Don’t get into an argument with an atheist unless you’re ready to be humbled. I know because I was an atheist who humbled many Christians decades ago. Atheists don’t believe in the existence of God, but they will gladly spar with people who do. One of the questions an atheist will ask a Christian or Jew is, “Alright, let’s say for a moment that there is a God. Did He create evil? If not, where did evil come from and why didn’t God stop it before it started since He’s supposed to be so all-knowing and loving?”
Remember, an atheist doesn’t believe in God or the supernatural or the spirit world. They don’t really want to hear your answers to their questions because they don’t believe you have any. What they’re doing is ‘baiting’ you so you’ll get in over your head, then they’ll move in for the kill and make fun of you. That’s a humbling experience. If we want to be ready to answer that and other questions unbelievers will ask, we need to look to God’s Word for the answers. Atheists and other so-called “freethinkers” may be able to humble Christians, but they can’t humble God.
The first mention of evil in the Bible is in Gen. 2:9. The context is that God created the earth and then the first human being. After creating man, God placed him in a special garden paradise called Eden. God had made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground–“… the LORD God made every tree grow that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” A few verses later: “And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, ‘Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” (Gen. 2:16-17) In order for God to warn Adam about evil, evil must have already existed. So, where did it start? Did Adam even understand what the warning meant? Could he understand the concept of good and of evil? Did he know what it would mean to die?
The Hebrew word for “evil” is ra. It means “bad.” It carries the idea of moral adversity, trouble, wickedness. The word for “knowledge: is da’ath. It means “to know, be aware.” Was the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the garden to help the first human beings know the difference between the two or to entice them to sin? It’s obvious that evil already existed when God introduced Adam to the Garden. It started before God created humans.
After warning Adam, God brought all the animals and birds to him so he could give names to each kind. Adam saw that the animal kingdom was paired into two sexes: male and female. “But for Adam there was not found a helper comparable to him. And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. Then the rib which the LORD God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man. And Adam said: ‘This is now bone of my bones And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man.'” (Gen. 2:20 – 23) Adam now had a life partner, like the other created beings he had seen.
In Gen. 3:1 we meet a new creature, the serpent. “Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made.” The Hebrew word for “serpent” is nachash. It means “snake.” The first unusual feature we see about this snake is that it talked: “And he said to the woman.” A study of animals speaking in the Bible shows that a member of the spirit world does the speaking. Animals don’t have the innate ability to think and speak in human languages. Such is the case with the serpent. Snakes don’t talk unless a spirit inhabits its body and speaks through it.
The snake was “more cunning” than any beast of the field which God had created. The Hebrew is aruwm and means “crafty, sneaky, cunning” in a bad sense. What made the snake bad? God created everything good. What happened between the creation of animals (good) and the snake’s meeting with the woman (bad)?
A thorough study of this encounter introduces us to a being named Satan (Hebrew — satan, “opponent” … Greek — satanas, “accuser”). Satan is the opponent of God and accuser of the saints. He is called the “accuser, devil, tempter, evil one, father of lies, prince of this world, god of this age, leader of the kingdom of evil, angel of the Abyss, the ancient serpent.” The Bible blames evil, all of it, on Satan. Rev. 12:9 reads, “So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world.” That’s exactly what Satan did in the garden of Eden. He introduced the first humans to evil and led them astray.
Fortunately, the Bible gives us insight to how one of God’s good creatures went bad. It is the insight we need to understand the beginning of evil. In Ezekiel 28 the prophet speaks to the ruler of Tyre. The first ten verses are obviously about a man. However, in verses 11-19, the prophet speaks to the King of Tyre. What Ezekiel says is directed to someone from the spirit world, not the human world.
“You were the seal of perfection, Full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. You were in Eden, the garden of God; Every precious stone was your covering: The sardius, topaz, and diamond, Beryl, onyx, and jasper, Sapphire, turquoise, and emerald with gold. The workmanship of your timbrels and pipes Was prepared for you on the day you were created. ‘You were the anointed cherub who covers; I established you; You were on the holy mountain of God; You walked back and forth in the midst of fiery stones. You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created, Till iniquity was found in you. By the abundance of your trading You became filled with violence within, And you sinned; Therefore I cast you as a profane thing Out of the mountain of God; And I destroyed you, O covering cherub, From the midst of the fiery stones. Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty; You corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor; I cast you to the ground, I laid you before kings, That they might gaze at you.”
In 1 Tim. 3:6, Paul writes that the devil’s judgment came upon him because of his “pride.” The Greek word is tuphotheis. It means “to be blinded by pride or conceit.”
The Book of Isaiah gives us more insight into why Satan chose evil instead of good. Chapter 14 is part of a prophecy against the King of Babylon.
“How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, You who weakened the nations! For you have said in your heart: ‘I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation On the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.'”
Do you see his conceit and pride? Instead of God’s will, Satan’s desire is “My will.”
Tomorrow, who is Satan and why did he do it?
In Christ’s Love and Grace,