Good versus Evil


#1

I tried to search and didn’t find this subject, so forgive me if this topic is a repeat, k?

Okay, so I’m talking to someone about the existence of God. We were discussing the possibility that there could be more than one God, perhaps a good God and an evil God doing battle throughout all time. I recalled something I think CS Lewis said about this, so I tried to reiterate what Lewis said. I must have erred somewhere in the logic and am looking for help from you to tell me where:

Consider the posibility there are two gods, good and evil:

This cannot be reality because one is identified only by comparing it to the other. Just as we couldn’t recognize a crooked line unless we knew what a straight line looked like. Evil is defined by comparing it to good. It is the law of Good by which both are judged and identified. Therefore the god of good (or the law of Good) would be supreme over the other, thus leaving us with one god (the supreme being).

The response I got was this: Why do you say evil is judged by the law of good? Couldn’t we just as eaily say good is judged by comparing it to evil, therefore leaving the god of evil as the supreme being?

To which I responded: well…I…uh…errrr…hmmmm. :cool:

Any thoughts? (I have to go now, but I’ll check back in the morning.)


#2

You should consider first how you would define the term ‘God’. If you believe that God is by nature infinite and omnipotent, it is impossible for there to be two Gods, one good the other evil, battling each other all throughout eternity, simply because it is obvious that a pair of “eternally battling” gods imply that they are “equal” to each other in terms of power, hence each in fact is not totally subject to the other’s power. But if each is not totally subject to the other [because they’re equal], then neither of them is omnipotent because omnipotence requires that the power of God absolutely extends to all without exception. Thus, a less than omnipotent god is not really God but someone less.

Thus a pair of mutually antagonistic gods cannot exist.

Gerry :slight_smile:


#3

God created all things. God created Good. We created evil by refusing God’s Good. So actually evil is only a defintion of lack of good.
You can realate to heat. There is only heat and lack of heat, cold is a definition of that lack of heat. So there really is no cold in the world just the lack of heat.
As for the 2 Gods, it depends on your definiton. There can only be 1 omnipontent and all powerfull God, but there is a hiearchy of less powerfull beings, some are stronger then us, so we could think of them as gods of course, but that does not make them a God.
Peace :slight_smile:
Jermosh


#4

The teaching of a pair of mutually antagonistic ‘gods’ locked in a timeless struggle, one good and the other ‘evil’ is essentially a Zoroastrian conception, not a Christian teaching, and promotes the idea that evil is equal, rather than subordinate to, goodness.

Gerry :slight_smile:


#5

[quote=RobedWithLight]The teaching of a pair of mutually antagonistic ‘gods’ locked in a timeless struggle, one good and the other ‘evil’ is essentially a Zoroastrian conception, not a Christian teaching, and promotes the idea that evil is equal, rather than subordinate to, goodness.

Gerry :slight_smile:
[/quote]

Agreed. Sorry for any confusion. we weren’t discussing this topic as a Christian belief, (of course). Rather it was part of a bigger discussion about the different world religions and reasons for a view of a single supreme being, as the Christians view it.

My question isn’t so much the two god’s notion as much as the idea that evil is defined by good instead of the other way around. Of course we see it that way because God made all things good, and evil is the abuse or mis-use of good things. I just had no defense when the guy said good can be just as easily defined by evil.

Anyway, the heat and cold analagy is a good way of explaining it. Thanks.


#6

Just a thought to share too.

Good has substance. Evil does not have substance.

Evil does not have being. Evil is the lack of a necessary good.

therefore there can not be an evil being that sustains itself.

Cephas.lol sorry if just confused it more… :wink:


#7

[quote=Cephas]Just a thought to share too.

Good has substance. Evil does not have substance.

Evil does not have being. Evil is the lack of a necessary good.

therefore there can not be an evil being that sustains itself.

Cephas.lol sorry if just confused it more… :wink:
[/quote]

I guess that’s what I am having a difficult time explaining. What you said makes perfect sense to me, but the rebuttal argument I received is that good can be perceived as a lack of evil. The guy says that maybe evil exists first, and what we perceive as good is just the lack of evil. Of course I don’t agree with him, but I am unable to explain logically why what he said cannot be so.

I suppose I could argue that people have a natural reaction against injustice (evil) whereas there is not that reaction against justice (good). This would seem to indicate that we are designed for good since the natural reaction is against evil, and that would indicate that our Creator must also be Good, since the created thing would relfect the design of the designer.

Thanks for the replies.


#8

[quote=Chris W]This would seem to indicate that we are designed for good since the natural reaction is against evil, and that would indicate that our Creator must also be Good, since the created thing would relfect the design of the designer.
[/quote]

I agree!

Gen 1:4 God saw how good the light was…
Gen 1:10 …God saw how good it was.
Gen 1:12 …God saw how good it was.
Gen 1:18 …God saw how good it was.
Gen 1:21 …God saw how good it was.
Gen 1:25 …God saw how good it was.
Gen 1:31 God looked at everything He had made, and he found it very good…

In particular, He did not see how evil it wasn’t!


#9

You could view good as the “absence of evil”, but that amounts to the same thing as “subracting a negative number”.

Without God as a reference point, it’s impossible to clearly define whether good or evil should be the basis for comparisons, just as it’s impossible to know whether a statue was molded or carved without knowledge of sculpture. Only with the assumption of a God, whether good or evil, do the subjects take on any kind of positive quality. Once you have the assumption and definition of God, you can begin to form a reference point based on the qualities of God. There’s no such thing as a purely natural knowledge of the philosophical principles you’re describing, only a natural knowledge of what we like and dislike. That good is the fundamental reference point is a matter of revelation.

I wouldn’t be disheartened by this, though. Philosophy is based on taking assumptions and working with them, not revealing divine truths out of thin air. That certain things can’t be defined or understood right out is actually the hallmark of healthy philosophy.


#10

Thanks Ghosty. That is helpful…it ends my unsettledness (is that a word?).

I think I’ll not be using the argument any longer, but find other ways to explain the concept.

Thanks to all who replied. :slight_smile:


#11

The reference point is essential.
{In Tao it is called “The Central Pivot”}

Good can also be defined as the way of things that a creator intended.

If I intended to make a chair but the chair could not support my weight then that would be a bad chair.
If I made a chair and someone came and broke it - then that would be bad act.

Assuming that we have One Creator God then he has an original intention - and anyting that is not in accord with that is Bad.

In a Cosmology where there are 2 or more Gods, Good & Bad is only a matter perspective for that god.
There is no "Central Pivot"
No Overall Intention.
No One artist/creator.

The Christian God is GOD of ALL things.
He has a plan and intention for everything.
There was a split in the Garden of Eden.
Christ makes it possible for God to reconcile the world to himself.
Anything that impedes that reconcilitation is Evil.

That is the Christian Dichotomy - not God & Devil - but rather
That which Reconciles and that which Separates.
Love & Sin

Fortunately, Christ’s reconcilition comes from God, an infinite source. — Forces of sin & separation come from creation itself, a finite source.

todd


#12

In my very simplistic way of looking at things I think that even non-Christians should have a very hard time ever believing there could be two equal gods, one good and one evil. Could these two gods have existed for all eternity? Wouldn’t the fact that there are two imply that they both had their origin in something (someone) else? Which of these two gods created the universe? As another poster stated – a pair of mutually antagonistic gods cannot exist.

Joel


#13

[quote=RobedWithLight]The teaching of a pair of mutually antagonistic ‘gods’ locked in a timeless struggle, one good and the other ‘evil’ is essentially a Zoroastrian conception, not a Christian teaching, and promotes the idea that evil is equal, rather than subordinate to, goodness.

[/quote]

Dear Gerry,

The thing that gets me is, if evil is subordinate to goodness, and if god is in fact all powerful, then why doesn’t God just kick butt on the evil and be done with it, without using a bunch of human pawns made in his image to go through suffering and death in the process?

The only thing I can figure is that God allows evil and thinks it’s OK for evil to be around. That is, if I can logically deduce what God must be “thinking,” even at the risk that “thinking” is in itself a personification that doesn’t even apply.

It’s stuff like this that often sends me running to apophatic ideas about what God isn’t and away from kataphatic ideas about what God is – because parts of the image I conjure of God through reasoning, quite frankly, aren’t all that pleasant and don’t seem to speak well of what a “good” God should be! :eek:

Alan


#14

first, an invincible force and an immovable wall cannot co-exist. thus, the zoroastrian position of good and evil being two equal forces being locked in struggle is untenable. the very definition of god is that there is nothing that can be compared to him.:nope:

the next thing, it’s a good thought, why can’t good be defined as the absence of evil instead of the other way round?:hmmm:
i think it’s like this- there’s a lot of value in chrisW’s statement that man naturally is repulsed by evil and thus, perhaps the way we are made is some indication of the fact that good is the existent variable and evil is the absence of it.:clapping:
also, think of the consequenses of arguing the other position- logicaly, one would have to endorse evil and worship it too. after all, the reason we worship god is that he is the greatest, isn’t it? if jesus was just another man who died to save me, i would be forever grateful to him but surely, it would be an insult to the “greatest being”(in our assumption- evil incarnate) to worship anyone but it. thus, i think the argument with the friend that was mentioned in the first thread is just an argument for argument’s sake. otherwise, your friend would have to logically follow through his argument and worship evil(god forbid!):bigyikes:
i hope this helps:confused:


#15

That’s simple to answer.

Good & Evil are terms relative to the central creator/intention.

Right now we say that
Sadistic Torture is Evil.

We only say that because God has revealed (naturally or supernaturally) that such a thing is not “Of Him” or “Of His intention for this world”

Things are only Evil if they are not “Of God” or “Of His intentions”.

Conversely, if God promoted
Sadistic Torture. If God was a being that intended people to torture eachother then we would say that
Sadistic Torture is Good.

Good is of God - Evil is not of God.

God is the source of all things … right ?

Then Evil must be an absence of somthing.

To try to spin them on their head is to change the definition of Good & Evil.

The Rationalizer is correct – they are relative,
But the real question is – Relative to what ?

That "God looked on all things and saw that they were good"
contains a subtlety which the popular pessimist cannot follow, or is too hasty to notice. It is the thesis that there are no bad things,
but only bad uses of things. If you will, there are no bad
things but only bad thoughts; and especially bad intentions.

But it is possible to have bad intentions about good
things; and good things, like the world and the flesh have been
twisted by a bad intention called the devil. But he cannot
make things bad; they remain as on the first day of creation.
The work of heaven alone was material; the making of a
material world. The work of hell is entirely spiritual.

G.K. Chesterton
St. Thomas Aquinas

thanks.

todd


#16

[quote=AlanFromWichita]Dear Gerry,

The thing that gets me is, if evil is subordinate to goodness, and if god is in fact all powerful, then why doesn’t God just kick butt on the evil and be done with it, without using a bunch of human pawns made in his image to go through suffering and death in the process?

The only thing I can figure is that God allows evil and thinks it’s OK for evil to be around. That is, if I can logically deduce what God must be “thinking,” even at the risk that “thinking” is in itself a personification that doesn’t even apply.

It’s stuff like this that often sends me running to apophatic ideas about what God isn’t and away from kataphatic ideas about what God is – because parts of the image I conjure of God through reasoning, quite frankly, aren’t all that pleasant and don’t seem to speak well of what a “good” God should be! :eek:

Alan
[/quote]

Alan,

That God allows evil speaks to the sovereignty of God. God is SO powerful that evil doesn’t present a problem to him, but he can use evil to accomplish his purposes too!

The existence of evil is a consequence of God’s previous decision to allow humans to participate in His work of Creation with free will. We can make new things and we have free will to make good or bad things. By our fruits will we be known. It is now that we have the opportunity, uncoerced by an overwhelmingly, forcefully present God, to create and show what we want to create. To show our stuff, as it were.

God is so powerful that He does not NEED to coerce us to worship Him or create good. He lets us choose to or not. He can handle it and I am eternally grateful for the chance.


#17

[quote=jpusateri]Alan,

That God allows evil speaks to the sovereignty of God. God is SO powerful that evil doesn’t present a problem to him, but he can use evil to accomplish his purposes too!

The existence of evil is a consequence of God’s previous decision to allow humans to participate in His work of Creation with free will. We can make new things and we have free will to make good or bad things. By our fruits will we be known. It is now that we have the opportunity, uncoerced by an overwhelmingly, forcefully present God, to create and show what we want to create. To show our stuff, as it were.

God is so powerful that He does not NEED to coerce us to worship Him or create good. He lets us choose to or not. He can handle it and I am eternally grateful for the chance.
[/quote]

Indeed. Love could not exist without free will. Free will could not exist with the potential for evil. Therefore, the potential for evil had to exist if we are to love…and love is the purpose of our existence.

Additionally, the glory of God is demonstrated by people overcoming evil. The angels rejoice over a repentent sinner. If evil did not exist, how would we display our faith in times of trouble, our will in times of temptation, the grace Gods gives us to overcome evil?

Thanks to all for your replies :slight_smile:


#18

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