Problem of Evil Term Paper

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Problem of Evil

Evil has always been with humanity. From the first man that walked upon the earth up to the present day, evil has been part of life. The purpose of this paper is to show that evil is everywhere, and that, while good is also in abundant supply, evil will never totally be removed from society. The two are part of an alignment of forces; they compliment each other, and therefore they both must exist (Steel, 1994).

In this paper I will argue that evil cannot be removed from the world and I will begin by presenting the strongest argument for this position, after which I will present the strongest argument against it. Weaker arguments both for and against the issue of evil remaining in the world will be discussed after the stronger arguments in their respective sections, and in order of significance. Both of these positions will then be summarized and compared briefly in the conclusion, after possible solutions and why they will not work for the benefit of society have been presented..

The Argument For Evil Remaining in the World

Evil must remain in the world because it is the opposing force to good. Without being able to judge whether something is evil, one would not know whether something was good or not. This is significant, because good and evil create a yin and yang sort of effect that many believe is necessary to understand life and its balance (Sundberg, 2003). Without this evil, judging one's actions and beliefs would be quite difficult, and judging the actions of others would be almost impossible. There would be no precedent by which to compare them, and therefore it would be difficult to make proper laws and guidelines. There would be no agreement about what was right or wrong, because there would be no way to determine whether a specific action was appropriate or not.

Good and evil are complementary. They are the forces that help people to realize how important certain things are in their lives, and the evil in the world helps people to see the good that is also in the world. It gives contrast to things, so that human beings are able to look at happy circumstances and realize just how truly good things are for them. When they are involved with evil, they are able to remember the good and be confident that the good will come again (Steel, 1994).

Another reason that evil must stay in the world is that we have free will. With this free will, we are able to make choices about the things that we want to do and the kinds of activities that we wish to participate in. It is this choice that is the significant part of this argument. In order to make a choice, one must be able to choose between at least two different things (Steel, 1994). Being able to choose only good would not allow for any kind of choice at all. People do, however, have choices, and because they have choices, this shows that there are indeed things to choose from. Without evil in the world, there would be no discussion of making choices, because there would be no choice to make (Sundberg, 2003).

The third argument for the presence of evil is that it has always been with us, and therefore is such an ingrained part of society that it is even expected in some circumstances. Many people expect danger and they distrust others, especially if they are from different racial or ethnic backgrounds. This kind of prejudice is a type of evil, as it preys on the hearts and minds of those that allow it to control them. People often make their own evil, if they cannot find any in the outside world, and because of this it is something that will always be around, regardless of whether people want it to be there (Sundberg, 2003). They need it to some degree, because they need reasons to feel good about themselves and bad about others. This is both a cause of evil and a symptom of it, and not easily resolved.

The Argument Against Evil Remaining in the World

The opposing opinion, of course, is that evil need not remain with humanity. The arguments here will respond to those listed above. As to the first argument, many believe that evil and good are not actually opposing forces. They are not forces at all. Instead, they are simply words that are put on actions and ideas, depending on what the majority of that society agrees upon. There are many places that do not have the same rules and regulations as other areas, but that does not make one of these places evil and the other place good. It only makes these places different from one another. It is the same with good and evil. They are side by side, not opposed to one another, and the only difference between the two is based in the perceptions and opinions of those around them (Morrow, 1991).

As to the second point, free will allows us only to take action that we choose to take. It does not require us to choose between good and evil or anything else. Making a choice does not require something so serious as whether someone should be good or evil. Making a choice can require simple things, such as whether to hunt something for food because one is hungry. Those that own the land may feel that the hunter is evil, but this is a choice that they make, just as the hunter made a choice to hunt on the land, even though he may end up in trouble for it. This was his choice, because his hunger was more important to him than the opinions of the land owners. These are also choices, and there is no 'good' or 'evil' involved in any of them. They are simply a response to options available at the time (Steel, 1994).

Speaking to the third argument, evil has not always been with humanity. When the first people were created, the story goes, there was no evil. That only came along later, through a decision that was made. Whether this story is accurate depends on one's religious viewpoint, but assuming that it is accurate, evil was not in the world when the world began. If it was not there once, it can be removed again (Morrow, 1991). There are more obstacles now, and things are quite different than they were in the beginning, but humans are still humans, and many of them see the need for a peaceful and happy society that cannot be had in today's world because there are too many problems and too much pain. Because of this, something must be done, and it can be done, to remove evil from the world.

Is There a Solution to Evil?

In short, there is no solution to evil in the world, for several reasons. First, even if evil has not been with mankind from the beginning of time, it has been around long enough to become ingrained in society. There is no easy way to remove evil from society, short of killing everyone that is or has been evil. Whether someone had been evil would depend on the opinion of those that were judging that person, and many people hold different opinions as to what is evil and what is not. Because of this, there would be no guarantee to a fair trial and an impartial jury. Because of the dangers of this kind of judgment, and because there are many people who think that killing people - even evil people - is wrong, this suggested solution would most definitely not solve the problem of evil.

Second, even if the first solution was implemented in a fair and impartial way, there would always be those that would become evil, and there would always be those that were evil but hid it well. Too many people do evil things in their lives, even if they are not considered evil people, for evil to be something that can simply be wiped away. It will not stay away, even if it was removed from society. It began once, and it would begin again, and then humanity would be faced with the same problem that it is faced with now.

Third, it is difficult to prove what is evil and what is good, sometimes, and there are many different opinions, depending on the circumstances. Tougher sentences for criminals are important, and they are one way of keeping evil people off of the streets, but they do not do much for removing evil in general. The main reason why evil cannot be removed from society is because it is a part of human nature. Good and evil are not lines that people cross and then decided which side they want to live on. Good and evil is a line that runs through each and every…[continue]

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