The problem of evil is essentially a Christian problem. For an atheist to see, evil is only one aspect of the absurdity; for an atheist who is blind, it is a temporary result of the still imperfect organization of society and the world. In monistic metaphysics, evil is the inalienable definition of creature as separated from God; but then it is nothing but an illusion. In dualistic metaphysics, it is “other”, that evil matter or evil principle, which, however, are of God. Thus, the problem of evil itself itself flows from Christian doctrine. Indeed, how can one explain his presence in the world created by God, in that vision in which the created in its essence is good? And even considering the freedom given to man to oppose the Divine plan, we cannot but ask ourselves the question: what is evil?
However, this question is posed incorrectly, since it assumes that evil is “something”. With this formulation, we are inclined to take evil for a certain entity, for a kind of "evil inclination", for a Manichaean "anti-God."Then the universe seems to be some kind of "no-man's zone" between God, good and evil, and all its richness and diversity is only a play of light and shadow caused by the struggle of these two principles.
Such a presentation finds a certain basis in the ascetic experience; dualistic elements were constantly trying to penetrate Christianity, and especially monastic life. But for the Orthodox way of thinking such a view is false: God does not have a counterparty; it is impossible to assume the existence of some natures that would be alien to Him. From the end of the 3rd century until the blessed Augustine, the fathers fought zealously against Manichaeism, but in this struggle they used philosophical categories, the very formulation of which somewhat led them away from the problem. For fathers, evil is indeed a flaw, vice, non-perfection; not some kind of nature, but something that nature lacks in order to be perfect. In the essential aspect, the fathers consider that evil does not exist, that it is only a deprivation of being. This answer was sufficient to refute the Manicheans, but it is powerless before the reality of evil, all of us tangible, before the evil present and acting in the world.And if the last petition of the Lord’s Prayer in the philosophical aspect can be interpreted as “deliver us from evil”, but by crying out of particular our anxiety, of course, remains “deliver us from the evil” from the “evil one”.
The problem of evil, as Father Boyer remarkably pointed out, is reduced in a truly Christian perspective to the problem of the "evil one." And the "evil one" is not the absence of being, not essential insufficiency; he is also not as evil - essence; for his nature, created by God, is good. "Crafty" is a person, it is "someone."
Evil, of course, does not take place among entities, but it is not only a “failure”, there is activity in it. Evil is not nature, but the state of nature, and in this saying of the fathers lies great depth. Thus, it is like a disease, a parasite, existing only due to the nature on which it is parasitic. More precisely, evil is a definite state of the will of this nature; it is a false will towards God. Evil is a rebellion against God, that is, a personal position. Thus, evil refers to the perspective of not the essential, but the personal. "The world lies in evil," says John the Theologian, evil is a state in which the nature of personal beings who have turned away from God dwells.
So, the beginning of evil is rooted in the freedom of the creature.That is why it is unforgivable; evil is born only from the freedom of the creature that creates it. “Evil is not there; or rather, it is only at the moment when it is committed,” writes Diadoh Fotikisky, and Gregory of Nyssa underlines the paradox of one who obeys evil; it exists in the non-existent.
So, man gave place to evil in his will and brought him into the world. True, man, naturally disposed to the knowledge of God and love for Him, chose evil because it was suggested to him: this is the whole role of the serpent. Evil in man, and through man and in the earth’s cosmos, seems thus connected with infection, in which there is, however, nothing automatic: it could spread only with the free consent of the human will. The man agreed to this domination over himself.
However, evil has its origin in the angelic worlds, and it is worthwhile to dwell on this.
Angels cannot be defined by the term "disembodied spirits", even if they are so called by their fathers and liturgical texts. They are not purely spiritual beings. There is some angelic physicality that can even become visible. Although the idea of disembodied angels eventually triumphed in the West with Thomism, medieval Franciscans, in particular Bonaventura,held the opposite opinion; and in Russia in the 19th century, Bishop Ignatius Bryanchaninov defended this corporeal angels against Theophan the Recluse. But be that as it may, the angels have no biological conditions like ours, and they know neither death nor reproduction. They do not have "leather robes".
Therefore, the unity of the angelic world is completely different from our unity. You can talk about the "human race", that is, countless personalities with the same nature. But angels, who are also personal beings, do not have the unity of nature. Each of them is a separate nature, a separate intelligible world. Consequently, their unity is not organic and could be called by analogy abstract unity; it is the unity of the city, the choir, the troops, the unity of service, the unity of praise, in one word - harmonic unity. So one could establish an amazing rapprochement between music and mathematics, on the one hand, and the angelic worlds, on the other.
Therefore, the angelic universe opens up to evil other possibilities than our world. Evil, perceived by Adam, could defile all human nature. But the evil attitude of one angel remains his personal position: here evil, in a sense, is individualized.If an infection occurs, then through an example, through the influence that one person can have on other people. So, Lucifer carried other angels behind him, but not all fell: the serpent overthrew a third of the luminaries, the Apocalypse symbolically says.
Thus, evil has the beginning of the sin of one angel. And this position of Lucifer reveals to us the root of all sin — pride, which is rebellion against God. The one who was first called to be congregated by grace, wanted to be a god by himself. The root of sin is a thirst for self-control, a hatred of grace. Remaining independent of God in its very being, for its being created by God, the rebellious spirit begins to hate being, it is seized by a violent passion for destruction, the thirst for some unthinkable non-existence. But only the earthly world remains open for him, and therefore he tries to destroy the Divine plan in him and beyond the impossibility to destroy the creation, at least distort it. The drama that began in heaven continues on earth because the angels, who remain faithful, unapproachably close the heavens before the angels of the fallen.
The serpent of Genesis, like the "ancient serpent" of the Apocalypse, is Satan.He is present in earthly paradise precisely because man must pass through the art of freedom. The first commandment of God - not to touch a tree - postulates human freedom, and in the same plane God allows the presence of the serpent. Faith gives life to sin, it reveals it, as the Apostle Paul emphasizes: God gives this first command, and then Satan insinuates a rebellion insinuatingly; Indeed, the fruit itself was good, but the whole thing here is in the personal relationship between God and man. And when Eve sees that the tree is beautiful, there is some value outside of God. "You will be like gods," says the serpent. He is not completely deceiving a person, because a person is really called for survival. But here this “how” denotes the equality of vengeful malice, the rancor of the one who wants to confront God: the god of the independent, who opposes himself to God, the god of earthly cosmos, who has fallen away from God.
The fruit is eaten, and sin develops in several stages. When God calls Adam, Adam, instead of rushing to his Creator with a cry of horror, accuses his wife, “which,” he emphasizes, “You gave me.” So a man refuses his responsibility, shifts it to his wife and, ultimately, to God himself.Adam is here - the first determinist. Man is not free, he hints; creation itself, and therefore God, led him to evil.
From this moment on, man is in the power of the evil one. Detached from God, his nature becomes unnatural, unnatural. Suddenly, the overturned mind of a person, instead of reflecting eternity, reflects in itself a formless matter: the primordial hierarchy in a person previously open to grace and pouring it into the world is turned upside down. The spirit had to live by God, the soul by the spirit, the body by the soul. But the spirit begins to parasitize on the soul, feeding on values that are not Divine, like the autonomous kindness and beauty that the serpent revealed to a woman when he drew her attention to the tree. The soul, in turn, becomes a parasite of the body - passions rise. And, finally, the body becomes a parasite of the terrestrial universe, kills to feed, and so finds death.
But God - and this is the whole mystery of “leather vestments” - introduces, in order to avoid complete disintegration under the action of evil, some order in the thick of disorder. His goodwill arranges and protects the universe. His punishment brings up: for a man, death is better, that is, weaning from the tree of life than fixing its monstrous position in eternity.His very mortality will awaken in him repentance, that is, the possibility of a new love. But the universe thus preserved is still not a true world: the order in which there is room for death remains catastrophic order; "the earth is cursed for man," and the very beauty of the cosmos becomes ambiguous.
The true universe, the true nature, is asserted only by grace. That is why sin reveals the drama of redemption. The second Adam will prefer God exactly where the first Adam chose himself: Satan will come to Christ after His baptism and offer Him the same temptation, but the temptation will be broken three times about the Divine will and the human will in Him.
From the book of V. N. Lossky "Dogmatic Theology"