If God is the creator of all things then he created Satan. He created him with the capacity to do evil,
therefore God must know evil, indeed he must be its creator. God created both good and evil, to give
us choice between the two. We do not however need to be subjected to so much evil to achieve this
choice, to understand the difference. God therefore stands guilty of being the creator of evil and
suffering on a huge scale because he put no limit on the evil and suffering of the human race and our
fellow creatures. Much of this suffering and evil is aimed at the weak and impoverished, there is no
justification for this amount of unreconcilable evil.
Therefore God cannot be wholly good, all loving, he is not even concerned in keeping suffering to a
minimum. Conclusion: God is to be held responsible for evil from the beginning of creation, or God is
not totally good as we are asked to believe. It leads one to ask is there a God at all.
The first thing to say is that God has set a limit to the amount of evil and suffering we can endure
namely death. There is only so much suffering we can experience without either passing out or dying.
If God did allow us to suffer forever clearly he could not be considered wholly good, but since He
does not allow such continued suffering the evil that does exist may be justified.
This may sound crazy for one may consider death itself an evil, but this view does have its defenders,
most notable Richard Swinburne (see his The Existence of God.)
There are various ways of trying to justify the evil that does exist, Swinburne argues that God allows
the amount of evil He does of the greater good that results from it. This greater good is conceived in
terms of human's ability to become better moral agents in the face of evil, for if there were no evil or
suffering, so the argument goes, we would not have the opportunities for making free choices, to act
virtuously, or to take responsibility for our actions. Essentially evil is necessary in order to be moral.
The question is then, does the greater good "adsorb" the evil that exists or does the amount of evil
outweigh any good consequences that follow from God allowing evil? Even the answer is that evil
cannot be justified it does not follow from this alone that God does not exist rather the most we can
conclude is the more qualified assertion that no omnipotent, wholly good being exists. For if God is
either not wholly good or not omnipotent then we have an explanation for evil: either God wants evil in
the world, or He cannot get rid of it. This of course leads to a big mess of blues for theists.
Dept of Philosophy
University of Sheffield