is the real problem evil or good?

Lately, I’ve been wrestling with the mystery or problem of moral evil — just some light thinking.

Frankly, evil is a problem for all of us not merely in terms of experience but explanation.  But why?  Why is violence, deceit, thievery, unfaithfulness, etc. even a concern? How do I know something is morally/ethically evil? I think it is. I feel it is — but why? If I were a proponent of secular evolution I’d simply chalk it up to survival of the species. Natural selection is dependent upon death, destruction, and violence of the strong against the weak. That process should be considered perfectly natural. There is no right or wrong, good or bad, just or unjust — merely survival. Yet, as humans it doesn’t seem or feel natural. A part of us knows something is missing. By labeling something as evil we must have a concept of what is good to measure it against. Otherwise, on what basis am I outraged at moral evil? It seem there is a problem of good as well.
Philosopher Dr. Alvin Plantinga poses this question:

Could there really be a such thing as horrifying wickedness if there were no God and we just evolved? I don’t see how. There can be such a thing only if there is a way that rational creatures are supposed to live, obliged to live… A [secular] way of looking at the world has no place for genuine moral obligation of any sort…and thus no way to say there is such a thing as genuine and appalling wickedness [evil]. Accordingly, if you think there really is such a thing as horrifying as wickedness…then you have a powerful argument for the reality of God.

I’m still thinking…

4 Responses to “is the real problem evil or good?”

  1. July 2, 2010 at 10:26 pm

    I’d like to point out that you can accept evolution and believe in God.

    I wonder if the problem is just the way we’re thinking of it. There seems little doubt that morality exists in some form, otherwise it would not be almost universally acknowledged and experienced by people.

    Why is it thought that morality must come from a higher power? Perhaps morality is simply part of human emotions. Perhaps immorality should be thought of as form of mental illness; a lack of normal human empathy and remorse, and perhaps an abnormal willingness to act without thought of the consequences.

    • 2 rkollbocker
      July 3, 2010 at 5:32 pm

      You’re correct and I agree – one can accept the process of evolution and believe in God – the two are not mutually exclusive.

      Your questions are good ones. But if immorality is thought of as a form of mental illness — are we all then not mentally ill? For at some point or another we all act immorally – from a simple lie to the most heinous acts of violence…this would seem to make human beings incapable of figuring morality out for ourselves. Who among the mentally ill is to say what is moral or immoral? By whose standard do we measure? It seems to me that morality must be objectively transcendent to be valid — otherwise it is simply the subjective opinons of the mentally deficient. What or who is the transcendent source?

  2. 3 JCasas
    July 8, 2010 at 2:37 am

    This one officially made my head hurt. How about Sir Isaac Newton’s take on things?: “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.” Maybe our barometer of good and evil is being able to see the ripple effect of one’s actions. To me, this where the belief in God intersects with the secular world. Action/reaction. God is in all of us, so everything we do circles around us. Sometimes people are unable, for whatever reason, to recognize that gut “this is wrong” feeling. Maybe it’s mental incapability, maybe upbringing and education, maybe denial…who knows. Seeing action/reaction can give us the “My God, what have I done” moment so that we can come to understand morality and ultimately determine good vs. evil.

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re: the random-ness

Husband. Father. Senior Pastor of Parkview Community Church in Glen Ellyn, IL.

Ok...so you've located the place where I put down my random thoughts. The key word here is random: music, sports, art, food, books, news, spiritual musings, weird stories, etc. I'm especially interested in how everyday experiences of life intersect with the ancient stories of Scripture. Thanks for reading.
July 2010
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"No problem can withstand the assault of substantial thinking." Voltaire



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