Memorial Day: Honoring the Fallen; Reflecting on Evil
How do you explain the presence of evil in the world?
Memorial Day marks the moment when we honor our nation’s fallen heroes. Their bravery and sacrifice comes from a response to evil men and natural disasters.
Lately, the flag flies at half-mast more often for new tragedies than for old ones. At least, it feels that way. It is an appropriate time to examine the topic of evil and suffering.
Some deal with evil by denying its reality. Others brush it off as illusory. Does evil exist? If so, where does it come from?
Are we born with evil woven into the fabric of our being, or is it a learned behavior? We’ll start with some basic concepts. There are two kinds of evil:
- Moral Evil: moral evil exists strictly in the human realm. Whenever we speak of this kind of evil, it is either raised by a person, or about a person. Notice that it does not apply to other animals. Dog lovers will tell you there are no bad dogs. I agree with them. Only human beings can freely choose right and wrong.
- Natural Evil: this kind of evil exists in nature. Examples include the tsunami which struck Japan and the recent tornado in Oklahoma.
Both kinds of evil cause human pain and suffering. Why is there such evil and suffering in the world? Here are three explanations from competing worldviews:
- Suffering is caused by desire. Therefore, eliminate all desire and you will eliminate suffering. What happens when you eliminate your desire to eliminate all desire? This philosophy is self-defeating.
- Evil is not real. Try telling that to a grieving parent. This philosophy does not correspond to the human experience.
- Evil is the result of man’s wrongful use of free will. The potentiality of evil was a necessary condition for humans to have free will. Humans actualized that potential by making wrong choices. This philosophy is logically plausible and explains why the world is not as it should be.
What comfort can you provide when tragedy strikes? Are you able to provide hope to the suffering?
The words are few in times of mourning. But morning will come, and the questions will begin.
What will you say?
- Veterans Day: Thanking Military Veterans and Kingdom Veterans
- America is Beautiful: Is it Still Okay to Love Her?
- 9/11: Remembering the Consequence of a Ruthless Worldview
Photo credit: William D. Moss / Public Domain