Post Author: Bill Pratt
Many skeptics of Christianity claim that the existence of evil in the world proves that a good God cannot exist. I believe this viewpoint is exactly backwards.
If you truly believe that there is evil in the world, then you must believe that there is good in the world as well. We can’t know what is wrong unless we know what is right. We can’t know a crooked line unless we know a straight line. We can’t know injustice unless we know justice.
But if there is real good and real evil in the world, then there must be an ultimate standard, a measuring stick by which to judge goodness and badness. This measuring stick must be perfect, so that all moral activity can be compared to it, just like determining the straightness of any line requires a perfectly straight line by which to compare.
Here is the argument summarized in short from:
- evil implies good
- good implies a perfect standard by which to define it
Now, if you believe that there exists real, objective evil in the world – evil that any person from any place or time would agree is really evil – then you are stuck with admitting that there must be a perfect standard of goodness also in existence, a moral law.
Where does this perfect standard of goodness come from? The Christian answer is that this standard originates in the nature of God. God’s own nature is the perfect standard of good, and God has always existed as the first cause of everything.
If you’re a person who wants to escape this answer, you can claim that this moral law just sort of exists, like a floating “cloud” of goodness that just permeates the universe. But the Christian can ask: “Where did this floating ‘cloud’ of goodness come from?”
You could say that the objective moral law, the perfect standard of goodness, comes from blind, purposeless, natural processes (the standard atheist account of everything that exists). The Christian can ask: “Why should anyone feel obliged to follow and obey a perfect moral standard that comes from atoms randomly banging together over billions of years?”
I don’t think there is a good answer to that question. The person who wants to affirm the existence of evil while denying the existence of God finds himself caught in a deep hole of irrationality. He asks us to obey moral laws that come from rocks.
Some atheists, like Nietzsche, saw where this hole was leading and bailed out quickly. They affirmed that there is no such thing as real moral evil in the world. What we think is evil is really just our personal preferences. You like to kill people and I don’t. I like red and you like blue.
The consistent person who wants to affirm the existence of evil really must affirm the existence of a personal moral lawgiver – God. If you don’t think God exists, then you should stop complaining about all the evil in the world. You’re not making any sense.