Saturday, July 15, 2006
Such reflection is invaluable, but we must beware of making a false turn. Just as our bewilderment in the face of natural disaster may mislead us into denying the existence of God, so our accounting for human evil may tame it. The mitigating factors may explain it by explaining it away. But we need to take evil seriously. Evil is not merely a name for bad human behaviour which, once explained, can be excused. There are devils to be exorcised.
Evil is more than something negative, the absence of the good. There is a phrase made trite by overuse. We talk of “Man’s inhumanity to Man”, and perhaps we speak more truly than we know. Confronted by grave evil, we are not denying our own responsibility, but acknowledging something which cannot be accounted for within the orbit of human behaviour alone, a dark force which exists on its own terms.
There is no need to lapse into dualism. Good and evil are not equal powers. God is supreme. But there is still another power to be reckoned with. We need only consult our own experience. When conscience brings us to the point of decision and we find we choose deliberately the darker way, what is influencing us? What malign spirit is supplying excuses and pampering our limitations?