Thursday, November 19, 2009

Evil is Relative

There have been noticeable lapses of blogging lately, obviously! My excuse is that I am saving all of my writing juices for my philosophy class. The last paper I posted here I only got a high B, I was so ticked at first. Then I grew up a little and reviewed my paper, and realized I was free writing as though it was my blog instead of following simple college paper structure. I hope to have rectified that mistake in the following paper! I still need a title, suggestions?

In Thomas Aquinas’ Summa Theologica, he begins each philosophical discussion by stating the most common objections people have given to the evidence he will present as the body of his work. In his discussion on “Whether God exists?” Aquinas lists the first objection to God’s existence as the existence of evil in the world. If God is infinite and good then evil would not exist. Evil does exist, and so God must not exist. Aquinas objects to this in the conclusion of this article with a reply that God’s goodness is so infinite, “that He should allow evil to exist, and out of it produce good.” I agree with Aquinas that the existence of evil does not disprove the existence of God, but for different reasons. Those who say evil is rampant in our world are usually defining evil by their own perspectives rather than as the natural occurrences they are. When events are inescapably defined as evil they occur by the hands of Man, and not God. Man is arrogant, and his chosen descent from common sense to religious dogma has led him further from God allowing the world to seemingly appear as evil. Evil does not exist, but God most definitely does.
It is natural for each of us to define the world through a filter made of our own experiences. When something horrible or seemingly cataclysmic occurs we are quick to characterize the event as evil. What seems evil to one may be justice to another. Evil is relative to the person defining it. A woman who is raped would label her attacker as evil, but in reality he is mentally ill because no mentally healthy person would rape another human. A storm which devastates a community may again be labeled as evil when it is truly a simple random act of nature. Any individual act of evil can be delineated as nature, whether physically or psychologically. God set nature on its course. Nature allows pieces to fall as they may, and it is incorrect to ascribe the events that cause us grief as evil rather than natural.
There are no definite statements in this world, there are always variables. When an entire group of people commit horrible offenses it is difficult to say that it was simply a natural occurrence. If a group of men rape a vulnerable woman it is very improbable that all of them were mentally ill. Most people would define babies being tortured and murdered during ethnic cleansings as evil. They ask themselves why God would allow these atrocities to occur, and conclude that God must not exist. When people choose to turn away from God there is an absence of Her, and events we describe as evil may occur without a natural explanation. The greatest gift God gave us is free will, and we return the favor by blaming Her for our own actions. These are not actually evil acts, but unnatural acts. God does not allow evil, people do.
It is Man’s arrogance that has assumed to conceive of God’s intent, and written a script to meet his own needs. Nobody knows God’s purpose, and to assume so is ignorant. All we can do is have faith in God, and not the politics of religion. The further away from God we walk and the closer to flawed dogma we follow the more heinous and animalistic our actions become. It is reason that separates us from animals, and that was God’s gift to us when he gave us free will. When we dismiss reason, and are ruled by greed, the result is a bleak outlook which most of us presume to define as evil. It is the exercise free will, not evil, which has led us to the present state of the world.
Evil does not actually exist. Bad things happen due to nature, man, and free will. When those things occur man tends to classify that which does not suit him as evil. There is no such thing as cold; cold is simply the absence of heat. Likewise, there is no such thing as evil; evil is simply the absence of goodness. Evil is a degradation of goodness, therefore it could not exist without the ultimate good to call its opposite. That ultimate good is God. Likewise, man is separated from God by degrees, and the further away from Her a person may be the more readily their actions will be definable as evil. So evil actions may occur when there is an absence of God, but evil itself does not exist as an entity to oppose God. If something does not actually exist, than it cannot prove that something else does not exist. Evil does not exist, and so God does.

Thursday, November 12, 2009


I have vague repressed memories of my awkward years, as everyone else does. Being called Olive Oil and Chia Pet, girls driving by me as I walked home alone and yelling profanities at me, being bullied, picked on... jumped. Then going home and being caretaker to my Mom while my Dad worked out of town for days at a time. I have come across so many people who whine about their pasts, when the truth is we all have painful moments scarring the space between the happy ones. I matured past the point of being bothered by the ignorant, and rejoiced in aging past the need to conform. No more awkward haircuts and hurtful nicknames, suddenly those people who tormented me for years on end disappeared, washed away in time. I found myself surrounded by other adults who couldn't fathom spewing hateful rhetoric at a strange little girl, and yes I know I was a bit strange. I attracted other positive people, and moved forward and away from my childhood. Or so I thought...
This morning I sat in my philosophy class, 5 minutes late as always, following a captioned discussion of Aquinas on a laptop. The professor was discussing how Aquinas used earlier philosophers' works, uncited, to prove the existence of God. This semester is more than halfway over, and for the first time, he asked us to form into groups of 3 or 4 to work as teams on a specific topic. Suddenly I was in 6th grade PE again, and I held my breath as the professor actually chose team captains and told us to split up on our own. I glanced at my captioner with a smile and looked at those grown adults sitting around me. Every single one avoided eye contact with me, and the girl sitting closest to me actually stood up and walked to the other side of the room. At this point I saw the professor glancing back at me, and around the room, noticing as well that people were scattering away from me like I was the Big Bang. Everyone in the class can see that I am Deaf, and that I have to sit with my captioner who is plugged in and stationed in a way that she cannot move, and yet still every single one moved away from me. This class, who was just discussing how it is possible for a perfect God to co-exist with evil, abandoned me like a pack of prepubescent boys afraid to catch cooties. I could see the professor making his way toward me, and I saw in my mind's eye how he would walk up and announce that I needed a group, forcing an already formed group to come sit with me, and everyone would turn and then again avoid eye contact with me. I told my captioner I would text her later, grabbed my notebook, and walked out of class without a second glance.
As the door fell behind me the cold fall air hit me in the face and the tears that rimmed my eyes dissipated. I walked with purpose to my van and allowed myself to sit for only a moment, attempting to absorb what had just happened, and reminding myself that it was absolutely ridiculous, and I am not in 6th grade anymore. "I'm not Josie Grossy anymore".... I'm not Olive Oil anymore! I am not the one with the problem, an entire class full of adults, and not even one was kind enough to include a classmate with a special need, that is the problem. The difference is, now I am old enough to see that. Unfortunately, it still hurts, and now I can't go home to my Mom and lay next to her in her bed as she watches Oprah, expecting my Dad to walk in any moment with his million dollar smile. Instead I have a husband with strong tattooed arms, and adorable children to climb onto my lap and tell me they love me with eskimo kisses.
I can't help but long for my childhood anyway, scars and all.
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