May 13, 2009 / 11:06 am • By Dr. Melissa Clouthier

Roger Simon met Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and says, “I was in the presence of pure Evil.”

Roger’s analysis of coming face to face with evil is compelling. Please go read the whole thing. After you come back, I’ll have some thoughts that were triggered by his piece.

I met evil once. She was in the form of a patient. She made the hair on my neck stand and I felt physically ill/drained being around her. She is the first and only patient in eleven years who prompted me to ban her from ever setting foot in the practice again. There were other wacky and weak people. There were even unbalanced and in one or two cases, psychotic people. There’s been a stalker. But evil is a whole different kettle of fish and it’s a disgusting, oily, leaves-a-rancid-residue experience to interact with them.

When I met evil, I felt afraid.

Unlike Roger, I’ve never been atheist. I’ve had agnostic periods where my faith faltered, but God has influenced my life such that disbelief would be ungrateful and stupid, really. The school of hard knocks gave me some very direct answers. The answers have tended to be more mysterious than I expected and lead me on some paradoxical paths. God, it turns out, is nuanced.

Let’s face it. Being atheistic simplifies things. The world is what we experience and nothing more. The print we make on the earth begins at birth and ends at death. Bad people had bad life experiences which makes them do bad things. A better, kinder upbringing would make a better person who would do better things. And that’s mostly true, but sometimes it’s not.

An atheist doesn’t have to fiddle with good or evil. There’s just gradations of human. Some behavior is more helpful. Some behavior is less helpful. Iran’s leader, Pol Pot, Stalin, Mussolini, and even Hitler just consistently chose unhelpful behavior. A lot.

Acknowledging evil, though, complicates things, because that means there is also good. And we know this to be true. I’ve been in the presence of people who have a pureness of soul that’s difficult to describe. It’s just a relief to be around it. That’s why people love babies so much. They are so pure and sweet and good. It’s rarer to find in adults, but exists.

Roger asks why evil is allowed to exist. A friend and I discussed this recently. How, though, can free will exist without the possibility of choosing to do right and wrong? How can God know we believe if we’re guaranteed a simple, pain-free life just by being a believer? How will our faith be tested if every brush with evil leaves us unscathed? The ultimate evil, in my opinion, is death. From the loss of physical life, there is no redemption. Well, there is none without faith.

One more note. It is fashionable on the Left to label anyone who disagrees with politically correct ideology as evil. President Bush was called evil. There is a scripture that foretells of days when evil will be called good and good evil. To even imply that President Bush was evil is atrocious and diminishes true evil. I actually think that those on the Left have an easy time bandying about such terms because they don’t really believe in the concept of good and evil, but that know people on the Right do. So, calling President Bush evil is really about impugning believers–poking fun at their simple-mindedness.

But who is simple minded? Running away from the notion of evil lands a person in a place where engaging it is “rational”. Roger Simon asks incredulously, after meeting Ahmadinejad, “This was the guy that my president wanted to talk with?” Yes. Because evil doesn’t exist. Evil is the same sort of superstitious notion as ghosts and angels.

The evil count on this denial. The evil count on the weak and faithless to cower behind intellectualism and rational thought. Only those willing to name evil are willing to fight it.

Believing isn’t for sissies. It’s challenging, paradoxical and yes, nuanced. Does evil exist? Yes. Thankfully, so does Good.

  • Kat

    I have met evil once, too. It is hard to describe to people the feeling of the hair on your arms and the back of your neck standing up and feeling like electricity running through you. You want to run but knowing that it is impossible. It is almost like your brain acted so fast in recognizing evil and your body is trying to play catch up…and losing.

    “..disbelief would be ungrateful and stupid…” Yes. Thank you, that is what I feel. I believe in God but I have no faith in religion. “Nuance and mystery.” Wonderful way to put it. Perhaps with time I will change.

    I have always wondered why people want to deny the existence of real evil but will use the word casually for things that are far from evil.

    Thanks for the great post.

  • Samer

    I also believe that evil exists but who are we to classify people as good or evil? Do we know the hearts of people? God is the One who judges people and not us. Didn’t Jesus condemn the Pharisees for being self-righteous and for slashing anyone who would disagree with their narrow views?

    I do not agree with everything Ahmadinijad does but at least he did not kill tens of thousands of people like George Bush did. I never saw that Ahmadinijad burned little children to death, however, I swear to My Lord I saw many Iraqi children buried alive or burned to death because of George Bush!