When God made this world, why is there evil?
(i) The existence of evil is a Western thought. Sikhi does not agree with this thought. According to the Bible, God created Adam. Later, from Adam’s rib, God created Eve to be Adam’s companion. Satan (Evil) misguided them to eat the forbidden fruit. Adam thus became a sinner for disobeying God and was then thrown out of Heaven. We, all humans, being Adam’s children, are born sinners and, therefore, we all will go to Hell. However, if we believe in Christ as the only Son of God (according to Christianity) or in Mohammad as the last messenger of God (according to Islam) and follow their instructions we will be saved. On the Judgment Day, these believers will be taken to everlasting Heaven. Non-believers will go to Hell, where they will suffer forever.
According to the Sikh faith, there is no permanent or everlasting place which is Heaven or Hell. There are countless hells and heavens but they are part of reincarnation and not permanent destinations. Only Waheguru and His Presence & Divine Abode (Sach Khand) are eternal. This earth is our play ground and while living on it, we have to play the part assigned to us. Gurmat says a person is in Hell if he forgets God and is in Heaven if he loves God. Satan or evil has no existence.
ਮੇਰੇ ਰਾਮ ਰਾਇ ਜਿਉ ਰਾਖਹਿ ਤਿਉ ਰਹੀਐ ॥
ਤੁਧੁ ਭਾਵੈ ਤਾ ਨਾਮੁ ਜਪਾਵਹਿ ਸੁਖੁ ਤੇਰਾ ਦਿਤਾ ਲਹੀਐ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥
ਮੁਕਤਿ ਭੁਗਤਿ ਜੁਗਤਿ ਤੇਰੀ ਸੇਵਾ ਜਿਸੁ ਤੂੰ ਆਪਿ ਕਰਾਇਹਿ ॥
ਤਹਾ ਬੈਕੁੰਠੁ ਜਹ ਕੀਰਤਨੁ ਤੇਰਾ ਤੂੰ ਆਪੇ ਸਰਧਾ ਲਾਇਹਿ ॥੨॥
“O my Sovereign Lord, as You keep me, so do I remain. When it pleases You, I chant Your Name. You alone can grant me peace. ||1||Pause|| Liberation, comfort and proper lifestyle come from serving You; You alone cause us to serve You. That place is heaven, where the Kirtan of the Lord’s Praises are sung. You Yourself instill faith into us. ||2||”
ਕਬੀਰ ਸੁਰਗ ਨਰਕ ਤੇ ਮੈ ਰਹਿਓ ਸਤਿਗੁਰ ਕੇ ਪਰਸਾਦਿ ॥
ਚਰਨ ਕਮਲ ਕੀ ਮਉਜ ਮਹਿ ਰਹਉ ਅੰਤਿ ਅਰੁ ਆਦਿ ॥੧੨੦॥
ਕਬੀਰ ਚਰਨ ਕਮਲ ਕੀ ਮਉਜ ਕੋ ਕਹਿ ਕੈਸੇ ਉਨਮਾਨ ॥
ਕਹਿਬੇ ਕਉ ਸੋਭਾ ਨਹੀ ਦੇਖਾ ਹੀ ਪਰਵਾਨੁ ॥੧੨੧॥
“Kabeer, I have been spared from heaven and hell, by the Grace of the True Guru. From beginning to end, I abide in the joy of the Lord’s Lotus Feet. ||120|| Kabeer, how can I even describe the extent of the joy of the Lord’s Lotus Feet? I cannot describe its sublime glory; it has to be seen to be appreciated. ||121||”
We can discuss some scientific facts to explain this. Heat exists but its counterpart cold does not exist. It is merely the deficiency or scarcity of heat. Also, darkness does not exist; it is the light which exists. Absence or deficiency of light is called darkness. No doubt we feel cold and observe darkness but they have no physical existence. Evil does not exist, only goodness exists. It is simply the deficiency or the absence of goodness which we have named evil.
Some happenings which we do not like (therefore consider them to be evils) are actually not evil. Think of a father asking an unwilling child to take a shower. Failing to motivate the child to take a shower on his own, he uses force to put the child under the shower against his wish. The child thinks the father is a “devil” forcing him to do something ‘bad’. We, however, know that the shower is necessary for the good health of the child who wrongly thinks it to be an evil act of the father. Alter experiencing the benefits of a regular shower, the child, when he becomes a father, will force his child in the same way to take a shower.
Sun, rain, and storms all are needed for the good life of man. Some places are warm and humid while others are extremely cold (polar regions.) In between these two extremes, all kinds of climate exist on this earth. These extremes are actually the requirements for the comfortable life of some kinds of animals and plants. The variable climate is not for bothering the living beings but for producing a variety of foods and many kinds of physical environment for them to live in and enjoy.
Waheguru is a Father. He forces many things on us to keep us healthy and right. He is a great teacher and has His own ways of teaching us. Waheguru created fire, so that we can keep ourselves warm and cook our food. The fire, when it is out of our control or when we mishandle it, burns us. It may look to be an evil act but it teaches us a lesson about how to use fire with caution. Similarly, our feelings of self-respect, when misused, can become ego to hurt us. We can become possessive, greedy, or miserly, thereby taking the rights of other people and forcing many people to go hungry; this is an evil act.
(ii) The most common example mentioned in the debate over “what is evil?” is the eating of the weaker by the stronger. It may not be evil, but may be the way of Waheguru to keep the cycle of living beings continuous. Many animals are herbivores, some are carnivores, and still others are omnivores. Plants are eaten by animals. Like animals, plants are also living beings. Eating of the plants by the herbivorous animals is not an evil act. It is a law of nature for the growth and reproduction of herbivores. Plants grow, produce seeds, get old, and die. When dead, they are broken down to earth by the microbes. When the animals, having eaten the plants all through their lives, die, they are also consumed by microbes. These herbivores might be eaten by other bigger carnivores who themselves die and turn to earth again. The same thing in a cycle happens at the next higher level. Everything returns back to the soil to start another cycle of life.
A fish eats a small fish. It is in turn eaten by a bigger fish who is eaten by a still bigger fish and finally a whale eats them all. When whales die, they are eaten by many kinds of microbes. Eating of one living being by another looks evil to us, but it is a part of the system in the cycle of nature. Evil is only when we disregard the job assigned to us or if we do something which we are not supposed to do, i.e. practice lust, ego, anger, hatred, greed, jealousy, etc. Killing or hurting under the influence of these vicious thoughts is an evil act .These vices grow in us only when we forget to love our Father and His children. Love of God keeps all vices away, hence saves us from committing sins and evil acts.