The great literary works of Antiquity such as the Bible, Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey and Plato’s Republic do a stupendous job illuminating the deep dark fissures and chasms in the human nature each of us struggle with day by day, year by year, decade by decade.
For example, today my atheist-feminist food-loving supervisor issued forth with not so constructive criticism that at first blush would have seemed obscenely cruel and sadistic.
What could I do in such a horribly demeaning situation but quote Aristotle (I think she would have hit me if I had quoted Saint Paul)?
Quoth I, “I am convinced that you are not evil but good. That is, what you do here is aimed at some good end (Aristotle’s Ethics, page 1).”
“But I do possess human nature and being made to feel like an idiot does not improve my performance but wounds me deeply.”
Yes, that was me, at once back talking my boss, proclaiming my humanity in the face of ruthless oppression, and being ever so polite about it all.
Not surprisingly, I was reminded of the famous biblical story from Genesis about Adam and Eve and eating fruit from the Tree of Good and Evil.
Here, from Genesis 2:16-17:
“And this was the command which the Lord God gave the man, Thou mayest eat thy fill of all the trees in the garden except the tree which brings knowledge of good and evil; if ever thou eatest of this, thy doom is death (Genesis 2:16-17).”
I have become convinced that understanding that one single passage is the key to my happiness.
Because the knowledge of good and evil brings with it the absolute need to impose justice for the good and evil that is done around us all day, every day, for our entire life.
Knowledge of good and evil requires that I judge and condemn my neighbor and everything in world that commits evil, all day, every day, for my entire life.
Keep an eye on yourself sometime and see how much score keeping goes on inside your heart and mind, all day, every day.
Justice then becomes the advantage of the strong (Thrasymachus’ definition of justice, Plato’s Republic).
And the world becomes what it has been since time immemorial: a horror show of murder, oppression, poverty, vice and hopelessness.
And such a hell on Earth is the world of atheism where each individual understands good and evil in his own way and stands in everlasting judgement of his neighbor.
So what is the answer to this conundrum of the knowledge of good and evil?
History has shown us that Christianity has provided this answer to mankind.