Does evil exist? I’m not really sure there’s a need to answer that question. At one time in my life, I would have said to just look at the events of history. However, I think I can tell you to just look around the world today. We have senseless killings, hate spilling into the streets, unspeakable things happening to children. The Bible even makes it clear evil does in fact exist:
We know that we are of God, and that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one. [I John 5:19]
…not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead…[I Peter 3:9]
…abstain from every form of evil. [I Thessalonians 5:22]
Evil exists in the world. There’s no doubt about it. But where did it come from? Don’t we serve a loving God? How could a God like that create something so awful? So we must ask ourselves: did God create evil?
First off, God is the Creator of all things:
For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities – all things have been created through Him and for Him. [Colossians 1:16]
Doesn’t this mean that God created evil? I don’t believe He did.
Umm…Jonathan…didn’t you just read that verse in Colossians? Doesn’t it say that He created everything?
It does say that, but saying that God created evil implies that evil is something that was created at all. Hear me out. Have you ever heard someone say that it’s cold outside? Would it surprise you to know that “cold” does not actually exist? Cold cannot be measured. Instead, when measuring temperature, you are measuring the amount of heat that is present. Sure, you may think that no heat exists in Antartica, but it does. There is a temperature known as “Absolute Zero” (-273.15C or -459.67F) where heat no longer exists. At that point, you don’t have a maximum amount of cold; you simply have the complete absense heat. In other words, “cold” is a concept invented by man that describes the absense of heat.
Here’s another scenario. Have you ever been inside of a sealed, soundproof room? There was one of these inside the football stadium at Tennessee Tech University where I went to college, though I’m not sure if it’s still there. The entire room was separated from the rest of the building by a sophisticated suspension system which would absorb all vibrations coming through the floors and walls. Not only that, the inside of the room was completely covered on every surface with textured foam to help absorb any sound. To be inside the room was almost scary because of how deathly quiet it was. I mean, you could hear NOTHING! But this room didn’t just create a barrier to sound; it also created a barrier to light. With the lights turned off inside, it was the closest to complete darkness that I have ever experienced. I spent about a minute inside of it one time with absolutely no sound and no light. It was like nothing I have ever experienced before. But did you know that the room was not quiet and dark because there existed an abundance of quietness and an abundance of darkness. Instead, we considered it dark and quiet because there was a complete lack of sound and light. “Darkness” does not exist, but is a concept created by man to describe the absense of light. In the same manner, “quietness” does not exist, but is used to explain the absense of vibrations that our ears and brain interpret as sound.
Now, back to whether or not God created evil. I would challenge you that “evil” is not an actual thing that was ever created. Instead, it is a concept that describes the absense of something else, or better yet the absense of Someone else. I believe that evil is merely the absense of God. The passage in I Thessalonians 5:22 tells us to “abstain from every form of evil.” In other words, we must cling to the exact opposite, which is God. Without God, we have evil.
Your next question might be, “If God didn’t create evil, then why does He allow it to exist?” In order for God to prevent evil in this world, He would have had to create a world in which no one would choose to leave or turn away from Him. In other words, He would have had to remove man’s freewill. But God didn’t do that. I John 4:8 teaches us that “God is love.” True love, in order to be whole, requires love to be reciprocated back to it. If God took away our freewill and mandated that all humans obey Him, there would be no love in that relationship. We would be obeying God because He made us, not because we love Him and choose to obey. In order for us to show God true love in return, He had to give us the freewill to choose to turn away from Him. The result was the presense of evil, or the absense of God. He said, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you.” [Hebrews 13:5] So, if God is not present in my life, that was my decision, not His. We are the ones who create the void that allows for the presence of evil.
Did God create evil? I would say no. Did God create a system by which the concept of evil could exist? Yes, by giving us freewill. You may interpret that to mean that God did create evil. That’s fine. I won’t argue semantics with you. Either way you look at it, we have the power to control whether or not evil exists in our lives, and that’s by choosing whether or not to immerse our lives in God.