For many, the issue of moral evil – humans doing evil to others – is essentially the issue of people misusing their freewill and causing upset to others. Indeed, many people question why God doesn’t do something about all the evil people in the world but with whom would he start and at what gradation on the scale of sin is one person saved while another perishes? While this sort of thinking may seem rather simplistic, better questions might involve an understanding of what evil actually entails? After all, how does one measure evil? Moreover, why does moral evil exists in humans if they are created by a God who is intrinsically good?
Of course, the reality is that none of us are as good as we imagine ourselves to be. Given that most human are prone to lapsing into some kind of negative behaviour – be that arguing with another or gossping about a co-worker – it appears that physical, mental, emotional and verbal abuse is never far from the door of humanity. Indeed, humans cannot even claim that moral evil is something confined to later life as evidenced by infants who learn early that to get what they want and ahead in life, all they need do is strike out, take another’s toy, manipulate and argue or revert to cruel name calling and defamation of others. All of which, begs the question
At what age are humans considered responsible for evil acts done to others ?
Add into this, the mix of the good acts that are often not done in the world – aka sins of omission – and we see that suffering is not confined to evil acts against others but rather ineptitude and apathy as the individual fails to take action, bringing hardship, death and suffering. Or the reverse mindset where some people believe it’s okay to commit evil if a greater good results in the process?
And where is God in all this? Augustine’s Freewill Defence paints God as rather detached in this process having created a world in which humans possess freewill and may transgress the Divine will at their peril. Those unhappy at this state of affars might rightly question whether humans would be better off as automatons rather than have freewill and it’s opportunity to transgress, fail God and be sentenced to judgement. One might argue that Jean Paul Sartre offers a reasoned explanation as to the workings of God’s love in freewill as bourne out of the essence of God’s love and its necessity to be loved by those who just as freely disposed to reject God – this is what both loved and beloved encounter in the necessity of God to be as true to his essence as humans are in their limitations and failure.