Does the Existence of an Imperfect World Imply an Imperfect God?

By Elias Ayala (MDiv & M.A.T.)

Does the Existence of an Imperfect World Imply an Imperfect God?Christian theism posits that God is the transcendent cause of the universe. However, within the universe in which we live, we experience many imperfections. I do not think it is controversial to suggest that the world in which we live is NOT perfect. This seems to be an obvious point that can be admitted by Christian theist and skeptic alike.

However, skeptics often push back and suggest that if the world bears the mark of its creator, and theists say that God is the creator, then it would seem that the imperfections of this world do nothing more than reflect its imperfect creator. If an imperfect creator exists, then Christian theism is false since Christian theism posits a perfect creator.

Is this a valid argument from the skeptic? I do not think so. First of all, the not-perfect can only be known to be not-perfect if and only if there exists an ultimate standard of perfection by which not-perfect things can be shown to be not-perfect. Secondly, the cause need not be identical to the effect. The world can reflect its creator without being equal in characteristics with its creator. As is often said in these discussions, “The cause cannot be less than its effect, but it can be more.”

There is nothing incoherent with the idea that a perfect God creates a world in which there are some imperfections. Perhaps these imperfections serve the perfect God’s purposes. If this is even a possible explanation, then it follows that such a concept is not logically incoherent. Indeed, this is precisely the Christian position. The Bible does not teach that God created the world perfectly. It teaches that when God finished his creation, He said that it was “good” (Genesis 1:31).

Let us focus on this idea that God created all things “good.” Notice that “good” does not necessarily mean perfect. Something can be “good” relative to the purposes of the one who created these “goods.” Everything God created was “good” because they were optimal to serve God’s purposes.

So does the existence of an imperfect world imply an imperfect God? There does not seem to be any reason to believe that this is true. Hence, as it stands I think there are good reasons to be believe that such an objection is invalid.

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