Posts Tagged ‘purpose of evil’

Is Evil Necessary for Good to Exist?

January 6, 2008


I posted something recently called The Opposite of Love, a little piece that explores the nature of opposites. That got me to thinking and I’d like to expand a bit on the idea.

There are a lot of opposites in our world. So many, in fact, that you could argue that we live in a dualistic universe, one in which everything has an opposite. Perhaps opposites are necessary for the existence of some, or all, things.

For example, in order for hot water to exist, cold water must also exist. Otherwise it would just be water. Hot water cannot be defined without the existence of cold water. Hot water is just water that has a higher temperature than some other water. Even the term ‘higher’ requires two temperatures, one hotter and one colder.

How about on and off? If there was no state of off, there could be no state of on. It is the possibility that a light could be off that makes real the possibility that it could be on. Otherwise it would just be a light.

Up and down, light and dark, positive and negative; the examples are numerous. What about good and evil? (My regular readers are groaning right now. “Oh, he’s not going to get back into the God thing is he?” Yep, I’m afraid so.)

Is evil necessary for good to exist? I’m thinking that maybe it is. That might explain the existence of evil in the first place, something that has bothered me for a long time because of one very simple question. If God created the universe and everything in it, where did evil come from?

I am not one to take the Bible literally, but I do believe it contains a lot of ideas worth considering. Take the story of how evil was introduced into the world. There was God, Adam, and Eve hanging out in the Garden. God is credited with creating Adam and then Eve, but wasn’t there another presence there too? Yes, I am referring to Satan, in the form of a serpent.

Did Satan just appear spontaneously, out of the control of God, or was he created for a purpose? Or perhaps Satan has always co-existed with God and the two are really just opposites that rely on one another for existence. God and Satan: The eternal yin and yang, light and dark, something and nothing.

I know this is an unorthodox idea but before anyone blows a religious fuse, remember that it is just an idea. I’m just throwing it out there, so stay with me. There really are only three explanations for the existence of evil (if it does exist). First, evil just happened by itself. That implies that God is not omnipotent. Second, God created evil. Even if evil is the result of a fallen angel, if God created everything, he must have created Satan knowing that he would fall, and therefore God created evil. Third, God is both good and evil. This is the possibility that makes the most sense to me.

The first case violates the whole concept of a created universe. Any creator powerful enough to create life and everything that is would have seen evil coming. I can’t see a creator god making such a big mistake, as in, “Oops, I didn’t see that coming.”

The second case, although more plausible, violates the concept of reason. Why would a creator god create its own nemesis? The only reason I can think of is that in order to give us free will, God had to create something besides good from which to choose. If there is only one choice, free will has no meaning. This has some validity, especially if you believe that the purpose of life is change.

The third case really only violates our traditional concepts of good and evil. We have labeled good “good” and evil “bad”, but what if these are man-made constructs that misrepresent the true nature of good and evil? Perhaps good and evil are just two sides of the same coin or just two movable points on a continuum?

In a world of “us against them” don’t we always consider “us” to be good and “them” to be evil? Don’t you realize that in “their” eyes, we are the evil “them”? Who is right? Doesn’t it depend on your point of view?

If you can see the truth that there really is no enemy, it may be that the third case is the only one that makes any sense at all.