Had a real “huh” moment the other day. You know, the kind where you hear or read something and then just stop for a moment to try and digest it and actually say, “huh” during this process. This is what I had read:
A comedian once noticed that scientists had determined the speed of light, so he wondered, What is the speed of dark? The answer, of course, is that ‘dark’ doesn’t have a speed, because it doesn’t even exist; ‘dark’ is just our word for the absence of light. . . .
This is also true about heat and cold. If you buy a furnace, the heating capacity is measured in units of heat. If you buy an air conditioner, the cooling capacity is also measured in units of heat. You would think that an air conditioner would be measured in units of cold, but there are no units of cold, because cold doesn’t really exist; it is just our word for the absence of heat. . . .
In this universe, there is only good. Evil, like darkness and cold, does not really exist. It is not the presence of badness; it is the absence of goodness. Just as you can’t remove darkness without adding light, and you can’t remove coldness without adding heat, you can’t remove evil without doing good things. . . .
Don’t get me wrong: just because darkness, cold, and evil don’t exist, it doesn’t mean they are not real, and it doesn’t mean they are not dangerous.*
I’m not sure I’m totally comfortable with what’s being said here, in fact I’m not even sure I’ve totally grasped what’s being said (feels a bit Matrix-y…what is reality really?!), but it certainly is food for thought. And one line in particular grabbed me and just wouldn’t let go.
You can’t remove evil without doing good things.
These days so much of “wise”, “moral” or even “Christian” behaviour seems to be about NOT doing bad/wrong/evil things. There are a lot of folk out there (myself included) who often measure their goodness levels by what they DON’T do:
Don’t drink (to excess…)
Don’t use violence
Don’t break the law etc etc
But that one line shakes this theory upside down… You can’t remove evil without doing good things. The analogy of light and dark is much more easily understood and accepted. The only way to “get rid” of darkness is to shine a light. So continuing on in the same vein, the only way to get rid of evil is to shine good.
And yet somehow, the idea of “not doing evil” seems to get just as much kudos (if not even more) in terms of judging so-called upright behaviour. But when I think of Jesus, I don’t think of all the bad things He didn’t do. Rather, it’s all the wonderful, unimaginably good things He did do. On a whim, I typed in the phrase “God is good” into an online concordance just to get a rough idea of how many times it, or a variation of it, occurs in the Bible…this is what came up:
Showing 1 – 20 of 15,297 search results for god is good
Even if we assume for argument’s sake that most of those search results aren’t correct/relevant, if we say only 10% are accurate, that still leaves 1,529 mentions. The Bible I’m looking at right now has 1,249 pages. You do the math…
So instead of trying to figure out the existential truth behind evil, I’m thinking I just need to shift my focus from what I’m not doing to what I am doing…to how I am shining God’s good in this world.
* Ken Collins, “Walking in the Light”, The Concise Lexicon of Christianity: Ken Collins Website, https://www.kencollins.com/speedbumps/speedbump-04.htm