There are options because of free will - not free will because there are options. The very things that we might find optional do not exist as options - at least not conceptually - in the animal kingdom. So without free will there cannot ever be any options that are conceptually based. Meanwhile we have the ability to choose even when there aren’t any choices to be made. Options merely provide an opportunity for us to exercise our free will ability which we already possess before they actually present themselves.
If evil is an option, and NOTHING exists that is not created by God, then God did indeed create evil, if only as an option, hoping, even though he knew it wouldn’t pan out, that humans wouldn’t choose it.
God is omniscient, or else He isn’t God, as we perceive Him to be. And since God knows all things that shall happen in real time, He is not in any position to hope for anything. Hope is a consolation for finite beings like ourselves who are prone to being uncertain. Surely God foresaw the fall of man, but He did not will that mankind should fall from His grace or that creation itself should be plagued by an inordinate self-interest among things. He has simply permitted freedom in the created order in view of a greater good.
If God is the standard by which we know good and evil, for God to be known to be good (or so I am told) then evil must exist so we can notice the difference…and thus have the free will to choose. So again, God had to have created evil, if only so we could see, and thus choose, how good He is.
Obviously if we know the difference between right and wrong, then we are in a position to choose either of them in our actions. Perhaps God permitted the fall to happen in order for us to demonstrate our genuine love for Him above all created things. But He made sure that it would not be impossible for us to resist evil - that which isn’t good - by giving us sufficient grace to be able to direct our wills to what is good and pleasing to Him. If we notice a difference between what is good and evil, it is not so much that God had created a duality of positive forces in order to test us, but rather we simply acknowledge that which isn’t good and might be more appealing to us. We couldn’t perceive anything as evil unless we first knew what is good in its proper measure according to our conscience. Love is good and originates from God who is love, but an inordinate self-love isn’t. Selfishness is an evil, but it is something that arises from within ourselves. God expects us to love ourselves, but in proper measure. Certainly we cannot hold God morally culpable for our own selfishness.
God must also have created temptation, otherwise we would again, not really have the option of choosing because we wouldn’t see any option other than to go happily about the garden of Eden.
Temptations arise from the order of creation. And they are more difficult to overcome because of Satan’s involvement in it. God blamed the devil for what he had told Eve (cf. Gen 3:14). But He let it happen for a good purpose. God intervenes only if something will thwart His final good purpose, which isn’t that we should offend Him by doing something that isn’t good.
Where did the snake come from? Where did Satan come from? How could they choose evil if God hadn’t given them the choice AND the temptation to opt for that choice?
God has given us the freedom to choose between right and wrong - nothing more.
- No one, when tempted, should say, ‘I am being tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted by evil and he himself tempts no one.
James 1, 13*
A quote from the Bible has already been shared where God says He created evil.
Permitting evil is not creating it. God knew what Jack the Ripper would do to those poor prostitutes when he created him, but He didn’t create the man to be a serial killer. God is responsible for having created a man who turned out to be a grizzly murderer, but He is not morally responsible for that man’s wicked deeds. Moral responsibility lies with us, or else there can’t be any justice or cause for the divine wrath.
He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he.
Deuteronomy 32, 4
For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace,
1 Corinthians 14, 33
What is evil for us to do, may not be evil for God, the parameters are very different. We see it as evil, and perhaps God sees it as a “necessary evil” and thus, to our chagrin, good.
It’s because something is evil for God, that what we do might be evil in His sight.
Against you, you only, I have sinned and done what is evil in your sight.
Psalm 51, 4