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Author Topic: Does Evil exist?  (Read 6304 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: October 26, 2007, 09:07:51 AM »

I have heard many time that evil is an illusion and really has no existence of it's own. Why is it always used to describe a person or persons that are engulfed in this illusion rather than indicate the actual illusion the person is suffering from? 

Is the word evil a western concept or is it universal?

By calling someone evil do we also fall into this illusion as well?
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« Reply #1 on: October 26, 2007, 10:19:43 AM »

+ Irini nem ehmot,

At the risk of appearing to be very childish, I wanted to share an email I got with you all and I wanted to get your feedback/thoughts/criticisms relating to it.  It ties in nicely with Demetrios' original post:

Quote
The university professor challenged his students with this question: "Did God create everything that exists?"
A student bravely replied "Yes, he did!"

'God created everything?" the professor asked.

"Yes sir," the student replied.

The professor answered, "If God created everything, then God created evil since evil exists, and according to the principal that our works define who we are, then God is evil."

The professor was quite pleased with himself and boasted to the students that he had proven once more that the Christian faith was a myth.

Another student raised his hand and said, "Can I ask you a question professor?"
"Of course," replied the professor.

The student stood up and asked, "Professor , does cold exist?"
The professor replied "Of course it exists. Have you never been cold?"

The students snickered at the young man's question.

The young man replied, "In fact sir, cold does not exist. According to the laws of physics, what we consider cold is in reality the absence of heat. Everybody or object is susceptible to study when it has or transmits energy, and heat is what makes a body, or matter, have or transmit energy. Absolute zero (- 460 degrees F) is the total absence of heat. Cold does not exist. We have created this word to describe how we feel if we have no heat.

The student continued. "Professor, does darkness exist?"
The professor responded, "Of course it does."
The student replied, "Once again you are wrong sir. Darkness does not exist either. Darkness is in reality the absence of light. Light, we can study, but not darkness. In fact we can use Newton's prism to break white light into many colors and study the various wavelengths of each color. You cannot measure darkness. A simple ray of light can break into a world of darkness and illuminate it. How can you know how dark a certain space is? You measure the amount of light present. Isn't this correct? Darkness is a term used by man to describe what happens when there is no light present."

Finally the young man asked the professor. "Sir, does evil exist?"
Now uncertain, the professor responded, "Of course, as I have already said. We see it every day. It is in the daily example of man's inhumanity to man. It is in the multitude of crime and violence everywhere in the world. These manifestations are nothing else but evil."

To this the student replied, "Evil does not exist sir, or at least it does not exist unto itself. Evil is simply the absence of God. It is just like darkness and cold, a word that man has created to describe the absence of God. God did not create evil. Evil is the result of what happens when man does not have God's love present in his heart. It's like the cold that comes when there is no heat or the darkness that comes when there is no light."

The professor, then, sat down speechless.

I'm not sure how many of you have received this in an email, but I would be very curious to see what you all think about it.  Thanks in advance.
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« Reply #2 on: October 26, 2007, 10:39:55 AM »

If evil is the absence of God, He still needs to create the circumstance for evil to exist, since He is in full control of His own Being.  It's not as if someone/thing else says to God "You won't be here, so that evil can exist."  Evil is not a thing, it is the opposition of God's Love and Will.  People can do evil acts, but inherently everything created by God is good, and only soiled by his/her/its own actions.
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« Reply #3 on: October 26, 2007, 11:00:43 AM »

+ Irini nem ehmot,

I see what you're saying.  While God is certainly in control at all times, He has endowed us with a will that can (and often does) go contrary to His.  As such, when you say:

Quote
It's not as if someone/thing else says to God "You won't be here, so that evil can exist."

I would disagree.  Isn't that what we, in essence, say whenever we choose to sin?  Don't we effectively say, 'Look God, take a seat here for a moment while I indulge myself'?  I think the only thing more powerful than God is our will to resist Him.  His love and respect for us is so great that He permits us to resist Love; Peace; Joy; Him.  Thus if we, by our own will, choose to reject Him, we reject Good and as such anything we do becomes devoid of Good and is thus labeled 'Evil'.  So to an extent, what the student is saying is correct.  Evil certainly is not a thing unto itself, but is the absence of Good.
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« Reply #4 on: October 26, 2007, 11:13:25 AM »

I would disagree.  Isn't that what we, in essence, say whenever we choose to sin?  Don't we effectively say, 'Look God, take a seat here for a moment while I indulge myself'?  I think the only thing more powerful than God is our will to resist Him. 

Eh, be careful.  God grants us everything we have; our will isn't more powerful, but rather God weakens Himself out of love (isn't that what the incarnation was all about?  the crucifixion?).  You contradict the statement "the only thing more powerful than God is our will to resist Him" with your very next phrase, "His love and respect for us is so great that He permits us to resist."  It's still Him - God centered power.

His love and respect for us is so great that He permits us to resist Love; Peace; Joy; Him.  Thus if we, by our own will, choose to reject Him, we reject Good and as such anything we do becomes devoid of Good and is thus labeled 'Evil'.  So to an extent, what the student is saying is correct.  Evil certainly is not a thing unto itself, but is the absence of Good.
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« Reply #5 on: October 26, 2007, 11:21:26 AM »

My very favorite Orthodox theologian and teacher, Protopresbyter Fr. Alexander Schmemann, wrote in his "Journals" that this evil serpent's whisper, "Why should you listen to God, you are your own God, you are God, you are entitled..." etc., the man certainly heard not from without, but from within. Smiley
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« Reply #6 on: October 26, 2007, 11:26:49 AM »

If evil is the absence of God, He still needs to create the circumstance for evil to exist, since He is in full control of His own Being.  It's not as if someone/thing else says to God "You won't be here, so that evil can exist."  Evil is not a thing, it is the opposition of God's Love and Will.  People can do evil acts, but inherently everything created by God is good, and only soiled by his/her/its own actions.

What your discribing is more in line with the sin of pride. Is pride and evil the same thing?
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« Reply #7 on: October 26, 2007, 11:31:01 AM »

+ Irini nem ehmot,

What your discribing is more in line with the sin of pride. Is pride and evil the same thing?

Isn't there an old adage that says 'Pride is the root of all evil'?
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« Reply #8 on: October 26, 2007, 11:36:28 AM »

+ Irini nem ehmot,

Isn't there an old adage that says 'Pride is the root of all evil'?

Yes, buy why give something a name if it can't exist or doesn't have a true meaning. I say lets remove it from the dictionary than. It leads to much confusion.
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« Reply #9 on: October 26, 2007, 11:37:14 AM »

+ Irini nem ehmot,

Eh, be careful.  God grants us everything we have; our will isn't more powerful, but rather God weakens Himself out of love (isn't that what the incarnation was all about?  the crucifixion?).  You contradict the statement "the only thing more powerful than God is our will to resist Him" with your very next phrase, "His love and respect for us is so great that He permits us to resist."  It's still Him - God centered power.


While I see what you're saying, wouldn't that, in effect, put the blame on God though?  I mean, if we resist God as a result of God's power, then wouldn't that make Him in some way responsible for all the evil (or lack of Good) that happens? 
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« Reply #10 on: October 26, 2007, 11:40:13 AM »

+ Irini nem ehmot,

Yes, buy why give something a name if it can't exist or doesn't have a true meaning. I say lets remove it from the dictionary than. It leads to much confusion.

I suppose the reason it has a name is because that is what we as humans do, we name and classify things.  Everything must have a label even if the label is 'unlabeled' or 'unknown'.  If we look at the example that the student gives, by extension that would mean we should abolish terms like 'cold' and 'darkness' because they aren't really things unto themselves, but the result of things that are absent.
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« Reply #11 on: October 26, 2007, 11:50:38 AM »

+ Irini nem ehmot,

I suppose the reason it has a name is because that is what we as humans do, we name and classify things.  Everything must have a label even if the label is 'unlabeled' or 'unknown'.  If we look at the example that the student gives, by extension that would mean we should abolish terms like 'cold' and 'darkness' because they aren't really things unto themselves, but the result of things that are absent.

I can identify with cold and darkness even if they don't exist. They are singular terms.  Evil I can't. It has to many meanings. I believe the devil created this word to confuse people of the actual act of pride. If I were to point out evil and say look that man is evil. What do I mean by it. Is he a thief, a prideful person, a slanderer or a liar.
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« Reply #12 on: October 26, 2007, 11:59:52 AM »

+ Irini nem ehmot,

I wouldn't say that evil has too many meanings.  More that, it manifests itself in several different ways.  The core though, is the same, a certain amount of self-centered-ness and not a God-centered outlook.  Once man looks towards only himself and how he can benefit, even at the expense of others, we can begin speaking about the antithesis of good (i.e. evil) starting to rear it's ugly (albeit non-existent) head.
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"But he was wounded for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the punishment that made us whole, and by his bruises we are healed."
-- Isaiah 53:5

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« Reply #13 on: October 26, 2007, 12:11:38 PM »

+ Irini nem ehmot,

I wouldn't say that evil has too many meanings.  More that, it manifests itself in several different ways.  The core though, is the same, a certain amount of self-centered-ness and not a God-centered outlook.  Once man looks towards only himself and how he can benefit, even at the expense of others, we can begin speaking about the antithesis of good (i.e. evil) starting to rear it's ugly (albeit non-existent) head.

Just as Cleveland. You are once again discribing pride.
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« Reply #14 on: October 26, 2007, 12:19:06 PM »

+ Irini nem ehmot,

Well, if pride is in fact the root of all evil, then if there is no pride, there is no evil.  So yes, everything evil does inevitably tie back to pride.
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« Reply #15 on: October 26, 2007, 12:22:10 PM »

+ Irini nem ehmot,

Well, if pride is in fact the root of all evil, then if there is no pride, there is no evil.  So yes, everything evil does inevitably tie back to pride.

But Pride exists
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« Reply #16 on: October 26, 2007, 12:28:45 PM »

+ Irini nem ehmot,

But Pride exists

Does it though?  Or is it merely the absence of Humility?  Here's my reasoning.  God is the only who truly IS.  Thus, whatever attributes God manifests, by virtue of them coming from His existence, must exist.  What attributes does God manifest?  Love, Peace, Joy, Humility.  These are 'things' that 'exist'.  Anything that is either a corruption or antithesis of these attributes does not 'exist' per se.  Pride is the antithesis of Humility, so, it can be argued that it too does not exist.
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« Reply #17 on: October 26, 2007, 12:39:14 PM »

+ Irini nem ehmot,

At the risk of appearing to be very childish, I wanted to share an email I got with you all and I wanted to get your feedback/thoughts/criticisms relating to it.  It ties in nicely with Demetrios' original post:

I'm not sure how many of you have received this in an email, but I would be very curious to see what you all think about it.  Thanks in advance.

I've seen it before, it the story is true (though it sounds rather apocryphal), the professor's an idiot. Darkness does exist, it is the neutral state of the Space-Time continuum, only interrupted by the presence of photons. As for cold, you could probably define it as quantum movements below a certain threshold, but it's a rather subjective term; however, there is one rather objective case of cold: absolute zero. At this point all movements stop and the sub-atomic particles collapse in on themselves; obviously, this is not a very common situation in the universe but many current theories in astrophysics derived from the General Theory of Relativity suggest that this situation may exist in certain regions within a gravitational singularity. The difficulities presented are merely linguistic constructions derived from using colloquial terminology to describe scientific phenomena.
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« Reply #18 on: October 26, 2007, 12:44:01 PM »

+ Irini nem ehmot,

Does it though?  Or is it merely the absence of Humility?  Here's my reasoning.  God is the only who truly IS.  Thus, whatever attributes God manifests, by virtue of them coming from His existence, must exist.  What attributes does God manifest?  Love, Peace, Joy, Humility.  These are 'things' that 'exist'.  Anything that is either a corruption or antithesis of these attributes does not 'exist' per se.  Pride is the antithesis of Humility, so, it can be argued that it too does not exist.

Very wise words Cephas . The act of pride exists and can continue to exist though. One can then conclude that it can go on forever unless stopped . It is a creation of the one preforming it. Outside of God. So God can't be the originator of it.
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« Reply #19 on: October 26, 2007, 01:20:58 PM »

+ Irini nem ehmot,

While I see what you're saying, wouldn't that, in effect, put the blame on God though?  I mean, if we resist God as a result of God's power, then wouldn't that make Him in some way responsible for all the evil (or lack of Good) that happens? 

We need to be careful: we don't need to defend God.  He is the Almighty, He can defend Himself.

Evil only exists in the world because God allows it to.  Nothing can exist without His approval.  But the "blame" isn't on God because of Free Will - He gives us the choice, whether or not we wish to give in to temptation (and thus commit sin).  In essence, evil is only a choice, so that we have two options, so we can exercise our free will.  Evil isn't a being, but a characteristic of action - namely, action against God.  He obviously gave Lucifer a choice, even if it wasn't stated; because Lucifer had the ability to chose, he had the ability to chose to rebel.  God permitted Lucifer to continue to exist (God could have ended the evil one's existence right then if He willed).
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« Reply #20 on: October 26, 2007, 01:34:47 PM »

+ Irini nem ehmot,

I've seen it before, it the story is true (though it sounds rather apocryphal), the professor's an idiot. Darkness does exist, it is the neutral state of the Space-Time continuum, only interrupted by the presence of photons. As for cold, you could probably define it as quantum movements below a certain threshold, but it's a rather subjective term; however, there is one rather objective case of cold: absolute zero. At this point all movements stop and the sub-atomic particles collapse in on themselves; obviously, this is not a very common situation in the universe but many current theories in astrophysics derived from the General Theory of Relativity suggest that this situation may exist in certain regions within a gravitational singularity. The difficulities presented are merely linguistic constructions derived from using colloquial terminology to describe scientific phenomena.

While the story is almost certainly apocryphal, I think the premise behind it is still interesting.  As for the professor, I wouldn't say he's an idiot.  It seems that this is more a philosophical discussion on the existence of evil as opposed to a science class.  As such, I wouldn't expect the prof to have a very firm grasp of basic physics, much less advanced physics.
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« Reply #21 on: October 26, 2007, 01:47:04 PM »

+ Irini nem ehmot,

We need to be careful: we don't need to defend God.  He is the Almighty, He can defend Himself.

Evil only exists in the world because God allows it to.  Nothing can exist without His approval.  But the "blame" isn't on God because of Free Will - He gives us the choice, whether or not we wish to give in to temptation (and thus commit sin).  In essence, evil is only a choice, so that we have two options, so we can exercise our free will.  Evil isn't a being, but a characteristic of action - namely, action against God.  He obviously gave Lucifer a choice, even if it wasn't stated; because Lucifer had the ability to chose, he had the ability to chose to rebel.  God permitted Lucifer to continue to exist (God could have ended the evil one's existence right then if He willed).

You're right of course, I was just merely playing devil's advocate.  The thing is though, we often require others to assume a certain amount of accountability for their actions (or inactions) and it is sometimes extrapolated to God.
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"But he was wounded for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the punishment that made us whole, and by his bruises we are healed."
-- Isaiah 53:5

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« Reply #22 on: October 26, 2007, 02:02:35 PM »

You're right of course, I was just merely playing devil's advocate.  The thing is though, we often require others to assume a certain amount of accountability for their actions (or inactions) and it is sometimes extrapolated to God. 

Right.  The trump card to this is Free Will - no matter how many stumbling blocks are in the road, God doesn't force us to trip on them.  It's up to us whether we want to lift our feet high enough to not trip, or drag our feet and fall.
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« Reply #23 on: October 26, 2007, 03:56:53 PM »

Thank you Cleveland. Very well said. We can also look back to the tree of good and evil. Why would god call the tree of knowledge of good and evil if it didn't exist.  If there is no evil. No one would recognize good either. One must have knowledge of evil to recognize what good is.
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« Reply #24 on: October 27, 2007, 02:32:57 AM »

Thank you Cleveland. Very well said. We can also look back to the tree of good and evil. Why would god call the tree of knowledge of good and evil if it didn't exist.  If there is no evil. No one would recognize good either. One must have knowledge of evil to recognize what good is.
Is this really so?  As I've heard it said before, the problem with the forbidden tree was that it was the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.  To know God is to know good, and Adam and Eve certainly knew God before they ate the forbidden fruit, even though they had yet no knowledge of evil.
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« Reply #25 on: October 27, 2007, 03:52:13 AM »

Why would god call the tree of knowledge of good and evil if it didn't exist.
There are many things which we talk about yet which have no independent existence. For example, the physical universe follows mathematical laws which determine everything from the shapes of Galaxies, to the shapes of rose petals. But think about it: numbers themselves do not exist. You can search the entire Universe, but you will never find the Number 17. You may find a group of 17 things, but you will never find the number 17. Numbers themselves do not have independent existence, yet we can have knowledge of them.
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« Reply #26 on: October 27, 2007, 11:45:05 AM »

The same can be said about God. Why do we believe in something that is unceated?
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« Reply #27 on: October 27, 2007, 11:54:22 AM »

Is this really so?  As I've heard it said before, the problem with the forbidden tree was that it was the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.  To know God is to know good, and Adam and Eve certainly knew God before they ate the forbidden fruit, even though they had yet no knowledge of evil.

Think about it. One can not know good unless they know evil. Good is love. Knowledge of one gives us knowledge of the other. How do we know light of we don't have knowledge of darkness?
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« Reply #28 on: October 27, 2007, 03:58:16 PM »

Think about it. One can not know good unless they know evil. Good is love. Knowledge of one gives us knowledge of the other. How do we know light of we don't have knowledge of darkness?
Maybe we need to tweak our definition of evil, or at least present a slightly different definition.  Rather than think of evil as the absence of good, let us think of evil as the perversion of that which is good.  In this sense, then, one does not need to know evil to know good; rather, we would not know evil if we had no knowledge of good.  Only by knowing what God intended something to be can we recognize its perversion.
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« Reply #29 on: October 27, 2007, 06:59:28 PM »

The same can be said about God. Why do we believe in something that is unceated?

 Huh
Why would "uncreated" be synonymous with "non-being"?
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« Reply #30 on: October 27, 2007, 09:48:40 PM »

Huh
Why would "uncreated" be synonymous with "non-being"?

God the father is an uncreated being. His is uncreated along with his energies. Love for example is an uncreated energy. It isn't a form of created matter. For It doesn't belong to the created realm. Evil is also uncreated but doesn't belong to god.
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« Reply #31 on: October 27, 2007, 10:50:42 PM »

God the father is an uncreated being. His is uncreated along with his energies. Love for example is an uncreated energy. It isn't a form of created matter. For It doesn't belong to the created realm. Evil is also uncreated but doesn't belong to god.
So, evil is uncreated AND it stands outside of God as something foreign to His essence, not belonging to Him.  Doesn't that then make the substance of evil equal to, yet opposed to God?  This dualistic idiocy is exactly why I can't bring myself to see evil as some kind of substance with an independent existence.
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« Reply #32 on: October 28, 2007, 10:25:47 AM »

Love for example is an uncreated energy.  It isn't a form of created matter. For It doesn't belong to the created realm.
That's because God is Love as the beloved Apostle revealed to us:
"Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love."(1 John 4:8 )
God alone has independent existence and is Uncreated, so when you say:
Evil is also uncreated but doesn't belong to god.
This must mean that evil has no independent existence.

If evil:
a) is uncreated, and
b) has independent existence
then:
1) God is evil, and
2) evil=love
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« Reply #33 on: October 28, 2007, 11:25:48 AM »

As the Taoists would say, "Without knowing cold, we wouldn't understand heat.  Without knowing dark, we wouldn't understand light.  Without knowing evil, we wouldn't understand good."
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« Reply #34 on: October 28, 2007, 12:55:54 PM »

Since i've recently been reading St Gregory of Nyssa's On Virginity, I thought i'd share a certain passage from that work that essentially confirms what has already been said by others:

Quote
Man became, in fact, himself the fabricator, to a certain extent, and the craftsman of evil. All who have the faculty of sight may enjoy equally the sunlight; and any one can if he likes put this enjoyment from him by shutting his eyes: in that case it is not that the sun retires and produces that darkness, but the man himself puts a barrier between his eye and the sunshine; the faculty of vision cannot indeed, even in the closing of the eyes, remain inactive, and so this operative sight necessarily becomes an operative darkness  rising up in the man from his own free act in ceasing to see. Again, a man in building a house for himself may omit to make in it any way of entrance for the light; he will necessarily be in darkness, though he cuts himself off from the light voluntarily. So the first man on the earth, or rather he who generated evil in man, had for choice the Good and the Beautiful lying all around him in the very nature of things; yet he wilfully cut out a new way for himself against this nature, and in the act of turning away from virtue, which was his own free act, he created the usage of evil. For, be it observed, there is no such thing in the world as evil irrespective of a will, and discoverable in a substance apart from that. Every creature of God is good, and nothing of His “to be rejected”; all that God made was “very good."
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« Reply #35 on: October 28, 2007, 02:55:05 PM »

That's because God is Love as the beloved Apostle revealed to us:
"Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love."(1 John 4:8 )
God alone has independent existence and is Uncreated, so when you say:This must mean that evil has no independent existence.

If evil:
a) is uncreated, and
b) has independent existence
then:
1) God is evil, and
2) evil=love


With your analysis you can also argue that love doesn't exist either.

As I stated earlier. Love and evil are not to be found in the created realm. For the only place one can witness them in our actions. Both technically don't have any physical existence. Can you prove to me that love exists?
 Our actions reveal who we are. Hence we are evil or good.
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« Reply #36 on: October 28, 2007, 08:25:05 PM »

As I stated earlier. Love and evil are not to be found in the created realm. For the only place one can witness them in our actions. Both technically don't have any physical existence.
So you backtrack from your previous statements that evil has an independent existence. Undecided

God the father is an uncreated being. His is uncreated along with his energies. Love for example is an uncreated energy. It isn't a form of created matter. For It doesn't belong to the created realm. Evil is also uncreated but doesn't belong to god.

Thank you Cleveland. Very well said. We can also look back to the tree of good and evil. Why would god call the tree of knowledge of good and evil if it didn't exist.  If there is no evil. No one would recognize good either. One must have knowledge of evil to recognize what good is.

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« Reply #37 on: October 28, 2007, 08:53:51 PM »

So you backtrack from your previous statements that evil has an independent existence. Undecided



No I haven't. Once a action takes place it affects created beings. So an evil act exists as an outcome from a decision. Even though the energies is uncreated it affects the created realm. The act becomes existant.
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« Reply #38 on: October 28, 2007, 09:58:25 PM »

With your analysis you can also argue that love doesn't exist either.
No you cant, because, as I said, God is Love, therefore Love is Eternal, without beginning, without end, Uncreated. God is a Trinity, and each Person of the Trinity Exists in a Loving Community with the Other Persons of the Trinity- The Father Loves the Son and the Spirit, the Son Loves the Father and the Spirit and the Spirit Loves the Father and the Son, and there was never a time when this Loving relationship did not exist, therefore Love is Uncreated, God is Love and Love is God. Love exists because God is Love and God Exists.
If, as you suggest, evil is "uncreated", that means that evil is equal to God, and just as Almighty as He is, and the battle between good and evil is equally pitched and could go either way. This is the teaching of Zurvanism, a branch of Zoroastrianism which holds that there are two equal and opposite eternal gods, Ahura Mazda (the good one) and Angra Mainyu (the evil one).
Our actions reveal who we are. Hence we are evil or good.
No. Our actions reveal what our actions are, not what we are. We are created in the Image and Likeness of God, and our inherent nature is Good- God Himself has proclaimed this: "And God saw everything that He had made, and behold, it was very good." Who we are can never be effaced.
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« Reply #39 on: October 29, 2007, 09:07:01 AM »

No you cant, because, as I said, God is Love, therefore Love is Eternal, without beginning, without end, Uncreated. God is a Trinity, and each Person of the Trinity Exists in a Loving Community with the Other Persons of the Trinity- The Father Loves the Son and the Spirit, the Son Loves the Father and the Spirit and the Spirit Loves the Father and the Son, and there was never a time when this Loving relationship did not exist, therefore Love is Uncreated, God is Love and Love is God. Love exists because God is Love and God Exists.
If, as you suggest, evil is "uncreated", that means that evil is equal to God, and just as Almighty as He is, and the battle between good and evil is equally pitched and could go either way. This is the teaching of Zurvanism, a branch of Zoroastrianism which holds that there are two equal and opposite eternal gods, Ahura Mazda (the good one) and Angra Mainyu (the evil one).No. Our actions reveal what our actions are, not what we are. We are created in the Image and Likeness of God, and our inherent nature is Good- God Himself has proclaimed this: "And God saw everything that He had made, and behold, it was very good." Who we are can never be effaced.

Evil exists and can contine to exist if a decision is made to sustain it. It's call rebellion. Take the devil for example. He continues his evil ways. If evil doesn't exits than he has no power to rebel. He would also have no power to love. This is linked to free will. You can't force someone to love. His rebellion is eternal unless he chooses to stop. or you take away his free will. By taking away our free will, we become devout of grace. God has created a race of robots.
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« Reply #40 on: October 29, 2007, 09:16:37 AM »

Evil exists and can contine to exist if a decision is made to sustain it.
1) Where does evil exist if no decision to sustain it is made?
2) Where was evil before the creation of the Universe?
3) If God is the Source of all Existence and Being, is God the Source of the Existence of evil?
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« Reply #41 on: October 29, 2007, 11:33:56 AM »

1) Where does evil exist if no decision to sustain it is made?

Nothing can exist without being sustained by the divine.

Quote
2) Where was evil before the creation of the Universe?

In the pre-eternal mind of God.

Quote
3) If God is the Source of all Existence and Being, is God the Source of the Existence of evil?

Yes, Isaiah 45:7
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« Reply #42 on: October 29, 2007, 11:44:20 AM »

Yes, Isaiah 45:7

I thought the term 'evil' here has an amoral connotation i.e. it's more akin to 'calamity' or 'disaster' than to say 'wickedness'; which makes sense given its being juxtaposed with 'peace.'
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« Reply #43 on: October 29, 2007, 11:46:22 AM »

Evil exists and can contine to exist if a decision is made to sustain it. It's call rebellion. Take the devil for example. He continues his evil ways. If evil doesn't exits than he has no power to rebel. He would also have no power to love. This is linked to free will. You can't force someone to love. His rebellion is eternal unless he chooses to stop. or you take away his free will. By taking away our free will, we become devout of grace. God has created a race of robots.

Hmmm.  Evil exists only as a choice, not as a being.  God allows us to do evil because of His allowance for Free Will, but evil isn't an entity, since all entities were created by God as good.  Instead, evil is the rebellion against God, the working against His will.  So evil wasn't created by God - there's nothing to create.  Instead, since God gave everyone the option to either go with Him or against Him, He created the potential for Evil actions, but the Devil and humans are the ones who actually performed them.  In a sense, what we normally characterize as evil is really the presence of those who have dedicated themselves to opposing God's will; but they aren't evil in their essence, just evil in their intents and actions.  Their desire to do evil has clouded the Good that was created by God.

As far as "his rebellion is eternal unless he choses to stop" - wasn't he given one choice, which he made, with eternal consequences?  Does he have the ability to turn around?
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« Reply #44 on: October 29, 2007, 12:22:34 PM »

I thought the term 'evil' here has an amoral connotation i.e. it's more akin to 'calamity' or 'disaster' than to say 'wickedness'; which makes sense given its being juxtaposed with 'peace.'

But there is also the analogous reference to light and darkness in the pericope, the point Isaiah seems to be making is that everything has its source in the divine. Nothing, no thought no essence no concept can be independent of Him, this is the essence of monotheism, that everything is derived from a single source.
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« Reply #45 on: October 29, 2007, 12:37:38 PM »

But there is also the analogous reference to light and darkness in the pericope, the point Isaiah seems to be making is that everything has its source in the divine. Nothing, no thought no essence no concept can be independent of Him, this is the essence of monotheism, that everything is derived from a single source.
Then I think it can be said that, since evil is not a "substance" with any kind of substantial existence, God is not the source of evil.  However, the potential for creatures to commit evil deeds does find its ultimate source in God.
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« Reply #46 on: October 29, 2007, 02:16:20 PM »

Then I think it can be said that, since evil is not a "substance" with any kind of substantial existence, God is not the source of evil.  However, the potential for creatures to commit evil deeds does find its ultimate source in God.

So God's not the source of evil, but only the source of the source of evil...ultimately, everything has one source.
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« Reply #47 on: October 29, 2007, 02:45:47 PM »

So God's not the source of evil, but only the source of the source of evil...ultimately, everything has one source. 

Yes, but not one intent.  If God only made the capacity to do evil things, and we made the choice to do evil things, then there is no indication of intent by God to do evil things.  He gave us a choice, in order for us to chose the good rather than having no choice; evil was the only other option (if one defines evil as action opposed to God and His Will).  Humans choose and chose evil with the intent of not doing God's will, so the intent that led to evil actions originated with our consideration and action upon the choices.

I think people see some sort of implication that because God has to allow evil acts to be done, that He intends for evil to continue to exist, when a more accurate statement would be that He permits it only because of His promise of free will.
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« Reply #48 on: October 29, 2007, 02:48:30 PM »

^ So, in other words, the ability to do something is not tantamount to a directive to do it. Yes?
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« Reply #49 on: October 29, 2007, 02:50:58 PM »

^ So, in other words, the ability to do something is not tantamount to a directive to do it. Yes?

Right.  It does seem logical, no?  If ability was equal to directive, then God would seem to be sitting on the fence, which He clearly does not do, as evidenced by scripture.
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« Reply #50 on: October 29, 2007, 02:57:20 PM »

It does make sense. This was an issue that I was struggling with as I was thinking of becoming Orthodox. I wondered how God could be only good if he gave us the ability to do evil. However, the idea that God is both good and evil made Him seem bipolar. After I became Orthodox, I found I no longer cared about this issue; but this does help to clear it up. Thanks.
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« Reply #51 on: October 29, 2007, 03:38:50 PM »

Hmmm.  Evil exists only as a choice, not as a being.  God allows us to do evil because of His allowance for Free Will, but evil isn't an entity, since all entities were created by God as good.  Instead, evil is the rebellion against God, the working against His will.  So evil wasn't created by God - there's nothing to create.  Instead, since God gave everyone the option to either go with Him or against Him, He created the potential for Evil actions, but the Devil and humans are the ones who actually performed them.  In a sense, what we normally characterize as evil is really the presence of those who have dedicated themselves to opposing God's will; but they aren't evil in their essence, just evil in their intents and actions.  Their desire to do evil has clouded the Good that was created by God.

As far as "his rebellion is eternal unless he choses to stop" - wasn't he given one choice, which he made, with eternal consequences?  Does he have the ability to turn around?

I completely agree with you. If you read through my posts I'm sure you will see as much.
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« Reply #52 on: October 29, 2007, 04:02:57 PM »

I completely agree with you. If you read through my posts I'm sure you will see as much.

Yeah I figured.  I maybe just read the one post out of context.
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« Reply #53 on: October 29, 2007, 04:36:48 PM »

Yes, but not one intent.  If God only made the capacity to do evil things, and we made the choice to do evil things, then there is no indication of intent by God to do evil things.  He gave us a choice, in order for us to chose the good rather than having no choice; evil was the only other option (if one defines evil as action opposed to God and His Will).  Humans choose and chose evil with the intent of not doing God's will, so the intent that led to evil actions originated with our consideration and action upon the choices.

I think people see some sort of implication that because God has to allow evil acts to be done, that He intends for evil to continue to exist, when a more accurate statement would be that He permits it only because of His promise of free will.

I would find it difficult to distinguish between divine intent and the current reality of the world, a deity who is both omnipotent and omniscient must have known very well the results of his acts of creation, and being omnipotent could create the world such that the exact results he desired came to pass. We can only reasonably conclude that the world, in the state it is now, was the intent of God, who neither desires nor is able to claim incompetence nor ignorance. The world is exactly how God wants it, to say otherwise negates his authority; thus, he created people with the desire that they do evil things.

With that said, I would not argue that God is evil, using our colloquial definition of the term essentialy meaning 'not good'. I find juxtaposing good and evil as two opposites to be an overly simplistic approach. The photons that are light and the fabric of space time which is darkness, appear very different at a glance, but, as past experiments and continuing developments in theoretical physics suggest, they may well be one and the same thing, simply expressed differently. Perhaps it is at that point, where light and darkness can no longer be distinguished, where good and evil can no longer be distinguished, that point would be where this entire discussion is rendered moot, perhaps that is where we find God.
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« Reply #54 on: October 29, 2007, 04:51:43 PM »

I would find it difficult to distinguish between divine intent and the current reality of the world, a deity who is both omnipotent and omniscient must have known very well the results of his acts of creation, and being omnipotent could create the world such that the exact results he desired came to pass. We can only reasonably conclude that the world, in the state it is now, was the intent of God, who neither desires nor is able to claim incompetence nor ignorance. The world is exactly how God wants it, to say otherwise negates his authority; thus, he created people with the desire that they do evil things. 

Again, I think neither the outcome of the world, nor the ability to perform evil acts is a function of God's intent for the world, but rather of His self-limitation - that He allows us to do as we will by keeping Himself from determining action.  The world is only the way God wants it insofar as it is full of people who are able to make decisions for themselves - what they do may be distasteful to Him, and against what He would want for us if He were to determine action instead of leaving us free to chose for ourselves.

{Edit - fixed bad bold tag}
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« Reply #55 on: October 29, 2007, 06:54:56 PM »

our colloquial definition of the term essentialy meaning 'not good'.
I don't think it's that simple. The existence of evil depends on the existence of Good, but the converse is not true. Good can (and did) exist without evil. By analogy, the existence of a bug in a software program depends on the existence of the software program, but the software program can exist with or without the existence of the bug. The software program has existence independent of the bug, but the existence of the bug is dependent on:
1) the existence of the software program
2) the absence of a patch.
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« Reply #56 on: October 29, 2007, 07:45:23 PM »

Yeah I figured.  I maybe just read the one post out of context.

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« Reply #57 on: October 29, 2007, 07:46:57 PM »

I don't think it's that simple. The existence of evil depends on the existence of Good, but the converse is not true. Good can (and did) exist without evil. By analogy, the existence of a bug in a software program depends on the existence of the software program, but the software program can exist with or without the existence of the bug. The software program has existence independent of the bug, but the existence of the bug is dependent on:
1) the existence of the software program
2) the absence of a patch.
and 3) QA not picking it up yet. Grin  (Hey, what can I say?  Software QA is what I get paid to do. Smiley)
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« Reply #58 on: October 30, 2007, 08:39:48 AM »

I don't think it's that simple. The existence of evil depends on the existence of Good, but the converse is not true. Good can (and did) exist without evil. By analogy, the existence of a bug in a software program depends on the existence of the software program, but the software program can exist with or without the existence of the bug. The software program has existence independent of the bug, but the existence of the bug is dependent on:
1) the existence of the software program
2) the absence of a patch.


I would say it's more like the computer is god and the software is man. The software is and was created good but somewhere down the line it decided that it wanted be greater than the computer and became bugged. A glitch of it's own making. Once that decision was made that it didn't want to preform the way it was intended to. It was cut off from it's source by an antivirus program witch is there as a protective measure. The computer seeing that the software didn't preform as intended and couldn't be fixed because it was given it's own hard drive. had to be removed from the system. It couldn't work in harmony with the computer. The software than had to be deleted.

But there is good news. The software was given all of the necessary repair tools to be able to fix it's self. Once it is repaired it can be reinstalled and function in harmony. Assuming that it wants to repair itself. Otherwise it will remain deleted.
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Excellence of character, then, is a state concerned with choice, lying in a mean relative to us, this being determined by reason and in the way in which the man of practical wisdom would determine it. Now it is a mean between two vices, that which depends on excess and that which depends on defect.
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« Reply #59 on: October 30, 2007, 09:40:38 AM »

I would say it's more like the computer is god and the software is man. The software is and was created good but somewhere down the line it decided that it wanted be greater than the computer and became bugged. A glitch of it's own making.
So are you saying that the bug is not "uncreated" but in fact is "made" by the software?

The software than had to be deleted......The software was given all of the necessary repair tools to be able to fix it's self. Once it is repaired it can be reinstalled and function in harmony. Assuming that it wants to repair itself. Otherwise it will remain deleted.
How can one repair deleted software?

And the real question is: Can the bug exist without the software?
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« Reply #60 on: October 30, 2007, 10:45:26 AM »

So are you saying that the bug is not "uncreated" but in fact is "made" by the software?
 How can one repair deleted software?

When I say uncreated I don't mean that it is a part of being. Many energies are uncreated. It doesn't mean that they belong to god.. Lets take temptation for instance. It can be categorized as uncreated. It's not a substance of creation. It is uncreated.  But it doesn't belong to god.

Quote
And the real question is: Can the bug exist without the software?

No it can't. Because the software is the bug. Both will not exist.
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Excellence of character, then, is a state concerned with choice, lying in a mean relative to us, this being determined by reason and in the way in which the man of practical wisdom would determine it. Now it is a mean between two vices, that which depends on excess and that which depends on defect.
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« Reply #61 on: October 30, 2007, 11:02:11 AM »

Many energies are uncreated. It doesn't mean that they belong to god.. Lets take temptation for instance. It can be categorized as uncreated. It's not a substance of creation. It is uncreated.  But it doesn't belong to god.
Temptation is a product of creation. If there was no Creation, there would be no temptation....

the software is the bug.
This directly conflicts with what you said earlier in the same post:
I don't mean that it is a part of being.
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« Reply #62 on: October 30, 2007, 01:18:12 PM »

Temptation is a product of creation. If there was no Creation, there would be no temptation....
Exactly. Just like evil is.

Quote
This directly conflicts with what you said earlier in the same post:

Maybe with your model of evil but not mine. Wink


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Excellence of character, then, is a state concerned with choice, lying in a mean relative to us, this being determined by reason and in the way in which the man of practical wisdom would determine it. Now it is a mean between two vices, that which depends on excess and that which depends on defect.
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