[b-hebrew] FW: origin of evil

Harold Holmyard hholmyard at ont.com
Mon Sep 11 11:06:36 EDT 2006

Dear Liz,

>I agree that God is holy, but perhaps we also define holiness differently.

HH: Holiness is God's separation from anything that is defiling,  
particularly from sin.

> I
>don't define it to include "good."

HH: Whether you include that idea in the definition of holiness seems 
immaterial, because it is certainly an attribute of God. He is good, not 

Psa. 136:1  Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good. His love endures 

HH: The Lord can deal severely with those who sin, but he is not 
arbitrary in the exercise of his wrath.  He is just, and his justice is 
another aspect of his goodness.

> God exhibits his holiness through his
>awesome power, as is said repeatedly.

HH: I don't deny that.

>We could discuss the biblical flood as well. That too was evil and God
>regretted it.

HH: I don't remember God saying that he regretted the Flood. He 
regretted that he made made man:

Gen. 6:6 The LORD was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his 
heart was filled with pain.

HH:  This is an anthropomorphic expression that communicates just what a 
disappointment human sin was to God, since he knew all things in advance 
and knew it would be so before he created the world.

>It seems that if God regretted it, it couldn't have been good.

HH: If you give me a Bible verse saying this, then I will be able to 
think about what you're saying more carefully. We sometimes speak of 
regretting actions that are necessary. A father can say that he regrets 
that he has to spank his young son. That is, he tells his son that it is 
necessary for him to be spanked, but that it gives the father no 
pleasure to do so. He does it for his son's good. Perhaps he has 
repeatedly warned the son not to do something, so it regrettable that it 
has come to a spanking, especially when the spanking could have so 
easily been avoided by the son's obedience.

>Unless you define good so that anything that happens in nature is good. If
>cancer is good, a judgment for sin you'd say, why should we have doctors? If
>polio was good, why should we have had doctors who eradicated it completely?
>Should we not try to eradicate cancer as we did polio?
>Should we not build earthquake-proof houses and better warning systems to
>protect against the times when God's holiness bursts out?

HH: I have already made the necessary distinction between moral evil and 
other evil. Of course you can describe these things as evil, but God 
committed no moral evil in allowing them to happen. He is righteous and 
does no wrong. It is also proper to work to overcome human conditions 
that reflect the divine judgment on human sin. As I said, these things 
became part of the human environment and so they fall under the divine 
mandate to us to rule over the earth and subdue it. Since disease is now 
part of the earth, we are to rule over it.

Harold Holmyard

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