[b-hebrew] origin of evil
Lisbeth S. Fried
lizfried at umich.edu
Wed Sep 6 17:59:18 EDT 2006
Dear Benjamin, Harold, et. al.
The Jewish view is expressed in Isaiah. Christians call it "radical
monotheism," but Jews just call it monotheism. According to Isaiah, God does
create both darkness and evil. Christians worry about how a good god can
create evil. This issue I think arrives with Plato, Aristotle, and
Hellenism. I don't think it pertains to Oriental thought. The Hebrew Bible
does not whitewash this by claiming that evil must really be good if it
caused by God.
Isaiah 45:5-7 (speaking to Cyrus).
I am YHWH, and there is no other; besides me there is no god. I arm you,
though you do not know me, so that they may know, from the rising of the
sun and from the west, that there is no one besides me; I am YHWH, and there
is no other. I form light and create darkness, I make
peace/health/well-being (shalom) and create evil (ra'); I YHWH do all these
> -----Original Message-----
> From: b-hebrew-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org [mailto:b-hebrew-
> bounces at lists.ibiblio.org] On Behalf Of Blankinship, Benjamin
> Sent: Wednesday, September 06, 2006 4:39 PM
> To: b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org
> Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] origin of evil
> > > HH: God does not have to create moral evil. If there is free choice,
> > > there can be evil. You have it just backwards in assuming
> > > God must first create evil in order for free will to exist.
> > >
> > I'm not sure what "creating moral evil" means. If God created
> > everything ex-nihilo, then there is nothing that "just exists" by
> > default. If there is what WE see as evil, then God must have
> > created it, for reasons of His own. We might not be able to
> > understand His reasons for doing so.
> I've been lurking for a couple of days, and I should probably lurk
> longer before jumping in, but I might be able to help here.
> Bearing in mind Liz's statement RE the different world views, I think
> you two are simply misunderstanding each other's terminology. An analogy
> or two may help.
> God did not create darkness. He created light, and he made it possible
> for light to be shaded. We see the absence of light and call it
> darkness. God did not create cold. He created heat, and he made it
> possible for heat to be insulated. We see the absence of heat and call
> it cold. Darkness and cold do not exist; they are abstractions, words
> describing the absence of something else. Perhaps that is what Harold
> means when he says, "God does not have to create moral evil." By
> creating us with the potential to do good, God made it possible for us
> to choose not to do good. But there is not a substance called "evil"
> that God created; "evil" is just our word for the absence of good in a
> human's choices.
> Ben B
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