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What is the prevailing understanding of evil in the world today?

(1)What is the basic affirmation of the goodness of the creation?

(2) What the explanation for the reality of evil, tragedy, and innocent human suffering in God's good creation

(3) What is a Trinitarian account of God's response to the presence of evil, tragedy, and innocent human suffering in the context of God's good creation.

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What is the prevailing understanding of evil in the world today?

In Mephistopheles: The Devil in the Modern World, Jeffrey Russell uses several contemporary sources to come up with a modern concept of "evil." Of course, relativism plays a great part in changing perceptions, as well as self-interest and general secularization. But in the most general terms, Russell says that the normal and most common response to evil refers to and feeling of agony, dread, depression, fear or alienation. This is the subjective concept of evil. The objective concept usually has something to do with the deliberate and unnecessary inflicting of pain on a sentient being, especially one that is much weaker than the assailant (Russell, 1986).

In her work (2002) Evil in Modern Thought, Neiman argues that perceptions change over time. She seems to attach "evil" to events that involve large numbers of people, and hence, her book is top heavy with political crimes. Evil is not misfortune or bad luck: it must always be voluntary (at least in a moral sense). But as Russell says above, there is also metaphysical and natural evil, both of which are inherent in the structure of the world and are not "moral" issues per-se. Metaphysical evil is inherent in nature and might be defined as the gap between essence and existence. All things generally don't live up to their potential, and all are imperfect. Natural evil refers to disasters and acts of God that are destructive. Again - none of these have moral import and are usually a part of both Classical and Christian conceptions of evil.

Neiman also holds that evil has changed in basic definition due to many attempts to eradicate it. Often, moderns will hold that evil behavior is the result of mental illness, a poor upbringing or some other cause totally external to the agent, i.e., no one would voluntarily commit an evil act knowingly. In political terms, ideology is seen as the harbinger of evil, as Marxism was, in that the slaughter of millions under Lenin, Stalin, Mao, or Pot was justified not as evil, but as a part and aspect of inevitable human progress and science.

Plato and St. Augustine set the stage for the Classical and Christian view of evil. Plato held that evil, at its root, comes from a disordered soul. Evil, speaking very broadly, is the domination of the passions, desires and lusts over reason. Passions force us to do things if we are not careful, over time, passions become a habit that is very tough to break. What men do for sex, for example, shows that the disordered soul idea cannot be denied.

For St. Augustine, the order of the soul was also central: evil, at its root, is the same as Plato, but is stated differently: evil is the preference of created things over the un-created. Putting your faith in the transitory, mutable and desirable things is idolatry. This is the same with Plato, though put in very different terms.

Cicero defined it simply as gain at someone's expense. This became the Roman and stoic notion. All the above Classical ideas are still quite alive, but, in general terms, exogenous causes are stressed: mental problems, abusive childhoods, no moral guidance, social decay, inequality, poor values, etc. The agent is seen as a tool of these forces.

What is the basic affirmation of the goodness of the creation?

The great Russian writer Georges Florovsky (1893-1979) of Harvard spent a great deal of time in dealing with Creation and its ontological AND moral structure. Moderns do not see creation in moral terms, but only see it as dead matter that can be shaped by machines into whatever we want. This view, that of the modern Enlightenment, is, thankfully, slowly fading.
Florovsky's views are famous and influential. They revolve around these propositions:

1. The world is contingent. It has no reason for being except that God created it freely. It contains "metaphysical evil" in its contingency, it need not be, and it will soon go away (that is, will no longer be in its present, fallen state).
2. Creaturehood means that creation is ontologically separate from God, but not unrelated. Think of an artist and his relation to a painting. The work of art is not the artist per se, but it is his handiwork.
3. Part of creation is the ...

Solution Summary

The basic affirmation of the goodness of the creations are determined. An explanation for the reality of evil, tragedy and innocent human suffering in God's good creation is determined.

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