How Could the Benevolent, Omnipotent, and Omniscient God NOT Create Evil?


Just came back from the church. Pastor Randy continued his series on “spiritual forces”. Today he was talking about angels. Quite a weird topic. Most of what people say about this is made up. I admit that there can be “spiritual experiences” when people see those angels. But one can talk about it in terms of individual experiences and not as of objective reality.  I disagree with a view presenting the world as a fight between “good” and “evil”.  First of all, these categories do not exist beyond human society which is limited to our tiny planet and not even the whole planet.  The vast universe is completely oblivious to such things.  So, thinking that the whole purpose of creating the universe is to set up this fight of “good” against “evil” is strange because this fight goes on, primarily, in people’s heads.

I was listening to Allan Watts speeches in the car recently. I completely agree with his views on religion and philosophy of relationship between the individual and the “universe”. Watts says that the individual and the environment are one and the same. One cannot exist without the other and one creates the other. So, it’s incorrect to think of them as separate entities.  In the same way, “good” and “evil” are two sides of the same coin. Good cannot exist without evil just like mountains cannot exist without valleys. If you create mountains, you create valleys as well. There is no way around.

Now, theologians say that Satan is one of the angels created by God who rebelled against God and became evil. It sounds like we have to blame Satan for the disobedience and the existence of evil. But let’s think about it. God can’t say what’s good without also saying what’s not good. One can’t define “good” without defining “evil”.  Meaning is exclusion.  If God sets a law that he wants his creatures to obey, that very act presumes that disobedience is possible. Would disobedience to God’s law be impossible, there would be no law.  So, the existence of the law presumes disobedience.  That’s the way things are.

For me, this answers The Problem of Evil or “how the benevolent, omnipotent, and omniscient God could create evil”. As I think of it, how could he not? The paradox exists only if we separate one from the other. But it’s impossible to separate good from evil, just as it’s impossible to separate mountains from the valleys. So, we must think of them as we think of two sides of the same wheel. One side goes up, the other side goes down.

14 thoughts on “How Could the Benevolent, Omnipotent, and Omniscient God NOT Create Evil?

      • So then really, whether something can be said to exist or not, such as in the case of a god, is all a matter for the individual mind, meaning what it is that views either side of the coin? It is, therefore, a mind creation.

        • This web page has really impressed me some time ago http://logictutorial.com . If you look at the diagrams, there is no difference, in principle, between the all-black diagram and the all-white diagram. They are different, no doubt about it, but they carry the same amount of useful information – none. So, if you talk about concepts that include everything (like “omni-… God”) or exclude everything (like “nothing”), then the meaning is lost and “existence” is the same as “non-existence”. It is meaningful only to talk about existence and non-existence of things limited in time, space, or in terms of their properties so that you can draw a line between that thing and “not that thing”. So, if you can define that “something”, it would be possible to say if it exists or not. But if you cannot define it (and you can’t define God because you can’t define what’s “not God” since God is “omni-…”), then, yes, it’s all a matter of the individual mind.

  1. Well I look at it like this – since God allegedly created the Angels then he couldn’t be omniscient or even omnipotent. Because if he were then the betrayal would never happen. But wait – that would mean God vanishes in a puff of logic. Sort of how if you read Genesis Chapter 4 around verse 16 – the people in Nod – who the hell were they? I love watching religious defenders twist and turn trying to answer that one.

    • Logic has limitations. It can only prove that if A is true, then B is also true. But the truth of A has to be proven by other means. With paradoxes, logic simply short-circuits and does not work at all. We have a paradox when we consider circular statements like “If A is true then B is also true, and if B is true then A is false.” That’s the sort of reasoning in all the “omni” arguments. It’s called a self-refuting statement which, in their shortest form, can be of two kinds: tautology (“If A is true then A is true.”) and contradiction (“If A is true then A is false.”) Those are the two cases most paradoxes can be reduced to and they can’t serve to prove the truth of A.

      For instance, there is this famous paradox “Can omnipotent God create a rock that he would not be able to lift?” Why not? It’s like asking “Can anything be bigger than itself?” Consider growing things: plants, children. All the time they are bigger than themselves a day ago. Can a person do something he cannot do? Well, yes! When a child is learning to walk, it does something it cannot do! So, these paradoxes have quite easy solutions.

    • Who says that God didn’t know he will be betrayed? And who says that letting people sin and suffer is not benevolent? To say “I’m happy”, one needs to know what it means to be UNhappy. And to tell happiness from suffering, one needs to experience both. There is no contradiction between the existence of evil and suffering and God’s omnipotence, omniscience, and benevolence. If you create a law, you KNOW there will be people violating it, otherwise, you wouldn’t create a law, would you? The only way to prevent evil is to NOT create the world.

      It’s actually a good question: “Could omnipotent God NOT create the world?” Saying “No” to some urge often takes more willpower than doing it.

  2. If you look at polytheistic religions such as the Greek, Egyptian or Sumerian religions which precede Judaism/Christianity, there is little or no mention of the concept of good/evil. Followers of those beliefs could explain a devastating storm by saying that the storm god made it happen. The storm god wasn’t evil, just doing his job.
    The problem arises in monotheistic religions. How can we explain why the God who created us and loves us also sent a storm to kill us? The solution is solved by the invention of sin. We sinned, so God sent a storm to punish us.
    In Genesis 2 the very first act of God after creating the universe is to separate it into good and evil, light and dark. Contrast this with the earlier Sumerian texts in which there is no creator god, and the universe consisted of two equally valid forces – light/life/masculinity and darkness/magic/femininity. Hebrew theologians identified the masculine with good, the feminine with evil and left us with a messed-up tangle of moral problems that still has us in its grip millennia later.

    • You are right. The whole act of creation, according to Genesis, was a series of separations: heavens from earth, light, from the dark, water in the sky from water on the ground, dry ground from the sea, etc. What is happening there is creating separating concepts into “it” and “not it”, It’s a basic process of sorting things out, creating order out of chaos, creating information and meaning. We talk about “meaning” in the context of matching information (symbols) to reality (there is duality right there). And the most basic unit of information is 1 bit (yes-no, true-false, on-off). Again, the reality and “information about reality” is one and the same, but people still desperately try to make a distinction and get confused all the time. And that’s the bane of humanity.

      Self-awareness is what sets humans aside from most other living creatures. And self-awareness is exactly this mental separation of “I” and “not I”. And that leads to the concept of identity with all the consequences brought with it: identity politics, tribalism, nationalism, racism, sexism, the Marxist “class struggle”, soccer fan violence, and all kinds of other “us vs. them” nonsense.

      So, the Book of Genesis seems to be correct in the sense that eating from the Tree of Knowledge (or the ability to tell good from evil) is the source of all human suffering. It also comes with self-awareness. If you remember, Adam and Eve suddenly became aware that they are naked after they ate from the tree.

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