The Bible tells us that evil has existed since the beginning of time. Some interpret the devil (satan) as a fallen Angel from heaven. We are not sure how satan originated in the universe.
When God first breathed, what the Hebrews describe as the “Neshama”, into fully developed man, the potential for both good and evil emerged onto the human scene. For to be fully human, mankind, by definition, gained the powers associated with free will, a conscience and knowledge of what is right or wrong. God decided what characteristics humanity would have and he introduced humanity to the world through the Biblical allegory of Adam and Eve. The story of their original sin initiated man’s ability and propensity to become self centered for the first time. From this beginning mankind grew in stature and knowledge of all of the good and evil choices that were available to them. And so, one possible nature of evil was created when God decided what it meant to be human.
A second possible source of evil dates back to Aristotle and beyond. The world exists within systems of “dualism” – light and darkness, love and hate, beautiful and ugly and good and evil. These are forces that exist in the world that cannot be explained. Evil is an entity that has existed since the beginning of time and its source is unknown.
Thirdly, God’s world and its evolution were allowed to grow, change, and be subject to the possibilities of chance. This means that although God created and continues to nurture our world, he does not orchestrate it with a heavy, high control hand. It is a part of God’s plan to allow his laws of nature and other innovative acts of mankind, to operate within boundaries, but with potential chances for success and failure, good or evil.
A fourth source of evil emerges from acts of nature such as earth quakes, volcanoes, hurricanes, tornados and communicable diseases. As far as we can discern, God allows events to happen in his universe that are guided by the physical laws of nature which God created. We do not fully understand it, but God allows violent acts of nature to occur in every part of the world – even as humans work through science and technologies to oppose these events. The rains fall equally on the just and the unjust, the rich and the poor.
Albert Einstein, during an academic debate in college explained that:
- Darkness is not a substance – it is the absence of Light.
- Cold is not a substance – it is the absence of Heat.
- Evil is not a substance (or entity) – it is the absence of Goodness
Or better said, evil is the absence and the rejection of God.
Finally, we who are Christians believe in miraculous acts that defy God’s natural processes and laws. How, when and why some negative events and sufferings turn positive can only be explained as miraculous acts of God. On the other hand, God seems to follow the laws and natural processes he created most of the time. He either selects to limit his powers to intervene or he has limited powers to act in certain circumstances. We just really do not know. God cannot or will not:
- Make 2+2 equal to anything other than 4
- Stop a child from wandering out into traffic
- Stop the sun from rising every morning
- Stop a person from drowning who does not know how to swim.
It would seem that God represents all that is good and positive in our world but he does not intervene or micro-manage all of mankind’s actions.. Part of what it means to be made in the image of God is mankind’s responsibilities to understand, endure and oppose all forms of evil in God’s world.