What if God were evil?

(Ryan D'souza) #1

So I’m currently doing the Core Module and we’re in the 7th week, and in one of the bonus Q&A videos, Ravi was asked why God doesn’t stop people from doing bad things. His answer included the fact that love, being the supreme ethic, has freedom of the will intrinsically woven into it, and that God cannot violate a person’s free will by stopping every evil act being committed.

My question is this: What if God is not as we believe him to be, but is instead inherently evil in his very nature, and has created this “illusion” of free will. This is just a question that came to me and I believe Rene Descartes had a similar thought (though I’m unsure how he resolved it).

So if God is evil in nature and has created the illusion of free will, we could very well be in a matrix type situation where nothing we perceive is real.

Obviously, I do not believe this. As I said it’s just a question that came to me. I would like to know how do I go about disproving this argument or how would you do it from a philosophical perspective. Thanks.

(Isaiah J. Armstrong) #2

This reminds me of a quote from Ravi Zacharias and Vince Vitale’s book Why Suffering? This quote is Ravi responding to the Trilemma that atheists like to use to disprove god’s existence:
1.God is all powerful
2.God is all-loving.
3.Evil is a reality.

Here is what Ravi writes in response:
“Each of these statements dies the death of a thousand qualifications: Who said that God can do anything He pleases and what does that really mean? What does “He pleases” mean? Can He do something that is mutually exclusive? Can He make a square circle? Can he lie and state it as the truth?
The challenge is actually quite silly. If God can do anything, then He surely can even allow evil and call it good. Why does He have to explain it? Surely, if omnipotence means all-powerful without even logical or rational limitation, He can allow evil to exist and not see any incoherence in it. And if God can do anything He pleases why can’t He simply be incoherent as well? That may be irrational to the skeptic, but does not limitless power also mean the power to be irrational without justification?”

Later on Ravi writes this:
“Why is it that we finite, self-serving, time-constrained, so-often-wrong human beings think we have all the wisdom needed in which to castigate God and hold Him before the bar of our wisdom within our timetable? Is it simply not possible that though thinking we are operating in the light, we could be operating in the dark? Is it not possible that there are character lessons learned in adversity that could never be learned in any other way?”
Hope this helps! God bless!

Why are there so many Bible translations?
(SeanO) #3

@Ryan_D_souza Thank you for your question. Let me start with another question:

How do you know anything about God at all within the Christian worldview? How do you go about knowing God?

In order to determine whether or not we believe God is good or evil, we must first establish if God is knowable and, if so, in what way.

My brief answer is that Jesus is the clearest revelation of God and He went to the cross to show us the love of God.

Colossians 1:15-18 - He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For [b]by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. 17 He [c]is before all things, and in Him all things [d]hold together. 18 He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything.

In addition, here is a thread where I point out that we know God through relationship. And that it is only within the experience of that relationship that brings a deep affirmation of the goodness of God.

The Lord Jesus grant you wisdom as you study and give you assurance of His goodness through the testimony of God’s Spirit. What are your thoughts?

(Omar Rushlive Lozada Arellano) #4

I appreciate your question, @Ryan_D_souza. To answer this, I would use the language used in ontological discussions. To be God, the being must essentially be worthy of worship, because God is the highest conceivable being. We could say that this necessitates that God must be omnibenevolent. To say that God is malevolent is a contradiction, because a being that is malevolent is not worthy of worship. So to ask the question, “what if God were evil?” shows a misunderstanding of what it means to be a God, because if someone knows what it means to be a God, then they won’t ask such a question.

This is the same about an atheist’s favorite retort, “who created God?,” which is a misunderstanding of what it means to be a God. They presuppose a created god in their question, but to be a God, a being must be uncreated or necessarily existent. If they understand that this is what it means to be a God, then they should not even ask such a question.

(As a disclaimer: I’m not saying that you should not ask the question you asked, but I’m merely answering your question in ontological terms)

(Liam Bell) #5

Great question and awesome well thought out answers. I think asking questions like these is a form of praise to God. After every question God’s still going to be God and he will always be a good good father.

(Ryan D'souza) #6

@SeanO thank you so much for your response. It’s given me something to reflect on. So what you’re saying is, in order to determine whether God is good or evil we must first go about the process of getting to know God, and one of the ways we can know God is to get to know Jesus. And if we believe that Jesus is who he said he is, then it logically follows that God is good as Jesus is the final revelation of God. Am I right?

(Ryan D'souza) #7

@O_wretched_man, @omnarchy, @Will, thanks a lot for your feedback guys. Really appreciate your answers.

(SeanO) #8

@Ryan_D_souza Sure thing. Yes, that appears to be a correct summary of the approach to this question I was suggesting as a starting place. Christ be with you.

(Ryan D'souza) #9

@SeanO Hey Sean, just a follow up question:

What if the world / reality that we live in is akin to that of the Matrix? Plato’s ‘cave allegory’, or the concept of ‘Maya’ in Hinduism. Reality and the idea of freewill is just an illusion created by a malevolent God.

How would you go about refuting this theory?

(SeanO) #10

@Ryan_D_souza I once had a student ask me this very same question, so I showed them the below video of Puddleglum from ‘The Silver Chair’ by C. S. Lewis arguing against the witch who tries to say that the ‘overworld’ is not real and that he only imagined it. It helped them, so perhaps it would help you. A few things I would point out:

  • the burden of proof is on the person claiming that this world is a simulation - there is no evidence for such claims
  • quantum physics at least shows that we are not in a computer simulation of the classical sort
  • Lewis’ argument against materialism is strong

Are those thoughts helpful as a good starting point? The Lord Jesus grant you wisdom.

Lewis’ Argument from Desire Against Materialism

Puddleglum’s Heroic Speech

The Argument from Quantum Physics

Basically, quantum physics is so complex that we cannot be inside a traditional computer simulation. The argument is not water tight, but in tandem with other arguments it is a point to consider.

“we can’t model the physics we know of on even the biggest computer imaginable.
You’re not in a simulation. Probably not, at least.”

(Barry) #11

Existential reiteration:

Jesus was a real person Whose life and character are amply attested to. Jesus was and is supernatural and good and truthful. His testimony of Himself and of God are sufficient.

Jesus also clearly indicated that He is the embodiment of God, the embodiment of “The Father”.

These points of truth are not attested to just by a verse or two, but are woven throughout the New Testament, as also in the Old, if one has the perception to recognize it. The totality of Christian Scripture harmonizes in a beautiful and consistent attestation of God, and of His coming to reveal Himself in fully human form to us. Again, “In the beginning was The Word. And The Word was with God, and the Word was God… The Word became flesh, and dwelt among us. And we beheld His glory.”

He is good, beyond everything we could even conceive of. He is seen, and may be known as He is, in Jesus.