Evil That Men Do
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 have very often made use of evil methods to foster their particular faith system. Today, for example, we see reprehensible behavior being put into practice in the U.S. where religious extremists labor fanatically to undermine all the long-standing noble principles of democracy and seek to tear down the firewall of church-state separation.
Those who hold the Bible aloft as their standard for “values” while attempting to tear down those principles of democracy are especially fond of the bloody tales of the Old Testament. God allegedly did a lot of verbalizing according to the early part of the Old Testament, and his active participation is implied in the accounts of land wars. 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 Testaments on the question of what supposedly constitutes evil is in the book of 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 Yahweh/God is always benevolent and 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 constitutes evil and what happens to be simply an encounter with misfortune. Properly, evil should be understood 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 a malevolent action that is deliberately taken against others. Unfortunately, this is the “value” that fundamentalists choose to interpret as being advocated in the “good book” stories.
For an answer to the problem of evil, the common clerical explanation as 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 the promotional scheme to sell their 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 “in God’s eyes” to deserve it! That is the premise that is attempted in the biblical version of Job.
Elsewhere in holy scripture, 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 aspect has bewildered countless biblical scholars and clergy. They mistakenly proclaim that their personification of creative energies as God is good only. But the negative principles which are an intricate part of creative energy cannot be denied: positive/negative interactions of energy are necessary for anything to be created. That recognition of positive/negative energy interaction is also referred to in Isaiah 45:7 where God (the personification of creative energy) is quoted as saying, “I form the light, and create darkness: I am the Lord of all these things.” In the much older pre-history lessons upon which such biblical tales as these were structured it was explained that a blend of polar energies (positive/negative) are responsible for any definable manifestation. That ancient (and advanced) knowledge pops up in only in these two scriptural tales.
So the encounters with terrible misfortune that people experience, such a debilitating diseases or natural disasters are not the result of the victim’s having done something deliberately evil in the sight of a discriminatory god. Those tribulations are traceable to biological malfunction or to the exchanges of creative energies known as Nature. Electrical storms, for example, vary in intensity from gentle rains to roaring hurricanes; they are natural energy interactions, not direct acts of a disapproving God. Ditto for other natural energy exchanges such as generated earthquakes, etc.
Out of the crafted holy interpretation a double standard is utilized in the self-serving assessment of evil, for nowhere else in the animal kingdom has any creature of nature been branded as acting with plotted evil intent. Not even the carnivores. In scriptural narrative it is only man who is branded as capable of perpetuating evil, which is interesting since man is claimed to be made in the image of God. But this is then excused by claiming that man’s acts of evil are influenced by some opponent of God’s goodness i.e. Devil, Satan, etc. But giving God credit only for all that is good and 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 of God-is-good-only certainly does not provide a satisfactory explanation of what actually characterizes evil. The predator/victim relationship which exists throughout all the rest of nature makes the hypothesis of a benevolent God questionable. If that God-permissible predatory activity is representative of what some call intelligent design it means that man’s concept of evil exists only in how man chooses to perceive negative experiences; it does not define what the creative force (personified as God) would regard as evil. This conveniently leaves the field wide open for evil actions to be used in the marketing of religion and politics. We can see the result of that prominently displayed in theocratic governments.
And in choosing to hypothesize a benevolent-only God, we have been tricked into meeting our fears of victimization by labeling nearly any negative experience as evil. Around this fear of victimization the established organized faith systems have constructed an elaborate scaffolding of self-serving “values”, which are painted as different shades of morality. Then, as these faith systems point to their man-erected scaffolding, the claim is made by them that their patched together supporting mechanism proves the existence of a moral God (who favors them, of course).
Unfortunately for man, these self-serving faith systems have not guided mankind into enlightenment or toward our higher potential. All that they have blessed mankind with has been centuries of senseless conflicts over which faith practice is spiritually superior. Thus in purposefully ignoring the “evil spirit from God”, or the all-inclusiveness which is briefly alluded to in 1 Samuel and Isaiah, these faith system fanatics continuously skate alarmingly close to being evil practitioners themselves. As Shakespeare noted, “The evil that men do lives after them.”