Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Wondering About the Existence of Evil PT 2

John R. Houk
© March 10, 2010

I wonder what Judaism stand on evil is?

In the Rabbinic period between 70-500 C.E., the rabbis constructed a theodicy by arguing that God created every human being with a yetser tov or "good urge," and the yetser ha-ra, "bad urge." They asserted that both urges were necessary because the bad urge provided individuals with the libido or energy that they needed to use for productive purposes like building houses, marriage, having children, and conducting business. However, if not channeled in the appropriate way, the yetser ha-ra could become the source of evil. The rabbis also tried to explain why the righteous suffer by arguing that if a righteous person suffers in this world, he or she will be rewarded in olam ha-bah, the "World to Come," when all the righteous souls will be reunited with their bodies after the Messiah comes. (

… G-d created the Evil Inclination, the angel called Satan, whose job it is to tempt us to do evil. If we ignore the Evil Inclination, then we get closer to G-d, and become more holy. By doing so, we merit the reward of the ultimate goodness. G-d also gave us Commandments, and the Tempting Angel tempts us to find reasons not to keep those Commandments. By ignoring the temptations, and fulfilling G-d's Commandments, we become more spiritual, and our souls gain more power over ourselves. (

The notion of good and evil is an intricate inconsistency, a paradox of sorts. In Judaism, despite clear definitions of how good and evil exists, the topic still remains complex. If G-d has a Master plan, then how can free will exist? And, yet, very clearly – Judaism states that evil is a result of man’s free will.

The Yetzer Hara or evil inclination is not something outside of us but something within. But, the Yetzer Hara is not a bad thing. If it didn’t exist, being a pious individual would be relatively simple. With the evil inclination, however, we are in a constant battle against our own selfishness and desires.

Our Yetzer Hara leads us to believe that this world is all there is. So, we yearn for more – more toys, more money, more vacations, more power in our job. It is only this yearning that can ultimately bring us back to that which is absolutely true. It is our ability to overcome the desire of the Yetzer Hara and live life as intended by G-d that allows us to fully grasp the meaning of our existence.

Here are some action ideas for your Yetzer HaTov (the good inclination):

*Make a list of your values and then write out how you actively live those values in your daily life.

*Take time to volunteer. Giving to the community has a powerful impact on your view of the world.

*Live simply. Clear out the clutter in your home, your mind and your family life.

G-d created us with a Yetzer Hara, the evil inclination, so that we might overcome the desires that lead us astray and choose – with our free will – to walk on G-d’s intended path. (Lisa Pinkus)

These are three website that roughly agree on the existence of evil in Judaism. Out of full disclosure it seems that the Judaic view of evil has different perceptions based on the time period and/or the type of evil that directly affected Jews. One can look at many examples. The example that is most familiar is the Nazi perpetrated Holocaust of WWII.

It seems in Judaism God created humanity with good and evil with evil being the superior urge. Focusing on good submerges the evil inclination. The battle to submerge evil actually is perceived as good for it motivates good work, training a good family, doing good to others and so on. The inclination toward evil ends after the Messiah comes.

Quite possibly the Judaic view of evil also differs between Orthodox, Conservative and Reformed; but here ends the extent of my armchair search of how evil is perceived in Judaism.

Now let’s look on the perception of evil in my favorite religion to criticize – Islam.

The Islamic faithful have wrapped a theology concerning evil and good that is amazingly sanitized in comparison to the actual totality of the Quran, Hadith and Sira. The Islamic theology that includes a doctrine of Abrogation is not quite so spiritually appealing as that presented to the Muslim practicing the “inner struggle” jihad or to the kafir (unbeliever) receiving da’wa persuasion to convert to Islam. Below are the enticing words of how Islam deals with the problem of good and evil:

… Suffering is either the painful result of sin, or it is a test.

In the latter view, suffering tests belief; a true Muslim will remain faithful through the trials of life. But suffering also reveals the hidden self to God. Suffering is built into the fabric of existence so that God may see who is truly righteous. In other words, God not only allows the various agonies and struggles of life, but has a purpose for them. Suffering opens up the soul and reveals it to God. God uses suffering to look within humans and test their characters, and correct the unbelievers.

Suffering is also a painful result of sin. In Islam, sin is associated with unbelief. Muslims surrender to God's will, and find peace in that surrender. Sometimes people forget to listen to the prophets, and fail to serve God in all that they do. This is the state of unbelief, called kufr, which literally means to forget through hiding of the truth. Therefore someone who is a kafir is someone who has purposefully forgotten the Lord. They become preoccupied with their own particular needs and their passions. Islam does not condemn human passions or human needs, seeing them as a necessary part of a full and useful life. But when people forget to serve God, these needs and passions can enslave them. They begin to misuse their divine gifts of intelligence, will, and speech. Enslaved by lust, and by cravings for wealth and pleasure, they do evil and destructive things. These moments of unbelief can happen to anyone, and when people realize their mistake, they suffer. Seen in this light, suffering is not only painful, but a lesson. It reminds humans of the truth of God's revelation.

Although all people are imperfect and vulnerable to kufr, Islam does not teach that they are essentially evil. When they realize their sin and make amends with true remorse, God forgives the sin. Genuine repentance is all that is needed to restore humans to a sinless state. However, individuals are always vulnerable to it, and sin and suffering are serious matters. The great struggle, or jihad, of human life is the struggle to perfect one's heart and live in total submission to God. It is possible to be a perfect Muslim, since God does not ask anyone to do anything that is beyond his or her ability. But perfect Muslims, like prophets, are very rare individuals. Most must be vigilant and always begin with the intention to do good. (Islam Suffering and the Problem of Evil)

All of creation is journeying toward God, and the world will end on some unknown day. The Last Day has many names in the Quran, including the Day of Reckoning, the Day of Distress, the Day of the Gathering, the Great Announcement, and quite simply, The Hour. At the end of time, all people will be rewarded or punished according to how well they followed the instructions contained in God's revelations to his prophets. God will resurrect the dead, and each person will be judged directly by Allah according to his or her intentions and deeds. Islam teaches that God is more merciful than He is wrathful. Each person's deeds will be weighed in a balance, and if the evil deeds outweigh the good deeds, the person will be condemned to the eternal flame. If the good deeds outweigh the evil deeds, then the person will be rewarded with paradise. The Quran says that each person receives a book that contains an account of all of his or her deeds. If the book is placed in your right hand, you are destined for eternal bliss. If the book is placed in your left hand, you are destined for eternal flame. (

In short, Muslim theology is the theology that derived from the Koran and the Prophetic traditions. The contents of Muslim theology can be divided into theology proper, theodicy, eschatology, anthropology, apophatic theology and comparative religion. These branches or divisions of Muslim theology can be found in the Holy Koran and the Prophetic traditions. The theology profer refers to the nature of God or Allah such as His essence and attributes and His relation with humans and other created beings, the relationship between the creator and the created. Theodicy is related to Allah as the creator and the existing of all the evil and suffering in the world with the premise that Allah is omnipotent, omniscient and omnibenevolent. The main questions dealt in theodicy are the problems of evils and sufferings taking place among human beings and their relation to Allah's three attributes namely omniscience, omnipotence and omnibenevolence. Eschatology is literally understood as the last things or ultimate things and in Muslim theology, eschatology refers to the end of this world and what will happen in the next world or hereafter. Eschatology covers the death of human beings, their souls after their bodily death, the total destruction of this world, the resurrection of human souls, the final judgments of human deeds by Allah after the resurrection, and the rewards and punishments for the believers and non-believers respectively. The places for the believers in the hereafter are known as the Paradise and for the non-believers are the Hell. (

In Islam evil is a part of life that Allah uses to keep the faithful away from kufr (unbelief in Allah) and to turn the kafir from kufr. The simple flowery excerpts of Islam’s use of evil are a bit more complicated in practice.

In Islam the “no compulsion in religion” is abrogated to use death to prevent apostasy and the use of death if da’wa fails to turn kafir from kufr. Allah’s mercy for a kafir that has chosen a path of the dhimmi means a life of humiliation under the thumb of the ummah. The kafir who dares to resist humiliation or insults Allah, Mohammed or Islam is worthy of death. A woman who dishonors her father, husband or family is worthy of at least a beating but can include death. In Islam rape and murder are forbidden except against a kafir practicing kufr. Mohammed received a revelation that it was ok to execute the male losers of a battle in a not very nice way. After which the beautiful women could be used as sex slaves. The property of the losers whether execute or spared is to be divided between the winning Muslims with a bonus share going to the all perfect merciful prophet as directed by Allah. Brutal wars of aggression are justified as the lesser jihad to expand the global influence of Islam in this present life.

The above examples that I provide is an expansion of the meaning of evil in Islam. Really the full practice of Islam as provided by Mohammed’s example is a demonstration that the theo-political religion he founded is inherently evil. My accusation of evil-Islam is purely an armchair observation on my part and not the opinion of a scholarly expert. Because of this I realize I open myself to a lot of ad hominem attacks from the Muslim faithful and the Islamic apologist. Nonetheless, I am just calling it as I see it from the reading of history and the displays of current events. If I receive evidence to the contrary I am open to it; however the evidence of pointing out what atrocious acts Christians did in the name of Christ or Jews did in the name of Yahweh (Torah) as justification is weak. Please justify acts that I call evil on the merits of the so-called revelation of Allah via Mohammed and as interpreted in the traditions of the Hadith and Sira. As far as atrocities ascribed to Christians who claim to be doing God’s work, it is a reach. The Just War is to insure safety from an unjust invader. Christian Scriptures specifically rail against Christians who work acts of evil that is justified by the holy writings of Islam/Mohammedanism.

There is one other element that exists as a political ideology yet is as dogmatic as a religion. That ideology is Marxism. Marxists look to a manmade utopia in which personal ownership and the government ceases to be the rule of law. Rather it is the egalitarianism of the proletariat that is the foundation for the rule of law. The proletariat is the former labor-working class whose fruit of production was owned by the Bourgeoisie benefit.

Communist thinking believes Capitalism, ownership, a pyramid of classes, individualism apart from the collective and ultimately government is evil.

Like the flowery words of Islam enticing adherents yet ignoring the reality of the repression inherent in Islam, Marxist/Communism sets forth lofty goals for the betterment of humanity without elaborating to the masses the means to the utopian ends.

The history of Marxist oriented violent revolutions in nations the West would label as Communist is horrific. At the end of WWII the victors were incredulously horrified on just how evil Hitler and his Nazi machine were. Between Jews, other considered non-Aryan people (e.g. Gypsies), the mentally deficient and the physically deficient; Nazi Germany was responsible for the genocide of about 12 MILLION people. The number of dead and how the deaths were perpetrated seemed evil incarnate when the carnage was revealed publicly.

The means toward achieving Communism dwarfs that number. As a brief example let’s look at the genocide of people accomplished Lenin/Stalin Soviet Union, Mao’s Communist China and the Khmer Rouge of Cambodia. The numbers expand in considering other Marxist revolutions but the three just mentioned are easily accessible by a search engine.

    • The old Soviet Union (With Stalin as the worst): 58,627,000.

    • Communist China (Mao Zedong as the worst): 73,237,000.

    • Khmer Rouge Cambodia (Pol Pot as the perpetrator): 2,627,000.

The total genocides for these three Communist regimes: 134,491,000. (Source)

Now that is some EVIL! Communist genocide makes the Nazi genocide look like peanuts.

The evil of Islamic conquest in the so-called glory days in which present day purist Muslims wish to return to, have huge numbers dead people in its wake:

    • Christians: 60,000,000

    • Hindus: 80,000,000

    • Buddhists: 10,000,000

    • Jews: Difficult to determine thousands which is ironic considering today’s Middle Eastern Muslim attitude toward Jews.

Rough Total: 270, 000,000 (Tears of Jihad)

These numbers do not include Persian Zoroastrians or Muslims that chose apostasy.

Now Marxist genocide achieved their dastardly numbers only in the 20th century while the Muslims empire builders accomplished their dastardly numbers from Mohammed’s conquest of Medina in the early 600’s AD until the cessation of the last Muslim empire of the Ottoman Turks in 1918 AD.

I don’t know which is worse. The 134,491,000 killed in a century by Marxists or the 270,000,000 killed by Muslims in the name spreading Islam as directed by Mohammed, the Quran, Hadith and Sira. The Marxist glory days of forcing people to accept a transformed society was roughly 50% of that the Muslims killed in little over a millennium. Both the Marxist and Muslim goal were to transform society to a set of beliefs by any means necessary at the cost of human lives that might rock the boat.

Friends, this is EVIL! Depending on one’s faith it is the fault self-imposed by humanity, deity or Satan.

I personally belong to the group of Christians that will not blame God. All that is nefariously evil is the result of Lucifer’s fall and then Adam’s fall. The fall means that which was created good had something removed; i.e. right standing with God Almighty. God so loved the creation which proceeded from Adam that He provided a way for right standing to return to humanity through the sacrifice of His Son Jesus Christ (son of man and Son of God). Christ’s Redemption raises the human spirit to right standing in preparation for full Redemption at Christ’s Second Coming.

Christianity as most religions concerned about the state of humanity believes in overcoming evil with good. Islam believes in created a male dominated by the evil killing the unbelieving (kufr) to prepare humanity for the Muslim paradise.

The origin of evil and its eradication is abstractly subjective. Nonetheless, one’s attention should be wary of any theo-political ideology that utilizes evil proclaiming it will lead to ultimate good. That is a lie.

End of Part Two. Review Part One Here.

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