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What is Evil?

Evil is defined by what it is not: the polar opposite of good or the lack of good. Although it may be a fairly wide notion, it is most often used to refer to deep depravity in daily speech. It is often regarded to take a variety of forms, including the human moral evil typically associated with the term, impersonal natural evil (as in the case of natural catastrophes or sicknesses), and in religious theology, the demonic or supernatural/eternal. While certain faiths, world views, and ideologies place a strong emphasis on “good versus evil,” others reject the reality of evil and its use in characterising individuals. Evil may refer to extreme immorality, but it usually does so in the context of a broader perspective of the human situation, in which conflict and suffering (cf. Hinduism) are the fundamental sources of evil. Evil has been described as a supernatural power in several religious settings. Evil is defined in a variety of ways, as is the examination of its motivations. Anger, wrath, hate, psychological trauma, expediency, greed, ignorance, devastation, and neglect are all elements that are usually connected with human manifestations of evil. In certain schools of thought, evil is also seen as the dualistic antagonistic binary opposite of good, in which good should win and evil should lose. Both good and evil are seen as part of an antagonistic dualism in Buddhist-influenced civilizations, which must be transcended in order to achieve Nirvana. There are three primary fields of research for ethical problems about good and evil: Meta-ethics deals with the nature of good and evil, normative ethics with how we should act, and practical ethics with specific moral dilemmas. While the word refers to occurrences and circumstances that occur without human intervention, the manifestations of evil discussed in this article assume the presence of one or more evildoers.

In the broader sense of the concept, the term Evil can denote the absence of good or positivity. In general, the term evil is used every day to talk about primarily profound wickedness and malice. However, the term is known to exist in multiple forms and dimensions. One such form is the personal or individual moral Evil which connotes negativity and destructive notions in one’s mind or actions. Another form of Evil to exist in this world is known as impersonal or non-individual Evil, such as natural Evil, which is said to exist in the world in the form of natural disasters or illnesses. This impersonal Evil can cause grief and suffering to all of the planet’s inhabitants.

Additionally, particularly in religious thought, Evil is said to exist in the form of demonic or supernatural possessions. These demonic possessions are eternal. They are said to help reiterate the need for “Good” in the world. While some religions approve of the presence of Evil in the theological worldview by believing in the philosophy of ‘good versus Evil,’ others are said to deny Evil’s existence and usefulness outrightly.

The word Evil can also be used to symbolize immortality in an individual. However, this immorality does not exist without comprehending some knowledge of the human condition. Suffering, illness, and strife are supposed to be the foundation of this Evil. Immorality and negativity also stem from this idea of Evil. As described in specific religious contexts, this supernatural force varies in its definitions, motives, and analyses. Some elements that have been commonly associated with this particular form of Evil consist of anger, hatred, revenge, psychological trauma, selfishness, unbalanced behavior, ignorance, neglect, and destruction.

In some specific schools of thought, Evil is commonly referred to as the polar opposite of good. In its perception as the dualistic, antagonistic ideology, people have believed that Evil must be defeated for good to prevail in this world. In some cultures that have Buddhist influence in terms of spirituality, both good and evil are viewed as the constituents of an antagonistic duality. The counter to this duality is the accomplishment of ‘Nirvana’ by an individual, which denotes the idea of liberation and enlightenment.

Researchers have differentiated ethical questions concerning good and Evil into three main areas of concern: meta-ethics that stem from the nature of good and Evil, normative ethics concerning an individual’s behavior in this context, and applied ethics that stands for moral issues. While this term connotes events and conditions without any control or agency, the types of Evil can be presumed with at least one or more evildoers.

Religious Definitions of Evil


The concept of good and Evil in Christian theology has been derived from the Old and New Testaments. In its modern comprehension, the Christian Bible has exercised a dominant influence upon good and evil notions in the contemporary Western world.

According to the definitions of the Old Testament, Evil connotes a kind of opposition to God. Even though this opposition is unsuitable or inferior, such as the fallen Angels or their leader Satan, it is a nuisance. On the other hand, in the New Testament, the Greek word poneros is utilized to connote a state of unsuitability, and kakos is used to describe opposition to God in the human condition of living.

In the formal definition of the word, the Catholic Church is said to have comprehended the meaning of Evil from its canonical idea. Thomas Aquinas, in Summa Theologica, denotes Evil as the absence of good and positivity. French-American theologian Henri Blocher has analyzed Evil as an “unjustifiable reality” when viewed as a theological concept. In the contemporary understanding of the word, Evil is something that shouldn’t occur or should be avoided at all costs.


There has been no notion of absolute Evil in Islam and its religious doctrines. For the believers and scholars of the religion, Evil as a fundamental universal principle equivalent to good in a dualistic sense doesn’t exist. As Islam’s religious text, Quran does mention the biblical forbidden tree, but it never refers to the tree of good and Evil even once.

Within the religion that is Islam, it is instrumental that an individual believes that everything comes from God, be it good or bad. It is said that this good or bad is actually just a perception built by an individual thought process, and so it cannot lead to a conclusive definition of either of those words. Both these things that are evil and good are either caused by natural events (such as natural disasters or illnesses) or by humanity’s free will and agency.

More than anything else, the behavior of understanding oneself above God or exercising one’s free will for disobeying God or harming others is considered to be known as Evil. This Evil doesn’t necessarily connote a moral category but is the intention to harm others through unlawful actions. Other than this, unproductive activities that do not produce benefits for an individual or the community are also termed Evil.

Consequently, the definition of Evil depends on the context from which one perceives an action. According to Islam’s school of thought, an event or activity in itself is initially neutral, and it receives its verdict from God himself. God is omnipresent and omnipotent, and because nothing can exist outside of God’s agency, he is the only person who has the right to determine what is good and evil.


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Arakiel Angel
Turiel Angel