God in the Concept of Good and Evil
Many people today cannot deny that there is evil, but explaining why there is so much of it has been a debate that has been going on for quite some time. For some, the existence of evil can only mean that a good God does not exist, or there is no God. Others are angry because it has provoked something in them because of poverty, violence, disease and disasters, etc….. If God is an all-loving God, why would He allow such "evil" things to happen? The paradox of how a perfectly good God can allow evil is a valid question, but it is definitely not an easy to tackle. Everyone makes their own rationalizations and arguments through the lens of their personal experiences in life. Since the existence of God cannot be proven, there are those on both sides who believe, or are skeptical of the origins of good and evil.
In the realm of theism and atheism, there is a locking of horns on what reality is. There are many instances of those who once followed the ideologies of "Christianity," but then chose to converting to become an atheists. Also, there are atheists who have been transformed and come into a relationship with Jesus Christ. The concept of what an individual defines good and evil can be the catalyst for a stance on both sides of the fence. Everyone has a story to why they have come to a certain conclusion on these concepts. It would be important to convey them in a rational, logical, and reasonable way.
The definitions of good and evil are relative to the basis of one’s own belief system. The basis of this theme will be from the lens of my own belief system but I will acknowledge that although something may seem to be rational, logical, or reasonable does not always equate to it being true. Something is either true or false, even though we may not have the proof, there is lots of evidence to analyze.
Words are just concepts, we cannot objectively point to good and evil and say that it can be literally found at a particular place, or send it in an envelope to someone at a particular location. We cannot see the wind, but we can see that it is similar to good and evil and observe the effects on things that we can objectively see. A cool breeze on a hot summer’s day, or a hurricane’s devastating aftermath can be defined by its cause and effect. It may be also defined as good or evil within the context of a certain belief system.
The chart below may give come insight in what may be the influence behind an individual's beliefs.
Here are some questions in considering the existence of the God in the concept of good and evil:
- Wouldn't an all-good God destroy evil, or why would He allow it?
- Wouldn't a God, who is all powerful, destroy evil?
The problem with these two questions is that they cannot be proven; therefore, asking the question is making an assumption based on your own rationalization of these concepts. it is an assumption to assume that if God is good, all powerful, and He does exist, that He would destroy what our concept of evil is on our terms. The problem with good and evil who are what is the standard that makes the rules and the terms of their definitions? it is important to realize that we are still are limited and fallible in our knowledge and understanding of our existence and it would be arrogant to say, "case closed" by denying any further pursuit or additional revelation on the matter. How can we, with our limitations, fully comprehend how God would or should behave? Do we even have the full capacity to fathom the full depth and breadth of who God is?
There are those who do not believe, deny, and object to the concept of spirituality, but it is important to convey the alternative with a reasonable and intelligent response to those who believe otherwise. A belief is either true or false and and individual proof comes from an internal (spiritual) or external (objective) influence.
To a follower of Jesus Christ, there is faith in the assurance that after physical death, there will be no more evil as it is understood to be.
He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” - Revelation 21:4
The answer from a theistic perspective is that a good God is destroying, will destroy, and ultimately has victory over evil. Objectively, we can see the effects of evil everywhere. God gives some revelation to His followers as to why evil exists through Scripture.
Atheism also believes in the concept of good and evil, but through a different lens. Good and evil are derived from the concept of empathy. From this rationality, the concepts are relative and the effects have led to the survival of the fittest with passed genetic traits from one generation to the next. Good and evil are effects derived from the course of measurable time.
The assumption that a good God would destroy evil because we want Him to is not valid; it puts a limitation on God to fit personal preference. God’s purposes are not yet finished, evil has not been fully destroyed because of His own purpose for all of humanity; it is not yet the proper time. For example, if someone was putting a race car together for a big race, but it was only assembled half-way, would it be reasonable to assume that the car is not ready, or has not been completed yet for race day? To say that it is completed, when objectively it is not, would give the impression that the person making the decision needs more knowledge and understanding of race cars before diagnosing whether the vehicle would be a good contender in a race. In the same way, God’s purposes for evil have not been finished until the objective return of Jesus Christ.
In our North American culture, we want things right now and have no patience. We want gratification and instant proof without truly and honestly attempting the task of seeking, which often takes a measurable amount of time and patience to resolve.
If evil is in opposition to God, then why has God allowed it to continue? Maybe God has had patience and mercy for all mankind up to this point without squashing us all out of existence. Could there be a reason? I believe there is.
For the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish. - Psalm 1:6
The problem with the concepts of good and evil comes from who, or what actually defines the standards and their terms.
- Is there a standard for what is pleasant, or unpleasant; painful, or not?
In the same way, both good and evil are often defined in the context of the one who is experiencing the effects. For example, pain can determine whether we avoid something that may hurt, or kill us.
- Can evil be properly defined in terms of whether someone has pain, does not like something, or it does not feel good about it?
- Is personal preference or opinion the determiner that there is, or isn't a God?
To appeal to a code of standard, one must point to the maker of the code for the true meaning and standard of the terms; otherwise, it is relative to personal opinion, or empathy.
There are many accounts of skiers or snowboarders in search of the ultimate rush of laying new tracks in fresh virgin powder. In this pursuit, they often take a risk by going into the out-of- bound areas of the mountain ignorant, or defiant of the rules that have been posted. Unfortunately, in the headlines and news broadcasts, there are stories of these individuals who have been stranded down a rock face with a broken body part. Fortunately some were miraculously rescued within an inch of their life. Tragically, another ends up dying in the freezing mountain temperatures overnight before rescuers could locate, or reach the missing person.
- If the pain of the one who did survive learned a valuable lesson of the consequences of this self-destructive behavior, is that evil?
- Is God evil for allowing the stranded one to die by freezing to death without rescue?
- Is it good, or evil for the winter enthusiasts to have the freedom to obey, or disobey the rules of the mountain?
- Is it reasonable, or unreasonable to say that because someone chose to go out of bounds that something nasty or tragic happened as a result, and for this reason God is not good?
- Could it be, because a choice was made, a consequence was the result?
- Is it reasonable to say that if I don’t approve of God's ways it means that He is not good?
- What if the only people in the world that were allowed to exist were the ones you approved of?
Some people torture for fun, babies are aborted because of inconvenience, and extremists strap on explosives to kill in the name of religion. What you may believe is evil may be good to someone else. The effects of good and evil are the result of the nature of mankind and the choices that are made.
- Are good and evil just relative terms, or could it be that there may be an absolute standard for these concepts?
There is nothing outside the man which can defile him if it goes into him; but the things which proceed out of the man are what defile the man. - Mark 7:15
Do we really have the full knowledge and understanding that God may be right, or wrong for allowing something that we don’t approve of?
- Can we really know, or fully understand why a good God kills and destroys?
- Is something terrible just because we say it is?
- If God allows something, is He answerable to you?
- Is God evil because He does not answer to you?
- Do we assume to know all the reasons for what God does?
- Is there a reasonable and logical reason to why God allows evil?
From what Scripture has revealed about God, He uses evil to bring about and accomplish his purpose. When we read about the atrocities in the Bible, we can interpret the event as good, or evil through the lens of our limited and fallible understanding of Him, and agree, or disagree on why He has allowed things to happen.
- Can we fully conclude that God must be wrong because we are in disagreement with Him?
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. - Romans 8:28
Without good, evil would have no power. Evil is dependent upon good, but the power of good can and will continue without evil in the end. Evil is not the opposite of good, but the lack of good. The followers of Jesus Christ have the assurance that all evil has been defeated at the cross, and will filly see this victory in of our eternal destiny with Him. If God allows evil, then it must be for a good reason. Evil is anything that separates us from God. God often uses it to humble those to a genuine faith and greater revelation of Him.
Here are some character traits that many consider good, but also can be used for evil.
The paradox is that good traits can be used for the purposes of evil. It takes the power of good traits for evil to be able to accomplish anything at all. In this lens, evil has no power to do anything without good.
- Why do people strike against the hand who feeds them?
- Why do people strike out against the one who is trying to rescue them?
We do not have to fully understand the reasons why God does things, but we can try to understand that it is necessary and for our benefit. Pain is necessary in teaching us the understanding of what is beneficial or not.
The sentences below can be good, or evil in the context one chooses to read them.
- His suffering kept him from becoming prideful.
- When he saw the starving boy, he gave him bread.
- The wounded soldier limped to safety because he was not alone.
- The men put the woman and children in the safety raft ahead of themselves, and then they drowned in the frigid waters as the ship sunk into the depths.
- The man was disciplined for his actions, but learned a valuable lesson.
The appreciation of things in life often comes through a clearer understanding of the concepts we believe in.
- Without a wound, what would heal?
- Without bondage, who would know freedom?
- Without sin, who would forgive?
- Without lack, who would appreciate abundance?
- Without imperfection, who would know perfection?
- Without error, who would know a correction?
- Without dependency, who would know a necessity?
The definition of good and evil are commonly based on the assumptions derived from our own experiences, and we make conclusions from them. Our realities are often based and motivated from these conclusions. Good and evil are not as cut and dry concepts. It may require a continual and/or deeper look into their true meanings. Either there is an absolute truth that we can ultimately attain, or there is just a relative understanding to these concepts based on what feels right, or doesn't within the concept of empathy where traits have been passed through the evolution of the species.
What we believe about good and evil can be true as it is false. Finding the clues that are available and pursuing them, I believe will lead to a greater understanding of our purpose in this world in the context of these concepts.
‘Call to Me and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know.’ - Jeremiah 33:3
- The Concept of Evil
There is a common deliberation over evil, either God created it, or He didn't. This leaves the question to the origin of evil if God is all-good. If God did not create evil, then who did?
- Is True Reality, the Immaterial Influencing the Material?
Science has concluded that our reality is only influenced by our five senses. There is some true truth to this statement, but cannot be promoted as fullness of truth.
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