Evil Cannot Exist Without Good
“Good can exist without evil, whereas evil cannot exist without good…” – Thomas Aquinas
The deepest human desire is for happiness. But it seems, more often than not, that that dream is an illusive one. The fact of the matter, and this is something that Christians know by experience and by reason, is that happiness is meaningless without a knowledge of the good and a habitual commitment to live in accord with it.
The world, though, often militates against the good. In a post-modern, relativistic and agnostic age, like the one we live in, the good, it is said, no longer has a common meaning. Rather, it is argued that “the good” is determined by each individual’s private ego. Because of this, the concept of evil is no longer clear, indeed, it often wears the disguise of the good.
Christians, believe that there is such a thing as absolute moral good, because we know God and the truth that God is the one and only source of the good. We know that the Kingdom of God is where we belong, and that it is the only thing in all of eternity that is completely, absolutely free from suffering. No tears exist there, precisely because good can exist without evil.
But Christians also know that our present existence is fallen and that we live in the midst of suffering as a result. Yet we also know, through the light of faith and the power of human reason, through the reality of experience, and through the truth of scripture, and the life, death and resurrection of our Lord and savior, Jesus Christ, that there is such a thing as the identifiable, universal good. We know this also because of what defies it, hates it, and opposes it—-identifiable evil.
Evil exists and can be identified precisely because it is in opposition with the good. It cannot exist without good. Why is that? Because evil finds its existence only in competition. It’s desire is to be at war with the good. It’s desire is to defeat the good. The great irony is that it’s power is limited and delusional. In the end it cannot win. It is always shown for what it is when good makes itself known in the minds and hearts of men and women.
Satan, for all of his rage against God, for all of his desire to be equal to God, is finally a fool, and ultimately a loser. Evil is recognized clearly for what it is precisely because there is such a thing as the Good. The Good is the mirror in which evil is revealed and reflected back upon itself.
Jesus conquered the arrogant, yet utterly finite reality of evil when he died for all of us on the Cross. Only Jesus could have borne all the weight of our sin on his shoulders. Only Jesus could forgive all sin with the infinite power of love. Only Jesus could erase sin’s efforts to separate us from the love of God. Jesus opened the gates of Paradise to us again, because of his infinite love for each and every one of us.
Evil, on the other hand, because it knows deep down that it is foolish, is desperate to gather others around it in order to relieve its own foolishness and to declare some kind of “meaning.”
Good needs nothing beyond itself. It exists for its own sake. It exists because it is of God, the eternal, Ground of Being in which goodness and love finds its existence and meaning.
Evil cannot exist without the contrast of the good. Evil can only exist in this world, where it constantly disguises itself as “good.” It knows that it will never be attractive unless it can “appear” to be good. Good needs no disguise. It simply is what it is. Evil, on the other hand, cannot exist without the disguise of the good. It needs to “appear” to be good, in order to compete with what is really good. Evil will have no existence in the Kingdom of God. It won’t even be remembered. Why? Because “good can exist without evil”
Human beings, in light of the conscience written into the depths of their hearts, minds and souls, know and desire the good. Christians know this personally, yet, we also know how weak we are and how attractive evil can make itself look. But because we know the good, we also can recognize evil’s disguises. Because we know the infinitely good God, personally and intimately, we can hope for, and believe in, the goodness of the Life Eternal in Paradise. Thanks be to God!
Dan Doyle is a retired professor of English and Humanities. He taught 13 years at the high school level and 22 years at the university level. He spends his time now babysitting his granddaughter. He is a poet and a blogger as well. Dan holds an AA degree in English Literature, a BA in Comparative Literature, and an MA in Theology. To read more of Dan’s work, click here.