Monday, February 4, 2008

What is Evil?

One of the reasons I started this blog, was to help myself deal with the problems of my everyday life. Of course, it doesn't always show very clearly. My first posts try to approach the subject at an angle, but generally veer off.

The question is "What is Evil?" Not Hitler/Pol Pot/Darfur big, sweeping kind of evil -- I mean the little things that happen everyday to make life miserable.

From a Biblical point of view, we are all evil. None is good but God, all have fallen short. Ok, but other people lying and lusting and other things doesn't really bother me (personally) that much. I'm upset that people live in sin, and I desire for them to repent and be saved, but they aren't hurting me.

It's your family that can really hurt you. What they say has a way of getting around your defenses. It sticks in your mind, and makes you dwell on it. You want them to be caring and supportive.

Ok, but, ultimately, you can't rely on what other people think about you for your happiness.

But things can go a step further, I'm going to take a huge leap and propose a definition for evil:
Evil is making other people pay the price for your free choice.
I think I've got something here. It's probably not perfect.

For example, a president declares war, the young men of the country will pay with their lives. Is the president evil?

I would say "no", as long as it is a "just" war. In that case, though, is the president really making a "free" choice? To some extent, he (or she) has a duty to engage in a just war. So, maybe the definition is ok.

And this has a Biblical implication. We are evil, because we make God pay the price for our sins. All the more so, if we continue in sin. And to expand on "What is love" (I think), love is to pay this price anyway (within reason).


TheDen said...

Hey Ned,

Long time no talk. Interesting post and not all too sure I'm following you but that's okay.

Historically, evil has been understood to be the "absence of good."

As you stated, only God is good. I disagree with you that we are all evil. God created us. Everything that God made is good (and man made it VERY GOOD--Gen. 1:31). Thus, everything that comes from God is good.

Your point that "we are evil, because we make God pay the price for our sins" puts too much emphasis on us. God paid the price for our sins because of His overabundant love. We did not "make" Him do anything.

What is evil?

Everything that is not derived from God. When a person chooses his own will in direct violation of God's will then that's sin and that's evil.

Our ability to choose evil is also out of His love for us. He could have made us like ALL OTHER animals who CANNOT choose against God's will (e.g. the lion stalks the gazelle per God's design).

Instead, He allows us to choose against His will--something that no other animal can do.

Why does He do this? It sets up the Passion of the Christ which shows us a love for us far greater than just merely creating us can.

Regarding your family, please pray for them. Pray that God gives them the grace to recognize His love for them. Pray for them to grow closer to Him--and please...I ask...DON'T PRAY THAT GOD TAKE THEM AWAY FROM CATHOLICISM. It'a not the Catholicism that's wrong. It's that they may have grown away from God.

Then have patience with them.

nedbrek said...


I'm not certain. Certainly, we are "dead" in sins (Ephesians 2:1). Not "sick", or "dying". Our hearts are "deceitful" and "desperately wicked" (Jeremiah 17:9).

Now this does not mean that we are as evil as we can be, all the time. I think that is obvious.

But it is the small evils which affect most people. Worse, those who do evil, thinking it is good. To the point of "whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service" (John 16:2b). Of course, not actually killing :)

Re. my family: I do pray for them everyday. It's not the Catholics I have problems with -- it's actually those who think they are non-denominational Christians. :(