We are all bite-sized pieces of God, small scale fractals of Source; but like little children who insist, “I wanna do it myself!”, we take the newly emergent pieces – self-awareness, free will and freedom – and attempt to develop our budding divinity.
Free will is the sticky part; it necessitates there being choices among which to decide. But the choice, originally, was NOT between good and a pre-existing evil but, rather, where to land on the spectrum of Service-to-self, at one end (let’s call it A-street) and Service-to-other at the other end (let’s call it the B-street).
It’s necessary, at the start of one’s life, to make many choices at the A-end (food, air, warmth, attention…), otherwise the little infant would not survive childhood. But if we camp out there, survival morphs into selfishness, which morphs into greed, which morphs into fear, anger and, eventually, violence. Evil has arrived! We did not make a choice for a pre-existing evil – and God certainly did not create it.
Evil, then, is an emergent phenomenon, an energy that comes into being, and coagulates into a solid state, from living at the A-end of the spectrum. Like all energies, it is contagious, and others are quickly lured into its embrace. Eventually even entire communities and future generations are affected. Babies are then born into a world in which evil is a major player. It spreads quickly and reaps both global and even cosmic harvests. That is the real meaning of “original sin.”
And, suddenly, creation which was birthed only through love, has its elements rearranged into a configuration that breeds odiferous evil. Let me illustrate that with a few metaphors.
- A jigsaw puzzle
Each soul is a fractal of God, a scaled down model with all of the same pieces and features of which Source Herself is composed. But each soul insists on being presented with the final image separated into all its constituent parts, so that “I can do it myself!” However, if I make poor decisions while I attempt to assemble the pieces, I will wind up with a buckled puzzle that has lots of gaps and many pieces left over. It won’t look anything like the original. If I work the puzzle correctly, then I will reproduce exactly the image of God.
It’s important to note that the buckled version with the gaps and extra pieces did not exist before my attempts. I wasn’t choosing to do it like that because God had previously made that version available as a possible outcome.
Two animals drink from a lake in East Africa; one a cow and the other a snake. They drink the same water, but the cow turns it into milk to nurture its calf, while the snake turns it into venom to kill its adversary. Likewise, it’s the way humans process their experience that will wind up nourishing others or killing them. But the experience itself (the water) is pure love. Evil was not a pre-existing creation of God but, rather, a wrong re-working of the elements.
- The Violin
One of my grandfather’s favorite poems was, “The Touch of the Master’s Hand” in which an old, discarded violin is being auctioned off for a pittance, until an old man approaches the auctioneer and asks if he may play a tune on it. The old man – the Master – plays it so beautifully that it brings tears to the eyes of the entire attendance. When the auctioneer re-starts the bidding, he is now getting offers in the thousands of dollars.
Another person, without any musical talent, might have produced utter cacophony had he attempted a tune. The violin was made to midwife great music, but in the grip of the amateur, only discord emerges. Good music is what the violin was made to produce, cacophony did not exist until the amateur got involved.
- The Artist
I’m sure that many Fra Angelico’s contemporaries had access to the self-same palette of colors that he had. But I’ll warrant a guess that for every one of his masterpieces, other painters produced visually blah or even repugnant canvasses. It’s the person holding the brush that determines what will emerge.
So, finally, a word about emergence. Emergence is what happens when the total is greater than the sum of the parts. It is never predictable from examining the separate pieces. For example, for the longest time, in cosmic evolution, both hydrogen and oxygen existed separately. However, when molecules of hydrogen and oxygen began to date, suddenly a brand-new substance, that had never existed before, emerged. We call it Water! That’s what happens when you get the jigsaw right.
When Timothy McVeigh orchestrated the Oklahoma City Bombing on April 19, 1995, he simply combined two commercially available products – Ammonium Nitrate and Nitromethane fertilizer – to produce an emergent substance that killed 168 people. That’s what happens when you get the jigsaw wrong!
Evil is not a piece created by God and tossed into the crucible of incarnation to separate the wheat from the chaff. It is a brand new emergent phenomenon created by those who live permanently on A-street.