Why Is There Evil?

    As we consider the concept of Evil today, perhaps the more pressing questions may be: What is evil and what does evil represent to the human mind?  It may be helpful at the outset of our discussion to dispel the understanding that evil is the result of a fallen angel known as Satan, Lucifer or the Devil.  Some religious bodies will deeply resist abandoning a symbol that has existed for thousands of years.  The existence of such a being, however, presents an even larger problem because of what it would say about the nature of God.

    For example, did God create this creator of evil?  What would be the purpose of such a being?  Are we caught in the middle of a competition between a God of light and a god of darkness for the souls of men and women?  What would be the outcome if the Devil won the competition?  Would souls really burn for all eternity because of their inability to choose correctly during their lifetime?  For hundreds of years, priests have used fear to entice believers into obedience to the Church and to God.

    Determining what is evil enables humanity to discern between values.  Serial rapists and murderers, for example, have created appetites in themselves similar to those of animal predators.  Groups who engage in terrorism to control the thought patterns of others are said to be evil because their beliefs create destructive energy.

    A tsunami that destroys the lives of a hundred thousand people, however, is viewed as a terrible disaster created by a natural phenomenon.  Since there is no evil intent at the core of a natural disaster, people judge such events differently.

     The potential for evil exists within everyone. In fact, most people are well aware of the dualism within them where desires of self-interest and of appeasing unwholesome appetites are in conflict with the compassionate angel.   We do not need a devil to tempt us because we do an excellent job by ourselves.

     At the heart of most temptation is the thought that the person would feel better, experience pleasure or wholeness if they give themselves permission to do what pleases them.  Such desire appears natural to those who characterize success in terms of wealth, power, fame and their ability to control anything or anyone they want.  Ultimately, none of these pursuits equip us spiritually. (Galatians 6:7-8)

     Unbridled desire does just the opposite. Such emotional and thought patterns confine us to the material world.   Satisfying such desires is never enough.  We live to thirst again.  For example, the holder of a recent 150 million dollar lottery ticket voiced his regret that he had to share his new wealth with two other winners.

     Greed, lust, gluttony, manipulation, deception and their cousins are labeled as evil because of the results they create.  We energize what we think about and some thought patterns grow to an enormous size.  They can become like a cancer that consumes our personality and spirit.  The collapse of companies like Enron, Global Crossings and World Com was brought about because of the greed of a few people.

     One form of evil occurs when our energy flow comes back to us in the form of self-absorption.  The direction of our energy flow is critical to our growth.  For example, worry is praying for what we do not want.  Being afraid is worshipping fear.  Trying to please others at the expense of our own personal dreams is to honor self-sabotage.  Such an energy flow often invites disorders and illnesses into our bodies, a consequence generated by our being at war with how we were designed.

     Taking responsibility for keeping our energy flowing away from us requires embracing the unknown.  When we do this with intentionality, we reveal our trust in the universe.  To create meaningfully, people must risk in extending themselves when the outcome is far from clear. Remember God’s question to a very reluctant Elijah, “What are you doing in this cave?”

     We are very much disturbed when evil impacts our physical experience.  We must remember that all evil has to do with our material existence as well as our interpretation of life’s events.  Jesus gave us hope when he made the claim that he had overcome the world while inviting us to follow.

      We are not our bodies, our lusts and our unwholesome desires.  The world’s most exciting prizes do nothing but change their form.  Our world remains a playground that permits us to refine our spiritual energies or to continue our pursuit of desires that gratify the self.  All our mistakes in judgment stay with our physical existence.

     Those who have made self-interest a focus for their lives may succeed in creating the delusion of amassing wealth and power, but to what end?  A much greater reality is present -- those who refine their creative skills of spirit will evolve; those who dwell in self-indulgent activities engage in delay.  The universe accommodates both.

     Evil then becomes a marker that helps us define what leads to delay and what leads to evolutionary life patterns. Evil is what it is.  What we think about influences our living patterns.  When we extend ourselves by becoming a light in darkness, we attract even more light and understanding.  Darkness has no tolerance for light.  The two cannot co-exist.

     We will discover that understanding evil helps to prevent us from being afraid of it.  Evil is not a flaw in our nature as is proposed by the concept of “original sin.”  Rather evil is a form of energy based on misinformation.  The world was created for our enjoyment and growth; it is not an environment for the practice of self-indulgence.  Both choices are available to us because we are what we are, a life form presented with two choices – growth or delay.   One of the signs that we have evolved is when the pleas of this world to indulge our appetites are greeted with smiles because of the absurdity of what such invitations promise.