To help answer this question it’s important that we define the word ‘evil’. Here are two possible definitions:
- Sin, wrongdoing or wickedness
- Calamity; something causing harm, injury or suffering
So we could ask two further questions:
Did God create immorality, wickedness or sin?
No. The Bible is very clear that God is the source of goodness, righteousness and love (See Psalm 136:1, Psalm 7:9, 1 John 4:7-8). So who did create this kind of evil? The Bible reveals that sin was and still is created by humans. We were made with free will; having the choice to do good and evil. Adam sinned (See Genesis 3:17) and has passed mortality on to every generation since and the same potential to do evil:
“Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned…For as by the one man’s (Adam’s) disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s (Jesus’) obedience the many will be made righteous.” (Romans 5:12, 19)
Jesus is the key to overcoming this kind of evil. He recognised that this sinful kind of evil originated from humans.
“For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person.” (Matthew 15:19-20)
Does God create calamity; harm, injury or suffering?
Yes. There is no doubt that the sinful actions of men and women can create much harm and injury. However, the actions of God and Jesus can involve suffering too (See Hebrews 12:5-6, Revelation 3:19). The difference is in the motive. The majority of suffering caused by humans is linked to greed, anger, lust and pride etc. The suffering caused by God is out of love; it is righteous and for our good.
For further thoughts on God and suffering click here.
The following quote from Isaiah 45 in the King James Version of the Bible may be confusing to some; if the first definition of evil (sin) is considered. The modern translations like the ESV use the word calamity instead:
“I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.” (Isaiah 45:7 KJV)
“I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create calamity, I am the LORD, who does all these things.” (Isaiah 45:7 ESV)