Why did God create evil? If God planned everything, why did He plan for really bad things to happen? The answer I hear is that God needed to create bad in order to be good. That makes no sense, if he had the power to do all things then he would be able to show us all things good without having to create a bad. If it’s to get credit for the good then he should get credit for the bad too. But then, he’s not God.
This is a huge and troubling question for a lot of people, so I’m glad you looked into it and are seeking truth. And it sounds like you’ve heard people use a “freedom defense” when explaining how/why a good and loving God could be responsible for a universe with this much pain and suffering in it.
I want to clarify something that maybe others haven’t make clear. It is not true that in order for God to be good he needed to create bad. What is true is that for God to create beings who can know and understand and participate in a love relationship, love required the possibility of bad. In other words, what God created, when he created people in his image, is not evil, but FREEDOM.
FREEDOM ISN’T A DEFECT
Freedom, is actually good, not bad. This is huge point of clarification. Some assume when they hear about free will, that this is a defect in creation. But freedom is no defect. It’s a moral good. Whatever a good God makes is good. God is therefore not creating a horrible world of evil, then comes along to fix it, and wants the credit for being awesome. No. God is rather, in the Christian view, creating a world of free moral agents, who have the capacity to return love and so fully participate in God’s loving nature. And yet freedom, for it to be really free, must include the possibility of more than one option. If there’s no possibility of evil, freedom isn’t really free.
If God made us with the capacity to only choose him (the good) all the time, we would be far less free, and in that sense, less Good. Or maybe less like God. Instead, he chooses to make us more like Him, not less, which means with more freedom than any other creature on earth.
FREER IS BETTER
An amoeba has a very limited range of freedom, but it can seek out food and avoid threats. That’s about all the freedom it has. Mostly, it’s a biological machine running on instincts. A butterfly has more freedom, but not much, a fish more still, and a dog even more. The higher/better the creature, the MORE free, not less. So only man has MORAL freedom, which means he can choose to obey God’s good way, or not. This is an awesome, good gift, because it means only we, of all God’s creatures, can participate in God’s nature the way we do.
You see, this is all good. This is not God creating bad. But of course, we must recognize that to create truly free moral agents, they must have the capacity to not choose God. And when we do so choose, then it is WE who bring evil into the world, not God. Now, I suppose you could maintain your objection to God’s plan by saying God surely knew that evil would come if he gave such freedom to people. Yes, he surely knew that freedom would eventually bring evil, and death and holocausts and so on. But such was the importance of love, that God apparently thought that creating freedom was a risk worth taking.
A RISKY WORLD
So you may maintain your complaint against God, but only if you could prove that evils which freedom brought, could never be offset by corresponding goods that freedom brought. Is a universe in which evil cannot be chosen, because God won’t allow it, a better universe? Such a universe would be a toy universe. It would be like the world you and I as kids made playing make-believe with toy trucks or dolls, where ALL the decisions are really decisions made by us, not by our toys. It’s not a real world. Instead of that situation, we are told, God chose to make a real world, a risky world.
And the reason, is not because God wants the credit for making something bad and then fixing it. The reason is because God wants us to share in his nature, and the only way we can do that is to love, and love must be freely chosen. Or else it isn’t love. Can you coerce love? Can a computer, programmed to only do one thing, love? No.
ONLY POSSIBLE UNIVERSE
So all the bad in the world that God has allowed into the picture by making us FREE, tells us – screams to us – how important love is to God. For the sake of it, for the sake of us knowing his nature fully, he thought the risk of evil worth taking. You make say it wasn’t worth taking, but then you are really voting to not exist. Is it better to exist than to not exist? This is the price, in some sense, of existence in a free universe. Could there be a different kind of universe? Maybe. But it’s very doubtful it could be a universe that would have the potential to maximize the most number of creatures, experiencing the MOST of God’s good nature. For that, this universe we’re in (with all its evil) may be the ONLY possible one.