Philosophy- Good and Evil OCR GCSE Religious Studies

Revision note for the OCR exam board Religious Studies Ethics Exam

Good and Evil Topic 

Notes from GCSE Religous Studies Philosophy and Applied Ethics for OCR B Revision Guide

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  • Created on: 25-03-12 17:08

Concepts of Good and Evil: God and the Devil (Sata

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 that people are free to choose bad over good even though they know the probable consequences of their actions.

Key Words + Texts

Apocrypha: Jewish and Christian religious writings which are not included in the Bible.

Good and evil: God is seen as being totally good while the Devil is totally evil.

Genesis 1:31a- everything that God made was good.

Luke 4:1-13 - Jesus' temptation in the wilderness

Luke 10:18 and Revelation 12:7-9,17 - references to the Devil

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Concepts of Good and Evil: God and the Devil (Sata

Main Facts

  • For Christians, God is the beginning of everything and everything which God created is good.
  • Some Christians 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 choose to be evil. For example:they might say that Blessed Mother Teresa chose to be good and Saddam Hussein chose to be evil.
  • The story of the origins of the devil as a fallen Angel is not found in the Bible but in other religious books called the Apocrypha,which were not thought suitable to include in the Bible itself.
  • 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 forty days.
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Original Sin

the actual phrase 'original sin' does not appear in the Bible but the idea is found in Paul's letters to the Romans.

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What is the problem of evil?

it is undeniable fact that there is evil in the world and this causes problems for Christians.

If God is omnipotent(all-powerful),omniscient (all-knowing) and  omni benevolent(all-good), how can God allow evil to exist. 

Christians say that there are 2 types of evil: 

Moral evil: the deeds or behaviour of people which are seen to be cruel and uncaring.The twentieth-century Holocaust might be described as moral evil 

Natural Evil:the covers natural events such as volcanoes,floods,and hurricanes, which may cause harm or kill people but do not appear to be caused by human beings. example-tsunami boxing day 2004. 

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problem of evil

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 change and environmental destruction. Some Christians believe that natural evil is caused by the Devil. 

However, many of the people who are victims of these events lived good lives so the question remains as to why God would allow them to suffer in this way. 

Some people may argue that  good God would not allow evil and suffering in the world while many Christians would argue that God has a purpose for evil and suffering.

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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 the human kind.

Some people might argue that a good God would not allow evil and suffering in the world. If this is the case then there are a number of options:

-God does not exist

-Go is not all powerful

-God is actually responsible for everything so is responsible for evil and suffering as well as good. 

One of the arguments put forward to explain the existence of pain and suffering is that Adam and Eve disobeyed God in the garden of Eden. Yet why did God allow them to disobey and choose evil if they had been created perfect?

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responses to evil

Irenaeus said that people needed to suffer and needed to be made to choose between Good and Evil, otherwise they would be like obedient automatons or robots and God wants people to choose to worship him. However,does this apply to the suffering of babies?

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 that evil is not a thing in itself,but simply what is left when there is no good present.

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Coping with suffering

One way of dealing with problems of evil and suffering is just to say that they are part of God's purpose which cannot be understood by humans. 

At the time of the New Testament many people believed that illness and suffering were punishments for sins that people had committed. They also believed they were being punished for the original sin of Adam and Eve.

Christianity taught that God took human form and came to earth as Jesus of Nazareth.

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 humans 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 and give them the strength.

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Christians accept that God does not always answer prayers in the way they would like them to, but that God chooses the best for them. 

An example of faith taking away suffering of sin if found in Matthews gospel when Jesus heals a paralytic. 

'Take heart,son;your sins are forgiven. 

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Sources and reasons for moral behaviour.

For Christians there are 3 main sources and reasons for moral behaviour: The Bible, faith in Christ and conscience. Roman Catholics would also consider the teachings of the Church and the Pope as a source of authority for moral behaviour. 

Main Facts

  • Christianity teaches that because God gave up his life willingly and was innocent of any sin,his death atoned for the all the sins of humanity so that all those who have followed his teachings and accepted him as the Son of God now have the opportunity to reach heaven when they die. 
  • As well as following the 10 commandments and Jesus teaching in the Sermon on the Mount, Christians also follow the two Great Commandments. 

- ' 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' 

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sources and reasons for moral behaviour continued.

Christians also follow the golden rule - ' So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets' 

  • Another way in which Christians might decide how to God wants them to behave is by following the example of Jesus' life and teachings as found in the New Testament. Because Christians have faith in Jesus as their saviour and the Son of God the example of his life is a model for Christians to follow.
  • People often say that they know what to do because they are following their conscience. Sometimes people may feel that they cannot do something because their conscience will not allow it.
  • It is difficult to say what this 'conscience' is. Many Christians would say that it is the 'voice of God' telling them what to do.
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moral behvaior again!


Most of the ways in which Christians find teachings and help in deciding about moral behaviour are not relevant to non believers. However,many Humanists,for example,do believe in a conscience but they do not think that this comes from God. 

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this is great but can u pls try and answer this question Explain christian teaching about the concept of good and evil? its a 6 mark questions thanks! I need the asap.

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