The question that bugs many people about God is: what about evil? Why would an omnipotent God allow evil, whether it is humans who do evil to other humans, or natural catastrophes, diseases, cancers, et cetera? Natural evil, like tsunamis, hurricanes, deadly fires and earth quakes are difficult to understand since they cause so many deaths and suffering. The issue is: why propose that God is good while the world around us testifies about terrible evil?
One can discuss it philosophically. One can try to answer it logically. One can attempt to cover for God and justify the evil with, ‘It will pass,’ or, ‘Maybe it will lead to good things, or purify you.’ Or, as Job’s friends implied, he sinned so his troubles were deserved.
We want to answer the question about evil from the Bible.
In Genesis 1, the account of the creation of the universe, God tells us it is His universe. He decided to establish His Kingdom here on earth and He will accomplish what He set out to do. Yet what does evil have to do with it?
Genesis 2 is a blueprint of God’s ideal. The scene is a garden God created east of Eden. There He put Adam. Adam was to name the animals (to indicate he is the ruler over the animal kingdom). God gave him a wife to complement him. They were to fill the earth.
We have a picture of harmony: God the King, Adam and Eve as His people, His children, who lived together in harmony with nature. God wants this to be an eternal arrangement.
However, since He created man with the ability to love, and love is only possible if man has a free choice, He gives Adam a free choice. It was to test Adam’s love for the Lord. Later the Bible tells us that, ‘This is love for God: to obey His commands.’ 1 And it adds, ‘His commands are not burdensome…’ (since we have the Holy Spirit to help us).
Adam and Eve illustrate this ‘easy to obey command.’ They had ‘trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food.’ 2 There was no shortage. So God’s prohibition not to eat of one tree, was not burdensome. It was a very specific tree, the tree of knowledge of good and evil.
What happened next is very interesting and important. A serpent approached Eve and asked her a question. The Bible tells us, ‘Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, ‘Did God really say, You must not eat from any tree in the garden?'” 3
Take note of the following:
- The serpent was more crafty. Why and for what reason is the serpent distinguished by its craftiness? What would craftiness mean in the absolute peaceful surroundings of the garden?
- The serpent talked. Nowhere does it say any created animal could talk. Only God and man had the ability of speech.
- The serpent asked Eve about what God said. For what reason would any serpent, or for that matter any animal, enquire about what God said?
- More is coming: the serpent specifically asked whether God said they must not eat from any tree, as if to draw Eve out.
- How did it happen that the serpent asked the questions of Eve and not to Adam, to whom God specifically gave the command?
We have to answer the following questions:
- Who was the serpent who conducted the first inquisition?
- Why did God, who is omniscient and omnipotent, not stop the questioning, interrupt Eve and help her out, or something like that?
- 1 John 5:3
- Genesis 2:9
- Genesis 3:1
To be continued in What about evil, Part 2.