Do Good And Evil Exist?

ThroughthescopeI think people with a theistic worldview understand that good and evil exist–evil being the absence of good. However, in this present day and age, more and more people have bought into the idea that the concept of evil is the only real evil.

Everything else in human behavior which is undesirable simply needs to be bathed in education. Those who do horrific things, like shoot kindergartners in their classroom or plan to gun down their fellow students in college, simply haven’t benefited from a proper upbringing in which they’ve been given what they need.

Basic psychology, we’re told, or “common” sense says that children simply need to receive proper care and instruction at the proper time, and they will be happy and productive citizens.

Mind you, I’m not knocking proper care and instruction. Every parent should give his child love and security along with provision for their basic human needs. Every child should be instructed about the things that will make them safe and will, in turn, help them keep others safe.

As good as education is, however, kids still do things they know could seriously harm them. And the older they are, the more apt they are to do these harmful things.

That seems counter intuitive. With all the education, these older kids should know better than to do drugs, smoke, have unprotected sex. But guess what? A lot of well-parented kids who never lacked love or any of the good things in life still go against their education.

The “evil is a myth” folks answer this fact by saying children are naturally curious, so of course, if a parent says no to a toddler who wants to stick her finger in the electric outlet, we can expect her not to listen because she is curious.

Given that rationale, I don’t understand what the point of “education” is. I mean, if a person knows the child won’t listen and must discover on her own, why don’t we forgo the wearisome instruction and let kids find out the hard way that drunk driving kills, gangs aren’t beneficial groups, and drugs are addictive.

I suspect with people like Lindsey Lohan we should simply be understanding: she needs to discover what’s healthy for her and what’s not.

The thing is, those who hold to the view that those like Ms. Lohan who do anti-social things, such as steal or drive drunk, simply needed to be properly nurtured and cared for as children, have no explanation how this “bad parenting” process began.

If humans are good and only in need of proper parenting, what caused the first bad parents to improperly provide for their children? Because clearly the teetering domino effect had to start somewhere. In this way of thinking, perfect parents, parenting perfectly, can’t produce imperfect kids.

And yet, somewhere along the line, children started doing unwholesome, even harmful, things. Which suggests there’s something inside the child herself that responds imperfectly.

Of course the Bible gives the clear explanation:

At one time I lived without understanding the law. But when I learned the command not to covet, for instance, the power of sin came to life, and I died. So I discovered that the law’s commands, which were supposed to bring life, brought spiritual death instead. Sin took advantage of those commands and deceived me; it used the commands to kill me. But still, the law itself is holy, and its commands are holy and right and good. But how can that be? Did the law, which is good, cause my death? Of course not! Sin used what was good to bring about my condemnation to death. So we can see how terrible sin really is. It uses God’s good commands for its own evil purposes. (Romans 7:9-13, New Living Translation – emphasis mine)

It’s not a lack of empathy or proper nurturing or instruction or maturity that causes people to do hateful things. It’s sin, that thing in the human heart that makes us want to do the very thing we’re told not to do.

Of course, without recognizing our sin, we have no realization of our need for a Savior, so getting this good and evil issue right is pivotal.

Published in: on March 20, 2013 at 7:19 pm  Comments (9)  
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9 Comments

  1. The nice thing about the parenting v. education argument is that it makes my problem someone else’s fault. If I subscribe to this “logic”, then I am not accountable for anything you take amiss. And if you knew my history, my background, my reasoning,then you would know to excuse me from offense. It’s a very clever lie. Surely, Satan introduced this, because I would never dream of ducking responsibility on my own.

    It never fails to amaze me how the enemy will take a bit of truth and a bit of a lie and twist them together to make an even more destructive lie.

    I do sometimes wonder, though, why we expect better of the world. Haven’t we been warned that it is fallen? Don’t we know to expect to be lied to, persecuted, and betrayed? I don’t mean to suggest we should accept the world’s depravity with bitter resignation, but as an American I sometimes catch myself thinking the world ought to conform to Christian standards. When, really, it’s under no obligation to. The world doesn’t know and love my Jesus. That’s an individual choice. Even an ecclesiastical society would not be free from sin (while on earth, anyway). Just bound by a different set of rules.

    And I think that’s where Satan slips in. If all these laws are social, meaning they are optional and only reinforced by choice, then we’re under no obligation to obey. We can find an easier set of laws to live by, where we are free to make our own choices. Entropy at work.

    • Good thoughts, Lex. I hadn’t thought before that this thinking does feed the “not my fault” attitude which has spread. It’s so amazing that on a tangent is “you deserve the best.” So nothing is our fault and everything should be given to us.

      One other thing I realized though–this thinking lends itself to the idea that the government should protect us from ourselves. If we are naturally curious and bound to disregard the education we receive until we “know better” (perhaps through experience), then the government must keep us safe until we get it.

      Rather than teach children to listen to their parents when they are told no, we put caps on electric outlets and safety clamps on cupboards where cleaning products are stored. It’s not a bad thing, but somehow my brother, sister, and I grew up without poisoning or electrocuting ourselves simply because we learned to obey.

      But I agree with you–the principles my parents used are Biblical and why should those who don’t believe the Bible to be true, use them?

      One other thing I realized: the “just need to educate, care for, and nurture children properly” group has no way of accounting for those who were not properly educated, cared for, or nurtured and who have amazingly productive lives, living in healthy relationships. I just saw a program about this mission work done to rescue children from trafficking in the region of Thailand. Talk about disadvantaged children! They have not received any of the advantages of perfect parenting, yet what a change in their lives, not just because they have been physically rescued, but because they have been introduced to Jesus Christ. How else could a person handle the abuse they suffered?

      Becky

  2. I could listen to you two talk all day. :)

    • You are an encourager, Shannon! Thank you! :-D

      Becky

  3. The reason those of us with a theistic worldview recognize that good and evil exist is because we recognize that good and evil can only exist because God exists. From a naturalistic perspective, good and evil can’t possibly exist because natural laws (laws of physics) can’t provide for good and evil. Naturalism doesn’t provide for the existence of the preternatural or supernatural laws. Everything would have to be explained through chaos governed by eternal natural laws. But because that isn’t possible, naturalism runs into a insurmountable problem.

    Naturalists encounter this dilemma when actions are personalized. When asked the questions “Is it evil for someone to walk into an elementary classroom and kill dozens of children?” or “Is it evil for a gang to rape a bicycling tourist?”, the reaction people feel when asked these types of questions, or if the question is even further personalized, points to the real answer.

    If right or good exists (the absence of right identified as wrong, the absence of good identified as evil), they exist as states not values. They aren’t determined by opinions or feelings. They exist independent of what we believe. They exist as a supernatural laws. And because that is the only possibility for their existence, there remains only one possible answer for their source

    God

    • In reality, as soon as an atheist says, it’s evil that you believe in evil, they’ve spoiled their argument. I mean, to make a value judgment of any kind indicates a belief in right and wrong, good and evil.

      That Scripture says there will come a time when we flip these and call good, evil and evil, good, only shows once more that the Bible is true, because that’s exactly what’s happening. Here on this blog, I’ve had people accuse our good God of wrong doing. And I’ve had people claim that sinful humanity is good.

      But you’re absolutely right: God alone explains why Mankind has this sense of a moral law. Though we may differ on the details because of the reversal I mentioned above, there are still things we agree about universally. Sadly, the number of those things is rapidly shrinking.

      Becky

      • Sadly, the number of those things is rapidly shrinking.

        But that is why if good exists, then the list is independent of the truth. Even if the whole world believe something was good, that doesn’t make it good. It either is or it isn’t. This is the same reason relativism is mathematically unsupportable.

  4. “if a person knows the child won’t listen and must discover on her own, why don’t we forgo the wearisome instruction” I hope you’re willfully misinterpreting to make your point and don’t really believe this! :) The point about curiosity is that it’s natural – not sinful. It’s positive, not negative. However, I never suggested that children need to discover *everything* on their own. The acquisition of language and the development of a trusting parental bond ensures children do, as their understanding develops, pay attention and respect advice or instructions from their parents. Teenage rebellion and the urge for early adult independence is another issue I have yet to tackle … but your assertion that babies are born ‘bad’ is painfully wrong.

    “It’s sin, that thing in the human heart that makes us want to do the very thing we’re told not to do.” I seriously don’t get it. I can’t think of any Christian rules I break, and I have no urge to steal, murder or commit adultery (not that it would bother me if I did). Has it ever occurred to you that the idea of sin causes negative behaviour? Things you *shouldn’t* do either seem much more appealing or frightening, in the sense that you could end up obsessing about them.


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