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Evil’s Origins and Why God Allows it to Exist.
By: David Deschesne
Editor, Fort Fairfield Journal
Fort Fairfield Journal, October 26, 2005, page 9
ORIGINS OF EVIL
One of the most common Hebrew words for evil is עד (ra). It occurs 428 times in the Old Testament.
The root ד can have either a passive or active connotation: “misfortune, calamity,” and “wickedness” respectively. It can occur in profane contexts, “bad,” “repulsive,” and moral contexts, “evil,” “wickedness.”1 It carries a dual meaning of being wrong in God’s eyes and detrimental in terms of its effect on man. עד is that condition or action which in God’s sight is unacceptable, or may be a refusal to respond to God’s call, as opposed to עעד (ra’a) which depicts the subjective evil that by man’s standards he uses to evaluate his environment in terms of the pain he experiences.2
Ra is very similar in form to the name of the Egyptian sun god Rā. The letter ד, resh, symbolizes evil, wickedness while ע, aleph, symbolizes an eye, or spiritual insight. The symbol for the sun god Rā is often an eye, which is also called the Eye of Horus in some cases. The Egyptian Eye of Rā stands for the light of the sun and knowledge. According to Egyptian mythology, Rā was one of the gods of creation.3
Remnants of the Biblical Flood story exist in Egyptian mythology when Rā became displeased with man and ordered his destruction.4
While it is possible that the Hebrews added the word עד to their language to derogatorily reference the god of the Egyptian rulers they resented, there is a story of power being generated from the Eye of Heru (Horus) in a battle where good triumphs over evil.5
The first time Ra appears in the Old Testament is in reference to the Tree of Knowledge of good and evil.6 Where Eve and Adam were seduced by the serpent to eat of it to gain spiritual insight to become like God, knowing good from evil.7 Ever since that day, man has been trying to be God with identification systems (omniscient), video surveillance (omnipresent), and the construction of a massive police state to track, trace and control people (omnipotent). Man has also corrupted the voluntary system of giving for charity into a forced system of confiscation of wealth in order to gain the worship of those in need of subsistence.
WHY DOES GOD ALLOW EVIL?
“That God did not, because He endued man with free agency in spiritual things, create evil, and that He never inspires any evil into man, is because He is good itself; and in this God is omnipresent, and continually urges and entreats that He may be received. And if He is not received yet He does not withdraw; for if He should withdraw man would instantly die, nay, would lapse into nonentity; for man’s life and the subsistence of all things of which he consists is from God. The cause of the fact that God did not create evil, but that man introduced it is, that man turns into evil the good which continually flows in from God, by turning himself away from God and turning to himself; and when this is done the delight of good remains, and this then becomes the delight of evil.”8
The Lord is God of the just and unjust and His light shines on both alike.9
According to Christian philosopher and theologian, St. Thomas Aquinas, “Good is what the appetite tends toward,” and “Evil is the privation of good.”
Just as the absence of water/moisture is “dry,” and the absence of light is “dark,” evil is a negative - it doesn’t exist by itself, it is the absence of good that creates its condition.
The Second Law of Thermodynamics is Entropy: All energy and matter in their natural state, in a closed system, always tend toward a state of greater disorder. Simplified: “everything rots when not maintained.” For example; steel rusts, wood rots, water dries into vapor and, esoterically, society degenerates to its lowest, basest form.
As society drifts away from God and man turns toward himself, he becomes disconnected with the original source of good and by default becomes evil. Without the Water of Life from God, man’s soul “dries up” and becomes evil.
God doesn’t will evil for evil’s sake. God is the supreme good. Man’s reject of, and lack of faith in God, causes an absence of that which is good. Evil tyrants exist because of man’s free will to remove good from his society; therefore, God doesn’t cause an evil to exist, man’s removal from his heart and society that which is good causes evil to exist.
“We can learn more about God when we discover why he does not act than we learn from what he does in fact do.”10 God allows evil to continue in order to test the faith of, and to perfect His saints. If there were no evil, there would be no patience of the martyrs - no tyrannical persecution. Throughout the history of the world, man has been evil, and God has allowed what we perceive as “evil” to exist - such as earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, etc. God’s ways are not man’s ways. He forms and molds His creation as He sees fit. God allows evil, hunger, strife and disastrous situations to exist as the fire that refines and purifies gold, to refine and purify the faith of His servants to prepare them for the life everlasting.
1. Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament ©1980 Moody Bible Institute, p. 854.
2. ibid, p. 855
3. Funk & Wagnalls Standard Dictionary of Folklore, Mythology, and Legend, ©1984 Harper & Row Publishers, p. 917
5. Egyptian Book of the Dead, Plate 9, verse 12. See: Egyptian Book of the Dead, New Translation and Commentary, ©2001 Dr. Ramses Seleem, p. 89
6. Genesis 2:9
7. Genesis 3:5
8. Compendium of Swedenborg’s Theological Writings, ©1974 Samuel M. Warren, p. 686.
9. See Matthew 5:45
10. Frederick Sontag, author The God of Evil.