This is a matter about which very wide differences of opinion are evident. Some have believed that this is an evil reality, dominated by evil; others see the powers are equally balanced over the long term.
Mainstream 'Classical' Christian theology is at one extreme; positing an omnipotent and wholly-good God creating that everything from nothing. This suggests that ultimately there is no evil; evil is a temporary aberration - or a matter of deceptive appearances. Evil cannot win.
From my own perspective; I see God as a creator Being (indeed as Heavenly Parents); and creation as a developing, ongoing 'project' in a universe of chaos. Evil is regarded as opposition to creation, the destruction of creation: in essence opposition to God's project of creation.
And men are regarded as children of God - as pre-existing eternal Beings who have been procreated and thereby transformed to be more-like God, which includes greater free-will or agency via higher consciousness, greater awareness.
So, evil is a genuine possibility; but ultimate evil entails self-destruction because each Being is himself a product of God's creation. So opposition to God is aiming-at destruction of one's own consciousness, and destruction of that of oneself that was created by God. The overall aim would be a restoration of creation to universal chaos, including (if possible) the destruction of God's capacity or will to create.
I understand Heaven to be God's way of placing creation beyond the power of evil; since the process of Man's voluntary resurrection to eternal incarnation places Men beyond the power of evil; and places Heaven itself beyond the influence of evil.
Previously to reading this blog I might have thought of evil as being like a vast amount of animal dung. And it is, a little bit. Animal dung is unpleasant. However it makes excellent fertiliser. We can handle it. It's not a problem.
Evil is more like animal dung concealed in a fruit salad.
The extreme case would be a beautiful and elaborate dessert, prepared by a world class chef, presented in a sparkling cut glass bowl and hiding a small quantity of unrepented dung.
It *seems* very good. It looks excellent. We can still admire it. It wins awards, makes money and sells advertisments. A pastry chef could learn his craft by studying how it's made.
But of course the dessert is ruined. It makes people sick. Such rotten desserts will eventually spoil even uncontaminated desserts. Why risk eating either if they're almost indistinguishable?
Thus, it opposes the good. The same good that invented fruit salads, profiteroles and so on in the first place. By destroying the fruit salad business it destroys itself too.
Who made the evil salad? How could one do it? Partly by copying the best pastry chefs. But crucially by "aiming-at destruction of one's own consciousness". So that one can't see one's own hand -- the hand that adds the dung.
Athanasius talks about Christ coming to rescue the creation from sliding into "non-being." His "On the Incarnation" repeatedly makes this point, but without elaborating how this occurs, or could occur. There seems to be a general agreement among the earliest Church fathers that evil has no positive being and, therefore, cannot be said to exist in the proper sense. This is why they affirmed that a universal restoration would be the ultimate result of the incarnation: God would be all in all, with no place for evil. If evil is to persist through eternity, they reasoned, this would make it a force equal to God. This is what they accused the Manicheans and Gnostics of maintaining. It seems to me that whether one argues for creation ex nihilo or pre-existing eternal beings who eventually incarnate, the mystery of iniquity stubbornly persists.
I have a very different metaphysics of origin from most Christians -
If evil beings existed from eternity and are not a part of God's creation, that obviates the problem of how a good God could have introduced evil into His creation. It seems, however, to create another problem: we would then be faced with a pantheon of gods, each existing eternally, each with its own inclinations and powers. This requires that each eternally existing being must be limited in some respect and that this limitation define its character. But limitations are only known against the ideal of perfection. To posit the absence of a perfect being from whence all being proceeds, and accept instead a variety of eternal beings, each with its own powers, desires, etc., leads one into a kind of determinism without a determiner. To be evil from eternity eliminates choice, or so it would seem. And why then should the eternally evil beings, resting in their own eternal natures, be at all concerned about what goes on in our world or try to influence it? What advantage would they hope to gain? I'm trying to understand the information in the links you posted above. Perhaps I'll have to do a bit more thinking about it, but these questions occurred to me initially. Thanks for your patience.
Bruce, what a great topic to address.
My own belief is that evil is a distraction. I believe that in a sense Heaven will be beyond evil, mostly because people will be awake to reality and have so much work to do they don't have time for the distraction of evil.
The Book of Mormon has a hero named Captain Moroni. The prophet-historian Mormon who compiled the record stated ~'if all man had been, and were, and ever would be like unto Moroni, the very powers of hell would be shaken forever, the devil would never have power over the hearts of the children of men.'
I think it is the very few who decide to be super stubborn and adopt evil completely. This is because I think of it ultimately as a distraction, and agree with the depiction of C.S. Lewis in the great divorce of hell being a small bit of a piece of dew on the grass, on one part of a small patch of lawn on an earth, in the whole universe of heaven.
Following logic, a Classical, ex-nihilo creation view, posits that evil is wrong but essential, created by God to test us and give an option to experience salvation as beings who are not perfect as God is. I disagree with the idea that God created evil. I hold with John, where Jesus says ~'When Satan tells a lie, he is the father of it.' In other words, God didn't make evil.
"I understand Heaven to be God's way of placing creation beyond the power of evil" was stated in this post. My own view is LDS, but I think from reading your blog and other experiences I've had, I place more of a personal, individual emphasis on creation, rather than a centralized view. I believe that God is the center, but He wants us all to learn on our own, with His help, through prayer. I think that human evil is mostly a solved problem. We just have to apply the solution. If we follow the Spirit, we will be ok.
@edwin - All assumptions lead to problems. Most of those you mention are, in my understanding, the problems that God grapples with.
" each eternally existing being must be limited in some respect and that this limitation define its character. But limitations are only known against the ideal of perfection. To posit the absence of a perfect being from whence all being proceeds"
I don't agree with the validity of this lime of argument. It strikes me as wrong to state that perfection is entailed logically; and to say that I 'posit an absence of perfection' is also wrong.
Perfection is an abstraction - not something we know in the world. It is an assumptiuon. I don't see that Not making such an assumption counts as equivalent to making the assumption that it is absent.
"we would then be faced with a pantheon of gods, each existing eternally, each with its own inclinations and powers. " Yes, exactly; that is how I (and plenty of people through history) have assumed things are - pluralism not monism.
But there is a God who is creator; and the other gods live in that God's creation and were procreated by that God (are children of the creator).
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