Sunday, March 16, 2014

Of good and bad – who was there first? The chicken or the egg

We know that the universe contains much that is obviously bad and even evil.

Many of the things, or even most of them, that happen to us daily are apparently meaningless.

But how can we know it?

Because the universe contains also creatures like me and you, who know what it is bad and meaningless.

How is that possible?

In a meaningless and evil universe exist beings that are able to discern what is right and what is wrong, what has a meaning and what does not.

Of all the world views and religions there are two that can explain this.

The Christian view states that this is a good world that has gone wrong.

It just contains the memory of what it should have been.

And we people, carry this memory inside of us, and so we are able to tell that good from evil.

The other view that tackles with the wedge between what we see and feel and know as the reality and what we feel that should be the reality, is Dualism.

In Dualism there exist two equal and independent powers at the back of everything, one of these powers is good and the other one is bad.

According to the Dualist point of view the universe is the battlefield in which these two forces fight out an endless war.

A very popular view in today’s pop culture, “May the force be with you”.

C. S. Lewis declares that, “I personally think that next to Christianity Dualism is the manliest and most sensible creed on the market. But it has a catch in it”.

What is this catch?

These two forces, the good and the bad one, are supposed to be independent from each other and they both have existed from all eternity.

Neither of these forces has created the other, and neither of them has the right, more than the other, to call himself (or herself, or itself) a god.

Both of them consider themselves good and the other one is the evil.

The difference is that one of them enjoys the evil, hatred, cruelty and destruction.

The other one likes the love and mercy, the pure and beautiful.

Each of them is quite sure about their view and what the world should be.

So, what happens when we call one of them good and the other one bad.

Aren’t we just saying that we happen to prefer the one to the other?

Or are we saying that no matter what the two powers think or what the people of that age consider good and bad, one of them is wrong and mistaken?

If you consider the first thing to be correct you should give up talking about good and evil, because you just stated that such thing does not exist.

Good and evil are barely opinions and results of a majority of votes in certain culture or geographic area.

In Lewis’s words “For good means what you ought to prefer quite regardless of what you happen to like at any given moment. If “being good” meant simply joining the side you happen to fancy, for no real reason, then good would not deserve to be called good. So we must mean that one of the two powers is actually wrong and the other actually right”.

The problem is that the moment you say this, you are putting a third thing into the universe in addition to the two forces.

There must be some law or standard or a rule of good that the other force conforms to and the other force does not.

But if we judge these two forces by this standard, then there must be a Being who made this standard.

And this means that this Being must be above the two forces and He will be the real God.

And what we mean by good is in right relationship with the real God and the other force is in a wrong relation to Him.

Or like Lewis explains: “If Dualism is true, then the bad Power must be a being who likes badness for its own sake… I do mean that wickedness, when you examine it, turns out to be the pursuit of some good in the wrong way. You can be good for the mere sake of goodness: you cannot be bad for the mere sake of badness… Goodness is, so to speak, itself: badness is only spoiled goodness. And there must be something good first before it can be spoiled”.

In order to for good and evil to exist there must be a higher law or standard of good.

Without this higher rule good or bad are just questions of opinion.

And if we agree that there must be this rule, then we must agree that there is someone who made the rule.

A Law Giver, Being higher than anything else and He will be the real God.

Then good is what is right with this rule and the Law Giver.

And bad is in wrong relationship with Him.

Finally badness itself is only spoiled goodness.

It follows that the bad, the Evil Power, is a created being in itself.

“In order to be bad he must have some good thing to want and then to pursue in the wrong way: he must have impulses which were originally good in order to be able to pervert them. But if he is bad he cannot supply himself either with good things to desire or with good impulses to pervert. He must be getting both from the Good Power. And if so, then he is not independent. He is part of the Good Power’s world: he was made either by the Good Power or by some power above them both”. C. S. Lewis – Mere Christianity

The Dualism and dualistic view of the world, we discussed last week is showed lacking.

There must be something above and beyond the simple two, equally strong, powers.

Again in Lewis’s words: “To be bad, he must exist and have intelligence and will. But existence, intelligence and will are in themselves good. Therefore he must be getting them from the Good Power: even to be bad he must borrow or steal from his opponent”.

In this way it seems the Christian view of devil being a fallen angels seems quite logical.

It is not just a story for the children but a real recognition of the fact that evil is a parasite, not an original thing.

According to Lewis, “The powers which enable evil to carry on are powers given it by goodness. All the things which enable a bad man to be effectively bad are in themselves good things – resolution, cleverness, good looks, existence itself”.

And this is why Dualism, will not work.

The difference between Christianity and Dualism is that Christianity thinks that the Dark Force was created by God.

He was good when he was created and then he went wrong.

According to Christianity, and Dualism, this universe is at war.

But Christianity does not think that it is a war between two equal and independent powers.

This is a civil war, a rebellion, and we are living in a part of the universe occupied by the rebel.

“Enemy – occupied territory – that is what this world is. Christianity is the story of how the rightful king has landed, you might say landed in disguise, and is calling us to take part in a great campaign of sabotage. When you go to church you are really listening-in the secret wireless from our friends: that is why the enemy is so anxious to prevent us from going”. C. S. Lewis – Mere Christianity

This post is part of an on-going series.

To begin, read Natural law. A post about the law we all have in our hearts.

If you would like to know what comes after read the post about Moral law.

Having read that, you'll need to know Which moral law to choose

If you agree we need to choose a moral law, maybe you'll agree that We need God  

After we have understood the need we have for God, it is time to research What is sin

Having accepted your need for God, what kind of God is exactly a Christian God? This you can find out about in What we Christians believe

Why is it so hard to follow Christian faith? What prevents you to believe in God?

Do not let yourself to be fooled by Christianity and water.


  1. Good and evil is like darkness and light. Darkness is the absence of light, yet when light is present darkness cannot overwhelm the light regardless of the amount of light. The light reveals the darkness, whereas darkness cannot reveal the light. I believe that good and bad or what we term as evil equally have this parallel, yet we must define what is meant by good and what is bad or evil to press the matter further. Is a storm inherently a bad thing? Does a flood bring only bad or does it have good as well? What about death, is it bad or good?

    1. Very good questions. I personally think that either storm or flood are bad things. Their concequences can be quite bad though. For me there is also a difference between bad and evil. Bad is something that happens, evil requieres a purpose. So, a storm can cause bad things but not evil, because it doesn't think and plan to cause anything.
      For me death is not a bad thing. It is a consequence of the evil in the world but because Jesus died for us it is not bad but an opportunity for us to be reunited with God.
      But you are righ. It is necessary to define what is good and what is bad. The first definition for me is that good is God's will, bad and evil are opposed to His will. A very interesting question.

  2. I really enjoyed reading this blog post, and I fully agree with what you stated. One of my favorite authors is C.S. Lewis. He really dealt with the deep issues of life and understood them.

  3. We are told in the Bible that Lucifer was the most beautiful of God's creation. He wanted to be like God (jealousy, coveting, pride). What God created was perfect. Why and how it went wrong I guess we'll find out in heaven.
    I agree with your comment that anything outside of God's will is wrong, and I also like your thinking about the difference between bad and evil. Based on that logic, a nurse I used to work with did a lot of bad things, making her evil because she did them with purpose (planning and forethought also). That makes her both bad and evil–yep, that fits!
    Is death good or bad–depends. My worry would be more with where the person who died will end up. Did they know Jesus as their Savior? If so, then death should be a joyous time. It isn't for those still living because we're sad to lose our loved one.
    A storm, flood, fire, and so on are inanimate. God will not be judging those. He will be judging us, His animate creation. While storms and floods cause problems which could be viewed as bad, they also serve good. The storms clean the air and floods provide a layer of rich earth.
    With Jesus in your heart, you want to do good to please Him. However, if you fail, you ask forgiveness and move on, trying hard not to repeat the same mistake again. Without Jesus in your heart, you have Satan. He can't forgive you. He will try to convince you that what you did wasn't so bad, you're not an evil person, and just forget about it.

  4. You've asked a lot of good questions and given me some more both some good reading to do and something to keep my mind busy.

  5. Wow lots of great info here. Thanks for sharing with us. Those photos are beautiful!

  6. What a great post! You asked a lot of good questions, and gave a lot of good info.

  7. Well put! And you know, I've had a lot of my friends quoting C.S. Lewis lately; I think I need to start reading his works more.

  8. Beautiful post. I love what you write, every week of course. I love the photos as well.. never been to Ecuador, but I'm sure if I had the chance to look into it more I would.

  9. Great post. It's nice to read your posts and reflect on them personally.