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Evil and Being

Evil and Being

Presence of evil in the world around us is clearly
an undeniable and important part of our human
experience. We all suffer.
Meaning of evil is discovered from our
experience and how we express it in our
Not as philosophical argumentation, but
common meaning, Evil is expressed as the
opposite of Good. Something we want to turn
away from, harmful, destructive, repugnant,
unpleasant, etc.
Challenge Every Being is
Every real being because it has some degree of
real existence of its own is good, and to be
valued as such.
St. Thomas: only real, actually existent beings
can properly be called good because of their
participation in the act of existence.
This excludes purely mental beings: ideas,
possibilities, mathematical and logical entities,
hypotheses, etc.
Good as Transcendental
Property of Being: Every
Being is Good
Every being as being is good: Evil as positive
reality is unintelligible.
Every being ultimately comes from God as its
creative source, thus impossible to be intrinsically evil
but it can produce evil effect on something else.
Every being is good for every spiritual intellect
and will.
The fact that something is at all, it participates in the
fundamental ground of all perfection. (mosquito)
The existence of evil is a
serious metaphysical
1. What is the nature and status in being of evil?
How can being be both good and evil at the
same time?
2. Is the existence of a good God compatible
with the presence of evil in the world?
Why doesnt He prevent evil?
If He allows it, is He responsible for it, and morally
evil Himself?

Nature and Status in Being
Evil Opinions
Evil is a positive being or aspect of a being
(Mazdeism and Zoroastrianism) Both good and evil
and positive beings, derived from two ultimate
sources or gods who are in conflict over the mastery
of the world.
Matter is primary source of evil. Many Gnostic and
heretical Christian sects carried on this tradition and
tried to infiltrate orthodox Christianity which fought
against is in the name of goodness of all creation.
Evil is merely the metaphysical status of all finite
beings as imperfect, lacking some perfection
possessed by God. (Leibniz)
Evil is a subjective illusion (Spinoza) due to our
incomplete finite view of the universe from a limited
human perspective. True wisdom is to wake up to
this higher point of view, where evil melts away like
mist by rising sun!
Evil as a Negation - Depravation
Solution worked out by St. Augustine and refined
by St. Thomas:
1. Evil cannot be a positive being or mode of
being, but is rooted in some form of negation.
Any time we recognize a case of evil we discover
that it cannot be located until we come to some
negative or not-being element (germs are not evil
in their own being)
Hatred is the opposite of love. Thus evil is the
absence or deprivation of good.
Death is depravation of life.
The core of evil is never located until we find some
absence, until we hit this negative core, there is no
reason to call anything evil.
Evil is a Privation of a Due
Evil cannot consist simply in a negation, an
absence, by itself.
This is impossible, otherwise every finite being that
lacks perfection in some order would have to be
declared evil (tree is not evil because it cannot see)
Evil has to be of a special kind of negation that we
Evil is the privation in some being of good that
should be there, Evil is the PRIVATION OF A DUE
Evil is a hole in Being.

What about physical Pain?
It may seem paradoxical that evil is not a real
being, but a privation residing in a good being.
Objection: This explanation may work for many evils,
but not for all.
PAIN is not just an absence of pleasure, but it seems
to have a positive feeling, unnecessary especially if
its incurable and doesnt serve any real purpose.
Response: its primary purpose is to be a positive
messenger, to bring our attention that something
needs to be done about the wrong in the organism.
This messenger manifests itself in an unpleasant way
to fulfill its job to cause an action. It is more as
positive-negative feeling rather than evil.
How about Hatred?
Hatred is evil will, or wish, toward somebody that
is willing a privation of being toward someone
else, negation of good.
Act of willing this evil seems clearly to be a positive
act, filled often with energy and intensity. It is hard to
believe that it is only a privation.
Response: The core of willing evil is to will
negation of being on another, its a privation
It is a privation in the dynamic order of action itself.
There is no lack of action, but its fundamentally
disordered action.
We cannot deny that there is an element of positive
action, but that that the action is rotten at its core
because of the privation of a properly human goal
and intention
Kinds of Evil
Physical Evil privation of some good due to a
being or its action in the ontological order of its
actual existence compared to what its nature is
naturally ordered to be (blindness, sickness, injury,
Moral evil privation of some good due in an
action producet by some free responsible moral
agent, compared to moral norm of Good and
Bad moral actions. Evil goal or intent
What is the Cause of Evil
SPECIAL PROBLEM: A cause is something that makes
another being to be, in whole or in part. If evil is not
a real being, but a privation of some due good,
how can it be a real effect of a cause?
Evil can result from a defect in the power of the agent
or some defect in the material the agent has to work
on, so the effect produced lacks full perfection

Evil can result from the fact that the cause, in
producing one positive effect or good, thereby
excludes from being some other higher good that
should be present.
Moral evil always consist in saying NO to some
good that should be allowed or helped to be,
instead of saying YES as we should have.
God and Evil
One of the most difficult problems that a philosophy
of God must face (atheists cite this quite often)
Argument: If God is omnipotent, he could prevent
all evil, and if he is All-good he would do so, but he
does not. Thus it follows that he is either not omni-
potent or All-good, in either case such being could
not be God.
General Response: It is not the case that a morally
good and wise person is bound to prevent any evil
wherever it is possible to do so (a wise parent can
allow his children to suffer small hurts in order to train
them) Also, the gift of intelligent freedom allows us
to exercise it, in order that greater good can come
out of it.

The Burden of Proof
The burden of proof is on the objector to
demonstrate clearly that there is no higher good
possible out of God permitting certain evil.
The fact that the existence of evil remains a
mystery for us in this life in no way entails that any
valid objection can be drawn from this against
the existence of a wise and good and
omnipotent God
Any adequate evidence to do so is beyond our
reach (unreachable future)
Physical Evil
Physical evil is privation of ontological good
brought about nature without direct intervention
of human free will (disease, injury, accidents,
etc.) God responsible by the initial cause of these
laws of nature?
Natural laws govern dynamic operation:
otherwise there is no way living organisms could
learn from experience if there is no chance of
their getting hurt from anything they do in
violation of such laws.
Objector might complain that wouldnt it be
better to create the world where such evils dont
exist or with less evil? Such world would eliminate
need for virtues: no fortitude, courage,
disciplined temperance, and others.
Moral Evil
Moral evil is rooted in the disordered willing of a free
created person God is not the cause of moral evil,
nor responsible for it.
We are created as dynamic agents
He does not cause us to say NO to the higher
good that should be here, which is the root of moral
evil. We alone are responsible for it.
God cooperates with us in our YESs not in our
NOs, so God is not to be blamed.
Objection: Couldnt God intervene and stop some
of the horrendous events that occurred in the
history of human kind? Who says that he hasnt?
Once you put such obligation on God, where does
that requirement stop?

It is not up to theists to provide the exact reason
why God permits a particular moral evil, but only
to show that no cogent objection can be made
forbidding him to act thus, and that there are
positive reasons for the wisdom of his plan.