Evidence of evil as support for atheism

by Matt Slick

This dialogue is short and to the point.  The atheist tries to use the existence of evil as a support for the validity of atheism, but he cannot claim this as an evidence.

I began this dialogue by posting a link that someone sent me regarding a discussion I had with another atheist.  It generated the following conversation.

Helios: Atheism doesn't suck, matt.
Matt: It doesn't? Why not?
Helios: I would say that as it is true, it doesn't.  Although I still need time to justify that fully.
Matt: How do you know atheism is true?
Helios: Just as we conclude anything--through the examination of evidence.
Matt: Okay, so how do you know that atheism is the true position?
Helios: Matt, from what I've seen so far, it would seem that atheism is the correct position.
Matt: Why?  What have you seen that says there is no God?
Helios: A combination of positive and negative arguments.
Matt: Such as?
Helios: Well, an example of a positive argument would be the Problem of Evil, and an example of a negative argument would be a refutation of, say, fine-tuning.
Matt: Let's do one at a time. What problem of evil?
Helios: It's worth saying that I dispute the titles of "strong" and "weak".  Matt, I'm currently having some problems with the internet. However, as far as I can remember (this is fairly sketchy) the abundance of evil in the world shows God is not all loving.
Matt: Two things: First of all, you haven't defined what evil is nor established a condition by which you can recognize it.  Second, the Bible does not say God is all-loving.  If you are an atheist, you need to have the standard by which you can recognize what is and is not evil. You don't have such a standard.
Helios: Ok, Matt. The Problem of Evil functions by what the theist calls evil. As for the second point, I was under the impression that omni-benevolence was something attributed to God.
Matt: The Bible does not say that God is omni-benevolent. God is also just, holy, righteous, et cetera. Whenever you exalt one attribute of God and say that that is all he is, you will end up with problems.
Helios: Matt, do you think that a lack of an objective moral standard in atheism is an argument against it?
Matt: All I am saying is that without a standard (something more than your subjective opinion about what is and is not moral), you have no right to say what is and is not evil.
Helios: Matt, I think you misunderstood me.  I mean a literal reference i.e. the argument written down.
Matt: I don't understand what you mean. Can you please clarify?
Helios: But I genuinely am curious as to whether Christians believe a lack of an objective moral standard in atheism falsifies it.
Matt: Please hold on. Can you clarify.  I want to know by what standard you judge what is and is not evil.
Helios: Matt, when I speak of a reference I mean something to "reference to" ( for example, a book or website)  Clarified?
Matt: No.  What standards you have to judge what is and is not evil?
Helios: Matt, currently, I don't know of an objective moral standard. It's something that needs looking into.
Matt: Okay, if you don't have an objective moral standard, what standard do you have regarding morality?
Helios: Matt, as I said- not until I've got everything I need.  I wouldn't want to be arguing from ignorance.
Matt: Okay, then let's bypass the fine-tuning argument. Do you have anything you'd like to offer to substantiate the validity that there is no God?
Helios: Nope, not at the moment
Matt: Okay, fair enough.






This dialogue illustrates the problem atheists have with appealing to the problem of evil as the validity for their position and as an argument against God.  If there is no standard by which a person may judge what is or is not evil, the argument that evil means there is no God, cannot stand.

Please consider the following arguments from the paper Why is there evil and suffering in the world? as possible reasons for the existence of evil in the world:  First of all, it is possible that God has reasons for allowing evil to exist that we simply cannot understand.  Second, God may be letting evil run its course in order to prove that evil is evil, and that suffering, which is the unfortunate product of evil, is further proof that anything contrary to God’s will is bad, harmful, painful, and leads to death.  A third possible reason that God is letting evil occur is so that on the day of judgment, the condemned will have no right to say that their sentence is unjust.  Fourth, it is quite possible that God uses the suffering to do good.  In other words, He produces patience through tribulation (Rom. 5:3), or He may desire to save someone through it.


About The Author

Matt Slick is the President and Founder of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry.