Evil and a Young Earth

It’s one of the oldest and toughest questions for monotheists. If God is all-powerful, and the world has evil in it, then God is responsible for that evil. Creationist leader Ken Ham recently argued that only a young-earth attitude can explain away this problem of theodicy.

Ham was reacting to a viral video of Irish comedian Stephen Fry. (Youtube has since taken the video down due to copyright claims.) In the interview, Fry blasted God as evil, capricious, and flat-out monstrous. “Because,” Fry explained,

the God who created this universe, if it was created by God, is quite clearly a maniac, utter maniac. Totally selfish. We have to spend our life on our knees thanking him?! What kind of god would do that?

Of course, theologians and atheists have wrestled with this challenge for centuries. Ham, the well-known leader of Answers In Genesis, explained recently that other forms of creationism could not handle the challenge.

Intelligent Design, Ham argued, fails because it argues only for a vague creator. If there is only a bland, inexact creator, then Fry’s challenge is correct. He, or She, or It, must have created everything, including evil.

Other creationists just don't get it...

Other creationists just don’t get it…

Evolutionary creationism, too, can’t handle evil, according to Ham. The sort of creationism embraced by the BioLogos folks stumbles in the face of Fry’s challenge, Ham says. “If God did use millions of years of evolutionary processes,” Ham wrote,

then He is responsible for all the death, suffering, disease, extinction, pain, cancer, and other evils in this world.

Only a young-earth approach gives a satisfying account of the origins of evil. In Genesis, as Ham reads it, God’s original creation was evil-free. Only when the sinful choices of Adam & Eve introduced evil into the world did things go awry.

For this to make sense, Ham says, we need a real, literal Adam & Eve. We need to take God at His Word. Otherwise, jokers like Fry have the last laugh.

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4 Comments

  1. The Book of Job is clear that God is the author of good and evil.

    That fact is mentioned other places in the Bible.

    This is consistent with the claim my professor of molecular biology made, that “we live in a universe that is out to get us.”

    Reply
    • That’s how I understand it as well. I’m not good with Christian theology, but I worked for several years in Jesuit schools and I absorbed a little of their ideas about these things. Also, if I remember correctly, Ham’s take on theodicy over-simplifies in other ways. For instance, an all-knowing and all-good God would know what would happen if He gave His creation free will. At best, God needs to answer the question of why He created the capacity for evil. As Stephen Fry puts it, why would God create a wasp that burrows into human brains and eats its way out through the eyes? That’s not even really evil, it’s just sadistic.

      Reply
      • Agellius

         /  February 10, 2015

        “God needs to answer the question of why He created the capacity for evil.”

        Does he need to answer it now, or will it suffice for him to answer it in the next life? : )

        As St. Augustine said centuries ago (paraphrased), if an all-good and all-powerful God allows evil, it must be so that an even greater good can come of it.

      • Equating pain, suffering, and death with evil for which an all-powerful deity is morally responsible is a pretty modern idea; a conventional Jewish and Christian view — apart from the idea of a “fortunate fall” (a greater good coming out of it) — is that suffering and death are justice or a simple consequence of human freedom and the inclination to do wrong as initiated in “the fall of man.” In this view God allows this to play out as a consequence of human freedom perhaps by limiting his power or allying it with humanity as it must work to solve its own problems for the “restoration of the world.” God does not stand under justice as answerable to it either — he is its ground and origin. (Which seems to be the point of Job, where God seems to screw over a “good guy” to make a point about the capacity of the good and the just to sustain fidelity to God even though the evil triumph and the good suffer at times.)

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