Is Evil Eternal?

Angel: There’s a lot I don’t understand. But I do know it’s important to keep fighting. I learned that from you.

Buffy: But we never…

Angel: We never win.

Buffy: Not completely.

Angel: Never will. That’s not why we fight. We do it because there’s things worth fighting for.

Yes, I framed this with a scene from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. But, if I’m going to talk about the evilest of evil, what better source to turn to then Sunnydale, situated right on the Hellmouth?

Before I wander to far into the wonderful Whedonverse, I’m going to throw out a couple of scriptures that serve as a basis of sorts for my thoughts today. At least in a tangential sense.

“For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. If not so, my firstborn in the wilderness, righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad. Wherefore, all things must needs be a compound in one; wherefore, if it should be one body it must needs remain as dead, having no life neither death, nor corruption nor incorruption, happiness nor misery, neither sense nor insensibility.”

2 Nephi 2:11

“And it came to pass that the God of heaven looked upon the residue of the people, and he wept; and Enoch bore record of it, saying: How is it that the heavens weep, and shed forth their tears as the rain upon the mountains?”

Moses 7:28 (all of Moses 7 is applicable)

So, what do we learn here? A few things that are vitally important to framing deity and therefore an understanding of an exalted life (particularly since God is an exalted man, and the life of our God will be our life if we live accordingly). I think the idea that the after-life is more similar to this life than we usually describe, at least culturally, is an important one.

We’ve got this idea of opposition and that without misery there can be no joy, no righteousness without wickedness, etc. It’s an intriguing idea and the application of the verse produces a variety of opinions. However, I’m going to suggest one here, that I think is worth thinking about and connects well with a ‘weeping God.’ That idea being that Evil is not based in the devil and accordingly that Good is not based in God, but that both are cosmic-eternal principles that have and will always exist.

If this is the case, then Evil is something that we must always be fighting. And will never really overcome. Yeah, I mean, there’s the Millennium stuff about defeating Satan, but he’s just a pawn of EVIL, not evil-itself. If not, then what would our future spirit-babies do? Just go down to some planet and part with unicorns, rainbows and the Care Bears? Live in a world devoid of Evil? Well, 2 Nephi suggests that such a world would inherently also be devoid of any and all happiness and righteousness. There’d be no growth, no challenge, no anything really. They’d have to live in a constant vegetated state. And is that even living?

I read a fantastic book years ago (that’s now out of print and I can’t find, if you have any leads, let me know), entitled Villains By Necessity by Eve Forward. It’s an epic fantasy, set in a world where Good has defeated Evil. However, Evil is necessary for the Universe to exist, so a group of villains band together to be Evil and therefore save the Universe. It’s a clever idea and I loved the book. I don’t know if I would frame the argument that way, as I view Evil as more of an unavoidable quality of life and don’t think that there will ever be a day without evil, avoiding the complication of people being Evil because Good needs Evil, making them Good in a sense.

Given Evil’s eternal existence, the weeping God of Moses 7 is more understandable. God is this divine being, filled with Goodness and Love, yet faced with the constant understanding that His/Her/Their efforts are partially in vain. Evil can never be totally defeated. Some people will always choose that path. Perhaps I’m just overcompensating by trying to not underestimate the Dark Side.

So what does this mean for us? If Evil is some inherent part of our existence, why even bother trying to rid the world of it? I mean, if we can never totally win, why try?
I think it goes back to what Angel and Buffy decide. That there are things worth fighting for. Life is made better by our efforts. We can reduce Evil, even if we can’t totally eradicate it. And we have a responsibility to fight it. Maybe that’s why it’s eternal—so we can prove our level of commitment to the Good in the world. In the face of unbeatable odds, we still fight. And the less evil in the world, the better off the world is. Sure, we may not to achieve total victory, but our efforts can result in the world being better than we found it.

The sentiments of Buffy and Angel are echoed in another great fictional duo, faced with insurmountable odds, two hobbits far far away from their dear comfortable homes in the ground and serve as a fitting end to my thoughts:

Sam: Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn’t. They kept going. Because they were holding on to something.

Frodo: What are we holding onto, Sam?

Sam: That there’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo… and it’s worth fighting for.

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