Thunker’s Weblog


Humanity and Evil

Robert Wheadon-126x150

One of the questions that has bothered, bedeviled and out-right bugged theologians for the ages is the question of good and evil.  Specifically, the set-up is like this: “If God is the Creator, did He create evil?  If God is good, how could he allow evil to exist?  If he allows evil to exist, how can He be good?”  There are a host of assumptions going on there.  Yet point I really want to focus on today is the source of evil.  Do evil acts emanate from within us as mortals or are they forced upon us by exterior forces?

Sound familiar?  It should.  Christianity has been wrestling with these ideas for over 1000 years.  Early Christian writers, like St. Augustine, wrote voluminously on these topics.

Let’s begin with God and Creation.  In Genesis, 1:1, we read of God, or Elohim, creating the heavens and the earth.  In Hebrew, bara is the word translated as create.  The word also can be translated as to form, shape or mold.  Many Christians have been taught the tradition that divine creation means creatio ex nihilo, or creation from nothing.  While that sounds mysterious and ethereal, that description of creation has never made much sense to me.  And there is no scriptural evidence for it.  And natural law doesn’t work that way.   I have always thought that God, whether He created the laws of nature or follows the laws of nature, formed the Earth from existent material, more of an in ordine creaturae, creation through organization, than a creation out of nothing.  The approach of God shaping and molding physical matter into worlds, stars and moons makes more sense to my soul.

Flowing from the idea that God operates within existing natural laws and existing material, could the question of the creation of evil be the wrong question?  What I mean is that instead of taking the assumptive stance that God created evil, what if we took the idea that evil has always existed and is made manifest through the choices we make.  Like Jeremiah said in Jeremiah 11:8, we read, “Yet they obeyed not, nor inclined their ear, but walked every one in the imagination of their evil heart…”

I am not saying that humanity is inherently evil.  I don’t think that is what Jeremiah is saying either.  I think we have the divine ability to choose back and forth, one or the other.   Jeremiah is talking about the people of Judah at a time when they thought more of themselves than they did of God.  Jeremiah does validate the idea that people could decide and walk the path they wanted.

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So that takes us to the next part of our discussion.  Does evil exist as an independent force?  Or is it a construct of universal values and the conformity or non-conformity that determines good and evil?  A universal value would be humanity’s abhorrence of taking human life.  Or stealing.  Or lying. Or… well, you get my drift.  As mortals on this earth, whatever our culture, society or belief, these values appear to be rather universal.  When we deviate from these values, we cross the line from good to bad, light to dark, divine to evil.  Can we be influenced one way or the other?  In other words, can Satan and his minions make us be evil?  I don’t believe we can be forced to do anything.  However, I do believe if a choice is placed before us, there are powers of light and powers of darkness urging us to follow their disparate and opposite paths.  It’s our choice.  It’s always our choice.

 

So, be kind, make good memories and come back soon.

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4 Comments so far
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As usual, very good, Robert! I like the touches of humor and the questions that make us think, and the conclusions drawn. Thanks for this! Love, Mom

Comment by Sydney Wheadon

Thanks, Mom!

Comment by thunker

Small bad choices can eventually make a large deviation in where you want to end up. Resist temptations early, as it can be much harder to do abrupt harder choices later on.

Comment by Dad

Very, very true.

Comment by thunker




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