Voices of the City:
"In tonight's news, the famine has worsened in Africa..."
From the rooftop, "I need another hit."
"I'm leaving Mummy for Jennifer"
"I'm... I'm.. Positive."
We try to be happy and not think about 'Evil', except in the eyes of a serial killer. But why does evil exist (especially if 'God is love')?
Here's a few theories:
1. There is no God, and evil is part of the universe.
Howard Bloom says, 'Nature does not abhor evil; she embraces it. She uses it to build'. So 'evil is woven into our most basic biological fabric' and 'we are casualties of Nature's callous indifference to life, pawns who suffer and die to live out her schemes.' Why? 'In a world evolving into ever-higher forms, hatred, violence, aggression and war are a part of the evolutionary plan.' (The Lucifer Principle, pp.2-3)
Gloomy! And if evil is natural, why shouldn't I be evil? Sounds like Hitler's excuse: killing 'lesser people' was actually kind because it made room for the best humans to evolve into Superman.
2. There is a God but He is uncaring and/or weak.
But if He's weak, how did He make the universe? If He's uncaring, why did He bother?
Maybe a loving, powerful, creative God won't abuse His power by forcing people to do His will, but waits until people see the consequences of bad choices and choose to let Him run the universe. (Read the TOYMAKER story, in a separate pop-up article).
3. There is a God but there is also a devil.
Nature has a mix of good and evil (thorns have roses; dolphins live near sharks; a leopard kills for fun but is gentle with its cubs). And we humans have a mixture in us - we can give to charity and an hour later yell at someone we love.
Looking at the natural world (and yourself) is a bit like finding a computer with a virus. You see the careful, intelligent design but you can see it has a bug.
This is what the Bible teaches.
But this raises more questions! Like.....
1. WHY WOULD GOD MAKE A DEVIL?
The Bible says He didn't. He made a perfect superbeing ('angel') who chose pride and selfishness and violence instead of love. Ezekiel, a Bible prophet, wrote:
'The Lord spoke to me, saying, 'Man, sing the saddest blues for the King of Tyre [a symbol of Satan*]. Tell him from me:
( Ezekiel 28:11-17 ) (Paraphrased above)
Another passage gives the reason Satan lost it:
'How have you fallen from heaven, Lucifer,
son of the dawn?
Pride, selfishness, competitiveness. A summary of evil.
2. WHY ON EARTH?
'And there was war in heaven: Michael [that name means 'the one who is what God is'] and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought and lost, and there was no place for them in heaven. So the great dragon was thrown out - the old snake who is called the Devil and Satan - He was thrown out into the earth'
Put that against the old Genesis story (chapters 2,3), where a snake tempts the first humans to 'fall' (i.e. accept evil into their mind and nature) and here's the meaning you get:
Evil began in Lucifer by his own choice, and spread to other spiritual beings by their choice. The first humans experimented with it against God's advice, and brought Earth under the control of evil - Satan became...
God still works with people who rebel against Satan's dark kingdom of evil and 'sin'. God hopes people will see the results of evil and choose His leadership, rather than blaming Him for what Satan did. Jesus told people to pray `May Your will be done on Earth as it is in heaven.' Then, when it's obvious that Satan's government is to blame for all Earth's evil, God will get rid of evil and anyone who stubbornly chooses it.
Meanwhile, evil is not fair. Cancer doesn't care if you're Mother Teresa or an axe-murderer. Rapists can pass on AIDS to their innocent victims. You are less likely to suffer if you practise safe sex and don't share needles, but AIDS (like all evil) hits the best and the worst of us. Jesus said, 'Rain falls on everyone, good and bad.'OK - Let's keep movin'...
3. WHAT IS EVIL?
If God's law is perfect, designed to make us totally happy, then anything outside that would bring evil to us or someone else.
Jesus said, 'Love your neighbour as yourself' and 'Do to others what you want them to do to you.'
Evil says, 'Use your neighbour for yourself.' 'Do unto others before they do you.'
Evil = selfishness = sin. (But self-nurture or self-improvement are fine!)
Sin is saying, 'I don't care about God's advice or what you need - I want this.' (E.g. child abusers desire their pleasure over a child's happiness.)
The Bible says:
But human nature wonders if evil might work better
4. WHAT IS GOD'S SOLUTION TO EVIL?
i. God forgives our dark
side - if we ask.
When Jesus became a man, He died to take the death our sins deserve - so we get eternal life! He absorbed human evil and guilt, and showed that God has felt all our pain and cares deeply. (see our guide, 'What Jesus Said on the Cross')
ii. God builds our good
iii. Eventually, God will destroy evil
and everyone who keeps choosing it. Judgment Day may sound harsh, but what else could God do? Choosing evil is choosing death, and God gives us choice.
If you were God, would you let stubborn child-abusers live forever?
Would you be a dictator and force them to change their minds? The kindest option is that they just fade away.
iv. God makes a 'new Earth'
Man: God, why don't you do anything about starving children?
God: I was about to ask you that same question.
'When we deny the EVIL within ourselves, we dehumanize ourselves, and we deprive ourselves not only of our own destiny but of any possibility of dealing with the EVIL of others.'
-J. Robert Oppenheimer, inventor of A-bombs
'If only there were EVIL people somewhere... and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and EVIL cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?'
'EVIL can no more be charged upon God than darkness can be charged upon the sun.'
We don't claim to speak for God. The Bible does. We hope these spiritual Explorers' Guides will get you thinking about what it says.