Okay, so some of my best thoughts happen when I’m mowing the lawn, and whilst attempting to come up with a thesis statement for this argumentative paper, my mind took it a completely different direction. Now I need to figure out the focus so I can actually find some academic support.
So, if St. Augustine was correct, and evil is essentially a corruption or byproduct of good, AND everything God created was good (except that he separated darkness from light – called the light good, but did not call the darkness good – darkness only exists in light (see previous post), so it too is a byproduct of a created good), then we will go with that concept.
So, the Tree of Knowledge – God created knowledge, created good, but included the byproduct of good (evil) as an element of knowledge. If we add in the Rabbi’s concepts from the previous post, we could have had the knowledge had we waited until it was God’s time to give it to us and we would have been prepared. However, we didn’t wait, and thus, we had knowledge of what was good and evil, but no real understanding. Now, all evil serves as a teaching tool for good.
Think about it – natural “evils” – cancer, tsunamis, earthquakes, storms – each of these provide us with an opportunity to learn, to find a cure for cancer, to develop better warning systems and preparedness plans for natural disasters, to build things differently, etc. If we respond to a natural evil with an overwhelming good, we can eventually eliminate the threat it is to us. In this way, the concept of treating cancer with chemo is bad, because we’re choosing the “lesser of two evils” rather than finding the overwhelming good path to eliminate it.
Now we get to the interesting concept of sin with evil. People who choose to do evil, whether it be minor (dishonoring one’s parents) or major (genocide) – both are against the commandments God provided us with. We have the free will to do so, but we have the ability to educate, to teach that chosen evils will always eventually have consequences that are negative, and to teach that choosing good will provide the ultimate in good – that of eternal life with God.
Sometimes evil is placed in front of you as a temptation, and your task – just like with Christ in the desert – is to turn away from the temptation, to not give in to it. Perhaps you’re ready for that test; perhaps not. Sometimes it is placed in front of you because the only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing. (Quote sometimes attributed to Edmond Burke, but no firm proof exists.) In that instance, an act of overwhelming good has the potential to overcome the evil.
So evil, while not a duality but rather a byproduct, is used by God within His Divine plan as a tool to teach us to choose good….