The other day, my friends and I were hanging out at our usual spot, a local coffee shop in my small hometown. After a long round of catch up following a busy semester away at school, someone happened to bring up the topic of good and evil. My friend said that, because evil is present in the world, God cannot be wholly good, or omnipresent. However, I find the opposite to be true. Why does the presence of evil indicate such a thing? This Sunday, I brought up this topic in my Sunday School class and I asked my teacher, whom I look up to as a brother and spiritual mentor, “did evil always exist, just as God always has existed (according to the first book of the Christian Bible)?” He said a simple “no,” then sat there in silence, as he often does, waiting for me to think this over. After a moment, I thought about life in the Garden of Eden, before The Fall. There was nothing bad, everything was perfect. Adam and Eve, as well as the animals, lived in peace as members of God’s Creation. In other words, evil was nonexistent. Then, the fateful day Eve took a bite of the forbidden fruit, everything changed. My teacher asked me how The Fall of Man changed our relationship with God. I thought about this and the class began to talk it over: after Jesus came to us and was sacrificed for us, we became God’s children, and he our Father; we now know God’s mercy and grace; we know God’s justice and his wrath. These attributes, as well as many more, were made known to us as a result of the presence of evil. The idea that the presence of evil points away from the goodness of God, or the omnipotence of God, is based upon the false assumption that there was no reason for God to allow evil to exist. Perhaps God allows evil to give us a choice, free will so to speak, as well as to give us a desire to get to know who He is. Though we don’t in any way deserve it, He wants us to seek Him out and have a relationship with him.
After our discussion, my teacher recommended that I read Timothy Keller’s The Reason for God in order to explore this idea further, as well as many other key ideas upon which our Christian beliefs are based. I’m excited to read this book, and will hopefully have time to share my findings as I go!