Dualism is the cornerstone of Western religion. This concept brings with it some flaws which need to be explained. The Abrahamic religions use circular logic, misdirection, and denial to explain it. Let’s see if we can sort out the problem of evil philosophy.
The Creation of Evil
The concepts of dualism and evil are incompatible. So it takes some work to explain how they can coexist in the same framework. Dualism is two opposites which balance each other, like day and night, yin, and yang. But this is not the situation with the Abrahamic traditions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
The Abrahamic tree uses a variation of mitigated dualism. This is where one of the two forces is greater than the other, yet they still need each other to exist. This is the situation with good and evil. Thus, we run into the problem of evil philosophy.
One of the major ways this dilemma is handled is with what Christianity terms “theodicy,” from the Greek theos, “god”; dikē, “justice,” which means to justify God. Basically, this explains why God chooses to allow evil. As we will discuss in a moment, this is not compatible with the assertion that God is love, omniscient and omnipotent. Without these attributes, all isn’t God in the way he is framed in the Abrahamic tree.
The other way to handle this issue is to say we are too stupid to understand why God does what he does. Why would anyone with a half-a-brain create a system with these inconsistencies?
Worldviews and The Problem of Evil
Guess what? The Abrahamic religions are not new. They were not created; they are copies. These systems result from rebranding effort. The roots of the Abrahamic tree lead straight to the ancient mystery religions. These are the religions from Assyria, Babylon, Egypt and Persia. These ancient mythologies are where you find the framework of mitigated dualism. But this problem also provides an opportunity. It makes truth subjective.
The Problem of Evil Philosophy God and the Anti-God
When someone in a place of authority tells you they have the knowledge, ability, and power to do something, it is reasonable to believe them. But, when they can’t or don’t make it right and can’t fix the problems with it, you doubt they are telling you the truth. That’s what happens when you have a God that is supposed to be all-powerful and loving but fails to deliver on either promise.
How do you reconcile the co-existence of two gods? You have a god with the attributes of omniscience and omnipresence. It should make them all-powerful. Yet we also have the existence of an evil adversary with equally, or nearly equal, god-like qualities. Why doesn’t the Good God defeat or convert the lesser God?
Learning to live with worldviews and the problem of evil is challenging. It brings all these kinds of issues to the surface. This dilemma is a huge problem for the average follower. Why would God, who can see the future, create such an opponent? Why would a God who is all powerful fail to deal with the Devil?
And, if God can’t fix this obvious problem, what about all the other things he’s supposed to do? What about that afterlife he promised? The problem of evil philosophy exposes these issues.
Why would an all-knowing Supreme Being create an adversary in the first place? They should have known what was going to happen. If Supreme Being created the lesser God, knowing it would rebel, why could they not forgive and re-covert the lesser God? These are questions children ask. And, it’s these kinds of questions that convenience Sunday School teachers that their religion doesn’t make sense.
Attributes of a Supreme Being
Time to review the seven essential attributes of a Supreme Being:
1) Eternal Existence — No beginning and no end; existence is outside of the confines of the dimensions of time, height, and width.
2) Self-Existence — self-sufficient, self-reliant, inexhaustible, boundless, and independent of any other cause.
3) Omnipotence — Almighty, possessing unlimited power and authority having no equal.
4) Omnipresence — Present in all physical points of reference and in all places at all times simultaneously and continuously without end.
5) Omniscience — The quality or state of complete universal knowledge of all things and events.
6) Immutability — The state or quality of being unchangeable, unalterable, or invariable.
7) Perfect — The state of being complete in all aspects and without defect or fault; a condition of excellence and faultlessness can create no disharmony or imperfection.
The bottom line here is simple.
“Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent.
Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent.
Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?” ― Epicurus (2)
These kinds dilemmas cause stress for the follower. Cognitive dissonance is the term psychologist use to describe this pain. It occurs when you try to reconcile differing ideas and data. The belief an imaginary friend is real requires unbelief in the facts which contradict it. Pretending fairy tales are real takes a lot of work.
Explaining Obsolete Worldviews and Problem of Evil Philosophy
The first and most prominent argument is that ordinary people don’t have the mental capacity to fathom God’s reasoning. Only the clergy, who are selected by God, understand it, even though they cannot articulate it. They can’t explain it is because the reasons are illogical and don’t make any sense. Or, simply put, we can’t explain it, so you are too stupid to understand. So I won’t try to explain.
Using Circular Logic to Explain Evil
One of ways around this paradox of evil is by using circular logic. Of course, circular reasoning is not logical at all. The general form of circular logic is “A is true because A is true” or “A is true because B is true, and B is true because A is true.” This tactic religion uses to prevent an assertion from being challenged or questioned.
An example is “I’m right because I know I’m right.” Another example: I know I’m right because the Bible says it’s right. The Bible is right because it came from God. And my proof of God in the Bible. This tactic provides for the intentional misrepresentation of mythology as fact.
If you see through their circular argument, they fall back on the argument, “it’s beyond your ability to understand.” Circular logic provides an answer which does not stand up to common sense.
Evil as an Agent for the Supreme Being
Another popular argument is that Evil Being is allowed to exist to execute the Supreme Being’s judgment in the world. God’s judgment is the “tough love” process where the Supreme Being delegates the authority to the Evil entity, thus keeping his hands morally free of Evil deeds. In this way, they can portray the Supreme Being as a loving God because they get someone else to do the evil deeds. They delegate the bad stuff.
When God gives the power to execute his judgment, it also means delegating authority to the Evil Being. The concept of delegation undermines the assertion that “God is love.” When you hire an agent to perpetrate evil acts on your behalf, it’s a conspiracy to commit a crime. So, the belief system sets up an endless list of potential violations that assure us we are guilty of something, even if we do not know we violated the law.
Misuse of Free Will
Here, evil comes from a misuse of free will. That means God gives us free will but makes us imperfect, so we are apt to make mistakes in judgment. So then, he punishes you if you don’t make the right decision. Why doesn’t the omniscient Being prevent this from happening since he knows the future? It’s like God sets up a game we cannot win and punishes us when we fail because we cannot know God’s mind.
The Creation of Evil and Dualistic Philosophy
How did this dualistic approach make it into Western theology? To answer this, we provide quotes from the authority on Christianity, The Catholic Church, via their Encyclopedia. We refer to the 1907 version of the Catholic Encyclopedia, so copies are scarce (3). However, the information in this version is quite revealing. Clearly stated, they admit appropriating the beliefs and practices from earlier ‘Pagan’ tradition in their entirety.
Identification of Pagan Ideology
The first primary construct of the evil adversary works hand-in-hand with blood sacrifice.
Devils and Sacrifice
“Sacrifice among the Iranians or Persians—the kindred religion of the ancient Iranians centered, especially after its reform by Zoroaster, in the service of the true God Ormuzd or Ahura Mazda.
This religion promoted a life of purity, the conscientious fulfillment of all liturgical and moral precepts, and the positive renunciation of the Devias, Devils, and all demonical powers. It was essentially a religion of sacrifice in as much as, in the old Avesta, the sacred Scriptures of the Persians, the war between the good god Ormuzd and the Devil ended eschatologically with the complete victory of the good Deity. Sacrifice and prayer played an important role in paralyzing the diabolical machinations of Ahriman (the great adversary) and his demons.
The central feature of worship was of fire worship not dissimilar to the modern Mopeds in India, where priests carry portable altars.” ― The Catholic Encyclopedia and International Work, Vol. 13 (1907). (3)
Communion through sacrifice
We see how they use rituals to counter the evil deeds of man.
“The sacrifice of flesh (myazda) and cakes made from prepared holy water and grain (darun) were offered to the good god (s) and then shared with the congregation in a type of pre-Christian unholy communion. To a still greater extent sacrifices a part of the religion of the Romans than even the Greeks before them. The Romans readily adopted Mithraism from the Persians, including the sacrificial aspects.
As always, the object of sacrifice was to win the favor of the gods and ward off their sinister or diabolical schemes of calamity. The fact that human sacrifice and human blood were a part of the sacrificial systems of the secret sects was easily derived from the historical records recently made available. These loathsome ceremonies primarily used age-old methods of torture to extract the victim’s blood for use by the elect cult members in their blood-drinking rituals. For the public, the so-called taurobolium was frequently used. This Mithraic soul-cleansing ceremony prescribed that the cult members run through a trench under a just-killed bull. As its blood was extracted, the cult members ran beneath to be sanctified by its warm blood.” ― The Catholic Encyclopedia and International Work, Vol. 13 (1907) (3)
Admission to Usurping Everything Pagan
The above two points are only examples of the theology that becomes the bedrock of these paradigms.
“Symbolism in a greater or lesser degree is essential to every kind of external worship, and we need not shrink from the conclusion that in the matter of baptisms and washings, of genuflections and other acts of reverence, of lights and sweet-smelling incense, of flowers and white vestitures, of spiritual unction’s and the imposing of hands, of sacrifice and the rite of the Communion banquet, the Church has borrowed without hesitation from the common stock of significant actions known to all periods and to all nations. In such matters as these, Christianity claims no monopoly or originality.” ― The Catholic Encyclopedia and International Work, Vol. 13 (1907) (3)
Theological Antidote for the Problem of Evil Philosophy
The creation of a Devil created a theological opportunity. The antidote for the Devil was to become a protected believer. You do this by supporting the religious construct. When you do this, you never go outside of the designated paradigm. In this way, you won’t encounter any ideas that threaten your core beliefs. It keeps you a paying customer for life.
More importantly, it mandates the believer to provide financial support while controlling other personal rights. Sometimes, this control includes arranged marriages, how many children to have, etc. And, this control reaches into the culture itself. Thus, creating a self-policing practice helps maintain control at the least cost.
The Problem of Evil Philosophy Creates An Opportunity
The problem also creates an excellent opportunity for financial gain. First, you create a problem. Then you provide the only solution to that problem at a substantial cost. Now you are the only place to get the antidote for the issue you created. You have a 100% market share.
Another rabbit trail to the idea of original sin. Because if we are all born evil, we must get absolution via whatever means set by those who created the theology. By the way, this is another example of circular logic. The solution is payment for atonement and includes indulgences and other money-making mechanisms.
These are income-generating mechanisms that play upon the fear of the unknown. It’s an exchange for money, which then entitles you to the Afterlife rewards. You see, God loves, and there is eternal life in heaven for those who believe. But, just if you decide not to become an acolyte, there is also a Hell to suffer torture for eternity. It is a classic example of the carrot and the stick. You get the carrot if you believe and pay your way. Otherwise, you get the eternal “stick.”
“Eternal suffering awaits anyone who questions God’s infinite love.” ― Bill Hicks
Demonizing people, places, and practices while assimilating them into the paradigm is their overriding strategy. Take terms like magic and “the craft,” for instance. These rituals are appropriated and rebranded simultaneously, demonizing the sources.
Fact is, the primary tool for salvation is “mystical, mental appropriation.” You reach out mystically with the mind (magically) using a specific formula (the name of Jesus) and obtain (appropriate) salvation. This process is the essence of magic and “craftwork.”
Back Worldviews and the Problem of Evil Philosophy
The original question is, why does God allow evil to exist? Or why would God create an evil, god-like adversary he couldn’t control in the first place?
The answer is evil is attributing cultural values to specific human actions. Simple as that.
For example, some beliefs are acceptable in certain cultures, and some are unacceptable, which means they have an evil source. To one person, pagan beliefs are a heritage. To another person, they are “evil.” In some cultures, killing anyone is evil a good thing. As long as you kill in the name of your imaginary friend, it’s okay. The creation of evil also creates the “us against them” attitude.
It goes on and on. Everything we think is evil is a judgment, and what is right and wrong changes with the culture. Thus, for example, whole ethnic groups can be considered inferior and evil. Therefore, subject to systematic persecution, even death.
The largest modern act of genocide took place in North America beginning in the 1800s. Some estimate 90 million indigenous people were killed. Children were kidnapped and sent to camps where they were forced to convert to Christianity. They were forbidden to speak their native language or customs.
Then there is nature. It is unpredictable and powerful. In storms, earthquakes, and tidal waves, people lose their lives and property. Are these the acts of a capricious Supreme Being or merely the weather, climate, and geological changes? The latter is more plausible. Are these evil acts or outcomes? Again, the latter is more reasonable.
We welcome your comments and debate on the problem of evil philosophy in Western theology. We hope that this discussion provides food for thought.
If you have feedback or questions, please send us a message.
(1) Abrahamic Religions: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abrahamic_religions
(2) Epicurus: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epicurus
(3) The Catholic Encyclopedia and International Work, Vol. 13 (1907): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catholic_Encyclopedi