By L. Alfred James
A few weeks ago, we saw how the reality evil is actually evidence for God’s existence. But I’m willing to go farther than that in the claims I’m making. For I believe it can be demonstrated that the evil streak we see in humanity is actually evidence for the God of the Bible. That is, the presence of evil doesn’t just point to God’s existence, it also points to his identity.
How could that be?
It’s actually a rather simple argument. As we’ve seen, there is something wrong with the human race. In the last couple of months, we’ve seen that human beings are not good by nature. Our experience is more like that of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde than the Frankenstein monster.
People inflict enormous amounts of suffering on each other. And I’m not just referring to those behaviors that everyone agrees are criminal and deserving of punishment: theft, rape, murder, assault, arson, child abuse, kidnapping, hijacking, etc. I’m also referring to the endless behaviors that are not illegal, but they are still cruel: flirting behind your spouse’s back, stepping in line ahead of others (because you are sure your business is more important than theirs), gossiping, cutting off cars in traffic, etc. The perfect exemplar in this category would be the bullying that happens among school aged children. We’ve all seen heartbreaking examples of a child’s self-esteem being destroyed by a peer. In recent years this has increasingly been a factor in teen suicides.
I could dredge up more examples of the suffering that people inflict on each other, but I think that should suffice to prove my case: There is something very wrong with humanity. Humanity is very flawed, warped.
The cruelty we observe is not what we would expect if humanity had been created by a God of love. It seems that a loving God would make us in such a way that each of us would be self-controlled, considerate of others, and obedient to our consciences. A God of love would make a world of serenity, peace and harmony, right?
If you’ve been reading my blog for a while you might expect me at this point to disagree. But, actually, I don’t. I totally agree. I think a loving God would definitely have made humanity without these tendencies to cruelty. In fact, I’ll ratchet things up a bit. I not only believe that he would have made us that way. I believe he did.
The Bible tells us that God made man good. In fact, after man was created, we are told, “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good” (Genesis 1:31). Human beings were the pinnacle of creation, made in the very image of God (Genesis 1:27). And God is good. So human beings were made good.
Well, what happened? What went wrong?
Just look at Genesis 3 for the answer. Human beings chose to disobey God. They fell out of harmony with God and with each other. And one chapter later we see that lying, strife, and murder are suddenly a part of the human character (Genesis 4:1-8).
Humanity was made good. But human beings have free will, and they chose to disobey God. This has led to all of us having a nature that is not entirely what God originally chose for us. It is what we chose.
Thus, the Bible solves an important problem. It tells us how God can be a good and loving God in light of the fact that he created humanity—a race that is riddled with evil. The Bible tells us that humanity fell.
And if you are inclined to think that God is a loving God, but you do not believe the Bible, you are stuck with a serious problem: How do you explain the cruelty and evil in humanity? Did God make us this way?
Francis Shaeffer summarizes the situation perfectly:
We thus know something wonderful about man. Among other things, we know his origin and who he is—he is made in the image of God… But God tells us something else about man – He tells us about the Fall. This introduces the other element which we need to know in order to understand man. Why is he so wonderful and yet so flawed? Who is man? Who am I? Why can man do these things that make man so unique, and yet why is man so horrible? Why is it? …The Bible says that you are wonderful because you are made in the image of God, but that you are flawed because at a space-time point of history man fell. (The Francis Schaeffer Trilogy, 219)
This is yet one more reason to believe the Bible. It not only makes sense of our origin, it also makes sense of our tendency to be so self-centered and cruel.