Wednesday, November 24, 2010

UNapologetics: Does God Create Evil?

About a year before I started traveling down my road towards atheism, I was in the extreme Christian minority--some might even call it the fringe. I belonged to a group of people who believed that God created all evil in this world. We even had biblical proof! I was pretty sure alot of people were familiar with Isaiah 45:7 where God says, "I make peace and create evil." But to my surprise I was completely wrong. When I would show my fundy friends this verse they would all decry and denegrate me saying I was taking said verse out of context. Being used to the accusation of taking things out of context, I just told them that if they had an alternate explanation they would like to elucidate by all means the floor was theirs. And of course they had nothing on the spot. But a couple of days later the friends I had showed the verse to said they had the answer. They had printed out a page off of the apologetics website CARM. I was extremely familiar with CARM. I used to peruse their website looking for things to critique and debate. So without further adieu here is the alternate explanation I was presented with.

CARM admits from the outset that the word "evil" in this verse is translated correctly. They posit that the word in this verse is the Hebrew word "rah" which is directly translated into the word evil. I was very impressed up to this point but it went straight down hill from here. They postulated that just because its direct translation in the Hebrew is evil doesn't mean that you "have" to translate it that way. They cite various instances where translators deemed it ok to use different words like calamity, affliction, or misery--which in my mind didn't make it any better. Then they argued that you have to also read the verse in its full context, which apparently starts in verse 5 for them. And that if read it in this context you see how it is and I quote, "speaking of natural phenomena" and "human comfort issues". So let us go over the verse shall we?

"I am the Lord, and there is no other; Besides Me there is no God. I will gird you, though you have not known Me; 6That men may know from the rising to the setting of the sun That there is no one besides Me. I am the Lord, and there is no other, 7The One forming light and creating darkness, causing peace and creating evil; I am the Lord who does all these," -- Isaiah 45:5-7

So the first declaration God makes is that, "Besides Me there is no God." I don't see how that has anything to do with natural phenomena but let us continue on. In the second part of verse 5 God says, "I will gird you" which basically means God will encirlce us with strength. But who is the "you" in this verse refering to? If we go back all the way to verse one, we notice that this "you" is a person named Cyrus. So with that in mind fill in the blanks. God is letting Cyrus know that even though he doesn't know God he will encircle him with strength. So that men shall know from morning till night, so basically all day everyday that there is one God and there is no one else besides "Me". Then in verse seven God shows his mighty strength. He forms the light and creates darkness. He causes peace and creates evil. Now I am trying to see how any of this has anything to do with natural phenomena and human comfort. This pick an excuse out of hat reasoning and logic continues so bear with me.

Then CARM asserts that since this has to do with natural phenomena and human comfrot issues, it does not mean moral evil. But upon our reading further into the subject we can see the bullshit in their natural phenomena and human comfrot issues interpretation. Also, I would like to know HOW it has nothing to do with moral evil. Where does it specifically state that kernal of truth?

So let us just grant them that it is specifically talking about natural phenomena and human comfort issues. Let us also grant them that the word "rah" in the Hebrew can connote alternate translations and variations of the word in different contexts. What does all that prove? For CARM it proves that they, "can see that the Lord is involved in calamity and problems in the earthly realm" and " It is not a moral evil that God brings, but calamity and distress upon people." But that begs the question for me as well as CARM, why would god bring calamity and distress upon HIS people? A test? It just makes no sense and to my surprise it makes no sense to CARM either. Here is what they say, "Of course, this raises other questions of why God would do such a thing, which I won't cover here. But, we can trust that whatever God does is just and is used for teaching, guiding, and disciplining His people."

So there we have it God brings, to quote CARM's alternatives to evil, "wicked," "bad," "hurt," "harm," "ill," "sorrow," "mischief," "displeased," "adversity," "affliction," "trouble," "calamity," "grievous," "misery," and "trouble" all for the sake of teaching, guiding, and disciplining His people. This is where the problems start to occur for Christians. If God causes affliction or harm upon your life for guidance that is coercion. Essentially He is forcing you to either turn from him or turn to him. If its for discipline he is making sure you do only what He wants from you and same for teaching. All coercion. This is the same tactic Hitler used on the German people. Either your with him or against him and He will coerce you to see things his way with harm and affliction upon your family or yourself. How can you serve a God who shares attributes with Hitler? Also, if God is forcing you to make a decision while threatening pain and suffering upon your life, are you really going to defy God? Or as Job put it in Job 42:2, "I know that you can do all things and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted, Oh LORD." Where is your free will?

All the information for the CARM interpretation can be froud here. Does God create evil?


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