Taking the beginnings of a definition of evil, we’re still left contemplating the origins of ontological evil. It isn’t co-eternal alongside God, God didn’t create it; or did He? (since it must come from somewhere). The Scriptures don’t lay out a tidy theory of evil and its origins, instead the Bible tells a story:

“The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared. The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’

” ‘An enemy did this,’ he replied.

“The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’

” ‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may root up the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.’ ” (Matthew 13:24-30)

Actually, it’s a story that harkens back to the Genesis account.

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. (Genesis 1:1-2)

Matt Cardin, in the preface of his horror collection Divinations of the Deep, posits that “the deep”, the primordial chaos, can reveal much about God, ourselves, and the true nature of our reality:

We encounter the deep, so they say, in the dark mysteries of life: in horror, pain, nightmare, disillusionment, and death, in places where light and reason seem to be absent, or to have only a precarious foothold; at the seams of the universe where sometimes a thread comes unraveled and a ray of darkness shines through, and the light does not overcome it.

One can’t argue on the one hand that God is omniscient, seeing all that will occur, but on the other hand Adam and Eve sinning right off the bat, sin entering the world at all, slipped right by Him. I proposed this series of questions on my message board: let’s say you are the sole of existence and have omnipotence and omniscience, what do you do with it? If you were moved to create, what would you create? If you were to create life, what would be your goal of it? If you were to create people, what would be your vision for them, and what kind of enviroment would you create to move them from where they are to where they ought to be? My contention is that if love is the goal, for it to be real, it must be freely chosen. Not coerced. Therefore, it would stand to reason that we would have to be created as self-determined, free will possessing, free moral agents. It would mean creating with the possibility of those agents saying “no” and going their own way. Creation would be an inherently risky proposition, knowing all things in advance, and accepting the consequences of free will.

Evil happens, but that doesn’t mean that God is happy about it nor does it mean He would necessarily wave a magic wand to wipe away the evil. Again, the way I read the story, He chose to involve Himself in history, first by working through a people – a people, as brutal as any other culture, meeting them where they were, though seeming to privilege them. All the while, despite the evil around them, they are told to cling to the elements of faith and hope that He will bring good out of the evil as He works towards a climax to that story, even if it is more behind the scenes than we may be comfortable with admitting.

Ontological Evil – Part I: Defining Evil
Ontological Evil – Part II: The Story of Evil
Ontological Evil – Part III: Spiritual and Natural Evil?
Ontological Evil – Part IV: Evil Defeated?

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