Over the last 7-10 days I have had some really interesting conversations about the origin of evil. This is one the of centerpiece questions in the struggle of faith, I believe. The answer that one derives from this simple question shapes the way you view the world, people and life in general. Without an accurate or functional answer to this question, one can easily be caught up in a skewed approach to life.
The other dynamic regarding this question is simply that the answer to it will continue to evolve over time through experience and re-discovery. What I mean is that even though what you find out today about the root of all evil, what you find out tomorrow may reinforce or cause you to re-evaluate your presupposition.
What I have learned and continue to learn about the root of evil in our world is simply this: Evil does exist, and evil is not the result of God's oversight or under-sight in His creation of the world. At the beginning of time, God created the world and called it good. In the world He created, God ordained room for choice by allowing the first humans, Adam & Eve, to choose to be obedient to God's rhythm and design for life. As the story goes, Adam & Eve chose to venture out onto their own collective path in search of life to the full by stepping outside of the boundaries God had put in place for them. And as a result, the consequences of evil affected our world for generations to come...something we call sin.
Now the question is this: Did evil exist prior to this decision, or was it created at this moment in time? The answer is that evil was a preexistent condition whose roots can be traced back to one particular story that has fascinated many a theologian and Hollywood movie producer!! The story I am referring to is that of the battle that occurred among the created heavenly beings we call angels prior to the creation of the world. Angels were God's very first creation, created to worship and serve Him. One angel, called Lucifer, made the choice to pursue equality with God by recruiting from among his peers, followers who would worship Him in place of their Creator. Again, a single choice brought with it the consequences of brokenness that we are now forced to live with in our world today.
To summarize, God created choice, allowing the room for evil to exist and therefore God created both good and evil. Now why would God do such a thing? I'm not sure any human level of understanding can accurately represent the answer to this question, but here is what I am personally learning about this subject. God created choice because He did not intend, nor does He intend to force His will upon any part or all of His creation. In allowing His created beings the opportunity to choose life according to His design, or life outside of these parameters, God created the very thing that we crave and long for in our inmost desires...love.
Love is a choice. Love is all about learning to function within boundaries and parameters that bring health instead of death. For instance, take the example of marriage. As created by God, marriage exists for the mutual benefit of both parties (opposite gender) as well as for the honor and glorification of its' Creator...God. When marriage is pursued under these conditions, the choice to love is pursued. But when marriage is pursued outside of these boundaries, the choice of love is not pursued. This is the best example that I have found to date to illustrate God's desire and intention at the creation of choice or free will. God desires for love to be the predominant force that saturates life here on earth. Love does not exist outside of a conscious choice to live according to a rhythm, design, pattern or system of boundaries. Therefore, the choice to love is essential in understanding how to live according to our Creator's original intent.
The root of evil is choosing the opposite of love, which is hatred. When making the choice to hate, we step outside of the original intent for life and fall victim to the oldest lie that exists: there is no God. If there is no God, then there is no reason to love or no reason to live. Without such polar opposites (good & evil) there would be no need for purpose to life and what we do in any part of our existence would not matter. But because there is and must be reason for life, the choice to love must be at the root of it all, along with the choice to hate and pursue evil.