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