Photo by Greg Rakozy on Unsplash
After having discussed in my last post the reality that evil per se does not actually exist, but rather evil exists as a privation of good, I’d like to now start to reconcile the presence of evil in the world with an omnipotent, infinitely good God.
God is Perfect
The first point, and subject of this post, is the simple fact that evil cannot come from God because He is perfect. How do we know that He is perfect? Well, one thing that should be very obvious to us is that we did not—nor could we—bring ourselves into existence. We are, rather, dependent upon others to come into existence.
This makes each of us what is philosophically called a “contingent being.” What logically follows from this is that since creatures are not the cause of their own existence, there must therefore be a creator, a cause for creatures. This creator or cause must be the source of the existence of all things, precisely because it is existence itself.
Not surprisingly, what does God reveal His name to be to Moses, as we read in Exodus 3:14? “I AM WHO AM.” So as we say, God is existence itself, the only being for whom His existence is His essence and His essence is His existence.
From this, we reason that as the creator and cause of all things, God must, in turn, prepossess Himself all perfections contained within creatures. Otherwise He would not, could not, be the source of all existence, for there would be perfections that existed outside of Himself. And thus He would not be God.
God Lacks Nothing
Thus, by virtue of the fact that God is existence itself and the creator and cause of all things, He must lack nothing. But isn’t that exactly what we defined evil as in our last post—a lack of goodness that ought to be present? Thus any sense of privation—as evil is—is impossible in God.
Put another way, since evil exists as a privation of good, its cause cannot be God, the Supreme Good. The will desires to communicate to others the goods that it possesses. Or, to say it another way, goodness is diffuse. This is why we want to share the goods that we possess with those whom we love. When you get a bonus at work or a tax refund, for example, you think of what you can do with that for your children.
God Shares His Perfect Goodness
Now, since God is perfect, He is the perfect good. So what He wills is the diffusion of His own goodness. In other words, the good that God wants to share is His very self. And since His very self is goodness itself, He cannot be the cause of evil since there is no evil in Him—since He is perfect.
God has no defect, so therefore He cannot be the defective agent that causes the evil of a defect of action. Effectively, God cannot wish anything that would be opposed to Himself. God’s will—the cause of existence in all things—is the very cause of a thing being good (unlike creatures, which are not the cause of goodness in things).
So, in addition to being able to say that evil per se does not exist, but rather exists as a privation of good, we can also now state that evil cannot exist as a privation of the Supreme Good that is God Himself.
Long story short, how do we reconcile the presence of evil in the world with an omnipotent, infinitely good God? Well the first thing that we can note from all this is that when we get mad at God for all of the evil in the world, we’re getting mad at the wrong person! In the next post, we’ll discuss who or what is the cause of evil, if God cannot be the cause of it.