The Heavens Declare the Glory of God, the Firmament the Work of His Hand

The Heavens Declare the Glory of God, the Firmament the Work of His Hand

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Friday, October 2, 2009

Excerpt from The Strength of God & the Problem of Evil
by Greg Koukl

Let's pretend that you claim to be the strongest person in the world. More than that, you are the strongest person in the universe. You can pick up an entire building. You are so strong that you can pick up an entire city. You are so strong you can pick up an entire country. In fact, if you had a place to stand, you could lift the entire planet, even the solar system. You have so much strength, you can do anything that strength allows you to do. This is your boast to me.

"OK," I say, "let's see if you can prove it." "Just give me any test you want" you respond. "If you are so strong, then make a square circle." "I can't do that." "You're not very strong, are you?"
"This has nothing to do with strength, does it? Because no matter how strong I am, I could never make a square circle, because making a square circle has nothing to do with power. It is a self- contradictory concept, having square circles. They can't be made by anybody regardless of how strong they are. This test is unrelated to the issue of power."

Now, how does this tie into our discussion of the problem of evil? Simply this. God certainly is strong enough to obliterate evil from the earth or to have prevented it in the first place. No question about that. But let me ask you a question. Is it a good thing that God created human beings as free moral creatures, capable of making moral choices? It strikes me that the answer to that is yes. Because God is good--which is one of the things in question here--God created free moral creatures.

But this changes everything, doesn't it? What makes you think that strength has anything to do with God creating a world in which there are genuinely free moral creatures and no possibility of doing wrong?

You see, now we're back to square circles. It's just as ridiculous to ask God to create a world in which we have genuinely free creatures with no possibility to do wrong, as it is to ask Him to create a square circle. The task has nothing to do with His strength. It has to do with the nature of the problem. If you're going to have morally free creatures--that is, human beings that can make moral choices for themselves--and if God is good, then He is going to create creatures that will be truly morally free. But that entails, of necessity, at least the possibility of evil in the world.

This has nothing to do with God's power. It is unrelated to the issue of power just like making square circles is unrelated to the issue of power. It relates to the nature of the good universe that God created, a universe that was populated by beings that were morally free. Morally free creatures by necessity, by definition, have the possibility of going bad.

Now you know why this is not a good argument against the existence of God. It just doesn't apply. One could even argue there's a kind of category error here because in this particular case, according to Christianity, dealing with evil has nothing to do with strength. It has to do with the nature of the game itself.

What's neat about the Christian point of view, is that God did the good thing by creating morally free creatures that went bad, yet still did the loving thing by cleaning up the mess man created in such a way that greater good results. Now that's the result of a Master mind.

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