Essay: What Is Evil? part 1
Animals: Tradition - Philosophy - Religion Article from


Stephen Kaufman, M.D., Christian Vegetarian Association (CVA)

Essay: What Is Evil? part 1

Before I attempt to describe the nature of evil, I would like to reflect first on what I think evil is not. I do not think evil is real. What I mean is that I do not think evil is real like a thing, such as a rock or a person. Nor do I think evil is a force, such as gravity or electromagnetism.
First, there is no evidence that evil is a physical object or a force of nature. You canít perceive it, nor can you see it directly influence objects. One might posit that evil is a different kind real thing, but doing so would likely lead to the logically fallacy of circular reasoning. If evil isnít a physical entity or a kind of energy, how can it be described? To describe evil in terms of evil is circular. To describe it in terms of it being the opposite of ďthe goodĒ isnít much more helpful, since good is only understood in terms of its not being evil. To say that a person has done an evil thing uses evil as an adjective rather than a noun, and adjectives are helpful for description but are not real in and of themselves.
There are theological difficulties in regarding evil as real. If we believe that God is the creator of the universe, and if we believe that evil is real, then we must attribute the existence of evil to God. And, if we regard God as the source of evil, then seeking to serve and follow God is fraught with difficult questions: Why should we follow a God who is responsible for evil? On what basis should we be confident that following God is serving good rather than evil?
Such conundrums encourage us to seek a different understanding of the nature of evil. In upcoming essays, I will endeavor to do so.

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