As I mentioned in a previous post, I am taking a Philosophy class this semester on “Suffering, Tragedy and the Christian Faith.” A student responded to one of my posts on the Logical Problem of Evil in a way that suggested part of that problem is that God created both good and evil. Now, the logical set of the POE goes something like this: 1- God is omnipotent, 2- God is wholly Good, 3- And yet evil exists. Ancillary questions like why did God create good and evil (which assumes God did), what is omnipotence, how do we know God is good, and what is evil soon arise out of the LPOE. For a more robust handling of some of these questions check out an old paper I wrote on The Perversion of Good – A Practical Theodicy. In this post, I want to plant some ”seed thoughts” for later developments… so that said, please grant me some grace in your critique (for I will need to think this over more myself before it is defensible).
I like to talk in terms of “potential” and “actualization” when it comes to the origin of what we call evil. Humans had the potential to not fall into rebellion and thus continue in the original goodness of creation and enjoy unbroken fellowship with the triune God forever without actualizing evil (choosing contrary to God’s will). One of my favorite books of all times is Perelandra. In this second installment of C.S. Lewis’ space trilogy, Lewis’ character explores a world in which the original inhabitants have not fallen into rebellion/original sin.
In responding to some another set of questions from another student, I thought up the following example for the “perversion of good” motif:
Nuclear energy. A scientist altruistically discovers the equations to make atomic energy possible for all people. He understood if he shared his mathematical equations they had the potential for good, but also for evil. He decides to share the equation with others and allow them to decide how they will use this knowledge.
The scientist’s initial good discovery (which would have provided cheap energy to the nations for a very long time) was entrusted to others with the intention of it only being used for clean energy and not for weapons; however, it was instead perverted into weapons of mass destruction by those he entrusted it with. So there exists today what appears to be a bifurcated view of nuclear power: the good (energy), and the bad (nuclear weapons). The scientist did not create the nuclear weapons, but allowed others the choice. The potential existed to choose according to the will of the scientist, but also the potential to choose against that will and thus in that decision actualized/created evil.
If you push this example too far it will break-up since it is an anthropomorphic example to describe something that epistemologically is beyond our comprehension (in fullness not part).