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Existence of Evil As Proof of Existence of God

Existence of Evil Grounds for Belief in God?

Can the best argument atheists have against the existence of God actually be used to show that God must exist?  It doesn’t sound plausible…but the obvious existence of evil in our world is just what the prolific author (Narnia Chronicles, Mere Christianity) and respected Oxford scholar, C. S. Lewis said that finally convinced him of the existence of God.

I don’t know about you, but when I see the devastation from the earthquake in Haiti or the flooding in Pakistan, the existence of evil seems to be a better argument for the atheist than the theist…so let’s explore what C. S. Lewis was talking about when he said the existence of evil is what lead him to believe in God.

All Argument From Evil Must Affirm The Existence of Evil

When someone uses the argument of the existence of evil to disprove the existence of God, they have to affirm that evil actually exists in order to use evil in their argument…whether they are making the argument that the existence of evil does or does not make sense with our concept of an all-loving and all-powerful God.

There is a problem for the atheist when he or she tries to explain the existence of evil. As we discussed in “What Is Evil? Natural vs. Moral Evil“, evil exists only in relation to good.  For evil to exist, there has to be an absolute standard of goodness and justice. One can not form a logical concept of evil without appealing to an ultimate standard of good.  The problem then arises: where does this ultimate standard of good come from?  Where do we get our concepts of what is good, or of  justice and injustice?

C.S. Lewis, in his classic book, Mere Christianity, describes his conversion to Christianity by discussing this very topic.  He initially did not believe in God because of the injustices he saw in the world, but on reflection, he decided that the very concept of injustice depended on an absolute concept of justice…which could only be given by an Ultimate Lawgiver.  Someone who is beyond humanity and has authority to make the rules.

Lewis gives many other reasons in his writings why he decided the Christian God is that ultimate lawgiver.

No God – No Goodness – No Justice – No Evil

Any theory of  goodness, justice, and morality that does not appeal to an Ultimate Lawgiver can not accommodate objective right and wrong…it must be dependent on social conditioning and evolution…which means that any act would be ‘evil’ only according to the conditioning of the society where it is performed.  If humans created the laws of good and evil, and what ‘ought’ and ‘ought not’ to be, then they could not be binding or objective.  They’d be subjective and subject to change…and by what authority would one group of humans be able to say the practices of another group are immoral?

In certain areas of India when a man died, widows were burned alive on the funeral pyre along with the bodies of their dead husbands.   If there is no Ultimate Moral Lawgiver, who are we to say this is an abhorrent and evil practice ?  If this practice developed by evolution and social conditioning…and in the same way in my society my revulsion at the idea came about through evolution and social conditioning…who’s to say that my practices are “right” and theirs are “wrong”.  Why is my society’s development better than theirs?  Though we may have the responsibility to enforce rules of injustice at times, no human has the authority to set those rules for humanity.

Lewis on the Concept of Goodness, Justice, and Evil

So without a moral lawgiver there is no objective standard of goodness and justice.  Without that standard, how would we ever have ‘found out’ that there was such a thing as goodness, or justice…and that what was not good or just, was evil?  Or as Lewis puts it…”if there were no light in the universe, and therefore no creatures with eyes, we should never have known that it was dark. Dark would be a word without meaning.”

According to Lewis, with no Moral Lawgiver to define them, goodness and justice would have no meaning. The very existence of any concept of objective evil shows that there is an Ultimate Lawgiver that has set the standard of goodness and justice, or the way things “ought” to be.  Otherwise, how would we know when things were not what they ought to be?  Where would the standard of “oughtness” have come from?  If from humans, it is subjective and subject to change, but if anything inherently evil exists, then so does God.

To all but the most stubborn atheist or eastern religious philosopher who denies that anything is inherently evil, it is obvious that inherent, objective evil exists.

It was the existence of evil that pointed the atheistic C.S. Lewis to the realization that an Ultimate Lawgiver, (God) must exist…so the very thing that is most often used to argue against God’s existence convinced Lewis that God exists…  Unfortunately this doesn’t address the problem of why the God who makes the laws of good and evil allows them to be broken…but we’ll continue to discuss this in future posts.

Hope to see you back!

Rod MacKenzei

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