Wednesday, October 13, 2010

A Study on Evil - What is Evil? (Replay)

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August 22, 2007

Good afternoon family.

Today we are going to dive into our first of many studies on evil.  I am going to pull a lot of the lead studies from the book "When Skeptics Ask" by Norman Geisler and Ron Brooks.  In addition, there will be references from the Bible along with any other reference that the Holy Spirit leads me to use.  Without further delay let's hop to it.

In order to begin a study on something, I think we must first lay some ground work.  What is Evil?  I think this is a relevant question to the study.  Have you ever really put much thought into it or can you merely identify evil when you see?  Is it one of those "I know it when I see it type of things"?  Well, its alright if you haven't thought about it, but I have pulled a few meanings for us.

Evil is....

  1. ...a term describing that which is regarded as morally bad, intrinsically corrupt, wantonly destructive, inhumane, selfish, or wicked. In most cultures, the word is used to describe acts, thoughts, and ideas which are thought to (either directly or causally) bring about withering and death —the opposite of life.” 1
  2. "...when good that should be there is missing from something....Evil is, in reality, a parasite that cannot exist except as a hole in something that should be solid. In some cases, though, evil is more easily explained as a case of bad relationships”2
  3. ...morally reprehensible : SINFUL, WICKED... arising from actual or imputed bad character or conduct”3
Taken these three definitions, we have a little something in which to work.  Almost all the time we look at evil from the standpoint of definitions 1 and 3.  You usually say, that this person is evil either because of their attitude, thoughts, etc.  Or, you say that some particular actions or conditions are evil (e.g., murder, child molestation, war, having cancer, etc.).  This list can go on and on, but all of these point to acts or end-results of evil.  They do not tell us what is evil.  Definition 2, goes a little deeper and identifies the entity of evil itself.

Evil can be a case of bad relationships of good situations.  What do I mean by this?  Well Norman Geisler uses the following example:
"...If I pick up a good gun, put in a good bullet, point it at my good head, put my good finger on the good trigger and give it a good pull....a bad relationship results."2
More than likely the results end in death or a very bad medical situation.  Everything is good in the situation, but the relationship of all results in evil.  A murderer did not go to find a bad gun, a bad bullet, and point it at a bad head.  They chose to use those good things in relationship to cause a bad effect.  If this is the case, this means you can either be of faith or of the world - you can either accept that it exists or you can live in denial but evil is present and does not discriminate.

But this leads us to another question.  Isn't God all powerful and all knowing?  If He is the creator of all things, didn't He create evil?  Well, God did create all things, but then again evil is not a physical thing :-) .  Rather, "[i]t is a lack in things."2   Sounds a little confusing but look at our second definition.  Evil is either a hole, which is a missing part of a thing, or it is a mix of bad relationships (which is still not a thing).  Don't be confused by me referring to evil as an "it" and assume it's a physical, tangible thing.

Since we are talking about physical and tangible things, lets talk about what God created.  In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth (He really did, you should read Genesis sometimes :-) ). In Genesis 2:9, God created all the trees:
"And the LORD God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil."
Notice that in here, God created the Tree of Life and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.  Now, if we remember correctly, God told Adam (and Eve as well although she came afterward), that he can eat of any tree in the Garden of Eden, but the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil (see Genesis 2:16-17) .  Could this be because He new something that Adam didn't know?  The tree of life ensured that Adam and Eve had eternal life.  They did not have any worries but only were forbidden to eat from one tree.  Then here comes the serpent urging Eve and Adam to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil hence the downward spiral (see Genesis 3:4-6).
Genesis 3:21-23 - "(21) The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them. (22) And the LORD God said, "The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever." (23) So the LORD God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken."
Hmmm, I may not be a rocket scientist, but do you think God was maybe trying to protect his creations from knowledge that could lead down the wrong path.  Before this event Adam and Eve had no idea what was good or evil.  Of course knowledge is power, whether it be good or bad.  In some cases to know is almost worst than not knowing at all.  For example, the knowledge of enriching radioactive elements was probably a bad thing.  Because of this knowledge we now have the Atom, Hydrogen, and a slew of other bombs in which we are probably not familiar.   In any case, God had us protected with simple instruction, but one thing started the domino affect.  God made us free creatures and this gives us the freedom to make our own decisions.  This is not a bad thing, but look at the decision to eat from the forbidden tree. 

This will lead us into next WFTD topic which will be on the origins of evil.  Stay tuned folks and pray for this study as the Holy Spirit has His way with me.

Be Blessed and happy hump day!

1 Wikipedia
2 Geisler, Norman and Brooks, Ron. When Skeptics Ask. Copyright 1990.  pp. 60-61.
3 Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary.
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Antoine E. Hall


"Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says." - James 1:22
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