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Answering The Atheist
November 19, 2006 / Volume 6, Issue 47

THE ATHEIST'S COMPLAINT:
Is God the creator of evil? In Isaiah 45:7, God declares, "I ... create evil", and Amos 3:6 reads, "Shall there be evil in a city, and the LORD hath not done it?" And yet, 1 John 4:8 declares, "God is love." Is there a contradiction?

RESPONSE:
First, let it be noticed that the 1 John 4 text introduced by the questioner does not demonstrate a contradiction. To demonstrate a contradiction on the question of whether God created evil or not, one would need to present a text which states that God did create evil, and then another which states that He did not. 1 John 4:8 simply is not that verse.

Regarding Isaiah 45:7, indeed, the KJV states, "I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace and create evil: I the LORD do all these things." In this, is God declaring Himself to be responsible for sinful actions? Consider the contrast in the first clause of the verse, and we will understand the contrast in the second clause. God made both the light and the darkness (which are opposites to each other). God likewise made peace and evil. What is meant here by evil? This Hebrew word ‘ra can be otherwise translated "adversity, affliction, bad, calamity". The NKJV renders this second clause, "...I make peace and create calamity..."

Similarly, Amos 3:6 is recorded in the KJV as "...shall there be evil in a city, and the LORD hath not done it?" The NKJV renders this as, "If there is calamity in a city, will not the LORD have done it?"

In addition, it is noteworthy that both these texts are written by prophets who wrote to a people who had turned from the LORD, and thus who stood in judgment before Him. Indeed, He brought calamity upon them. They endured adversity and afflictions — things got bad. But this evil was brought upon them by the LORD, that they might forsake their wicked ways, and turn back to the path of righteousness.

There is no contradiction here.

This article is a response to Skeptic's Annotated Bible