“God,” he [Epicurus] says, “either wants to eliminate bad things and cannot,or can but does not want to,
or neither wishes to nor can,
or both wants to and can.
If he wants to and cannot, then he is weak and this does not apply to god.
If he can but does not want to, then he is spiteful which is equally foreign to god’’s nature.
If he neither wants to nor can, he is both weak and spiteful, and so not a god.
If he wants to and can, which is the only thing fitting for a god, where then do bad things come from? Or why does he not eliminate them?”
Lactantius, On the Anger of God, 13.19
Eph. 6:12 “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the world rulers of this darkness, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”
Paul to the Ephesians
Mani (210-276 C.E.), the founder of Manichaeism, was raised in a Judaeo-Christian desert sect known as the Elchasites. Similar to the Essenes, this sect was centered in the Mesopotamian desert, dressed in white robes, and were disenchanted by the religious establishment of their day. At age twelve Mani reported having his first revelation, but decided to keep it secret and wait until the right time for its proclamation. At age twenty-four Mani parted ways with the Elchasites and started writing, teaching, and preaching his own religious doctrines which he considered as final and authoritative. Mani saw himself as the final seal of the prophets; he closed the revelation which had started with Buddha and Zarathustra and had been passed on through Jesus and Paul. On the subject of Mani’s conception of his own religion, P. Oktor Skjaervo notes that “according to Mani his new religion was not simply to replace the previous religions, rather it represented the fulfillment of what the previous religions had promised but had not been able to live up to.”
An archon, in the Gnosticism of late antiquity, was any of several servants of the Demiurge, the “creator god” that stood between the human race and a transcendent God that could only be reached through Gnosis. In this context they have the role of the angels and demons of the Old Testament. They give their name to the sect called Archontics. They were thus called from the Greek word ἄρχοντες, “principalities”, or “rulers”, by reason that they held the world to have been created and ruled by malevolent Archons. The term was taken from the ancient Greek position of office “archon”.
A Life Tainted With Evil A Matter Of Outlook
We live in a world that seem to be on his head, as children we are generally taught on the Kindest, and Mercy of God all embracing and forgiving, but as we grew old we perceive a dichotomy between what we have been told and what is really going on in the World, selfishness, unbridled avarice, and materialism, double standards even from religious leaders, false promises, venial, and morally condemning behavior on the part of our political leaders, who are there not to serve us but to fulfill their private agendas, selfishness and harshness everywhere, everybody looking for themselves, and maybe if we perceive them at all, some few, and poor individuals trying to be dogooders, but just like a drop in a bucket to make any real difference. And to top it all the onslaught of the daily news, whose focus is on disasters, wars, murders, crimes, abuse, violence, and evil.
The conflict between good and evil is one of the precepts of the Zoroastrian faith, first enshrined by Zoroaster over 3000 years ago. It is also one of the most common conventional themes in literature, and is sometimes considered to be a universal part of the human condition
The central and sine qua non aspect to the Manichean outlook on evil is ontological dualism. In the Epistula Fundamenti Mani clearly lays out this doctrine: “For there were in the beginning these two substances divided from one another”, and Augustine, who is understood by most scholars to have an accurate grasp on Manichean doctrine, notes that Mani “put together two principles, different from an opposing each other, as well as eternal and co-eternal (that is, having always been), and also two natures or substances, namely, of good and bad.” Evil, then, is ultimately not an object of the will or of the mind, but a separately active pre-cosmic substance.
In the Gnostic view, there is a true, ultimate and transcendent God, who is beyond all created universes and who never created anything in the sense in which the word “create” is ordinarily understood. While this True God did not fashion or create anything, He (or, It) “emanated” or brought forth from within Himself the substance of all there is in all the worlds, visible and invisible. In a certain sense, it may therefore be true to say that all is God, for all consists of the substance of God. By the same token, it must also be recognized that many portions of the original divine essence have been projected so far from their source that they underwent unwholesome changes in the process. To worship the cosmos, or nature, or embodied creatures is thus tantamount to worshiping alienated and corrupt portions of the emanated divine essence.
The basic Gnostic myth has many variations, but all of these refer to Aeons, intermediate deific beings who exist between the ultimate, True God and ourselves. They, together with the True God, comprise the realm of Fullness (Pleroma) wherein the potency of divinity operates fully. The Fullness stands in contrast to our existential state, which in comparison may be called emptiness.
One of the aeonial beings who bears the name Sophia (“Wisdom”) is of great importance to the Gnostic world view. In the course of her journeying, Sophia came to emanate from her own being a flawed consciousness, a being who became the creator of the material and psychic cosmos, all of which he created in the image of his own flaw. This being, unaware of his origins, imagined himself to be the ultimate and absolute God. Since he took the already existing divine essence and fashioned it into various forms, he is also called the Demiurgos or “half-maker” There is an authentic half, a true deific component within creation, but it is not recognized by the half-maker and by his cosmic minions, the Archons or “rulers”.
The Myth of the Archons and Sophia’s Rape (Wisdom)
In the beginning was the Pleroma. The Pleroma was Light, it was Full, it was Complete, it was Wonderful, it was Nouns and Verbs with Capital Letters. It was the place to be. Within the Pleroma waves of divinity flowed and created pairs of godlike beings. These were the Aions, (Aeons) male and female aspects, each of which gave birth to further couples of divine light. Eventually though, a single Aion was created – she was called Wisdom and had no other half. She longed to have children as the other Aions had children, and using the divine light she willed herself to conceive. Although a virgin she was able to bring forth a child, but this child was blind to the upper beauty of the Pleroma. He could not see the divine light and imagined himself to be the greatest of all. Thinking he was on his own, he started to create, but his creation was flawed and lifeless.
The Creator had managed to create a vast ocean, a place of chaos, and he called it the Deep. And he moved over the Deep and created the stars, and the earth, and the mountains and the rivers, but still there was something missing. And he created servants to help with his work, the Archons and Angels, the Princes and Powers, but still there was something missing. And he created the flying creatures, and the swimming creatures, and the walking creatures, but still there was something missing. The Creator rested and left his creation to the Archons, brooding on what was missing.
Now it happened that Wisdom found the world that her son had created. She looked into the Deep and saw her reflection. As the last of the Aoins she was far from the light of the Pleroma and had never seen her own radiance. She was entranced by her own beauty, and not living up to her name, she moved closer and closer to her reflection until she fell into the material world. The world scared her and she did not know what was happening. Then the Archons found her, and they lusted after her. She had never experienced such want from anyone and did not expect what the Archons planned. Too late she realized, she fell into their hands and they forced themselves upon her.
Not willing to experience the horrors, Wisdom split apart, her divine nature sundered into hundreds of pieces. The most divine part of Wisdom become a mighty Oak, the Tree of Knowledge. Her body was left behind, a shell that had a human nature. The shell was called Eve and she gave birth to the children of the Archons. These human beings spread out and populated the Earth, and they worshiped the Archons, the Powers and Principalities, and they worshiped the blind Creator.
But among the humans were some who inherited the divine spark of Wisdom. These few souls went through life feeling like strangers in a strange land. They yearned for the Pleroma but they could not understand what this yearning was. Discontent with the world they suffered and when they died the divine spark would ascend and try to return to the Pleroma, but the Archons would force the divine sparks back into the world.
The spark that had lingered on in Eve was called Ennoia, and hers was a terrible fate. Doomed to suffer the most, the Archons made sure that she would never have true happiness. All looked lost for the sparks of Wisdom.
But there was hope. The Pleroma would come to know of the world and of the trapped Wisdom. And the Pleroma would send a Revealer, and a Redeemer. Through the Revealer (perhaps to be called John the Baptist) the humans with the divine spark would be told about the true nature of things, they would be blessed, baptized into the new reality. And the Revealer would bring forth the Redeemer (perhaps to be called Simon Magus), the one who the Pleroma had finally created to be the other half of Wisdom, and when he saved Ennoia, then the material world would fall apart and the truth would set them free.
One of the problems of believing in Evil, it’s you have to define it first, without defining what evil is, the validity of the statements cannot be properly assessed. As for example what constitute evil, and from where come the decision to do an evil act? Another it’s the idea of free will, if God it’s there to take our decision away from us by preventing any negative act from us, then what freedom do we really have? Plus we know that’s not the case, since there is nobody to stop you before committing a stupid thing, if you wish to do so, but where moral responsibility begins, if you are not willing to confront yourself as the doer of evil? Are you so naive as to believe you are doing nothing wrong when you are murdering a human being?
And rather to avoid the ultimate question why not ask yourself first why death it’s a fact of life, regardless? it’s not the creator who bear that responsibility even if you die from old age anyway?
There it’s anything more inescapable than death?
Buddhism attempted to answer the problem by disassociation, meditation, and avoidance, for evil was nothing but the outcome of desire and greed stemming from a misunderstanding of the self and of the world. The Buddha’s answer was “to avoid all evil, to do good, and to purify one’s mind.
Plato and Aristotle would equate evil with a lack of knowledge, making evil synonymous with intellectual ignorance, with it’s antidote being rational contemplation. Eventually Christianity would emerge with its own answer and explanation of evil, through a savior and Immanent God in the form of Jesus Christ, I will not dwell on the theological arguments of this doctrine too long to be exposed here and full of ambivalence in my opinion bordering on irresponsible arguments like the will of God it’s to allow evil for an unknown future greater good, rather than simplify it as Plato and Aristotle did; free will and ignorance, and the not existence of a moral absolute on the will of God that would curtail the freedom of the individual to choose by himself, and make evil a total Human responsibility, and not blaming God for it.