No one considers a floating bit of dust in the air to be evil.

We may consider bits of vegetation and grains of sand blowing in our faces in a strong wind to be nuisance, perhaps even painful under some conditions, but certainly none of us would call it evil. The necessity of raising a hand to the wind and squinting to keep the tiny wind-hurled projectiles out of the eyes is simply part of the great outdoors on a windy day.

When a pebble is freed from its location by weathering, no one thinks of it.

When a bit of cliff debris falls, no one even notices, unless he happens to be standing near enough.

Likewise when a boulder, precariously perched, finally gives way, it is hardly worth our note, unless the protrusion had been widely remarked upon.

Still, no one would call it immoral, evil.

These are all simply natural. This is how our world works. Aging happens. Stresses build and relive. Disequilibria builds, and dissipates, sometimes imperceptibly, sometimes dramatically, sometimes in self-organizing, emergent systems or phenomena that live, figuratively, and even literally.

None of this is evil.

Nature concentrates energy, and some systems use that energy in interesting, even creative ways.

Nature pours down radiant energy on the earth, and green plants use it to build. Herbivores and other creatures use that energy to build. Those, in turn, are used by other creatures in some way to build in another way.

Passive recipient, parasite, herbivore, carnivore, omnivore, et al. These are simply nature using resources to build. We may see destruction involved. We may see it as gruesome, bloody, distasteful, and worse, but it is all of a piece. All of it is simply nature. It is not inherently bad. It is not evil.

Why is it that some want to call certain spectacular workings of nature evil?

Earthquakes are not evil. Earthquakes are part of the natural processes described above.

If an earthquake happens to cause death and destruction, well, that is only the way of nature.

We consider it tragic, especially when many souls are lost, but it is not evil. It is not something someone, some agent, did. It was not intentioned, nor was it negligent. There was an imbalance, a buildup, and subsequent release.

Some ask why God didn’t stop the earthquake that killed millions, but no one asks why God didn’t stop that grain of sand from sticking in your eyebrow. There is no difference in the grand scheme. Both were simply nature redistributing matter and energy to alleviate imbalance.

The difference comes in agency.

We humans, we are free moral agents.

While there is nothing bad or evil about pain, suffering, and deprivation in themselves, it is bad, it is truly evil, when one person chooses to inflict pain and cause suffering and institute deprivation.

Coercion is evil.

I want to emphasize that. Coercion is evil.

 

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