400.11 Introductory (pps.92-93)
hard cover page 92
We reject the concept that evil and good are part of one continuum.345 We decline to put torture on the same continuum as mercy, preferring rather to treat them as components of distinct but interlocked opposites.346
In a sense, then, the world is an arena between the good and evil, with man holding the balance.347
When God engraved and carved out the world, He did not entirely eradicate the chaos and the void, the deep, the darkness, from the domain of His creation. . . . However, the forces of relative nothingness at times exceed their bounds. They wish to burst forth out of the chains of obedience that the Almighty imposed upon them and seek to plunge the earth back into chaos and the void.
The most extreme form of dualism, and that which would, if it could be accepted, possibly solve the problem of evil, postulates
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345 In disagreement see the viewpoint related in Hick, Evil and the God of Love, p. 19. “In the first place, good and evil are not objective realities (entia realia), but mental entities (entia rationis), formed by comparing things either in respect of their conformity to a general idea or merely in respect of their utility to ourselves.”
346 See Scherman, “An Overview: The Period and the Miracle,” p. xxvii. “. . .the many comments of the sages make it abundantly clear, however, that Amalek is the very embodiment of evil on earth.”
We decline to take the route of attributing evil to “Satanic forces,” implying a source other than the Divine, and then not explaining the origins of the Satanic. As Hick notes, “The puzzles attending human imperfection, free will, and sin are reiterated, but not further illumined, by transferring them to a superhuman plane.” Evil and the God of Love, p. 13.
Cf. Cohen, The Tremendum, p. 33.
Cf. Augustine, “The Problem of Evil,” in Hick, Readings in the Philosophy of Religion, p. 19.
347 See Heschel, Man’s Questfor God, p. 98. “The soul is clean, but within it resides a power for evil, ‘a strange god’ (T. B. Tractate Shabbath 105b) that seeks constantly to get the upper hand over man and to kill him . . . (T. B. Tractate Sukkah 52b).”
Cf. Hick, Readings in the Philosophy of Religion, p. 184. “When powers are at war with one another for the rule of the world, the boundary between them is not fixed but constantly fluctuating. This may seem to be the case on our planet as between the powers of good and evil when we look only at the results; but when we consider the inner springs, we find that both the good and the evil take place in the common course of nature.”
Cf. Cohen, The Tremendum, p. 51.
348 Soloveitchik, Halakhic Man, p. 102.
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