Does evil exist?

PracticalCounseling.Com recently received an email for Pastor Juan Pérez. In it, the person asked an important question which deserves review. Here is the question, and Pastor Juan’s answer.

Dear Pastor Juan,

The reason for this email has to do with something you wrote about God creating evil since there is nothing in the world that exists that He did not create.  I ran across the following article that I thought you might find interesting.  Let me know what you think!

Does evil exist?

The university professor challenged his students with this question. Did God create everything that exists? A student bravely replied, “Yes, he did!”

“God created everything? The professor asked.

“Yes sir”, the student replied.

The professor answered, “If God created everything, then God created evil since evil exists, and according to the principal that our works define who we are then God is evil”. The student became quiet before such an answer. The professor was quite pleased with himself and boasted to the students that he had proven once more that the Christian faith was a myth.

Another student raised his hand and said, “Can I ask you a question professor?”

“Of course”, replied the professor.

The student stood up and asked, “Professor, does cold exist?”

“What kind of question is this? Of course it exists. Have you never been cold?” The students snickered at the young man’s question.

The young man replied, “In fact sir, cold does not exist. According to the laws of physics, what we consider cold is in reality the absence of heat. Every body or object is susceptible to study when it has or transmits energy, and heat is what makes a body or matter have or transmit energy. Absolute zero (-460 degrees F) is the total absence of heat; all matter becomes inert and incapable of reaction at that temperature. Cold does not exist. We have created this word to describe how we feel if we have no heat.”

The student continued, “Professor, does darkness exist?”

The professor responded, “Of course it does.”

The student replied, “Once again you are wrong sir, darkness does not exist either. Darkness is in reality the absence of light. Light we can study, but not darkness. In fact we can use Newton’s prism to break white light into many colors and study the various wavelengths of each color. You cannot measure darkness. A simple ray of light can break into a world of darkness and illuminate it. How can you know how dark a certain space is? You measure the amount of light present. Isn’t this correct? Darkness is a term used by man to describe what happens when there is no light present.”

Finally the young man asked the professor, “Sir, does evil exist?”

Now uncertain, the professor responded, “Of course as I have already said. We see it every day. It is in the daily example of man’s inhumanity to man. It is in the multitude of crime and violence everywhere in the world. These manifestations are nothing else but evil.”

To this the student replied, “Evil does not exist sir, or at least it does not exist unto itself. Evil is simply the absence of God. It is just like darkness and cold, a word that man has created to describe the absence of God. God did not create evil. Evil is not like faith, or love that exist just as does light and heat. Evil is the result of what happens when man does not have God’s love present in his heart. It’s like the cold that comes when there is no heat or the darkness that comes when there is no light.”

The professor sat down.


Dear Sister,

On the “evil” question, the argument made by the material you sent me is excellent. Taken from the perspective of the student’s argument, he was totally correct. From that perspective and in that context.

The question which must be asked is if the Bible teaches evil as an absence of “good” and/or the failure to obey God, as compared to an actual existence of evil? For example, will the Anti-Christ be “evil” due to merely to the absence of “good” or lack of obedience to God in some man, or will he be “evil” because he will be the manifestation of an intentional decision to act against God?

If it is the former, then every human being, who has not accepted Christ as his personal Savior and Lord, is “evil.” This would be true according to the student’s argument. And, I must admit that depending on your exegetical skills, and applied principles for interpreting the Scriptures, there are some references which seem to suggest the same argument. But, the argument here would simply be that they are “evil,” or do “evil,” because “good” or obedience to God is absent, not because they are necessarily making that choice.

Keep in mind that “Sin” (which is clearly referred to as “evil” in the Bible) “entered” into the world” (Romans 5:12). The argument in the Scriptures is not that God left the world, thereby creating an absence of “good,” which would then leave “evil,” but, instead, that something which already existed (“Sin”/evil) was introduced to humankind due to an intentional choice made by Adam. What “entered into the world” was no some absence, but something which was real in and of itself.

Additionally (though I could keep on going for quite a while on this subject), Isaiah 45:7 (KJV), states, “I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord do all these things.” Some versions translate the word “evil” here as “calamity,” but both have the same idea in Hebrew. Who am I to argue with God when He says He created “evil?”

Finally, I tend to subscribe to the principle which states: “What I do, does not decide who I am, who I am, decides what I do.” For the plan of God to work out the way the Bibles teaches it will, “evil” is a necessary component. If we do not have a clear choice, not just an absence of one, then we do not also have free will. If beings with free will have the choice between “good” and “evil,” with both being viable options, then the choice to do “what is right” (James 4:17) becomes a true and valid decision. “Evil” must exist, so that we can choose to reject it, and instead, choose to obey God.

God does not have to be evil to create it, He would have to be “evil” to do it. In His great wisdom, and according to His overall plan, He need only create it, or allow it to come into existence, to bring about the intended results. The Lord can then take advantage of “evil’s” manifestation (“Sin”) to bring about His intention: the salvation of humans.

The Douay-Rheims Bible says in Romans 5:20, “Now the law entered in, that sin might abound. And where sin abounded, grace did more abound.” There is a need for a real “Sin/evil” in God’s plan.

I hope this helped. Nice to hear from you again.

God bless you.

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