By textbook definition, evil is "What is morally wrong, what hinders the
realization of good" (Webster). If that is evil, then what is good? It's "what
is morally excellent, virtuous, well behaved, dutiful." (Webster) Philosophers
have argued over what evil is and why it exists for thousands of years. They
have raised questions like How can there be a God if there is evil?' These
questions were raised due to God's nature: he is said to be all-powerful, all-
knowing and all-good. If this is the case, why doesn't he stop evil? And, since
people are supposed to be created in God's image, why are they capable of moral
evil? If one believes that God exists, there can only be one answer: evil exists
because God allows it, and moral evil exists because God has given us freedom of
Evil has been looked at in many different ways throughout the years.Philosophers like Socrates and Plato believed evil was a matter of ignorance.Ancient Persians saw good and evil as two principles, "engaged in a perpetual
struggle."(Collier) In reality, evil is merely the absence of good. "The essence
of all reality is good, evil is merely the faulty reflection of reality found in
a world of particulars.
"(Funk ; Wagnalls) There can be many different types of
evil. Two of such types are moral evil and natural evil. Natural evil consists
of things like pain and suffering, while moral evil consists of making bad'
decisions. "Moral evil depends on the exercise of human will; natural evil is
independent of this.
" (MacGregor) The main difference between these two evils is
that people are unable to control natural evil, while moral evil depends on
their will. Some people even say physical evil is a human necessity; "Without
the evil of pain, man would not be warned of illness and of danger". (Colliers)
In life, there are times where bad' people are better off than `good' people.Why is this? Some say it is a test for the soul, and rewards await us. "The
human family is as one, and its members help one another by their good actions
as the also cause suffering to one another for their faults"(Collier).
example, take what happened to Jesus. He suffered for all sins of mankind, and
through this saved them all. But what of moral evil, which consists of things
like murder, which people can control? Why does God permit it if the
consequences are undesirable?
To understand why moral evil exists, the concept of free will must be
understood. Freedom of choice, or free will is "the power and exercise of
unhampered choice." (Webster) Therefore humans are capable of making their own
decisions and doing whatever they please. Freedom doesn't mean an absence of
influences, rather that these influences do not force a person to decide in a
certain way, and he/she can choose between these influences (e.
g. A man thinks a
walk outside would be a good idea because he needs fresh air. But, the man is
tired and doesn't really feel like it. He must choose which path' to follow )
People don't always know the influences that act upon them all the time; some of
these are subconscious. Certain people would say that if they knew these
subconscious motivations, our behavior could be explained and free will would be
nullified, since our behavior would always be predictable.
"Advocates of free
will do not deny that these unconscious causes exist, simply that it is a
positive casual influence added to the equation." (Royce) Let's say, for example,
a person wanted to hurt another. This person might not know why, but can still
choose not to. Therefore if a person's moral character is well known, his
decisions are most likely predictable and not random.
Thus, free will is not
random, not completely determined, but necessary for the development of moral
character. That is why moral evil exists. It is a side-effect of free will."Christian philosophy has always attributed the presence of evil in the world to
the actions of a man's free will." (Collier) To understand, the situation must
first be analyzed. Since God is all-good, doing' good would be doing something
which God himself would do or approve to.
Therefore doing evil would be the
opposite; doing something which God wouldn't do or approve to. Going back to a
previous question, why would God want us to be capable of moral evil?
"if it is not a logical impossibility for man to choose good on one
or even several occasions, then there is no logical impossibility
for man to choose good on every occasion", "If it was open to
an omnibenevolent God the possibility of creating beings who freely
choose good, and He did not take this opportunity, this would prove
that He is not omnipotent.", " If God is all-powerful He should have
made human beings perfect. A perfect God should create perfect beings.
To answer all of there arguments, one must look at God's relationship to
people and what his motives are. What God really wants is to have people like
him and to have a close relationship to him. If God created people so they chose
good on every occasion, he would be the cause of their behavior. God is known to
be the source of what good', good itself.
Therefore the best choice a person
could make would be to have a close relationship to God. However, if God created
humans always to make this choice, they would not be free compared to him. Why
would he want us to freely choose to have a close relationship to him? "Free
will, though it makes evil possible, is the only thing that makes possible any
love or goodness or joy worth having." (Lewis) There are many examples that can
prove this. Let's take one of true love.
In case one, a man wants to marry a
woman, but knows she isn't interested in him. He forces the woman to marry him
and tells her that she will love him. Deep down, this man knows she resents and
probably hates him. Now in case two, a man asks a woman to marry him, and she
says yes because she loves him. Their relationship is one where their love is
genuine and can grow.
Now, apply this to God. Because he loves us, he gives us
the choice to decide whether or not to follow him.
"To have created men without freedom would mean that man could not
freely love and serve God, or in any way contribute to his own
salvation." (Collier) "You have the freedom of choice to accept
God, which is to love Him, or to reject Him, which is to decline
to love him." (MacGregor)
Despite all opposing arguments, God is all-good and all-powerful.
evil is in part caused by free will and free will is the only way that allows
true love and good moral character to grow. Some may say that they don't agree
with this statement, and, by exercising the gift of free will continue to
separate themselves from God. But, if God is the greatest good, why would one
want to distance themselves from him? If God is the greatest good, an
appropriate response would seem to get to know Him.