Justice is a concept created by evil

Evil in Western Culture

1 content

2 Introduction

3 definition of evil

4 The personification of evil

5 Hell as a place of evil
5.1 Hell as a place of evil in the monks' visions
5.2 Hell in the NT
5.3 Theologians' hell
5.4 Hell and the pastoral of fear

6 Where does evil come from?

7 The meaning of evil

8 summarizing thoughts

9 literature

2 Introduction

There can be good without evil; But there can be no evil without good.

(Thomas Aquinas)

In this work I deal with the definition of evil, the question of the personification of evil and with hell as a place of evil. I also deal with the question "where does evil come from?" And the meaning of evil. I have drawn on various views of theologians, philosophers, psychologists and ethicists for my work. The work should also show that the topic is a "permanent topic", viewed in the respective time window with many questions and possible answers. At the end of the thesis, a few summarizing thoughts are made.

3 definition of evil

Evil (add. Bosi, from pre-German bausja: “low, bad”) is the opposite of good and a central concept in the history of philosophy and religion.[1]

Below are some definitions and thoughts on “evil”: The most general of all definitions could be: Evil is an action when it knowingly and willingly causes harm to others. But now we have the question, when was an action knowingly and willingly, that is, in absolute freedom, carried out? The perception of damage also varies from person to person. Annamarie Piper says that evil is causing harm to others in restricting the freedom in which the other pursues his or her personal goal.[2]

The sociological point of view tries to explain evil as something that humans encounter in the form of destructive, unjust social structures. Even if these are man-made, they have an effect back on people and thus promote evil in people.

In philosophy “Evil” is what is ethically wrong. Evil is the opposite of the term “morally good”. The terms “good” and “bad” are normative and prescriptive terms. The terms are also viewed as opposing poles. Karl Jasper says in his work “Introduction to Philosophy” that the relationship between good and bad can be explained with three levels. Humans have the alternative when making a decision: The moral relationship. In the Kantian sense, it stands between inclination and duty to be guided by the drives. The ethical relationship which is determined by the veracity of the motives. Evil here is “weakness” giving in to inclination. The metaphysical relationshipwhich describes the relationship between love urging to be and hate urging not to be.[3] Leibniz differentiates between three forms of evil: the metaphysical, which represents imperfection, the physical, which describes suffering, and the moral, which describes sin. God creates “the evil of the possible”. The world is created according to this principle.[4] In his work "Religion within the Limits of Mere Reason (RGV)", Kant defined evil as an inexplicable phenomenon that is unique to every human being: every human being has a natural tendency towards evil. It is this principle that prevents people from acting morally.[5]

The ethics deals with what constitutes good action or bad action. So ethical thinking asks how people should act and how not. This also includes dealing with the extent of individual human freedom and determining what is good and what is bad.[6]

Religious Studies distinguishes between two forms of evil: Evil in the human sphere (as the opposite pole of moral good). Evil as divine or spiritual powers. Your work is damaging. The opposing power tries to threaten and destroy the relationship between God and humans. The opposing power (evil) tries to thwart the divine plan of salvation. Christianity explains evil from the human urge to want to be God. An attempt is made to prove this with the fall of man and the resulting doctrine of original sin. The theologian Dalferth says in his work “The Evil” that a world without life would be no better than a world with evil because there is neither good nor bad in it. Only a world that something real happens is a world with life. Only where there is life can something happen. An experience is what happens to a living being passively, without any action on its part and against expectation. Life is so affected that it becomes different. What has happened can be seen in how a life reacts to being affected.[7] The theologian Barth says in his lecture "The Problem of Evil" that evil dominates the stage of world events. There would be no history, no drama without evil.[8] Malice is felt as an experience of the soul. Evil becomes a force that invades us. It gains a ravishing personal power. It encounters people as a diabolical adversary. Another possibility is that God himself is the author of evil. Another line of thought is that God approves of evil as punishment. But this would make the concept of goodness meaningless, since God himself uses evil means. Or God cannot control evil because, as creator, he has allowed the creature's freedom. God is faced with a choice of either abolishing evil or abolishing creation. Then there would be no freedom without the price of suffering. In the Christ event, God confronts evil by taking it upon himself. Christ is the final answer to the theodicy question.[9]

It can be said that evil, which is opposite to good, is reprehensible. It is considered to be the cause of suffering and unhappiness in society. The problem of evil in its incomprehensibility and inexplicability is a constant topic of conversation in intellectual history. We find discussions about its origin in Genesis (Gen. 3). In the 19th century, a positiveization of evil began, especially promoted by Schelling.[10] The natural explanations and metaphysical justifications have been rejected. Evil was seen as the irreversible opposite of good. Problems arise to this day in the question, either man is determined to be evil; then he is not to blame because he does not act willfully. His actions cannot be judged morally, because every morality presupposes freedom. Or man is free. Then bad action is nonsensical. Evil action curtails his freedom. today the definition of evil is also summarized under the term "aggression". This is understood to mean an attack behavior of the person caused by affect or drive. There is the thesis that aggression is a failure of a vital instinct that cannot find its adequate outlet. Aggression is linked to the unmet need for justice.[11]

From the above, it can be seen that the definition of evil has many angles.

4 The personification of evil

The term “personification” is a rhetorical figure that gives plants, objects or abstract beings a voice or gives human traits.[12] One of the first personifications of evil in Western culture is the snake. The cultures have different personifications of evil: Germanic Loki, Christian devil or the Arab jinn. In Hinduism it is the demons. What they all have in common is that they bring misery and damnation of their own free will and on their own. In Judaism nothing is considered as evil personified. There is no devil. Hebrew 2.14 speaks of "him who has the power of death, namely the devil". An abstract idea is spoken of as if it were a person. The Bible often uses personifications. The devil or also called Satan represents the evil desires in us. In the NT, evil personifies itself in the form of Satan as in the temptation of Jesus, in which evil acts as an independent anti-divine power (Mt 4, cf. Cor 7.5, 2 Cor 11.14). Evil can attack people or lead Judas to betray him (Luk 23: 3). At the end of time, Satan will be released and he can start his work of destruction (Apk 20, 2.7). Paul speaks of having two beings within us: the man of the flesh, "the devil", fights against the man of the spirit (Romans 7: 15-21). The sinful part of our nature is personified as "the bad one" (Mt. 6:13) - the biblical devil. Karl Barth says that evil in God's creation is the “impossible possible”, the reality of which we cannot describe. It cannot be traced back to a positive will of God. Barth also ascribes a power to the negation of God; the negation also has a kind of reality. This is also how evil “is”, but it will not be of any permanent nature. Joest says that Barth argues from Christ. In Christ, evil is overcome, the “nothing” becomes a fleeing shadow.[13] Ratzinger believes that evil comes from the heart of people alone, that it is a matter for people alone. The devil, the evil, would call into question the autonomy and personal responsibility of humans.[14] The early councils strongly emphasize that God created a world both visible and invisible. How is the personification of evil to be seen today? The personification of evil can also be seen today in the shape of Hitler, Stalin, Osman bin Ladan, etc. For us, evil appears in a variety of actions: in the Holocaust, in the Stalin Gulags, in the destruction of the World Trade Center in New York, etc. The question of personal suffering or an absurd world and yet the thought of a good creator preoccupies many. Whether God is just because of an absurd world of suffering has a long tradition. Whoever tries to justify evil by claiming that it first allows the good to be recognized does not justify God, but evil. The assertion that where there is light there is also shadow, where there is good, there is also evil, says that in the end there is not a good creator, but a dualistic principle of good and evil.


[1] Duden, the dictionary of synonyms

[2] Piper, Gut und Böse, p. 16 f

[3] Jasper, Introduction to Philosophy, chapter 5

[4] Leibniz, Collected Works, p. 601 ff

[5] Kant, works in 12 volumes. Volume 8, pp. 680-688

[6] Own notes, course "Ethical Decision-Making in Organizations", University of Applied Sciences Northwestern Switzerland, Dialog Ethics and University of Freiburg, 2008

[7] Lüthi, Gott und das Böse, p. 6 ff

[8] Barth, The Problem of Evil, p. 9

[9] Hofmann, Katholische Dogmatik, p. 84 ff

[10] Hügli, Historical Dictionary of Philosophy, pp. 682-708

[11] Own notes, course "Ethical Decision-Making in Organizations" University of Applied Sciences Northwestern Switzerland, Dialog Ethics and University of Freiburg, 2008

[12] Duden, The Foreign Dictionary, p. 753 f

[13] Joest, Dogmatik Vol. 2, p. 19

[14] Ratzinger, Dogma and Annunciation, p. 226

End of the reading sample from 17 pages