The question of evil deserves more than casual thought. But to try tracing evil back to an original cause, in an effort to answer the question, is to begin at the wrong end.
We do better if we begin with God, getting an understanding of His nature, of what He is and does. What can we learn from the Bible? That God is unending good; that He is the one and only cause of man and the universe; that He is Spirit and Love. God makes His creation to express His own perfect nature, and maintains it that way through divine law. That means His creation is good, spiritual, full of love. Starting with God as perfect cause, we arrive at perfect effect - a creation that is unendingly good, not evil.
''God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good.'' n1 This absolute fact of an all-good creation, made and maintained by God, Love, can be proved by degrees right here on the human scene where evil seems so rampant. It's a matter of our understanding and prayerfully affirming what is spiritually true of God and His creation - and sticking with this affirmation until evidence of its truth appears humanly.
n1 Genesis 1:31.
There is an emerging school of thought that concedes God's goodness, but would strip Him of power over evil. According to a newspaper article a few months ago, the ''solution'' to evil, as maintained by this theology, is to ''perceive God as entirely loving but lacking in might by popular standards for divinity.'' n2 The imperfect power such a theory attributes to God doesn't extend to stopping bad things from happening to people.
n2 The Los Angeles Times, October 19, 1982.
Yet there is abundant proof of the saving, redeeming, healing power of divine Love. Biblical instances such as deliverance from famine in the Old Testament, or the stilling of a tempest in the New Testament, or the healing of illness in either, are samples of omnipotent grace at work. Any proposition that overlooks the healing power of God, sinks quickly when it crashes into this body of proof. Christ Jesus and his followers weren't bringing about unrepeatable miracles. They were utilizing spiritual power and spiritual laws that are as applicable now as then. Today, proofs of God's power - in healings of illness, personal difficulties, and so on, through prayer - abundantly continue. Each instance provides a common message: evil can be overcome and proved powerless as the perfect power of God, good, is understood and applied.
If we're faced with an apparent failure of God's goodness to triumph over evil, what does this mean?
Suppose a student is faced with failure of a trigonometry exam. Would that mean something is wrong with the underlying laws of trigonometry? Wouldn't it mean that a better understanding and a more thorough application of those laws are needed? The same is true as we strive to demonstrate God's supremacy. We need to understand His nature and His laws better and to heed them more thoroughly.
We're saying that evil can be overcome through a prayerful understanding and application of divine law. But we're also saying a whole lot more. Since God didn't make it, evil has no ultimate reality. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes: ''Since God is All, there is no room for His unlikeness. God, Spirit, alone created all, and called it good. Therefore evil, being contrary to good, is unreal, and cannot be the product of God.'' n3
n3 Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 339.
This is a radical statement, a statement of absolute truth. And yet it's practical. It's the very groundwork for the step-by-step elimination of evil in daily life. When, through an understanding of spiritual truth, evil is replaced with good in a specific instance, the question of its existence is resolved in the most unarguable way: it no longer exists. The tempest stilled is not a tempest.
Needless to say, we all have a long, long way to go, in terms of proving fully the nothingness of evil. But the simple fact of the allness of God, good, makes the proving possible. Whatever terrible thing we're faced with doesn't get power from God. And God is the one source of power. Spiritual understanding does reveal this and sets us on the road to proving it. DAILY BIBLE VERSE Is there a God beside me? yea, there is no God; I know not any. Isaiah 44:8