Good and Evil

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  • Created by: Phoebe
  • Created on: 12-06-13 09:14

God and the Devil

  • Christianity teaches that God is much more powerful than the Devil and that therefore good is much stronger than evil
  • However, it also says that God created people with free will so that they could decide what to do for themselves - this means people are free to choose bad over good even though they know the probably consequences of their own actions
  • For Xians, God is the beginning of everything and everything which God created is good
  • Some Xians say that if there is evil in the world then there must also be a power of evil as well as a power of good - this power is often referred to as the Devil
  • Some people would say that there is no such thing as the Devil and that it is just people who chose to be evil
  • The story of the origins of the Devil as a fallen angel is found in the Apocrypha
  • There are very few references to Satan in the Bible, although he does appear at the beginning of Jesus' ministry when he tempts him in the wilderness for 40 days
  • "Put on the full armour of God so that you can take your stand against the Devil's schemes" - Ephesians
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The Fall, original sin and redemption

  • Through sacrificing himself, Jesus "atoned" for the "original sin" of humanity 
  • According to the Bible, Eve picked fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil in the Garden of Eden when this had been forbidden by God
  • When she did this Eve introduced "original sin" into the world
  • This event is called the Fall and was when Adam and Eve were driven out 
  • According to Roman Catholic Church teachings, original sin is the way in which humans are born with a lack of holiness about them, and this is different from any actual sins that people commit themselves
  • Today, original sin is washed away by the sacrament of baptism when a baby or adult is first welcomed into the Church. After this, in the RC Church, people can receive absolution from their sins by making their confession to a priest
  • Some Christians believe that being made in the image of God, humans would have been immortal, but that they lost their immortality when they ate the fruit
  • This idea is found in St Paul's letters to the Romans
  • In the 1st letter to the Corinthians, Paul explained the importance of the crucifixion 
  • Jesus came back in order to defeat death and sin and so reopen the way to God
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What is the problem of evil?

  • If God is omnipotent, omniscient and omnibenevolent, how can he allow evil to exist?
  • Moral evil: the deeds or behaviour of people which are seen to be cruel and uncaring
  • The person causing the evil is able to make a choice about what is morally right or wrong
  • Natural evil: natural events which may harm people but are not caused by human beings
  • Some people argue that some of the events which are described as natural evil are caused indirectly by humans because they could be the effect of climate and environmental destruction
  • Some Christians also believe that natural evil is caused by the Devil
  • However, many of the people who are the victims of these events lived good lives so the question remains as to why God would allow them to suffer in this way
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Responses to the problem of evil

  • Christians believe that God has a plan which allows evil and suffering in the world, but that this plan is beyond the comprehension of human kind
  • Some people might argue that a good God would not allow evil and suffering, so: God does not exist OR God is not omnipotent OR God is not omnibenevolent
  • Iraneus said that people needed to suffer and needed to be made to choose between good and evil, and God wants people to choose to worship him (does this apply to child suffering)
  • St Augustine believed that evil was a lack of good. Evil happens when people do not choose good and to live according to the standards which God has set for human beings
  • This means evil is not a thing in itself, but simply what is left when there is no good present
  • In the story of Job, a figure called the "Adversary" asks God's permission to test Job to see just how devoted he is to god. Job loses everything, but does not lose his faith and finally he is rewarded by God
  • Evil and suffering may lead people to question or reject their faith i.e. Holocaust
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Coping with suffering

  • At the time of the New Testament many people believed that illness and suffering were punishments for sin that people had committed
  • They also believed they were being punished for the original sin of Adam and Eve
  • Jesus gave his life by dying on the cross and because he was innocent of any sin and chose to die for others, the sins of humanity were forgiven
  • Because of Jesus, Christians believe that God shared in human suffering
  • When they are suffering, many Christians pray to God either alone or as a community to help them or to give them the strength
  • Christians accept that God does not always answer prayers in the way they would like him to, but that God chooses the best for them
  • An example of faith taking away the suffering of sin is found in Matthew's gospel when Jesus heals a paralytic: "Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven"
  • Roman Catholic and Orthodox Christians often pray for a saint to intercede with God on behalf of someone who's suffering - "intercessory prayers"
  • Many Christians believe that suffering brings us closer to God
  • Christian organisations such as Christian Aid, work to alleviate suffering 
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Sources and reasons for moral behaviour

  • For Christians there are three main sources and reasons for moral behaviour: the Bible, faith in Christ and conscience
  • Roman Catholics would also consider the teaching of the Church and Pope as a source of authority for moral behaviour
  • Those who follow the teachings of Jesus and accept him as the Son of God now have to opportunity to reach heaven when they die
  • As well as following the Ten Commandments and Jesus' teaching in the Sermon on the Mount, Christians also follow the two Great Commandments:
  • "Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength"
  • "Love your neighbour as yourself" - Mark
  • People often say that they "know" what to do because they are following their consciences
  • Many Christians say that this is the "voice of God" telling them what to do
  • "My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me"
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