Term Paper: Heroic the Nature of Evil

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[. . .] What is irrational is God's punishment. He appears to be particularly hard on his former angels, not giving them a chance to repent or to be in heaven again. This irrationality then leads to further irrationality when Adam and Eve are tempted. God himself is thus the indirect instrument causing the circumstances leading to human disobedience. In this way God himself is also not exempt from the effects of evil, even if he is himself free of the temptation to commit sin.

In line 791 (p. 34) Adam begins to blame Eve for their punishment. This is irrational in the sense that Eve is not the only one who succumbed to temptation. Adam is as guilty as she, since he committed the same sin, despite the fact that his initial resolution was not to do so. However, the fact remains that Eve was the one who persisted until Adam finally gave in. In this way Adam's words are neither entirely irrational nor entirely untrue. Adam remains the representative of rationality. When he was tempted by the demon, he refused to give in. It was only because Eve joined the provocation that Adam finally did agree to eat the fruit.

Again in this case the greatest portion of irrationality is in the punishment from God. In the same way as he did with the rebellious angels, God does not consider all the circumstances involved with the sinful act. He does not consider that Adam at first refused the fruit. Nor does he consider that Eve's innate irrationality caused her fall. There are no extenuating circumstances, and judgment appears very rash and irrational. God also does not consider the fact that the demons whom he cast out and left without hope were provoked to such an action. All that he sees is the disobedience to his rules, and he acts upon his emotional responses of anger rather than on rational considerations.

Evil as Delusion

Delusion appears to be at the heart of the evil described in the Manuscript. Delusion appears in its manifestation as both self-deception and the deception of others.

Both the angels who sin first and the chief of angels who takes a later fall delude themselves that they are somehow better than God and that they can claim the power of rule in heaven. This delusion stems from all that these angels have received from God. They receive power, glory and the right of leadership over their subordinates. This is however not enough and they wish for more and more power. This wish is what leads to delusions of grandeur and the ultimate fall of both human and angel.

A further manifestation of self-delusion is that the demons bound in hell still feel they have some sort of ruling power. This results in their wish for subordinates in the form of human beings. In truth however they clearly do not have power at all, since they are bound to suffer forever in the harsh conditions of hell. Even the freedom achieved by the strongest of demons is merely an illusion against the freedom they used to experience in heaven.

The demon's first attempt at deluding another is, as seen above, with Adam. He attempts his delusion in two ways. First, there is visual delusion when the demon changes form and turns into a snake (p. 26; line 491). Afterwards he attempts to use aural and mental delusion when he attempts to tempt Adam away from God. He uses Adam's accomplishments and his love for God in order to make his delusions appear real. Rationality however appears to provide immunity against any such attempts and Adam refuses to be bullied into accepting the fruit.

The demon resorts to more forceful deluding tactics with Eve. First, he uses her fear of punishment from God in order to get his message across. After this he lies about the rewards of eating the fruit. He paints a rosy picture of the enhancement that both she and Adam will experience when eating the fruit (p. 28; line 464-577).

Furthermore the demon appeals to Eve's emotion and her care for Adam. She is told that all wrongdoing will be concealed when she also persuades Adam to eat of the fruit. In this way Eve's delusion is complete and she eats from fear of punishment as well as a desire for the promised perceptual enhancement. Her hold on rationality is slimmer than that of Adam, and it is easier to deceive her into complying with the demon's request.

In line 611 (p. 29) the delusion is further completed when Eve does indeed experience the promised effects of eating the fruit. These are false, however and only short-term as opposed to the long-term effects of punishment. The delusion is thus accomplished in a very subtle and nearly irresistible way.

It is also by means of subtlety that Adam is reached. Eve keeps talking to him, without leaving him alone. She speaks from her own delusion, offering him the promises that seems to have been fulfilled for her (p. 32, line 702-724). Her delusion is so complete that she honestly believes she is gaining the favor of heaven for both herself and Adam by enticing him to eat the fruit. The delusion is however proved for what it is when Adam eats the fruit and the demon succeeds in its purpose.

It is interesting that both Adam and Eve readily accept that they are guilty. They in fact plead with God to give them the punishment that they are willing to accept as a result of their sin. In no way do they attempt to justify what they have done once they realize that they have sinned. This may be ascribed to the rationality that is strongest in Adam, and that also resides in Eve.

It has been seen that the demons do not have a large amount of rationality, which may also explain why the first attempt at delusion was directed at Adam. The self-delusion that begins with the rebellion in heaven is perpetuated in hell. The demons do not feel that they have sinned, or that their wish for more power is unjustified. They continue deluding themselves in believing that they still have power to give or to take. This is demonstrated in the very act of tempting Adam and Eve.

The role of God in the delusion and punishment process should also be taken into account. It has been mentioned that God appears to be rather quick to punish and slow to consider any extenuating circumstances. The initial punishment of rebellious angels could be questioned. God does not appear to realize that to punish someone for eternity would hardly be beneficial for the punisher. The demons, as shown by later events, may gain strength and be detrimental to the Kingdom of God. In this way God appears to delude himself about the justification and effectiveness of punishment.

God also deludes himself regarding human beings. He could have provided Eve with a greater sense of rationality. Also, he does not consider the persuasive powers of his fallen angels, and thus do not grant the human beings any reprieve or friendship. This is regardless of the previous excellent relationship that he had with them. Despite the fact that Adam and Eve confess that they have done wrong, God again submits to his own fairly childish temper.

A further delusion on the part of God is that he closes his eyes to the fact that his punishments appear to be ineffective on other occasions. Thus he is closer in character to the demons than to the human beings. The demons perpetuate their own self-delusion, and so does God. He learns nothing from the pervious punishments against his fallen angels. Instead he stubbornly persists in an ineffective and unjust punishment system. It is interesting that heavenly beings are in this way set apart from human… [END OF PREVIEW]

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