Post Author: Darrell
One common atheist argument against Christianity is known as The Problem of Evil. It can be stated as follows.
1) God is said to be omnipotent, omniscient, and morally perfect.
2) If God is omnipotent, He has the power to defeat evil.
3) If God is omniscient, He knows when and where evil exists.
4) If God is morally perfect, He wants to destroy evil.
5) Yet evil exists.
6) Therefore, God does not exist.
There are several responses open to the classical theist in response to this objection. I am fond of one of Dr. Norman Geisler’s responses. He says the atheist has overlooked an important factor, and as a result, the argument can be restated with a different conclusion.
1) God is omnipotent, omniscient, and morally perfect.
2) Being omnipotent, He has the power to defeat evil.
3) Being omniscient, He knows when and where evil exists.
4) Being morally perfect, He wants to defeat evil.
5) “Therefore, evil will yet be defeated. It is a fact that an all-good, all-powerful God assures us that this will happen. In short, since God is both all-good and all-powerful, evil will be defeated” (Geisler, Systematic Theology Volume 2, 161).
I discovered another response to this argument in a recent Seminary class of mine. It states that the atheist’s fourth premise is faulty as God is not morally perfect. In fact, to say that God is morally perfect is to hold that there is a principle to which God must adhere, i.e., there is something which transcends God. However, if there is a principle which transcends God, then God cannot truly be said to be God. Instead, the principle to which God is held is God.
Traditional Christianity teaches that God transcends all, i.e., there is nothing which is greater than Him. He created all things, and there is nothing that is outside of His power or dominion. Since God is the greatest of all, there is nothing by which He can be measured. As a result, God cannot be said to be morally perfect; instead He is Good. More appropriately, He is Good Itself. God does not have a standard to live up to because He is The Standard by which all else is judged. Consequently, the atheist’s argument has a faulty premise, makes incorrect assumptions about God, and is inappropriate and inapplicable to God.