When you hear people talk about Satan, do you visualize a little man with horns wearing a red suit and holding a pitchfork? In our modern world, many people dismiss the idea of Satan as a long-discarded relic of ancient myths. The movie industry creatively portrays him as a human in a business suit in “Damn Yankees” or a monster in Halloween horror films. In considering the reality of Satan, we must examine the question of good and evil.
Some atheists maintain that there is no such thing as evil. Perhaps the leading spokesman for atheism in today’s world is Richard Dawkins. He wrote,” The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is at the bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good. Nothing but blind, pitiless indifference” (River Out of Eden, page 133). If you believe that the physical world is all there is, then no behavior is right or wrong. Therefore, sin doesn’t exist, and there is no act a human can do that can be logically called evil. Dawkins admits this by continuing with, “DNA neither knows nor cares. DNA just is, and we dance to its music.”
Those who have worked in prisons or served in the military (and your author has done both) find this position unacceptable. It is naive to say that war, abuse, rape, pedophile behavior, murder, or racism are not evil. Dawkin’s position makes any meaningful standard of morality useless. Nothing can be immoral or evil if evil doesn’t exist. It is difficult for me to believe that an honest, thinking person would attempt to deny that there is such a thing as evil.
The question of good and evil then becomes, “How are good and evil brought into the world?” Evil is not a physical thing like a rock. Evil is a choice of a sentient being. Some people say that God created evil, but that is an ignorant position. James 1:13 tells us God cannot tolerate evil in any form (no temptation). God is love—it’s His very nature. Jesus brought the concept of agape love that sees something infinitely precious as its object. If you don’t comprehend that, you will never understand much of the “Sermon on the Mount” in Matthew 5 – 7.
The Old Testament uses the Hebrew word for evil means to spoil, break into pieces, or make worthless. The Greek word for evil in the New Testament means to have a hurtful effect or influence. If God exists and is good and love, it is logical that there would be the absence of good and love. It is not reasonable to deny that hate and evil exist. The question of good and evil that remains is how evil came into the world. If God brings us love and good, how do hate and evil come to us? Tomorrow we will explore that question.
— John N. Clayton © 2022