Thursday, 31 July 2008

Did God Create Evil ?

Several years ago, while attending a special two day conference, featuring a favourite retreatmaster/author/teacher of mine by the name of Richard Rohr I suddenly found myself blurting out this confounding question: "Fr. Rohr did God create evil?"
While he did not directly answer my question, he did state that many theologians throughout history had battled with this question. Some felt that without darkness we could not appreciate light but that both are nevertheless equal parts of God's creation. Others such as the official Catholic magisterium affirm the existence of the devil or evil spirits. Regardless, it is clear that evil does exist but it is also clear that God wars against it and that we are called to participate with God in the struggle against all forms of evil. Scripture tells us that Jesus came to save us from "the power of darkness and of Satan".
Being somewhat obsessive/compulsive I found it difficult to let go of the subject. Only recently, while studying Kabbalah, was I able to let go by consulting the universe on the matter. What follows is what I discovered.

Did God create evil?

The question of evil has confounded humankind ever since the very beginning of human history. Did God create evil just so we would appreciate his goodness? But if God did not create evil how did it come into existence? Is there a simple way to resolve this perplexing question?

Our planet earth is more than 4.3 billion years old. Science tells us that humankind, in its present form (Homo Sapiens), did not appear until approximately some 150,000 to 120,000 years ago. That means that we arrived only a fraction of a second before twelve o’clock midnight on a clock where twenty four hours represents 4.3 billion years. Science also tells us that life, in its most primitive form, did not appear until 3.5 to 3.75 billion years later. To date, no fossilized remains of any single cell life form, has ever been found to exist before that time.

The fact that humankind, unlike all other life forms, is the only species that is capable or acting out of malice, should give us a clue as to true origin of evil! May we then deduce that evil made its debut when humankind first appeared on the earth? The bible tells about this tragic condition beginning with the story of Cain and Abel. Now I am not speaking of Original Sin. (I do not subscribe to this particular Church teaching and prefer the term Original Blessing, which is more fitting to a loving Father). Rather, I am speaking of humankind's basic struggle with - the ego. It is no accident that we have long spoken of the devil or Satan as the ‘accuser or adversary’! If we think of evil as something outside of ourselves than it could be said that we are not responsible for our negative actions. Or, as the seventies comedian Flip Wilson used to say ‘the devil made me do it’! That being the case there would be no reason for God to offer us his salvation.

For this reason the question as to “did God create evil” should be of extreme importance in our understanding of our role as human beings. For too long we were taught that evil was ”out there” and as something to be conquered. Tragically, some religious fundamentalist still believe that evil is a force to be fought out in the last and final battle before God destroys the earth. The sooner we realize that the ‘problem is our ego’ the sooner we will be able to enjoy the healing and loving Kingdom here on earth that Jesus came to announce.

God in his generosity did not ‘cast us out of the garden’, rather he gave us freedom to make our own decisions. Much like a parent does for their children when they reach the age of responsibility. What an incredible God to take a chance on his children knowing that they would fail or let him down, time and time again. We need to acknowledge our ego and allow God to reveal our ‘true self’. God gave us the gift of freedom to choose. If we choose with our hearts we are guaranteed we will do even greater things than Jesus did! (John 14:12)

Your loving friend in Christ
More powerful than all the nuclear weapons in the world combined. Able to destroy everything in its path. The real weapon of mass destruction has at last been found! After centuries of wanton destruction throughout the world it has at last been revealed. History tells us it may have started as a clever deception with evil disguised as a snake which was quickly followed by the slaying of one brother of another. Each culture has produced its own story of how evil found its way in the world. Today it is more popularly known as the weapon of mass destruction Ever since then this weapon has found its way through centuries of unbridled hate, power & greed, falsehoods, lies, extortion, murder, theft, fanaticism, pessimism, terrorism, and just about every negative trait you can name. This ‘monster’ is real and has been responsible for every form of pain, fear, anxiety and suffering humankind has endured on this planet. This weapon is responsible for much of today’s hunger, food shortages, financial, marital and family strife, inflationary pressures (i.e., rising gas prices), lack of adequate housing and medical care, ballooning military spending as well as people cheating on their tax returns and school-ground bullying If left unchecked this weapon will continue to spread unrest and bloodshed where ever it is employed or released. It is usually fully armed and guided so it will seldom miss its target. While long after its impact its radiation can continue to destroy its enemies and foes alike.
How is it that this weapon of mass destruction has remained concealed for so long? Even Presidents and numerous prestigious world institutions have not been able to find it. But, who was responsible for hiding it in the first place? The answers will surprise you. You need not search in remote or distant places. Rulers or individuals, from the Pope down to Osama bin Laden and even warlords cannot claim exclusive rights to this fearful weapon of mass destruction.
Now at last the keeper of the weapon in question, that threatens to destroy humankind on the planet earth, has been found hiding under an assumed name. The name is EGO. The moment we blame others for our problems we are guilty of hiding the ‘monster’ under our bed. However, the moment we accept responsibility in this world we will have conquered our Ego. Everyone has one. Without it we would probably cease to exist. When we ignore our ego, which we frequently do, and set it ahead of the needs of others will allow in all the misery and suffering mentioned above. Properly understood and recognized the ego can become a tool that will result in world peace and harmony. It will then be known as the weapon of construction for the masses.

The following story regarding the question: “did God create evil?” was recently posted at

A professor of a university challenged his students with this question.

"Did God create everything that exists?"

A student answered bravely, "Yes, he did".

The professor then asked, "If God created everything, then he created evil. Since evil exists (as noticed by our own actions), so God is evil.”

The student couldn't respond to that statement causing the professor to conclude that he had "proved" that "belief in God" was a fairy tale, and therefore worthless.

Another student raised his hand and asked the professor, "May I pose a question? ", "Of course" answered the professor.

The young student stood up and asked: "Professor does cold exists?"

The professor answered, "What kind of question is that? Of course the cold exists... haven't you ever been cold?"

The young student answered, "In fact sir, Cold does not exist. According to the laws of Physics, what we consider cold, in fact is the absence of heat. Anything can be studied as long as it transmits energy (heat). Absolute Zero is the total absence of heat, but cold does not exist. What we have done is create a term to describe how we feel if we don't have body heat or we are not hot."

"And, does Dark exist?", he continued. The professor answered "Of course".
This time the student responded, "Again you're wrong, Sir. Darkness does not exist either. Darkness is in fact simply the absence of light. Light can be studied, darkness cannot. Darkness cannot be broken down. A simple ray of light tears the! Darkness and illuminates the surface where the light beams finishes. Dark is a term that we humans have created to describe what happens when there's lack of light."

Finally, the student asked the professor, "Sir, does evil exist?" The professor replied, "Of course it exists, as I mentioned at the beginning, we see violations, crimes and violence anywhere in the world, and those things are evil."

The student responded, "Sir, Evil does not exist. Just as in the previous cases, Evil is a term which man has created to describe the result of the absence of God's presence in the minds of man.

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