Evil From Morals Essay Research Paper Evil

Evil From Morals Essay, Research Paper

Evil From Morals

By textbook definition, evil is “What is morally wrong, what hinders the

realization of good” (Webster). If that is evil, then what is good? It’s “what

is morally excellent, virtuous, well behaved, dutiful.” (Webster) Philosophers

have argued over what evil is and why it exists for thousands of years. They

have raised questions like ?How can there be a God if there is evil?’ These

questions were raised due to God’s nature: he is said to be all-powerful, all-

knowing and all-good. If this is the case, why doesn’t he stop evil? And, since

people are supposed to be created in God’s image, why are they capable of moral

evil? If one believes that God exists, there can only be one answer: evil exists

because God allows it, and moral evil exists because God has given us freedom of


Evil has been looked at in many different ways throughout the years.

Philosophers like Socrates and Plato believed evil was a matter of ignorance.

Ancient Persians saw good and evil as two principles, “engaged in a perpetual

struggle.”(Collier) In reality, evil is merely the absence of good. “The essence

of all reality is good, evil is merely the faulty reflection of reality found in

a world of particulars.”(Funk & Wagnalls) There can be many different types of

evil. Two of such types are moral evil and natural evil. Natural evil consists

of things like pain and suffering, while moral evil consists of making ?bad’

decisions. “Moral evil depends on the exercise of human will; natural evil is

independent of this.” (MacGregor) The main difference between these two evils is

that people are unable to control natural evil, while moral evil depends on

their will. Some people even say physical evil is a human necessity; “Without

the evil of pain, man would not be warned of illness and of danger”. (Colliers)

In life, there are times where ?bad’ people are better off than `good’ people.

Why is this? Some say it is a test for the soul, and rewards await us. “The

human family is as one, and its members help one another by their good actions

as the also cause suffering to one another for their faults”(Collier). As an

example, take what happened to Jesus. He suffered for all sins of mankind, and

through this saved them all. But what of moral evil, which consists of things

like murder, which people can control? Why does God permit it if the

consequences are undesirable?

To understand why moral evil exists, the concept of free will must be

understood. Freedom of choice, or free will is “the power and exercise of

unhampered choice.” (Webster) Therefore humans are capable of making their own

decisions and doing whatever they please. Freedom doesn’t mean an absence of

influences, rather that these influences do not force a person to decide in a

certain way, and he/she can choose between these influences (e.g. A man thinks a

walk outside would be a good idea because he needs fresh air. But, the man is

tired and doesn’t really feel like it. He must choose which ?path’ to follow )

People don’t always know the influences that act upon them all the time; some of

these are subconscious. Certain people would say that if they knew these

subconscious motivations, our behavior could be explained and free will would be

nullified, since our behavior would always be predictable. “Advocates of free

will do not deny that these unconscious causes exist, simply that it is a

positive casual influence added to the equation.” (Royce) Let’s say, for example,

a person wanted to hurt another. This person might not know why, but can still

choose not to. Therefore if a person’s moral character is well known, his

decisions are most likely predictable and not random. Thus, free will is not

random, not completely determined, but necessary for the development of moral

character. That is why moral evil exists. It is a side-effect of free will.

“Christian philosophy has always attributed the presence of evil in the world to

the actions of a man’s free will.” (Collier) To understand, the situation must

first be analyzed. Since God is all-good, ?doing’ good would be doing something

which God himself would do or approve to. Therefore doing evil would be the

opposite; doing something which God wouldn’t do or approve to. Going back to a

previous question, why would God want us to be capable of moral evil?

“if it is not a logical impossibility for man to choose good on one

or even several occasions, then there is no logical impossibility

for man to choose good on every occasion”, “If it was open to

an omnibenevolent God the possibility of creating beings who freely

choose good, and He did not take this opportunity, this would prove

that He is not omnipotent.”, ” If God is all-powerful He should have

made human beings perfect. A perfect God should create perfect beings.”


To answer all of there arguments, one must look at God’s relationship to

people and what his motives are. What God really wants is to have people like

him and to have a close relationship to him. If God created people so they chose

good on every occasion, he would be the cause of their behavior. God is known to

be ?the source of what good’, good itself. Therefore the best choice a person

could make would be to have a close relationship to God. However, if God created

humans always to make this choice, they would not be free compared to him. Why

would he want us to freely choose to have a close relationship to him? “Free

will, though it makes evil possible, is the only thing that makes possible any

love or goodness or joy worth having.” (Lewis) There are many examples that can

prove this. Let’s take one of true love. In case one, a man wants to marry a

woman, but knows she isn’t interested in him. He forces the woman to marry him

and tells her that she will love him. Deep down, this man knows she resents and

probably hates him. Now in case two, a man asks a woman to marry him, and she

says yes because she loves him. Their relationship is one where their love is

genuine and can grow. Now, apply this to God. Because he loves us, he gives us

the choice to decide whether or not to follow him.

“To have created men without freedom would mean that man could not

freely love and serve God, or in any way contribute to his own

salvation.” (Collier) “You have the freedom of choice to accept

God, which is to love Him, or to reject Him, which is to decline

to love him.” (MacGregor)

Despite all opposing arguments, God is all-good and all-powerful. Moral

evil is in part caused by free will and free will is the only way that allows

true love and good moral character to grow. Some may say that they don’t agree

with this statement, and, by exercising the gift of free will continue to

separate themselves from God. But, if God is the greatest good, why would one

want to distance themselves from him? If God is the greatest good, an

appropriate response would seem to get to know Him.


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