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Series Theme:  Problem of Evil & Suffering
Contents:

  

7. Not Me!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Title:   1. What is Evil

        

A series that considers the problem of evil and suffering
in the world

Introduction

This is the first of a series of pages on the problem of evil in the world.  We hope you'll read them all through thoughtfully and carefully, and come to see the reality of how things are, and why you can be secure in God's love.

There is a problem though - we all have history - and because of what has happened to us personally, many people are hurt by life and find it very difficult to cope with any alternative to the view they have adopted.

Our only request is that as you read you have an open mind that is willing to think through the issues here.

 

1. The Fact of Evil

It would be a foolish person who would deny the fact that things in our world are often very far from good.

Consider:

  •  a mother miscarries
  •  a small child dies of chickenpox
  •  a child is run over in the street and killed
  •  a gang beat up a teenager and he's maimed for life
  •  a football stand collapses and many are killed
  •  a serial killer murders fifteen people before being caught
  •  an earthquake kills thousands
  •  a dictator kills millions in genocide
  •  ethnic cleansing kills hundreds of innocent families
  •  a young mother is struck down by a fatal disease
  •  a young father has heart attack and dies.

and so the list could go on and on and on. Things go wrong, people are nasty, people are killed, maimed, hurt, distressed. Why?

2. Where is God?


These things raise a variety of questions in any thinking person:

  • Why does God allow such evil?
  •  Why doesn't God do something about it?
  •  IS there a God?
  •  If there is, is he powerless to help?
  •  Does God care?

We'll assume, to start with, that there IS a God, an all-powerful God.

3. What IS Evil?


Some people speak about "evil" as if it were some living entity for which we could blame God, but is that so?

The Bible gives the fullest picture of what makes up what we call "Creation".

There are living creatures, living organisms and inanimate objects . We could categorise them as follows:

a) Living Creatures:  
Spirit beings

God and the angels (including the fallen angels that

we call demons  or evil spirits)

Material living creatures: Human beings, animals, insects, birds and fish
b) Living Organisms Viruses, living cell structures and plants, trees etc.
c) Inanimate Objects Earth, rocks, water, gases etc.

                                                

If you do not believe in the Bible it may be that you have a problem with "Spirit beings".

We'll simply note that an increasing number of people - e.g. New Age - believe in a "spirit world", a dimension of existence more than simply the material things we can touch and feel.

Now please note in this classification, and this is important to note, there is no amorphous substance called "evil"! 

God didn't make something called "evil". We can't blame God for making this substance that causes us harm!

When we assess something as evil, we usually mean something that causes us harm.

We generally have a belief that anything that harms us, is "evil", so anything or anyone causing us wrong hurt, harm, pain, or death, we classify as "evil". (NOT the doctor or dentist who causes pain to rectify and heal!)

In the above categories we'll now consider where harm seems to come from.

 

  

4. Where does Harm Come From?

Demonic Beings:

According to the Bible they seem to be able to inflict harm when they are given access by wrong human behaviour.

Human Beings:

Frequently cause harm to one another (this the Bible calls Sin).

Other Living Creatures:

Cause harm because they naturally kill, bite, sting etc. in their natural habitat.

Living Organisms:  

Cause harm by attacking cells of the human body

producing sickness

Inanimate Objects:  

Cause harm by responding to heat, thus causing pressure  and movement etc. e.g. earthquakes, volcanoes, storms etc.

                

Now the Bible appears to indicate that these last three groups did not seem to cause harm when God first made the world . In fact the Bible says that when God first made the world it was "very good".

If we lived alone on most of the world today, with no other human being in existence, we would still say that, creation is very good.

The tremendous variety of provision for both food and general enjoyment is amazing, sufficient to provide for the entire human population (i.e. no need for famines).


In certain parts of the world, harm comes to us through earthquakes, volcanoes, storms, floods etc., but for most of the time such things are relatively few and far between, although when they do occur they have the potential to cause great harm. 

Sickness occurs world wide, yet researchers have suggested that if the whole human race lived according to the guidelines given by God to the nation of Israel in the Old Testament of the Bible, most of the diseases we know about would be avoided.


Again the Bible seems to indicate that when mankind rejected God, forces were unleashed that caused upset to the natural world, which meant "natural disasters" and the arrival of sickness.


Most human misery though, is caused by "man's inhumanity to man", i.e. people doing harmful things to other people.

 

5. The Spectrum of Wrong Behaviour


Our temptation is to focus only on people that we consider as 'really evil', such as Hitler, Attila the Hun, or some of the mass murderers we have heard of in our lifetime.

When we think like this, we also tend to think that 'we' are not like that, we are not evil.


Yet we said previously that evil is wrongly imposing harm on another human being.  Any form of violence does that.

At the top end of the spectrum could be murder or rape, but even verbal abuse, or even neglect (of an elderly person) can cause harm.

There will not be one of us who can look back over our lives and say we have never been guilty of causing harm in some form to another. 

However much we may try to make light of this and excuse it by saying, "Well I was justified in acting like that," it is still 'wrong'.

 

6. I am evil?


That is an almost unpalatable truth for most of us.  We separate ourselves off from child killers and the like and say, "I'm not like that!"   

Yet the truth is that lurking within us is the potential to cause harm to another whether by word or deed.

When we can be honest with ourselves we can see that there are times, when in anger, we abuse another.  Every one of us without exception is tainted with this potential we call evil (and we need help).

7. Not me!


If we deny this we fool ourselves and we do it because we are insecure, and we fear what will happen if we accept the truth.

We can see it in others but are afraid to face it in ourselves. The truth is that evil in the world starts in me!

This is why the Christian message is the most realistic of the answers given to the problems of the world, because it starts with the reality of how we really are.

If we can face this one first of all, we're ready to go on to consider the next big question - why doesn't God do something - and for that you'll have to read the next page in this series.