I've thought about this topic off and on for many years. There were times that I found ways to justify why humankind with all the wonderful discoveries, great civilizations, medical breakthroughs and treatments not to mention great acts of kindness and charity is also capable of some of the most vile and evil behaviors toward themselves and others. Sometimes the latter is done in some perverted sense of following God's will or teachings expressed through the prophets and storytellers of the Old and New Testaments as well as those books that were left out of the canons. There are those who would say it's the result of turning away from God and the absence of a moral center. Which lends to my ambivalent feelings about the explanations of how evil became a part of the human experience. I was told by one religious leader that good and evil "flowed" from God. Then there is the Genesis version of "The Almighty" casting Lucifer and his followers out of heaven which I found troubling for there was a contradiction. If that was the case, humankind was caught in the middle of the battle of wills between the omniscient and those in a spiritual realm that humans can only speculate about. It didn't seem representative of a God that I was told who administered justice, love and amazing grace to the human family. The vengeful God of the Old Testament notwithstanding.
One of my favorite programs is PBS' Closer to the Truth with Dr. Robert L. Kuhn, a public intellectual, scholar, narrator and interviewer of the series. He takes on monumental challenges like issues related to God, the Cosmos, Consciousness and various philosophies and beliefs associated with them. He's dauntless in his pursuit to provide a balance by consulting various theologians and scholars on these subjects. He allots equal time as well for atheists and scientists and their varying viewpoints which is why I think he is audacious in every sense of the word. In some religious communities he's not viewed in a favorable light and is accused of distorting "the word of God" to suit his own philosophical beliefs. I've received e-mails admonishing "believers" not to view certain segments.
Which leads to the segment, Did God Create Evil?. He interviewed Nancey Murphy, a Professor of Christian Philosophy at Fuller Theological Seminary. What I found fascinating about this interview is
how she explained that God did not create evil, however, he set in motion forces that would allow that to happen with the premise that good would prevail. My thought is--why at the expense of mankind? Are tsunamis, earthquakes, famines, wars, oppression and the list could go on and on; the consequences for our stay on the planet? If God is omnipresent, omnipotent and omniscient--why not another model for the greater good. Surely the outcome is already known for...
The attribute of God by which God perfectly and eternally knows all things which can be known, past, present, and future. God knows how best to attain His desired ends.
Again, theologians and scholars are making quite a few assumptions about what God intended which takes hubris to a higher level. The outcome seems to be a myriad of explanations from different religious denominations and philosophical viewpoints about one of the many mysteries of life which is evil. There are other video interviews with various religious scholars and philosophers on the link I've provided and I would encourage the readers to check it out. To question these things aren't necessarily indicators of blasphemy, agnosticism or atheism but a way for many of us to resolve or better understand the paradoxes of good versus evil.
I am a believer in a higher power and as an individual will have to account for how I've lived my life. There are so many different explanations and interpretations of scripture especially as it pertains to why God either specifically introduced evil into the equation or "allowed" it to be a menace to humankind as a consequence of the creative process. An omniscient God would know that we would indeed prevail.
There is a hymn that was composed by Charles Tindley in 1905, We'll Understand It Better By and By that I heard growing up in the Baptist Church. It was sung with hope and optimism for a better day and I'm sure a way to cope with a hostile society at that time. I tried to make sense of it all as an adolescent for I wondered how long would "by and by" be. As a senior citizen I'm still open to the various explanations and documentations for the concept of evil. This journey is about growing and gaining knowledge and I will continue to do so with an inquiring mind until the final transition.