It started with a friendly conversation with an atheist who told me he lost his faith. I felt so sorry for him. Even before knowing his whole story I heard he was once a faithful Christian and could remember the last time he went to church as a believer. He went on to explain one of the most convincing was the argument of the “Problem of Evil.”
Wikipedia describes it as thus… “the problem of evil is the question of how to reconcile the existence of evil with that of a deity who is omnipotent.”
Greek philosopher Epicurus, and this argument may be schematized as follows:
- If an all-powerful and perfectly good god exists, then evil does not.
- There is evil in the world.
- Therefore, an all-powerful and perfectly good god does not exist.
To me this logical argument is weak. It comes from the mind of someone who doesn’t have perspective or scope of God’s plan. It assumes that God would run the world as a place where no pain, no problem, and only good exists. Satan’s plan would be to force us to live a certain way and to have conditions such that we wouldn’t have control.
Here’s my argument
1. An all-powerful good God does exist
2. He is bound by a plan agreed before this world existed to allow mankind to have free will or free agency according to the commandments and man can choose good or evil.
3. Therefore, evil exists as rebellion against God.
4. All will be redeemed and receive their just reward, the good and the evil.
There were two plans put forward in the councils of heaven prior this world being created, the first was that man would be given free agency and mankind would be tested to see if they would keep His commandments. A redeemer would be sent to satisfy the demands of justice then bring grace and mercy in the world. God has given us free agency, the ability to choose good from evil. The second said, send me and I won’t lose a single soul. He also wanted the glory. To some this robot world of no agency, no sin, no choice, and no pain, sounds wonderful. It was not God’s plan. It was Lucifer’s (who would be known as the devil) plan and as a result of it being rejected he rebelled and took 1/3 of the hosts of heaven with him known as his angels in revelations, but commonly referred to as the evil spirits and demons those who will never have bodies.
The War in Heaven
The Bible (KJV): Revelations 12:7-9
“7 And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels,
12 How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!
This world is not a world of robots where we are forced to keep the commandments and we will not all be automatically be redeemed. This world is one of pain, suffering and death. This is part of the plan, and while it pains God to see his children suffer, he wants us to pray and be humbled and have faith. God does not inflict pain. Our separation from God came as a result of the fall of Adam. It was a choice of mankind to bring pain and suffering into the world. As a result we can have experience, and through that experience we feel sadness that we may know joy, pain and suffering that we may know peace. For God to block this would be counter intuitive to the the plan. It’s not fair to blame God for our suffering. There will be suffering in this world, but it will end, and we will know peace. We can receive comfort in knowing the next life will be even better for most of us and especially those who truly search for truth and seek to keep the commandments of God.
The Doctrine & Covenants 29:36-40 explains it even further
36 And it came to pass that Adam, being tempted of the devil—for, behold, the devil was before Adam, for he rebelled against me, saying, Give me thine honor, which is my power; and also athird part of the hosts of heaven turned he away from me because of their agency;
40 Wherefore, it came to pass that the devil tempted Adam, and he partook of the forbidden fruit and transgressed the commandment, wherein he became subject to the will of the devil, because he yielded unto temptation.
Bad and horrible things do happen…
in recent memory there’s the Boston Bombings of innocent, the New Town shootings, but this scripture explains why sometimes God allows things to happen that he might receive them unto himself and stand against them. The suffering ends and the innocent will be rewarded and redeemed
8 And they brought their wives and children together, and whosoever believed or had been taught to believe in the word of God they caused that they should be cast into the fire; and they also brought forth their records which contained the holy scriptures, and cast them into the fire also, that they might beburned and destroyed by fire.
10 And when Amulek saw the pains of the women and children who were consuming in the fire, he also was pained; and he said unto Alma: How can we witness this awful scene? Therefore let us stretch forth our hands, and exercise the power of God which is in us, and save them from the flames.
11 But Alma said unto him: The Spirit constraineth me that I must not stretch forth mine hand; for behold the Lord receiveth them up unto himself, in glory; and he doth suffer that they may do this thing, or that the people may do this thing unto them, according to the hardness of their hearts, that the judgments which he shall exercise upon them in his wrath may be just; and the blood of the innocent shall stand as a witness against them, yea, and cry mightily against them at the last day.
14 Now it came to pass that when the bodies of those who had been cast into the fire were consumed, and also the records which were cast in with them, the chief judge of the land came and stood before Alma and Amulek, as they were bound; and he smote them with his hand upon their cheeks, and said unto them: After what ye have seen, will ye preach again unto this people, that they shall be cast into a lake of fire and brimstone?
Later on a very concise answer to…
Why Does God NOT stop the suffering, prevent pain, and heal everyone????
13 For the Lord suffereth the righteous to be slain that his justice and judgment may come upon the wicked; therefore ye need not suppose that the righteous are lost because they are slain; but behold, they do enter into the rest of the Lord their God.
Interesting study from Barna on belief as it relates to Christians, Evil and Satan
Four out of ten Christians (40%) strongly agreed that Satan “is not a living being but is a symbol of evil.” An additional two out of ten Christians (19%) said they “agree somewhat” with that perspective. A minority of Christians indicated that they believe Satan is real by disagreeing with the statement: one-quarter (26%) disagreed strongly and about one-tenth (9%) disagreed somewhat. The remaining 8% were not sure what they believe about the existence of Satan. A majority of Christians believe that a person can be under the influence of spiritual forces, such as demons or evil spirits. Two out of three Christians agreed that such influence is real (39% agreed strongly, 25% agreed somewhat), while just three out of ten rejected the influence of supernatural forces (18% disagreed strongly, 10% disagreed somewhat). The remaining 8% were undecided on this matter.
Personally I don’t think you have to believe in Satan as an individual being to believe that evil exists. It could be a role.
Jinn – What we learn from Islam
Growing up in Idaho, I didn’t personally know any Muslims until my adult life. I have to say some of my best friends across the world now are devout Muslims. I have a great respect for Islam and ironically it was during a visit to the Anne Frank house in Amsterdam that I realized just how easily the tables could turn on my Muslim friends. Religious persecution is something that concerns me a lot. We need to do everything we can to support one’s ability to worship freely. I have a special place in my heart for the Palestinians. In my travels I’ve heard stories that have concerned me. Travel has made me appreciate how a people can be
It was on a trip to Jordan that I really connected with a couple of buddies who let me know they were Palestinians, at first I really had to figure out what if anything that meant to me and how I would react to my new friends. We were on a long trip out to Petra and ultimately had more than 5 hours in the car as we drove across the desert. On this ride we talked a lot about our faith, and it was really the first time I had to learn about the Quran and learn about the djinn or jinn known as “spiritual creatures mentioned in the Qur’ān and Islamic mythology who inhabit an unseen world in dimensions beyond the visible universe of humans. Together, the jinn, humans and angels make up the three sapient creations of God.”
I was fascinated to hear about these unseen beings, and it struck a chord. What was really interesting is how one of them started to tell me personal experiences about these Djinn and my other friend was really getting concerned that he was inviting an evil spirit. He was getting freaked out. This reminds me of so many times in my life where I’d get together at scout camps or at night with friends and telling stories with college room mates. While it sounds like ghost stories around a camp fire, the difference is telling true stories of real experiences. The djinn are hidden, you can’t see them. So there was really a lot of parallels in my personal experiences.
According to the Quran, jinn have free will, and Iblīs abused this freedom in front of Allah by refusing to bow to Adam when Allah ordered angels and jinn to do so. For disobeying Allah, he was expelled from Paradise and called “Shayṭān” (Satan)
The Noble Quran: 15 Surah Al-Hijr: 25-43
25. And verily, your Lord will gather them together. Truly, He is All-Wise, All-Knowing.
While many Muslims may not like seeing this in English, feel free to read it in Arabic. There are a lot of different english translations. The point I want to make from above as it relates to the condition of evil being brought into the world. You can see how Satan was cursed and selected the path of misleading mankind. Evil is introduced into the world, not as something that simply happens naturally, but in something that happens as a result of circumstances around creation. Temptation is necessary to separate the true disciples or servants of Allah and those who would chose evil or destruction or hell.
The gemara certainly speaks about demons and spirits.
Well, a ghost is essentially a neshama, correct? At least that is what it always seems to be portrayed. So do neshamas ever get left or trapped here or come back here?
“The Talmud has a rich, though vague, demonology. Great rabbis are able to perceive demons sitting on the right and left hands of every person. They are able to harness the divine creative energies to create animals which can then be consumed for food. And, in the talmudic world, spirits are everywhere: They haunt dark places… For example, consider the omnipresence and omnimalevolence of demons described in theTalmud in Berakhot 6a”:
“It has been taught: Abba Benjamin says, If the eye had the power to see them, no creature could endure the demons. Abaye says: They are more numerous than we are and they surround us like the ridge around a field. R. Huna says: Every one among us has a thousand on his left hand and ten thousand on his right hand. Raba says: The crushing of the crowd in the Kallah [yearly public] lectures comes from them. Fatigue in the knees comes from them. The wearing out of the clothes of the scholars is due to their rubbing against them. The bruising of the feet comes from them.”
Rarely does the talmudic literature go into detail about exactly how demons and magical creatures come into being, or whether they are really independent beings “out there,” or merely psychological realities. If the latter, of course, then we today can perhaps understand this foreign-sounding discourse–after all, who among us has not been plagued by “demons” in their work or sexual life? As in the source above,”demons” (mazikim, a word which might be better translated “harmful beings”) could be seen as anything that causes decay, pain, and the depletion of life-energy.
Kabbalistic demonology is more detailed. Other demons are, as in the Christian myth, rebellious angels, or in the case of Lilith, primordial humans who disobeyed the divine plan. In all cases, they are instances of life-energy gone awry. In the proper functioning of the cosmos, energy flows like a cycle: down from heaven, then back up in the form of proper ritual action. But when the energy is misappropriated, as in masturbation or rebellion, its intense power falls into the realm of shadow.”
“Hindu beliefs teach that we are surrounded by a multitude of spirit entities, which exist within the “ether” that encompasses everything. This ether, which could be equated to spirit, or energy is also called, akasha. The Akashic Records are believed to contain every event in time, somehow recorded in the ether as an imprint of energy that may be possible to be re-played or visibly seen by those with psychic abilities. Hinduism teaches that seeing into the akasha which contains the Akashic Records, in other words, seeing ghosts, is possible by those who know how to use the third eye.”
Similarly Buddhists believe in Ghosts and try to help them though offerings
Ghosts do suffer through attempting to fulfill earthly desires. It is an exercise in futility, because ghosts find themselves without physical bodies to be able to act out such lusts. The seventh month is believed by many followers of Buddhism to be a time when ghosts and spirits come out of the lower realm and interact with people. So a Ghost Festival of sorts is honored, paying homage to ancestors through various rituals designed to ease the suffering of ghosts and possibly aid in direction. It is believed by Buddhists who celebrate the festival that their ancestors visit them, so it is a time to prepare elaborate meals, ceremonies and offerings to help them in their journey in the afterlife.
In Buddhism, hungry ghosts are simply suffering spirits who should be treated with compassion and not feared. Some Buddhists believe ghosts should be led to the light through chanting and explanation of Buddhist teachings, until the golden light of Buddha is seen and can be advanced to by the ghost.
There’s an interesting site devoted to ghosts and religion showing a lot of parallels.
Personal Experience with Full Bodied Apparition
I’ve seen deceased persons appear to me at night both in dreams, and in a state between dreaming and awake. I no longer get afraid by seeing relatives or spirits of the deceased. I bring this up because I like to think I can tell the difference between the light that a good spirit such as a deceased person has and an evil spirit or demon.
Now let me tell you in my childhood growing up, there were real experiences where I saw beings that were not angels. Were not good. I must have been 13-15 years old when one night I was laying in bed trying to get tired and fall asleep when I heard something and looked over at the door and saw a person standing in the doorway holding a book and waving it up and down in a methodical manner. I was getting scared and yelled… “Philip, stop it!” I thought it must be my brother and it was freaking me out. After yelling that a couple of times. I jumped up and went to stop the book, and my hand went though! It seemed like time slowed. If I wasn’t already freaked out enough, I felt something… almost as if time had slowed. I then as quickly as possible flicked on the lights and poof it was gone. Call it a ghost, apparition, demon or jinn … I believe there are beings that exist beyond the veil. I got the distinct impression that this evil being was performing some kind of curse or spell.
Some time later in my room laying in bed, I saw something even scarier. Again, I couldn’t sleep. I was lying in bed and watching the clock and something appeared next to the clock. It was a lot darker than the rest of the room. What I call a dark portal appeared. It was a two dimensional square hovering in mid air. At first I was very curious about this strange dark black square hovering over my bed next to my dresser. As I was staring at it, I was simply trying to put some logic to it. It was while I was analyzing it that I saw something that shook me to the core. The color of the square changed slightly. I started noticing what looked like thin persons with their arms above them going up through the dark portal and disappearing. The color was almost like a light orange, but not bright, just showing up slightly as many of these beings flew up through the portal. I was so scared, I pulled the covers over my head, and I started praying hard. I never saw that again.
Don’t be deceived
The prophet Joseph Smith was given a way, which was revealed as a way to distinguish the good such as Angels, and Resurrected persons from the evil such as the devil and his angels or demons.
4 When a messenger comes saying he has a message from God, offer him your hand and request him to shake hands with you.
I don’t tell you all of this to scare you, but more to share my beliefs and what I’ve found to be true which is there are beings that roam this earth and while some of them are good. There are evil ones that would tempt us. Evil does exist. Knowing evil exists, to me tells me there is a God. This earth is one where we will choose to live life according to what our conscious dictates.
In this spirit test in the book of John, you can know a good spirit based on it’s confession of Jesus as the Christ as come in the flesh. Interesting that in casting out evil spirits, the spirits did recognize Jesus, but they were evil ones.
1 John 4:1
“Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try [test] the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.
(2) Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: (3) And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.
(4) Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.
(5) They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them.
(6) We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error.”
While many may read this article and get freaked out… what’s wrong with Joel? Why the focus on evil, and on spirits? I put this together to help those who don’t believe to understand they do have a place to start believing. They may have been following an evil spirit, or denying what’s right because of an answer to a prayer or the lack thereof. In my life, I am reminded that there is good and evil in this life and we have a choice. I choose to follow the light, and to seek truth and return to live with God.