Is Evil Necessary?

Last night during Rick Warren’s candidate forum, each candidates was asked a question about "Evil". My recollection is that the question was "does evil exist and what do we do about it?" John McCain did not hesitate to declare that ‘We must defeat it while Obama said we must confront it.

I am led to ponder the question "is it possible to ‘defeat’ evil’ or even "is it desirable?"

The Bible (and literature in general) is laced with epic struggles between good and evil with God or Jesus representing good while evil is personified in the body of Satan. One of the best examples is the story of Job. Satan makes a bet with God that Job is only faithful because he has been blessed with a good and bountiful life. God takes the bet and begins to visit Job with various hardships and challenges intended to suggest to Job that God has deserted him and to tempt him to renounce his faith in God. Through it all Job remains faithful and eventually his old life is restored.

I frequently paraphrase the story of Job in talks with my children as "we do the right thing simply because it is the right thing to do. We make this decision in spite of outcome, not because of it."

Without evil we are left without the opportunity to make moral choices. Morality derived from religion requires this duality. Temptation must exist if we are to choose the righteous path.

When we confront a great evil such as Hitler during WWII, we may defeat it. And while we defeated evil expressed in the person of Hitler, we did not defeat the evil notion that there is racial or national superiority, as white supremacy and virulent nationalism remain in plentiful supply. But evil is kind of like a cosmic game of whack-a-mole, every time we beat it down somewhere, it pops up somewhere else.

In this context, I preferred Obama’s "confrontation’ to McCain’s "defeat". Additionally, I liked Obama’s follow-up that we must be careful to reject an ‘end justifies the means’ approach to the battle, whereby we act immorally in pursuit of a moral cause.

Weigh in now thoughtful readers. Can evil be defeated or is the battle necessary and eternal?

Is it possible to engage every evil or must we be selective and choose our battles?

If we must be selective, upon what criteria do we base our decision?



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A brief commentary on the Saddlebrook forum.
Published Date
8/8/2018 12:00:00 AM
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