Friday, July 30, 2010

Donut Seeds, Donuts and the Definition of Evil

The other day, I had the privilege of finishing up Josh McDowell's book, "Don't Check Your Brains at the Door" with my daughter. You see, as a homeschooling parent we just started her apologetics training this year with this enjoyable issues oriented, myth busting primer.

As we were finishing up the final chapter, the conversation moved to the subject of the problem of evil. This was a good teaching time to say the least, with helping her understand that in order to have this thing called evil, we must know what "good" is. This brought in a moral law as the standard by which to differentiate the difference between good and evil.

Now thinking along this line, I needed her to understand a definition of "evil." So what did I do? Well, we did not have any donuts, so I did the next best thing that you can do with your kids...Cheerios! That's right, I lovingly call them, "donut seeds" so they are the next best thing. Why is that?

Well let's take the donut or the donut seed for our illustration. The most common perception of a donut is this circular cake-like ring that has a hole in the middle. Let's call the cake part of the donut 'good'. That might sound a little relatable because donuts are GOOD (tasting). The hole in the donut then represents "evil" (no donut).

How does this illustration help us in our definition of evil? If the cake part that is present is "good" then then absence of the cake part of the donut is evil, we can then deduce that evil is the absence of good.

So if we say there is such a thing as evil, we must posit that there is such a thing as "good." If there is such a thing as "good", how do we know what that good is unless there is a standard by which to differentiate the difference between good and evil. There must be a standard, so let's call this a moral law. A moral law then points us to God as the Lawgiver. Before going any further let me invite you to check out the following video.

I think Ravi hammers the issue a whole lot better than anyone speaking on this subject. The neat thing with this process on the subject of evil, good and a moral law, as I demonstrated this process with my daughter, I was delighted that she was grabbing it and nailing it down for herself.

She has such a tender heart, and my fear for her is that she does not lull herself into what is a plague in pockets of Christianity called "Pollyannaism".[1] My prayer her is that she will develop a tough minded faith that will understand more of this fallen world as she sees history run its course in her young life.

This is my fear for many believers, that we have been lulled into "Pollyannaism", where our optimism does not deal head on with the realism of the secular city. It is just an opinion, but it seems to me that Christians in other countries are steps ahead of American Christianity on this understanding of evil. I will speak more to this in another posting.

[1] Having a blind or excessive optimism, after the character Pollyanna, created by American writer Eleanor Porter (1868-1920). There is nothing wrong with being optimistic so long as it is a realistic type of optimism with room to understand the nature of man being fallen.

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