Testing the hypothesis "God permits evil, he does not cause/ordain it"

Lets take the following example:

A guy standing on a sidewalk wants to cross the road. He hears nothing coming and so he walks out but is immediately knocked down and killed by a lorry.

Now, here’s what happened…

All our senses are a gift from God. Every sound that hits our ear, and then consequently computed by our brain to give us the sensation of sound, is a gift from God. Deaf people will tell you this in an instant. So, if God stops giving the gift of sound to the man about to cross the road (as God is under no obligation to give us any gift and can take it away at any time), when the man is killed by the lorry, has God simply permitted an evil act to take place or has God actively ordained/caused this evil act by removing the gift of hearing from the man as he was about to cross the road?

Did God permit or cause this to happen?

God is the first cause of all contingent beings. That includes us, the bus, and everything but God Himself, right down to the quarks and gluons that make us up. So in this sense, He is the cause.

However, if the question is whether God reaches out in a supernatural manner to bend the natural order, or whether he inhibits the free of individuals such that there are no secondary, imperfect factors, then the answer is no. God does not reach out in mysterious supernatural ways to cause everyone’s death. He permits the use of our free will. He permits secondary causes such as our will to direct themselves, and permits imperfections in things such that they don’t always achieve the ends they are designed for.

So, to summarize, in sustaining the natural order, God is the first cause of everything. However, God does not act in all things “supernaturally” to bend the rules of this natural order to bring about desired ends, and He permits free will and imperfections in things such that they operate naturally within the order of things in perfect and imperfect ways and even as culpable, free moral agents. The answer to your question is, of course, both, but in different ways.

Amm, yes He does. What you appear to be saying is there are no such things as miracles. And these do exist - the virgin birth for example.

Unless i’m misinterpreting what you’re saying.

Sorry, I didn’t state it very well. When I said he doesn’t *in all things *intervene in a supernatural way, I meant that most of reality carries on according to the natural order. God isn’t supernaturally moving the planets, or supernaturally holding an atom together, or supernaturally causing the lorry to hit the man crossing the street. Even though He is the first cause of the existence of the things in these events and the laws they obey, His relationship to these is entirely natural, and He allows these things (including free will) to operate according to the laws of reality. They obey the natural laws He sustains for creation. Certainly the virgin birth and the resurrection were miraculous (“supernatural”) interventions into the natural order. Transubstantiation is also a miraculous intervention into the natural order. But those are rare exceptions to the rule.

I guess my point was that there’s usually a presumption in this question that there is God on the one hand and the natural order/laws on the other, and that these are separate things. And so the question becomes “Does God reach into this thing separate from Himself to manipulate events? Or does he just permit them?” In reality, the natural order stems entirely from God, too. It’s not separate.

This is an interesting question.

We should make clear that no “evil act” is being committed here. Since God is the Creator, He has jurisdiction over our lives and can end our lives on this earth whenever He chooses. It is His right to do so.

Therefore, if God chooses to make the man unable to hear the lorry about to hit him, in order to end His life, God did not commit evil. God’s will was for the man’s life to end.

I don’t think your argument carries.

You’re saying that if something is Gods will, then whatever he does is not evil. I don’t think this carries. If it was Gods will that 6 million Jews should be killed in the holocaust, then you’re saying it was ok for 6 million Jews to die? …and if He caused 6 million Jews to die, then this was ok because it was Gods will?

I think the argument is that even if someone dies in bed at 98, God “kills” that person in exactly the same sense that He kills the fellow hit by a car or the Holocaust victims. That is, He permits their deaths through natural processes or the evil acts of others. It’s not just the “bad” or unusual deaths that God allows – He is in control of all life and death.

Well God has the right to dispense with our lives, does he not? He doesn’t owe anything to us in justice. He gives us MUCH in charity, and there are many things He does not do because He loves us that he COULD do.

Ultimately, it is against God’s nature to do evil, because evil is, itself, a repudiation of God’s nature. It’s basically a contradiction to state that God could do evil. Therefore, if God does something, it is by definition, not evil for Him to do it. This doesn’t mean that God makes evil into good by doing it though; that’s a contradiction, just like it would be a contradiction for Him to create an object “too heavy for Him to lift”.

It is wrong for a man to kill an innocent man because by doing so, he is USURPING God’s right to take that other man’s life when He chooses. It is not wrong for God to kill that same man because it is God’s right.

It’s a pretty weird way to think about it all, but ultimately, it holds together.

It’s God’s will to permit certain evil acts done by men.

That said, we must remember that the moral law is not an arbitrary imposition given to us. It is a natural extension of what we are, our design, what is appropriate to our nature as rational animals. God is not a rational animal. His divine nature is not human. What is natural and appropriate to God (if you’ll allow me to speak in this slightly anthropomorphic sense) is different than what is natural and appropriate to human nature.

This is not to deny God as good. That is exactly what He is. But He is not human, a rational animal, or a creature of any sort, either. In fact, He completely transcends all of these categories and that of any type of finite being.

To expand on this, what we are/have is not our own. We are but stewards of what God deigns to give us. When another man takes a life he is taking something that is not his. In fact, he is taking something that was entrusted to you by God. However, if God takes a life, He has every right to do so. All things are properly and first-most His. It is His more than it is yours. And we must also remember that all persons are immortal in that their soul is immortal. God’s justice and mercy extends after our earthly lives.

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