Those of us who deny such a thing as evil have not yet tasted tragedy. It was Shopenhauer
who gave eloquent voice to the evil that manifests redundantly, ubiquitously as: "unspeakable pain, the scornful mastery of
chance, the triumph of the wicked, the irretrievable fall of the just and the innocent, the misery and wretchedness among
The frightening part is the hope for our own species seems paltry -- appearing infrequently as the
futile struggles of solitary groups who are ignored by evil ruling powers, or the brave individual who is persecuted
or martyred, whose ideals become forgotten or twisted to exploit the many.... Hence the ongoing need for ultimate --
i.e. religious -- concern in an attempt to heal the deranged morality and the dreaded mortality of humankind.
Primitive and ancient peoples didn't possess our science, so they expressed their profoundest truths
in the poetry of myth. Therefore when the Hebrews sought to depict Ha Adam's (i.e. Humanity's) primal rupture from instinctual
bliss, they did so through the myth of the Fall. Ingesting the "fruit of knowledge" portrayed the first primitive Ha
Adam as being the only animal who could think and know right from wrong, and therefore commit willful evil. His being
then exiled from the "tree of life" depicted Ha Adam as also the only creature who knew he must one day die....
And as the fruits of knowledge ripened over the millenniums so did its curse -- its over-ripened
rotted side --progressively spreading ecological destruction and evermore devastating weapons of war. Ha Adam became
the only creature capable of destroying all species, including his own. Some factions of religion claim Satan the
ruler of this world. And in truth Satan seems the projected persona from the dark side of man, including the world's
rulers whose power tends to corrupt absolutely.
Hence the first mention of sin did not occur in Eden but after the original
symbolic act of human violence: when Cain killed Abel. Here the Hebrew term, "yester" was introduced, i.e. the
human inclination toward evil. According to rabbinic teachings two antagonistic tendencies inhabit the human species:
(1) yester ha-tob, the inclination to do good. (2) yester ha-ra, the tendency to do evil. These terms could also
be found in the Community Writings of the Dead Sea Scrolls. The Satan who rules this world is manifest in yester-hara.
So compared to our other creatures humanity has incredible powers both demonic and divine. Neither
the future Paradise or the Armageddon depicted in Scripture will be arbitrarily interjected by an anthropomorphic
God. Only humanity has the power to enact either one on this earth. So far the specter of Armageddon appears to
Does there exist evil in the cosmos beyond that of humanity and its kind? If not, why then
there suffering and death for all creatures even without the evils of humankind? Grossly
defective children are born, deadly diseases strike us arbitrarily, often horrible accidents and natural disasters
occur, creatures are constantly devouring one another, and we and our loved ones must all one day die....
Such arbitrary suffering is portrayed in the story of Job. Here a devout man who harms
no one is afflicted with a horrid skin disease along with loss of his possessions and children. In vain he seeks a reason
for such injustice. Job's friends make the mistake of rationalizing his plight in ways to maintain the fair
acts of a just, anthropomorphic God. They imply Job didn't grovel or worship hard enough, or perhaps God is somehow
mysteriously doing what is best.
The arrogant futility of their "explanations" is portrayed by God's voice from the
whirlwind: "Who is this that darkness counsels by words without knowledge?" God then delivers a monologue depicting
such powers throughout the cosmos that Job has no way of understanding -- powers so far above good or evil that
Job, nay all of humankind, becomes infinitesimal and insignificant in their wake.
The tremendous scope of such powers is portrayed by God's struggle with the huge monster,
Behemoth. The endeavor to create order from horrendous chaos is portrayed by God's battle with the
chaotic dragon, Leviathan. God's struggle and defeat of the monsters can be interpreted as that
lawful and creative power in the universe which constantly makes order from turbulence, cosmos from chaos. Here the wonder
is not why there is chaos and suffering but why lawful order is the rule rather than the exception on this earth.
And we must remember, from a "God's eye view", even our entire solar system is but and
invisible speck on the fringe of a galaxy with billions of suns. And that galaxy itself becomes invisible in a universe
containing billions of galaxies.... And within that endless cosmos filled with chaos, infernos, colliding galaxies,
black holes, and the horrendous explosions of dying stars -- the amazing order of our blue earth was born and maintained,
complete with living creatures and conscious beings who are ourselves...
THEN WHERE LIES HEAVEN OR HELL?
Scientists now claim over 90% of the universe is composed of dark, invisible matter and
a strange, negative energy. So where within these enigmatic dimensions can we find the realms called "Heaven" or "Hell"?
Perhaps Hell can be found neither in the chaos nor darkness of the cosmos nor even the nothingness of non being.... For these
are but the limbo of unborn potential in the process of becoming actualized into being... and more becoming....
Clearly the realm called Hell can exist only where there is consciousness. For without awareness
there can be no suffering, and without suffering no Hell. The Hell of suffering therefore need occupy no
dimension in space, for it is essentially a state of mind and state of being. But then so could Heaven be a state of
mind and being For the Christ once said: "The Kingdom dwells also in you." and "As you think in your heart, so you are."
And in the words of Milton's fallen angel: "The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a Hell of Heaven
or a Heaven of Hell."
WHERE THEN DOES OUR SALVATION LIE?
Obviously the individual salvation of persons dwells not in the chaos of creation: the
big bang, the horrendous birth of stars... Neither does it dwell in the impartial order that rains and shines
on the good and bad alike. So look not up at the clouds or the vast skies to find it.
If while on this earth Heaven and Hell remain states of mind and being we should first
seek salvation deep within our souls where such realms exist for us now. We might do so through the powers of meditation,
and inner prayer. Also we should tap into the archetype symbols, group worship, and rites of passage that
sustained our species for well over the past 100,000 years. Also there is the positive side of knowledge and its
fruits, e.g. the progress in medicine and healing. For the Christ once said: "There shall be physicians after me."
It would overstep the bounds of knowledge to speak of what further Hellish or Heavenly mysteries
await us beyond the abyss called death....