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"There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to
  one who is striking at the root."
- Henry David Thoreau
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Definition: Evil is that which diminishes, interferes
with or threatens the sustenance and enhancement of
my life, and thereby decreases my morale.
Site Author

The Argument of Evil Against God
Updated: 06/08/2021

Epicurus, who taught that pleasure and pain are measures of what is good and evil, laid out the landscape for us in crisp, terse terms sometime around 300 BCE:

Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God? - Epicurus

There have been a lot of arguments that the existence of God and the existence of evil are incompatible, and many arguments that attempt to reconcile the two. One solution that has been proposed is that evil doesn't exist. All of this is very shallow, since the arguments take place within the arena of the traditional paradigm of God, and wherein an adequate definition of evil is not even provided.

Evil not just illusion

To me, denying evil is to be FUNDAMENTALLY in denial! So, let's deal with the argument that evil does not exist, that it is only an illusion. It seems to be difficult to dismiss all evil as illusory because, if it appears to me that I am racked with disease but that appearance is merely illusory, then it is nevertheless a painful and troubling illusion. Even if the disease is not evil because it does not exist, the mere appearance and experience of the disease remains an evil. Objective suffering may, perhaps, coherently be dismissed as illusory, but subjective suffering cannot be. So then, if evil does not exist, the illusion of evil still exists and is just as bad.

If the illusion of evil is just as bad as the real thing, what's the difference? Well, the difference "may" be significant! If evil is real, in and outside of myself, then that is a multi-faceted concern that would involve others. But if it is just a personal illusion, then all I have to do is get rid of the illusion within myself. This" sounds" appealing! It sounds simple and straightforward since others need not be involved. However, there are these pertinent questions:

When did I become deluded on this level?
How did I get this illusion?
Why did I get this illusion?
How do I get rid of it?

What can I say except that I pity you if you think that evil is just your own personal illusion!

We resonate with the concept of evil because we know
it as an ever-present reality.  The desire for coherent
explanations concerning the origin and nature of evil
is global. Every religious tradition must render one or
more explanations for the persistent reality of evil and
injustice. -
 Kimball, Charles, When Religion Becomes Evil
 Los Angeles, HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. 2002, p. 36,37.

Not only does this site offer a Yeshua-based paradigm of God, but it accepts that real evil is afoot in our world and raises the question as to who gets to define it and who is to blame for it. Who else but you and I should do this?

It’s too bad the word “evil” has been so compromised, so
discredited, by the people who use it all the time – bible-
thumpers, hysterics, and religious fanatics. Evil shouldn’t be
associated with horned demons and eternal perdition. It just
means something destructive, or recklessly injurious.
Doug Casey

When people that I talk to happen to object to something or bemoan some really bad stuff like, say, child molestation, I often ask, "What's wrong with that?" When the shock wears off and they realize I am asking a philosophical question, they respond with answers like, "It hurts the children!" They are then further shocked when my response is,  "So, what's wrong with that?", and they offer further answers, only to be met with the same response,  "So! what's wrong with that?" After some iterations, I change the question to, "What can YOU say about that and why? After more prompting they begin to realize that they did not design reality, weren't even there when it happened, and have no legitimate basis for saying anything much more than, "I don't like it!" or "It demoralizes ME!"

Ultimate definition of evil

And so we come to the ultimate and only definition of evil that can be valid in general. A personal one that is choice based. Every other definition presupposes something that we cannot proclaim with absolute certainty. The development of philosophy and theology must be personalized because we have a personal stake, we have our own skin in the game, namely the sustenance and enhancement of OUR lives. Thus, evil is that to which I/we am/are intrinsically and constitutionally opposed, that which is less than ideal for me/us, that is life detracting and diminishing for me/us, that which I/we cannot ultimately ever like or agree with.

Far more promising than the dismissal of evil as illusory is the Augustinian and Thomist view that it is nothing more than a privation of good or goodness. According to this view, evil is not an existent thing that is out there in the world, but merely an absence of goodness. God therefore cannot be blamed for bringing evil into existence; evil is not an identifiable construct or thing, and so was not brought into existence. The idea that the world contains evil (i.e. certain privations of good) can thus be reconciled with the idea that it was not created by a God who would create evil; it is only the good in the world that was created, the bad is merely an absence of good.

Even if this account of evil were accepted, however, it would not resolve the problem of evil according to the valid definition. For it may still be asked why God neglected to create those good things that are needed and found to be lacking in my/our world. And why doesn't the Creator fill the vacuum? Even if evil is simply an absence of good things, there is a tension between this absence of goodness and the existence of a Creator that knows how to, is able to, and wants to create all needed good things. No, evil is the opposite of good or goodness, and: "It demoralizes ME!" Enough said!

Another argument is the philosophical apologetic one: Since everything needs a contrast to be experienced as real, evil is necessary to make good good! However, if this be true–and it is not–it simply defends evil itself as necessary and thereby good. For there to be a contrast, it is ONLY necessary for the CONCEPT of evil to exist. For example, if food and drink is necessary for the sustenance and enhancement of life, especially when we get close to the line of suffering for the lack thereof, we can easily envision the deleterious effect of going forward without this life support, and we don't actually need to starve to be aware of the possibility .We don't need that to become a reality to realize the undesirability and evil of it.

All of the above definitions and descriptions except the personal one fall woefully short of being satisfactory. The problem of evil, then, in some form at least persists as long as I/WE am/are demoralized! As long as there exists a single life detracting factor. We need to come to a simple, clear understanding of what evil is and is not, and how it came to be.

See: Fall of Man and Paradigm of Evil

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