Some Things ARE What They ARE NOT

What would you think of someone who, wanting to overcome darkness, resorted to solutions which involve no light? So then, how is it all of us fall for the illusion of trying to dispel EVIL in a way other than increasing the presence of LOVE?

I'm thanking Fr. Tom Washburn, OFM over at 'A Friar's Life' for the inspiration to this reflection. His post 'A Proof of God' is a fictional classroom colloquy between a professor and his students. The atheistic professor seeks to 'show the problem that science has with religion'. Along the way he smugly asks..."So who created evil?"..."If God created everything, then God created evil, since evil exists, and according to the principle that our works define who we are, then God is evil."

Another student, to his credit, recognizes that 'evil' falls into a category of things that ARE NOT. Realities such as COLD; DARKNESS; DEATH; and yes…EVIL. None of these are creations. Cold is the absence of heat. Darkness is the absence of light. Death is the absence of life. Evil is the absence of God (If we say 'God is Love', [1 John 4:16] then we might also say 'evil is the absence of love or goodness').

We may define these 'things' that ARE NOT in other ways of course. For instance, 'cold' is something which makes me shiver or is a temperature that is less than XYZ: but ultimately, we are speaking of a 'lack of heat'. Importantly, if you are confronting the 'problem of cold', then the proper solution is to raise the level of the heat or at least conserve it. There is simply no way to think of 'extinguishing the cold' other that to raise the heat.

One of our great deceptions is to see EVIL as an entity unto itself rather than a privation of the good. Some people spend fruitless hours or lifetimes wondering how God could have 'created' evil. Most of us have at some point criticized God for allowing evil to 'exist'. In point of fact, evil as a force or a being or a spirit, truly doesn't exist…but the lack or distortion of goodness and love does exist…and that is ours to own…and that is the reality of evil.

The purpose of this reflection is not to diminish the reality of evil or its consequences. The purpose is to expose its very nature and to help us avoid some of the pitfalls involved in confronting its many manifestations. There is an upshot to all of this, of course. How will we choose to deal with the reality of evil? One erroneous belief we are often tempted with is that we may ‘confront evil’ with any means we choose. A great Lenten reflection might be to consider what actions and behaviors we feel are justified and useful in confronting evil. (Today's Gospel is the 'Temptation of Jesus in the Desert' - Mt 4: 1-11)


Cow Bike Rider (alias, Chris Sagsveen) said...

Very though-provoking. This has always been a hard one for me to answer. Thank you for a good post on the subject :)

MikeF said...

Wonderful post - thank you!

Your inference that, as cold is defeated only by raising the level of heat, then evil must only be susceptible of defeat by raising the level of love is just marvellous. Thank you so much for that image!

Pax et bonum