An online friend of mine recently shared with me a video clip of the inimitable RC Sproul discussing the origin of evil. I said I would give it a listen. It was one of those enlightening presentations (much like those of Chuck Missler) that gets thoughts pinging around inside my little brain.
RC Sproul very humbly answered the question above with, “I don’t know.” But he eloquently and succinctly gave the reasons why the answer to the origin of evil could not easily be explained. He laughingly admitted that he often had received messages from people who gave their ideas on the matter, calling it “Amateur Hour,” but was glad that people were wrestling with the question.
I suppose that’s where I’m coming in, right now. Sit back and enjoy a very mediocre theory about the origin of evil from yours truly, as I describe an idea that formed as I listened to this learned man.
Cold is just the absence of heat.
I have no idea why that came to mind as I listened to what Dr. Sproul had to say about evil. But, the more I listened, the more insistent this seemingly unrelated notion became. Once I finally stopped mentally swatting it away, a correlation took shape.
Cold is the absence of heat, just as evil is the absence of good. Since God and Good are inseparable, then evil is also the absence of God. And that might mean RC Sproul’s assertion that there is no such thing as “evil,” as an entity, is absolutely correct. It would also follow that God did not create evil, as some like to credit Him with.
This morning, I quickly took a look at the laws of thermodynamics before sitting down to write this post, since my initial thought came from that field of study. I drew comparisons to evil as I listened to a physicist who provided a very short summary of thermodynamic laws. One word summed my idea of the origin of evil very nicely: entropy.
Here’s are the definitions of this intriguing noun.
- For a closed thermodynamic system, a quantitative measure of the amount of thermal energy not available to do work.
- A measure of the disorder or randomness in a closed system.
- A measure of the loss of information in a transmitted message.
I’ve stolen the simplest analogy of entropy possible (to the potential ire of the originator, and the ire of any reputable scientist), to make it an easy concept to grasp. Imagine a room that is tidy. One can expect that the room will grow less and less tidy over time, but will never spontaneously become tidy.
Everything in the universe moves toward disorder. Hot coffee gets cold. Ice melts. Our bodies age. Disease spreads. Forests die.
Corruption grows. Hate spreads. Wars start.
We’re all experiencing the effects of entropy, which I believe started in the Garden of Eden.
I admit freely that I am not the intellectual giant that RC Sproul was. He said that we should keep looking for the origin of evil, but also implied we might never be able to answer the question. That’s why my blog post rightfully belongs to what he calls “Amateur Hour.” I’m only documenting what came to mind and couldn’t even presume to label these thoughts Holy Spirit Inspired. The origin of evil is too weighty a topic for this housewife living in a small town. Actually, I’m not even a housewife anymore. I’m a house-divorcee. Or house-ex-wife, if you prefer.
As usual, I have digressed. Let me get back to the Garden of Eden.
(Now I’m laughing…because that’s where we all want to get back to, isn’t it?)
Was Satan (Lucifer) already in entropy when he sidled up to Eve to convince her that God was lying to her? That she would surely NOT die the day she ate of the forbidden tree? OK. Technically, God said that to Adam, which makes the “loss of information” definition of entropy particularly applicable to Eve listening to Satan and disobeying God.
But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.
This verse is only the second chapter of the Bible, so very little operating knowledge the enemy has been presented for us to consider. All we know is that he was subtle and deceiving, and wanted desperately to steal Adam’s wife. Nothing has changed. Satan is surely doing his best (his worst?) to steal the Bride of Christ.
Ezekiel 28: 12-19
12 Son of man, take up a lamentation upon the king of Tyrus, and say unto him, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Thou sealest up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty.
13 Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created.
14 Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire.
15 Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee.
16 By the multitude of thy merchandise they have filled the midst of thee with violence, and thou hast sinned: therefore I will cast thee as profane out of the mountain of God: and I will destroy thee, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire.
17 Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness: I will cast thee to the ground, I will lay thee before kings, that they may behold thee.
18 Thou hast defiled thy sanctuaries by the multitude of thine iniquities, by the iniquity of thy traffick; therefore will I bring forth a fire from the midst of thee, it shall devour thee, and I will bring thee to ashes upon the earth in the sight of all them that behold thee.
19 All they that know thee among the people shall be astonished at thee: thou shalt be a terror, and never shalt thou be any more.
Satan started out being described as perfect in beauty and full of wisdom. But, I believe he had free will and exercised it to elevate himself higher than Jesus – higher than God. Entropy was born in him and it took the shape of iniquity. And perhaps because he understood the ultimate result of that increase in entropy, he decided to get Eve and… get even.
How could we expect to move toward order without the Creator of that order being a part of it? He has given each of us free will and though we may be doing our very best to live our “best life,” we are making mistakes. Those mistakes may well be responsible for a million little ripples that eventually grow into massive increases in entropy.
Every single aspect of our lives from which we have removed God’s name (evolution, anyone?) has moved us toward disorder. Every single one of us who has not actively moved toward God has made the same choice Eve did, which is to succumb to the effects of entropy.
While the idea is terrifying to me, there are two major glimmers of encouragement. I want you to really ponder them and pray over them.
First, if my idea is correct, it would clearly indicate that God did not create evil. Rather, he created free will and we chose to remove God from our space to a place that lacks God entirely. If God is good, then any time, place or thing from which He’s been removed entirely is evil. Satan is without God. It’s probably not a coincidence that entropy is given the symbol “S” in equations.
There is no origin of evil, any more than there’s an origin of cold. There is only the absence of God in a person that leads them to evil actions. There is only the absence of God in a system that leads to its corruption. There is only an absence of God that leads toward destruction. Again, just my opinion.
What if we not only applied this to our individual lives, but also spent concerted time asking God through intense and consistent prayer to permeate everywhere from which He’s been removed?
Let’s bless God by exercising the free will with which He first blessed us.
That gives me hope, and I know Jesus has given us the authority we need for this. Will you pray with me? Let's reverse entropy.
P.S. The topic presented here also reminds me of a similar post about the concept of “Drift.” You may find it interesting.