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Source of Evil

A long, long time ago, god had a really crazy week. Not to say he hasn’t had crazy weeks since then, but this was the mother of all crazy weeks. In just six days, god created heaven and earth, day and night, man and beast, land and water. Or so the story goes. But this is not just a story. It is generally accepted that even before recorded history, this story may have been told in one form or another. This popularity isn’t all that surprising. It is one heck of a story. We were created by god for the purpose of worshiping him and praising him. It has quite an impact, and when these stories are taken literally, they can bring us together, and they can bring us to war.

All my life, as I learned about these different cultures and beliefs, I accepted that their differences and unique qualities were what made them special. But then I realized that they have practices that are very different, but all they really want is for everyone to be like them. These cultures and religions all have these labels, but what do they mean? They create so much conflict, but why? You can look for you answers in countless texts and ancient stories, but the best resource is that first story. The one where god had that wild and crazy week.

I never believed in god, the idea never seemed plausible to me. Yet, all around me, people believe so strongly in god that they accomplish things that would have been incredibly hard to undertake without such a powerful belief, and it is their devotion to god that carries them along. Yet, they are all walking a very delicate line between positive religious influence, and negative religious influence. On one side, they can overcome addictions, cast aside criminal lives, become great philanthropists even walk on hot coals. On the other, they can use religion to do horrible things, awful things. People all over the world, every day, kill in the name of religion. Religion may not be the rout of all evil, but it certainly accounts for quite a bit of it.

Being a so called ‘unbeliever’, all of this is hard for me to comprehend. I have never felt so strongly about anything that it could make me want to walk on hot coals. It dawned on me that these religions all share one common idea. God created everything, especially people who populated the world with billions of people whose sole purpose is to praise and worship god. For those who believe in this, it needs to be right. But there are different versions of this story. Some tell of multiple gods, dead gods, gods that have moved on. Some even say that there is no god and there never was one. But every single religion has one thing in common, no exceptions. People believe that their religion is the right one, and everyone else is wrong.

How these variations came to be is certainly a road block to these people. So they make excuses. They say that even though god is perfect, he can’t control everything. There are slip ups here, uh-ohs there. Like the holocaust, the crusades, the 2000 election. Oh, wait. To many, it doesn’t matter that so many people have so many different beliefs, simply because they are the special, chosen ones. They can look those other people right in the eye and say “Well, too bad for you, you’re going to hell. Have a nice life.” But for others, they see it as a problem. For these people, everyone should believe what they believe. Over time, this contempt and frustration becomes anger, and eventually hate. This is only one place where violence has been sparked by religion.

There have been innumerable discussions and debates about where evil comes from. I hope that one-day people will understand that it doesn’t only come from broken homes and third world countries. Even more often, it comes from a part of us that wants everyone to be like us. As the author Ray Bradbury once wrote in his novel Fahrenheit 451, “Not everyone born free and equal…but everyone made equal.” In our world, we don’t wave a magic wand and become identical. Our subconscious desire for everyone to think like us and believe what we do is carried out by force. Evil doesn’t necessarily come from ones desire to be cruel, it more likely comes from humanities obsession with what is their own idea of good.

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Tue, March 28 2023 6 Nisan 5783