For years individuals have tried to use the concept and existence of evil as a means to state that there is likely no God, and if there is a God he is either not good, or he is not all powerful and all knowing. Philosophers like to refer to this issue as the problem of evil. I believe that an all powerful, all knowing, and perfectly good God could have, and did, create a universe with evil, and that this evil makes life, and the universe all the more beautiful. While this idea may be hard to grasp when first read it is one that I believe has a strong backing to show why the problem of evil is not a problem which makes it harder to believe in God, but it is a beauty that will end up drawing us nearer to God once we accept his love and truth.
I make the statement evil makes things more beautiful not because I think tragedy is beautiful, but because I believe both the original cause of evil, and the end results in eternity are and will forever be beautiful. So I am not here to say that I find deep beauty in horrific and seemingly gratuitous events and sufferings, like the one of the Fawn who is burned and slowly dies in the woods alone which William L. Rowe bring up in his writings, but instead here to proclaim the events in the Garden of Eden, and the eternity in heaven which is promised to those who believe in Christ make evil all the more beautiful when they are examined deeper. First lets start way back in the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, and humankind, and all else that exists, God dwelled with Adam and Eve during this time up until the fall, but I believe that it is possible that this relationship is not a strong as the one that we have currently with God even though he is not right beside us. I say this because before the fall Adam and Eve did not have the knowledge of good and evil and so despite God being with them they where separate from God due to the lack of knowledge of good and evil. Today we can be with God through Christ and yet also have the knowledge of good and evil, so this puts us into a closer relationship with God then Adam and Eve could have ever had. I believe God knew this, and was upset when Adam and Eve ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil for a few reasons the first being the fact that for many years no one would be fully reconciled with God until Jesus did his work. Secondly because he knew that many of his children would not turn to him but instead choose to worship evil, the creature, instead of good, the creator. Lastly because he knew the intense and gratuitous suffering that would occur because of evils presence in this world. The fact that there is now a choice between good and evil also means that choosing good, choosing God, once again strengthens the bond of that relationship which we can have with God, more then ever before possibly in the pre fall universe. The second big reason evil is beautiful is that it magnifies beauty, not only in this life, but also in the eternity to come. If evil and suffering had never existed the simply joys, and the great joys and happiness’ of this life would not be the same, they would be much lesser if not null if there was no sadness, suffering, or evil to compare them to. This point I believed is magnified in eternity, how much more beautiful, and special will a world without evil be now that we know what it is like to live with evil? Also would it have been truly possible to create a place where people truly had the eternal joy of heavens without the knowledge of good and evil? To that point would it be possible to have created beings to be perfectly good as we will be in heaven, and have those beings possess the same knowledge of good and evil as God without having them experience the suffering which comes with evil? If this knowledge was presented to individuals when they got to heaven wouldn’t they be tempted by it if they had never known suffering? God wants close relationships with his creation, and with the knowledge of good and evil comes a closer relationship with God so doesn’t that make all the suffering and evil in the world necessary for a stronger relationship with God, as well as true eternal joy? All this leads me to say that evil is not a problem but a necessity that creates beauty, and beauty incomparable in the end.
To the fairness of the opposition I feel obligated to state the opposing opinion, the opinion that states that evil, and gratuitous suffering point to God not existing, and if he does, pointing to him not being good, or all-powerful. As a Christian I will also say that if you believe that God is not good or all-powerful then you say in many ways that God does not exist, or at least the God I worship does not exist. William L. Rowe states the problem of evil from the atheist’s perspective when he breaks it down into three points. The first point is that in this world there are “instances of intense suffering” which he says an “omnipotent, Omniscient being could have prevented without thereby losing some greater good or permitting some evil equally bad or worse.” Rowe then goes on to say in his second point that a all knowing and wholly good being would prevent any intense suffering from occurring unless as Rowe says “could not do so without thereby losing some greater good or permitting some evil equally bad or worse.” Rowe then takes these to points one comes to the conclusion that a wholly good, omniscient, and omnipotent being does not exist. As I mentioned earlier in this paper Rowe brings up the situation of the gratuitous suffering of a fawn to strengthen his point that there is no God. Rowe admits that this one situation does not prove his first point, although he does state that all instances of intense and gratuitous suffering likely do not lead to a greater good, or the prevention of an equally or greater evil. He says there are just too many instances of intense suffering to lead one to believe they all are for something better. Rowe states that “our experience and knowledge of the variety and profusion of suffering in our world provides rational support for the first premise.” Due to this belief of Rowe he also believes that the likeliness of his first point being true also provides “rational support” for the atheistic belief that there is no God.
In response to the argument of William L. Rowe that God does not exist, I feel I must attempt to place perspective on the issue of evil that William L. Rowe is trying to use to support the atheistic view of God not existing. The first thing I must say is that the existence of evil, and the results of the fall, are all to bring about a greater relationship with God, and a more beautiful heaven. My second point is that evil is necessary to bring about the beauty talked about in my first point. The third point is that with evil comes suffering, even intense and gratuitous suffering. So since evil is necessary and gratuitous suffering is a product of evil, then suffering even gratuitous suffering is necessary and is to bring about a greater beauty both in relationships with God and with eternity in heaven. Since this point is true based on my first three points then we can come to another conclusion that since evil and suffering brings beauty then a wholly good, omniscient, and omnipotent being could have created a world with evil. By this logic we can conclude that evil in no ways supports the atheistic opinion of Gods non-existence. It is in no way easy to accept gratuitous suffering, and I am not saying that we should look for beauty in the daily sufferings of humans and animals, but we should know and remember the beauty that will come from the overarching fact of evils existence in this world.
Some may say that it would have been better for God to just not have given Adam and Eve the temptation of the knowledge of good and evil and that the world would be better without ever having that knowledge and to just have this world be “perfect” without evil. This thought may seem good in theory and to our human instincts and logic but our God has a greater logic and we must assume and know that his choice for how he created this world was the best possible way since he is Omniscient, omnipotent, and wholly good. We must live realizing that in the end the “problem of evil” will no longer be a problem, but a thing of the past which makes the state of heaven all the more beautiful, and our relationship with God all the more strong. I believe if we live with this mindset, that evil, although terrible and we should do what we can to prevent it, is beautiful and we should thank God for the end results of evil; namely a more joyous heaven, and a stronger relationship with God.
– Lewis, C.S. The problem of pain. London: Geoffrey Bles, 1940. Clear and cogent.
– Mann, William E. “Chapte 7: The Problem of Evil: Derk Pereboom.” The Blackwell Guide to the Philosophy of Religion. Malden (Massachusetts): Blackwell, 2005. 148-67. Print.
– Pojman, Louis P., and Lewis Vaughn. “Section 2: Philosophy of Religion.” Philosophy: The Quest for Truth. New York: Oxford UP, 2014. 130-39. Print.
– Tooley, Michael. “The Problem of Evil.” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 16 Sept. 2002. Web. 4 Feb. 2016. <http://stanford.library.usyd.edu.au/entries/evil/>.