Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Did God create evil?

"I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things."
- Isaiah 45:7 (King James Bible)

Based on the above passage, an acquiantance in a group mailing list concludes that: "apparently, God did create evil."

Isaiah 45:7 contrasts opposites. The KJV translation of this passage seems to present a semantic problem. Darkness is the opposite of light. However, evil is not the opposite of peace. The Hebrew word translated "peace" is shalom, which has many meanings, mostly related to the well-being of individuals. The original Hebrew word Ra'ah translated "evil" in the KJV often refers to adversity or calamity.

Here is the NAB version of Isaiah 45:7

"I form the light, and create the darkness, I make well-being and create woe; I, the LORD, do all these things."

Thus, when taken into account, the opposite of well-being (of peace in this context) is woe or calamity, not evil.

When biblical passages seem confusing, it is the bible reader's recourse to compare scriptures against scriptures, as the bible does not contradict itself. Thus, in Genesis 1:31, we read:

"God looked at everything he had made, and he found it very good."

God is not the author of evil, but allows it because God created free will. Evil is borne out of man's abuse of free will. However, God does reward and punish on the basis of good and bad behavior. There has been instances in the bible where God does bring judgment and calamity (either directly or through human authorities) as a consequence for those who sin. Woe and calamity is the consequence of man's actions, but ultimately, God will judge all people.

As a further reference for Catholics, here is section 311 of the Cathechism:

/CCC 311 Angels and men, as intelligent and free creatures, have to journey toward their ultimate destinies by their free choice and preferential love. They can therefore go astray. Indeed, they have sinned. Thus has moral evil, incommensurably more harmful than physical evil, entered the world. God is in no way, directly or indirectly, the cause of moral evil. He permits it, however, because he respects the freedom of his creatures and, mysteriously, knows how to derive good from it./


aeisiel said...

Clearly, in Gen 1:3 God created only light and not darkness. Darkness thrives only in the absence of light; the same thing with evil, it is not created by God but it exists in the absence of God in our hearts.

Provident 360 said...

Everything He makes is good (1 Timothy 4:4). I do agree, God created evil to give man the free will to choose.

Anonymous said...

Ah, Willy...don't you find it interesting that this centuries old debate still goes on? I do. Personally I think it's because the implications are so personal that each of us, at one time or another, held this debate internally if only to clearly define what we would believe.

As an engineer allow me to give my view on this. Research in quantum physics have been turning the discrete principles of newtonian physics upside down. Here are a couple of examples:

In quantum physics the building blocks of matter are basically photons. Photons are light. While science had to get to the 20th century to discover this, scripture has described the faithful as "being born of the light". And St. Paul, in his letter to the Corinthians, went on to ask "What fellowship does light have with darkness?" Figure out the implications.

Quantum researchers were baffled when the quanta they were measuring would sometimes exhibit wave properties and sometimes particle properties. They later came to the conclusion that at quantum levels, the act of observing changes what is being observed. They called this the Observer Effect. When they changed the way they measured (i.e. observed) the quanta, the quantum behavior changed as well. When we talk of repentance, we talk of a change of heart, which includes changing how we look at life, in order to change for the better. In other words we teach that if you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change. Observer Effect? Figure out the implications.

Quantum researchers also found that quantum wave functions can "entangle" causing an effect to appear in more than one place simultaneously as if the quantum particles are somehow related to each other even though they are separated by distance. This superposition principle led to what is now called Nonlocality. Physicist David Bohm concluded: "The essential new quality implied by quantum theory is non-locality; i.e. that a system cannot be analyzed into parts whose basic properties do not depend on the ... whole system. This leads to the radically new notion of unbroken wholeness of the entire universe."

The interesting thing here is scientific proof exists that an event in one part of the whole causes simultaneous effects on the whole. From here they came to staggering conclusions -

1) that everything is interconnected, no matter where they are;
2) that non-local events occur all over the place all at once
3) that the whole quantum field, through this connection, seems to behave as one whole "consciousness"

How often have we talked about the concept of a single Sonship? That Christ is the vine and we are the branches? Jesus taught that when one part of the vine suffers, the whole vine suffers. Again, figure the implications.

Stemming from the observer effect, scientists calculated that the universe is multidimensional. The quantum field is a field of infinite possibilities. In order for the effects to exhibit itself, they must have already existed as a possibility. Ta da, the concept of parallel worlds came into being. Schroedinger's Cat drove the concept home and Heisenberg drove home the point that you can't be absolutely sure of the outcome.

But consider the following:
NKV: Heb 1:2 ...has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds;
NKV: Heb 11:3 By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.

Was Paul's use of the plural form deliberate? Or is this a fault in biblical translation? What was St. Paul referring to when he said that which are seen are made of things which are invisible? Was he talking metaphysically? Yet quanta are so small you can't see it with the naked eye. You figure the implications.

More recently, an experiment by Russian physicists showed how powerful our DNA is. First they measured the distribution of photons in a specially designed vessel. As expected the photons were randomly distributed. Next they introduced human DNA (tissue sample) into the vessel. Amazingly, the photons aligned with the DNA's natural frequency. What is more amazing is that the photons maintained their alignment even when the DNA was taken out of the vessel. (See DNA Phantom Effect, experiments by Dr. Vladimir Poponin). Here's scientific proof that we are, through our DNA, affecting our surroundings, even when we are not doing anything. Just by being there, by being present we are already affecting what is around us. More observer effect?

Experiments by Princeton University measuring the effects of collective consciousness used focused prayer groups in major cities in the USA. When the prayer groups were active, they were able to positively show that crime rates went down. When the prayer groups stopped, the crime statistics went back up again.

Experiments by the HeartMath Institute measured how emotions affect our DNA. They found that emotions of peace and love "relaxed" the DNA strands while emotions of anger and hatred tightened the DNA twists.

So what are the implications? What has science proven?

There is only one of us. We are all connected, not just the people but all of God's creation. The whole universe is made from the same God-stuff - light. There is only one vine and we are the branches. When one part of the vine suffers, we all suffer. The effect is nonlocal. What God has made, the universe, has the quality of "unbroken wholeness". While we can never be absolutely sure of the outcome of our choices, we do have an infinite number of worlds to choose from. Depending on whether we choose to love or hate, we affect our own DNA, which has been proven to affect the world around us. If we choose to love, the world around us will align with that choice. If we choose evil the world around us will align with that as well. The more of us choosing to love, the greater the effect on the world around us.

Did God create evil? Yes, I believe He did. But He left it as a possibility, a potential, as one of the possible parallel worlds out there. Our free will is not just an attribute given by God, passive and requiring respect. It is a power that God has given man. By exercising it, we choose what we and our world will be. We can choose to end the world, we have already created enough nuclear weapons to destroy earth ten times over. We can choose to perpetuate war and suffering, hunger, poverty, injustice, murder and hatred. But we can also choose to love, to be at peace, to heal ourselves and our world, to feed the hungry and to stop suffering and injustice. All it takes is a collective conscious choice. And it begins with each one exercising that free will that he/she has. My hope is that this will be our prayer.

- TE

WillyJ said...

Hi TE,

First off, Happy Easter to you and your loved ones.

My...quantum physics...heavy stuff!

Anyway, there is a lot of food for thought in your piece. Let me attempt to scratch the surface.

On the implications of light and darkness, I can only think about the stark contrast, Paul was apparently talking about contrasts. Light and darkness cannot co-exist in the same sphere at the same time, and so it is a call to holiness...as God is often associated with light and fire (btw, our priest said something about this in our Easter Vigil homily). I think it is akin to what aesiel commented above.

On the second - if you change the way you look at things...the first implication that comes to my mind is: yes, repentance. I like to think that this comes about when we change our outlook on the the way we pursue happiness.

Third, I am always fascinated by the theology of the Body of Christ. You hurt one part of the body, you hurt the rest. Further analogy is that if you feed and clothe your neighbor, you express charitable acts not just to your neighbor but to the whole Body itself. The vine, the branches, the connection...it all fits in. The "collective consciousness" that we speak of permeates what we call the Communion of Saints.

Now going back to the question: Did God create evil? Perhaps we can make an analogy as to the "Observer Effect". Could the answer depend on the way we look at things?

Finally, on this great joyous day in Christendom, we remember that Christ died as a ransom for many (Mat 20:28), and he that wills ALL men to be saved (1 Tim 2:4).

Again, Happy Easter bro!

Anonymous said...

Hi Willy, a happy easter to you too, bro. I'm watching a slightly delayed telecast of the Masters. Phil Mickelson just hit the water on the 12th hole. Funny thing about golf - it's the only game where you can call a penalty on yourself. Honesty is valued but not a high positive score.

Maybe we shouldn't go with the numbers? Speaking of numbers, here's a slightly weird, somewhat esoteric one:

DNA is a long twisted sequence of base proteins. There are only 4 base proteins - thymine(T), cystosine(C), adenine(A) and gaunine(G) - and the DNA sequence is normally presented as a long sequence of T's, G's, C's and A's. E.g. GATCAATGAGGTGGACAC... These base proteins are all made up of different amounts of hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen and carbon.

Some scientists dabbling in gematria (in Hebrew, letters have equivalent numbers) calculated the numerical value of these 4 elements. Their calculation showed that the value for hydrogen corresponds to the Hebrew letter Yod (Y), nitrogen converts to the letter Hey (H), oxygen becomes the letter Vav (V) and carbon translates to Gimel (G). Using the equivalent Hebrew letters, all the DNA base proteins are thus made up of different amounts of YHVG.

The Hebrew letters of God's name is YHVH but there are scholars who discount the last H because it is a repetition. The word VG in Hebrew is supposed to mean "in the body". So the message in the DNA - YHVG - is supposed to say "God/Eternal within the body". The scientists claim that using Arabic or Sanskrit instead of Hebrew yields exactly the same result.

Gematria and numbers aside, there is power in the name of God. And science is only just beginning to uncover the power in our DNA. And didn't St. Paul call our bodies temples of the Holy Spirit?

Anent light and darkness: NKV, Luke 16:8 "So the master commended the unjust steward because he had dealt shrewdly. For the sons of this world are more shrewd in their generation than the sons of light. NKV, John 12:36 "While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light." NKV, 1 Thessalonians 5:5 "You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness."

I can understand your point in using contrast. But the scientific evidence persuaded me that the idea of being "of the light" is quite literal - deep down at the quantum level, I am made up of pockets of energy, photons of light.

And do you remember your basic general science? The law of conservation of energy: "Energy is neither created nor destroyed but only changed from one form to another." Do we really die? Is that a hint that "life is, indeed, indestructible"?

- TE

WillyJ said...

Do we really die? Physically in the temporal sphere yes, but the scriptures always speak of "eternal life" in a different way. We profess in our Creed that we believe in the "resurrection of the body, and life everlasting". Since the resurrection of the body is definitive, where does the "body" go in the meantime when it undergoes temporal death, to be resurrected at the second coming? There could probably be a link there with the photon theory and resurrection of the body somehow, but we cannot know for sure. All we know is that our bodies will eventually be reunited with our soul when Christ comes back. It will be the same bodies that we had in earthly life, but our resurrection bodies will not die and, for the righteous, they will be transformed into a glorified state.

Speaking about golf and life, that scrappy Argentinian finally won by sudden death.
It pays to persevere to the end.

Anonymous said...

Hi Willy, There you go, my friend. Resurrection in renewed bodies. In scientific terms: the law of conservation of matter - matter cannot be created nor destroyed but only changed from one form to another. It has no beginning and no end and transforms to new forms within the field of infinite possibilities.

By itself it would just be matter. But there is an intelligence that permeates matter and guides the way it reacts. In the observer effect, scientists can predictably say that the particles observed will react in some way to the fact it is being observed. But they can't always predict how it will react. Science knows too little about that intelligence. Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle in fact states you can't absolutely know the outcome.

All religious tradtions, including the ancient traditions in India, subscribe to the belief that there is a God who is infinite (Psalm 147:5) and who has no beginning and no end and who decides all that happens in the entire universe.

Is Heisenberg's principle science's way of saying that God is unknowable, just as the Hebrews contend? Or is it God's way of telling us, as He did to Job (Job 38:4), that He is too vast to encompass, too magnificent to behold and His knowledge too deep to comprehend?

Yet His intelligence permeates all life. The intelligence that makes photons in a vaccum order themselves in alignment with the nearby DNA is the same intelligence that awakens the tulip buds each spring (as they are doing now), makes trees bud new leaves and governs what Pythagoras calls the music of the spheres (the dance of the planets in their celestial planes).

It even determined that Cabrera wins after putting his drive behind a tree, hitting another tree with the ball and still making par on the first playoff hole.

It determines the consequence of each and every decision we make, the consequences of exercising free will. We can use it for good or for evil and we're the ones who decide which. However we decide, we directly change the world around us. Consider Masaru Emoto's experiments with Messages from Water. He took pictures of water crytals and found that polluted, unhealthy water would not crystallize properly while clean healthy water crystallizes into beautiful symmetrical shapes. He had prayer groups pray over some of the polluted water and he found that after prayers the polluted water crystallized just like clean water. They didn't even have to pray. They wrote ideas like "Love" and "Thank You" on pieces of paper and taped them to the bottles. The crystals of the water, after being exposed to those ideas, were symmetrical and clear. Water exposed to ideas of war, hatred and heavy metal music formed ugly, unsymmetrical crystals while those exposed to ideas of peace, love and classical music formed perfectly symmetrical crystals.

Power of prayer? Or is it the result of our free will aligning itself with God and that, in turn, affected the things around us? If ideas can do that to water, what do you think they can do to our bodies, more than 2/3 of which is water?

We may not always believe what we understand and we will not always understand what we believe, but for evil or for good or for naught, God, in His goodness gave us the capacity to think, to reason, to seek, to analyze and synthesize. I am inclined to believe that all of these, exercised through our free will, has only one object - God.

You other piece is right - sin is a failure to love. God's love and intelligence permeates everything in the universe. Science is finding proof of this - they just haven't gotten around to calling it God yet. Every time we exercise our free will and choose to love we align with God, our DNAs untwist and relax and we directly affect our physical world with it resulting in harmony and peace. Everytime we choose sin and evil, each time we fail to love, we disalign from God, our DNAs become more twisted and we get discord and war and the water around us cannot even crystallize properly.

The effects are instantaneous though not readily seen in the physical world. The scariest part in this is that it all begins with a thought. The effect on the water and on our DNA occurs when we have a thought, an idea. No wonder Jesus taught that a man thinking lustfully about a woman has already committed adultery in his heart. And St. Paul (2 Cor 10:5) talks about "taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ".

- TE