Does God Create Evil?
by Cory Tucholski
I am the one who forms light and creates darkness; the one who brings about peace and creates calamity. I am the Lord, who accomplishes all these things. (Is 45:7 NET)
Quite often, the theist asserts that God doesn’t create evil, but he allows it to happen for reasons his own. Some atheists, however, throw Isaiah 45:7 back at the theist. They inevitably use an older translation, usually the King James Version, where instead of using “calamity,” as the NET Bible does above, we read that God “brings peace and creates evil.”
In 2007, the website Daylight Atheism brought that verse to light in its series on little-known Bible verses:
The problem of evil has vexed Christian theologians for nearly two millennia, burdening them with the impossible task of explaining how so much evil and suffering could exist in a cosmos overseen by an omnipotent, omniscient, and perfectly good deity. A wide variety of answers have been proposed to this problem, all of which are as imaginative as they are insufficient. But all this scholarly ink need not have been spilled: the Bible itself tells Jews and Christians exactly where evil comes from.
Then, Isaiah 45:7 from some unspecified version where “evil” instead of “calamity” appears is presented, followed by:
There you have it, folks – straight, as it were, from the horse’s mouth. Evil exists because God created it. All you theologians can pack it in and go home now.
But is that really the case? As we’re about to find out, no. The atheist totally mishandles the original text. In fact, the “proof” offered by Daylight Atheism that evil (rather than calamity) is the correct translation only proves that “calamity” is the correct translation.
It’s all Hebrew to Me!
I’m not a Hebrew scholar by any stretch of the imagination, but I can play one on the Internet thanks to easy access to a lot of relevant research. The NET Bible helps immensely. Let’s take a quick peek at the Hebrew word that has sparked this debate…
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