400.13 Source and Existence of Evil (p.94)

hard cover page 94

The classic philosophical dilemma runs as follows:

If God is omnipotent, why is there evil at all? If God is all-benevolent, why did He create evil?

If God did not create evil. then do we conclude that God is not the source of all?

Philosophical discussion then turns on the question of whether evil actually exists, or is just the absence of good. The debate involves the questions of (1) whether evil only appears so from a mortal perspective, and (2) whether man subjectively divides his experience into positive and negative sides of a neutral center, as opposed to one continuum.

With regard to the major questions, the Platonic view, also adopted by Philo of Alexandria, maintains that since God is allgood, evil is nothing but the absence of good. God produces the positive, good forms and determines them to last a period of time. When this time period has elapsed, evil forms take their place.353

Joseph ibn Zaddik and Abraham ibn Ezra are in basic sympathy with the notion that God is the source only of good. Ibn Ezra maintains further that evil is due to defects in the object receiving impressions. Abraham bar Hiyya and Hasdai ben Abraham Crescas assert that God is the source of both good and evil.354

Building upon our previous postulations of a cosmos predicated upon dualities, including the notion of evil as the flipside, or converse, of good, we assert the following proposition:

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353 See Stitskin, Eight Jewish Philosophers, p. 77. “Another view offered by many philosophers and drawn from Platonic sources is that evil is a negative property. It is the absence of good, just as blindness is the absence of vision, deafness the absence of hearing and darkness the absence of light. This understanding of evil as a negative property does not mean that evil is an illusion and can be disregarded. It implies rather that it is not created by God directly. God produces the positive, the good forms, and determines them to last a definite span of time. When this time comes to an end, the forms disappear and pain and evil take their place just as darkness comes when light goes out.”

354 T. B. Pesachim 50a teaches us that “in this world we must bless God for both good and evil. But in the world-to-come we will realize that there is nothing but good.”

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