Can God be evil?

Several months ago, I watched a powerful film on PBS called God On Trial. The movie is set during the Holocaust, and a group of Jewish men hold a trial to see if God is guilty of breaking his covenant with the Jewish people. This is an incredible story about ‘the problem of evil,’ the nature of God, atheism, faith, etc., and I have been unable to stop thinking about it for six months now. Here is why:

During the trial, one of the Rabbis lists all of the evil things God has done in the Torah. Genocide, cruelty, killing the innocent, etc. He then says that “[God] is not good, He is not good…He has just been on our side.”

This has, quite literally, troubled my sleep. What if God isn’t good? I mean, in His own book, in the Old Testament, He does some pretty horrific stuff. If God is not good, or not all good, a lot of what’s wrong with our world become explicable. So…how do we know that God is good when He Himself has done things that are not good?

Eli Wiesel, the author of Night, says that the trial actually took place when he was a child in Auschwitz. After God was found guilty, the Rabbis all went off to pray. Talk about faith, huh?

God is all good. 100% Good. 0% evil. Not 99.999999% good. 100%!

He does permit evil in order to bring about a greater good.

[quote=1 John 4:8]He who does not love does not know God; for God is love.

No. Evil indicates the absence of love. God is love.

No God can not be evil because God is a part of the Trinity and the Trinity is life and goodness itself and can not create evil. God the Father allows evil but is not evil Himself.

But does God do evil? Or is He beyond good and evil? For example, in Exodus, God kills all of the innocent Egyptian children. Is that act evil? Sounds evil to me.

Well, from my understanding of God, it seems as though he’s a very complex figure. There’ve been times in which it’s hard to believe that he’s good and good only, Exodus being a good example.

The first adjective that comes to mind when contemplating God’s characteristics would be “Just”. He’s at times wrathful, but I wouldn’t go as far as to call him evil. What he does, he does to keep the good-natured qualities in man.

I also believe that not all is orchestrated by God, and such an evil event as the Holocaust couldn’t have been His doing. Satin, he who represents negativity and evil, would’ve had more of a hand in this than God in my mind.

Humans judging God. That’s rich. We know God is pure good, because He has proven it. When Scripture presents hard things, they are nothing more than the limits of our ability to understand. Eternity is forever. If GOD chooses to kill in the OT, what’s it to you? If those killed had the same opportunity to choose love or hate first (and I rather suspect they did) then what’s the difference? Eternity is more than just a long time! :wink:

We can’t see it that way because we are still limited by time and space. He’s not. Trust Him.

Well, above all, that’s up to you. To some people, God seems like a very evil force, god, deity, myth, among other names. They get this idea through sources other than this movie. These sources… well, I couldn’t say–I might get banned. :eek:

Others just see him as the god they were taught about growing up… which is fine, of course. No shame in that. :shrug:

I guess the real question is: Do you think God is evil? because this question is subjective.

Ironically Yours, Blade and Blood

War, genocide, murder…I get that. Free will.
Hurricanes, diseases, earthquakes…I get that, too. That’s just how this world operates.
God killing Egyptian babies, among other things? That I don’t get.
God is a mystery. His ways are not my ways. Still.
He gave me reason.
Now I’m using it.

How is that evil? He created those lives, He can end them when and how He pleases. It’s like if I build something, and then the next day decide to tear it down. I built it, I can do with it as I please.

Also, death is not the end. If it were, then it might be bad. Those children are alive now. Since a good number probably never reached the age of reason, I’d hope that they are in Heaven. And they’d all agree that they are better off now…

You raise a deep, philosophical question about the nature of God, and Jewish Rabbi’s may well answer that differently to how a Christian might answer that. A Jewish Rabbi has a different frame of reference with regard to the divine nature and what revelation might be. Moreover, this fictitious account of this “trial of God” has the Rabbi make a statement about the nature of God (not good) and then posit a dualistic God who takes sides (is this defensible?).

Wrapped up in this is the problem of evil in a dualistic world view, which the Holocaust was all about. Shoah posed deep problems for Rabbinical scholars and teachers.

Christians handle the mystery of suffering and evil in a different way.

Again you raise issues about the philosophy of God and raise a hypothetical question about the nature of God. Problem is, you do not start with a foundation and you are saying various things are attributes of God. If you have not defined God for yourself, then how can you say what his attributes are?

Next, do not attribute human qualities nor human motives to God. God is not human, we are. God is not dualistic, we are. God is both immanent and transcendent in this dualistic world, of it, and beyond it. You cannot say “God does evil” if God is spirit, permeating and within all that is. You attributing a quality of human action unto God. God is not human, God is beyond that.

Metaphor, now there is new territory.

Metaphor, now there is new territory.

Excellent post, Saieditor. Thank you.

If the story is a metaphor…what lesson are we to learn about God’s nature? Could all of the adult Egyptians been guilty, and therefore punishable by God? Was God trying to make a point? It’s a powerful story, obviously.

The God of the Old Testament is completely different than the God of the New Testament. Does God change His nature with the coming of his son? Or does Jesus somehow intervene for us and soften God’s nature?

God is good. He cannot act evil. He can permit evil, to use it to save souls, but He cannot act evil. It is against His Nature. And nowhere in the Bible dose He commit evil. It is evil, though, for man to accuse God of evil.

Nope, God can never be evil. God is holy. He has always been holy and always will be holy.

So…God is beyond good and evil, since He is the author of both?
Or what seems evil to us is actually good if God does it?
Or…is He just so beyond our ability to understand that we should just accept that what He does, He does?

That’s the whole point of the book of Job.

Don’t forget, there’s plenty we don’t see. The spiritual battle in progress as alluded to at the beginning of the book of Job. So not only do we have a fallen nature to contend with, we don’t even have complete information about what’s really going on. That’s why we trust Him.

God is good. God is incapable of anything bad. PBS is bad.

How can a good God be evil? That is a contradiction to me. Besides, since a loving God always chastises those He loves couldn’t the Holocaust be His means of chastisement to
bring His people to the realization of the salvific sacrifice of His Son? His ways and means are not always to our understanding.

Anyway as Bill Cosby used to say “I brought you into this world, and I can take you out of this world!”.


Shalom Aleichem

It is not evil for God to take someones life, since He is the sole giver AND taker of life. Everyone who has ever died was at God’s command.
It is anthropomorphic to say that it is wrong for God to take life since it is wrong for man.

The problem is that God is supposedly the creator of everything. He created everything on earth, the earth itself, and even the laws of nature. God is omnipotent, so he could have created a world that was the same except without natural catastrophes. The only way that such catastrophes are consistent with an infinitely good God is if every single disaster does more good than bad and there was no possible way that God could have done that much good with less bad. So there must have been a whole lot of good to offset huge natural disasters like floods in China that have killed millions of people.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit