- Religion and Philosophy
The Question of Good and Evil
We talk a lot about evil since it seems to be everywhere around us. But, what is it really? Does it exist or is it just a figment of our imagination? After all, it can’t be defined as a physical, material thing. In that view, it doesn’t exist.
But, when we talk about things being hot or cold, they are not things either. When heat is removed things get colder and that can definitely be felt. That feeling is described as a condition. So can evil be a condition? Another example would be shadows. They don't exist as things in themselves…they're just the absence of light.
Evil is something like that. It’s the absence of good, not a thing in itself. So shadows don't exist; they're just the absence of light. And evil doesn't exist; it's just the absence of good. Logically, those illustrations make sense, but somehow seem to be lacking in giving a complete description.
Did evil just spring up out of nothing like the universe as atheists would have us believe? Everything comes from something. Where did the concept of good and evil come from? Without getting into an argument over whether there is a God or not, for the purposes of this article let’s just assume there is.
From the biblical Genesis 1 record we know God didn't create evil. When creating the universe, the phrase "it was good" was used many times. So the assumption God created everything good becomes fact. But, somewhere along the line things stopped being so good. That loss of good is called evil. Why would God allow his perfect creations to be tarnished with evil?
If God was really good, wouldn’t He want to abolish all evil? If He was all powerful, He could do that. However, since there is evil wouldn’t that mean he wasn’t all powerful? Consider the thought it has nothing to do with God's goodness or power. It’s not a question of goodness or power that evil exists. Perhaps, evil entered the world from a different source…Satan.
God didn’t create the first humans, Adam and Eve, with evil in their makeup. But, he did create them with a moral free will. He did the same with Satan. They all had the option of rebelling or obeying. Satan chose to rebel, taking 1/3 of other angels with him. He was also quick to exploit this option with deception. Satan didn’t instill his evilness in them rather he influenced them to rebel with lies. Thus, they initiated their own evil.
It's not a good thing to promote evil, but God is capable of taking evil and making something good out of it. Mercy is one example. Without sin there could be no mercy. That couldn’t be true in a world with no evil.
Apparently God believes good will ultimately outweigh any evil that caused anything good or else He wouldn't have allowed it to happen. Christ paid a tremendous price for our salvation from evil and sin. Unfortunately today, many believe life is all about pleasure and happiness. That's what we think...our personal happiness, pleasure and enjoyment are the most important things in life.
However, that’s not what the Bible teaches. Enjoyment is encouraged in numerous scriptures, but the ultimate reason for our creation was not to have fun and enjoyment. God created mankind for the purpose of spending eternity with Him. He does that by conforming us to His image. In the book of Hebrews, even Jesus was conformed and made mature by through the process of suffering.
But, many still cling to the idea God created the world for us to live in. So it makes sense to assume our immediate sense of personal pleasure and satisfaction is the prime directive. Therefore, if some circumstance in which we can't have immediate satisfaction arises, then God must have abandoned us, not exist or be evil.
Let’s take a question frequently asked by those living an alternative lifestyle. “Why would God create people as homosexuals if He didn't want them to experience the pleasure of homosexual sex?”
Now, it’s a controversial subject as to whether God created people to be homosexuals. Many assume he didn’t since he created a man and a woman and not two men or two women. But, the question remains since they were created with a capacity for pleasure, wouldn’t only a mean, vindictive God say forbid that pleasure?
It seems man has the notion, to see God as good, He must allow everyone freedom to satisfy all of their cravings. And if He doesn't then certainly He must be a cruel God? If one studies this view in any depth they may discover that’s the way a child would react. Take something away from a child they want, don’t they tend to throw a temper tantrum? Unfortunately, much of society acts the same way.
Ironically, one of the best arguments for the existence of God is the presence of evil. If a non-Christian asks if there is evil in the world, obviously they must believe there is or they wouldn’t have asked the question. Many still will blame God for evil. But, is he guilty?
Parents, before your children were born did it occur to you they might grow up and do evil things? It was your choice to have children and knew such things could happen, yet had them anyway. From man’s perspective, God created them in His image knowing full well it was possible they might at some point rebel. Isn’t that similar to man having children? If a child does something bad, is it the parent’s fault?
Some may argue God knew in advance certain people would do certain things, whereas they didn’t. The only difference in this case is God knows what each of His children is going to do wrong and you don't, although you know it's inevitable. If it’s true God is responsible because He knows in advance, then the same is true for you. But if it's true you're not responsible for not knowing in advance, then the same should hold true for God.
Is it possible neither is responsible since the children were created with free will?