In 2003, I was asked “why does evil exist?” This was the response I penned.
Imagine creating a universe in which the people/creatures were incapable of doing anything except what the Creator wanted them to do. What would we call such people?
Robots or automatons.
Robots don’t think or choose as such, they simply do what they are programmed to do. They can be programmed to make certain choices – if they see a certain pattern they respond in one way, if a different pattern appears, they respond in a different. But their programming still limits them to whatever responses have been put in them. “Choice” for such robots is completely an illusion. They can never really do any more than they were programmed to do. (They can even be programmed to respond randomly, but they are still programmed).
In such a universe, one could not really speak of choice, of right and wrong. Wrong would exist only if there was a malfunction in the programming or a mechanical malfunction.
It is the Christian thought that we don’t live in such a robotic universe. God created humans not automatons.
We live in a universe in which there really are choices, each which results in a different consequence. There is right and there is wrong, even if that is said to be a human construct. And in this world people choose, have free will, can be creative, can come up with new ideas, can actually think and decide.
To the question, “why is there evil?”, I offer what I said above. As long as the above is true, it means people are not robots, aren’t programmed, don’t have to follow a script. God gave us free will to make decisions. We actually can disobey God, we actually can choose to do wrong, choose evil, choose to destroy, and choose to disobey.
Evil is potential in any universe in which free will exists. If evil wasn’t a real choice – and an attractive one, not just a repulsive one, then we would not be free beings, and we would not be able to choose love.
If the potential for evil didn’t exist, there would be no real choice, no free will, no right or wrong, no ability to repent, to love, to forgive. All we could do is what we have been preprogrammed to do.
Could a world have been made in which people only loved? Yes, but then it would not be love by choice, but simply following pre-programming. In that sense it wouldn’t be love at all. We wouldn’t be forgiving, repenting or loving as in choosing a particular reaction. We would be following a pattern and like a robot simply seeing a pattern and doing the programmed response.
Love is a choice, a decision, a reaction, an action only in a universe in which there is free will and real choices to be made. In such a universe evil must also exist as a real choice, and one that can attract us.