evil

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evil,

antithesis of good. The philosophical problem of evil is most simply stated in the question, why does evil exist in the world? Death, disease, and sinsin,
in religion, unethical act. The term implies disobedience to a personal God, as in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, and is not used so often in systems such as Buddhism where there is no personal divinity.
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 are often included in the problem. Traditional Christian belief ascribes evil to the misdeeds of humans, to whom God has granted free willfree will,
in philosophy, the doctrine that an individual, regardless of forces external to him, can and does choose at least some of his actions. The existence of free will is challenged by determinism.
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. The Christian systems that believe in predestinationpredestination,
in theology, doctrine that asserts that God predestines from eternity the salvation of certain souls. So-called double predestination, as in Calvinism, is the added assertion that God also foreordains certain souls to damnation.
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 and justification by faith claim, like their Christian opponents, that God is still not the author of the evil men do. One explanation of evil is dualismdualism,
any philosophical system that seeks to explain all phenomena in terms of two distinct and irreducible principles. It is opposed to monism and pluralism. In Plato's philosophy there is an ultimate dualism of being and becoming, of ideas and matter.
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, as in ZoroastrianismZoroastrianism
, religion founded by Zoroaster, but with many later accretions. Scriptures

Zoroastrianism's scriptures are the Avesta or the Zend Avesta [Pahlavi avesta=law, zend=commentary].
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 and ManichaeismManichaeism
or Manichaeanism
, religion founded by Mani (c.216–c.276). Mani's Life

Mani (called Manes by the Greeks and Romans) was born near Baghdad, probably of Persian parents; his father may have been a member of the Mandaeans.
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. In optimism evil is treated often as more apparent than real. The book of Job is a literary treatment of the problem.

Bibliography

See R. Taylor, Good and Evil (1970); F. Sontag, The God of Evil (1970); R. Stivers, Evil in Modern Myth and Ritual (1982); D. Parkin, ed., The Anthropology of Evil (1987).

Evil

(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

"In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth... and God saw all that he had made, and behold, it was very good" (Genesis 1:1).

So why are things so messed up today? Well, sin entered into the world. That's the point of the whole serpent-and-apple thing in Genesis 3 (see Adam and Eve).

But that doesn't really answer the question. If evil entered the world through Adam and Eve's sin, it doesn't account for the devil. And if we accept the explanation given in the Hebrew Bible, that "sin was found in [Lucifer]" when five times he declared he would "be like God," there is still the problem of God's part in all this. If God is all powerful, why does he allow sin to hurt so many innocent people? Why does the drunk driver walk away from the accident that kills the innocent child? Why do bad things happen to good people? If God is good, why doesn't he stop it? Maybe he can't. But if God is not all powerful, how can he be God?

Genesis even seems to paint a picture of a God who made a mistake: "The Lord was sorry that he had made humankind on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart" (Genesis 6:6).

If sin is in the world, it must be because God either can't stop it or won't stop it. And God loses both ways. Religion has to solve what is known as the "problem" of evil or it dies on the vine.

Considering the problem of evil, we discover three religious responses, with many variations.

Evil Is Part of Life's Duality

This approach is best explained by the Buddha. Evil is a part of life. No one put it here. It just is. How can there be good without its opposite? Good cannot exist without evil. How can there be a coin with just one side? It's impossible.

The way to handle evil is to accept it, just as we embrace good. Good is not necessarily "better" than evil, it is just more comfortable.

This view made it possible for some of the scientists who participated in the Manhattan Project to live with themselves after viewing the first atomic bomb explosion. The devastation released certainly was going to be a great evil for millions of people. But the end of the war, to say nothing of the perceived benefits of nuclear energy, was seen to be greater good for a greater number of people.

Evil Is Different from Misfortune

Many forms of American Indian religious belief differentiate between evil and misfortune. Misfortune occurs when a tree falls on your house. It isn't anybody's fault, unless you consider that you should have built your house somewhere else.

Evil, however, is caused by malignant spirits that have to be placated by a shaman or medicine person. No one knows how the spirits got that way. Perhaps they were just created evil to keep humans on their toes. The important thing is not so much to figure it all out as it is to take care of the problem. In American Indian and other traditions, there are spells to thwart evil spirits.

Evil Is Somehow a Part of God's Plan

This is where it gets sticky. To accept this view, one has to adopt the position of figuring out how God thinks. One Christian view is described in detail by the apostle Paul (see Devil/Demons). Simply put, the devil was allowed to sin because God gave him free choice, and he chose evil. In order to show the other angels the consequences of evil, God is allowing an experiment to continue for a short time on Earth that will prove once and for all what happens when free beings choose evil.

A variation on this theme transfers the blame squarely to humans: "Every inclination of [man's] heart is evil from childhood" (Genesis 8:21).

But both views lead to a philosophical quagmire. If created beings are free to choose evil, then the entity of evil must exist. God knew all about it, but neither the angels nor humans did. The mere fact that they were innocent, that they didn't know evil existed, however, does not deny its reality. If evil existed at all, even if God was the only one who knew about it, how did it get there? And why is it so important for God to go to such elaborate lengths to show its danger? Why didn't God just close the door and throw away the key? (Evil still would have existed, but at least only the philosophers and God would have had to worry about it.)

Many have wondered: Is evil so big that God cannot destroy it? If good cannot exist without its wicked twin, have we found a chink in God's all-powerful armor? Is there something God can't do?

Evil

Ahriman
represents principle of wickedness; will one day perish. [Persian Myth.: LLEI, I: 322; Zoroastrianism: Benét, 16]
Alberich’s curse
on the Rhinegold ring: possessor will die. [Ger. Opera: Wagner, Rhinegold, Westerman, 233]
Apaches
name given to Parisian gangsters. [Fr. Hist.: Payton, 31]
Apollyon
demon, personification of evil, vanquished by Christian’s wholesomeness. [Br. Lit.: Pilgrim’s Progress]
Archimago
enchanter epitomizing wickedness. [Br. Lit.: Faerie Queene]
Ate
goddess of wickedness, mischief, and infatuation. [Gk. Myth.: Parrinder, 32]
Avidyā
cause of suffering through desire. [Hindu Phil.: Parrinder, 36]
Badman, Mr.
from childhood to death, has committed every sin. [Br. Lit.: Bunyan The Life and Death of Mr. Badman in Magill III, 575]
black
symbol of sin and badness. [Color Symbolism: Jobes, 357]
black dog
symbol of the devil. [Rom. Folklore: Brewer Dictionary, 329]
black heart
symbol of a scoundrel. [Folklore: Jobes, 223]
black poodle
a transformation of Mephistopheles. [Ger. Lit.: Faust]
crocodile
epitome of power of evil. [Medieval Animal Symbolism: White, 8–10]
darkness
traditional association with evil in many dualistic religions. [Folklore: Cirlot, 76–77]
Darth Vader
fallen Jedi Knight has turned to evil. [Am. Cinema: Star Wars]
dragon
archetypal symbol of Satan and wickedness. [Christian Symbolism: Appleton, 34]
Drug
principle of evil. [Zoroastrianism: Leach, 325]
Gestapo
Nazi secret police. [Ger. Hist.: Hitler, 453]
Golden Calf
Mephisto’s cynical and demoniacal tarantella. [Fr. Opera: Gounod, Faust, Westerman, 187]
Iago
declaims “I believe in a cruel god.” [Br. Lit.: Othello; Ital. Opera: Verdi, Otello; Westerman, 329]
John, Don
plots against Claudio. [Br. Lit.: Much Ado About Nothing]
Klingsor
enemy of Grail knights. [Ger. Opera: Wagner, Parsifal, Westerman, 248]
Kurtz, Mr.
white trader in Africa, debased by savage natives into horrible practices. [Br. Lit.: Joseph Conrad Heart of Darkness in Magill III, 447]
lobelia
traditional symbol of evil. [Flower Symbolism: Flora Symbolica, 175]
Loki
god of fire, evil, and strife who contrived the death of Balder. [Scand. Myth.: Brewer Dictionary, 560]
Mephistopheles
the cynical, malicious devil to whom Faust sells his soul. [Ger. Lit.: Faust, Payton, 436]
Miles and Flora
apparently sweet children assume wicked miens mysteriously. [Am. Lit.: The Turn of the Screw]
Monterone
after humiliation, curses both Duke and Rigoletto. [Ital. Opera: Verdi, Rigoletto, Westerman, 299]
o’Nell, Peg
wicked spirit claiming victim every seven years. [Br. Folklore: Briggs, 323]
Pandora’s box
contained all evils; opened up, evils escape to afflict world. [Rom. Myth.: Brewer Dictionary, 799]
Popeye
degenerate gangster and murderer who rapes Temple Drake. [Am. Lit.: Sanctuary]
Powler, Peg
wicked water-demon; lures children to death. [Br. Folklore: Briggs, 323–324]
Queen of the Night
urges the murder of Sarastro, her husband, by their daughter. [Ger. Opera: Mozart The Magic Flute in Benét, 619]
Quint, Peter
dead manservant who haunts James’s story. [Am. Lit.: Turn of the Screw]
Rasputin
immoral person of tremendous power and seeming invulnerability. [Russ. Hist.: Espy, 339–340]
Satan
the chief evil spirit; the great adversary of man. [Christianity and Judaism: Misc.]
Vandals
East German people known for their wanton destruction (533). [Ger. Hist.: Payton, 705]
Wicked Witch of the West
the terror of Oz. [Am. Lit.: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz]
Wolf’s Glen
scene of macabre uproar. [Ger. Opera: von Weber, Der Freischütz, Westerman, 139–140]

evil

Archaic an illness or disease, esp scrofula (the king's evil)

evil

As used by a hacker, implies that some system, program, person, or institution is sufficiently maldesigned as to be not worth the bother of dealing with. Unlike the adjectives in the cretinous, losing, brain-damaged series, "evil" does not imply incompetence or bad design, but rather a set of goals or design criteria fatally incompatible with the speaker's. This usage is more an aesthetic and engineering judgment than a moral one in the mainstream sense. "We thought about adding a Blue Glue interface but decided it was too evil to deal with." "TECO is neat, but it can be pretty evil if you're prone to typos." Often pronounced with the first syllable lengthened, as /eeee'vil/.

Compare evil and rude.
References in periodicals archive ?
Depending on one's cultural background, the concept of evil is experienced and understood in vastly different ways.
Allowing nonbelievers to use the concept of evil to diminish God has consequences for all people, especially in what remains of Christendom.
Mr Findlay had opened his remarks to the jury by describing Jodi's murder as "a cruel and barbaric act", adding: "If you believe in the concept of evil it was truly an act of unspeakable evil.
Mr Findlay said of Jodi's death: ``It was a cruel and barbaric act and if you believe in the concept of evil in the world then it was truly an act of unspeakable evil.
And yet the first episode takes on the biggest of issues - God, and his contribution to the concept of evil among his creations - in a pretty amusing and provocative fashion.
It is trivially true that the concept of evil as pure negativity is a simple deduction from the belief in a creator who is both unique and infinitely good, so that whatever is, is good necessarily, and existence as such is good.

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