Something Evil This Way Comes!
I am an apologist. I don’t apologize for being a Christian. I defend the truthfulness of the Christian faith. The word “apologist” comes from the Greek word apologos. This word appears in the scriptures, 1 Peter 3:15-16. “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.” That word “reason” is apologos and it means to give evidence as if you were defending yourself in court.
When we talk about the topic of evil, we have to consider the different types of evil. Fuz Rana from Reasons to Believe states: “Philosophers and theologians recognize two kinds of evil: moral and natural. Moral evil stems from human action (or inaction in some cases). Natural evil occurs as a consequence of nature—earthquakes, tornadoes, floods, diseases, and the like.”
There is not enough space or time to discuss this topic in detail. But, I have tried to tackle the issue of moral evil in my books, The Chronicles of Jonathan Steel. In fact, the driving force behind my motivation for writing these books stemmed from the very question of “How can a loving God allow evil and suffering to occur in our world?” This started many years ago when such questions were asked of me and I had no rational or reasonable answers for my questioners. My appeal to the Bible was dismissed outright. And, my appeal to the way in which God had worked in my personal life fell on deaf ears. What’s true for me, I was told, was not necessarily true for someone else. This was my first collision with relativism.
Soon after this, I was on vacation in Gulf Shores, Alabama. In our condo I found a major magazine featuring this question on its cover: “Is Evil Real?” As I read the lengthy article, it became clear the author maintained evil was not an objective entity but a fabrication of the human brain to rationalize the occurrence of bad things. And, in the corner of one page of the article was a photograph of a shoreline taken from a high perspective. As I studied the image it became clear the water along the shore was filled with dead bodies — cows, dogs, and people. It was nauseating and the results of a monsoon that had killed hundreds and washed their bodies indiscriminately out to sea. The monsoon was a natural evil as I mentioned above but this did not deter the author from using the image to try and prove there was no objective evil in the world. Dead humans were no different from dead animals. We are just biology, right?
That night I would experience one of the most harrowing moments of my life. I have discussed this in detail in past posts but for a short period of time, I could not feel a connection to God. This separation was devastating for the short time in which I experienced this almost psychotic break from reality. It lasted a few minutes only but it left a tear in my soul. I challenged God to prove He was real! The whole story is far from brief but it took years for God to “prove” He was real. And, that proof was at the expense of my own sanity and due to my poor decisions. The deep, dark depression I speak of in my book, “Conquering Depression” came out of a combination of many forces, one of which was this crisis of faith.
I soon went on a long journey of discovery asking myself, “Why do you believe what you believe?” and even more importantly “What do you believe?” That journey led me to study all major world religions and worldviews. And, after years of study I came back to my Christian faith as the only worldview that made sense in this universe in which we exist. Back to evil, shall we?
An argument is raised, as I mentioned above, that evil proves there is no God. It goes like this. If God created evil, then He is a cruel and capricious God. If God failed to prevent evil, He is a powerless creature and therefore not God. In either scenarios, God would no longer be the kind of God we want to worship. Therefore, evil proves there is no God! But, Ravi Zacharias, one of the best speakers and writers in the world, makes the point that we can only define something as evil if we are also aware of what it means to be good. Without the concept of good, we cannot conceive of evil. This implies there is some transcendent, independent concept of good and evil that we all appreciate equally as human beings. Such a moral imperative must come from a transcendent, independent source. This called the “moral law argument” and maintains that as human beings we all have a natural, inborn appreciation of the concepts of good and evil and these concepts have to come from a transcendent Lawgiver.
The discussion of this goes much deeper than my feeble mind allows. I am a doctor, not a philosopher. But, what common sense tells me is that we can only know something is evil if we also know good. And, God is good. Evil is like the shadow cast when something passes in front of the light. It is the absence of good. Moral evil comes from our choice to refrain from doing good. We are the instruments of evil. Not God. Dr. Hugh Ross of Reasons to Believe reduces it to a simple concept:
People are not robots.:
Man was sinless when God created him (Gen. 2-3).
If God had forceably prevented man from sinning, man’s will would not be free.
Without free choice, love is impossible.
Therefore, in order to have true free will, the possibility of evil has to exist.
I write about this in my books because I think it is so important to understand the nature of evil. It is not to be ignored or to be explained away as rationalization. It is a force to be reckoned with and there is an entity behind the power of evil. I’ll touch more on that in upcoming posts. But, for now, I ask that you consider the idea that good and evil can only exist if there is a moral law given by God. Whether you are an atheist, agnostic, or a believer we must all come to grips with evil in our lives. I maintain that only within the worldview of a loving, good God can we make sense of evil.
Learn more about evil in my book series, The Chronicles of Jonathan Steel and my newest, third book in the series “The 11th Demon: The Ark of Chaos”. More information on ordering the book can be found here or under the ORDER tab on this web page.