It is written:
“Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty; You corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor; I cast you to the ground, I laid you before kings, That they might gaze at you.” (Ezekiel 28:17)
Having examined the definition of evil (and seeing especially that the fact of the moral law points undeniably to the existence of God), we need to now ask some more difficult questions. Indeed, these questions are ones that atheists often use in their attempts to destroy belief in God and His Word.
According to the Bible, when God created everything in the universe, He declared it was very good (Genesis 1:31). Indeed, this phrase means basically “the best that it could ever be.” At this time, there was no indication of evil in the universe, or at least within the universe of man. Adam and Eve were perfect (in the sense of having not been corrupted by sin).
The question obviously arises: how could perfectly created beings choose to sin?
Some will say that Satan is the instigator of sin. However, that excuse sure didn’t work for Eve (remember that she tried using that excuse in the beginning as Genesis 3 reveals). More to the point, even if we could somehow “pin the blame” on Satan (which we can’t), it just moves the question back further: how could Satan choose to sin, since he was also created perfect (cf. Ezekiel 28:15)?
Did someone “cause” Adam and Eve to sin?
Many of the ancient Gnostics (and their spiritual descendants, the followers of John Calvin) assert that God Himself led Adam and Eve to sin. For example, one Calvinist named Loraine Boettner has written:
“very obviously predetermined every Event which would happen…. even the sinful acts of men are included in this plan.” (Loraine Boettner ,The Reformed Doctrine Of Predestination, 24)
Later, he writes:
“Even the sinful actions of men [including Adam’s first sin] can occur only by his [God’s] permission. And since he permits not unwillingly but willingly, all that comes to pass—including the actions and ultimate destiny of men—must be, in some sense, in accordance with what he desired and purposed.” (Loraine Boettner, The Reformed Doctrine Of Predestination, 30)
Apparently (according to Calvinism), even the devil and the other fallen angels are only doing what God has predestined:
“He realizes that even the Devil and wicked men, regardless of whatever tumults they may cause, are not only restrained of God but are compelled to do His pleasure.” (Lorraine Boettner, The Reformed Doctrine Of Predestination, 6345 (Kindle Edition)
Despite the assertions of the Calvinists and others in our day and age, God is not responsible for moral evil within angelkind and humankind (cf. James 1:13-15; 1 John 1:5).
So then, what caused Adam and Eve (and Satan for the matter) to rebel against God?
Norman Geisler has well written:
“There had been no sin in the universe. There was a perfect God, a perfect place called heaven filled with perfect creatures called angels. How could sin arise under such perfect conditions? Who caused Lucifer to sin?… The best way to comprehend the basis of a free act is to examine the three possible alternatives. A free act is either uncaused, caused by another, or self-caused. That is, it is undetermined, determined by another, or self-determined. No action can be uncaused (undetermined); that would be a violation of the law of causality (every event has a cause). Neither can a free act be caused by another; for if someone or something else caused the action, then it is not ours (not from our free choice) and we would not be responsible for it. Hence all free actions must be self-caused, that is, caused by oneself. Now we can answer the question, “What caused Lucifer to sin?” No one did. He is the cause of his own sin. Sin is a self-caused action, one for which we cannot blame anyone or anything else. Who caused the first sin? Lucifer. How did he cause it? By the power of free choice, which God gave him. Thus God made evil possible by creating free creatures; they are responsible for making it actual…. The Christian defense of free will goes something like this: Evil arose when: 1. A good creature (Lucifer), 2. With the good power of free will, 3. Willed the finite good of the creature (himself) 4. Over the infinite good of the Creator. It is important to note that no evil need exist in order to will evil; for example, willing a lesser good can be an evil. Evil is created by a free person (oneself), and such a person does not have to participate in something outside of himself in order to be evil. The evil of willing oneself to take the place of God is an evil in itself. In fact, this is precisely what the Bible says about the first evil act of Lucifer: It was pride. Paul warned Timothy not to put a novice in office “or he may become conceited [prideful] and fall under the same judgment as the devil” (1 Timothy 3:6). This is pictured vividly in Ezekiel 28, speaking of the fall of the Prince of Tyre (no doubt inspired by the prince and power of the air [see Ephesians 2])…The evil of willing oneself to take the place of God is an evil in itself. In fact, this is precisely what the Bible says about the first evil act of Lucifer: It was pride…. This is pictured vividly in Ezekiel 28, speaking of the fall of the Prince of Tyre (no doubt inspired by the prince and power of the air [see Ephesians 2])… Thus sin was born in the breast of an archangel in the presence of God. A stunningly beautiful and extremely powerful creature fell when he made himself, rather than God, the object of his adoration. God created only good things. One good thing He made was free will. A good being, with the good power of free will, chose to put his will over God’s. Who caused Lucifer to sin? No one else did –he was the cause of his own sin. Sin is a self-caused action, caused by oneself. Hence it is as meaningless to ask, “Who caused Lucifer to sin?” as it is to ask, “Who made God?” No one made God, the Unmade Maker, and Lucifer is the maker of his own sin.” (Norman L. Geisler, If God, Why Evil? 30-34 (Kindle Edition); Minneapolis, Minnesota; Bethany House Publishers)
The abuse of freedom is what led to the introduction of sin into the universe. That is why each person is responsible for his own sins, and to those of another:
Isaiah 59:2-But your iniquities have separated you from your God; And your sins have hidden His face from you, So that He will not hear.
Colossians 2:13-And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses,
The atheist argument against God through evil, pain and suffering falls remarkably and terribly short of its goal. Indeed, all of the evidence points back to the conclusion that God exists, and that the Bible is truly His Word.