Me: Hey Lex, it’s Parker. We met briefly at one of your art events last year. I recently saw Batman Vs. Superman and I gotta say you looked great on the big screen. Do you have a couple minutes to talk? You said some things about evil that I’d really like to discuss.
Lex: Well it’s your lucky day, I don’t get very many phone calls here in prison so I’m in the mood to talk to just about anyone.
Me: Cool thanks Lex. Well, my biggest question is about the problem of evil disproving God. Do you remember saying that?
Lex: Yes of course it was my big moment on top of the sky scraper when I bent superman to my will. I think everyone will remember that!
Me: Can you repeat what you said for me?
Lex: Well, I was berating superman as a false God, I said something along the lines of: I know there is no God because of all the evil in the world. My father was brutal to me and if there was a God then He would have stopped him.
Me: Bingo, that’s what I was thinking of. Would you mind talking about that problem in a bit more detail with me?
Lex: Off the record?
Me: sure Lex.
Lex: ok fine but don’t be surprised if your minuscule mind can’t comprehend the complex conclusions that fuel my contemptuous contention.
Me: uh.. Ok. Alliteration aside let’s begin. Can you just flesh out the meaning of your argument for me?
Lex: well there is evil in this world, since there is evil that is proof that there is no God. I’ve experienced evil first hand so I personally know there is no God.
Me: Oh I see Lex, you’re actually raising two problems here, the Logical Problem of Evil and the emotional problem of evil. The former says that the presence of evil in the world makes the existence of God illogical and the latter is more of an existential problem of coping with evil in our daily lives and finding a satisfactory answer.
Lex: spare me the psycho-babble bull. Whether it’s one problem or two it’s still a problem that yields the same conclusion: there is no God.
Me: ok Lex but why does the existence of evil disprove God?
Lex: I warned you that your simple public educated mind- you were educated in public school correct?
Me: Yes, Lex.
Lex: Well I told you your public educated mind wouldn’t be able to comprehend the vast truths I’ve come to understand.
Me: you haven’t even tried to explain though.
Lex: ok here goes: God is supposed to be all good and all powerful and all knowing. Since there is evil in the world then one of those attributes can’t be true of him. If there is evil maybe he knows about it and wants to stop it but isn’t strong enough. If there is evil maybe he is strong enough and knows about it but isn’t good enough to stop it. If there is evil maybe he is good enough to stop it and strong enough but he doesn’t know about it so he’s not all knowing.
Me: Oh Lex, I’m disappointed. That’s the same old tired argument that’s been buzzing around for years and years.
Lex: Please! It took me years of pondering to formulate that argument.
Me: well you could have just read the 18th century Scottish philosopher David Hume and saved yourself “years of pondering”. But there are a lot of assumptions you’ve left unanswered in your formulation and I’d expect more from a super villain such as yourself.
Lex: Such as?
Me: well Lex you didn’t even define what “evil” is. What is evil?
Lex: well evil is… Well.. Evil is a child getting beaten by his father for no reason! That’s evil!
Me: oh I absolutely agree with you, that is evil, but what is your standard by which you judge something as good or evil?
Lex: I don’t need a standard you can just tell that things are evil and others are good.
Me: Lex come on. You’re saying good and evil are just there? They are just brute facts? By that same logic I could say God is just there. Would you accept that?
Lex: absolutely not!
Me: ok then what’s your standard by which you call something good or evil?
Lex: if it causes pain to the innocent it’s evil.
Me: well again what’s your standard of innocent? Who’s innocent? Innocent of what? You’re still making moral claims without an objective standard. And by that definition a surgeon operating on a small child is evil. He or She is causing pain when they operate on the child even though they could be saving the young child’s life. Do you see that?
Lex: well good and evil are just social constructs! Societies decide what’s evil and what’s good.
Me: Nazi Germany…
Lex: ok Parker your turn then!
Me: I’d be happy to go but let me make sure I’m following your argument first. You say there can’t be a God because there is “evil” in the world. But without appealing to an objective standard of Good by which to judge something as evil you have no way of defining evil. Do you see how your argument has eroded itself?
Lex: I’m going to kill you.
Me: ok Lex, now that’s evil. You’re being evil yet again bro.
Lex: ha! Well what’s your standard of evil! You haven’t defined it! You fall into the same problem as me!
Me: I gave you a chance to define evil from your worldview now I will define it from my worldview. My worldview is shaped by the Bible. So evil is sin against the good and living God of the universe. He created heaven and earth and human kind rebelled against Him In the first sin. Everything that’s evil in this world is a result of sin against God and humanity. So when you talk about a father beating his son, I can say yes that’s evil. That’s a sin against God who made the child in his image and it’s a sin against that child who should be protected and taught by the father. The father is supposed to represent God the Father to his children and so he’s given that son a warped view of God. Just like how you now “don’t believe in God” yet you hate him.
Lex: what about earth quakes and fires and tornados and other natural disasters!?
Me: Yes those are a result of the fall as well. Adam and Eve sinned and God cursed the world because of them.
Lex: so we all inherited this sin from Adam and Eve and the whole earth was cursed because of them? That’s ridiculous and unfair!
Me: well first of all Lex, who are you to tell God what’s fair or not fair. Secondly if God wanted to destroy this whole universe because of Adam and Eve’s sin that’d be perfectly just punishment. And thirdly Adam was our federal head. He went to war with God by sinning and thus entered all of mankind into war with God. We should understand this fairly well since we live in the USA. If our president declares war on Iran our country is at war with Iran even if you and I didn’t get our chance to say no. (Though our congress is supposed to vote on it, which they haven’t done since like WWII).
Lex: well you still have to answer the problem of how evil can exist and not disprove God.
Me: well Lex, for a Christian this problem isn’t as much of a blindsider as you think. Every book in the Bible talks about the existence of evil. God continually uses evil to bring about amazing good. For instance in Genesis we learn about Joseph. His brothers beat him and sold him into slavery. Joseph had a rough life but God continued to lead him and protect him. Joseph ended up as the second in command of Egypt and God used him to store up 7 years of food and save the Egyptians as well as the Jews. Joseph could see God’s sovereignty over his brothers wicked sins. When speaking with his brothers later in life he tells them that they meant it for evil but God meant it for good.
Lex: those are just quaint stories told to shut people up. Religion is the opiate of the masses indeed!
Me: Lex I thought you’d be smarter than that. The Christian religion has given rise to western medicine and science and today’s universities. Scientists believed they could study this universe because God make it in an orderly fashion. They believed in induction because God is holding all things together. They believed the future would be like the past because God has promised Noah that while the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease. Not to mention the moral factor in science that says you should present your results truthfully and not lie or embellish to make the results agree with your hypothesis. Yet morality and ethics is a separate field, it’s the philosophy of science, and they understood that lying is a sin against God as well as humanity. Without the Christian religion you wouldn’t have the knowledge you boast in so fervently so give me a break with that pejorative Marxist silliness.
Lex: No one talks to Lex Luthor like that! Just wait till I get out of here!
Me: I’m sorry I don’t mean to be rude Lex but truth sounds like hate to those who hate the truth.. Just sayin’.
Lex: if God was so good why doesn’t he destroy all the evil people?
Me: would you still be breathing if He did? I know I wouldn’t be here. I’m a sinner Lex and so are you.
Lex: this conversation is going no where.
Me: Ok Lex let me just finish up my thoughts and I’ll let you get back to planning your escape. Your original argument has been found wanting. 1. God is all good 2. God is all powerful 3. God is all knowing is not the full story. 4. God hates sin. 5. God has a morally sufficient reason for the evil that exists. 6. Without God you don’t have an objective standard of good by which to judge something as morally evil. We know that God works all things for the good of those who love him. And we can see that God continually triumphs over evil in the most spectacular ways. We don’t fully know why Satan chose to rebel against God. We know God could have stopped him and could have stopped Adam and Eve from sinning but He allowed it to happen for His own purposes. But what we do know is that at the cross the worst evil possible happened. The only perfect person was wrongfully put to death. The son of God was slain. For that Friday and Saturday it looked like death and evil and sin had killed the Author of Life. But on the third day Christ Jesus was risen from the grave conquering death and sin. Death committed suicide when it tried to kill the Author of Life. Now anyone who puts their faith in Jesus are forgiven for their sins and are adopted as sons and daughters of God. If God can use men’s most evil intentions and actions to bring about the greatest good for the entire universe then of course He can use the evil that exists in our lives for good. I know this has been a heated discussion Lex but I appreciate the talk. I will be praying for you and I hope you take some time to ponder what we’ve discussed.
Lex: Goodbye for now, Parker.
Me: Goodbye Lex.