The Problem of Evil in Atheism (Groothuis)

Christian Apologetics: A Comprehensive Case for Biblical Faith by [Groothuis, Douglas] In chapter 25 of Christian Apologetics, Douglas Groothuis discusses the problem of evil from a Christian perspective.  In this chapter he gives five unsatisfactory answers to evil.  The first one is atheism.  I thought this was quite helpful:

Given the surfeit of evil, atheism advances itself as intellectually and morally superior to Christianity (and any religion).  Atheism is not burdened with attempts to explain evil in relation to God. Evil just exists in a godless world. The problem vanishes.

But it does not so vanish, for two main reasons.  First, in order to speak of the problem of evil, a person must believe that objective evil exists. To justify this claim, the person needs to adequately explain the existence and nature of evil.  In order for objective evil to exist, objective goodness must exist as well, and good must exist in a more fundamental way.  This is because evil is a corruption or twisting of the good.  Evil does not exist in and of itself….  Evil is the rust on the iron or the hole in the roof.  While a person or an event may be truly evil (the evil is not illusory), that evil could not have existed without an antecedent and original good.

This discussion harks back to our argument for God from the existence of morality, where we argued for the existence of objective moral goods.  These goods eliminate both relativism/nihilism and pantheistic monism, since neither can rationally support the existence of objective moral goodness.  Neither is objective moral goodness a brute fact in a godless world.  Objective moral goodness, therefore, is best explained by the character of a Creator God who made the universe good and gave us the capacity to recognize the good as such, even now in our fallen state. (…)

Douglas Groothuis, Christian Apologetics, p. 617-618.

Shane Lems
Hammond, WI, 54002