Good and Evil - Why the Conflict?

Chapter Extract

'Only one principle will give you courage, that is the principle

that no evil lasts forever nor indeed for very long.'

Epicurus 341 - 271 BC (Greek philosopher) 


"There have been few promises of an easy ride in this book, since the aim is to encourage you to think deeper about the philosophy behind life and death. Hence you have been presented with some profound questions from time to time. Numerous people have commented after lectures and seminars that they had never thought of life in this or that way before, but that it made perfect sense when explained in a simplistic manner. This has been my approach, particularly with this chapter, as the subject in question has caused many a barrier to Truth seekers who find it difficult to comprehend where ‘evil’ fits into a Cosmos based on Love.

   It is such a pity that it takes a disaster, or an ‘evil’ event, if you like, to make most people reflect on life. So why do we not live in a world where only nice things happen? Why do we have the fear of ‘evil’ hanging over our heads all the time? Perhaps it is a case of not being able to see the wood for the trees, so let us look at the good and evil scenario from a different perspective and see if it makes more sense.

   Suppose we witness a colony of ants attacking a doomed beetle, while in the same garden a bird kills an ‘innocent’ worm by pulling it from beneath the soil. Would we call these acts of evil? Moments later our neighbour’s cat attacks and kills the bird. Is that evil? Or is it evil when two stags fight to the death over their territory, or when a tiger stalks and kills an ‘innocent’ antelope? ‘That’s nature – it’s the law of the jungle’ we would say, simply because our level of consciousness is superior to theirs, hence we see things differently to what they do.

   But, are we not cruel to animals? We incarcerate and torture them in our 

laboratories in the name of science and progress. We kill them in the name of sport, incarcerate them in ‘battery’ farms, ship them to slaughterhouses and cook and eat them in the name of gourmet food. Like us, do these animals not sense fear and feel pain? And similarly, do they not have families and feel the need for love and affection? It’s interesting to ponder how we would feel if a ‘superior’ race treated us in this fashion, and whether we would call them evil! 

'We have enslaved the rest of the animal creation, and have treated our 

distant cousins in fur and feathers so badly that beyond doubt, if they were 

able to formulate a religion, they would depict the Devil in human form.' 

William Ralph Inge 1860 – 1954 (Dean of St Paul’s 1934 – 1937)

   We willingly swat a fly or a wasp, or tread on a spider just because they are there. And we have it within our ‘power’ to take their life or spare these little creatures when they have strayed into our home. So are we saying that they have no right to live just because we don’t like them, because they are smaller than we are or they just happen to be in the ‘wrong’ place at the ‘wrong’ time? If we magnify that attitude a thousand fold, then could we be guilty of doing the same thing to our own kind?

When one human being attacks and takes the life of another we call it ‘evil’, and want to see justice done by having the perpetrator put to death or imprisoned for life. Why? Because the ‘evil’ act was committed by one of our own species. Is it ‘evil’ when we call it murder - or is it permissible when we call it war?

   I am not condoning the taking of a life in any shape or form, but let me put this to you. If insects and animals killing each other is nature’s law of the jungle, would a life form far superior in wisdom and intelligence to us human ‘animals’, consider our torturing and killing each other just another fact of nature in our concrete jungles? If so, what is evil or a sin in the Absolute’s ‘eyes’? Perhaps Moliere (Jean-Baptiste Poquelin 1622 – 1673) was right when he said, ‘…my mind is no more shocked at seeing a man a rogue, unjust, or selfish, than at seeing vultures eager for prey, mischievous apes, or fury-lashed wolves.’

   We apply the term ‘evil’ to individuals or organisations that deliberately cause untold misery, suffering and death to fellow human beings. In other words, the negative and destructive element in society. But as we have already discussed, when Nature unleashes destructive elements causing us untold misery, suffering and death, we call it an ‘Act of God!’ ‘Evil’ is only the absence of good, just as darkness is only the absence of light.

   But where does darkness end and light begin? To limited levels, ‘evil’ is ‘permitted’ here as an aid to our spiritual progression. Just as tiny seeds struggle through the darkness of the soil to reach the light, we need resistance to grow spiritually – it is all a matter of contrasts. Would we recognise or appreciate good if we never experienced the bad, or warmth if we had never experienced cold? Love and hate, right and wrong, good and evil are but a thread apart.


'In order for the light to shine so brightly, the darkness must be present.'

Francis Bacon 1561 - 1626 (Philosopher and statesman)



   Tyrants have plagued this tiny planet for centuries, and used every conceivable form of violance to achieve their aims and, as a consequence, have changed the course of history. These perpetrators of 'evil' have consisted of emperors, monarchs, presidents, politicians, warlords, generals, tsars, popes and business tycoons.  Their lust for power and wealth has ......"