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May 28, 2016

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This is a similar view of the problem of evil with a solution.

How can the existence of God be reconciled with the existence of evil?

In early Christian times Lactantius reports its prevalence. If God is good and wants to eliminate sin, but cannot, he is not omnipotent; but if God is omnipotent and can eliminate sin, but does not, he is not good. God cannot be both omnipotent and good.

By definition God cannot sin. At this point it must be particularly pointed out that God’s causing a man to sin is not sin. There is no law, superior to God, which forbids him to decree sinful acts. Sin presupposes a law, for sin is lawlessness. Sin is any want of conformity unto or transgression of the law of God. But God is “Ex-lex.”

Gordon H. Clark. (n.d.). God and Evil.

Dave, I agree with your point of view, but I'm curious how you'd respond to this argument:

Jesus said, "It is inevitable that stumbling blocks come, but woe to him through whom they come" (Luke 17:1).

And he said, ". . .but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea" (Matthew 18:6).

Paul said, "It is good not to eat meat or to drink wine, or to do anything by which your brother stumbles" (Romans 14:21).

So basically, it's wrong to do something that causes another person to sin. Unless you reject that notion that God could just do anything at all and still be "good," it seems that you would have to acknowledge that some common sense notion we have about what kinds of actions are good and what kinds of actions are evil would have to apply to God. Otherwise, why call him Good at all? This notion of causing somebody to sin being wrong is not only Biblical, but it also agrees with our common notions of right and wrong. With that being the case, we expect that if God is good, then he does not cause people to sin.

Consistent with this moral intuition is James' statement: "Let no one say when he is tempted, 'I am being tempted by God'; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone."

How would you respond to this argument?

@ Sam;

These are a few verses showing God as the Cause of evil.

“But the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the LORD troubled him.” (1 Samuel 16:14)

“Now therefore, behold, the LORD hath put a lying spirit in the mouth of all these thy prophets, and the LORD hath spoken evil concerning thee.” (1 Kings 22:23)

“I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.” (Isaiah 45:7)

But we are the Authors of Evil and reap the punishment.

“But Sihon king of Heshbon would not let us pass by him: for the LORD thy God hardened his spirit, and made his heart obstinate, that he might deliver him into thy hand, as appeareth this day.” (Deuteronomy 2:30)

“And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and multiply my signs and my wonders in the land of Egypt.” (Exodus 7:3)

God does not tempt us since our wicked hearts already do that. But he uses that wickedness and even strengthens it causing even greater evil and punishment.

But the opposite is equally true.

“Blessed is the man whom thou choosest, And causest to approach unto thee, that he may dwell in thy courts: We shall be satisfied with the goodness of thy house, Even of thy holy temple.” (Psalm 65:4)

Sam,

Three things I want to address.

i. Biblical evidence that the argument you give is wrong.

ii. Evidence that the argument is based on a false premise.

iii. James, specifically.

iv. Moral intuitions.
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i. Dave pointed out that there is *biblical* evidence for the view that God causes evil events. Many more verses could be added to his list. For instance, “He turned their [the Egyptian's] hearts to hate his people, to deal craftily with his servants.” (Psalm 105:25)

ii. The assumption of your argument is that if it is wrong for humans to do something then it is also wrong for God to do that same thing. But this assumption is clearly false. For instance, it is wrong for a woman to kill an infant as punishment for her husband's wrongdoing. Yet it was not wrong for God to kill an infant as punishment for a man's wrongdoing (e.g., David and Bathsheba's child).

Thus the argument fails to get off the ground because it rests upon a premise that we can easily demonstrate is false. (Unless the non-Calvinist wants to reject parts of the OT.)

iii. As for James 1:13, Peter Davids remarks that "The reader expects the reason to be that God allows Satan to test people, which would be in line with how 1 Chronicles reinterprets 2 Samuel and how Jub. 17-19 reinterprets Genesis 22. But while James believes in some demonic involvement (as will appear in James 3:15 and James 4:7 ), he does not want to introduce it here. (The Epistle of James: A Commentary on the Greek Text, NIGTC. p. 83.)

In other words, the Bible is clear that God does tempt people, using secondary causation or secondary agents. This is where a difference in motives comes into play. Joseph's brothers had an evil intention and God had a good intention in the same act, which was blameworthy for Joseph's brothers but praiseworthy for God.

iv. Now what about the appeal to common sense or an intuition of good? While I think we do have a common sense grasp on what is good and a moral intuition, it is clearly not infallible. Richard Dawkins has a moral intuition that has been seriously misshapen by many factors. He could appeal to his intuitions that even the most Pelagian or Arminian theology is still evil. Moral intuition can in most cases only be appealed to when all parties in the discussion agree on the moral intuition.

Dave,

I appreciate your response, but it's a little short of what I hoped. You've made the case that God does cause moral evil. He does cause people to sin. But you haven't reconciled that case with the scriptures I brought up and the inferences I made form them. At best, you've only left me at an impasse. I want to know how you would respond to the argument I made. The only scripture you responded to was the passage in James about tempting. But I have a further question about that.

You said, "God does not tempt us since our wicked hearts already do that. But he uses that wickedness and even strengthens it causing even greater evil and punishment."

My question is this: What would be the difference between (a) tempting somebody to sin, and (b) causing a person's wickedness to increase so that they sin even more? It seems that in both cases, one person is causing another person to have evil desires or stronger evil desires that then lead those people to sin even more.

Sam


Just Say No to the Alt-Reich,

Thanks for your response. You covered everything.

@ Sam; >>"It seems that in both cases, one person is causing another person to have evil desires or stronger evil desires that then lead those people to sin even more."

I thought what I said answered your questions but if not, based on your above quote, it would be wrong for people to violate God's Law in any form. But God is not subject to another god or any law. So whatever he does is right. Even if it is sin for us. Sin is a violation of a law.

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