As we have just seen, it’s difficult to make evil and suffering a concern from an atheistic perspective, but it is a more straightforward concern from a theistic perspective. Evil and suffering can’t disprove the evidence of physical and biological design in our universe, not to mention the existence of universe itself. Thus, evil and suffering can’t disprove that a creator God exists. However, evil and suffering can and should make us think about the nature of the creator, what kind of God is the God that exists.
Before we analyze God’s relation to evil and suffering in more detail, we must do some ground work on establishing some background information on God himself. As you remember, the claim that we are dealing with is the following: “Because pointless evil and suffering exist, God cannot be both all-powerful and all-good.” Let’s look at first claim: Is God all-powerful?
[Discussion: Any thoughts on this? Is God all-powerful or not? Based on what proof or logic?]
God is sometimes referred to as an infinite all-powerful creator, because He created everything else in existence. Indeed, according to the “principle of sufficient reason”, everything in our universe must have a cause. Putting it differently, everything in our universe requires a creator. Nothing can come into existence by itself nor is anything in our universe infinite. Even the universe itself is not known to be infinite as it has a starting point (the “big bang”) and a rate of expansion.
At this point, many often ask: “Well if everything in our universe needs a creator, then who created God?”
[Discussion: Any thoughts on how to answer this? Who created God?]
Notice one key detail in what was mentioned earlier: “In our UNIVERSE”. Yes, everything in our universe needs a cause or a creator, and nothing in our universe is known to be infinite. This means, that the creator of the universe, the unlimited and infinite uncaused cause, must by necessity transcend our universe. He must be able to exist outside of it, not be limited to it. This of course makes total sense when you think about it a little deeper. If God created the universe, it would make sense that He is not limited to existing with-in it. That would be kind of like requiring the creator of the videogame “SIMS universe” or “Grand Theft Auto”, to exist with-in the game He himself created. If God created the universe and even time itself, He doesn’t need to submit to the creation and conditions that He himself created, any more than a videogame maker must submit to and exist with-in and the videogame He himself made, nor abide by the rules He made for that videogame.
Thus, taking everything mentioned into consideration, we can say that the creator is infinite and unlimited, because:
Knowing that the creator is infinite and unlimited, it means that He must be infinite and unlimited in everything that is limited or else He would cease to be infinite and unlimited. Thus, He must also be infinite in power and knowledge. If He wasn’t, He would not be an unlimited and infinite being. So, is God all-powerful? Yes, He is.
[Discussion: Any thoughts on this? Is God all-good or not? Based on what proof or logic?]
The answer to this question is simpler than it may appear. First, we must ask ourselves, who or what defines good? Someone for example might think that in a certain situation euthanasia is good and someone might think it is bad. Who then, ultimately determines what is good or bad? Who sets the rules?
[Discussion: Who then, ultimately determines what is good or bad? Who sets the rules?]
The “game-maker” sets the rules. In our case, the creator of our universe, the uncaused first cause, the source of everything that exists, sets the rules and determines what is good or bad. He is the ultimate judge and authority. Thus, if He says something is good or bad, then that’s how it is, regardless of what we may think. Besides, who do you think you are to argue with an infinite being, who exists outside of time, and who creates galaxies out of nothing? Do you think you can teach him a lesson about what is good or bad, using the very brain that He created for you, to tell him that you know better than him?
Earlier on we said that an infinite being must be infinite in everything, including infinite in power and knowledge. An infinite being who exists out of time, would out of necessity know all there is to know about the universe He created out of nothing. He himself is the source and the maker of everything, and thus also the source of all knowledge in relation to his creation.
He would also have to be infinite in perfection. The very concept of perfection that we have, comes from him, He is the source. Furthermore, if He himself failed to be perfect, it would mean that He would be limited in some way, which again would mean that He is not infinite. If an infinite and unlimited being were to fall short of any limited concept, such as perfection, wisdom, love, etc., He would cease to be an unlimited and infinite being, which would also imply He himself would need an unlimited, infinite and perfect creator.
So yes, the ultimate creator of our universe must out of necessity be infinite, God all-powerful, and perfect in everything, including love and goodness. So yes, God is all-good, perfect in in love, goodness, and everything else, or else He wouldn’t be the unlimited and infinite uncaused cause. Except as we have already discussed, this unlimited and infinite uncaused cause exists.
Someone may however object saying, that how can we be sure the creator is unlimited in goodness as opposed to unlimited in badness or evil? That’s a fair question.
[Discussion: How can you be sure that the creator is unlimited in goodness and not badness?]
The basic answer is that badness or evil isn’t a thing, but rather a corruption or a lack of something. And once again, it would be impossible for and infinite, all-powerful and perfect being to lack anything or to be corrupted by anything.
Someone may now object saying: “Ok, if God can’t be evil, how can evil exist if God created everything?” We will answer that next. But remember the background information we have already discovered: God is the infinite and unlimited uncaused cause of everything else. He is infinite and unlimited in everything, including knowledge, power, love, perfection, and everything else.
[Discussion: Do you think God created evil and suffering? Why?]
No, He didn’t. Evil nor suffering aren’t “things” on their own, but rather a lack or a corruption of a good or perfect thing. For example, you can suffer with a wound that’s on your hand. But a wound can’t exist on its own, the wound needs a hand, foot, or something else to exist on. That painful wound on your hand is a corruption or a falling short of your hand’s ideal state. A moth can make a hole in your shirt, but that hole can only exist on something. It can’t exist by itself. There is no such thing as a totally moth-eaten shirt, because then there would be no shirt at all as the shirt has ceased to exist. Likewise, you can feel sorry because of a death of a loved one, but again your sorrow comes because death corrupted the ideal state of your loved one. Someone may now object saying: “Ok, God didn’t create evil and suffering, but they none the less exist. What’s up with that?” That is a valid objection, and we will discuss that next.
Stay tuned for part 3 (final).
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