Psalms 10: The Problem of Evil

I have to admit that I really enjoy David’s honesty in Psalms 10. He begins the chapter with one of the biggest questions that humanity has ever had.

Psa 10:1  Why standest thou afar off, O LORD? why hidest thou thyself in times of trouble?

He is asking why God allows evil to happen. The rest of the chapter goes on to question why wicked people do so many things that we know God hates. The implication is that if God is able, which we believe He is because of His omnipotence, why does He allow evil people to do evil? David asked God to remember the difficulties that the humble people face because of this evil.

I have the feeling that this is one of the most serious challenges to your own personal faith. Evil is so tangible in the world that you have to wonder why a good God wouldn’t stop it. It is a basic application of the philosophical device known as modus ponens. This is what many nonbelievers will throw at you.

If God is good, all-powerful, and all-knowing, He would stop evil.

Evil still exists.

Therefore, a God that is good, all-powerful, and all-knowing must not exist.

There are a few things that we need to keep in mind when were confronted with this issue. First, to imply that there is evil implies some sense of objective morality which is a very important evidence for the existence of God. To claim that there is an objective law without an objective Lawgiver is something that is difficult for your opponent to claim. In fact, it will help us in our defense later.

However, I was listening to a lecture by Garrett DeWeese, and he presented a very interesting way to approach this proof.

The following proof is approximately equivalent to the one shown above.

If there is evil in the world, God must not exist.

There is evil in the world.

God must not exist.

Notice that this comes right out of the conclusion of the above proof. Also, remember that the definition we are using for evil is something that undermines God by the very nature of its existence. Even if we can’t specifically define every little thing that is evil or not, your opponent is claiming that the presence of evil undermines God.

Now, if you have something in modus ponens form, it is simple to transition into modus tollens form.

If there is evil in the world, God must not exist.

It is not the case that God must not exist.

Therefore, there is no evil in the world.

I think that I need to clarify a few things here. Again, evil is the term I’m using for this things that people say necessarily undermine the existence of God. For example, why don’t we talk about pain and suffering? To put that through my proof, my conclusion would not be that pain and suffering do not exist. My argument would be that the necessity of pain and suffering disproving the existence of God must not exist. This is a very important distinction. I hope that I made that clear.

The second thing that needs clarification is that second premise. Because there is a double negative, it is essentially saying that God does exist. This is where you break out the cosmological argument, the necessity of objective morality or the teleological argument. I don’t want to get into all of that here, but I did want to point out that that premise is a presupposition. It in and of itself has a set of proofs behind it.

The problem of evil is a serious one. We all have to face it on many levels. Obviously, we can talk about tragedies like the Holocaust and see the evil at work. However, I think that it is important to remember that this does not need to be something that undermines our faith.

About Zak Schmoll

Zak Schmoll is the founder of Entering the Public Square, and Managing Editor of An Unexpected Journal. He earned his MA in Apologetics at Houston Baptist University and is currently a PhD student in Humanities at Faulkner University. His work has been featured on several websites including The Federalist, Public Discourse and the Fourth World Journal.

Posted on November 22, 2013, in Psalms and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

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