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In the above argument as detailed by the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, only three of God’s characteristics are highlighted: omnipotence, omniscience, and his moral perfection. This is an overly simplistic view of God. People who make these arguments based on this portrayal of his attributes are attempting to put God in a box and confine him to their strict limitations and their personal ideas of who they think he is or who they think he should be. Based on what the Bible says, God is the exact opposite of a being that can be summed up in three short statements. God is infinite, and therefore he is infinitely complex and multifaceted, and he probably has an infinite number of characteristics. Whenever we think about God, we must try our best to consider all of the different aspects of his character. The index of Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology lists at least 44 different attributes--and that is still just a partial list (1278). For instance, consider God’s justice. The Bible clearly states that the evil in this world is a result of the fall of man, due to man’s free will. Adam and Eve sinned, and through them all mankind has sinned (Geisler 390). In Romans 5:12 we read, “When Adam sinned, sin entered the world. Adam’s sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned” (Holy Bible 1059). Since God is a just god, man is receiving and will receive his just recourse for sin: “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23) (Holy Bible 1060). As a result of man’s sin, the formerly perfect creation has been indelibly marred. It is no longer the perfect Eden that God first created.

Now, the topic of free will is an intricate one and is difficult to fathom at the best of times, not to mention when it is muddled with talk of the existence of evil. It brings up an obvious question: “if God is omniscient, outside of time, and omnipotent, how can we possibly think we have free will?” I have written a detailed paper on this topic previously, so I will only touch on the issue here. In short, the existence of free will is mostly dependent upon what perspective the issue is examined from. If we look at our will from our own perspective, it sure looks like it is free and feels like it is free. We do not have the blueprint of our lives laid out in front of us, so we have to make choices: there is no way around it. Yes, God knows what we will do before we do it, and yes, God knows the entire course of human history, but since we as humans do not know what will happen, we live our lives with apparent free will. Wayne Grudem puts it this way: “. . .we are nonetheless free in the greatest sense that any creature of God could be free—we make willing choices, choices that have real effects. We are aware of no restraints on our will from God when we make decisions” (331). As a result, God can hold us accountable for those choices. He has to hold us accountable for those choices because he is a just God.

In regards to this discussion of good and evil and free will, Geisler and Turek add a great point:

"My point is not the degree of evil, but the source of evil. The source of evil is our free choice. If God were to do away with evil, then he would have to do away with free choice. And if he did away with our free choice, we would no longer have the ability to love or do good. This would no longer be a moral world. (390)"

This is worth considering. In order for morality and good to exist, evil must exist as its necessary counterpart. For one to know what the good is, there has to be evil to contrast it against. In the same way, for one to know what light is like, one would have to have had an experience of darkness. As Iris Murdoch put it: “If there is to be morality, there cannot altogether be an end to evil. Discord is essential to goodness” (741).

Finally, when stating a deductive argument, it is critical to list all of the premises, including ones that might not be obvious. As I stated earlier, there is a premise in the argument against the existence of God based on the problem of evil as delineated by the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy that was not stated. After number 4, this premise should be added: “If God has the desire to eliminate all evil, then he has the desire to eliminate all evil immediately.” It must be added because proponents of this argument seem to think that because they see evil still rampant in the world and that it has not been dealt with and that it is not being dealt with visibly, that that means that it will never be dealt with. I contest this unstated premise. The Bible clearly teaches that God will bring an end to evil’s reign on this earth. As Geisler and Turek put it, “Just because God hasn’t ended evil yet doesn’t mean that he never will end it” (Geisler 390). The entirety of scripture revolves around what theologians refer to as “the plan of redemption.” Man introduced sin and perversion into God’s perfect creation, but God was not content with throwing up his hands and leaving the world in its sorry state. Instead, according to the Bible, he is in the process of redeeming it and making it more glorious than it ever was before! In response to Murdoch’s conundrum about the necessity of evil for the existence of morality and goodness, the Bible does not teach that all who have done evil will be eradicated and will cease to be. Instead, it teaches that those who have sinned, and have not repented and accepted the free gift of forgiveness offered by Jesus Christ through his death on the cross and subsequent resurrection, will be locked away in hell for all eternity. The dichotomy will still exist, but the war will be over.

The problem of evil has weighed heavily on theologians and philosophers for thousands of years. Books have been written on this topic and many of the other topics that I addressed in this paper. While I do not think I have delivered the definitive answer to the problem of evil in this short paper, I believe I have provided valid points for consideration. Many people trying to argue against the existence of God utilizing this argument are presenting a false view of God by not considering some of his other characteristics that apply to this discussion. When trying to analyze God’s character and when critiquing what he should or should not be doing, at the very least we should try to take into account all of his characteristics. But in reality, for any mortal, finite being to make a claim about what God should or should not do is rather preposterous. As mere mortals, we cannot even begin to fathom the immensity and complexity of a being that has not known a beginning, a being that has existed for all eternity and that will continue to exist for all eternity. We are talking about a being that is infinitely powerful, a being that could wipe the entire physical universe as we know it from existence with less than a word. We are talking about a being that knows our thoughts before we even think them. As it is written in Isaiah 40:13, “Who is able to advise the Spirit of the LORD? Who knows enough to give him advice or teach him?” (Holy Bible 669). Some might claim that this is a cop out, but I think that it is a very valid point both theologically and philosophically. When compared with the majesty and magnitude of such a being, such a God, one might wonder who we are to even ask these questions about him?

Works Cited
Geisler, Norman L., and Frank Turek. I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist. Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2004. Print.
Gould, Stephen Jay. “Nonmoral Nature.” A World of Ideas: Essential Readings for College Writers. Ed. Lee A. Jacobus. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2010. 638-648. Print.
Grudem, Wayne. Systematic Theology. Leicester: Inter-Varsity Press, 1994. Print.
Holy Bible: New Living Translation. Carol Stream: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 2009. Print.
Koepsell, David. “Peter Hare And The Problem Of Evil.” Transactions Of The Charles S. Peirce Society: A Quarterly Journal In American Philosophy 46.1 (2010): 53-59. Philosophers Index. Web. 21 Feb. 2012.
Murdoch, Iris. “Morality and Religion.” A World of Ideas: Essential Readings for College Writers. Ed. Lee A. Jacobus. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2010. 733-741. Print.
“The Problem of Evil.” Stanford Encyclopedia of Phil

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