On Evil, part 1
Animals: Tradition - Philosophy - Religion Article from All-Creatures.org


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

On Evil, part 1

Last essay's quotation has encouraged me to reflect on the nature of evil, a topic that has prompted much thought and writing. I will first consider a theory of evil about which I disagree.

Many people regard evil as a force against the good, often identifying this force with a malevolent character known as Satan or the devil. I find this theory problematic for several reasons. First, I don’t’ see how this theory can be reconciled with a belief that there is only one creator God and that this God is fundamentally good.

Second, this theory does not accord with my experience. All of us have caused unnecessary harm to others, and all of us have wished harm on many more. All of us have angelic attributes and evil attributes. However, the theory that evil is the work of a fundamentally evil individual readily lends itself to scapegoating and victimization. This theory does not encourage people to identify evil in ourselves and in our communal institutions. Rather, the theory has often prompted people to claim that certain individual(s) are evil or are “possessed” by the devil. Sometimes, communities might first try to “exorcise” the evil, but if that is not seen as an option or if exorcism fails, communities have generally eradicated “evil” individuals by either banishment or killing.

I believe that there are “satanic” desires that lead nearly all people to cause varying degrees of harm to others, but I am very doubtful about the existence of Satan as a distinct individual. I will reflect further on this topic next essay. 

Go on to: On Evil, part 2
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