Heresy Detection Quiz — Question #6 for the Month

6.  Do you believe that “evil” exists in the Universe?

If you say “yes” … you are a Heretic in the eyes of those who see only science writ large in the night skies.  They believe only in what their empiricism allows them to believe.  If they cannot sense it or sense its presence in a mechanical device, they believe that it is not real.  Thus, a concept like “evil” makes sense to them only in terms of an existential ebb and flow of interactions.  In their eyes, interactions between all individuals can be judged relativistically.  Therefore, evil is an outdated concept, and to them, the difference between right and wrong is situationally defined.

If you say “no”, that is, if you do not believe in the existence of evil, then you are a Heretic in the eyes of those who see right and wrong in absolute terms.  Those people find an answer everywhere they look.  Evil did it.  God did it.  The fact that God may often be unconcerned with our interplays and dalliances escapes them.  The fact that God and Evil may both be players on a stage that will eternally be beyond our comprehension escapes them as well.  They are blissful when they often should not be.  Or, they are fearful when they should march toward their fate singing and smiling.  Or is it the other way around?

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POPULAR CULTURE:

I disagree with both sets of heretics here.  I believe that Evil is real and present in the Universe.  Simply keep up with your local news or those stories that the national media insist we certainly must be interested in.  There is a sufficient assortment of random acts of torture, abduction, genocide, and general sleaze to dull our sensitivities.  They never seem to end.  And … we never seem to stop watching.

So, yes true evil exists, but it does not control our lives.  God does not control our lives.  We have free will.  We can advance… our spirits can grow.

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THE HISTORY OF HERESY:

Theodicy is the theological term that relates to “the problem of evil.”  Late Enlightenment theologians sought to explain why evil exists in a world that was created by an all-loving and all-powerful God.

Theoretically, if God is good, why does He tolerate evil?  Since classical Christian orthodoxy describes an all-powerful and all-loving being, why does evil exist?  One answer was to say that evil as a construct doesn’t really exist at all – it is merely a reflection of our sinful choices.  We inflict evil on one another and God is not involved.  Unfortunately, this is directly contradicted by scripture.

Another response suggests that God and the Universe are intricately intertwined and that God evolves through a “process”.  Thus, God is in conflict with Evil, but both are part of an organic whole.  God changes as the universe changes.  Unfortunately, this viewpoint suggests that there are limits to God’s power.  It is also directly contradicted by scripture and by the entirety of orthodox Christian theology.

The real problem is with the orthodox view of godhead.  Simply because God is all-powerful and all-knowing does not mean that God encourages evil.  Simply saying that evil must exist in order for us to choose is not enough either, because that lessens the degree of omnipotent goodness that is imparted to God.

Classical and Medieval theologians portrayed a God that was in control of everything.  That allowed them to be the gate-keepers; contact with the Divine had to be mediated through them.  A hierarchical system with God at the top and everyone else arrayed underneath explained wealth and privilege and the concomitant subjugation of one set of humans by another.  So, the Universe was good and Order here on Earth was endorsed by God.  Evil was the result of sin among the faithful.  These views were promulgated by clerics who were a part of this hierarchical structure – situated near the top of it.

The real problem is that we fail to account for God’s will.  God is capable of conscious thought.  The God described in the Bible existed before the Universe and created it.

A cursory review of Scripture reveals the following –

The God described in the Bible is clearly capable of cognition.  This God can decide to intervene in our affairs or can decide not to do so.  Therefore, this God can exercise free will and choose to allow evil to exist for reasons that are beyond our capability to understand.  Finally, with respect to process theology, the Universe does not permeate God and God does not permeate the Universe.  However, the Universe does evolve, and we – when we choose to do so – give power and augmentation to Evil.

We are capable of choosing evil and turning our backs on God.  We are also capable of choosing God and choosing to love our neighbors as ourselves.  God prefers the second alternative.

Finally, the plain meaning of scripture indicates that after God created the Universe, other beings were created.  The embodiment of evil is a spirit being.  Angels are spirit beings.  Demons are spirit beings.  These spirit beings have free will.  We have free will.  God has free will.  The “problem of theodicy?” …. Problem solved…. God is the first free will being.

— The Hermit

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