God created evil. We see evil all around us. The argument says, “God created everything, so it must include evil.” Dead wrong. Here’s why.
God created evil. How could have a good God created evil? A classic argument used to show how God is ambiguous, and belief in Him is senseless. There’s even a Bible verse in Isaiah 45:7, where God says, “I create evil.” Does He or doesn’t He? Here’s the explanation.
(Origin of Humankind, chapter 6.8)
We’ve already been introduced to a negative concept at the very outset of Genesis, tohu, and bohu. In this revitalization of planet earth from Day 1 of Creation, from the inanimate to the animate, including the final pinnacle of the creation of man, Earth is in a state of light and virtue. No vice whatsoever is present, not even in any nook or cranny. It’s an unknown, non-existent notion until it explodes onto the scene in the form of one word: evil.
God planted the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and EVIL in the midst of the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:9). Here’s the Biblical Hebrew for evil.
רַע raʻ rah; from H7489 (רָעַע); bad or (as noun) evil (natural or moral):
KJV – adversity, affliction, bad, calamity, +displease(-ure), distress, evil((-favouredness), man, thing), + exceedingly, ⨯ great, grief(-vous), harm, heavy, hurt(-ful), ill (favoured), + mark, mischief(-vous), misery, naught(-ty), noisome, + not please, sad(-ly), sore, sorrow, trouble, vex, wicked(-ly, -ness, one), worse(-st), wretchedness, wrong. (Incl. feminine raaah; as adjective or noun.).
רָעַע râʻaʻ raw-ah’; a primitive root; properly, to spoil (literally, by breaking to pieces); figuratively, to make (or be) good fornothing, i.e. bad (physically, socially or morally):
KJV – afflict, associate selves (by mistake for H7462 (רָעָה)), break (down, in pieces), + displease, (be, bring, do) evil (doer, entreat, man), show self friendly (by mistake for H7462 (רָעָה)), do harm, (do) hurt, (behave self, deal) ill, ⨯ indeed, do mischief, punish, still, vex, (do) wicked (doer, -ly), be (deal, do) worse.
The man must’ve gotten an earful. He heard about the theory of calamity, distress, wickedness, and misery. At this juncture, evil was nothing but a strange word of vocabulary. He had no experience, visibility, not even any conceivability, the very opposite of the world into which the man had been thrust. He could only look at the Tree and contemplate what evil was and its result: death.
God does NOT create evil
So why does Isaiah 45:7 state, “I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.” The beginning of an answer is in Biblical Hebrew and the first key to master the Bible language. As we can see from Strong’s Concordance, the original H7489 here translated evil has many other translations and nuances. For instance, adversity, affliction, calamity, displeasure, and distress, among others, have very different connotations. I’m not saying they’re comfortable, but they can all be a far distance from evil. The KJV translators made an unfortunate choice of word by insinuating God created evil in this verse.
So, let’s understand what God does and doesn’t do. God allows and even inflicts suffering and even unnatural death on certain people. By unnatural death, I mean not under normal circumstances like sickness or old age. We have to call a spade a spade: God allows capital punishment. The Old Testament law provided for this, and there are multiple episodes where God orders His servants, like Joshua and Samson, to go into battle and kill people.
There are various reasons for this and why it is NOT evil. Is cleaning up a messy situation good or evil? When God annihilated 185,000 Assyrians in the time of the righteous King Hezekiah, He was protecting His city. You might say God only kills others. Well, during Moses’ day, God’s people rebelled against Him (episodes of the Golden Calf, Korah, rebellion in Numbers 21), and He allowed thousands of Israelites to die.
There are countless examples of God intervening to CLEAN UP messy situations. Cleaning up is GOOD, not evil. Humanly we might think that anything, at the expense of the life of another human, is evil. Unfortunately, it is precisely that reasoning, which is the knowledge of the tree of good and evil — thinking that NOT cleaning up a mess is GOOD. God does what has to be done; that’s the first reason why God created evil is a wrong concept.
The second reason is God allows trials on His servants. And those testings can include suffering and even death; this can and is very hard even impossible to comprehend by certain people, which is entirely understandable. When God tested Job, He used Satan to do it and gave him carte blanche, except for taking Job’s life. Satan did take the life of Job’s children. That sounds horrible, and indeed it is, but Job’s trial was primary concerning other events.
I realize that some will be very upset by calling death and suffering other events. But, you have to place yourself in God’s shoes. I cannot explain all those details here. But, whether it’s God ordering the Israelites to eliminate the Canaanites or Abraham to sacrifice his son, a trial is involved, and the ULTIMATE results are primary.
There’s one essential point that I must bring to the forefront, which most people, of which even Bible readers and scholars are not aware. Again, unfortunately, I do not have the space to develop this vital subject. This life that we are leading NOW is not the only life we’ll have. Wow, Sam, what do you mean by that?! The Bible indicates that ALL humans, every single one of them, will be resurrected and given a REAL chance to KNOW GOD under GODLY CONDITIONS; this is part of God’s plan to SAVE ALL HUMANITY. That is God’s goal; we should expect nothing less. See Further Study below to pursue this eye-opening subject.
Is God responsible for Evil?
In this 21st century, in our Western world and I’d say worldwide, there are many moral issues; sex outside of marriage, distributing the pill in school, adoption of children by same-sex couples, mediatization of kids, money in sports, harassment in the workplace, immigration, building of walls, abortion with debates giving conflicting views as to which way to turn. Situation ethics, right and wrong, and some fundamental issues have become blurred. Basic questions go unanswered, like, is there evil? What is evil? What is the Bible’s definition of sin? Hence the misunderstanding that God created evil.
Let’s take a closer look at the meaning of Knowledge of Good and Evil.
Man has spent his time and energy accumulating knowledge; he’s looked into, analyzed every practice, examined every way of thinking under the sun. Having access to this knowledge is a prerogative of man; this is one of the reasons God gave him a neshama-mind. And empowered with those cognitive powers of logic, rationale and interpretation humans have reasoned and justified taking a stance and applying all the extremities of every controversial subject that has ever hit the headlines: abortion, liberty of speech, guns, euthanasia, socialism or liberalism or conservatism, political or religious extremism, death penalty, leniency for criminals, genetically modified organisms.
It is not only the knowledge of each issue that can lead to death, knowledge, of and by itself is not the sole problem, but it is what we do primarily with the knowledge. It is when some think abortion is right while others think it is wrong, and this controversy comes to a head that we get into hot water. It is when one religion or one philosophy or one government decides it is so right that it begins to put down, eliminate, exterminate opposing concepts that it leads to very ugly dilemmas.
When individuals and peoples take sides convinced that their particular knowledge brand is the ultimate and only way to go, that others must follow that way, even imposing that way against other people’s desires that it can lead to hideous attitudes, heinous acts, and horrid death.
It’s the disagreement as to what’s good and evil, the divergences of what’s virtuous or depraved; it’s the I decide what’s good and bad for me and others and the defense and imposition, by any means, of my principles as the principles to be followed that leads to death.
If I had to use one word to summarize this unhealthy state of affairs, I’d choose confusion where everyone has their own opinion about everything based on their own knowledge, thoughts, and self-wisdom. Everyone is voicing their views, debates are the primary method of communication, where everyone is entitled to their point of view and where there is a heap of knowledge. But, there’s no basis, no foundations, nothing to measure that knowledge by, no consensus of basic rules, everyone is just evaluating and proposing and doing whatever they feel is right in any particular situation.
Yes, I’ve taken a few paragraphs to expound this concept because from our 24/7/365 practically instantaneous world-girdling official and people newscasts via TV, radio, and social networks on the internet, we’re getting a continual stream of suffering and death that The Explanation expounded in Audit of the Universe. Before you think we’re getting too gloomy and doomy, yes, in Audit, I also enumerated good news, excellent initiatives, and accomplishments.
That’s the whole point: This mixture of humankind’s extensive KNOWLEDGE + the resultant GOOD news + the resultant bad news is what the Tree of the KNOWLEDGE of GOOD and EVIL is all about.
We’ve got precisely the mixture of good and evil, conceived by humans, that is being discussed in this verse. Each one with their solution to hunger, war, poverty, economic woes, violence, each one thinking their solution is the answer. It is the proper way to go, of course, no one thinks their way is the evil way to go but, in the end, are we flushing out more confusion or more real solutions?
This indiscriminate application of good and evil is what God wanted humanity to avoid precisely. He clearly stated, “… you shall not eat of it…” of this potent brew of humans thinking they can come up with all the knowledge and collectively decide how to apply it for the real good of humankind.
We might not realize it, but in the few introductory verses we’ve read here in Genesis, God gave man clear indications of what is good and what is evil. These fundamental elements are not left up in the air as points of conjecture and speculation.
A very short resume of Good is serving God and respecting His directives which include correctly dominating and subduing the earth (at least the part for which each of us has responsibility), respecting the mutual relationships and multiplying as a husband-wife, father-mother team in marriage and even eating of the Tree of Life which is accessible today as we shall see.
Evil is when we ultimately look to our own, human wisdom, be it in psychology, moral education, employer-employee, and many other types of relationships to decide what is the basis of life. It’s when we do our own thing regardless of what Godly knowledge shows us.
These two showcase Trees represent God’s way of doing things and humankind’s way of doing things. God forced neither on Adam and Eve, clear instructions – eat/don’t eat – were given and the ultimate destiny – life/death – for their conduct was clearly stated. They were put before a choice which sooner or later they would make.
Either they would accept God’s way of avoiding what He considers evil, doing what He considers right. OR they would reject God’s way and not do what they decided was evil and do what they decided was right.
God gave humans a clear, straightforward direction in the form of a command, an order, and an authoritative rule. God knew what would happen if humanity took ultimate decisional power upon itself, allowing itself the luxury of differentiating between what is right and what is evil. He knew that self-determination of right and wrong would lead to death, death, yes death, repeated twice in this verse to indicate its certainty.
So, if God knew this atrocious outcome, why didn’t He, at least, put a fence around the Tree of knowledge of good and evil? Why did He even place this wretched Tree in the Garden? Is He some sadistic God, who enjoys watching humans destroy themselves? Not only that, but it appears contradictory, God just gave man life and immediately He’s telling him he can die die.
Is this some game? See how long you can last before game over. And now comes the punch line: delivery of an exquisite package – woman.
This blog post is an excerpt from chapter 3.8 of the book Origin of Humankind.
The subject of every human being getting a SECOND life is, very controversial, not to say, ridiculous, in the eyes of the vast majority. The Explanation resorts to the Bible and turns the Bible pieces of the puzzle right side up and places them in their proper position in the entire picture.
Go to UnlockBibleMeaning.com and read Revelations 20:11-13. It’s an exciting subject. God’s justice involves judging people ONLY after those people have learned about God and His ways. Since humankind has been on Earth, the vast majority have NOT learned about God, nor known His ways. A just God will neither bless nor condemn such people. He will FIRST give them a real chance to know Him and let them decide for themselves of which Tree they will partake. As Rev. 20: 12-13 states, ALL these people will be resurrected and be involved in that process of free choice. Then, and only then will they be judged. That is the plan of a just God.
Some may think they can use their spiritual beliefs to clean-up the world. Well, how does the puzzle piece turning the other cheek fit into this picture (Matthew 5:39)? The answer is, it is not up to individuals and their spirituality to clean-up. They are to turn the other cheek. It is up to God to clean-up, which He will do according to His plan and timing. The principle of turning the other cheek needs a more detailed explanation; this context only refers to who is responsible for taking measures to correct pernicious wrong-doings. One doesn’t take the law into one’s own hands.
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