Recognizing Evil: A Reflection from Core 9
The question then is not whether or not evil exists, but how it has come to be such an intense and present force in our world. Before Eve eats from the tree in the garden, she knows no reality of what is right and wrong. Perhaps God was simply protecting us from having to know the evil that was already present in the world. It says in Genesis 3:5, “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” When we chose this, we chose a responsibility that God maybe had never intended for us, but also knew we could handle the consequences if we made that choice.
God created evil, but not for the sole purpose of using it against us. In order for us to truly know the right way to live and to find bliss, we must first experience trials and some suffering in order to fully appreciate what we have earned and been given by God. In terms of what the Jews experienced during the Holocaust, it is hard to find any sort of defense for the evil that existed there. The Holocaust not only generated hatred at the time it occurred, but still does today, towards the people who incited it and also God. The Holocaust continues to affect people of all origins and countries today, but the positive is that it serves as a very good reminder of what happens when power is placed into the wrong hands.
We are told as Christians to hate the sin, not the sinner, which I think can be a hard concept to take hold of (Reuter). However, we must stop and realize that we all act according to our own judgment and that it is our right as people of free will to make both bad and good choices. We cannot hate the person for their actions, but we can learn from their mistakes and go on to teach others to act differently. The only evil we as human beings can control is moral evil, as we chose to know of its existence when we were created. Therefore, we also have a chance to counter act it with good. Physical events in nature, in my opinion, cannot be considered evil in a malicious sense because it does not act with the sole purpose of creating chaos and disharmony. When Bro. Reuter discussed evil, he mentioned that it is never necessary and therefore not everlasting. This places the pressure on us to avoid evil in our everyday lives, and to focus on the other side, which is good.
I believe it is necessary to see people as basically good, because we were created not knowing evil, and in the image of God, who is perfectly good. If we were to see each other as evil, it would only encourage the presence of evil in our everyday lives, and would not benefit us as human beings to find true happiness and love. If God had intended for us to live on this earth in suffering, he would not have created all of the “good” things he did. Instead, he created the good and the bad, so that we may see and better appreciate the good in our lives, each other, and in the world.
When people experience extreme personal tragedy or loss, it is hard to believe in a God who could allow suffering and sadness to exist. For example, when Brandon Hardy and Sarah Augustine died last year, I felt bitterness towards God for taking them away at such an early age, but eventually I began to accept that it was a reality. I think everyone who was close to them learned that we could not continue to live each day without knowing that we will eventually die and therefore should strive to live rightly and up to our full potential.
If the greatest thing we can do is love, then we must know what is not love in order to achieve it. To say that God cannot exist if he is perfectly good and created something evil does not work. When God created evil, it was with a good intention, to help us to realize our purpose in life, appreciate what we have, and become closer to him.