"How can God order an intrinsically evil act?"


An atheist I know raised an issue I have difficulty answering. If it is a fundamental moral principle that one may not do evil so that good may come of it, and the killing of infants is intrinsically evil, why does God order it in 1Sam 15:3? How can God order an intrinsically evil act?



Dear Scott,

That is a very difficult question. I do not have a complete answer, but would make a few observations:

1) God ordains the death of every person. That is not killing, but taking us to himself.

2) He had a good reason for giving that order to Saul by way of the prophet Samuel. The circumstances were unique. One would have to study the the books of Samuel and Kings to get some glimpse of why such an extreme measure would be required.

3) God's mercy and justice embraces every human being - including the Amalekites - but it is not given to us know other people's story. However, by prayer we can get some inkling of God's fairness and mercy in own lives.

I know that is pretty unsatisfactory, Scott, but it the best I can do. For sure, someone wiser and holier than myself could give a better answer.

God bless,

Fr. Phil Bloom

P.S. There is an important follow-up question for your atheist friend. His accusation against God assumes (correctly) an objective standard of good and evil. But how can an atheist claim to measure right and wrong without falling into self-contradiction? (See article on Naturalism.)

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