Simple Liberty  



God is an Anarchist

The Problem of Evil

Written by Darrell Anderson.

Many people have written about the problem of evil. The concept of evil is much like any other idea: a subjective perception and interpretation. Evil is usually defined as anything that is not good and often is used in the context of what happens to people. Many people would consider themselves to be good and not evil. Indeed, within the interpretations of many people, evil almost always exists only in other people.

A general challenge for religious people — those who choose to believe in God — is that the concurrent existence of evil and God presents several demanding questions. If God is truly omnipotent, then why doesn’t he eliminate evil? If God is all-loving, then why does he allow evil to exist? Is God limited in some manner by the problem of evil, and if so, do those limitations contradict the foundational definition of what God is supposed to be?

I can provide only my own observations and thoughts. I pretend to submit no final explanation or solutions. I am ignorant — a creature of limited knowledge. However, I do submit that the problem of evil becomes clearer when inspected from the perspective of property rights and the foundational principle of not trespassing.

The easiest approach for many people is to eliminate God — become an atheist or agnostic. The problem of evil does not go away for such people, but God is no longer part of the question. Without God, evil can be explained simply by referring to jungle law. Of course, this remedy does not exist for those people who choose to believe God exists.

Within the Judeo-Christian heritage, much has been written about the many covenants God has allegedly made with humans. Covenants are essentially contracts, but with one notable difference — covenants are irrevocable. Yet, despite many writings and authors, one covenant I seldom see people write about is the covenant of design.

Presuming that the God of the Bible created the universe with certain rules to govern and regulate operation, and because covenants are irrevocable, then by design God cannot change the operational rules. As with any contract, to change the rules would be to renege and to destroy the trust the parties must have in the arrangement. All contracts provide boundaries and those boundaries provide known limitations of action.

All but one of the universal principles are physical in nature. The one principle that is not physical is the principle of human free will. The Judeo-Christian tradition declares that God created humans with the power to choose freely.

With respect to the physical laws of the universe, free will is irrelevant. Jump off a cliff if you think your free will can overcome the force of gravity. With respect to human interaction, however, free will is foundational. From most observations, this ability to choose seems irrevocable. In other words, humans possess a power to choose, even when those decisions are harmful to other people. By design, humans cannot become automatons.

Therefore, by simple argument, if God exists then in one sense he is indeed limited in his options, but those limitations result from God’s own voluntary design and covenant, not any internal limitation.

Yet, couldn’t God eradicate evil, or at least certain evil people? If one accepts the Biblical version of Judeo history, then those stories provide reports that God had indeed intervened on occasion. For example, according to those ancient stories there was a great flood. That solution was total, with only a handful of humans surviving. Yet, as any reader discovers, eventually the problem of evil returned. The message seems to be that annihilation is no solution at all unless annihilation is absolute.

There are other Biblical examples, but those moments are all temporary interventions for specific situations. In those moments when God allegedly intervenes, evil never was eliminated but only curtailed. Yet, within the context of those stories, perhaps the point with all of the examples is that God could eliminate evil but did not.

Thus, within that same context, the simple reason God cannot eliminate evil is that to eliminate evil requires either eliminating all humans or altering the power of human free will. By choice — by covenant, God is bound to do neither.

According to the Judeo-Christian heritage, if the power of free will is to possess meaning, then God does not want humans coercively ruling other humans. Similarly, the Biblical stories seem to indicate that God does not want to rule humans either. God wants only reciprocating voluntary relationships. The concept of love becomes meaningless if free will is meaningless.

Therefore, if God exists then he personally never will eliminate evil. He cannot. Additionally, he expects humans to eliminate evil by exercising their free will.

All philosophical anarchists recognize at least one fundamental principle: do not trespass. To understand this principle is to understand from a Biblical perspective why God cannot or will not interfere with human actions. To interfere without invitation is to trespass. To trespass is to violate his covenant of design and to violate free will.

There is a difference between self-interest and greed. To understand that difference means understanding the source of evil. The source of evil is within every human. When any individual perverts self-interest into greed there then exists a willingness to usurp the boundaries of other people — a willingness to covet and trespass. That is how evil perpetuates.

One solution then to reduce the problem of evil is for all people to recognize the fundamental right to live quiet and peaceable lives and to use resources. With a fundamental property rights approach, no individual would be deprived of ownership without explicit consent and a willingness to depart with that resource — either through voluntary exchange or through charity.

Such a straightforward approach means abolishing all statist philosophical systems. Through such belief systems people are continually deprived of resources. Statist social systems are environments that continually encourage trespassing against other people. This trespass is achieved directly by local tinhorns, and indirectly through people substituting ballots for bullets. The end result is always the same — theft under the color of law.

To many people, a world that abides by only one simple principle seems utopic and idealistic. Perhaps, yet simple observation of children demonstrates that every human inherently understands the concept of “mine and thine” and understands that no human has standing to rule other humans. Only through the brainwashing machinations of statists are these fundamental understandings suppressed.

A straightforward reading of the Jewish and Christian Bibles reveals this fundamental principle. The golden rule provided by Jesus of Nazareth to love God and to love your neighbor is the fundamental law of do not trespass. The entire Mosaic Law can be summarized into the one law of do not steal; and that is another way of declaring do not trespass. One of the first stories of human action told in the Jewish Bible is about Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. The wrong committed by Adam and Eve was one of trespass.

Thus, my thesis is this: with respect to humans, evil exists because humans choose evil. They inflict evil upon each other because they want to. When people pervert natural self-interest into greed, and willfully usurp boundaries through trespass, humans voluntarily choose to perpetuate evil.

Perhaps the cartoon character Pogo best summarized the problem of evil, “We have met the enemy and he is us.” Pogo was merely characterizing a critical message witnessed throughout history.

Do you want to eradicate evil? Then stop distorting natural self-interest into greed. Stop coveting and being willing to usurp the boundaries of other people in order to satisfy your self-interests. Stop stealing under the color of law.

Do not trespass.


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