The history of evil

Why is evil a consistent part of human history everywhere in the world and in every human heart? What is evil? We all know that there is something horribly wrong with the world. If some feel an aversion to the word evil, what term do they suggest we use to describe what is self-evident to all?

What is the most plausible account for explaining the origin and reality of evil? There are not many accounts for the origin of evil available to us. 

The way the Bible answers questions about evil seems most plausible to the reality of what we see in the world and feel in our hearts. It tells the story of evil with a convergence of characters (see: Genesis 3:1-6).

It starts with a strange being who approached Eve (the first woman created by God) and offered her an alternative way of understanding God — a view of reality different from the one God revealed to her.

Eve had only known one way of seeing things – God’s way. But this character (whom we know as Satan or the Evil One) offered a different way of looking at life. He offered a different version of God and of what happens when one abandons God’s way.

The offer was made in an alluring context of self-interest. It was not offered in a detached philosophical way. It was a twisted version of reality to lure her to a different way of life – a way centered on self-rule.

It started with a subtle and twisted suggestion that God is overly restrictive in His demands. It moved to a blatant denial of the Divinely stated consequences of disobeying God’s will. Thus was introduced the Suspicion of Eden — the notion that the good life is outside of the will of God, not within it. No philosophical detachment in this offer.

In the predictable pattern of evil, Eve saw what was forbidden, desired it, took it and gave it (Genesis 3:6). The generational consequences have been disastrous! (see: Genesis 3-4; Romans 5:12ff.).

Seven consequences emerge — each affecting a major area of human existence and providing a background to the primary occupational majors at the Universities. 

These consequences correspond directly with the human story from our beginning to this day. They included the following: 

  1. Physiological: death, decay, sickness and suffering (Gen. 3:17-19;Ro. 5:12;8:19ff)
  2. Psychological: shame, guilt, fear (Gen. 3:7).
  3. Sociological: blame-shifting, alienation, separation (Gen. 3:8, 12-13; Isa. 53:6). 
  4. Ecological: ground is cursed, thorns and thistles (Gen. 3:17-19).
  5. Spiritual: hiding from God, enmity: seed of woman and seed of Serpent (Gen. 3:8,15, 4:1-15;I Jn 3:12;Isa. 59:1-2).
  6. Epistemological: distorted thinking, spiritual blindness (II Cor. 4:3-6; Rom. 1:28). The noetic affects.
  7. Criminalmurder! (fratricide) – Genesis 4 – Cain kills his younger brother Abel.

It should not be missed that our Colleges and Universities offer majors related to each of the seven areas above (e.g. doctors, psychologists, sociologists, environmentalists, ministers, philosophers, law enforcement).

Extended Results in Genesis 4

Corresponding with reality on every corner of the globe, throughout all of human history, the results observed in the first offspring of Adam and Eve are tragic expressions of human existence: rebellion, anger, envy, hatred, bitterness, lying and murder. One can only imagine the grief that filled Eve’s heart at the death of her second-born son (Abel) at the hands of her first-born son (Cain). It is without irony that Cain is identified as a member of Satan’s family (I John 3:11-13cf. John 8:44).

Think about it

Because we were made in the image and likeness of God, we see benevolent acts of goodness and heroism among humans. Because we are fallen, we observe (and participate in) malevolent acts and vast degrees of evil and violence on earth.

According to Genesis 3, sin appeared very early in the history of our race. In this chapter our first parents try to be ‘like God, knowing good and evil,’ and succeed only in alienating themselves from God and from each other. They choose to believe the tempter rather than their Maker and turn their garden into a bramble patch.  The good and fruitful earth becomes their foe (Genesis 3:17-18; cf. 4:11-14), and their own sin then rises in a terrible crescendo.  Adam and Eve’s pride and disbelief trigger revolt, scapegoating, and flight from God (Gen. 3:4-5, 10, 12-13).”

“Their first child ups the ante: Cain resents and kills his brother, Abel, launching the history of envy that leads to murder. Like his parents and the rest of the race, Cain refuses to face his sin (‘Am I my brother’s keeper?’) and is exiled by God to a place ‘east of Eden.’ In a phrase that suggests the restlessness of all who are alienated from God, Cain becomes ‘a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth’” (Cornelius Plantinga Jr., Not The Way It’s Supposed to Be).

Steve Cornell

This entry was posted in Alcohol addiction, Anthropology, Counseling, Creation, Death, Depravity, Devil, Evil in the world, Evil One, History, Problem of evil, Satan and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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