Friday, November 7, 2014

God and the Problem of Evil

"I willingly believe that the damned are, in one sense, successful, rebels to the end;
that the Doors of Hell are locked on the inside."
~ C.S. Lewis
The problem of evil has long been used as an argument for the impotence of religion and against the existence of God. And by all means it is a valid argument but an argument does not simply win out because of its inherent validity. As powerful as the argument is, it is absolutist in nature to believe that the mere existence of God stomps out all evil. Such an idea grossly corrupts the definition of God as presented by most of the mainstream faiths extant today such as Judaism, Islam and Christianity.

Thus, before we begin, let us take the definition of God as presented by the aforementioned religions: God is an Eternal Force, a Merciful Creator Who crafted us, humans, to fulfill His Design on Earth as it is done in Heaven.

Nowhere does the religions claim that God is a universal police Who knocks from door to door and wipes out those that do evil. Yes, the religions do speak of God as a Supreme Judge Who will punish those that cause mischief upon Earth and reward those that do good but unfortunately the court date isn't here yet.

The religious scriptures do not proclaim that the existence of God means the absence of evil. Nowhere in the Torah, the Bible or the Quran does God state:
"I exist and My mere existence is the end of all evil."
On the contrary, God acknowledges evil quite a substantial number of times in the Scriptures and He does not fail to explain its existence. God has stated numerous times that evil is a by-product of our failure to abide by His Laws which makes sense, at least to me personally.

That is why, to say, that the existence of evil disproves the existence of God is somewhat inadequate. It would be like saying that the existence of bicycles disproves the existence of boats. No-one ever claimed that for bicycles to exist, boats cannot. Similarly, neither Judaism nor Christianity or Islam claims that for God to exist, evil cannot. Such is not the definition of God.

Think of it this way, evil is not a concept but a consequence of not doing the right thing. God has commanded us time and again, vehemently, throughout the Scriptures to do the right thing. Hence, evil is not an idea of His creation but the fruits of our misdeeds. Allow me the liberty to use an example.

Let us say that a father leaves behind enough money as inheritance for three sons. He also writes down guidelines for the sons to follow in order to use the money without creating mischief. However, the first son hoards all the money for himself and wastes it on vain desires. This creates the problem of the two sons living in poverty and pain. Perhaps one of them turns into a criminal to survive. Did the father create the problem? No. He had left behind enough property for all three. The problem was created when the first son committed the misdeed of squandering all the wealth on his own, not abiding by the commands of the father.

God told us, very plainly, not to murder, not to steal, not to bear false witness, yet we do so, often times, with sadistic glee and quite unabashedly, immersed in wanton lust, envy and greed; these misdeeds 'create' evil. In fact, it can be argued that evil is not created but begotten as children of mischief, acts that our Lord strictly commanded us to avoid.

Therefore, it is ludicrous to blame God for all the evils of the world since He is the One Who has set forward Commandments to follow in order to stop the procreation of evil, Commandments we deny to follow and when our denial births evil we blame it on the One Who provided substantial advice and recommendation to avert the problem. It is as if when a mother tells her child not to touch the fire lest the child get afflicted by a burn but the child touches the fire and is scalded, the mother is blamed.

The similitude of the sinning soul is akin to the story of Iblis and Adam which is precisely why I believe God relates it to us in the Holy Quran. The lessons to take from the story are manifold.

We have condemned ourselves by distancing us from our Creator, His Laws, His Love and Mercy and blamed Him for it. I believe the problem of evil is a problem we have created to turn ourselves away from God and deprive ourselves of His Grace. We have turned ourselves away from the Gift of Paradise. We have locked ourselves away within the Confines of Hell.

— Fahim Ferdous Promi


  1. SubhanALLAH(swt)!

    jazahkALLAH Khair, brother for aiding me and in sha ALLAH(swt) others in better understanding GOD's mercy and love.

    1. Wa iyyakum, sister :) may Allah bless you