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Short Essay on the Hamartiology: Problem of Evil

The question of evil is a common hot button topic among atheists and non-Christians who attempt to disprove Christianity. They argue that an omnipotent and omniscient God cannot exist in a world with so much evil. The argument is used by them to prove that Christianity is “internally self-contradictory and thereby to be rejected” (Feinberg, 413). So, the problem of evil is explaining that a perfect, all-powerful, and all-loving God can exist in a world with so evil. First, natural and moral evil need to be distinguished. Natural evil is defined as “evil which occurs in the process of the functioning of the natural order” (Feinberg, 414). People are not responsible for these happenings; they are simply victims and no one is to blame. The devastation that resulted from Hurricane Sandy is a perfect example of such evil, along with afflictions such as cancer and earthquakes. Moral evil, on the other hand, is defined as “evil produced by activities of moral agents” (Feinberg, 414). This evil stems from intentional action, such as murder, stealing, and adultery. Natural evil is part of the consequences of moral evil that resulted from the fall of man in the Garden of Eden. The vast amount of evil that exists in the world is not because God created it, but because man allowed it. Man was not created with a built-in evil nature; he was created with a free will that was exercised to purposefully sin. God gave Adam a choice to do right or wrong and he failed in Genesis 3:6 by disobeying God. The moment Adam chose to sin in Eden he “brought tragic spiritual, physical, and social deprivation to the entire human race” (Demarest, 435). God did not force this choice on Adam but allowed him to have complete free will. God is wholly benevolent and did not create evil; man brought it into the world by his sinful actions. Adam’s wrongdoing also brought condemnation to the perfect world God created, with natural evils such as illness and natural disasters. God did not leave us hopeless and abandoned when sin entered the world. Romans 3:23 states that we are all sinners, but God offers us a way of escape through Jesus’ sacrifice.
There are numerous theodicies that attempt to reconcile the fact that evil and an omnipotent and benevolent God can both exist. Leibniz’s theodicy claims that God made the best possible world, one with good and evil. Critics such as Voltaire reject this because there is so much needless suffering in the world, and there is always a better possible world. The free will theodicy claims that humans, not God, brought evil into the world by abusing free will. Critics argue that all should not be punished for the sins of one. The soul-building theodicy presented by John Hicks states that evil exists for “building moral and spiritual character” (Feinberg, 1186). Evil does serve to strengthen the soul when one fully relies on God. However, this view claims all go to heaven, which would result in sin going unpunished and morality being pointless. While all may not accept these theodicies, they are clearly internally consistent. Whether right or wrong, these theodicies posses no contradictions that would render them obsolete. A theodicy that is inconsistent is self-defeating, illogical, and easily disproven.
I agree with the free will theodicy and my view is internally consistent. I believe that God did not create evil; evil is a result of man’s choice to sin. We are given free will because it is “the highest order” (Feinberg, 1186) and that we can choose to love and obey God. We are given a choice because God wants us to choose Him over doing evil, which is the greatest sign of love. Being under attack by evil can cause one to question God’s motives. Last year when my grandmother died I couldn’t understand God’s plan, but now I can see that His will is perfect and everything works together for good just as Romans 8:28 says. It is possible to dispute a belief that someone holds about God without attacking God if it is unbiblical, but no one can dispute the beliefs and characteristics of God clearly presented in the inerrant Scriptures.
There will always be evil in this world until Christ returns. It is important to develop a reliable theodicy to explain how a benevolent God and evil can both exist. The evil that exists, both natural and moral, are not created by God, but are a direct result of man abusing his free will and choosing wrongly. Adam chose to disobey God and the human race was condemned as a result, with Jesus Christ’s perfect sacrifice the only route to salvation. God gave us all a way to escape the horrible consequences of our evil actions.

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