Evil's Unreality

In view of the seeming immensity of evil, its significance to human experience and its persistence in world history, it need not surprise one that many should have reached the conviction that it must have a place in the divine plan, and affirm that there is warrant for this conclusion in the fact that moral achievements are a direct fruitage of resistance to it. The claim is, that as joy could not be known for joy were it not contrasted with sorrow, so "if there were no such thing as evil there could be no such thing as goodness;" evil is therefore "indispensable" to a moral world.

Thus John Fiske and others contend that as hearing and sight are dependent upon an indescribably rapid succession of contrasts, the alternate rarefactions and condensations of air or ether, so in its very nature all knowledge is the result of "minute subconscious discriminations of likeness and unlikeness." It is thus argued that without the background of evil, good would be undefined, characterless, and indistinguishable; hence unknowable. This sounds plausible, in harmony with the physical facts, and it seems to honor good in assuming that its gain is well worth the calm endurance of the awful tragedies of human suffering as pertaining to the best order that Love could devise.

In the light of Christian Science, however, its adherence to the ideality and unvarying consistency of the divine nature and activities, this explanation of evil is seen to be utterly untenable. If, as affirmed, evil is indispensable to good, the service it renders must determine its character, and it can no longer be regarded as evil, as something that ought not to be; hence the moral discrimination between good and evil must be abandoned, the basis of their contrast, namely unlikeness, given up. This does not deny that evil is to be resisted, since as claimed this is also a part of divine order; but it certainly does make it out of keeping to denounce it as having no rights. The teaching of the Scriptures, however, is certainly at-one with the deepest moral sense of the race in declaring that evil should be resisted as an offense to justice and truth, an abomination for which God has neither use nor tolerance. If, therefore, evil is necessary to moral education and achievement, this Scripture teaching seems to become a pretense and Christ Jesus a deceiver regarding it.

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Healing and Gratitude
December 26, 1914

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