Is Evil Necessary?

Many in the New Age movement deny the existence of real evil. Some go so far as to deny any real existence at all and imagine that this is all a dream or illusion. Maybe it is an illusion, or based on the principle of illusion, nevertheless pain still hurts even if it as illusion.

“Evil” can refer to “suffering, misfortune, and wrongdoing; something that brings sorrow, distress, or calamity.” Merriam-Webster

Even if it is ultimately an illusion, there is apparently a lot of suffering, misfortune, and wrongdoing going on in this world every day. Is it necessary? Could it serve any purpose?

The answer depends on how you view the universe. If you simply believe we are an accident of nature with no higher purpose then neither good nor evil serve a purpose. Good is what is good for me and there are no consequences to my actions other than the pleasure I gain and the pain I avoid.

And again there are those who deny any real existence and imagine it is all dream all we have to do is wake up and go back home beyond duality where none of this is real. That is all well and good but my personal observation of people with this sort of belief system is that they stay here, suffer sometimes, and eventually leave in the normal way through death and misfortune.

For there to be purpose in existence there has to be a “purpose-er,” the one who has a purpose, an intention, and a goal in mind (and therefore intelligence). My belief, and you may share it, is that there is a greater life and greater intelligence that has a purpose in existence and what we call “evil” is part of that purpose.

I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things. Isaiah 45:7

If that greater life has a purpose in this world of duality which is demonstrably far from perfection, then perhaps that greater life itself is not perfect? Maybe perfection itself is an illusion?

Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect. Matthew 5:48

I don’t know about you, but it seems a little odd to me for our Father to be telling us to be “perfect” in the sense most of us think about perfection. The answer is that the underlying Greek word in the New Testament (written in a 1st century form of common Greek of the time) doesn’t mean absolute perfection.

The real underlying sense of that word was to “to complete” or “to finish” that which one has set out to do, not to exist in a state of static and complete perfection. In reality what is being said in the above quote from Matthew is “to do you job here as your Father does his job.

You have a job to do as does the greater life, and in reality you are part of that greater life and its purpose just as a molecule of water is a part of the ocean.

What is our job?

Well, part of our job is to experience this world and through that experience the greater life experiences this world. Another part of our job is to overcome the “evil” of this non-perfect world to create the vision of that greater life, to perfect or finish the plan the greater life has set for us.

It is probable that we have only a limited vision and understanding of that greater purpose. Part of spirituality is to become more attuned to that greater life and its vision. There is an interesting observation about the word “evil” that you may not have noticed.

The word LIVE can be turned around and it will then spell EVIL.

Life takes us forward. Trying to stand still or go backwards in our journey is to not LIVE, but to turn it around and do EVIL.

Life goes forward. That which does not go forward is, well I think you may be getting the picture now. Only by going forward and becoming something greater do we fulfill the purpose the greater life. Part of our job is to figure out what that purpose is, and our part in it.

Also see:

Is Evil Real?
Are Good And Evil Real?
Good & Evil – Light & Dark (Joseph J. Dewey)

Is Evil Real?

Many who adhere to some form of New Age thought do not believe in a real existence of evil in the world. Benjamin E. Zeller writes on Patheos that:

New Age beliefs tend to deny or at least minimize the fundamental existence of evil. … The New Age [believes in the] illusionary nature of evil.

A Course In Miracles, sometimes called a New Age Bible is very clear on the idea that evil (and a lot of other things) are not real, for example in Lesson 110:

If you remain as God created you fear has no meaning, evil is not real, and misery and death do not exist.

Unity is a popular church in many cities. From a discussion between Unity Worldwide ministers:

Truth reveals that evil is only a basically harmless illusion.

What really is “evil“?

It is a word used to describe many things from unpleasant conditions up to and including malignant and powerful intelligences bent on harming humanity. “Evil” can refer to “suffering, misfortune, and wrongdoing; something that brings sorrow, distress, or calamity.Merriam-Webster

In terms of suffering, misfortune, wrongdoing, sorrow, distress, and calamity I find it hard to understand how one can claim that this sort of evil does not exist in the world. Perhaps if one lived in a monastery without access to the evening news?

If one is rational this sort of evil does exist. If one believes in God or a Supreme Being who created the universe then it is hard to deny that this God is the author of that kind of evil. In the book of Isaiah in the Old Testament this is made clear:

I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things. Isaiah 45:7

Some translations like to use the word “calamity” instead of “evil,” but in the original Hebrew the word is  רַע (ra`) which does in fact mean “evil.” In Judaism there is a concept of this kind of “evil” being created for the purpose of testing mankind.

That makes sense to me. If we did not have the possibility of this kind of evil, if we did not have to overcome disease with modern medicine, hunger with modern agriculture, and discomfort with air conditioning and overstuffed couches, and more importantly if we didn’t have the God-given intelligence and desire to overcome evil, then I guess we would still be setting around in caves scratching the fleas on our hairy butts.

Also see:

Is Evil Necessary?
Are Good And Evil Real?
Good & Evil – Light & Dark (Joseph J. Dewey)

The Truth Will Set You Free

I really love this quote from the New Testament:

Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.  John 8:32

Here Jesus tells us that we will achieve freedom, whatever exactly that is, only when we know the truth. A couple thousand years later in A Course in Miracles we read:

The Truth is true, and nothing else is true. ACIM

New Agers may be familiar with Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, the founder of Theosophy. Although she was something of a charlatan, she was on to something when she said:

There is no religion higher than truth. Theosophy Online

This blog is about searching for truth.