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PostPosted: Thu Jun 30, 2005 7:09 pm 
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OK, we'll add that to our proposed list of definitions, then. Let's see, we have:

1) Not wanting God
2) Anything outside of God's will
3) The absence of love
4) Ignorance
5) What God defines as evil

Let me throw one more into the mix because it's very common in Eastern (not Eastern Orthodox!) thought, and has been brought into New Age thought:

6) Evil is an illusion. When we learn to see things right, we'll know that there really is no such thing as evil (or good).

The interesting thing (to me) at least is that the commonly accepted Catholic answer (from St. Augustine, I believe) is not on that list. If you already know what it is, please don't spill the beans!

If anyone has more suggestions, feel free to offer them, but I'm now opening the floor for evaluations of that list. What are the strengths and weaknesses of each option?

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PostPosted: Thu Jun 30, 2005 7:16 pm 
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Obi-Wan Kenobi wrote:
1) Not wanting God
2) Anything outside of God's will
3) The absence of love
4) Ignorance
5) What God defines as evil
6) Evil is an illusion. When we learn to see things right, we'll know that there really is no such thing as evil (or good).


I take issue with 3 and 4.

3) God is love, but is God only love?

4) Even when we, the finite, are in Heaven we will not know everything about God, the Infinite. Is our ignorance of God in Heaven an evil?

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PostPosted: Thu Jun 30, 2005 7:19 pm 
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I also take issue with #6. Evil is real and not just an illusion, just as Satan is real.

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PostPosted: Thu Jun 30, 2005 7:27 pm 
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Obi-Wan Kenobi wrote:
(We need a pot-stirring emoticon)

I propose the following for debate only, of course:

Evil is ignorance. If we knew what the right thing to do was, and if we understood the consequences of our wrong actions, we would never do anything wrong.

True or false? And why?


:stir

On the surface it seems true because we think Adam and Eve would have never disobeyed if they really realized the ramifications of what would happen to all of human history.

However, Satan was a cherub covering God- pretty hard to get closer to Him than that. He knew it wasn't right to try to ascend higher than God, and to cause a rebellion (mutiny!!). He saw God's power and might and glory and wanted it for himself. And, he certainly knows right from wrong by this time, and has seen enough consequences of evil, but he still chooses evil instead of good every single day. So, based on his example, I would say this is false. I would think greed would be more true than ignorance. Eve wanted equal knowledge with God too, once Satan said that to her.

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PostPosted: Thu Jun 30, 2005 7:48 pm 
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Evil is not good. In a thing, it is the absence of good. In an action, it is rooted in that actions which are directed, knowingly or not (though if not, they wouldn't be faulted for this), against good. In a rational creature, it is the willful turning of one's soul against good.

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And, he certainly knows right from wrong by this time, and has seen enough consequences of evil, but he still chooses evil instead of good every single day.


You're assuming that it is possible for him to choose good. There is no hope of redemption for the fallen angels, they made their choice for all eternity. There are no middle angels.


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 30, 2005 7:52 pm 
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Obi-Wan Kenobi wrote:
OK, we'll add that to our proposed list of definitions, then. Let's see, we have:

1) Not wanting God
2) Anything outside of God's will
3) The absence of love
4) Ignorance
5) What God defines as evil

Let me throw one more into the mix because it's very common in Eastern (not Eastern Orthodox!) thought, and has been brought into New Age thought:

6) Evil is an illusion. When we learn to see things right, we'll know that there really is no such thing as evil (or good).

The interesting thing (to me) at least is that the commonly accepted Catholic answer (from St. Augustine, I believe) is not on that list. If you already know what it is, please don't spill the beans!

If anyone has more suggestions, feel free to offer them, but I'm now opening the floor for evaluations of that list. What are the strengths and weaknesses of each option?


Since you said in your 3:18PM post you are looking at evil in general and not just moral evil, let's see:

1. A rock doesn't want God and is not evil.
2. A Protestant is outside God's will and is not evil.
3. A plant lacks love and is not evil.
4. A child is ignorant and is not evil.
5. Would it be evil because God defined it or would God define is because it is evil? If the latter, then evil is not just what God defines.
6. Cancer is not an illusion, neither is abortion, rape, or murder. How could we see these things "as they really are" without seeing them as evil?

Help us Augustine (the Saint).


David


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 30, 2005 7:58 pm 
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Catholic Cadet said: "Evil is not good. In a thing, it is the absence of good. In an action, it is rooted in that actions which are directed, knowingly or not (though if not, they wouldn't be faulted for this), against good. In a rational creature, it is the willful turning of one's soul against good.


My vote is for CC with one small addition: "In a thing, it is the absence of a good it should have". A rock lacks sight but that is not an evil given the kind of thing a rock is. A man lacking sight is an evil because of the kind of thing a man is.

This is why I mentioned Genesis 1 earlier. God said things were good because they were as he intended them to be. Evil would then be what CC said.

David


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 30, 2005 8:11 pm 
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Absence of good requires that one know what good is. That again requires God to define what is good (or evil).

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PostPosted: Thu Jun 30, 2005 8:21 pm 
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Quote:
Absence of good requires that one know what good is. That again requires God to define what is good (or evil).


Are things good because God decreed them to be such or because of their very nature? To assert the former requires one to hold that God had to declare Himself good in order for him to be such.


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 30, 2005 8:24 pm 
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dsbrown wrote:
[5. Would it be evil because God defined it or would God define is because it is evil? If the latter, then evil is not just what God defines.


How can something be evil if God has not said it is? I have to go with the former.

...thinking...

Let's look at this a different way. If God is all that existed and it was good, then what created evil? Does evil exist because good exists? Sounds like a yin and yan thing, which I don't believe is the case.

I think Free Will opened the door to evil, so that would mean evil is the rejection of God...or that the rejection of God is the root of all evil.

Ack, that doesn't make full sense...oh well, dinner...Just throwing it out there.

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PostPosted: Thu Jun 30, 2005 8:27 pm 
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Just so we don't sidetrack:

The generally accepted answer to the question about goodness and God is that God is Good (or Goodness). Goodness is a standard intrinsic to Him, so He doesn't arbitrarily declare what's good and what isn't, nor is He subject to some standard outside of Himself to determine good and evil.

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If God is all that existed and it was good, then what created evil? Does evil exist because good exists?


Does evil exist? (Yes, it's a trick question.)

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PostPosted: Thu Jun 30, 2005 11:35 pm 
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dsbrown wrote:
[
1. A rock doesn't want God and is not evil.

David


how do You know? have You talked to all the rocks yet?
and i'm being deadly serious.......
we cannot talk about how the rest of creation experiences God.
You may describe Your experience..... leave the rest of the rocks out of it....

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 01, 2005 3:52 am 
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I think evil is questioning God being there for you or that He exists. and, quesitoning Jesus too.

I also think self doubt and hatred is a big form of evil. Some people love others and support them so much yet doubt in themselves. I am guilty of this through my depression. But, to lose all hope and faith in yourself and that you are worth anything is true evil. I find suicide to be the worst death. Worse than any form because you take your own life. You are not killed by someobdy but your psirit literally is dead at that point. Your soul has no life to it and you give up. I'd rather be killed by someobdy else (not arranged of course0 than to kill myself. To be that down on yourself and life is where I think evil truly invades the mind. At taht point, its not even you anymore. Spiritual warfare has you defeated.

I also think evil can be forgetting God and Jesus in our own lives. I am guilty of judging but try my best not to and to be nice to others. I think to not show people love and compassion is a form of evil too.

I also think feeling Satan will win or has won with you or the world or anything else is very much evil in thought. God will win, He always has the power. But, to not have that in your mind is evil.

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 01, 2005 6:18 am 
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mots137 wrote:
dsbrown wrote:
[
1. A rock doesn't want God and is not evil.

David


how do You know? have You talked to all the rocks yet?
and i'm being deadly serious.......
we cannot talk about how the rest of creation experiences God.
You may describe Your experience..... leave the rest of the rocks out of it....


A rock doesn't experience anything at all

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 01, 2005 7:39 am 
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Quote:
mots137 wrote:
we cannot talk about how the rest of creation experiences God.
You may describe Your experience..... leave the rest of the rocks out of it....


If we limit knowledge (our language) to our own experience then we can't say anything about anything beyond our experience. We can't say anything about God, evil, others, the world. We can't know them. We are all alone in our own little worlds.

How does this save understanding evil as "Not wanting God"?

I think I will stick with CC.


David


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 01, 2005 7:45 am 
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I think you have to understand evil and God. It says antyhign not with HIm is against Him. So, evil is anything against him. you gotta understand both how to be for and against. To understand what is against, you strive to not do that and only do what is for.

The best way to defeat an enemy in a game or battle is to know them. How can you defeat evil and Satan if you don't know what it is first?

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 01, 2005 9:12 am 
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In the long run, I think all the answers boil down into four categories:

1) Evil is an illusion. As noted above, this is difficult to accept even from a non-theological standpoint--do we really want to say that the wrongness of murder is only an illusion? As Christians, this viewpoint is even less tenable, for it would have God becoming incarnate, suffering, and dying, to overcome . . . an illusion? I don't think so!

2) Evil is ignorance. There is some philosophical ground for this, but it doesn't hold up in the light of theology. Why? Because Jesus became incarnate, suffered, and died not just to overcome evil in general, but also for the forgiveness of sins. Yet a person who does something wrong in ignorance is not morally responsible for it, and therefore if all evil were ignorance, He would have had nothing for which to die. Moreover, evil as ignorance would mean that His teaching was far more important than His passion, death and resurrection. While His teachings are vital, they are not the core of Christianity; without the events of Good Friday and Easter, they would be, first, unliveable (because we can live them only through the grace we get as a result of the atonement; and, second, not all that novel (because Jesus didn't teach too much--at least in regards to moral behavior--that was not already known). Beyond that, St. Paul attests in Romans to the common experience of knowing what the right thing to do is, and failing to do it anyhow.

3) Evil is a thing existing in its own right. This is untenable for Christians because everything which exists gets that existence from God. If evil has real, positive existence, then God is directly responsible for evil. Those who postulate this system usually end up in dualistic systems such as Gnosticism and Manichaeism.

Great. So evil isn't an illusion, but it doesn't exist. Where does that leave us? It leaves us with the standard Christian answer, which Catholic Cadet gave above:

4) Evil is a defect or privation in what ought to be present. In the case of moral evil (sin), it stems in the end from a defective will which is oriented on something other than obedient loving filial relationship with God. In the case of physical evil (death, illness, etc.), it is the lack of something proper to the nature of the organism (life, health, etc.) In this approach, evil isn't an illusion, because something really is lacking. But evil also isn't a real thing--it's the lack of something. This means that God did not create evil, nor sustain it in existence.

And (to tie back to the other thread), this is is why we say that even the devil has ontological goodness. If he were all evil and nothing but evil, and if evil is the lack of something, he would be all lack of something, and not be anything at all.

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 01, 2005 10:40 am 
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Obi-Wan Kenobi wrote:
In the long run, I think all the answers boil down ........



... and a fifth, somewhat similar to the fourth:


A Fifth Possiblity:

"Man's struggle in this world - the exercise of his free will - is in choosing either to move toward God and reality, or to move away from God, to illusion or nothingness.

"We call these choices 'good' and 'evil.' When man makes a choice that moves him closer to God, he is choosing 'good.' When he makes a choice that moves him away from God, he is choosing 'evil' (see 11th C. Maimonides, 'Guide for the Perplexed' 3:23).

"Evil has no intrinsic reality. It is the absence of good, or the absence of an open manifestation of God. God's existence can be open and clear to us, or it can be hidden from us."

[the above quote from R. Shraga Simmons]

This is different from the fourth category in that ~ by essence, not by circumstance ~ it excludes death, illness, and other perceived misfortunes from the definition of evil. BTW, this is a huge topic which was at the center of discussion in the Jewish community, in recent years. One manifestation is that a book advocating something distantly akin to the fourth category ~ "When Bad Things Happen to Good People," by R. Harold Kushner ~ is considered heretical in the observant community. For an on-the-mark representation of the Jewish understanding one could see the book "Why Me, G-d? A Jewish Guide for Coping with Suffering," by Lisa Aiken.

The item of possible greatest interest to non-Jews in my long diversion (apologies), is: the view of traditional Catholicism and the view discussed in the latter book are much, much closer than in the case of the former, more-widely-distributed book.


A Sixth Possibility? (or, in some views an elaboration within the fifth possiblity), but in any case of possible interest to Biblical linguists:

Maharal (15th C. Prague) points out the Hebrew word for "good" in the Bible, ("tov" and its variations) can be taken to mean "enduring, viable." This would correlate with a definition of "bad" being "ephemeral, not able to endure."


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 01, 2005 10:47 am 
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As you note, your fifth is similar to the fourth. In fact, I see it as the same. It boils down to the identity of being and goodness.

As for the sixth:

Stephen wrote:
Maharal (15th C. Prague) points out the Hebrew word for "good" in the Bible, ("tov" and its variations) can be taken to mean "enduring, viable." This would correlate with a definition of "bad" being "ephemeral, not able to endure."


This, too, is a subset of the fourth. Bad things cannot sustain their own existence; a seriously ill person will die without treatment, the person in mortal sin will perish without the graces of repentance, and so forth.

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 01, 2005 10:56 am 
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Grolandi wrote:
Absence of good requires that one know what good is. That again requires God to define what is good (or evil).

As God is Goodness ontologically (in His very being) the definition of good is not something He sets out and can change, but some intrinsic to His nature. Abortion could never be made moral... God would be acting against His very nature.

Listen

1. Evil is outside the postive will of God
2. All things existing are positively willed by God
3. All physical acts are positively willed by God

What can be deduced here?

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