by John Henson
The latest defense for atheism is less an affirmative argument for the philosophy than it is a negative one. The “problem of evil,” atheists say, proves there is no God.The rather involved argument is this:
1. If God exists, then God is omnipotent, omniscient, and morally perfect.
2. If God is omnipotent, then God has the power to eliminate all evil.
3. If God is omniscient, then God knows when evil exists.
4. If God is morally perfect, then God has the desire to eliminate all evil.
5. Evil exists.
6. If evil exists and God exists, then either God doesn’t have the power to eliminate all evil, or doesn’t know when evil exists, or doesn’t have the desire to eliminate all evil.
7. Therefore, God doesn’t exist.
As with Calvinism, the argument appears to be valid and proper, but also with Calvinism, there are some wrong assumptions. While there are several problems with the seven-point argument, perhaps its most glaring problem is in the fourth and sixth elements.
Atheists have no conception of what evil is, because they deny the existence of God, whose law defines and points out evil to mankind. In the years before atheists began using the problem of evil in their arguments against the existence of God, these same people denied good and evil exists.
The mistake atheists make is to equate suffering with evil. The usual analogy used to describe the problem of evil is similar to this: “Why does a good God allow children to suffer with cancer?” Therefore, suffering, to them, is evil.
All suffering is not evil. Some suffering is necessary for humans to learn and become better people. God knows this and has demonstrated it with people like Job, King David and others.
Much of the suffering in the world has been introduced by sin. When sin was introduced into the world by transgression, death was the consequence. Diseases that bring death, therefore, are a consequence of sin and not an invention of God.
More on this subject in next week’s column.
by John Henson