28 Apr 2013

Jesus Attempts to Explain Why God Allows Evil

Religious 86 Comments

I was going to read my son another chapter from the second Harry Potter book, but he requested a story from “the Bible…your Bible.” (By which he meant, not the children’s animated book of Bible stories in his room.) So I flipped through and read him this, from Matthew 13: 24-30:

24 Another parable He put forth to them, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field; 25 but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way. 26 But when the grain had sprouted and produced a crop, then the tares also appeared. 27 So the servants of the owner came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?’ 28 He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The servants said to him, ‘Do you want us then to go and gather them up?’ 29 But he said, ‘No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, “First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn.”’”

Look, the problem of the existence of evil is a problem. But atheists drop that like it’s a conversation ender, when in fact theologians have grappled with it all along. Indeed, Jesus Himself tries to explain it to the layperson with the above story.

My son wasn’t satisfied with the above, so I tried explaining that there couldn’t be superheroes if there were no bad guys. For example, there could be a guy “Superman” who could fly and was really strong, etc., but without any villains we wouldn’t think he was great.

In the comments last week, I pointed out that great literature always has villains or at least antagonists who present conflict for the protagonist. For some reason, people expect God–the author of history itself–to not obey an obvious rule of human creativity.

86 Responses to “Jesus Attempts to Explain Why God Allows Evil”

  1. Yosef says:

    Kudos for your soon for not being satisfied with the above. Are you saying you are willing to accept the existence of villains for the sake of having superheros? Because I am pretty sure most people would be fine never having Superman so long as there are no Lex Luthors. “Oh man, did you see Superman brilliantly stop Luthor’s latest ploy to gain world supremacy? Sure was worth all those people dying in the process to see the climactic confrontation!” said no moral person ever.

    Also, who is the protagonist is in this story of God’s? Because Voldemort fights, not J K Rowling. Yet Jesus is the protagonist in the story that he/ his father is writing. Also, authors write stories in which there are heroes and villains because they are trying to tell something to other people outside the story (either themselves, or other people). So is God using humans to teach himself, or other Gods something? J K Rowling did not write Harry Potter for the sake of teaching Harry something, but rather to impart something to others. (This also ignores the fact that heroes and villains represent the reflections of authors as imperfect beings. Authors write what they know. So is God imperfect that he should create heroes and villains?)

    • Dean T. Sandin says:

      I think Yosef is on the money here. Bob, you would reject the idea that war is good because it gives us military heroes. Why does that argument hold up when God does it?

    • Z says:

      Here’s the real question. Does evil actually even exist? Or do we just call some things evil and other things good because they bring us pleasure or pain of some sort, and we sneak the ‘moral’ and ‘immoral’ labels in along with pleasure and pain for no legitimate reason?

      • Bob Murphy says:

        Here’s the real question. Does evil actually even exist?

        Yes.

        Or do we just call some things evil and other things good because they bring us pleasure or pain of some sort…

        If I bang my head on the light, nothing evil occurred. If a mugger smacks me in the head, something evil occurred.

        • Z says:

          But how do you know what you call ‘evil’ actually exists? The only access we have to such knowledge is through our ‘moral intuitions’. Other than, we cannot see or touch morality in any way. it seems to me, however, that much of what we call ‘moral intuitions’ seems to actually be other emotions, such as anger, sadness, horror, disgust, etc. How sure are you that some particular emotion that we can actually call a ‘moral’ emotion exists, and we are not confusingly calling other emotions as moral emotions?

          • Gene Callahan says:

            Yeah, Z, and they only way we know this “physical world” actually exists is through our “sensory intuitions.”

            How can you be sure these so-called “empirical findings” of science on not just projections of your anger, sadness, horror, disgust, etc?

            • Ken B says:

              So evil certainly exists, but water, that’s a maybe?

              • Ken B says:

                Are you asking me RPLong? I’m pretty confident my experiences exist, and have some evidence that the assumption their substrate exists gives good results. I’m open to the idea that “I” am an illusion generated by a community of smaller mental operations though.

            • Z says:

              I cant be sure of that. I suppose the reason I think so is because if that’s the case, when I pick up a calculus book, it means that Newton didn’t discover calculus, but that instead, i discovered and formulated it myself, and I don’t think I’m that smart, LOL.

              But seriously, I’m wondering if you think we actually have ‘moral intuition/emotions’ or we are just mislabeling other non-moral emotions.

          • RPLong says:

            How do you know YOU exist?

            • Z says:

              I suppose I don’t know for sure. ‘I think therefore I am’ is about as close as I can get to it.

              • Anonymous says:

                I suppose you are lucky to question if evil really exists. I remember a time when I may of thought that also.

        • Ken B says:

          I don’t know if evil exists, but I think evil men and evil acts do. That seems sufficient. Whatever the ontology, it’s a useful word.

  2. James says:

    Bob, your Superman analogy is really terrible! Do you seriously believe that God allows villains so that Jesus can look great by contrast? This is the sort of thing I would expect from the “God, as described in the Bible, is evil” chapter of the atheist club, not from a Christian.

    In the parable, Jesus clairfies: Gathering up up the bad plants brings with it the possibility that the good plants will also be gathered up as well. I’m guessing this means if God were to remove the villians of the world now, doing so would also entail removing other people that God does not want to remove. A skeptic would probably say this passage is bizarre because an omnipotent being should be able to sort people with more finesse but I take it as a reference to a logical impossibility. If all people start out as as tares and some become the wheat Jesus speaks of, it would be impossible to eliminate the existence of tares without affecting the wheat.

    • Ken B says:

      The omnipotence is not a problem for your reading, as the servants ask if *they* should do the sorting.

  3. Major_Freedom says:

    I would still think Superman is great even if there were no Lex Luthers.

    Superman could utilize his strength to accomplish many ends regular humans can’t accomplish, other than destroying evil people. Things like preventing train derailments, airplane crashes, or positive things like moving mountains of Earth to make way for Wal-Marts, etc.

    BTW, the idea that evil activity is a necessary aspect of reality doesn’t leave any room for human choice.

    • Bob Murphy says:

      BTW, the idea that evil activity is a necessary aspect of reality doesn’t leave any room for human choice.

      Actually I would argue it’s the other way around, but I get what you are saying.

      • Major_Freedom says:

        The capacity to choose evil is not exclusive of never choosing to do evil that one has the capacity to do. I have the capacity to kill people, but I continually refrain from choosing that. I haven’t lost my free will through making that choice over and over again.

        If you are going to argue that evil activity is a necessary aspect of reality, then you are equivalently saying that should people, who had the capacity to do evil, and would otherwise choose to not do evil, but nevertheless be compelled by some force to do evil, in order for you to say that evil activity is a necessary aspect of reality, then you are making it impossible for people to choose not to do evil.

        In other words, free will can appear to us as only good activity taking place. Humans have the capacity to abstain from evil activity while retaining the capacity to do evil. If you make evil activity necessary, then there is no way for us to choose to refrain from it.

        I really don’t understand how you can think the opposite of this, namely, that evil activity is required in order for us to have free will.

        • Ken B says:

          Right. Maybe Bob can argue argue thaty the potentail of evil is necessary, yada yada, but MF is spot on about the existence of evil acts. If evil acts must exist then someone must do them, and at the “zero lower bound” that implies some of those actors lack the free will to choose not to do them.

          • Major_Freedom says:

            The only way I can see Murphy explaining it in a way that would be consistent with what he has already said, would be if evil thoughts (evil potential) is evil activity as well.

            That would be the only world, IMO, that the statement “Evil activity is necessary” could be true.

            Suppose humans evolved into a species whereby each being can read other being’s thoughts, without choice. Kind of like how we can’t not hear a loud explosion if it occurred. Suppose one being’s evil thoughts caused another being to experience distress, unhappiness, and so on.

            Since evil thoughts have “negative externalities” on others, without their choice, would that make evil thoughts aggressive (evil) activity that use of force is justified to protect others?

            Imagine trying NOT to think of pink elephants and getting sent to prison every time because not thinking of pink elephants makes you think of pink elephants.

  4. Warren says:

    I’ve not paid close attention to religious discussions, but I seem to recall that God needs to allow evil, not for it’s own sake, but because He needs humans to make the choice to freely serve Him and we can’t make that choice freely if our choices are constrained to smaller set of options.

    So people are evil because they choose to be and He cannot object because that would ruin whatever it is He is doing. Which appears to be some sort of spiritual multi-level marketing thing.

  5. P.S. Huff says:

    This argument presupposes an objective concept of Beauty, which some may not be comfortable with. The triumph of Good over Evil (runs the theodicy) is such a beautiful story that God tolerates the ills of the world for the sake of some future glory. The saints, as they survey eternity, will look back on the drama of redemption as a part of their heritage and identity, which they will contemplate and converse about; and the mere thought of having foregone all this will, at that late date, be enough to make them shutter.

    I like this hypothesis, and I think you may be right that it supplies at least part of the answer to the problem of evil. But one man likes Bach, another likes Lady Gaga; we may adore the drama of history, but we can imagine other sentient creatures who found it even more pleasurable to stare blankly at the wall. If we are to make sense of God allowing evil for the sake of aesthetics, we will have to abandon the idea that beauty is purely subjective. It will follow that some aesthetic standards are warped and perverse, which is not something the modern world wants to hear.

    But I am glad you posted this, as I have been toying with a theodicy along similar lines. I doubt this is the full answer, though.

  6. Bob Murphy says:

    Think of it like this: If I didn’t write this apparently awful blog post, none of you–atheists and Christians alike–would have the opportunity to prove how much better people and thinkers you are.

    • Yosef says:

      But the same is true had you written a brilliant blog post completely proving your case. (Snark: So why did you choose to write an awful post?)

      • Dan Lind says:

        “So why did you choose to write an awful post?”

        Perhaps to explain why God allowed Paul Krugman.

    • Major_Freedom says:

      You can also look at at it like this:

      Since this post didn’t leave us unchanged, since this post affected our minds in some way, which you understand as proving superiority, then your post could be understood as having helped create better people and thinkers. For without your post, we wouldn’t have been in that position.

  7. guest says:

    Evil as Evidence for God
    http://www.str.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=6023

    The presence of evil in the world is considered by some to be solid evidence against the existence of God. I think it proves just the opposite.

    To say something is evil is to make a moral judgment, and moral judgments make no sense outside of the context of a moral standard. Evil as a value judgment marks a departure from that standard of morality. If there is no standard, there is no departure.

    The first thing we observe about moral rules is that, though they exist, they are not physical because they don’t seem to have physical properties.

    Our discovery also tells us some things really exist that science has no access to, even in principle.

    Second, moral rules are a kind of communication. They are propositions: intelligent statements of meaning conveyed from one mind to another. The propositions are in the form of imperatives, commands. A command only makes sense when there are two minds involved, one giving the command and one receiving it.

    Our options are limited to three. One: Morality is simply an illusion. Two: Moral rules exist, but are mere accidents, the product of chance. Three: Moral rules are not accidents, but instead are the product of intelligence.

    Some want to argue that morals just don’t exist. … This view is not an option for those who raise the problem of evil. Their complaint about the injustice of the universe is a tacit admission of morality.

    Some take a second route. They admit that objective moral laws must exist, but contend they are just accidents. We discover them as part of the furniture of the universe, so to speak, but they have no explanation, nor do they need one.

    This won’t do for a good reason: Moral rules that have no ground or justification need not be obeyed.

    Commands are communications between two minds. Chance might conceivably create the appearance of a moral rule, but there can be no command if no one is speaking.

    Even if a person is behind the communication, one could ignore the command if it isn’t backed by appropriate authority.

    Only one answer remains as a possible source of morality. If morality is not an illusion and not the product of chance, then morals must be the result of an intelligent designer.

    Some attempt to argue that they don’t need God to have morality. They can live a moral life even though they don’t believe in a divine being. No one argues, though, that an atheist can behave in a way one might call moral. The real question is, “Why ought he?”

    The Final Verdict

    The argument against God based on the problem of evil can only be raised if some form of moral objectivism is true. Morals, therefore, exist. I need not give a complete taxonomy of ethical guidelines to make my case. If there is even one moral absolute, it invites the question, “What kind of world view explains the existence of this moral rule?”

    Atheism can’t make any sense of it. Neither can most Eastern religions. If reality is an illusion, as they hold, then the distinction between good and evil is ultimately rendered meaningless.

    In the end, we’re forced to accept one of two alternatives. Either relativism is true or morality is true. Either we live in a universe in which morality is a meaningless concept and are forever condemned to silence regarding the problem of evil, or moral rules exist and we’re beholden to a moral God who holds us accountable to His law.

    • Gene Callahan says:

      Guest is right: to talk about evil already assumes God. But people can rationalize this truth away, of course.

      • Major_Freedom says:

        Someone didn’t read Kant.

  8. Christopher says:

    My problem with your explanation of the existence of evil is that it affects god’s omnipotence. God is not like a man who falls asleep. God would have known that evil men were coming to the field to sow tares. And he could have easily stopped them. So the question IMHO is not why is there evil but why does god let it happen.

    The answer in my opinion is that he decided to respect our free will to some extent. He is like a father who wants his son to behave but leaves him a certain room to make his own decission. Obviously, his son will make mistakes but as a caring father he does not want to lock his son in a cage.

  9. Futurity says:

    I applaud your son for having doubts if I received your answer I would be in doubt too. I am afraid you did not give him a Christian answer.
    Why there is evil in this world and specifically death is one of the most frequent questions I get asked by unbelievers. Anyway, to the point.

    In order to know why there is evil, we should ask the most fundamental question: What is evil?
    Evil is doing what is wrong. Who defines what is good and wrong? God.
    Evil is therefor doing what is wrong in the sight of God and the punishment for sin is death.

    Another fundamental question is: Was evil always in the world? Or was the world once perfect?
    The world was created by God and was pronounced very good(Genesis 1:31). There was no death. Only after the fall, that is when Adam disobeyed God, the death entered into the world. The world was created perfect and was subsequently destroyed by sin(evil).

    Another question: Why God created the concept of evil? Without the concept of evil there could be no evil to be done.
    The reason why God created the concept of evil is to give man free will. Freedom to disobey God is apparently part of very good creation. Therefor understanding the concept of evil is not evil but part of the perfect creation. Of course we lost that freedom when Adam disobeyed God.

    Answering these questions is fundamental to understanding why Jesus Christ is so important.
    1 Corinthians 15
    “20But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep.21For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead.22For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive.”

    I am afraid that your answer was a pagan answer. Your idea is that there cannot be good without evil(superman without villain), that everything in existence must co-exist in a sort of balance or symmetry. In Christianity good is not dependent on evil.(evil is depended on good though).

    The parable Matthew 13: 24-30 is not about why evil exists, but about future Kingdom of God and what will happen to evil when it is finally finished. Jesus on many occasion preached about the upcoming kingdom of heaven. In fact when we say Lord’s Prayer, we pray: “Your kingdom come.”

  10. skylien says:

    I don’t know if this appeal to authority is worth something but it seems Ozzy doesn’t believe (anymore?) that God is ‘dead’:

    Nice new song by Black Sabbath:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wVfUimq2KeI

  11. Cody S says:

    It is a common oddity that people who discover at 7 that God does not distribute tricycles to pious children, still declaim surprise at 27 on discovering that God does not go about machine-gunning dictators in their beds.

  12. Bob Murphy says:

    Hey guys: As much as I like being told that I gave my son a “pagan” answer, and that I’m not appreciating the omnipotence of God, I don’t see any of you even attempting to deal with this part of the parable:

    “The servants said to him, ‘Do you want us then to go and gather them up?’ 29 But he said, ‘No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them.”

    Unfortunately, when He explained it to His disciples a few verses later, Jesus didn’t address this specific part of it either. Hence the Superman analogy.

    • Christopher says:

      I didn’t mean to offend you. This is a difficult question that has been raised a million times and there is still no good answer to it.

      My take on your quote would be that if God were to eliminate evil things, he would have to take away our free will. Because as long as we can make decisions ourselves, we will make some wrong and evil decision too. But eliminating free will would leave us with a meaningless existence. We would be like machines. Like uprooted wheat.

      I’m not insisting on this interpretation. It’s just the best I’ve come up with so far.

    • Egoist says:

      Jesus, or at least the writers of the new testament, was egoist.

      To believe that destroying evil requires destruction of the good as well, is straight out of Nietzsche and Stirner.

      If you want to go about destroying evil, you must destroy the good as well, since, apparently, the good cannot exist without the evil, and vice versa. To transcend evil and conquer evil, one must also transcend and conquer that which evil requires in order to be evil, namely, the good.

      Stirner held that only unbridled egoism can reconcile/synthesize the contradicting good and bad, by assimilating them through destroying them both. Nietszche held that the ideal individual was “beyond good and evil.”

      —————————–

      However, is there a technology that can eliminate tares[evil] while leaving the wheat[good] unharmed? If there is a technology that can enable us to eliminate/prevent *only* evil activity, then while the remaining activity might not be properly understood as “good” activity according to our moral judgments, why can’t we nevertheless conclude that the remaining activity is worth seeking, and call it something else?

      Suppose everyone were suddenly afflicted with a mental virus that prevented them from engaging in evil activities, where evil acts are presented to us by implication of us realizing what we can no longer do, whatever those acts happen to be (it’s not really necessary to define which acts are evil and which are good for this thought experiment)…if we can all still make choices within the frameowrk of “good” activity only, would any of you consider this phenomena to be a cause for rejoicing?

      Assuming you could remember evil activities you have done, and the evil activities others have done, would you feel “restricted” now that you can’t engage in those activities any longer? Or, supposing you can’t remember those evil activities, and there was a red button that eliminated only evil activities, whatever they happen to be, and let’s suppose you don’t know what they are, would you would willingly impose “only good from now on” on all of humanity by pressing the button? Or, suppose you did know which activities would no longer be possible, and let’s suppose it would reduce your standard of living (in the short run). Would you still press the button?

    • Futurity says:

      The reason why servants should not try to destroy the tares is because they may destroy the wheat also. It is for the wheat sake that this is done. Only when the time comes the reapers ordered by Jesus will separate wheat from tares.
      This is consistent with what I wrote about existence of evil:
      – evil is sin and sin entered to the world through Adam
      – good is not dependent on evil
      – at some point there will be no evil as God will judge the world

      I do not understand how that relates to your superman-villain analogy. Especially, since that analogy is based on pagan beliefs that good requires evil..

      • Bob Murphy says:

        The reason why servants should not try to destroy the tares is because they may destroy the wheat also.

        You seem to have a pretty low opinion of Michael’s accuracy. How was the angel of death able to avoid hitting the Israelites in Egypt?

        • Futurity says:

          According to Jesus, those servants lack accuracy as He warns them not to weed out tares as they may destroy wheat also:
          “The servants said to him, ‘Do you want us then to go and gather them up?’ 29 But he said, ‘No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them.”

          On the other hand he recognizes reapers to have the accuracy to separate the tares and wheat during harvest:
          “30 Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, ‘First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn.'”

          Still, I have not learned from you of the biblical reason why good requires evil as per your superman-villain analogy.

          • Bob Murphy says:

            Still, I have not learned from you of the biblical reason why good requires evil…

            I never said that it did; you wanted to see that in my post, apparently.

            I said that Superman wouldn’t be great without villains. He would still be a good guy, but nobody would buy tickets to see a movie about a Kryptonian bringing down prices at Wal-Mart (except Major Freedom).

            • guest says:

              We’re all evil, and, if God dealt with evil justly, right now, then some will go to hell who otherwise would have been saved through faith.

            • Major_Freedom says:

              So if I think Superman would be great, while you think he would only be good, in a world without evil, who’s right, and why?

              Does you really believe that the only great people are those who destroy evil?

              You haven’t destroyed evil. Aren’t you still a great Dad/Educator/Writer/etc

              I consider Henry Ford and Steve Jobs to be greater people than those who killed/captured the Boston bombers. Sure, the latter are getting praised in ways far more significant than Ford or Jobs ever did, but I don’t define greatness in terms of popular opinion polls.

              Maybe greatness has a subjective component to it, in the eye of the beholder, etc.

            • Futurity says:

              No. You explicitly stated that:
              “I tried explaining that there couldn’t be superheroes if there were no bad guys”

              Even with your twist here, it is still not a biblical concept of evil. What evil introduced into the world is separation of man from God. So instead of worshiping Creator humans tend to worship the creation: Romans 1:25 “They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator”
              According to the Bible, because of evil we think less of God. Evil does not makes good look better, it is hindrance to good.

      • Christopher says:

        The reason why servants should not try to destroy the tares is because they may destroy the wheat also. It is for the wheat sake that this is done.

        But this doesn’t explain why eliminating the evil would endanger the good.

        • Futurity says:

          Indeed. It doesn’t explain it.

          I can only speculate that the servants are converted believers and may judge wrongly and therefor destroy the good seed.

          You may also want to read the follow up post to the one you quoted.

          • Christopher says:

            Well, I liked your answer above better:

            The reason why God created the concept of evil is to give man free will. Freedom to disobey God is apparently part of very good creation.

            If you took away evil, thereby taking away free will, God’s creation would lose some of its worth. Isn’t that a good reason not to pull out the tares?

            Btw, may I ask where in the Christian spectrum you stand, i.e. which denomination?

            • Futurity says:

              I think you misunderstood my post. Please read it again.

              Doing evil and understanding concept of evil are two different things. Just like knowing evil and knowing of concept of evil are.

              In my previous post I never argued that doing evil or knowing evil is part of very good creation. I argued that understanding concept of evil/knowing concept of evil is.

  13. Tel says:

    Does that mean if you do a bad enough act, eventually a superhero will appear to fix things and thus the bad act was really a good act, because that’s what created the superhero?

    • Major_Freedom says:

      That dialectic theme has appeared in religion and philosophy texts for centuries.

    • skylien says:

      I only believe that you need potential acts of evil to be out there but not actual evil acts to make good acts good ones.

      I mean you can have a world of people all being good without any evil stuff happening. Important is just the possibility of doing evil, yet people making again and again the deliberate decision to do the right, the good thing and not the evil stuff.

      • Tel says:

        Not sufficient to satisfy an empiricist!

  14. Major_Freedom says:

    For Christians:

    Maybe the capacity to do evil but choosing not to do evil, explains God’s activity for the universe, in the sense that everything that occurs in this universe is only good, and that God is choosing not to do (what we perceive as REALLY) evil stuff.

    Maybe (what we perceive to be) the evil that is taking place in the world is nothing close to the evil that God has the capacity of unleashing in the world. The Holocaust, the Great Purges, the Mongol invasions, maybe these are but tiny and minor (what we perceive to be) evil activities that aren’t considered “evil” by God at all, and that don’t come anywhere close to the evil that God could do if He chooses to do it.

    We’re only one tiny blip on a small blue planet in a universe so vast that in the grand scheme of things, it would be like complaining that there is evil taking place in an anthill, in a world of angels. Maybe we’re totally exaggerating both our good activities and evil activities. Maybe all of God’s chosen activity is good from His perspective, and that actual evil is something so sinister, that not even Hitler or Stalin or Ghangis Khan could come anywhere close to replicating.

    • Christopher says:

      These questions are not just about doing good or bad things or causing pain to others. Sins are not just bad behavior. From a Christian perspective, a sin is directly going against God and is destroying the sinners bond to God. The consequences of your behavior in this world aren’t the right benchmark.

      … and that don’t come anywhere close to the evil that God could do if He chooses to do it.

      Again, it seems that you are misunderstanding what sin means to Christians. God can’t possibly choose to do evil (i.e. commit sins). That follows from the very definition of sin and evil.

      • Major_Freedom says:

        There is evil other than sin.

        Rape, slavery, condoned in the bible, but can be regarded as evil.

        • Christopher says:

          I am not aware of a Christian concept of evil other than acting against God.

          • Major_Freedom says:

            I am aware of evil other than Christian sin.

            • Christopher says:

              You explicitly addressed your question to Christians so I assumed you were interested in the Christian view.

              And from a Christian perspective I can’t agree with your theory because it is based on a non-Christian concept of evil.

  15. knoxharrington says:

    The real question is this: Dumbledore and Jesus have a duel. Who wins and why?

    • Major_Freedom says:

      What the authors write. You may see separate stories of both winning.

    • knoxharrington says:

      The answer is Dumbledore if he has the Elder Wand and it’s Jesus pre-ascension. I got that answer by examining the Deathly Hallows, Micah and Hebrews.

  16. joeftansey says:

    I’m pretty sure God could throw bathwater out without throwing the baby out.

    The parable also implies that it would have been possible to have a world with no evil. Really?

  17. Cody S says:

    I think a good and all-powerful god would look like a supermodel and walk around with me, granting my wishes like Jeanie from the old Nick at Nite show.

    Since that has never happened to me, I can’t believe there is a good and all-powerful god.

    • Z says:

      Why would you define a ‘good’ god to look like a supermodel? What if god just looked like a dignified old matriarch?

      • Tel says:

        Like I’m gonna get a dignified old matriarch to satisfy my wishes?!?

  18. Daniel Davis says:

    If you just become a Calvinist, Bob, the problem of evil ceases to be a problem. Trade off: you might not like God as much.

    • Bob Murphy says:

      I think I am a Calvinist, Daniel. (And I love God.)

    • Christopher says:

      Funny I always thought that explaining the existence of evil is most difficult for Calvinists. Why do you think it is the opposite?

  19. Christopher says:

    For what it’s worth, this is from the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

    311 Angels and men, as intelligent and free creatures, have to journey toward their ultimate destinies by their free choice and preferential love. They can therefore go astray. Indeed, they have sinned. Thus has moral evil, incommensurably more harmful than physical evil, entered the world. God is in no way, directly or indirectly, the cause of moral evil. He permits it, however, because he respects the freedom of his creatures and, mysteriously, knows how to derive good from it.

  20. Gamble says:

    I think the passage Bob provided is about judgment day and an eternity of burning hell fire?

  21. Sam Geoghegan says:

    Good and evil are just binaries and binaries are incontrovertible axioms of human perception.
    In psychology, binaries often manifest as externalisation, rather than opposites, but they function much the same.

  22. DT says:

    You should think twice before letting your son read and be influenced by Harry Potter and such material. It is essentially witchcraft, here is a great Christian expose on the matter, I recall the author even saying she felt as if she was demonically possessed as she penned the material:

    Harry Potter: Witchcraft Repacked
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3CV5kKHxiQQ

    Harry Potter: A Spirit Conspiracy? by Pastor Joe Schimmel of Good Fight Ministries
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pQZEwJP9xDc

    Again, here is a great short clip by Living Waters on why there is evil in the world:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gQ0whlNNWsM

    Sinners should pray that God extends his patience regarding evil until the appointed day, otherwise, the applied justice would mean their own annihilation if they are not protected by faith in Christ.

    • knoxharrington says:

      This is a joke, right? You are just goofing on us. Nobody can actually believe that Harry Potter is related to actual witchcraft or Satanism.

      • Ken B says:

        You must be very young knox.

        Seriously, we had a neighbour who banned HP for her kids on this basis. It crops up every now and then, like kudzu.

        • knoxharrington says:

          I’m 43 Ken. It was more rhetorical than real. I’m fully aware of people who think like this – clearly, I can’t believe it. Have a good one.

    • knoxharrington says:

      Awesome. Just watch the first five minutes of Harry Potter: A Spirit Conspiracy? It reminds me of the early to mid-1980s when fundamentalists on PTL, TBN and others used to rail against rock music with the infamous claims that Kiss stood for Knights in Satan’s Service, Rush stood for Rebels Under Satan’s House and AC/DC stood for Anti-Christ/Devil’s Child. Great stuff. I can’t wait to watch some of the other linked videos on here.

  23. Tel says:

    Dunno if this is relevant here, but felt the urge to share it. Kind of amusing.

    http://stevengoddard.wordpress.com/2013/05/03/climate-alarmists-upset-by-competition-from-traditional-religions/

    Climate alarmists believe that their “earth is doomed” message is being drowned out by more traditional “earth is doomed” messages.

    With real research to back it up (well official research at any rate).

  24. Tlaloc says:

    hey, I dont know if its just me, but reading that passage out of context of this discussion, i feel like Jesus wasnt discussing the necessity of evil at all. When he tells them not to try and destroy the bad plants, as they might destroy the good as well, I feel like jesus is talking about MURDER. It seems he is telling them not to try, either with capitol punishment, war, bombing etc, to destroy what they see as “evil” in the world, as they lack the ability to know for certain who is really evil, and innocent people may die in the process, and that would be the greater evil.
    Thoughts?

  25. John says:

    The evil is a necessary evil, here is why in 30 seconds.

    http://johnybond.wordpress.com/2013/10/08/the-evil-is-a-necessary-evil/

    • Enoch says:

      You guys are all wrong above, because you believe that free will exists. No space here to prove from Scriptures, but understamd the following: God is in total control, nothing is left to chance. God created evil, not Satan. The reason evil exists is for training purposes. Free will is an illussion; you need to take into account of God’s bigger picture, which God has full, total control. Since God is in full, total control and God is good, every single person and every single angel including Satan will be saved.

      • Major.Freedom says:

        Enoch,

        If free will does not exist, then appeals to the concepts “right” and “wrong”, or “correct” and “incorrect”, become self-contradictory.

        To claim anyone is “wrong” presupposes the possibility of alternative futures where they think differently, in accordance with a standard that transcends inevitability/determinism.

        If everything that happens, happens according to God’s plan, then nothing humans could ever do would be either right or wrong. They would just Be.

        • Bob Murphy says:

          Also it’s odd that Enoch is expecting us to change, in light of his comment. We can’t help it…

          (I’m just trolling Enoch, I understand what you are saying, just pointing out that we all take free will for granted in these discussions. And I do think the Bible has both sides of the coin on it, which is not a contradiction, but more nuanced than I think you are suggesting.)

  26. gfowler says:

    Rom 8:20 For the creation was subjected to vanity, not of its own will, but by reason of him who subjected it, in hope
    Rom 8:21 that the creation itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the liberty of the glory of the children of God.

  27. Hermano says:

    But Robert, I argue that God does NOT allow evil. To be convinced, please read,

    “God does not create, commit, or allow evil!”

    at http://www.evangelicaluniversalist.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=14&t=7122

    Cheers.

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