Sunday 5/20/12 Q&A: What is evil?


After a short hiatus to finish up work in the several classes I was taking, I have brought back the Q&A. If you have a question you would like me to address, please send it via email, Twitter, or Facebook listed on my Contact Me page. Thank you all for your interest. God bless.

Phillip,

I’ve heard many people say that evil proves that God doesn’t exist and others saying that there is no such thing as evil. Can you help tell what evil is?

Anonymous         

 

Certainly. When a person uses a term like “evil”, they are referring to a moral alignment where the individual (or actor) performs deeds which are opposed or contrary to the standard expectation which has been given. Many will use “evil” as a term to describe an especially heinous action or one who performs misdeeds or especially heinous actions, which is based on a scale using human expectations as the source or foundation. With respect to human expectations, we would say that speeding in a vehicle is “bad”, robbing a bank is “worse” or “awful”, killing or raping someone is “evil”. These terms in their typical usage are only varying levels of abstraction which are given varying grades of seriousness based on how we perceive the heinousness of the action itself. This slight subjectivity often leads people to believe that there is no objective basis for morality outside of societal or cultural preservation and, even then, some who believe that it is irrelevant and does not truly exist in the first place as part of the natural expression of life itself (usually a concept of some of the more intellectual atheists; think Nietzsche).

The claim that God cannot exist or truly be good because there is so much evil is actually pretty common. Many hold that a “good” god would not allow evil in the first place because of his goodness. Of this particular issue, the answer is pretty straightforward: evil is contingent upon the existence of good and morality only exists objectively enough to make a universal claim (one which is true of all people at all times) if there is an objective point of comparison for all people, one which transcends cultural, ethnic, societal differences. To say that evil disproves God is to make a universal claim about the moral alignment of a particular action or set of actions without having the universal standard from which the comparison could be made in the first place. Without the objective lawgiver, moral positioning is irrelevant.

Finally, evil can be properly thought as the absence of good and, similarly, the contrary of good itself. From our perspective, we hold that God gives us the specific standard from which we are to act and interact with others and humanity is completely incapable of choosing good; instead, we instinctively choose wickedness. Whatever terminology is used to define the action, the end result is still the same: humanity is naturally sinful/wicked/evil and this results in the moral and eternal separation of man from God. It can also be said that this eternal separation from God is, specifically, a separation from all but God’s wrath unless the individual is under the redemptive blood of Jesus.

Peace and love to you.

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One thought on “Sunday 5/20/12 Q&A: What is evil?

  1. Pingback: On the problem of evil « The Myth of Sisyphus

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