The Concepts of Good and Evil
What is Good?: Something that benefits others and brings joy and happiness
- The philosopher G.E Moore argued that good is 'indefinable'
- Christians believe that God is good as in the Bible it states; 'your heavenly Father is perfect' (Matthew 5:48)and in Mark 10:17 it says that 'no one is good except God alone'
- Therefore, Christians try to follow these teachings and be like God
How is God good?
Christians believe that God is Benevolent (all-loving) and Omnipotent (all-powerful), and Perfect. For instance, God helped the Israelites cross the Red Sea (John 3:16), and in Psalm 136 it says 'His love endures forever'. However, many Philosophers have argued how God can have all these qualities but still allow suffering. This known as the Problem of Evil which will be explored later.
What is Evil?: Separation from God/the absence of good
Natural Evil: Natural disasters e.g. earthquakes, hurricanes, even the pain from childbirth
Moral Evil: Evil caused by humans, which a person brings upon themselves and affects others e.g. ****, bullying
The Devil, the Fall and Original Sin
The Devil (a.k.a. Satan): A symbolic way of representing the ultimate evil
- Temptation-where Jesus is tempted in the wilderness by the devil(Luke 4:4)
- Stories about how the Devil is a 'fallen angel' as he rebelled against God - John Milton talked about this in his poem Paradise Lost
The Fall (Genesis 3) and Original Sin:
God gave Adam and Eve free-will in Genesis to use the garden of Eden as they please but don't touch the Tree of Knowledge.
Adam and Eve exercised their free-will and disobeyed God, which created an Epistemic Gap between humans and God. To close this 'gap', Jesus died on the cross for our sins. This is known as Redemption (see End of Life as well); 'he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life' (John 3:16)
Original Sin was caused which is the belief that all people are born with a natural inclination to do wrong, which was caused by The Fall of Man ^
The Problem of Evil
The Problem of Evil argues as to why evil exists even though God is believed to be omnipotent, benevolent and perfect. Arguments to solve the Problem of Evil are called Theodicies
How do Christians explain evil and suffering?
- Irenaeus argued that God put evil and suffering in the world for a reason - so we can exercise our freedom and develop as human beings. He argued that evil made us become better people, this is known as 'soul making'
- John Hick also builds on this view and argues that it is necessary to bring out the best in people and so humans can develop good qualities
- Augustine argued that it isn't God's fault that suffering exists, however, humans were the ones who caused this through The Fall of Man which caused Original Sin. He argued that the world was created perfect by God; 'God saw all that he made and saw that it was very good' (Genesis 1:31)
Responses to the Problem of Suffering
- Christians believe they have a responsibility to care for those in need
- Many Christians give support to charities and volunteer for organisations
- Christians remember the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats (Matthew 25) and the Good Samaritan
Coping with Suffering
Some Christians believe that suffering is a test from God to see how much people trust in him:
- In the Book of Job tells the story of Job who was an honest, perfect man who respects God and avoids evil. However, one day God allows Satan to bring evil on Job but Job still remains faithful 'The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; May the name of the Lord be praised' (Job 1:21).
- As a result, God has seen that Job hasn't turned on Him so he stops testing him and rewards him.
Christians use this story to support their view that people should not understand why God allows suffering as we should accept that we're smaller than him.
What other ways to Christians cope with suffering?
- Suffering is the result of evil and not caused by God (e.g. by the Devil, by humans - original sin)
- Christians try to stay faithful to God and continue to hold the belief that they will be rewarded after death as St Paul wrote; 'present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed to us' (Romans 8:18)
Sources and Reasons for Moral Behaviour
How do Christians know what is right and wrong?
Authority of the Bible: - Christians study Bible teachings to help them know what is right and wrong. However, it is sometimes difficult to apply these teachings to modern day experiences.
- Christians believe we are all created 'in the image of God' (Genesis 1:27) so we share God's goodness. They also follow the Ten Commandments to help them judge between right and wrong.
Faith in Christ: - Christians also raise the question 'What would Jesus do?'. They refer to his teaching of Agape - unconditional love: 'do to others what you would have them do to you' (Matthew 7:12). Jesus put this principle into practice in his own life.
Conscience: deciding for yourself: - St Thomas Aquinas taught that the conscience tells them what's right or wrong. Sometimes they may want to do something but the conscience may prevent them.
Some Christians interpret this as God speaking to them. Others think that our consicence depends on the values we have been taught by our parents
Quote Bank for Good and Evil
- 'He gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life' (John 3:16)
- Genesis 3
- 'Your heavenly Father is perfect' (Matthew 5:48)
- 'No one is good except God alone' (Mark 10:17)
- God helped the Israelites cross the Red Sea (John 3:16)
- 'His love endures forever' (Psalm 136)
- 'God saw all that he made and saw that it was very good' (Genesis 1:31)
- G.E Moore described good as 'indefinable'
- 'The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; May the name of the Lord be praised' (Job 1:21)
- 'Present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed to us' (Romans 8:18)
- 'Do to others what you would have them do to you' (Matthew 7:12)