We cannot blame God for the existence of evil

by St. Gregory Palamas

Why then did God initially create people who would end up being punished? He did so not to punish them, but to save them; this is apparent from the fact that He calls and invites them to salvation. Because if He wanted to punish certain people, He would not call all people to salvation…But what type of logic is this? Whoever does not agree with the above, but merely wants to blame God, such a person by extension maintains that rational beings should not have been created at all. What need would there be for logic if it was not up to man’s disposition and free will? How could someone have free will and choice if he was incapable—if he so desired—of also becoming evil? However, if someone cannot become evil, then he certainly is not capable of becoming good either.

Therefore, whoever states that God should not have created all the people who will go to Hell maintains that He should not have created the people who will be saved either, nor any logical and free-willed beings in general. Furthermore, if everything in the universe was created for logical nature [i.e. for man], this argument asserts that God shouldn’t have created anything. Do you see the extent of the nonsense? But since through the rational and free-willed generation of man (whom God created), some people would become evil while others good on account of voluntary choice and different use of the free will, what should the truly good God have done? Should He not have created the good people on account of the people who would become evil? No one would be able to come up with anything more unjust than this.Because even if there was only one person who would become good, even then it would not be proper for God to desist from creating. Because one person who does the will of the Lord is worth more than thousands of transgressors…

But let us ask the people (who blame Him Who wants everyone to be saved) about them who do not desire their own salvation: Since we are mortal and physical beings, it is necessary for us to eat. Our body assimilates and stores one part of the food we digest in order to sustain itself, whereas it excretes the other unusable and foul-smelling constituents. Do you avoid eating food altogether because part of it will be converted into feces, or do you consume food in its entirety on account of the portion that (through the digestive system) is extracted, assimilated, and incorporated to sustain your body? Words are unnecessary because we provide the answer in practice, as we eat daily and accept the fraction of food that is unsuitable for our biology on account of the portion of the food that is necessary for us. Why do we do this? On account of the innate love we have for life. In the same manner, on account of His intrinsic and inherent goodness and benevolence, God would not have avoided bringing into existence good people on account of them who would end up being evil on their own; but on account of the good people, He also created them who would become evil.