Sunday, August 28, 2022

Did God Create Evil?

If you are like me, you take your beliefs very seriously. When I say that I believe something, I truly believe it. One of the things that makes me confident in my faith in Christ is the reliability of the Bible. I have done plenty of research, yet I have never found a compelling argument against the Bible, nor have I found a compelling argument against the existence of God. However, there have been several arguments that really confused me. One of the most interesting arguments against Christianity is that God created evil. As a devout Christian who studies his Bible regularly, I am well aware of the passage in question, but I have spoken to other Christians who had no idea that there was a passage that says that God created evil. In order to help my brothers and sisters in Christ defend their faith, I am going to break down the aforementioned argument, explain why the argument is misleading, and provide the evidence to support my position. I will also explain how I was able to come to my conclusion, so that others can learn how to do the type of research that I do on a regular basis. Without further ado, let us examine the claim that God created evil.

The verse that this claim usually comes from is Isaiah 45:7. In the ESV, it reads:

I form light and create darkness; I make well-being and create calamity; I am the LORD, who does all these things.

The way the ESV words the verse is the way you would read it in the NIV, NLT, BSB, NKJV, NASB2020, NASB1995, NASB1977, AMP, CSB, HCSB, CEV, ISV, and pretty much every major translation from the last half century. However, if you find this verse in the King James Version, for example, it reads:

I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and I create evil: I the LORD do all these things.

Aside from the KJV, the American Standard Version is the only other well-known translation to use the word “evil” in this verse.

So, what is going on? Why does the KJV say that God created evil? Did God create evil? Have modern Bible translations been corrupted? The answer to those questions are “because it is a very outdated and objectively poor (in certain parts) translation”, “no”, and “no”, respectively.

There is a lot more to discuss about why, in my opinion, one should avoid using the King James Version as his primary translation, but that is a topic for another essay. For now, let us go onto the next part of examining this verse: understanding the context.

The verse comes from Isaiah, and it is a message from God, directed toward Cyrus, whom the Lord refers to as “his anointed”. God says that He has grasped the right hand of Cyrus, “to subdue nations before him and to loose the belt of kings, to open doors before him that gates may not be closed” [Isaiah 45:1 (ESV)]. In verse 2, God tells Cyrus how He will “go before you [Cyrus] and level the exalted places”, and that He will “give you [Cyrus] the treasures of darkness and the hoards in secret places” [Isaiah 45:3]. In verse 4, God tells Cyrus that he has been called by God. The first five verses of this chapter are God explaining to whom He is speaking, why He is speaking to Cyrus, and how He will show Cyrus that He is God.

Verse 5 is where we get into the part of the chapter where the subject of this essay comes from:

I am the LORD, and there is no other, besides me there is no God; I equip you, though you do not know me, that people may know, from the rising of the sun and from the west, that there is non besides me; I am the LORD, and there is no other. [Isaiah 45:5-6 (ESV)]

Now that we have reached the main verse that we are discussing in this essay, we can understand the meaning of the verse, in context. Cyrus has been chosen by God, God will show Cyrus that He is truly God, and God declares that there is only one God. Then, God tells Cyrus that all things come from Him, that He has the power to create, to destroy, to create light, to create darkness, to “make well-being”, and to “create calamity”. The last two things that God mentions are the things that we are most interested in.

Finally, let us examine what the word “evil” has been translated from.

According to the Lexham Theological Wordbook, the word ”רַע” (pronounced, “rah”), which, as a noun, means “evil, distress, misery, injury, calamity”. This definition makes sense, given the way every Bible translation seems to have one of the words used to define the original word in Hebrew. The King James Version uses the word “evil”, but, as is the case with many of the words in the KJV, that word does not mean the same thing today as it once meant.

According to, the word “evil” comes from the Old English “yfel”, meaning “bad, vicious, ill, wicked”. It goes on to explain that, “as a noun in Old English”, the word meant, “what is bad; sin; wickedness; anything that causes injury, morally or physically”. While the Old English form of this word did mean “extreme moral wickedness”, that definition “did not become the main sense of the modern word until [the 18th century]”. The King James Version was originally published in 1611, which would mean that the meaning of evil (as it is used today) was not what the word meant at that time.

In short, God is telling Cyrus that He is God, and how He can give (in the words of the NLT) “good times”, and “bad times”, not that He creates good and evil.

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