Evil From MoralsBy textbook definition, evil is “What is morally wrong, what hinders therealization of good” (Webster). If that is evil, then what is good? It’s “whatis morally excellent, virtuous, well behaved, dutiful.” (Webster) Philosophershave argued over what evil is and why it exists for thousands of years. Theyhave raised questions like How can there be a God if there is evil?’ Thesequestions 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, sincepeople are supposed to be created in God’s image, why are they capable of moralevil? If one believes that God exists, there can only be one answer: evil existsbecause God allows it, and moral evil exists because God has given us freedom ofchoice.
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 perpetualstruggle.”(Collier) In reality, evil is merely the absence of good. “The essenceof all reality is good, evil is merely the faulty reflection of reality found ina world of particulars.”(Funk ; Wagnalls) There can be many different types ofevil. Two of such types are moral evil and natural evil.
Natural evil consistsof things like pain and suffering, while moral evil consists of making bad’decisions. “Moral evil depends on the exercise of human will; natural evil isindependent of this.” (MacGregor) The main difference between these two evils isthat people are unable to control natural evil, while moral evil depends ontheir will. Some people even say physical evil is a human necessity; “Withoutthe 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. “Thehuman family is as one, and its members help one another by their good actionsas the also cause suffering to one another for their faults”(Collier). As anexample, take what happened to Jesus.
He suffered for all sins of mankind, andthrough this saved them all. But what of moral evil, which consists of thingslike murder, which people can control? Why does God permit it if theconsequences are undesirable?To understand why moral evil exists, the concept of free will must beunderstood. Freedom of choice, or free will is “the power and exercise ofunhampered choice.” (Webster) Therefore humans are capable of making their owndecisions and doing whatever they please.
Freedom doesn’t mean an absence ofinfluences, rather that these influences do not force a person to decide in acertain way, and he/she can choose between these influences (e.g. A man thinks awalk outside would be a good idea because he needs fresh air. But, the man istired 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 ofthese are subconscious.
Certain people would say that if they knew thesesubconscious motivations, our behavior could be explained and free will would benullified, since our behavior would always be predictable. “Advocates of freewill do not deny that these unconscious causes exist, simply that it is apositive 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 stillchoose not to. Therefore if a person’s moral character is well known, hisdecisions are most likely predictable and not random. Thus, free will is notrandom, not completely determined, but necessary for the development of moralcharacter. 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 tothe actions of a man’s free will.
” (Collier) To understand, the situation mustfirst be analyzed. Since God is all-good, doing’ good would be doing somethingwhich God himself would do or approve to. Therefore doing evil would be theopposite; doing something which God wouldn’t do or approve to.
Going back to aprevious 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 oneor even several occasions, then there is no logical impossibilityfor man to choose good on every occasion”, “If it was open toan omnibenevolent God the possibility of creating beings who freelychoose good, and He did not take this opportunity, this would provethat He is not omnipotent.”, ” If God is all-powerful He should havemade human beings perfect. A perfect God should create perfect beings.”(Mackie)To answer all of there arguments, one must look at God’s relationship topeople and what his motives are. What God really wants is to have people likehim and to have a close relationship to him. If God created people so they chosegood on every occasion, he would be the cause of their behavior.
God is known tobe the source of what good’, good itself. Therefore the best choice a personcould make would be to have a close relationship to God. However, if God createdhumans always to make this choice, they would not be free compared to him. Whywould he want us to freely choose to have a close relationship to him? “Freewill, though it makes evil possible, is the only thing that makes possible anylove or goodness or joy worth having.” (Lewis) There are many examples that canprove this.
Let’s take one of true love. In case one, a man wants to marry awoman, but knows she isn’t interested in him. He forces the woman to marry himand tells her that she will love him. Deep down, this man knows she resents andprobably hates him. Now in case two, a man asks a woman to marry him, and shesays yes because she loves him.
Their relationship is one where their love isgenuine and can grow. Now, apply this to God. Because he loves us, he gives usthe choice to decide whether or not to follow him.”To have created men without freedom would mean that man could notfreely love and serve God, or in any way contribute to his ownsalvation.
” (Collier) “You have the freedom of choice to acceptGod, which is to love Him, or to reject Him, which is to declineto love him.” (MacGregor)Despite all opposing arguments, God is all-good and all-powerful. Moralevil is in part caused by free will and free will is the only way that allowstrue love and good moral character to grow. Some may say that they don’t agreewith this statement, and, by exercising the gift of free will continue toseparate themselves from God. But, if God is the greatest good, why would onewant to distance themselves from him? If God is the greatest good, anappropriate response would seem to get to know Him.