Definition: Evil is that which diminishes, interferes
with or threatens the sustenance and enhancement of
my life, and thereby decreases my morale. Site Author
The Argument of Evil Against God
Epicurus, who taught that pleasure and pain are measures of what is good and evil,
laid out the landscape for us in crisp, terse terms
sometime around 300 BCE:
Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent.
Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing?
Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God? - Epicurus
There have been a lot of arguments that the existence of
God and the existence of evil are incompatible, and many
arguments that attempt to reconcile the two. One
solution that has been proposed is that evil doesn't
exist. All of this is very shallow, since the arguments
take place within the arena of the traditional paradigm of
God, and wherein an adequate definition of evil is not even
Evil not just illusion
To me, denying evil is to be FUNDAMENTALLY
in denial! So, let's deal with the argument that evil
does not exist, that it is only an illusion. It seems to
be difficult to dismiss all evil as
illusory because, if it appears to me that I am racked with
disease but that appearance is merely illusory, then it
is nevertheless a painful and troubling illusion. Even if the disease
is not evil because it does not exist, the mere appearance
and experience of the disease remains an evil. Objective suffering may,
perhaps, coherently be dismissed as illusory, but
subjective suffering cannot be. So then, if evil does
not exist, the illusion of evil still exists and is just as bad.
If the illusion of evil is just as bad as the real thing, what's the
difference? Well, the difference "may" be significant! If
evil is real, in and outside of myself, then that is a
multi-faceted concern that would involve others. But if
it is just a personal illusion, then all I have to do is
get rid of the illusion within myself. This" sounds" appealing! It sounds simple and
straightforward since others need not be involved.
However, there are these pertinent questions:
When did I become deluded on this level?
How did I get this illusion?
Why did I get this illusion?
How do I get rid of it?
What can I say except that I pity you if you
think that evil is just your own personal illusion!
We resonate with the concept of evil because we know
it as an ever-present reality. The desire for coherent
explanations concerning the origin and nature of evil
is global. Every religious tradition must render one or
more explanations for the persistent reality of evil and
injustice. - Kimball, Charles, When Religion Becomes Evil
Los Angeles, HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. 2002, p. 36,37.
Not only does this site offer a Jesus-based paradigm
of God, but it accepts that real evil is afoot in our world
and raises the question as to who gets to define it and
who is to blame for it. Who else but you and I should do this?
It’s too bad the word “evil” has been so compromised, so
discredited, by the people who use it all the time – bible-
thumpers, hysterics, and religious fanatics. Evil shouldn’t be
associated with horned demons and eternal perdition. It just
means something destructive, or recklessly injurious. Doug Casey
When people that I talk to happen to object to
something or bemoan some really bad stuff like, say,
child molestation, I often ask, "What's wrong with
that?" When the shock wears off and they realize I am
asking a philosophical question, they respond with
answers like, "It hurts the children!" They are then
further shocked when my response is, "So, what's
wrong with that?", and they offer further answers, only
to be met with the same response, "So! what's wrong with
that?" After some iterations, I change the question to, "What can YOU
say about that and why? After more prompting they begin to realize that
they did not design reality, weren't even there when it
happened, and have no legitimate basis for saying
anything much more than, "I don't like it!" or
"It demoralizes ME!"
Ultimate definition of evil
And so we come to the ultimate and only definition of
evil that can be valid in general. A personal one that is choice based.
Every other definition presupposes something that we
cannot proclaim with absolute certainty. The development
of philosophy and theology must be personalized because
we have a personal stake, we have our own skin in the game, namely the
sustenance and enhancement of OUR lives. Thus, evil is that to
which I/we am/are intrinsically and constitutionally opposed, that which is
less than ideal for me/us, that is life detracting and diminishing for me/us, that which
I/we cannot ultimately ever like or agree with.
Far more promising than the dismissal of evil as
illusory is the Augustinian and Thomist view that it is
nothing more than a privation of good or goodness. According to this
view, evil is not an existent thing that is out there in
the world, but merely an absence of goodness. God therefore
cannot be blamed for bringing evil into existence; evil
is not an identifiable construct or thing, and so was not brought into existence.
The idea that the world contains evil (i.e. certain
privations of good) can thus be reconciled with the idea
that it was not created by a God who would create evil;
it is only the good in the world that was created, the
bad is merely an absence of good.
Even if this account of evil were accepted, however, it would not resolve
the problem of evil according to the valid definition. For it may still be
asked why God neglected to create those good things that are needed and
found to be lacking in my/our world.
And why doesn't the Creator fill the vacuum? Even if
evil is simply an absence of good things, there is a tension
between this absence of goodness and the existence of a
Creator that knows how to, is able to, and wants to
create all needed good things. No, evil is the opposite
of good or goodness, and: "It demoralizes ME!" Enough said!
Another argument is the
philosophical apologetic one: Since everything needs a contrast to be
experienced as real, evil is necessary to make good
good! However, if this be true–and it is not–it simply
defends evil itself as necessary and thereby good. For there to be a
contrast, it is ONLY necessary for the CONCEPT of evil to exist. For
example, if food and drink is necessary for the sustenance and enhancement
of life, especially when we get close to the line of suffering for the lack
thereof, we can easily envision the deleterious effect of going forward
without this life support, and we don't actually need to starve to be aware
of the possibility .We don't need that to become a reality to realize the
undesirability and evil of it.
All of the above definitions and descriptions except the personal one fall woefully short of being
satisfactory. The problem of evil, then, in some
form at least persists as long as I/WE am/are demoralized! As long as there exists
a single life detracting factor. We need to come to a simple, clear
understanding of what evil is and is not, and how it came to be.
See: Fall of Man and
Paradigm of Evil