If God, Why Evil? A New Way To Think About The Question
By: Norman L. Geisler
It would be fair to say I’m a Geisler fan. I have (at this writing) 60 of his books and have had the pleasure of meeting him in person a few years ago ago. I don’t agree with a great deal of what he says but he has produced many indispensable books every Christian can benefit from. Chief among them To Understand The Bible Look For Jesus, Baker Encyclopedia Of Christian Apologetics, Chosen But Free, Inerrancy (General Editor), When Critics Ask (with Thomas A. Howe), I Don’t Have Enough Faith To Be An Atheist (with Frank Turek), Is Rome The True Church (with Joshua M. Betancourt), Come Let Us Reason (with Ronald M. Brooks) and A General Introduction To The Bible (with William E. Nix). His latest book If God, Why Evil? is the focus of this review.
To start with the book itself is well written as would be expected from someone who has produced so many books over the decades. He does a good job presenting and defending his view while contrasting it with opposing ideas. No complaints here.
The book is, as the name suggests, a Theodicy. A Theodicy is an attempt to intellectually reconcile the existence of a good God with and an evil world. The author achieves this. He explainings what evil is, where it came from, why it continues, it’s purpose and ultimate future demise. This is also a good apologetic (an apologetic is a defense of the faith). Geisler answers objections to belief in God based upon evil and highlights how ultimately apart from belief in God the objections make no sense because with the existence of a Moral Law Giver there can be no moral and thus no transgression of the moral law and therfore no evil (an arguement made famous by C.S. Lewis in his classic Mere Christianity). This book is an excellent explanation of the topic and defense of the Christian faith.
It’s not all upside however. There are two major drawbacks to this work. The first is that it is dealing with this topic from a heavily philosophical (logical) perspective. This is a topic that requires a thorough Theological (study based on Bible doctrines) study. He completely neglects the Genesis account in his book except for in an appendix. This brings us to our next problem. The appendix presents several views on Genesis but clearly favors (though not endorses the view so perhaps Geisler does not actually believe it) the day-age creation theory (the belief that the days of Genesis are long periods of time the length of which we cannot know). To make things worse he favors an erroneous idea recently invented by William Dembski in his (horrendous) book The End Of Christianity (also an attempt at a Theodicy though probably the worst one ever written). The idea is that God created the world corrupt, decaying, cursed and full of sickness, suffering and death because He knew man would eventual sin. It differs from classic day-age creationism only in that in the classic model they used to claim God created natural evil because that’s just who He is. In the Dembski model he attempts to shift the blame of natural evil onto sin but still fails to overcome the problem that it still makes God the author of natural evil. I have to, therefore, question it’s orthodoxy for claiming that God created evil. This is both Theologically and philosophically repugnant. Theologically beacuse God is Holy. Holy literally means separate or set apart. That means God is separate from evil. Philosophically, how could a good God created evil? If God created evil He would not be God because He would not be good. I could actually use the book to refute the appendix!
Overall I did enjoy this book. It wasn’t completely void of Scripture but was lacking. Also, in our days of compromise it’s hard to find a book that completely Biblical, this book is not an exception. If you can get past these problems the rest of the book is excellent.