Bible verse used in podcast:
- Isaiah 45:7 KJV
- Genesis 1:3-5 ESV
- Romans 7:7-10 ESV
- Romans 8:28 ESV
Dr. Ravi Zachariah on the topic: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t7-gP1gC8gM
Why can’t we just get rid of evil?
There is another issue that needs to be addressed. Well, why would God create us if we can sin? Why create a world where sin exists anyway? Can’t he just create a loving world that has no sin?
Well, it turns out, this is problematic. We already talked about how in order to love you need choice. But we need to look deeper into this.
7 I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.Isaiah 45:7 KJV
So you’re telling me that a loving God, who is perfect and can not sin, created evil? Yes, he said that about himself. See the problem is not with the creation of evil, the problem is about our understanding of what that means. By contract, if you make a bike that works, there exists a bike that does not work. If you make food that tastes good, by contrast, you make food that tastes bad. This is fundamentally how things work with a type of symmetry. If you recall in Genesis, God created everything:
3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. 4 And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.Genesis 1:3-5 ESV
But let’s step back for a moment to notice something. He didn’t create darkness. God created light and by contrast, darkness exists as a consequence. This is a fundamental truth. See the problem is all because something is created, that doesn’t instantly determine it’s morality in all cases. The light was created and darkness was created, but God then ruled one to be light one to be darkness. The contrast was already there, but he determined which is which. It’s a lot like how in math and physics if you switch positive and negative signs, nothing changes. If you have a number line and in the center is zero, there are two halves. You can freely define which is positive and which is negative as long as you are consistent. We have just made the choice that left is negative and right is positive.
Why place the tree of good and evil?
This similar situation happens with everything. Fire is neither good nor bad. A fire can be used to cook food, warm a house, or provide light. At the same time, it can be used to burn down a house or even burn someone alive. The creation of it itself is not good or bad. It’s what it is used for. Just like us, we aren’t inherently sinful because we can do bad. We are sinful because we choose to do sin.
There is a similar situation with the tree of knowledge of good and evil. There are things in the world that are better than others. Ways of accomplishing something are efficient while others are wasteful. You can get a nail in the wall with a screwdriver, but a hammer will be a better option.
Why is Morality?
There is another situation that comes up, and what is morality? See if you tell someone they need to breathe, that is not a rule. It is not a moral fact that if they don’t breathe that is instantly sinning. Yes they will die if they don’t and there are negative consequences, but if there is gas in a room or if you are underwater, it is ok not to breathe. And this is not a sin. This is similar to the issue of speeding; in and of itself, there is nothing written in the law of the universe that this is a sin. But statistically, people are not perfect and when you go so fast there is more of a chance that if you speed something will go wrong. So we label it as wrong to speed for the collective good of the people. But we would let an ambulance speed so they can save a life.
When you have a child and if they eat from a cookie jar, this is not a bad thing. They are completely innocent. They want one because they are hungry and they know it tastes good. But if you come over and tell them not to eat from the cookie jar, it is not a problem. If they eat from it they are going against your word and are sinning.
In the end, you know better than the child. You know all the bad things that will happen if they eat from a jar. But you can’t explain that to a child. Even if you did know everything about biology and the human body and could explain exactly when and how much cookie eating is too much, is that useful? It has taken humans thousands of years and much trial and error to know what we know now about the human body. It takes multiple PHDs to write material on how everything works and years of dedication to explain it to others. And yet we specialize in a specific part of the body and still don’t know everything about how a single part works and how they all interact with each other.
Would a child be able to understand every single detail? How long would you have to sit there and explain everything to them so they fully know when too and when not to eat from it? It is easier to just say, don’t eat from it.
See from Adam and Eve’s perspectives they are innocent, they don’t understand what sin is. Their motives are pure before God. would it really help if they understood what it meant to cheat on your wife? There is no one for Adam to cheat with anyway. Would it really help them if they understood the concept of lying to each other or stealing? Knowing these things is not that useful.
For Adam and Eve, those things don’t exist. If you don’t know what a fountain pen is, how could you be expected to really care about how the way writing on paper feels? Why would you care about the way the ink flows out of your pen? You wouldn’t have a reason to care about or think about those things. In the same way for Adam and Eve, they could not think of evil because it doesn’t exist to them. By not telling them what evil is, God is protecting them from hurting themselves and causing themselves problems. It is an act of grace because they didn’t need to learn the hard way what is right and wrong. God said, do this and don’t do that.
7 What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” … 9 I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died. 10 The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me.Romans 7:7-10 ESV
The benefits of autonomy?
There is still one other thing to talk about. We talked about how a fire can be used for good or evil. In the real work, we do this with everything we create. When you create a car, you only want to give it gas and oil and not have to monitor it. We don’t know exactly how every part of a computer works but we just want things to work when we type on the internet.
In a similar way, God does this with us. Because we can do things ourselves, we can love it. God does not need to sit here and have you move each of your legs when you go with someone. Instead, God created you so you can move yourself. It would be exhausting if we made a car that we needed to tow everywhere. Yes occasionally we might need to get under the hood and fix things, but overall we want to be as worried free as possible. See God is similar, we are not robots. He let us control ourselves because of love. Bad things may happen or occasionally he may need to clean up a mess, but we can choose to love him back without him forcing us to. Everyone knows the reason for the fun of a car or video game or the internet is not having to tweak it every second. The fun of just enjoying what it was made for. You want to drive your car, it’s fun to wash it and maybe decorate it. The fun is not in controlling every bit about it but instead enjoying it’s greater function.
In the grand scheme of things, God has the bigger picture that we do not always see. There was a great story told by Dr. Ravi Zacharias (Paraphrasing the story):
A man lost his horse and it ran away. A neighbor came and said bad luck your horse ran away. A few days later the horse came back and brought with it twenty other horses. The neighbor came by and said that’s not bad luck, that’s good luck look at all the horses.
Later the man’s son was trying to tame the other horses and it kicks him and breaks the son’s leg. The neighbor comes and says horrible isn’t it your son’s leg is broken, only if you did not get that horse such bad luck it is. A few days later some thugs came by looking to take some young men to join them and were going to take the son but seen he had a broken leg so they moved on. The neighbor then comes and says good luck your son’s leg was broken by that horse.
28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.Romans 8:28 ESV