The Concept of Evil

In all the scriptural texts of the western world, a devout seeker will find no judgment that directly addresses, clarifies or answers the problem of what really constitutes evil.  Perhaps that should not be so surprising since genuine history has shown that religionists of every variety often tend to make use of evil methods to foster their particular faith system.  Today, for example, we see reprehensible behavior being put into practice in the United States where religious extremists labor fanatically to undermine all the long-standing noble principles of democracy. 

Those who hold the Bible aloft as their standard for “values” while attempting to tear down those principles of democracy seem especially fond of the bloody tales of the Old Testament.  God did a lot of verbalizing in the early part of the Old Testament, and his fatherly participation is implied throughout the New Testament, but how often is it ever claimed that God proclaimed himself to be just?  The nearest thing that a seeker may find in either the Old or New Testament on the question of what supposedly constitutes evil is in the Book or Job.  And that “holy” tale happens to be a  plagiarized version lifted from Babylonian literature, which the Yahweh priest copiers doctored with the assertion that God, being benevolent, always makes things right.

There is subtle juggling in the scriptural evaluation of what constitutes evil, such as is presented in Job—a blurred distinction of what is evil and what happens to be an encounter with misfortune.  Properly, evil must be defined as a purposeful and/or intentional impairment imposed by a person or group of persons upon other persons, or upon other living creatures.  Evil is malevolent action that is deliberately taken against others.  Unfortunately, “good book” stories don’t make this clear, and the fundamentalists love to use these examples as their “values.”

For an answer to the problem of evil, the common clerical explanation inspired by scriptural tales is that evil arises from man having been given free will choice.  This is more hollow than holy, for such an explanation conveniently allows a faith system a lucrative market in the selling of anti-“sin” safeguards.  This is possible simply because the free will excuse allows the blame for any negative experience to be placed solidly on the victim by judging the victim as having done something wrong to deserve it!  That is the premise that hovers over the biblical version of Job.

Elsewhere, though, in 1 Samuel 18:10 it states “…and an evil spirit from god came upon Saul…”  This blunt admission in “holy word” of god’s negative aspects has bewildered countless biblical scholars and clergy.  They mistakenly proclaim that their personification of creative energies, which they call God, is good only.  But the negative principles that are part of creative energies cannot be denied; positive/negative polar interaction is also referred to in Isaiah 45:7 where god is quoted as saying, “I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil.  I am the Lord (law) of all these things.” 

The much older material upon which such biblical tales were structured explained that a blend of polar energies are responsible for any definable manifestation.  That more ancient knowledge pops up in only a couple of OT books, however: in Samuel and in Isaiah.

So the encounters with misfortune that people experience, such as debilitating diseases or natural disasters, are not the result of the victim’s having done something wrong in the sight of a wily god.  Those tribulations are traceable to biological malfunctions or to the exchanges of creative energies known as Nature.  Electrical storms, for example, can vary in intensity from gentle rains to raging hurricanes; they are natural energy interactions, not direct acts of God.  Ditto for other natural energy exchanges such as trigger earthquakes, and which are too often palmed off as being the “wrath of god.”

Out of this confusion a double standard is utilized in the biblical assessment of evil, for nowhere else in the animal kingdom has any creature of nature been branded as acting with evil intent.  Not even the carnivores.  In scriptural narrative it is only man that is branded as capable of  perpetuating evil, and this is attributed to man being influenced by some opponent (Devil, Satan, etc.) of god’s goodness.  But giving god credit only for all that is good but pretending that this personification of creative energy has no part in the negative aspects that accompanies life is nothing more than selective blindness.

That convenient premise certainly does not explain evil.  The predator/victim relationship that exists throughout all the rest of Nature makes the hypothesis of a benevolent god questionable.  If that god-permissable predatory activity is representative of intelligent design, it means that man’s concept of evil exists only in how man is taught to assess his encounter with negative experiences: it does not define how or why evil exists.  This conveniently leaves the field open for evil actions to be used in the selling of a faith system (or political scam).

And in choosing to hypothesize a benevolent God, we have been tricked into meeting our fears of victimization by labeling any negative experience as evil.  Around this fear of victimization organized faith systems have constructed the elaborate scaffolding of self-serving “values,” which are painted as different shades of morality.  Then, pointing to this man-erected scaffolding, the claim is made that it proves the existence of a moral God.

Unfortunately for man, these self-serving faith systems have slyly avoided any real guidance of man toward his higher potential.  And in ignoring the nature of what constitutes the “evil spirit from god” spoken of in 1 Samuel, these faith systems skate alarmingly close to being evil.

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