They’re really the same; at least that’s what the progressive mindset would have you think: it’s all in the eye of the beholder; maybe you have a bias against snakes, but most are good and needed in the natural balance of things. Right? And angels – those aren’t even real. When, however, we stop speaking in metaphors we find we are talking about good and evil, the oldest dichotomy on the books.
But, really, says the progressive, one man’s good is another man’s evil and it’s all determined by the culture one is born into, and nothing is absolutely good, nothing truly evil. This is a handy, microwave solution to the age-old clash – just stir them together, nuke for two minutes, and maybe we won’t notice the nasty aftertaste. Well, I notice it and so do millions of others and we’re tired of the whole thoughtless, noisome mess. Let’s try to disentangle the current slop and see if we can lay out the differences with some clarity.
Of course, I speak here not of opulent Renaissance angels, but of messengers from God, for Good is all that is God – love, light, energy, kindness, strength, courage, production, creativity, honesty, justice, fidelity, life itself. Good is an absolute.
Evil is not. Evil is the lack of all these good things, the disrespect, and the vain attempt at doing them better than God can (Genesis 3, Isaiah 14, Ezekial 28). Hitler thought he had a way to improve the world by purging it of the Jews. Stalin tried to institute equality instead of justice. Mohammed decided to organize his own religion, even if he had to do so by force. All of them were trying to best God.
You see, evil has no existence of its own. It can only mimic. Without evil Good would still be Good, but sans Goodness, sans God, evil cannot exist. All those things that today make evil look dangerous – power, cunning, audacity, arrogance, perfidy – are just twisted distortions of Good – of energy, intelligence, courage, confidence, honesty; evil is nothing, in and of itself – it, like a fungus, has to appropriate Goodness from elsewhere. Life is Good, so pure evil, would have no life, no energy, no existence.
Good has always been; evil is the new guy on the block. Those of us who love antiques understand that “new” isn’t better; it’s just more recent, and if the original was the best, the new will be a step backward. Evil is the recalcitrant Lucifer talking back to God (who made him) in the first chapter of Job. Evil is the snake snarled around the tree in the Garden promising Eve more than the perfection she already possessed. I’m not saying that all progress is bad because that would be untrue, but when the new can only be obtained by throwing out the Good –liberty, justice, prosperity, even life itself – then we must, if we are wise, rethink the “improvement.” History is littered with the dead bodies of “new” ideas and the horrors that came with them. Roe vs. Wade was one such “advance,” as was Obamacare, and Common Core.
Which brings up another attribute of Goodness – it always works. Those economies that follow the tried and true concepts of free enterprise inevitably prosper. Those who try, yet again, a top-down socialist approach always end up in financial ruin. When we make policy using as our guide the biblical understanding of the nature of man (flawed) then the systems work because they are designed with those flaws in mind. But when we base decisions on the Pollyanna assumption that mankind is basically good, we end up in helpless messes – welfare that has produced a huge, helpless class, both unwilling and unable to become productive members of society. Goodness, however, builds hospitals, schools, orphanages so that people can overcome evil and make something of themselves, so that they, and their lives, may be better.
Good, better, best – that ascendance works, but we must recall that humans are flawed and therefore incapable, on their own, of best-ness. But the human brain can grasp, or perhaps vaguely remember what absolute Good looks like. Adam and Eve knew that in the Garden. Those who knew Jesus during His ministry had a first-hand contact with absolute Good. And those who have immersed themselves in the Word of God have consumed and assimilated a fair amount of Good just by osmosis.
Evil, on the other hand, cannot be perfected. No matter how hard ISIS tries, no matter what atrocities it develops, evil will never reach an absolute flawlessness because evil is a flaw.
But where did Good and evil come from? Good came first – another evidence of its pre-eminence. Good is eternal, has always existed and will always exist. Evil had a definite beginning; it will have a definite end, will soon be a thing of the past; it’s been around long enough.
Evil, being a reaction against good, began in the distant past when God’s most beautiful free-will agent – the angel Lucifer – decided that he was the equal of the three members of the Trinity (Isaiah 14). “I will be like the Most High,” he declared. He wanted to run things, to do heaven his way. He has always tried fake goodness, tried to come up with his own version of good, but it never works – socialism, Darwinism, Planned Parenthood, aggressive religion. If you pay attention you can feel his frustration.
We have to remember that neither Good nor evil are human constructs. I hear that excuse from those still slogging through the progressive Slough of Despond. Humans are Godly constructs, not the other way around.
I also hear a lot about culture defining Good and evil. Good is not culturally determined. A culture can embrace evil and call it good, but it cannot invent its own good – because you can’t improve on perfect. ISIS, the Nazis, Stalin, the Spanish Inquisition, the Salem witch trials are all evidence of societies trying to redefine good and evil to fit their own peculiar ends. But, after WWII the Nuremberg Trials attempted to bring the Nazis to justice; if good and evil were culturally determined, then on what authority did they do that? Wasn’t Auschwitz OK if the Germans thought it was OK? No. The nations of this world knew that the Good that created the heavens and the Earth did not approve, and they acted accordingly.
If a culture is not the arbiter of morality, what is its purpose? A culture is an attempt to make survival more likely, more enjoyable, more fruitful; that society which saturates itself with evil self-destructs. If Muslim Syria had been a society permeated with Good, would millions of Syrians be flooding Europe now? And note the unrest that has accompanied this movement – is that Good? Europe is learning that it has allowed the snakes to invade and to bring with them, not their women and children, but all the evil their culture has devised.
This contest between Good and evil is not a nail-biter. Evil appears to be gaining strength right now, but what we are seeing is the desperation, the death throes of an arrogant serpent. He’s trying to hide behind good right now, but it’s not hard to recognize his efforts as counterfeit. We know how it will end; Good has a manual, a timetable, a due-date, solid and immovable. We’ve read the book and now we’re just watching the movie. We won’t always know what’s going on – won’t always have the best seats, but we can know how the Good will win, all we have to do is “watch the deliverance of the Lord,” (2nd Chronicles 20:17)..