Friday 22 September 2023

Good and Evil

 I have written on several occasions about the need for a radical revision of our ideas about good and evil and what these fundamental things might be. This gets more important by the day because the current understanding of goodness has become completely distorted with the corresponding sense of evil and what it really is almost wholly lacking in the modern mind

Basically, good is God. It's that simple. And evil is not God. And not God is effectively Satan. There is no in-between, no middle ground, and if you do not come down positively on the side of God you will inevitably, inevitably, be drawn onto the side of Satan. This sounds extremely crude, sensationalist and lacking in nuance or, a trap for the intellectually proud, sophistication. But there it is. It's just how things are. However, over the last couple of centuries or so we have been lured into the false idea that good is about worldly good which means supporting the earthly human being, often at the expense of the spiritual. Thus, good people are kind and compassionate. They are believers in humanity and the general welfare of all equally. They promote social justice and humanitarian causes. Good is doing as you would be done by and respecting your neighbour but respecting your neighbour without first loving God is not loving your neighbour, not as he really is.

Believing in God means observing his laws. If you love me, keep my commandments. Again, very simple. It's no good saying you believe in God and even thinking you do if you follow a worldly agenda that prioritises the needs and goals of this world. If you believe in God you know that his kingdom is not of this world. That doesn't mean you reject the world but it is not the focus of your main concern. You do not look at life in its light but from a higher perspective

Let me put this another way. What is important is not so much whether you are a good or a bad person in the generally accepted moral sense. I do not say that doesn't matter but it is not the main thing. What is important is which side you are on which means which way your heart inclines. Is it that of God and the priorities of the spiritual world or is it that of this world which means, in the traditional shorthand, Satan? Anything which does not put God first puts Satan first and Satan will always, without exception, throw his acolytes under the bus when they no longer serve his purpose as we are currently seeing. 

But, that aside, if you do not consciously serve God you will serve the devil in one way or another. Perhaps not deliberately as in handing over your soul for worldly advantage but if you do not swim against the worldly tide you will eventually be swept down to the sea of lost souls with all the rest.

People who are on the side of good may behave badly sometimes. They shouldn't but they may though if they do they will repent because they will see they have not lived up to the standards expected which are those of the good, the beautiful and the true. People on the side of evil, either consciously or, which is most people, unthinkingly so, may behave impeccably but they are more likely to admire themselves for doing so. Those on the side of spiritual (true) good know they are sinners. Those on the side of worldly good often think of themselves as by and large pretty decent people, but the closer you come to real good the more you see yourself for what you are because the image you have built up of yourself is being stripped bare.

All good is in God. Nothing outside God can be good. The modern world has become deeply embedded in evil because it rejects God and even when it allows him it is only on its own terms which means it doesn't allow him at all. 

I don't often write about specific current events on this blog and that's because these are almost irrelevant set against the general trends. The task of the spiritual aspirant is to put himself right on the basic level of aligning his heart and soul and will with the reality and purpose of God. Once that is done, or starts to be done, then other things will fall into place. It's all about first principles. Get those right and you will know the difference between good and evil. Get them wrong as most do and you will have no idea and can be herded and corralled by external forces that manipulate you at their will. This is why the only real freedom is in God.


Lucas said...

I don't disagree, but I want to ask if saying "good is God" is enough. That doesn't seem to explain enough to me. It leads to asking who is God? and why is He Good?
The last question is one I'm still trying to understand, what does it mean to say He is Good and that I want to be like that? It almost seems like I have to believe that God is capable of evil, but always chooses good, but then this puts good outside of God.

William Wildblood said...

That's an excellent question. No, it's not enough. It's a start but only a start. The point is though is that it is an essential start because it is the acknowledgement that good is a spiritual thing not one that relates to this world except in a secondary sense. I'm not saying it doesn't relate to this world but it doesn't derive from it and isn't situated in it which alters our relationship to it and what it truly is.

You can't say who God is because He is existence itself. He is I AM which is before ideas of who. Existence is good because it is a positive absolute. As for why God is good that is a bit (only a bit) like saying why does light shine or why is water wet. It is His fundamental nature. It is not so much He is good as opposed to bad but goodness is Him. He doesn't choose good, He is good as He is being.

But that's not really the point of this piece. That is that our idea of good has been downgraded from the spiritual to the material but goodness is not a matter of behaviour so much as one of alignment with spiritual truth. We need to trace the idea of the good to its source and not mistake its effects at several removes and seen through numerous filters for the thing itself.

Don said...

I always struggled with the Old Testament figures for this reason. They don’t seem like the nicest guys. And I used to write that off as “old covenant/different rules and expectations”. But I am slowly coming to realize that my lens of good was wrong.

William Wildblood said...

Saying that good resides in being on the side of God is not an excuse for bad behaviour. After all, God is truth and love both together, not one or the other. It just means that what determines goodness is the inclination of the heart towards the Creator. Love God is the first commandment, the one from which flows all the others and without which all the normal virtues and qualities turn sour.

Bruce Charlton said...

@William - This understanding is really important. As was long ago predicted, without God 'everything is permissible' - because without God men lose their understanding of evil. It begins to seem unreal, relative, and in the end it is all a matter of who has the power to dictate.

William Wildblood said...

Yes, that is true. Without a proper sense of God there is no yardstick against which to measure the real good, i.e. that which tends to a greater awareness and understanding of God

Colin said...

Not sure if this is in the bounds of your guidelines, but Jeff Dye touches on the matter with great humour and simplicity in his punch line - you are not good, you are just current.

William Wildblood said...

Yes, I see what he means. So much is just fashion.

Robert said...

"Basically, good is God. It's that simple. And evil is not God."

Is this the "nominalist" position on good - that good has no prior, intrinsic identity but is what God wills?

William Wildblood said...

I don't know if it's nominalist or not but I would say that good has no prior identity nor is it what God wills. That would make it separate or different from Him whereas it is simply what He is. However, what I am talking about here is human response to goodness which I equate with response to the reality of God.