Sunday, November 17, 2013


You've all heard the famous argument against the existence of God that stems from the thinking of Pierre Bayle. He proposed that if God were all-powerful, He could eliminate all evil in the world. And if He were good, then He would desire to do so.

The objection, then, goes like this: since evil continues to exist in the world, there are four possibilities: 1) God is good but He is not all-powerful because He cannot destroy evil; or 2) God is all-powerful but He is not good because He does not want to destroy evil; or 3) God is not all-powerful and not good; or 4) God simply does not exist. Therefore, the God of biblical revelation dies. Or so Bayle would lead us to believe…

A closer analysis of Bayle’s argument reveals a few severe leakage points.

1.- Now doesn't mean forever.

Bayle’s argument depends upon the current presence of evil in the world. But Bayle- let’s not forget- was writing to us in the late seventeenth century. Yes, evil existed in the seventeenth century just as it exists in our days in the twenty-first century. Nevertheless, God has promised that all evil and evildoers will get their recompense in the not too distant future. The Lord promises us that justice will be done to all sinners and that evil will ultimately be dealt the death-blow when Jesus returns. Just because a turkey is alive and kicking now doesn't mean it won’t be slaughtered in the week leading up to Christmas. In the same way, evil may flap her ugly wings all around us; but her days are numbered. Evil must exist now. But that does not mean God won’t do something about it. The Christian can reply to Bayle: “God is all-powerful therefore He will defeat all evil. God is all-good therefore He desires to do so.” That answers possibilities 1, 2 and 3.

2.- Hey! Where does Bayle get his idea of evil from?

A subtler point is that Bayle uses an argument from evil to decry God. However if God doesn't exist, one would have to ask Mr Bayle where he gets his ethical concept of evil from. If God is dead then so are objective moral values. Good and evil no longer exist. There is no right and wrong. The notion of evil only makes sense in a universe where a moral Legislator exists. Therefore if God does not exist, then Bayle has no argument. It’s simple nonsense. In a quite ironical twist, Bayle actually needs the existence of God for his logic to make any sense. That answers possibility 4.

3.- Did Bayle ever hear speak of Jesus Christ (or Christians)?

And just to add on a little Christian flavour to the argument, one would have to ask Bayle if he’d ever heard of Jesus Christ who went about doing good and destroying the work of evil. The Son of God dedicated his life to denouncing sin and promoting the righteous values of the Kingdom of heaven. Ever since His death and resurrection, multitudes of believers have sought to do the same. Atheist Albert Camus once said we must either decide to join the doctors in fighting a plague or join the priests in refusing to fight against it. It’s just another false dichotomy. The Christian may very well fight the plague as a means of serving God’s cause in the world. Disciples of Jesus are by their very profession of faith anti-evil. Maybe Mr Bayle should have spent less time philosophizing and more time reading his New Testament.


So there you have it. God is all-powerful and all-good. And that is pretty bad news for evil. Jesus is the perfect incarnation of how God wants all Christians to respond to evil in the world. And He is the surety that evil will get its comeuppance in due time.