Thursday, February 26, 2015

I thought you might enjoy a reblog on the subject of the nature of God's knowledge by James Anderson over at Analogical Thoughts. Dr. Anderson is dealing specifically with whether or not God knows propositionally.


Francis Turretin



By

James N. Anderson


Saturday, February 21, 2015

God and Evil: The Final Countdown


By now it should be obvious that the problem of evil poses a legitimate logical challenge to the Christian. The modal claims about the kind of God that necessarily exists along with the existence of evil in the world is indeed a more complex intellectual challenge than many considered it to be at first glance. In this post, I will close out with a summary of how I approach this subject with the unbeliever when the opportunity presents itself. Remember, when we are interacting with an unbeliever, we are in fact interacting with someone that hates God and that is a naturally born sworn enemy of God. Rick Warren’s seeker idea is a myth that should be viewed with disdain and as sheer poppycock. In order to appreciate the interaction you are in, you must appreciate the situation for what it actually is. And it is exactly what the Bible says it is. Romans 1, 3, 8, and 1 Cor. 1-2 all provide more than enough revelation to help us assess the actual state of affairs that has obtained.

Existential Claims Fail
Non-Christian views of evil encounter a plethora of philosophical problems. The denial of objective evil in the world by some philosophers is indeed difficult to take seriously. But if the non-Christian is going to indict the Christian belief that a very particular kind of God exists on the ground of the existence of objective evil in the world, he is going to have to defend his claim first. Once the non-Christian establishes his claim that objective evil exists, then and only then is he in a position to offer his refutation of the Christian God.
My approach is to place the unbeliever in this position first, putting him on the defensive. I prefer to keep the unbeliever on the defensive in these kinds of conversations until I am ready to give them the gospel. I challenge the unbeliever to provide rational ground for why I should accept both, his claim that we evolved from slime millions of years ago and how objective evil could exist under such circumstances.
What is required for morality or ethics of any kind is intrinsic value. The whole point of morality is to value human life. A being with intrinsic value will seek to live by the highest standards, to reach the summum bonum. But how can a highest good be established within an evolutionary framework? Based solely on naturalistic principles, how is it that moral behavior applies only to humans? After all, we are the equivalent of evolved upright walking roaches. When was the last time you thought of a roach as engaging in immoral behavior. Where do we derive moral principles from in a system that claims human existence is an accident of nature, the product of natural selection, without purpose, without meaning, and surely lacking any intrinsic value? Why should Hitler be a villain and Martin Luther King Jr. a hero? Within a naturalistic framework, the claim of objective evil simply cannot hold it’s ground when placed under the light of critical evaluation. To locate ethics in the brain is to remove its objective nature. My brain causes me to do things your brain finds immoral. Which brain is right? This example can be extrapolated to every other attempt to defend objective morality. The analogies all fail.
Based on the unbeliever’s presupposition that humans evolved and that God does not exist, objective morality becomes impossible in any meaningful way. Morality is reduced to arbitrary laws designed for the preservation of the species. But this is a species without intrinsic value. And a species without intrinsic value can survive or not survive without any moral consequence whatever. When was the last time you were genuinely emotionally moved because the bear snagged the salmon or the lion took down the gazelle? But you surely react differently when ISIS burns a man alive inside a cage or when an abusive father kills his own son or when a mother drowns her own children, don’t you. The unbeliever has no intelligible way of accounting for the existence of objective evil in the world and confrontations like this provide exactly the kind of bite he deserves for being the rebellious God-hater he is.

The Modal Critique Fails
The second argument involves the strictly logical problem of evil. This is the notion that the Christian claims of God and evil are outright contradictory. The believer's modal claim is that God is necessarily good and that God has created a world in which evil now exists. However, the objection to the modal claim imposes precisely the wrong presupposition and interprets good and evil by a non-Christian standard. This then is essentially a non-Christian view of evil and as such does not represent a plausible argument against Christian belief.
In this case, the unbeliever is appealing to some moral standard existing outside of the nature of God. This view is really employing a model we call the duty model for divine goodness. This model focuses on God’s actions and measures them against a standard. Used positively, theologians appeal to this model to argue that God’s actions are always right in accord with morality. The problem is that the standard for morality is implicitly held outside the nature and being of God. Since God is the source of all goodness according to Christian belief, this model would not be a good model to use against the Christian. This is obviously the case because the model is using a non-Christian belief in order to show that Christian belief is incoherent. Such an argument is simply not plausible. A model of divine goodness that is much more reflective of Christian belief is what we call the plentitude of being model. This model locates goodness within the divine nature and character of God. Ontologically speaking, God is the very perfection of perfection itself. He is the very perfection of goodness itself and is the source of all goodness. Hence, the Christian has strong epistemic justification for his belief in an absolute moral standard and hence, the existence of absolute evil. Moreover, since all things that exist must be interpreted through the existence of the ontological Triune God of Scripture, so too must the existence of objective evil.

The Christian then is biblically and rationally justified in claiming that an omnipotent, omniscient, morally perfect God created all that is and is the source of all that is and that objective evil exists in the world. The answer as to why is simply this: we know that God is what He is because Scripture declares it to be so. We also know that evil truly exists because Scripture declares it to be so. We know that God has a good reason for the existence of evil in the world because Scripture declares it to be so. These things we know with certainty because God’s word is true and trustworthy in all that it claims. These claims are clearly made by Scripture. But it does not follow that we have to know all the reasons why God did it this way in order for Christians to be rationally justified in their belief that evil truly exists along with the Christian God revealed in Scripture. This is both true biblically and logically. There is nothing in the argument form that is contradictory in any way. The argument is simply:
(1) A Perfect God exists
(2) God is the primary source of all that exists
(3) Evil exists
/ God has a good reason for the existence of evil

Rather than relying on human presuppositions about evil and possibilities and interpreting God from that ground, the Christian begins with God and Scripture and interprets the presence of evil in the world from that ground. Remember, we demonstrated above the groundlessness of objective evil within an evolutionary framework. The only thing that remains for the unbeliever is simply this:

Repent and believe the gospel of Christ.

Monday, February 16, 2015

The Problem of Evil Quantified



The problem of evil has been a problem for philosophy and philosophers from the time that philosophers and philosophies began to exist. This can be seen in the ancient philosophers and across the history of philosophy up to present day. Now, the idea of evil falls within the branch of philosophy commonly referred to as ethics. For centuries now, philosophers have attempted to obtain at a rational understanding of ethics. Beginning with Homer, and even earlier, the struggle to rationally comprehend ethics, right and wrong, good and evil, has been and continues to be obviously elusive, and in some cases, plainly offensive. The cause for this struggle is really quite plain. Human morality is an experience so pervasive in human experience that it demands explanation. Hence, the constructive task of philosophy has an unquestioned obligation to account for the human experience of morality that is both, intelligible and intellectually satisfying.

We see in Homer an attempt to wrestle with good and evil. But Homer places undue stress on the needs of the individual. For Homer, even the hero has a primary selfish interest in serving the good of others. It is this primary motivation that moves the hero to action, not sincere care for those he is responsible to protect. What Homer misses is the conflict that self-interest of individuals creates with other individuals and eventually the society as a whole. Such competition is indeed the cause of much evil and suffering in the world. Surely if we are going to do something with evil, we must also find a way around self-interest.

The naturalists attempted to solve the human dilemma by creating laws and comparing them to natural law. Just as natural law ruled over nature, creating order and harmony, so the laws of the city would do the same with its citizens, or so it was thought. However, this did not answer the question as to why any individual should sacrifice his own selfish good for the good of his neighbor. There seemed to be no positive, intrinsic reason for why I should be willing to look out for another at my own expense. Inevitably, the lack of such intrinsic motivation would leave the problem of ethics unsolved. It is not the purpose of this paper to trace the entire history of ethics in philosophy. But I do think it worth pointing out that the subject with which this paper deals is indeed one that has a long and difficult record over the course of the history of philosophy.

Philosophers are not the only group that has attempted to define evil. Another group, Christian theologians, has also put forth a theory of evil. This theory is a bit more interesting since its source is claimed to be divine revelation. According to Christian theism, God has revealed to human beings a precise definition of evil and has ensured that we all may recognize it when we observe and experience it. Scripture informs us in Genesis 3:11 that the beginning of evil in the world is linked to man’s decision to do exactly what God had commanded that he not do. In other words, it is wicked and foolish to reject God’s divine command. In that same section of Scripture, the serpent is cursed, along with man, because both disregarded God’s proscription due to a fondness for their own respective agendas. This behavior is clearly characterized in Christian Scripture as wicked and evil. The specific evil that man engaged in at this event was his decision to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, even though God had unequivocally expressed that this particular tree was off limits.

This is considered the first act of evil committed by man. The word for evil as it appears in the text is rāʿ. The Hebrew word rāʿ appears 299 in the Hebrew Scriptures. The essential meaning of the root can be seen in its frequent juxtaposition with the root ṭôb.[1] The Hebrew word tôb is the word translated good. The word rāʿaʿ often designates experiences that entail physical pain. However, in terms of moral evil, the verb very often denotes activity that is contrary to God’s will. And hence, it is this definition of evil that Christian philosophers and theologians denote when they talk about evil. Evil, in Christian parlance, is that which is contrary to the nature and will of God.

Since ethics deals specifically with the rational understanding of morality in human experience, the existence of evil poses different challenges for different philosophies. The basic presuppositions of a particular worldview will determine to a large degree how evil is defined and accounted for by that system. The issue each system of thought must grapple with is accounting for morality while at the same time remaining logically consistent with the other basic presuppositions offered up by that particular philosophy. The intent of this paper is to discuss the problems that objective evil presents to Christian theism. In addition, I aim to show how two of the more common non-Christian arguments, that charge Christian theism with inherent contradiction between two essential doctrines, or basic presuppositions, miss their target.

Christian theism makes the bold claim that God, as God, is omnipotent, omniscient, and morally perfect. Moreover, God created the world and all that it contains. In addition, Christian theism claims that objective moral and, physical evil exists in the world as human beings experience it. Immediately, the non-Christian thinker asserts that this set of beliefs contradict one another. How could God, being omniscient, omnipotent, and morally perfect, create a world that includes evil? This approach to the problem of evil is what we might call the internal problem of evil. The approach attempts to expose an internal contradiction within the Christian system. It is this approach we are most concerned to treat in this paper.

David Hume put forth what is probably the most sophisticated philosophical dialogue in English when he penned Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion. In this project, Hume alleged that the claim “God exists” and “evil exists” are logically incompatible. Since we know that evil certainly exists, then it follows that God does not exist. But is this claim, as Hume alleges, really logically incompatible? Hume’s argument takes the shape of Epicurus as Philo, in the Dialogues points out: “Is he willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then is he impotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then is he malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Whence then is evil?[2] The Christian has an obligation to answer this charge. We are called to destroy speculations that contradict the teachings of Christ (2 Cor. 10:5). Rebellious men must be silenced (Titus 1:11). The Christian must be able to silence the ignorance of foolish men (1 Peter 2:15). Hence, the problem of evil and it’s charge that it serves as a blatant contradiction in the Christian system must be answered and if it is to be answered effectively, it can only be answered biblically.

Hume contends that the only way out of this contradiction is to fall into skepticism regarding the attributes of God. Specifically, how can we say that God is benevolent in any sense of the word as we understand it since we would never, as God has, allow for the kind of evil that God obviously does. In this sense, God is benevolent in a way that is so remarkably distinct from human benevolence that we cannot even begin to understand divine benevolence. This move pushes the Christian into the grips of skepticism and represents a stroke of brilliance on Hume’s part. How is the Christian to respond? One response could be that the Christian redefine what he means when he speaks about God. He could surrender divine power and goodness to human freedom as some philosophers have attempted. This has proven ineffective to say that least, not to mention that it creates more theological problems than it solves. The Christian could change the argument and remove the logical tension altogether. As it stands, the argument is as follows: If God were omnipotent he would be able to destroy evil. If God were omniscient he would know how to destroy evil. If God were morally perfect he would destroy evil. Evil exists. Therefore, there is no God who is at the same time omnipotent, omniscient, and morally perfect. Christianity is proven false. As one can see, this argument represents a very serious challenge to the Christian claim about the existence of God and evil. However, all one must do as a Christian, to retain evil and validity in the argument is to change the conclusion. If we insert “Therefore, God must have a morally sufficient reason for the existence of evil,” we have preserved the Christian claim that God exists and so too does evil. One must keep in mind that we are solving a logical problem in this argument. That problem is that Christianity involves a contradiction. If we can reshape the argument so as to avoid the supposed contradiction, we have succeeded in refuting the claim that Christianity is contradictory. What then do we do with Hume’s skepticism? Hume’s method would require complete and perfect knowledge on the part of any human in order for any one to possess any genuine knowledge at all. It does not follow that we must be able to attain a perfect understanding for the existence of evil in the world in order to defend God’s divine plan to include it without compromising His divine attributes. We do not need to know the reason for divine action in order to accept the fact that divine action is what it is and God remains what He has revealed Himself to be. Revelation serves as the basis for human knowledge rather than autonomous fallen logic. Scripture serves as our standard for what is true and what is false rather than autonomous human reason. God is under no obligation to reveal all His reasons for why His plan is what it is in order for us to accept it and trust that it is wholly free from any irrational elements.

A softer approach to the problem of evil seeks to justify rational belief in atheism based on the existence of evil in human experience. This position asserts that, given the state of affairs as they are, atheism is a rationally justifiable position. The argument proceeds as follows: 1) There exist instances of intense suffering which an omnipotent, omniscient being could have permitted without thereby losing some greater good or permitting some evil equally bad or worse. 2) An omniscient, wholly good being would prevent the occurrence of any intense suffering it could, unless it could not do so without thereby losing some greater good or permitting some evil equally bad or worse. Therefore, there does not exist an omnipotent, omniscient, wholly good being. My response is that (1) seems to me to require omniscience on the part of the author. Simply put, how does the person making this assertion really know that (1) is actually true. It seems that such an assertion would have a seemingly insurmountable task in front of it, if it is to show that (1) is actually true. Additionally, (2) fails to consider the possibility that an omniscient, wholly good being could have a morally sufficient reason for evil. A parent that disciplines their child may have a morally sufficient reason for the discipline even though the child experiences pain. Moreover, I may deprive my child of certain privileges for his own good even though, in his mind, such restrictions are evil on my part. It does not follow that I have to disclose my reasons to my child in order to avoid the charge of being immoral. It has been said by proponents of this argument that there can be no morally sufficient reason for the existence of evil. However, such a universal negative is much easier to say than it is to prove. In fact, to show that evil can have no morally sufficient reason one would have to be omniscient. Hence, this argument also fails to show any logical inconsistency within the Christian system given our insistence that we define our terms in Christian parlance. Additionally, it fails to show that atheism has a rational basis so long as it portends to accept the terms of good, evil, omnipotent, and omniscience as they are defined within the Christian system. And this is precisely what must be done with any internal critique. We conclude then that this argument fails in both respects.

The problem of evil is a logical problem for the Christian. It is a problem presented to the Christian that asserts that Christianity involves unavoidable and unsolvable contradiction. As we have seen, this is only true when we define the terms used to describe God and evil using non-Christian definitions. When we take the argument at face value, using Christian terminology, we readily see there is no contradiction at all.

In the end, the atheist thinks he has judged God and satisfied his own mind by accusing and holding God accountable for the evil that is present in the world. What he fails to realize is that for all his work, it is the atheist who will stand at the final judgment and be judged for the evil he has actually committed while existing in the world.




WORKS CITED





[1] G. Herbert Livingston, “2191 רָעַע,” ed. R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer Jr., and Bruce K. Waltke, Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (Chicago: Moody Press, 1999), 854.
[2] Baruch A. Brody, ed., Readings in the Philosophy of Religion: An Analytic Approach, 2nd ed. (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice Hall, ©1992), 270.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

God and Evil

A Biblically Faithful Response


As a reminder, for the Christian, the problem of evil is a problem of logical consistency. The Christian idea of God is said to contradict the obvious existence of evil in the world. One of the most common definitions of 'physical evil' in the world is unnecessary pain and suffering. As for 'moral evil', that definition is indeed far more difficult to manage. Even then, many will say that moral evil is to do unnecessary harm to others and leave it at that. The thrust of the argument is again to claim that the kind of God Christians claim exists would not create the kind of world we actually experience. In other words, the existence of God and the existence of the present state of affairs involving evil contradict one another. Furthermore, what the Christian must resist in his attempt to solve this supposed contradiction is the temptation to create a god that is not offensive to the senses of the ungodly. I am convinced this is the aim of most Christians when they interact with the ungodly in these kinds of exchanges.

The Vindication of Evil

Both the Christian and the non-Christian system of thought are confronted with the requirement to define evil before either can establish whether or not such a thing subsists. Moreover, the concept of a definition of evil points up to the need for a standard by which such definition may be justified. Additionally, the standard must be able resist arbitrary tendencies if it is to maintain even a shred of credibility. Already we sense the dangers of an infinite regress, arbitrariness, and extreme subjectivity lurking in the shadows, waiting like a lion that has spotted his prey and is ready to pounce. The ground upon which we trod at this point is littered with land mines and only the best detectors will help us avoid the peril of irrationalism that threatens to annihilate our philosophical system at every turn or, in our case, every assertion.

The truth is that every philosophical system must do something with evil. One extreme method is to deny the existence of absolute evil. After all, the naturalist really has no ground whatever to point to something that supposedly transcends human thought. If we are genuinely here by accident, with no rational ground whatsoever for our existence other than that of mere chemicals, gases, and accidents, then it follows that we have no intrinsic value. And if we have no intrinsic value, we cannot possibly have any genuine rights. And if we have no rights, we cannot be wronged. This would mean that one must equate the crushing of a roach with the crushing of a human if they want to maintain any semblance of consistency within their worldview. Some would argue that ethics might be accounted for by evolutionary theory or by physical processes in the brain. But the fact that so many people conduct their lives in a manner that is entirely immoral to others causes such arguments to collapse almost as soon as they are put forth. The idea of morality seems to be completely detached from the fact that few humans can agree on an objective basis for the specificity of object morality. Indeed, the idea itself of morality is far more difficult to untangle than the existential elements. The truth is that the non-Christian worldview is, from my point of view, incapable of providing for a necessary standard by which we may rationally understand why it is that human beings experience moral objectivity.

For the Christian, things are fundamentally and radically dissimilar. Christians understand from the start that there is a very clear difference between the good and the evil. The Christ Scriptures are abundantly clear that good and evil are real forces to be rationally understood and avoided or pursued. In fact, Christians see the mention of evil very early in their historical writings. God said to Adam that he was permitted to eat from every tree in the garden except for the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. From the very beginning, man understood that good and evil were real aspects of human existence. Moral evil, as defined early on is behavior that is contrary to the will and nature of God. Evil is mentioned four times in Genesis chapters 2 and 3. Then again in Genesis 6:5 where the writer tells us that God saw the wickedness of men, that the imaginations of his heart were continually evil. The same Hebrew word is used for the gay activities of the Sodomites in Genesis 13:13. The generation of the Children of Israel that came out of Egypt and through the wilderness are called evil in Deut. 1:35 and all but Caleb were barred from entering the promised land.

The New Testament is just as vivid in its expression and affirmation of the presence of evil in the world. The Greek word poneros appears 44 times in the gospels alone and 78 times in the New Testament. Clearly, Christians, Christian philosophers, and Christian theologians are justified in claiming that the existence of objective evil is a basic tenet of Christian belief. Moreover, such a claim can be characterized as objective from the standpoint that our knowledge of the existence of evil and its definition are both said to be the consequence of divine revelation. In other words, God has revealed to the Christian through Christian Scripture that evil exists. However, that is not all there is to the question of evil. Christians claim that human beings have an awareness of objective evil because they posses the imago dei. The apostle Paul informs us that all men know moral law because God has revealed His divine nature through creation. Second, Paul claims that this knowledge is deliberately placed within the conscience of all men (Rom. 1 & 2) as an act of divine intent. Men know that right and wrong are real. The idea of good and evil is not something men can deny without engaging in sensational philosophical gyrations. In the end, I am convinced that only certified lunatics can truly deny the existential reality of objective evil.

As the argument goes then, the Christian reshapes it in the following way. God is all-powerful, all-knowing, and morally perfect. Evil exists. Therefore, God has a perfectly good reason for the existence of evil. This conclusion requires absolute trust in the character of God and in His revelation. Moreover, we must trust that God is providentially working all things for His glory and our good at all times and in all places. The temptation for the Christian is to stray from this kind of thinking when they encounter pain, disappointment and especially evil in the world. But such thinking is an act of subtle rebellion and an expression of distrust toward the God we claim to fear, to know, to love, and to serve with all our being. My next post will involve a little more substance to help with your conversation with the detractor of the Christian solution to the problem of evil in more of an apologetic encounter.





Thursday, February 12, 2015

God and Evil

Proposed Solutions to the Problem of Evil 

Before I offer what I believe to be the only defensible solution to the problem of evil, I think it is a good idea to survey the more popular solutions offered by some Christian apologists, and then to provide some thoughtful criticisms of those solutions, for your consideration. The aim is not to be critical for the sake of being critical but rather to help you avoid philosophically, logically, and especially theologically embarrassing moments because of a hasty adoption of what looked like a plausible solution to the issue at hand. Rarely is anything as simple as it appears. And this is especially true for the problem of evil where the Christian is concerned.

The only official Christian position on these two subjects is that there exists an omnipotent, omniscient, and perfectly good God and there exists objective moral evil in the world that God created. The following solutions represent some of the more popular attempts to resolve the seeming contradiction within the Christian system.

(1) Free will alone provides a justification for moral evil.

This solution states that human beings have free will. A universe where free will exists is subject to the possibility of moral evil. A universe where beings have free will is better than a universe than contains beings that are mere automata. Therefore, a universe that contains the possibility of evil is actually better than a universe where the possibility of evil does not exist. Hence, the existence of evil is actually the product of a superior universe and is to be preferred over a universe in which evil did not exist. In pop-Christianity, there is a seeming irresistible inclination toward anything that advocates the idea of human autonomy. Hence, it should come as no surprise that the most popular Christian solution to the problem of evil is an appeal to libertarian freedom.

The Christian response to the argument from evil against God, must always locate its ground in revealed truth. It is only by appealing to the revealed standard of Scripture that a response to the argument from evil can answer that argument adequately. We are, after all, as Christians, only interested in what God has to say about the existence of evil in the world. There are a variety of problems with the free will response, and this should serve to cause great pause for anyone thinking about employing it when discussing the problem of evil in the world.

 The first problem that free will presents is that one has to admit that free will equals the logical possibility that all men everywhere only exercise their free will to do evil. Hence, a universe where only evil occurs then must be considered superior to one in which no free will and only good exists. But immediately we recognize that such a state of affairs would be repugnant.

The second problem with the argument is that it unnecessarily presupposes moral evil as a necessary choice of free will. However, all that is needed for free will is that some choice exists between two things. Why could God not have created a world in which choice exists, but that evil was not among the candidates? Why not create a world in which all the choices were good to one degree or another? Why not have five trees with one being the most preferred and another being the least preferred but all of them being permissible? That would secure free will and preserve a universe in which only good choices exist and only moral options are available. I see no logical reason why free will requires that the human will be set over against the divine will in order to free will to be free.

The third problem with the argument from free will is its lack of biblical support. When seeking to understand the current state of affairs that has obtained, we must turn our attention to the Author of that state and examine what He has said about it. We answer in the affirmative to the question, ‘has God revealed anything to us concerning the existence of evil in the world, and how that evil relates to His nature.’ The actions of God can no more be separated from the decrees of God, than the actions of a man can be from his decisions [Shedd: Dogmatic Theology]. God’s actions cannot be separated from God’s plan. And God’s plan is indelibly linked to God’s nature. Shedd goes on to inform us that the divine decrees, in reference to God, are one single act only. This is not an easy concept to grasp. God is omniscient, possessing the whole of his plans and purpose simultaneously [Shedd]. God knows all His works from eternity past (Acts 15:18). Every decision, even the casting of lots, belongs to the Lord. God owns every action that has ever, or will ever come to pass. Even the wicked acts of men are the result of the predetermined plan of God (Acts 2:23). Things do not come to pass in a state of isolation; neither were they predetermined so to come to pass. In other words, God’s purpose embraces the means along with the end, the cause along with the effect, the condition along with the result of issue suspended upon it (Shedd). Space prohibits further elaboration of the point here, which is simply this: the free will solution is not only not a logical solution; it is not a biblical one either.

God’s purpose for creating the world is located within His own nature. Trusting God entirely means trusting that God has a good reason for the state of affairs that has obtained. The attempts to solve the problem of evil cannot appeal to human logic over against divine revelation, human standards over against divine standards, and secular, non-Christian logic over against a distinctly Christian logic. The appeal is only proper and appropriate if it is made to Scripture alone as our final source of authority and our only standard for understanding and knowledge.

 (2) The goods made possible by free will provide a basis for accounting for moral evil.

The initial difficulty in this proposed solution is that it seems to imply that good necessarily requires the existence of evil. Yet, we know that evil is not an eternal thing. There was a state when evil did not exist. But there has never been a state when good did not exist. Hence, to make good dependent upon the presence of evil seems to me to be a perverse and preposterous idea for any Christian to embrace.

Additionally, it does not seem logically necessary that evil must be possible in order for actual good to occur. I have said enough about that above. To claim that love cannot be experienced without hate seems to me to be absurd. God has never yet hated Himself and yet He has loved Himself from eternity pass, world without beginning or end.

The truth is that the non-Christian must demonstrate that objective evil exists and that its existence is defensible upon non-Christian grounds. As the history of philosophy has shown, this is no small obstacle. Thus far, I have never seen a plausible argument for the existence of objective evil apart from God. I will deal more fully with how a Christian should respond to this argument in a future post.



The Bully Pulpit and a Culture of Intimidation

On the one side, we have the Christian community, and on the other side, we have the pagan community. The Christian community is made...