>does evil come from god?

Posted on April 5, 2011

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recently i got into a discussion about “what is or isn’t part of god’s ultimate plan” and how/if disasters and death play a part in that. my stance is that i do not believe that everything bad that happens is evil – or the devil. natural disasters are not inherently evil, but they are disastrous, and for the most part natural. it is us humans who see that as evil. however death and disease are in this world because of sin, because of evil. evil is not itself a created thing though, evil is purely the absence of good. and so too darkness is not a thing, it is purely the absence of light.
which brings me to a particularly interesting verse from the bible which came up and i didn’t feel it was appropriate at the time to take up the whole evening discussing, but decided it was better to post about it here for interest. [and possibly discussion, who knows].
the verse was as follows, from isaiah, ch45 v7:
i form the light, and create darkness: i make peace, and create evil: i the lord do all these things. [kjv]
now, i have two problems with this translation.
first is that i don’t read the kjv as i find most of the language used within it’s pages alien to me. i am not living 500 years ago and do not speak like that, and if you came across someone at the shops who was speaking like that you’d think they were a little odd – so i have no plans to steep myself in that specific translation. i’d rather  one that is real and relevant to me – now – in the 21st century.
second, is that the translation is outdated, and i’ll come to that in a moment.
sceptics will say things like “if god created everything, then he must have created evil”, and use this to deny the reasons for his existence. but the bible is quite clear that god is not the author of evil and insists that he is incapable of doing so.
the lord is a mighty rock, and he never does wrong.  god can always be trusted to bring justice. [deut. ch32 v4, cev]

use of this translation is problematic and i lovingly call it the “bible-bashers version” with all it’s ‘thee’s and ‘thou’s, and since it uses olde english it doesn’t necessarily mean the same thing today as when it was translated all those hundreds of years ago. having watched a recent documentary on tv celebrating the king james translation i realised that it was produced using a very limited number of medieval manuscripts. since then the bible has been translated from the earlier hebrew scripts from which most of our modern translations are drawn.
so what do our modern translations of the verse in isaiah say?
i form the light and create darkness, i bring prosperity and create disaster; i, the lord, do all these things. [niv]
i create the light and make the darkness. i send good times and bad times. i, the lord, am the one who does these things. [nlt]
i form light and create darkness, i make well-being and create calamity, i am the lord, who does all these things. [ESV]
i create light and darkness, happiness and sorrow. i, the lord, do all of this. [cev]
i made the light and the darkness.  i bring peace, and i cause troubles. i, the lord, do all these things. [ncv]
immediately you realise there is no mention of the term ‘evil’. this is because, rather interestingly, there is no hebrew word for ‘evil’, but the hebrew word in the old text simply means ‘bad’. to the hebrews it appears there was just good and bad.
i guess what the verse is really saying is that god decrees good things and bad things, but it is our lack of love, trust and faith in him that brings evil into this world.
just as a parent judges it’s child’s behaviour as good or bad and rewards or punishes accordingly, so it is that god rewards and punishes on the basis of good and bad behavior. the difference is – he is loving, good, just, fair and forgiving – unlike so many human parents.
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