By Engr. Carlos V. Cornejo
The title above does not say, “Why did God create evil?” because God does not directly create evil. All that God created is good. We men are the ones who have spoiled creation and created evil. God only allows evil to happen but always for a good purpose.
Life is full of good things. Some of them are very good. But life is also full of bad things: sin, suffering, disease, death, disappointments, fears, follies and failures. A religion that does not take into account the “dark side” of life is unrealistic and incomplete. The Catholic Church, like God Himself, has always taken evil seriously, in real life as well as in thought.
First, let’s discuss evil and its nature. Evil is the most serious problem in the world for three reasons: one, it is the only anti-God thing in the world. Second, evil is the strongest argument against the existence of God, the only reason for atheism: if God is good why does He allow evil? There are many arguments for the existence of God and the existence of evil is the only argument for atheism. Third, evil is not only a problem of thought, an argument, but a problem of life. It affects us. It hurts us. It harms those we love. That’s what evil is: something that harms people.
There are two kinds of evil: moral evil and physical evil. Moral evil are the choices we make by choosing bad thoughts, words or actions such as stealing or lying. Physical evil is disease, death and suffering. All moral evil is done by us, but most physical evil is not. Moral evil is evil we do, but physical evil is evil we suffer. Moral evil happens by our will, our bad choices, but physical evils happen against our will. The only real evil by the way is moral evil because it harms the soul. Physical evil can be turned into a spiritual good that is beneficial to the soul.
Evil by nature does not exist in itself. It always “attaches” itself to a good thing. Philosophy teaches us that evil is a lack of good or a deprivation of good. It is tooth decay in a tooth. Or blindness in an eye that is supposed to see. If there was no tooth in the first place there would be no tooth decay. If there was no eye to speak of, blindness would not exist. If there was no good thing, bad thing or evil could not exist. If God did not create angels and men, evil would not exist. Evil is spoiling a good thing. By definition moral evil is the absence of good in the action itself. There is also evil in the desire. The devils were good angels before but became bad ones after making a bad choice. Lucifer and his angels did not want to serve God and so they became devils.
There is a connection between moral evil and physical evil. Physical evils such as suffering and death don’t come from God. “God did not make death” (Wisdom 1:13). God made us to live forever. He did not design us to suffer and die. That fate that we brought upon ourselves happened when we sinned. God warned us against it. Genesis Chapter 3 is the story of how the two evils came into our life and how physical evil came because of moral evil. It shows the causal connection between the two kinds of evil. Moral evil always destroys. As St. Maximilian Kolbe would say, “Hatred (or evil) is not a creative force, only love creates.” Meaning evil’s nature is always to destroy unlike love which always creates something to express and spread its goodness. More of this in the next article.