Definition Of Good And Evil

This essay has a total of 829 words and 4 pages.

Definition Of Good And Evil

Throughout human existence, questions have arisen concerning the nature of good and evil.
Many scientist, philosophers, and theologians have been intrigued by these questions.
Through Augustine's Confessions and E. O. Wilson's In Search of Nature, one is accessible
to two distinct perspectives concerning the nature of good and evil.

Augustine sets up an argument in his Confession that attempts to define evil. God is the
author of everything. Augustine says, "nothing that exists could exist without You [God]"
(Book I, Chapter II). Nothing in this world exists apart from God.

For Augustine, God is good because everything He made is good. Everything about God is
good. No aspect of Him is lacking, false, or not good. However, the question of evil and
from where it came still remains.

Augustine then asks himself where it was that evil came. Evil could not have come from
God; it must have come from another source other than God. Because we clearly see evil in
this world, did God allow it to enter? This would seem that God is not omnipotent.

Originally Augustine believed that evil had substance. However, his views changed later
where he says, "If they were deprived of all goodness, they would be altogether nothing;
therefore, as long as they are, they are good. Thus whatsoever things are, are good; and
that evil whose origin I sought is not a substance" (Book VII, Chapter XII). Under this
definition, Augustine is saying that evil has no substance. Instead, evil is the result of
a removal of good until there is nothing left at which time the object or person would
cease to exist in the physical realm.

Augustine approaches this issue from an entirely different perspective. He asks: Do we
have any good evidence that God exists? If He does, is He good? Since all that God created
is good and evil is not good, then evil is not something that God created. This was
Augustine's solution, but the question still remains: What is evil?

He observed that everything God made is good and when you take away from goodness from
something God made, we call that condition evil. Another way of putting it is that evil is
the lack of good. In this solution, good has substance whereas evil does not; it is merely
good that is missing. If it does not have any substance, then it does not require a
creator. To say that something is evil is a shorthand way of saying it lacks goodness.
Augustine goes on to explain how such a thing can be, and gets into a discussion about
free will.

E. O. Wilson's In Search of Nature, specifically "The Serpent", displays evil in terms of
the Serpent. "The snake's image enters the conscious and unconscious mind with ease during
reverie and dreams. It appears without warning and departs abruptly, leaving behind not a
specific memory of any real snake but the vague sense of a more powerful creature" (Wilson
5). One may observe that evil can slip into man at any given moment without man's
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