it over and over and the confirmation of others around me I accepted this doctrine as a Christian because I never studied counter apologetics or a skeptics rebuttal. I found I could watch a plethora of debates supporting the christian apologetics response to multiple challenges of the faith including the “Problem of Evil”.  I never realized my desire to affirm my beliefs would be one of the main reasons I would lose belief.

I continued to watch debates around the “Problem of Evil” as a Christian wanting to better understand this problem and how to defend it against skeptics.  I felt like while I understood the “fallen world” stance something still didn’t seem right.  If the world fell with Adam and then God flooded the earth to start over again with Noah did the curse remain with Noah?  If so, then why even flood the earth because the curse remained?  If not, then how did the sin curse re-enter the world.  To put it another way how did evil re-enter the picture again?

Fast forward through the years and much study and investigation into my faith and ultimately through to my de-conversion from Christianity the conversations and questions around evil remained.  One question I heard posed many times on the Podcast Dogma Debate with David Smalley is around Isaiah 45:7.  Did God create evil as stated in Isaiah 45:7?
Isaiah 45:7   I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.

Now it seems the common response from David’s guests and others that I have asked this question to points out that this is from the King James Version translation and most other translations replace the word “evil” for “calamity”.  So let’s look at what “calamity” conveys to us.

Definition of calamity

1: a disastrous event marked by great loss and lasting distress and sufferingcalamities of naturean economic calamity
2: a state of deep distress or misery caused by major misfortune or loss
Now I guess that you could make the case that calamity is like a “step down from evil” but it still is “causing bad things to happen right”? But let’s set that aside for now and get back to this apologetic strategic move to shift away from the potential that God creates or created evil in this world.  Was this a poor choice of words from the translator as apologists propose?  Why is the word “evil” or “evil doers” used roughly 16 times in book before we get to Isaiah 45:7 and 7 times after Isaiah 45:7 implying the translator knew what he meant when he translated evil in this verse…..Did he mistakingly use the word evil here?
I also find it “interesting” the NIV translation keeps the word “evil” in all the previous passages prior to Is 45:7 and then determines to change 45:7 to “calamity”. Could it be they changed it because it was problematic to theology?I thought it would be good to see what Jewish scholars had to say in regards to Isaiah 45:7.  The following excerpt is from the Hermeneutics Stack Exchange.  For the full commentary you can click here.
Those who would say that רע refers to “calamity” are reluctant to say “evil” because they do not associate God with doing evil. But the fact is, many things in this world are evil depending upon one’s perspective. What is good for the butcher is evil to the cow. As Rabbi Benjamin Blech notes in his book, “If God is Good, Why Is The World So Bad?” (Simcha Press, 2003), the greatest good, from God’s point of view, is that His children should make correct choices with their gift of free will, and to achieve that good, God had to introduce evil.
I am not sure about the total consensus from Jewish scholars but from the Jewish friends I know and from what I have read they seem to be ok with this translation and concept that God had to create evil for to good to exist.  The reason this is problematic for Christianity is that evil is always attributed to mankind or satan but never God. It’s our fault for choosing to disobey God. On the flip side admitting God creates evil means he is creating this entire problem we are told we have (i.e. the depravity and ticket to hell if you don’t believe in a divinely hidden God).  Wouldn’t that be the similar to finding out a doctor implanted a horrible fatal disease inside of you but asks that you trust and love him and if you do he will remove it? If God could create evil that has plagued the world and caused so much pain and heartache does he deserved to be worshipped.  Would you as a father or mother create evil in your children’s world or allow evil to coexist with your children in the same environment?  Is that loving or moral?
I find it ironic Christians claim God made “everything” except when it comes to evil.  I also find it problematic that a christian’s great hope is an eternal heaven  or reward where there will be no more sin, or hurt, or tears and assuredly no evil allowed.  So in summary the great hope of christian belief is that the God of the Bible who created evil (Is 45:7) or even “calamity” if you must insist, will finally create a place “void of evil” for us to spend eternity in a place called Heaven when he had the ability to do that all along but we had to first be cursed with it in our world and to be told that only few find the right path to God while the majority of humanity is sent to hell ?  To me……… I find that to be immoral and EVIL…….

2 thoughts on “Origin of evil”

  1. Good argument , or should I say, reasonable argument . The problem of evil has also been an issue in my spiritual journey. Maybe God allowed evil to teach us to do good. Or maybe evil is just an illusion , and we’re all truly good beings who happen to do certain things that we classify as evil because of a lack of understanding. Evil could then be actions that ultimately serve a good purpose at the end. I don’t know .. all I know for now is that every selfish act can be considered “evil” or just “not favorable” for our humanity because we would benefit more from a society where people are more altruistic and think about benefiting each other instead of themselves .

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