The Question of Evil
Today, many people question and debate the necessity of evil. Why does is exist? Does it have to exist? These are the questions that many classical, and modern philosophers alike, have asked. I would say that the truth behind evil, whether one believes it’s from divine origins, or came about on some evolutionary timetable, must be explored, and the questions of this truth answered.
For one to know love, one must know hate. The pattern of knowledge is a paradox. For one to know something, one must know that objects opposite. For example, for one to know hot, one must know cold. For if one does not have a conception of cold, then heat simply does not exist as a state to that person. Granted, it may be getting hotter, he or she may be sweating more, but that individual truly has no distinction of understanding beyond the fact he is getting more wet. However, in wetness, another enigma, for one most know what it is like to be dry to be wet, and so on and so forth until the cycle swings back around again.
B. C. Johnson would contend that an all-benevolent God cannot exist since this God allows evil to exist and remain in the world. On the contrary, John Hick contends that evil is necessary for not only the order of the universe – i.e. God cannot intervene, etc unless the laws of nature are made relative, but also for the ability for mankind to understand concepts of love and kindness and the like. If one never new fear, could one know courage? I think not, for if fear had never been felt, then no one would have had to step up with, or above, the rest. Likewise, if I do not have any knowledge of hate, can I have knowledge of love? One might argue of course, for you can like someone in varying degrees. Yet, would I truly know what love is if I have never experienced hate? I dare say not, for though I may know “liking” someone,” I do not believe I can say I love that person, for how, if I have never known hate or anger, can I know forgiveness, therefore never knowing true love. I may smile and say nice things, but if I have never seen hate, I would do that to any, and everyone, therefore, that “love” would carry no meaning.
The argument of whether or not God is all-benevolent, to me, is non consequential. God is God that God is God; therefore, his benevolence is no concern to me. I only feel that evil, in its essence, for ones current existence, is necessary. However, for the sake of rhetorical argument, I will discuss the all-benevolence of God.
The Classical Theist view of the all-benevolent God is skewed based upon human perspective. Know matter ones belief of the origin of sin and evil, one must understand that God, being all knowing, has a higher “intelligence” then mankind. Therefore, His knowledge of good and evil, though we may have it, is understood far better by God then any human could ever hope to. Saying that, nature has order because God has order, and yet there seems to be a certain chaos to nature’s tides. One might say this is caused by the fall of mankind, I propose, however, that what we see as chaos, is truly order. Fires on the earth purify the land, and yet leave many homeless. Storms rise up and stir up life within the oceans, and yet, we blame God for such “tragedies” as Katrina. Yet, if no one had moved and dammed up an area far below sea level, prone to massive hurricanes, then no one would have died, let alone be hurt, therefore, if anything is to blame, it is the free will and audacity of man. Do not get me wrong, the countless deaths and displacements are extremely unfortunate and tragic, yet, to blame God, and questions His benevolence is a test I never wish to give. Then again, one could always blame global warming, and then again lays a problem; the ice caps are getting thicker. God bless science.
Even with these issues, in nature, one can see the necessity of “evil.” Are the fires, or the storms truly evil? One would say that the destruction caused by such events are, and yet, nature has always kept this same cycle for eons, therefore, one might conclude that it is the invasion of mankind into this cycle which is truly evil. If that is the case, then man himself has brought the evil – the destruction, and so on, into the world. Was it a storm that brought Hitler? I think not, but one man’s “brilliant” insanity caused countless innocent deaths across Europe, both Jew and European alike. I realize, to bring up Hitler and a natural event is unforgivable… but is it? Do we blame God for Hitler like we blame God for Katrina? I think not, we have psychologist who specialize in the demented an Austrian psyche – I can say this, I have Austrian blood – who pour over notes, diaries, logs, reports, eye witness accounts, and so on, until, beyond a shadow of a doubt, one can say, Hitler was crazy. Did God make him crazy? Or maybe it was original sin… or maybe, something happened to him, someone else did an evil act, and it caused him to be evil, maybe, but it still remains the course of nature.
Would it have been better if Hitler had not killed so many innocent people? I would have to say yes, emphatically, and yet it happened. Was this atrocity necessary, most definitely not, but, out of this, a new nation rose up, one that had been lost long ago, Israel. However, even more trouble has been brought about, in the Middle East, and beyond. I bring this up only to show the cycle of nature. The history of man has never changed, kingdoms rise and fall, wars fought, famine, disaster, etc. Through this cycle, mankind finds himself. Through the experience of pain, he finds pleasure, through the experience of fear, courage is found, and so on and so forth. One can argue that evil is terrible, and truly, I agree that it is, yet, without evil, one would not know or recognize the better things in life.
As A note – I have the references for Johnson and Hick, etc… and I will add them to the post asap.