Evil doesn’t actually exist. It wants to exist, but it doesn’t. Evil is the absence of good.
The world itself would, in its basic form, be good. Sin broke the world, and evil has begun eating away at the fabric of our world ever since, creating first disobedience and then death, illness, futile work and suffering.
Throughout our lives, we’re pockmarked by absences of goodness, places where the light doesn’t shine and therefore the fabric of our selves becomes worn away. What used to be there was goodness, and it’s not.
If you consider, most kids enter the world believing that life is fair. They arrive with a self-centered understanding that whatever they need will be given, and only over time do they become cynical. If you meet a worried two-year-old, you assume something terrible has happened to the child to make him doubt the world, not that children are born worried and pained. It’s our general understanding that children enter the world innocent, and that over time we become damaged.
Now I’ll take this one step further. Scott Hahn in Reasons To Believe states that some philosophers believe in God because of story. They assert that history itself takes the form of a narrative, and that therefore there must be a Storyteller.
Personally, I love the idea of God as a novelist, and I can explore that some other time. There have been times in my life where I’ve stepped back and said, “If this were a novel, this is where we would be in the story, and this is how things would unfold –” only to find that later on, yes, that’s how things did work out. (And in the past, I’ve discussed sports and story on the weblog. Humans hunger for story.)
God’s chief title is Creator. And the enemy cannot create. He’d like to, but he can’t create.
That’s why evil is only the absence of good: because the enemy simply can’t make new things. He can pervert, distort, twist, and annihilate something, but he can’t make anything new. His hands are tied.
Looking back through the historical record, we see human beings engaged in all the same evils, over and over. The same basic ways of being bad to one another have been in operation since humanity walked out of the garden of Eden, and while some people say it’s because Satan doesn’t need to make up new ways of tripping us up, I say it’s because he can’t. If he could have invented new evils, he’d have done it by now.
At its heart, evil is angry; it’s not creative. It does the same things the same way repeatedly. Goodness spins an idea around and derives new ways of answering old questions. Evil has the same old toxic answers every time.
Sure, we can detonate the planet with the current level of technology. We couldn’t do that back in the five hundreds. But what would detonate the planet isn’t a new evil, but only the same greed and envy and hatred, playing with bigger toys.
Evil people look remarkably the same. Saints look remarkably different from one another. I think that’s because God as storyteller takes the time with them to develop their characters more.
If you can create, I urge you to do it. Write, draw, sing, play music, dance, knit, garden: just create. Come up with an idea, or solve a problem, or work hard to produce something new. Just make something, because at its heart, what you’re doing by creating is becoming just a little more God-like, a little more like your own Creator. And at the same time, you’re doing something that the heart of evil never can.
Creation comes from a place of love. Love your creations the way the Father loves you.