A Question of Good and Evil

23rd May 2022
I imagine that for many of us, given the opportunity to ask God a question, it might be something on the lines of, 'Why do you allow so much evil and suffering to exist in the world?'

Well, that certainly is a pretty serious question. And
no, I can't provide an answer either.
painting of god-like figure with outstretched compass, looking down
'Ancient of Days' by William Blake
It's easy to feel that evil has overcome goodness entirely at times. And that although we might not agree on exactly who they are, I suppose it is just possible that some of the most unpleasant and dangerous people who have ever existed throughout all of history are alive and among us today.

Or maybe not - because people have probably told themselves the same thing many times in the past. The violence and social chaos accompanying the Dissolution of the Monasteries in the 16th Century; the Terror of the French Revolution; The Holocaust. We could go on thinking about Evil forever if we let ourselves. So instead, let's just look at a couple of snaps:

Firstly, there's this one of the sea ...
pale image of the sea
A pale and hazy image of the sea, with a boat in the distance.
And then there's this one ...
the sea with bushes and trees in foreground
The same image, only with a little foreground included.
Most people, unless they're choosing to be obstinate or deliberately contrarian, would probably choose the second one as the more pleasing of the two. The foliage and trees make a fame for the scene and provide perspective and composition, setting off the magnificence of the vast ocean beyond with its little ship bobbing up and down. It gives a sense of scale, a sense of distance that is lacking in the first one. 

Revealing the invisible

Goodness on its own can often go unnoticed and can even be disregarded entirely - especially if it has nothing with which to place itself in contrast. This is where all those bad things we perceive 'come into the picture'. Bad things help us to perceive the great abundance of Goodness. It is the dark foreground detail that reveals the beauty and overwhelming preponderance of the light beyond. You could go even further and say it helps us to see what we might otherwise be unaware of or take for granted.
So maybe, when we become cynical and sulky and we fret and worry over how much corruption and cruelty there might be at large in the world it is just worth remembering that Goodness, or Divinity, or God, or whatever you want to call any of the great forces of hope and redemption we have identified or fostered for ourselves, have not been entirely vanquished. They are still here, and will always be visible if we open our eyes and hearts to them.

In other words, Evil might just be God's way of saying, 'Don't ask such stupid questions. Look! Can see me better now?’
Authored by Robert Stephen Parry

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