The problem of moral evil may be divided into two separate questions:
Why does God allow human beings to commit evils?
Why do evil things happen to good people (and good things often happen to evil people)?
Saint Augustine attempted to deal with this issue by denying the actual existence of moral evil. What we perceive as evil is, he argued, merely distance from God. Hell is the ultimate alienation from God.
- Although this argument appeals powerfully to many modern thinkers, it is essentially un-Christian. The Bible portrays Satan and sin as active, independent forces against which one must struggle, not mere voids.
- This is mere playing with words. Clearly if to be with God is good, to be distant from him is evil. Evil exists even if it is called "the absence of goodness."
- In any case, this argument does not deal with the original question. It is still not clear how a perfect, all-powerful God can allow anything to be at a distance from himself. Indeed, in conventional theology God is omnipresent (present everywhere), both in the physical universe and in the moral universe. The Bible itself states that he is as familiar with Sheol as with Heaven. The very concept of distance from God contradicts his nature.
Return to beginning.