When We Give Form To Evil, We Contribute to the Culture of Death

When We Give Form To Evil, We Contribute to the Culture of Death January 21, 2011

We have been made in the image and likeness of God. Because of this, we are sub-creators, able to interact with the world and to produce something in it which did not previously exist in any substantial form. No matter how people would want to interpret the “tree of knowledge of good and evil,” it is clear that what we create, what we establish in the world, could be said to be “evil.” Now, this is a conundrum. Metaphysically, evil does not exist. Yet, we can infect the world with evil, and produce phenomena which can only be described as evil. St Diadochos of Photiki says it this way: “Evil does not exist by nature, nor is any man naturally evil, for God made nothing that was not good. When in the desire of his heart someone conceives and gives form to what in reality has no existence, then what he desires begins to exist.”[1]

Evil does not exist, nor can it, by its nature, ever be said to exist. Existence is good, and evil, by its nature, can never possess goodness, for if it did, it would not be evil. Yet, even though evil does not exist, we can bring it into the world, to give it a real form. While such phenomena might initially be under our control, we must understand they slowly corrupt us, making us their slaves. If we intend something wrong, we will create something which can be said to be “evil.” We must note, however, what we produce, because of its non-existent core, is inherently corrupt. It cannot remain as it is. The corruption must either be rectified, or it will eat away at what is created, destroying it from within. Evil drags what exists into unreality. Evil not only is self-destructive, it seeks to take more with it, to bring more with it in its journey towards annihilation. This is what makes evil so dangerous. The culture of death can only be understood if we remember this aspect of evil, and understand all sin has its power from its non-existent core. Even small sins, if ignored, lead to such a destructive crescendo. It is for this reason why a policy for life must be holistic. After all, putting in a mouth guard in one’s mouth might protect teeth from a punch, but if you don’t brush your teeth, they will still fall out.

[1] St Diadochos of Photiki, “On Spiritual Knowledge and Discrimination: One Hundred Texts” in The Philokalia: The Complete Text. Trans. and ed. G.E.H. Palmer, Philip Sherrard and Kallistos Ware (London: Faber and Faber, 1983), 253.

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