Dear friends, I am a student in the last year of Liceo Classico. I am very passionate about philosophy and also theology. There is one point on which I want to sufficiently reflect upon and it is that which concerns the relationship between God and Evil. I know that Catholic Theology states that God is only Good and He is not Evil. My question is this: is this affirmation only of faith, or can it also be founded on reason?
Dear …, human reason can not only arrive at the certainty of the existence of God, but also at the knowledge of some of his characteristics. “Some”, because God cannot be totally understood by the human mind: a glass cannot contain all the water of the sea; man, who is finite, cannot contain God, who is infinite. Well, among the characteristics that can be rationally known there is also and above all the love of God. Let’s see how. Follow me through these steps.
First: God did not create us out of necessity. If God had created us out of necessity, it would mean that God is not absolute; and, if he were not absolute, God would no longer be God. God exists and is such because He is absolute, that is, everything depends on Him, but He does not depend on anything.
Second: If God did not create us out of necessity, he means that he did it freely.
Third: To create freely means to create for love and for nothing else. Let’s assume that God created us to see us suffer. Well, in this case, wanting to be aware of something would still imply a necessity and this is not possible by the nature of God.
Fourth: The only rationally acceptable explanation is that God created us out of love, out of pure gratuitousness, without being able to receive anything from us that could satisfy him. Let us not forget that God, in His infinity, can only be satisfied with himself. Let’s take this example: Imagine that we are on the quay of a port, we take some water from a bottle and pour it into the sea, would we see the sea level rise? Certainly not. Well, the difference between the sea and half a bottle of water is infinitely (infinitely!) less than that between God and man.
So, dear …, the only rational explanation is to admit the love of God, who, in creating us, acted disinterestedly, because he could have received nothing from us: he wanted others to participate in his being, in life … and freely and gratuitously created us.
Therefore, in creating us, God manifested himself as love and from this we can logically conclude that God is only love.
Someone, however, might object: if it is true that God created freely and gratuitously, who tells us that, in addition to being good, God cannot also be bad?
Answer: it must be said that opposition may exist in God, but not contradiction. In God justice and mercy can coexist, but not justice and non-justice; nor mercy and non-mercy and so love and non-love, which means good and evil.
Second objection: if God is omnipotent, he can do everything; and if he can do everything, he could also do evil.
Answer: God is almighty, but precisely because he is, he cannot do evil. In fact, evil is not being but it is lack of being, this is because God is only love and he cannot have the contradiction in himself. Therefore, the lack of being is caused by the one who has the deficiency (like the creature), but not by the one who is omnipotent.
Therefore, from eternity only Love exists because only God exists from eternity. Evil has not always existed: it is the result of a choice to deprive oneself of the Good, that is, of God. Saint Augustine, in fact, affirms that evil is the deprivation of Good.
And if, dear …, Saint Augustine says so … I think it can be most assuredly trusted.
(From La buona battaglia. Apologetica cattolica in domande e risposte, 2019©Chorabooks. Translated by Aurelio Porfiri. Used with permission of the publisher. All rights reserved)