A Merry-Go-Round Causes Evil
Sometimes Facebook rants make good discussion starters…
“If God created men, women, all creatures, and the universe in six freaking days, why is He so powerless to change the horrible things that happen on earth? He’s freaking God!!! With a wave of hand, He should be able to end all this evil. I have to conclude God does not exist. Never has.”
To put it simply, If God can create a universe, why doesn’t God stop evil?
Imagine that city officials commissioned a contractor to build a park for children. Officials told the contractor to include playground equipment, water features, game areas, hangouts, healthy food dispensers, and more.
Suppose when creating the park, the contractor put a merry-go-round at the center. But next to it, he posted signs saying, “Don’t Play On This Merry-Go-Round!” “Off Limits!” “Stay Away!” And “KEEP OUT!”
When officials inspected the park, they wondered what was going on. “Why did you include a merry-go-round,” they asked, “but warn children not to play on it?”
“I’ve designed this park to be loads of fun,” answered the builder, “… except for this merry-go-round. Children must not play on it. If anyone does, I’ve designed the park so calamities will ensue.”
“I’ve placed knives and sharp glass throughout,” the contractor continued, “and these sharp objects will protrude from the ground the moment anyone plays on the merry-go-round. I’ve rigged areas of earth to open up, suck down, and suffocate children. The vending machine will begin offering methamphetamine and crack-cocaine. Loaded handguns will be distributed to kids. Water fountains will periodically spout poison and acid. And if someone gets on the merry-go-round, every blond-haired child will be bullied.”
Would we consider this man a good builder?
IS GOD A GOOD CREATOR?
Many people think the creation story in Genesis presents a similar situation. They assume God (for some reason or another) decided to create a universe from absolutely nothing. Being unconstrained, God singlehandedly set up creation’s playground: its systems, laws, causal structures, creatures, and possibilities.
The world God created was good… except for one tree. It bore fruit that, if eaten, brought about calamity. After creating this tree, God warned humans that death would come if they ate from it.
Humans couldn’t resist the fruit. But eating it generated all manner of evil. Not only were these humans negatively affected, all creation thereafter suffered personal, social, mental, ecological, and natural evils. God created the world with dire consequences if even one person ate this forbidden fruit… that God created from nothing.
Should we consider a God who created a world and added features with great potential for calamity a good Creator?
Is there any real difference between a contractor who builds a playground with a merry-go-round that causes suffering and death and a God who builds out of nothing a universe with a fruit-bearing tree that causes suffering and death?
Our Facebook ranter assumes that nothing can thwart the Creator of the universe. I disagree.
The ranter’s assumption seems safe if God initially created the universe from nothing and can create from nothing today. If God faced no constraints when initially creating, God would solely decide the fundamental causal patterns, processes, and creaturely capacities. And this God could create more from nothing today. In fact, the God who brings something from nothing could, on a whim, send it all back to nothingness.
That’s unlimited power!
So… why doesn’t the God who can create from nothing prevent evil? Why doesn’t this God instantaneously create barriers to stop the spread of the Coronavirus, for instance? Or create barriers to disease? Create something out of nothing to stop rapists, murderers, and torturers? Or create obstructions that prevent freak accidents? And so on?
I answer these questions in chapter six of my recent book, Questions and Answers for God Can’t. To give you a taste of my answer, let me lay out my fundamental beliefs about God and creation. Then I’ll point to the key idea we should affirm to provide a plausible answer to the Facebook rant. I believe…
God created the universe and continues to create today.
Creatures and creaturely factors co-create with God.
God is perfectly good and always loving.
Evils occur that make the world worse than it might have otherwise been.
I believe we should believe our loving Creator always creates in relation to other actors and factors. And God never creates singlehandedly or from absolute nothingness.
In short, I reject the widespread but not biblically supported idea that God initially created our universe from absolutely nothing. I accept the idea God everlastingly creates in relation to what God previously created.
Even when creating, God’s love is uncontrolling.
IF GOD CREATED THE UNIVERSE, WHY CAN’T GOD STOP EVIL?
For a full explanation of why I reject creation out of nothing and a brief explanation of my alternative view of God’s creating, see chapter six of Questions and Answers for God Can’t.Is there any real difference between a contractor who builds a playground with a merry-go-round that causes suffering and death and a God who builds out of nothing a universe with a fruit-bearing tree that causes suffering and death? Click To Tweet