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The Problem of Evil: Is Covid-19 Evil? (Part 5)

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It probably comes as a surprise to some of you that there are things that God can’t create. Now, now, don’t start heating up the tar and gathering feathers; hear me out for just a bit. Can God create a square circle? No. Or how about a married bachelor? No. These are logical contradictions and God is a God of logic and reason, they come from His very being. So God cannot make a circle square as it is a contradiction. See that wasn’t so bad now was it? 

What else can God not create? Evil. But, you ask, how do you know that God did not create evil? And this of course would include the Covid-19 evil. There are several reasons why we know that God didn’t create evil.

  1. The Christian God, as opposed to all other gods that are false, is defined by St Anselm of Canterbury as, “a being than which no greater can be conceived.” Or as philosopher   Alvin Plantinga has said, “God is a maximally great being.” These are just two ways of saying the same thing, but over 900 years apart from each other. Part of being such a great being, a perfect being, is that you are perfectly good and Holy. Caaaaaaan a perfectly good and Holy being create evil? No. This shows that God did not, cannot, create evil. 

Let’s sum this argument up in a tight and succinct way:

  • God is perfectly good
  • A perfectly good being cannot create evil
  • Therefore, God cannot create evil

In order to defeat the syllogism above, you would need to show either that one of the statements is false, or that one does not follow from the other. In other words you would need to show that the syllogism, or part of it, is logically incoherent. 

  1. No one, including God, can create something that cannot exist. Notice: I didn’t say that there is something that God cannot create. After all God created everything outside of Himself. But even God cannot create something that cannot exist. 

What cannot exist you ask? Evil. Whoa whoa whoa. Evil exists, it’s all around us! Hmmmm, no. Evil is not a thing, rather it is the absence of a thing, goodness. Agustine of Hippo was one of the first people to think and write about this, and that was over 1500 years ago. And more recently Greg Koukl has written a few articles about this on the www.str.org website. Using knowledge from these sources let me show you why even God cannot create evil.

Evil is real, but not a thing. Rather it is the absence of good. The further from good you get the worse off you are. Here is a classic example. We do not measure cold, rather we measure heat, in the form of a temperature. The further from hot, the colder we say it is. What we really mean is, the less and less heat that there is.

With evil, the further from the good, meaning God, the more evil there is. So in everyday language we would say this or that is evil, but what we actually are saying is that it is away from God (goodness) and how He would want things to be. 

Sooooo technically evil is not an actual thing. And if it’s not actually a thing, God can’t create it. Sorry that it took so long to get to the point, but it’s a complicated idea that needed to be thought out; and we’re just scratching the surface on it. 

So God did not create evil, including Covid-19, but then how is it here? Isn’t He in control? Didn’t He know what would happen when he created? 

Short answers first. Yes He is in control. Yes He knew what would happen. No the Toronto Maple Leafs will never win another Stanley Cup. (Unless Kawhi Leonard takes up hockey) 

           So God knew that evil would enter the world, (His creation, meaning everything besides Himself.) but did not create it. He set up the conditions, free will, and allowed it to happen. There. Case closed. Thanks everybody, have a good night! (Exit music…)

No, wait! Soooooo, let me get this straight, God did not create evil?

Correct.
But He knew that it would enter His creation before He created?
Correct.
And knowing this, He allowed it?
You got it! I’m wondering why you need to read this blog if you knew that already???

But, isn’t allowing it, the same as, creating it? Isn’t it just as bad? Doesn't this make God’s hands dirty? Why would He do this?

Whooooaaa. There’s like at least four more blog posts there. Knowing me, probably like eight or nine. Let’s just answer one of these questions for now, why did God allow it? The short answer is because He knew that it would be worth it. 

Remember that God, by definition, is perfectly good, perfectly holy, and all knowing. He knew before He created that it would all be worth it. His ends is always for the good and He calculated, (meaning that He knew), that all of the pain, suffering, evil, was worth it. 

He knew that through creating free willed beings, so much good would follow that it would far outweigh all of the evil. 

So to FINALLY, (Fully?) answer the question, God did not create the Covid-19 pandemic, but allowed it to happen. Good has, and will come from it. God, being in control, will make sure of that.  Not too long ago there was a seaquake and then tsunamis that killed hundreds of thousands of people. From that event we now have early warning systems that may save lives in the future. I am NOT saying that this early warning system was worth the deaths of several hundred thousand people. I am saying that the early warning system is part of the good that came from that tragic event. 

Some good has come out of Covid-19 already. People, families are spending more significant time together; both in person and virtually. Most people are kinder and considerate towards others. Front line workers are much more appreciated than they have been. If you didn’t appreciate your health care, I’ll bet that you do now! It has caused people to reflect upon what really is important. 

OK that’s it. Covid-19 is evil, but allowed by God. Good has, and will continue to come from it. It is 100% certain that more good than evil will result from this. God’s will, will be done after all. 

In our next blog post, we will discuss the causes, and treatments for, why the Toronto Maple Leafs haven’t won a Stanley Cup since before I was born. See you there!

Posted by Kevin Casper with

The Problem of Evil: Is Covid-19 Evil? (Part 4)

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I just realized something. I don’t fish. Hmmm. I guess that I’ll have to find other uses for the jigs... I’ll tell you one thing, it’ll be a crazy looking Christmas tree.

OK, where did we leave off? Our question is still the same: who do you think is responsible for the evil that is brought about by the Covid-19 virus? And we’re part way through our list of who is, and to what extent, people are responsible for the Covid-19 virus evil. Once again here’s the list starting where we ended: 

  1. The guy who ate a raw bat or pangolin, 

  2. The Chinese Government for covering it up, 

  3. Our government for not being prepared for it, 

  4. Adam, Eve, 

  5. Satan, 

  6. God. 

Firstly: Who eats a raw bat? OK OK, the person could have been cleaning it, it’s all bloody and everything, and some bat blood could have entered through a nick or cut on their hand. I am NOT sure how the Covid-19 virus transferred from a bat to a pangolin to a human, but as of the time of the writing of this, that’s the prevailing idea. So how much to blame is that person for the evil of the Covid-19 virus? Did this person knowingly spread the Covid-19 virus? No. He had no idea that it was happening. Is it immoral to eat a bat? Hmmm. I don’t think so. It’s not my sort of thing, but while I find it distasteful, I don’t think that it’s evil.

 Number 2: Ohhhhh OK. The next one might get me banned from international flights to a certain unnamed country. Is the Chinese government evil for covering up the disease and the spread of it? Yes. The information that I am using, as I write this, is that on December 31st the Chinese government told the World Health Organization about a novel strain of coronavirus that was causing severe illness. The Chinese government was not forthcoming with information and actually stopped useful information from being released. There are many more details, but we already have enough to be able to judge whether what the Chinese Government did was evil or not. If the information I have shared is true, then yes, what they did was evil. I think that the Chinese government has the lion’s share of purposeful irresponsibility and therefore they have done the most evil. This evil originated from the highest placed person in their government who made the decision to hide that the disease was a concern and was spreading. As well as to not allow people in who could help and to not share useful information with people outside of China who could have used it to help stop or minimize the spread of the virus. The evil from this person, or small group of people who made the decision, is shared by the people who enforced it. 

3: Is our Canadian government responsible for any of the Covid-19 virus evil? It appears not. Perhaps people did not do things perfectly, perhaps mistakes were made, but for it to be said that evil was done, people would have to have done things incorrectly on purpose. Somebody somewhere would have had to do something that purposefully allowed the spread of the disease. I know of no such evidence and if there are no such cases, then our government has committed no evil act in this.

4: Adam and Eve. How could  they be guilty at all in any of this? After all, they lived a long time ago. Yes they are. Without them, sin would not be in this world. More specifically, the Covid-19 virus simply would not exist. (Unless it was a useful virus but then it wouldn’t harm humans) So even though they are removed by space and time, they are responsible, in a way, for this pandemic. Without them, none of this could happen, so they are not directly responsible, but indirectly. And yes I am saying that Adam and Eve committed an act of evil. They brought sin into the world so it can be argued that they may have committed the greatest act of evil of all time. Well, actually, I can think of  one or two other acts that are in competition for that title. I’ll mention one and not comment, and then the following paragraph is all about another act of evil that is in the running for the greatest act of evil of all time.

The first is the crucifixion of Jesus. The only truly innocent person ever convicted of a crime. Not only was He not guilty of the crimes He was accused of, He was not guilty of any crime in His entire life.

5: Now we come to Satan: his greatest act of evil was what got Him evicted from heaven. (It would take a lot to be thrown down from heaven, I think). Satan wanted to be like God; to sit on His throne. With that act, the dominoes leading to sin entering our world started to tumble, all the way to the Covid-19 virus pandemic. There are large and significant differences between the evil committed by Adam and Eve, and that by Satan. The differences that I am thinking about are that Satan knowingly and purposefully committed his acts of evil. Evil was the intent. As much evil as possible was/is the intent. With Adam and Eve, they knew what they were doing, but their intent was not to have evil enter into the world. At least I see no indication of that in the Genesis stories.

Lastly God. Is He responsible for any of the Covid-19 virus evil? The short but truthful  answer is no. The explanation as to why not, is a little longer: God did not put this evil upon the world; however He is allowing it. Allowing evil is not the same thing as creating or doing evil. Now you may not be convinced: “You’re splitting hairs” or  “Come on! He created everything!” or  “Why would God allow it though?” and those are good questions. Whiiiiiiiich I’ll try to answer in the next blog post. See you there!

 

Posted by Kevin Casper with

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