Where Does Evil Come From?

Where does evil come from? Why does it exist? How does it invade our lives and how has the idea of evil evolved over the years? Can we turn the darkness into light?

Morgan Freeman tackles these questions and more in the new episode of The Story of God with Morgan Freeman, airing Sunday, May 1 at 9/8c. Our Patheos bloggers are back to give their thoughts on evil. Read on and be sure to click over to their blogs to explore further.

Farouk Peru of Person Al-Islam gives a current example of ‘evil’ in the world and shares, “Try as I might to avoid seeing bad things, I just cannot. Sadly, I have a Facebook account and try as I might, I cannot control its feed. Sometimes really depressing things pop up.” He comes to the conclusion, “Did God set which practices are good and which are evil? I believe He did but I must remain humble in the understanding that my belief is subjective to me.”

Paul Asay of Watching God talks about what makes people ‘evil.’ “There are those who believe that we’re all basically good people—that if we were left to our own devices, we’d mostly do the right thing. I kind of wish that was true. But my Christian faith suggests differently. Most of us, I believe, need help to be good.” He continues by saying, “This understanding—that often we’re not as good as we should be, that we all have certain evil inclinations—is one of those rare points on which a good chunk of religious folks can agree. Most of us feel the conflict between good and evil in our own souls. And while our explanations for why that conflict exists may differ, we all turn to faith to help explain and alleviate it.”

Watch: Street Spirituality: Where Does Evil Come From?
National Geographic Channel went to 22 countries around the world to find out where evil comes from.

Nancy Rockwell of The Bite in the Apple touches on stories featured in this week’s upcoming episode and concludes, “American culture is obsessed by evil at present, seeking to destroying evildoers, throw out illegal immigrants, execute killers, get revenge. We yearn for superheroes.”

Chris Williams of Chrisicisms takes on the idea of ‘anti-heroes’ by stating “We have a hard time relating to Superman because we know we’re not him. We turn to the anti-heroes because we recognize the brokenness inside.” He continues by saying, I think we all believe something’s not quite right. I think that’s what leads us to our faiths in the first place. We want answers as to why this is all screwed up, and what can be done to make it right.”

Kyle Roberts of Unsystematic Theology asks the questions, “What is the origin of evil? What’s the source? With all the beauty and goodness in the world, how did things go so terribly wrong?” He notes that, “Evil springs forth from the condition most natural to our humanity: death. But death itself isn’t evil. Evil comes from how we respond to death. Evil happens when we try to overcome death, master it, control it, subdue it, even prevent it. In that attempt to overcome death all by ourselves, we end up with all sorts of disordered relationships: between ourselves and ourselves, ourselves and others, ourselves and God.”

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Padma Kuppa of Seeking Shanti explains what Hindus believe about evil, stating Hinduism “does not have this type of binary with a heaven and a hell, encompassing as it does, a range of sampradayas with a wide range of understandings of the Divine.” In her search to see what evil actually translates to in three Indian languages – Telugu, Hindi and Sanksrit – she finds that “the cycle of birth and rebirth encompasses all of reality, including the universe itself. There is no original starting point for evil – nor is there anything in the universe which is absolutely good or absolutely evil, that is to say, good or evil for all time.”

Lori Erickson of Holy Rover writes her piece from Las Vegas, or ‘Sin City’ and reflects on how her visit to the Mob Museum and the theme of ‘evil’ resonated for her. Her visit “shows how evil takes root and flourishes given such an opening. The allure of easy money changed petty thieves into ruthless criminals. Tentacles of corruption and violence spread across the country, entangling the weak and hurting the innocent. The Mob Museum reinforced for me the fact that most evil is not done by sociopaths, but rather by people who know right from wrong but who willingly wander into darkness. We shouldn’t feel too superior about their choices, either, because under the right circumstances, many of us might make similar decisions.”

Justin Whitaker of American Buddhist Perspectives notes that “there is no perfect word for evil in the Asian languages of Buddhism.” He explains the Buddhist theology of evil by stating, “A mostly good person could do evil/pāpa, deeds and vice versa. The point is to recognize the two propensities in oneself and eliminate the evil. Combined with the doctrine of karma (kamma in Pali), you also must recognize that your good and evil deeds will have an effect on your future.”

Kate O’Hare of Pax Culturati shares, “In the Catholic view, because of Original Sin, we are fallen creatures, with both the capacity for great good and for great evil. This freedom to choose to do what we ought, or to choose to do what we will, is what makes us uniquely human.”

Thanks to each of the bloggers for joining in the discussion!  We’ll be back next Friday to share thoughts from these bloggers on the next and final episode of The Story of God with Morgan Freeman, “The Power of Miracles.”

The Story of God with Morgan Freeman “Why Does Evil Exist?” airs Sunday at 9/8c. Check it out and start your own conversation with the help of this “Why Does Evil Exist?” discussion guide.

Comments

  1. Carolyn Preston
    Calgary, Canada
    May 3, 9:43 pm

    Does not explain how millions of people manage to be good without a believe in a higher power. Very interesting about the MRI’s of the rapist/murderer, however.