Origins of Evil

The Bible might have benefited from a good editor. The final product is a world classic, of course, but contemporary people with their busy lives prefer straight and simple answers. These, often, the Bible refuses to yield. During a discussion of prophecy in class the other night the question of the origin of evil arose. I incidentally made reference to Isaiah 45.7 where God casually drops the line, “Forming light and creating darkness, making peace and creating evil, I am Yahweh making all this.” Many English translations attempt to mask the bald use of ra‘ “evil,” in this passage with nicer words such as “woe” or “calamity.” As I explained to my students, however, in a truly monotheistic system all fingers must point the same way for the ultimate responsibility. In this passage of Isaiah, Yahweh is presented as causing evil.

Now the editing of the Bible was never undertaken with the intention of creating uniformity, despite the railing of Fundamentalists. There are plentiful internal inconsistencies and disagreements. We should expect no less of a book written over a period of about a thousand years by several different writers grappling with life’s big questions. Inevitably students ask about the Garden of Eden. Genesis 2.17 has Yahweh state that newly created people must not eat of the “tree of knowledge of good and evil (ra‘).” Here the evil grows on a tree. Who planted that tree? It’s like blatantly laying the keys before your teenager and saying, “now don’t take the car.” Who is the source of that tree? (And, less frequently noted, the eating of the fruit in Genesis 3 is never called “sin.”)

The quintessential problem with a compilation is lack of uniformity. This did not bother ancient people as much as it does modern Fundamentalists. One reason is that many people equate the Bible’s value with it being a book that has all the answers from a single viewpoint. This the Bible lacks. According to the Bible there are various sources of evil. According to a strict monotheism (late in the Hebrew Bible) there can only be one. Enter the devil. To save the goodness of God a Zoroastrian anti-God had to be introduced. But the devil must stand in line to make his patent claim on evil.

7 thoughts on “Origins of Evil

  1. Devil Satan is the origin of Evil. The fathers could not have thought of this because they were very much afraid of the giver of the Law. The giver of the Law stated that ”Thou shall have no other God besides me. For I the Lord your God am jealous God”. ”Hear O Israel, the Lord thy God is One”. This was the ‘forced’ beginning of Monotheism. Devil Satan ascended onto the throne of God, and called himself God, even though he was not God; and he decieved the world to believe that he does not exist. He unleashes all his evil attrocities on the earth, and all humanity blames it on God Jesus. Devil Satan instilled his evil doctrine of Monotheism on the fathers to stop them from questionning the actions of this evil God. He confused the fathers to call evil, good. So he could justify every evil he unleashes unto man. The fathers even called the DevilSatan ‘Almighty God’.
    Devil Satan has been in the garden right from the beginning, but the fathers could not bring him out of his hiding place; Devil Satan hid his evil self in the tree of Death. (falsely called the tree of knowledge of good and evil). No tree could bear two fruits. It was the tree of death, and nothing more. It was Devil Satan himself. Christ Jesus was the other tree of Life. These two Gods (TREES) have been with us from the beginning.
    God Jesus said the Devil Satan comes to steal, kill, and destroy. But He Jesus comes to give Life and Life more abundantly. Therefore if Yaweh said in Isiah 45 7 that it is he who kills and gives life at the same time, then he is a liar, and the father of it. A clear indication that Yaweh is not the father of Christ Jesus.
    Yes if you look carefully you will find out that the Bible holds the answers to every question we have in Life.

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  2. Steve – I’m a little confused on your main idea here – is it that a strict monotheism lays the blame for evil firmly on the creator, but Zoroastrian ideas were introduced to Judaism even later to shift the blame over to the Devil? Do you have loose dates on when these influences were introduced?

    Otherwise, I’m with Osafra. Income taxes, health insurance, credit cards, and mortgages… clearly the work of a diabolical mastermind. I blame the devil.

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    • Hi Beedo. It is confusing, but only because the Bible does not provide a single answer to the question. A true monotheism really wouldn’t have any room for a devil at all. In Judaism the figure of the devil (borrowed from Zoroastrianism, as you noted) offers a way to explain evil while maintaining Yahweh’s superiority, but compromising his singularity. Judaism came into contact with Zoroastrianism during the Exilic Period, most obviously during the expansion that began under Cyrus after about 550 BCE. The idea didn’t really catch on for a while, since we see no evidence of the devil in the Hebrew Bible.

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  3. There was no mention of the Devil, or no evidence of the devil in the Hebrew Bible because they lived with him. The Devil was their God. Jesus told them plainly; ”You worship your father the Devil”…..Jesus said. The devil has been the God of this world since the day he captured Adam in the Garden. Since that day, the devil has not ceased bombarding man about him being the ONLY God. He stated in the laws he gave to Moses that he is a jealous God. It is this jealousy in the devil that gave rise to Monotheism. Pre Judaism, Judaism and the Church are all afraid of the truth, the reason they insist on that false monotheist doctrine. They made God destructive and progressive at the same time. They destroyed God right from the beginning, and made Atheists of men. Because intelligent men could not accept the type of God they were introduced to. The Mono God. No. They knew that should man get to know of the other God, everyone will run away from Yhwh or Jehovah, the God of war, who destroys other nations from before His chosen. The God wo favours one group of people above the rest of the world. That only God was Devil Satan. He cannot face competition, hence Monotheism.
    But there is another God, lover of mankind, His own creation, who does only good things: because He is good all the time. There is no evil in Him. and He is not afraid of competition. He even told us that there are two masters vying for the soul of Man. Jesus said again that He was the True God who comes to give Life. He also said the other God is the Devil, the false God who comes only to steal, kill, and destroy.
    After all what Jesus said, do you still believe in Monotheism? Please.

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  4. The beauty that apologetics teach us is there is always a slant that backs up a weirder argument than before.

    So;
    1) the adam were not happy being slaves in the garden.
    2) the folk in Nod didnt need to slave for no pay, they had their own science to develop so a future engineer could be used to build a city.
    3) union leaders are often referred to by management as a pack of vipers.
    4) only a snake could enforce a stop work meeting associated with a novel but cheap lunch.
    5) Union never told the adam that management would starve you and force you to screw each other.

    Enoch? who’s yer daddy?

    Steve, Ive hinted that you would be a perfect interview on a fledgling atheist-skeptic pod/blog cast. I hope you don’t mind.

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