On the Relationship between Good and Evil

by Doy Moyer

Evil implies good, but good does not necessarily imply evil.

Some have the mistaken notion that good and evil must be necessary counterparts. That is, if there is good, then there must be evil. Some worldviews are founded on this principle, but it is not so.

Good does not in itself imply evil. Good is its own measure, and good, we argue, is grounded in none other than God, who would have existed at one time without evil. Evil is not a thing that is coeternal with good; Satan is not coeternal with God. Good is not measured by evil. We do not determine how good something is based upon an evil standard. Good exists because God exists, not because it deviates from an evil standard. Evil may highlight how great good is by way of contrast, but evil can never be what defines the good.

On the other hand, evil is measured by the good. Without a good standard to begin with, there is no way we can call something evil. To call something evil, we must know the good. Evil exists because it deviates from the good standard. Evil is the consequence of falling from the good standard. But without that standard in the first place, speaking of evil would be meaningless.

What's the point? If people are going to complain about a problem of evil, then they need to recognize that they are fundamentally acknowledging a good standard. The fact of evil is a demonstration of the truth that a good standard exists. Contrary, then, to the popular atheistic notion that evil disproves God, evil is an indirect proof of God in that it is the manifestation of a failure to meet the ultimate standard of good. Unless such a standard is divine in nature, then it holds no ultimate authority. If that ultimate authority does not exist, then any discussion about good and evil has no ultimate meaning.