Truth, Understanding, Insight

Good & Evil

1st March 2008, mgh


1) Why is there evil?

A famous evolutionist when asked why they did not belive in God said, in effect, because of a parasite. He was really saying he could not believe there was a God because he could see things in nature he thought were bad. Others may echo this by giving examples of people suffering. Why is there evil in the world if God made it good?

But what is good?

Philosophy of Good

"Good" is how we want the world to be. There may be significant disagreement between individuals about this. An example is where one person may see a buidling development as progress and good, another may see it as damaging the planet and see the same development as bad. Who is right? In the same way a parasite is a natural part of the ecology of the world, and one person may see it as evil as it may harm people, and another may see all nature as good having a specific function.

How we see the world is based on the ideas, or philosophy, we have.

There is an idea that human life is precious and we should never be hurt or suffer. But is this idea from the Bible, or is it wishful thinking?

The Reality of the Curse

The Bible starts out by saying that the world was created very good. Observation and experience shows how wonderful the inter-related and balanced system we live in is.

And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day. (Genesis 1:31)

This very good state, however, the Bible says was changed due to human sin, which brought death to the whole human race. (SeeSalvation.) Death was not instantaneous but a process of 'dying'. In addition nature was cursed.

And unto Adam he said, Because you hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and have eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for your sake; in sorrow shall you eat of it all the days of your life; Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to you; and you shall eat the herb of the field; In the sweat of your face shalt thou eat bread, till you return unto the ground; for out of it were you taken: for dust you are, and unto dust shall you return. (Genesus 3:17-19)

This is an accurate exprssion of the state of the world. The world was no longer 'very good' for humans. The Bible says life is going to be one of sweat, hardship, sorrow and sickness leading to death. The Bible says the world as we see it around us is 'cursed'.

The normal state of the world may be cursed, but for those people God loves there is a slight lifting of the curse,

And you shall serve the LORD your God, and he shall bless your bread, and your water; and I will take sickness away from the midst of thee. (Exodus 23:25)

The well known evolutionist proved nothing. He showed rather an elementary lack of knowldge of the Bible. His opinion that nature is not always good confirms the Bible. In effect he has given evidence that God exists.

Where did this evolutionist get the idea that God would only create good?

God's name is not 'good'

In English we have inherited an old Anglo-Saxon word for Deity, 'God' which means 'good', and with this the sentiment that Diety should give humans good things. However, a literal translation of the Hebrew word in the Bible rendered 'God' is Mighty. (For more detail seeNames and Titles of the God of Israel.) Deity is mighty, or powerful.

Deity is to be feared for his great and aweful acts. Just one act is the elimination in an instant of a great army.

But the children of Israel walked upon dry land in the midst of the sea; and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left. Thus the LORD saved Israel that day out of the hand of the Egyptians; and Israel saw the Egyptians dead upon the sea shore. And Israel saw that great work which the LORD did upon the Egyptians: and the people feared the LORD, and believed the LORD, and his servant Moses. (Exodus 14:29-31)

To the Egyptians there was great evil, to the Israelites great good. But even the recipients of the good feared this power and respected it.

The Bible does not say God will always be good to humans, however, he is always powerful.

2) The Sources of Evil

Apart from death, which all experience and evil in nature due to the curse, what else might be considered evil? Wars, famines, poverty, murders, crime, inequity, injustice, accidents and natural disaster. In this list the majority of evil is due to human actions, except for natural disaster. Sometimes these are called "an act of God". However much of the damage in so called 'natural disasters' may be due to lack of human fore thought. In addition in day to day lives people may suffer from other's anger, pride, malice, neglect, unkindness, ill treatment, due to excesses and hatred. The Bible gives a way to live that eliminates as much as possible this evil. The apostle John says there is a simple explanation for evil in the world, saying,

For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passes away, and the lust thereof: but he that does the will of God abideth for ever. (1 John 2:16-17)

John says that this evil that humans do is due to their lust and is not of God, the Father. Those that do the will of God do not do evil and will live forever and the evil of the world will pass away.

The apostle James says God does not make poeple do evil. They do evil when they lust. After they lust they sin. And the evil that results leads sooner or later to the death of people.

Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempts he any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust has conceived, it brings forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, brings forth death. (James 1:13-15)

Why does God allow Evil?

If God is powerful and can eliminate evil, why does he allow evil? The Bible indicates it is so humans must make a choice.

Let us choose to us judgment: let us know among ourselves what is good. (Job 34:4)
Butter and honey shall he eat, that he may know to refuse the evil, and choose the good.(Isaiah 7:15)

Jesus in a parable says God 'sows' good but humans (the enemy of God) 'sow' evil.

Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field: But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also. So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from where then has it tares? He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up? But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn. (Matthew 13:24-30)

Here God allows the consequnces of evil to exist lest, in removing the evil, the good is harmed.

The prophet Habbakuk asks why evil is allowed when it is ordained for judgment.

"O LORD my God, mine Holy One? we shall not die. O LORD, thou hast ordained them for judgment; and, O mighty God, thou hast established them for correction. Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity: wherefore do you look upon them that deal treacherously, and hold your tongue when the wicked devoureth the man that is more righteous than he? (Habbakuk 1:12-13)

An answer is given by God to Habbakuk, that he must wait, but the judgment of evil will surely come,

For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it delay, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not delay. (Habbakuk 2:3)
(For more detail see Evil versus God.)

God has determined a time for judgement, or to bring evil on those who do evil.

God brings Evil

The Bible presents God as as the source of bringing the evil of judgement to a city.

Shall a trumpet be blown in the city, and the people not be afraid? shall there be evil in a city, and the LORD hath not done it? (Amos 3:6)

The scriptures speak of the God of Israel bringing plague, drought and war to those who are evil and deliberatly refuse to serve him.

Yahweh will make the pestilence cling to you, until he has consumed you from off the land, where you go in to possess it. Yahweh will strike you... with fever, and with inflammation, and with fiery heat, and with the sword, and with blight, and with mildew; and they shall pursue you until you perish. Your sky that is over your head shall be brass, and the earth that is under you shall be iron. Yahweh will make the rain of your land powder and dust: from the sky shall it come down on you..(Deuteronomy 28:21-24)

Whether humans like it or not, if such a powerful God exists, humans should respect and fear such a God. For a person to turn their back on such a God, is about as effective as turning the back on a neighbour when they play their stereo too loud. Ignoring them won't prevent them from impacting on your life.

A Choice

The Bible presents a choice. Humans can respect and fear God and seek to do good or they can ignore God and experience the consequnces of evil. If they seek good the effect of the evil of their world in their lives will be reduced. Certianly their goodness will make the world better than otherwise.

3) The principles of Good and Evil

The Bible presents a number of lists of what God considers Good and Evil. People have a choice to seek to do the things on the Good list or not to. Civil societies have made laws to protect their citizens based on experience. Evey well functioning society requires judgement of those who hurt others, but God's list goes further. These lists below say a good world is where people's behaviour to others obeys the golden rule.

Evil Good
There are six things which Yahweh hates; yes, seven which are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood; a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are swift in running to mischief, a false witness who utters lies, and he who sows discord among brothers.(Proverbs 16:15-18) To receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, and judgment, and equity; (Proverbs 1:3). For the word of the LORD is right; and all his works are done in truth. He loveth righteousness and judgment: the earth is full of the goodness of the LORD. (Psalm 33:4-5)
Works of Flesh (humans without God) Works of Spirit (humans serving God)
adultery, sexual immorality, uncleanness, lustfulness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, strife, jealousies, outbursts of anger, rivalries, divisions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these; (Galatians 5:20-21) love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).

In summary

"You shall not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but you shall love your neighbour as yourself: I am the LORD." (Levitcus 19:18)