If you really want to know what this post is about, check out THE SEARCH FOR THE MOST VIRTUOUS VERSATILE BLOGGER — PART 1. Otherwise, just read on and enjoy.
What Is Evil?
What inspired this post? I try to finish what I start. What did I start? THE SEARCH FOR THE MOST VIRTUOUS VERSATILE BLOGGER — PART 1 explains the project in more detail and links to the other posts in the series. Thus far I have published a series of posts on the seven deadly sins: wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy, and gluttony. What this post will do is tie up the previous posts with a discussion on the nature of evil. Hopefully, we will also address sean samis‘ question.
I advocate nothing about God; about God I have only questions. For instance, I see no logical argument against the idea that God is Evil. I see many reasons to WANT God to be good, but no logical requirement. One can–and many do argue that God is good, and he allows evil for reasons that are ultimately mysterious; likewise one could argue that God is evil, and he allows good for reasons that are ultimately mysterious. It’s easy to see which of these is more likeable, but I don’t see how logic can determine which of these possibilities is more likely. If you think you know how logic can do that, I would genuinely love to see it. (from here).
There are various definitions of evil. In fact, we have a tendency to define evil as a characteristic or some thing.
adj 1: morally bad or wrong; “evil purposes”; “an evil influence”; “evil deeds” [syn: wicked] [ant: good]
2: having the nature of vice [syn: depraved, vicious]
3: tending to cause great harm [syn: harmful, injurious]
4: having or exerting a malignant influence; “malevolent stars”; “a malefic force” [syn: malefic, malevolent, malign]
n 1: morally objectionable behavior [syn: immorality, wickedness, iniquity]
2: that which causes harm or destruction or misfortune: “the evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with their bones”- Shakespeare
3: the quality of being morally wrong in principle or practice: “attempts to explain the origin of evil in the world” [syn: evilness] [ant: good, good]
These definitions tend to define evil rather narrowly. In Evil, Wikipedia reviews the various cultural explanations of evil. This discussion goes so far it reaches a seemingly absurd point. We are asked to consider: Is evil a useful term? On the other hand, the Catholic Encyclopedia provides a more theological discussion. In its version Evil, the Catholic Encyclopedia observes that God permits evil for the sake of a greater good.
Christian philosophy has, like the Hebrew, uniformly attributed moral and physical evil to the action of created free will. Man has himself brought about the evil from which he suffers by transgressing the law of God, on obedience to which his happiness depended. Evil is in created things under the aspect of mutability, and possibility of defect, not as existing per se : and the errors of mankind, mistaking the true conditions of its own well-being, have been the cause of moral and physical evil (Dionysius the Pseudo-Areopagite, De Div. Nom., iv, 31; St. Augustine, City of God XII). The evil from which man suffers is, however, the condition of good, for the sake of which it is permitted. Thus, “God judged it better to bring good out of evil than to suffer no evil to exist” (St. Aug., Enchirid., xxvii). Evil contributes to the perfection of the universe, as shadows to the perfection of a picture, or harmony to that of music (City of God 11). (from here)
R. C. Sproul provides an interesting series of videos. He begins by defining evil as nothing.
- RC Sproul – What Is Evil And Where Did It Come From? [Part 1/6]
- RC Sproul – What Is Evil And Where Did It Come From? [Part 2/6]
- RC Sproul – What Is Evil And Where Did It Come From? [Part 3/6]
- RC Sproul – What Is Evil And Where Did It Come From? [Part 4/6]
- RC Sproul – What Is Evil And Where Did It Come From? [Part 5/6]
- RC Sproul – What Is Evil And Where Did It Come From? [Part 6/6]
Near the end, Sproul echoes the Catholic Encyclopedia by saying something that at first sounds rather strange.
Evil is not good, but it is good that there is evil.
To make his point, Sproul cites this bit of scripture.
Romans 8:28 Good News Translation (GNT)
28 We know that in all things God works for good with those who love him, those whom he has called according to his purpose.
Why evil exists we do not really know. It baffles us that a perfect and holy God would allow evil. Nonetheless, we can see that some how, some way evil often does turn to good. What we also know is that without good evil is a meaningless concept. What we define as evil is harm that subtracts from perfection, that is, the good.
Consider the significance of the fact we know the difference between good and evil — how we define good and evil. These observations address sean samis‘ question. If God were evil, then evil would be perfect, and what would be good? A loss of evil?
So what then is the essence of evil? Christianity defines evil as disobedience to God. It goes all the way back to Genesis, to the sin of Adam and Eve.
Romans 5:19 American Standard Version (ASV)
For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the one shall the many be made righteous.
When Adam ate the forbidden fruit, we all became sinners. Yet when Christ Jesus lived in perfect obedience to God, even to death on the cross, we were all redeemed. Even as the first man sinned, God already knew how He would turn evil to good.
So what is evil? Consider again the seven deadly sins. Each represents the absence of a specific virtue.
Are you worried that God does not care? Check out DOES GOD CARE?