Ever since the beginning of time our reality has been based on the conflict between good and evil. From the story of Adam and Eve to modern day and everything done by the human race has been a battle between these two. Many theologians and scholars have tried to argue the creation of evil. They question if God created it or if man and his perversion of the good created it. Or even if it goes back farther than that, to the angels and Lucifer. Still many have reached the conclusion that evil is man’s perversion of God’s great gift of free will. However, I do not agree. I believe that evil is inherent in man. I believe that God, whether directly or indirectly, created evil. Many philosophers and theologians have had similar ideas. Even those that would disagree with my view have said things that will back up my argument. St. Augustine was one of the great theologians in church history.
He had the idea that man was inherently and totally good until the fall. After the fall, man was both good and evil. A dualistic thought, but nonetheless a very Christian statement because we now had the ability to sin. From that point on, man was not prone to evil, but was born with evil in him. This is what drives us to sin in the first place. How could we perverse a good without having that perverseness, evil, in us already? Augustine himself identifies with this in his famous story of the theft of the pears. When he stole those pears he didn’t have “any desire to enjoy the things [he] stole, but only the stealing of them and the sin.” What he’s saying is that there was no reason for him to steal the pears, no need or desire. It was simply the fact that it was evil and sinful that drove him to commit his pointless theft.
He realized that there was a side of him that was naturally drawn to the enjoyment of evil. He realized that he had evil in him. And that part of him is what delighted in sin. Augustine admitted that it could not have been a perversion of a good because if that were so, and he was naturally all good, then he would have felt remorse. He would not have felt such pleasure in the act. It was the evil that part of him craved. He said, “If any part of one of those pears passed my lips, it was the sin that gave it flavour.” How could anyone enjoy such sin if it wasn’t already in him or her? The reason is that he had evil in him, we all do. If we didn’t, then we wouldn’t sin. Some would say that we are good and the gift of free choice allows us to sin. But if that were true, then we still wouldn’t sin. How would we be able to perverse good if the ability to do it isn’t in us?
The ability and desire too perverse is evil. So if we do possess that ability and desire then we must possess evil. This paradox goes back a long time before Augustine. It goes back a long time before man. The angels themselves were created as beings of worship for the Lord. After an extensive search of the bible, I have failed to locate any passage that explains the creation of the angels. Nowhere in the bible does it state whether or not angels have free will. Assume that they do have free will, Lucifer and his angels’ chose freely when they decided to go against the Lord. This choice of Lucifer’s is not documented at any point in the bible. When the war in heaven broke out it was divided into two sides, God’s and Lucifer’s. Michael, God’s general, won the battle. Lucifer and his minions were cast down from the heavens.
From this time on Lucifer would be known as the very epitome of evil. Since then it has seemed that all evil has originated from Lucifer, Satan. The part of the story that seems to be a bit odd is that God, as we understand him, is all knowing. Augustine described God as having “supreme knowledge of all things.” So if the Lord were all knowing, then he would know that Satan and his angels would rebel. He would know that Satan would be evil and bring evil in to the world. In this sense God created evil. God was the only thing that existed before He created angels and Lucifer. In order for him to choose to be evil, (assuming free choice), evil had to exist before him. Understand I’m not saying the Lord is evil and in no way am I saying the Lord likes evil. I am simply stating that, indirectly or directly, the Lord created evil. Even the argument that evil was created by The Morning Star through a perversion of God’s gift still backs my statement.
Since God is all knowing and omnipotent, he would know that Satan was going to create evil with his actions and he would have the power to stop that from happening. Again some would say that it was his love that allowed Lucifer to chose that end, but that would still mean that God indirectly created evil. God created Lucifer and Lucifer is evil, or created evil, so therefore God had a part in the creation of evil itself. Another thought that has entered my mind during my research for this paper is free will itself. Free will is the gift God gave to us allowing us to choose between good and evil. If that were truly what free will is, then what good would it be without evil? What would we have to choose between if there was no evil? We would only be able to choose good because it would be the only option available to us.
This means that the greatest gift God gave to mankind, the ability to choose out of our own will, would not exist without evil. The thing we value the most, as Christians, relies on the existence of evil. Not only that but whom defines evil. All of our laws are based on past or present religious beliefs on what is right and wrong. All of those beliefs began from what God told us was evil. So God not only allowed evil to be created, so that he could give us free will that we might choose him, but he also gave it definition. He brought it to our attention. Man had no knowledge of evil until God told us of it. Even in the Garden man didn’t know evil. He did not know that eating from the one tree in the center of Eden was evil until God told him. So why would God put the tree there in the first place if he didn’t want man to eat it? He knew that Adam and Eve would eat the fruit and he knew what would happen when they did.
He had to know because he knows all. So what was his reason for putting evil with man, why was the tree placed in the Garden of Eden? It was put there so man would have a choice between evil and God. The Lord knew that his gift of free will would be meaningless if man had no other option but to obey and worship God. He did not want man to love him because there was no other choice; he wanted man to love him because he chooses God over evil. That is why the tree was placed in easy access to Adam and Eve. And that is why the good Lord allowed the entrance of evil into the world. He was greatly disappointed when they chose evil, but he knew that if he did not give them a choice then their love for him would have no other meaning than simply a lack of options. This way every time someone chooses God over evil the Lord knows they do it because they truly love him and that love is stronger than any temptations that evil may give them.
St. Augustine is a good example of the love God desires. As we have discussed, Augustine was an extreme sinner. Not in the acts that he did, but in their rationality. He sinned for the evil in sinning. He fought the evil in himself for many years before he chose God. And when he chose the Lord, he chose full hearted and knowing of the evil he was turning away from. He said to God, “I will love you, Lord, and thank you, and praise your name, because you have forgiven me such great sins and such wicked deeds.” This is why God gave us free will. Not only because of his love for us, but because he wants our love for him to be real. If you have only known one person your whole life and you love that person dearly than it will mean a lot to them. However, the meaning, depth, and trueness of your love for them will be exemplified to them if you are shown many other people, some very tempting to be with in different ways, and you still come back to the one you’ve always know was there for you.
You might not love that person any more than before, but your love will mean more to them because out of all your choices, you choose them. That is why God allows evil to exist and that is why God gave us free choice, to show us his love in hopes that we will return it to him. In addition, we know that God is incapable of doing evil, because everything that comes from God is good. Whether we see the good in it or not, it is still good because the Lord created it. However that doesn’t mean that some things God does can not be malum in se, evil in and of itself. That means that when the Lord destroyed Sodom and killed some Egyptians to free the Jews, his actions were not evil and he did not commit any evil. However the fact that people were killed is evil. The actual taking of life, in and of itself, is evil. So in doing so God does not do evil.
The killing done by the Lord is just; good will come of it, but the taking of life is evil in itself. Many would argue that it is not evil because God has the right to take life even when unjustified, that He is above the laws that He has given to humans. That is false. God gave us those laws, in part, to define evil. Since the definition of evil was given to us by God, then he must know evil just as we do. So He can not commit any sin because it would be evil, and the Lord can not do evil. The Lords actions are not good just because he is the Lord, they are good because he knows good from evil and always chooses good. In the same sense, everything that is evil is so because God doesn’t do it. So if God tells us “thou shall not kill” then he shall not either because he knows it is evil and he can not do any evil. Therefore, when some dies at the hands of God it is good.
What he has done is good, but the fact that a life was taken is still malum in se. There are a few places in the bible where things such as this are evident. God never wants to take a life but it is sometimes necessary. In 1 Kings 22:23 it says, “the Lord himself has decreed evil against you.” A messenger of the Lord sent this, so that the evil may be averted, but the king did not listen and many people died. This backs up my statement about God’s taking of life as being malum in se, and with that my earlier statement about God indirectly creating evil. God does not wish for people to die. He sends a messenger to warn of the upcoming tragedy, but he knows that what he must do is for good. And if evil acts must be done for good then so be it. He is still not doing evil because he is doing it for good. The only evil is the actual taking of life, which God is not responsible for since he did all in his power to warn the condemned. So God’s destroying of one army, while it may be evil in and of itself, is a good because it will save lives.
And even if we can not see the good that it does, we can not judge. God knows all and he knows what is good and what must be done to achieve it. In conclusion, I believe that I have given strong evidence to back up my idea that God, either directly or indirectly, created evil. That is not a bad thing because all the reasons that God allows for evil to exist are for good. So that our free will is truly a gift in the respect that we have a real choice. He created, or allowed the creation of, evil so that when we experience evil we will know better what good is and how to achieve it. So when we choose God it is because our love for him is so strong that it can overcome all evil. Overall the basis of our reality is the struggle between good and evil. That means that good and evil have been in existence since our reality began. And since God created our reality, God created both good and evil. But he only created evil so that we would know and choose good.