The Epicurean Paradox goes something like this;
Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then He is not omnipotent!
Is He able, but not willing? Then He is malevolent!
Is He both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil?
Is He neither able nor willing? Then why call Him God?
The Problem of Evil has plagued the creation since, well, since man was on the earth! Not that 'evil' or wrong-doing, is relative, like an Epicurean might say, but very often, one looks at the actions or character of another and pronounces those actions or that character as evil. for instance, one will say, 'he's an evil man'! Then too, we have the wisest man ever saying , 'This is an evil in all that is done under the sun: that one thing happens to all'. Is Solomon here accusing his Creator of evil-doing?! We know that the Creator said, through Isaiah ( 45:7 ), 'I form the light and create darkness, I make peace and create calamity; I, the Lord, do all these things.' The word here translated 'calamity' is the Hebrew 'ra`'
God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good' ( Genesis 1:31 ) God made ( formed ) man in His Image, and called it 'good'! Through man's disobedience to God's Law, 'evil' happens; it occurs when man does something which either God or his neighbor does not approve of, and yes, God uses, or even causes 'evil' to occur! Whether for eschatological purposes, as we read in Isaiah 45:7, or in the world today; the Almighty's purpose is fulfilled, either through 'The Evil That Men Do' or 'When Bad Things Happen to Good People'! This is not to say, either, that our Heavenly Father approves of this 'evil', or even that He is empathetic toward those who perpetrate it; it is not merely relative: Scripture is clear enough that our Heavenly disapproves of 'evil' & punishes those who perpetrate it!
How, then, can we explain it; why does it happen & why would an almighty & good God allow it to persevere? Well, we've already seen somewhat why our Heavenly Father allows it to happen, but WHY does it happen & what can be done to stop it from occurring? Why DO men do the evil that they do?! We saw too, that when men are disobedient to their Heavenly Father, that they are guilty of committing evil! Even when men do something of which their neighbor disapproves or just plain hates, this is often viewed as an evil too!
'Evil' then, is something that happens; whether men act in disobedience to the Law of God or against the preferences of their neighbor; it is without doubt, something that occurs! There are, no doubt, evil people out there, and sometimes these people must simply cease to exist if their evil is to be eradicated, but often, if caught soon enough & 'nipped in the bud' ( Ecclesiastes 8:11 ), the 'evil' may be redeemed & turned around in its tracks! One example I have given before & there are countless others out there ( the internet can be a great blessing! ) is a friend whose beloved daughter was killed through the evil actions of a drunk driver! That man was turned around in his tracks, and now shares a table with the family against whom he committed the evil!
Because 'evil' is simply disobedience against the Law of God, it is as easily cured; just don't do it! I know, easy to say but hard to do. Then we have the problem of what to do about all the evils out there in society! We can do our best to avoid them, but they're still there & there are too many that do follow that crooked way! The best we can do is to avoid those evils ourselves and encourage others around us to avoid them as well. If an evil ceases to be fed, it will soon cease to exist! Another way to say this is, if people stop doing it, it won't happen!
Just like corrupt politics, 'evil' is not something that can be reformed! The people that do evil, just like those who have corrupted politics, must be either redeemed or eradicated! We can eradicate the evil in our own lives by ceasing to do what we know is wrong & we can set the example for our neighbor to follow & even encourage him to do right, rather than wrong, but we may not force someone to cease from evil & do good! Well, we probably could, but then we'd end up with the same problem we have now!
Rather than trying to explain evil by trivializing & and relativizing it, then, by using Epicurean reasoning, as we saw above, let us accept the fact that 'evil' exists only because men ( people ) who are not in right relationship with their Heavenly Father and so do what seems right to them! We know what is right to our Heavenly Father & if we act accordingly, we will have taken a giant step towards The Eradication of Evil!
Charles Haddon Shank