Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Why Did God Create Evil?


This question has been asked many times by many people, again and again. It has been pondered over and over by brilliant minds searching for answers for many centuries. It is one of life's great questions...

Did God create evil? He created the world, and it certainly has a lot of evil and tragedy in it every day? If he's all powerful and so loving, then why would he make bad things happen? Isn't he supposed to save us and protect us? And if he didn't create evil? Then why would he just let the bad things happen? Does he not have the power to stop it?

So the real question is: is God the author of evil or its helpless victim? 

One doesn't need a Ph.D. in theology to look around the world and realize something is desperately wrong. The existence of evil is one of the most vexing challenges a Christian--or any person, for that matter-- must grapple with. It's occupied the minds of great Christian thinkers since the beginning, including St. Augustine. For much of his life he worked hard at a solution.

Augustine's approach was not just brilliant; it was practical. His insight is intellectually credible, logical in its process, and it gives hope and offers meaning to the Christian or even non-Christian trying to make sense out of life in a fallen world.

The problem of evil can be phrased in several ways. One approach addresses the origin of evil, prompting the syllogism (a series of statements that form a reasoned argument):
1) God created all things; 
2) evil is a thing; 
3) therefore, God created evil. 
If the first two premises are true, the conclusion is inescapable.

This formulation, if sustained, is devastating for Christianity. God would not be good if He knowingly created evil.


Augustine realised that the solution was tied to the question: What is evil? The argumentabove depends  on the idea that evil is a thing (note the second premise). But whatif evil  is not a "thing" in that sense? Then evil did not need creating. If so, our search for the source of evil will take us in aanother direction 
Augustine approached the problem from a different angle. He asked: Do we have any convincing evidence that a good God exists? If independent evidence leads us to conclude that God exists and is indeed good, then He would be incapable of creating evil. Something else, then, must be its source.

If Augustine's approach is fair, it prompts another pair of syllogisms that lead to a different conclusion. First: 
1) All things that God created are good; 
2) evil is not good; 
3) therefore, evil was not created by God.
1) God created every thing; 
2) God did not create evil; 
3) therefore, evil is not a thing.

The key to success here, is the truthfulness of two premises. If Augustine can offer evidence through natural theology that God exists as Creator and also that God is good, making everything He created also good, then the conclusion--evil is not a thing--automatically follows.

This is Augustine's strategy. If evil is not a thing, then the case against Christianity stated in the original syllogism is unsound because one of its premises is false. The critical question is: What is evil?

Central to Augustine's idea of goodness (and, consequently, evil) was the notion of being. To Augustine, anything that had being was good. God as the ground of being was perfectly good, along with everything he brought into being. This 'goodness' was a property that came in varying degrees.

With this foundation, Augustine was now prepared to answer the key issue: "Where is evil then, and whence, and how crept it in hither? What is its root, and what its seed? Or hath it no being?" To this Augustine answered: "Evil has no positive nature; but it's the loss of good has received the name 'evil.'"

Augustine observed that evil always injures, and such injury is a deprivation of good. If there were no deprivation, there would be no injury. And since all things were made with goodness, evil must be the privation of goodness: "All which is corrupted is deprived of good."

The diminution of the property of goodness is what's called evil. Good has substantial being; evil does not. It is like a moral hole, a nothingness that results when goodness is removed. Just as a shadow is no more than a "hole" in light, evil is a hole in goodness.

To say that something is evil, then, is a shorthand way of saying it either lacks goodness,or is a lower order of goodness than what ought to have been. But the question remains: "Whence and how crept it in hither?"

Augustine observed that evil could not be chosen because there is no evil thing to choose. One can only turn away from the good, that is from a greater good to a lesser good (in Augustine's hierarchy) since all things are good. "For when the will abandons what is above itself, and turns to what is lower, it becomes evil--not because that is evil to which it turns, but because the turning itself is wicked."

Evil, then, is the act itself of choosing the lesser good. To Augustine the source of evil is in the free will of persons: "And I strained to perceive what I now heard, that free-will was the cause of our doing ill." Evil was a" perversion of free will, turned aside from...God" to lesser things.

Augustine's solution has not been satisfying to some. Friedrich Schleiermacher snorted at the concept that God gave good creatures the freedom to do bad. If a being is perfect in its goodness, he held, it would never sin even if it were free to. Evil would then have to create itself  'ex nihilo' (out of nothing), which is ridiculous.


However, it doesn't follow that moral perfection necessarily entails immutability. That's a different type of perfection, a perfection in being. Schleiermacher's objection confuses the two. The fact that a perfectly beautiful vase is capable of being broken doesn't take away from its aesthetic perfections. In the same way, it makes sense to say that man was created morally perfect (morally whole or complete, at his proper level of goodness), even though he wasn't immutable in this perfection.

The objections raised by atheist philosophers J.L. Mackie and Antony Flew are more substantial. Isn't it possible that God could have created man immutable in his goodness, yet still have the opportunity to freely choose in other areas? Won't man have immutable goodness in heaven? And will he not also have freedom to choose among certain options? Why not here on earth? Couldn't God construct man's nature such that evil simply was not an option?


Mackie and Flew are right in one regard. God could have created such a world. Freedom in the larger sense (the ability to make choices) does not require freedom in the narrow sense (the ability to make moral choices).

They miss the big picture, though: God would not have accomplished His second purpose. He not only wanted free creatures; He also wanted plenitude, that is, the greatest good possible. Plenitude--the highest good, the best of all possible worlds--requires more than just general freedom; it requires moral freedom, and that necessarily entails the possibility of evil.

Since all that God made is good, even those things which appear evil only appear that way because of a limited context or perspective. When viewed as a whole, that which appears to be evil ultimately contributes to the greater good.

For example,certain virtues couldn't exist without evil: courage, mercy, forgiveness,patience, the giving of comfort, heroism, perseverance, faithfulness,self-control, long-suffering, submission and obedience, to name a few. These are not virtues in the abstract, but elements of character that can only be had by moral souls. Just as evil is a result of acts of will, so is virtue. Acts of moral choice accomplish both.

A world that had never been touched by evil would be a good place, but it wouldn't be the best place possible. The best of all worlds would be a place where evil facilitated the development of virtues that are only able to exist where evil flourishes for a time. This would produce a world populated by souls that were refined by overcoming evil with good. The evil is momentary. The good that results is eternal.


What good comes out of a drive-by killing, someone might ask, or the death of a teenager through overdose, or a daughter's rape, or child abuse? The answer is that a commensurate good doesn't always come out of those individual situations, though God is certainly capable of redeeming any tragedy. Rather, the greater good results from having a world in which there is moral freedom, and moral freedom makes moral tragedies like these possible.

This observation reveals an interesting twist in this problem. If morality freely chosen can only happen in a world where evil is possible, then heaven will be a place where there will be no moral growth, where moral choices will not be possible because all the inhabitants of heaven will be immutably good. There is a type of soulish growth only available to inhabitants of a fallen world.

Two Scriptural observations gives support to this view. First, in recounting the great heroes of faith, the writer of Hebrews mentions that some were rescued by faith, but others endured by faith " order that they might obtain a better resurrection." (Heb. 11:35) Second, Paul tells Timothy that"...godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come." (1 Tim. 4:8)

Both of these verses indicate that conditions in this life affect conditions in the next. Standing up against evil in this life improves our resurrection in the next. Godliness in this life brings profit in the next. These benefits are not available after this life or there would be little urgency to grow now; all eternity would be left in which to 'catch up'.

It appears that a deeper, more profound good results when virtue is won by free, moral souls struggling with evil, rather than it simply being granted to them as an element of their constitution.


Augustine knew that evil was real. Independent evidence (natural theology) was enough to convince him that God existed and that everything He created would be good. Evil, then, must be something real, but not a "thing" in the conventional sense. Evil is not a created thing, but spoiled goodness made possible by the free moral agency of rational creatures. Evil is not something present, but something missing, a privation.

The challenge that God could have created a world of free-will creatures immutable in their goodness is answered by the notion of plenitude, the greatest good. The possibility of evil also makes a greater good possible. God made a world in which true moral decision-making and development of virtues is possible in humans, manifest by persons whose character is formed through growth and struggle.

There's a reason why God has allowed evil. It doesn't conflict with His goodness. God is neither the author of evil, nor its helpless victim. Rather, precisely because of His goodness He chooses to co-exist with evil for a time...

~ Rae 


My Sister, My Best Friend


My sister... My little sister. Five years younger, but with wisdom beyond her years -- she's always been one of the brightest gems in my life.

I was supposed to be an only child, and well she was a complete accident. 
Mum and Dad were stoked to have one healthy baby, and with that they were set. For five years I was doted on as the only child, grandchild, great-grandchild and niece. Of course they all wanted more, but my parents would not be convinced -- one was enough for them.
That is, until my Dad spoke those few magic words that changed everything... "If God really wanted us to have another child, then we'd have one" he said to my grandmother. And bam just like that, my sister happened. 
But I'll tell you what, she's the best 'accident' that God has ever given our family.. And I'm so glad to have her as my sister. 


My sister is the kind of person who just radiates beauty inside and out. I joke that God saved all the good genes for her, as compensation for surprising my parents with another baby. But she just smiles and shakes her head, "take a look at yourself" she tells me in a disparaging manner. 
She's always been like that. Not necessarily disregarding of herself -- but you always have to tell her something twice before she'll stop trying to encourage and uplift you, and actually take note of the compliment she was given. 
She's always found it much easier to be naturally selfless. That's something I struggled with. I was your typical child and definitely a typical teenager -- selfish, inconsiderate, attention seeking, self oriented, and completely oblivious to how my actions effected my family.
My sister though, always kind, giving, considerate, loving, caring, understanding, nurturing. That's just who she is. 
Even when I was being awful to her, she still treated me with love and consideration. She always puts other people first, and naturally has from a very young age. 
She would do everything for everyone else until she ran herself into the ground, before caring for herself. 
It's funny actually, how opposite we were. You wouldn't have even thought we were sisters, looking at us? 
But as we got older, she had to learn to be more selfish and care for herself as much as she does others. -- do somethings for herself instead of always doing it for everyone else. While I had to learn to be more selfless, considerate, kind and patient. -- things I'd like to think have developed with maturity. 

Even now that we are both adults, we are still quite different, but we have so much more in common as well. From our personality traits, to our personal attributes... But especially when we start talking or we're together. It's quite hilarious to see the faces of people we talk to together -- we speak like twins, but we look so different. It always catches them off-guard.

It's going to be strange not doing that with her much anymore. 
I said goodbye to her just this week as she left to move interstate.
I didn't want her to go. The selfish part of me wanted her to stay and go to uni here with me. I could show her the ropes as big sisters do, I could hang out with her at lunch time, and maybe even carpool. 


We'd shared a room for 13 years, we liked it that way. Our parents once tried to put us in separate rooms as kids, and we would go to sleep in the same bed anyway. It was weird enough when I left my parents house at 18, and I only ever lived 30 minutes away at most. Now, she's moved 10 hours away.... and I miss her already. 
She's my sister, but she's more than that, she's my best friend. I might be the older one -- but I don't just model to her, we model to each other. We get each other. There's a bond between us that I couldn't even explain in words. She understands me and knows me like no one else does.


I didn't want her to leave, but I do understand why she had to. So I will continue to love her and support her -- just from afar instead. I'll miss being a part of her daily life, but the distance is the only thing that has changed, and I'm not one to be hindered so easily. We may be physically apart now, but this would be the great thing about phones, internet and facebook. 
I can't wait to see what she does with this new chapter of her life, and I can't wait to see what God has planned for her over the next few years. I know she will grow and blossom phenomenally, even more so than she already has. It's hard to believe how fast time goes by, just yesterday we were playing with barbie dolls in the backyard and riding our bikes down at the creek -- and now she's all grown up and making a life for herself, away from home.

If you can't tell already, I'm pretty proud of the woman my baby sister has become, and I'm so thankful to God for sending her into our lives. We've had many adventures together growing up, but i guess now it's time for her to have some adventures on her own...

I love you sis... have a ball, live life, make mistakes, learn from them, and follow the heart I know that God has placed in you. Go out and conquer the world! 

And ah... don't do anything I wouldn't do okay? ;) xx



Saturday, March 21, 2015

Chronic Illness Problems

Today I feel shit. There are so many things I could write about, in fact I have a whole list ready to go for future posts so I hope you guys are pumped for it. 
But today, I feel so drained and in pain that it's all I seem to be able to think about. So I guess my first post is gonna be about my health...

Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, Hypermobility Type

Ehlers Danlos Syndrome is a rare genetically inherited disease that is caused by a mutation in the creation of collagen proteins; that in turn has an effect on joints, tissues, skin and just about everything in the human body actually. There are a few various types, each with unique and overlapping symptoms. I have type 3, the Hypermobility type. This condition effects people in many different ways. Just as hormones and drugs can have various effects on different bodies, as does EDS. 

For me? I'm one of the lucky ones who feels the effects of my EDS on a daily basis. The two major symptoms are pain, sometimes just my joints, sometimes my skin, muscles and whole body, and also the excrutiating headaches; the other one is fatigue, and I'm not talking about didn't get enough sleep and need to have a nap kind of tired -- I'm talking, I could have 8 hours sleep or even 10 hours sleep and still wake up feeling worse than when I went to bed. It's like I wake up even more tired in the morning instead of bright and refreshed. 

Now a lot of people have sleep problems. But the difference with mine, is that it's not just tired, I'm completely exhausted. I have no energy, my muscles are weak, and I can't even think straight. Just standing in the shower or making a coffee is a huge task (and that's just thinking about getting up to do them). I'm completely exhausted, wiped out, for no reason at all. 

Thankfully, not every day is like this.. but I do have a lot of them; and over the last three years especially, the frequency has slowly increased and the severity of my 'bad days' has as well. 

All of this started well before I had any idea that something was actually wrong with me, and discovered that it wasn't just me. 
I thought for years that I just wasn't getting enough sleep, or not being healthy enough. I needed to be more active, and drink more water etc etc. 
For years doctors had told me it was everything from depression to persistent infection.. And I wish it was just one of those many things I was told, cause they're all fixable, treatable, curable. EDS isn't. 
And while bodies are complicated and I have and have had many things 'wrong' with it, EDS is the big one. It's the one I can't manage, it's the one I can't fix, and it's the one I am finding extremely hard to live with. If not for the chronic pain and fatigue, I could easily live -- happily and like I'm not even really sick at all. But it's not just EDS itself causing me problems. 
Because of it I haven't been able to find a way to reverse my liver disease and my insulin resistance -- two other major health issues in the decline of my health. 
Both of these things need exercise and a healthy lifestyle to reverse it and get a healthy body back. But EDS is making this impossible at the moment, and so far there have been no solutions that have worked to help me battle that. 
Ignoring it doesn't help either. -- You can only try and push yourself so hard before your body caves in and won't physically allow you to push it anymore. 
(I've learnt that one the hard way)

And so I struggle on, hoping, praying, looking for a solution; but firstly, a doctor who actually knows and understands my condition and what I need. 

Until then, I'll just get through today as best I can, and just see how I am tomorrow...

For more information on EDS visit:

~ Rae

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