Saintly Thoughts

Of Good & Evil

Good and evil are not qualities of things in and of themselves, they are values bestowed upon things and events by agency.  Or, to put it another way, we may conceive of goodness as a quality bestowed upon all things, and of evil as an abnegation of that quality (more or less the Augustinian definition).  But still, the quality (so called) of goodness itself is meaningless until recognized by the agency of another (ie, creation is not good until God recognizes it to be so; any goodness imbued into the form of creation prior to said recognition is not goodness itself, but only the capacity for goodness when recognized by the other).  Thus, in this world, things can only be said to be truly good when they are recognized as such, and goodness becomes a relational quality, requiring a relationship between one or more things (broadly understood) and one or more beings endowed with agency.  Furthermore, because the relational model is necessarily complex, and beings with agency exist simultaneously in multiple relationships requiring a value assertion, it may be impossible to work out in any complete sense where the goodness and the evil or wickedness of the universe may lie.  Of one thing we can be sure.  Goodness as such is a real thing and it is our responsibility to seek out goodness in the universe wheresoever we may find it.  Unfortunately, we have this responsibility, but are poorly equipped with the tools necessary to this task.  This is our fundamental existential dilemma, the fact that the good is always predicated upon a relational matrix which we cannot possibly understand.  Only God may truly know something as good in and of itself.  The rest of us stumble in the dark amidst a chaotic maze of confusing and incomplete symbols.  Thus, we may desire to do good, and believe that we do good, and yet do evil, and vice versa.  The thought of this terrifies me.