The following apologetic article was written by GotQuestions, and can therefore be found at www.GotQuestions.org.
Question: “Did God create evil?”
Answer: At first it might seem that if God created all things, then evil must have been created by God. However, evil is not a “thing” like a rock or electricity. You cannot have a jar of evil. Evil has no existence of its own; it is really the absence of good. For example, holes are real but they only exist in something else. We call the absence of dirt a hole, but it cannot be separated from the dirt. So when God created, it is true that all He created was good. One of the good things God made was creatures who had the freedom to choose good. In order to have a real choice, God had to allow there to be something besides good to choose. So, God allowed these free angels and humans to choose good or reject good (evil). When a bad relationship exists between two good things we call that evil, but it does not become a “thing” that required God to create it.
Perhaps a further illustration will help. If a person is asked, “Does cold exist?” the answer would likely be “yes.” However, this is incorrect. Cold does not exist. Cold is the absence of heat. Similarly, darkness does not exist; it is the absence of light. Evil is the absence of good, or better, evil is the absence of God. God did not have to create evil, but rather only allow for the absence of good.
God did not create evil, but He does allow evil. If God had not allowed for the possibility of evil, both mankind and angels would be serving God out of obligation, not choice. He did not want “robots” that simply did what He wanted them to do because of their “programming.” God allowed for the possibility of evil so that we could genuinely have a free will and choose whether or not we wanted to serve Him.
As finite human beings, we can never fully understand an infinite God (Romans 11:33-34). Sometimes we think we understand why God is doing something, only to find out later that it was for a different purpose than we originally thought. God looks at things from a holy, eternal perspective. We look at things from a sinful, earthly, and temporal perspective. Why did God put man on earth knowing that Adam and Eve would sin and therefore bring evil, death, and suffering on all mankind? Why didn’t He just create us all and leave us in heaven where we would be perfect and without suffering? These questions cannot be adequately answered this side of eternity. What we can know is whatever God does is holy and perfect and ultimately will glorify Him. God allowed for the possibility of evil in order to give us a true choice in regards to whether we worship Him. God did not create evil, but He allowed it. If He had not allowed evil, we would be worshiping Him out of obligation, not by a choice of our own will.
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Chapter provided by Biblegateway:
I ask, then, has God rejected his people?Absolutely not! For I too am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin. 2 God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew. Or don’t you know what the Scripture says in the passage about Elijah—how he pleads with God against Israel? 3
Lord, they have killed your prophets and torn down your altars. I am the only one left, and they are trying to take my life![a]
4 But what was God’s answer to him?
I have left seven thousand for myself who have not bowed down to Baal.[b]
5 In the same way, then, there is also at the present time a remnant chosen by grace. 6 Now if by grace,then it is not by works; otherwise grace ceases to be grace.[c]
7 What then? Israel did not find what it was looking for, but the elect did find it. The rest were hardened, 8 as it is written,
God gave them a spirit of stupor,
eyes that cannot see
and ears that cannot hear,
to this day.[d]
9 And David says,
Let their table become a snare and a trap,
a pitfall and a retribution to them.
10 Let their eyes be darkened so that they cannot see,
and their backs be bent continually.[e]
11 I ask, then, have they stumbled so as to fall? Absolutely not! On the contrary, by their transgression, salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel jealous. 12 Now if their transgression brings riches for the world, and their failure riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their fullness bring!13 Now I am speaking to you Gentiles. Insofar as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry, 14 if I might somehow make my own people[f] jealous and save some of them.15 For if their rejection brings reconciliation to the world, what will their acceptance mean but life from the dead? 16 Now if the firstfruits are holy, so is the whole batch. And if the root is holy, so are the branches.17 Now if some of the branches were broken off, and you, though a wild olive branch, were grafted in among them and have come to share in the rich root[g] of the cultivated olive tree, 18 do not boast that you are better than those branches. But if you do boast—you do not sustain the root, but the root sustains you.19 Then you will say, “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.” 20 True enough; they were broken off because of unbelief, but you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but beware,[h] 21 because if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either. 22 Therefore, consider God’s kindness and severity: severity toward those who have fallen but God’s kindness toward you—if you remain in his kindness. Otherwise you too will be cut off. 23 And even they, if they do not remain in unbelief, will be grafted in, because God has the power to graft them in again. 24 For if you were cut off from your native wild olive tree and against nature were grafted into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these—the natural branches—be grafted into their own olive tree?25 I don’t want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers and sisters, so that you will not be conceited: A partial hardening has come upon Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. 26 And in this way all[i]Israel will be saved, as it is written,
The Deliverer will come from Zion;
he will turn godlessness away from Jacob.
27 And this will be my covenant with them[j]
when I take away their sins.[k]
28 Regarding the gospel, they are enemies for your advantage, but regarding election, they are loved because of the patriarchs, 29 since God’s gracious gifts and calling are irrevocable.[l] 30 As you once disobeyed God but now have received mercy through their disobedience, 31 so they too have now disobeyed, resulting in mercy to you, so that they also may now[m] receive mercy. 32 For God has imprisoned all in disobedience so that he may have mercy on all.33 Oh, the depth of the riches and the wisdom and the knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments
and untraceable his ways!
34 For who has known the mind of the Lord?
Or who has been his counselor?
35 And who has ever given to God,
that he should be repaid?[n]
36 For from him and through him
and to him are all things.
To him be the glory forever. Amen.
Footnotes11:3 1Kg 19:10,1411:4 1Kg 19:1811:6 Other mss add But if of works it is no longer grace; otherwise work is no longer work.11:8 Dt 29:4; Is 29:1011:9–10 Ps 69:22–2311:14 Lit flesh11:17 Other mss read the root and the richness11:20 Lit fear11:26 Or And then all11:26–27 Is 59:20–2111:27 Jr 31:31–3411:29 Or are not taken back11:31 Other mss omit now11:34–35 Jb 41:11; Is 40:13; Jr 23:18