The Problem of Evil and the Bible (Part 3)

Illustration of Noah's Ark

II. God’s Response to the Spread of Evil in the World

            In the chapters of Genesis following the fall of humanity which we discussed in part 2, the author tells the story of the rapid and far-reaching spread of evil in the world. The first murder took place in Gen 4 when Cain killed his brother Abel,[1] and sometime thereafter all of humanity turned toward evil – “The LORD saw that the wickedness of humankind was great in the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of their hearts was only evil continually. And the LORD was sorry that he had made humankind on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart (Gen 6:5-6).” Because of this, God therefore decided to blot out all of creation – not just humanity – on earth in order to wipe evil off the planet via the flood. This flood in Gen 7 was the first action that God took to eliminate evil from the earth and he spared Noah – “a righteous man” – and his family along with two of every species on an ark which withstood the flood. From this, we observe (1) the pervasive impact and widespread effect that evil had upon the world, and (2) the first act of God to eliminate evil from the earth.[2]

In light of this, should not nontheists be glad that God responds to evil in such a way? Is this not one of their chief objections, that evil is in the world and needs to be eliminated? Not only is that the God of the Bible’s chief complaint about the world, but he also does something about it. Perhaps the nontheists have more in common with the Christian God than they know. Perhaps they both are on the same bandwagon, the same protest against evil. Perhaps they share some of the same values and concerns about the world. Sounds like they’d be good friends if you’d ask me.



[1] Note here that Abel is a righteous man who suffers evil for being right with God. This is the pattern for all those who walk with the LORD as I will argue below.

 

[2] This ultimately is a foretaste of what God will do at the second coming of Jesus, namely, banish evil and suffering from heaven and earth. Note that Jesus compared the end of the age to the days of Noah (Mt 24:37-39).

2 comments on “The Problem of Evil and the Bible (Part 3)

  1. Adam Roe says:

    Hey Tim!

    You ask some great questions, and I think they drive at a philosophical dilemma I see in the non-theist viewpoint. The non-theist wishes to offer valuations about the human condition, but has no objective means by which to call good, good, or evil, evil. S/he tends to agree with theist categories, but cannot get at the ontological foundations behind those categories. For a non-theist, evil just is, and good just is, and we pretty much just have to take his/her word for it. Really, I can’t understand how anything has objective value in the non-theist worldview.

    Thanks for your thoughtful post, and many blessings to you!
    Adam

    • Timothy Christian says:

      Hi Adam,

      Thanks for your comment. It is interesting to ponder the foundations of morality for nontheists. I’m not sure though that they have no foundation or basis for knowing good and evil because humans are innately moral creatures – I think that’s part of being created in the imago Dei. Also, people seem to be nontheists for a number of reasons. Philosophically, some value objectivity (modernism) which you’ve noted while others value subjectivity (postmodernism). It is interesting to study nontheism and its various forms and thinking. Having been a former atheist, I’m still learning about atheism today.

      Tim

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