I typed this out as part of a response to a discussion on FB, and since it’s useful and pretty succinct, I’m posting it here for future reference.
Feel free to discuss, but I’m not trying to start anything… lol
I think a biblical definition of evil must include these core ideas:
1. Evil exists only as a perversion of goodness. It cannot exist in a vacuum apart from goodness.
The Hebrew and Greek words used for sin are incredibly visual: “pollution” “iniquity” “perversion” “twistedness” “crossing the line”….All assume the perversion of something that used to be clean/pure/straight/good.
2. Good and evil are not parallel forces which rely on each other for existence in some yin/yang construct. God is perfectly good and has been good since before the creation of the universe.
The Fall is not a necessary event in human history by which we now can see the glory and goodness of God better than we would have in a perfect universe. This is not a Scriptural conclusion, and I hate that so many Reformed folks go there in their attempt to explain where Evil comes from and how it operates within God’s sovereignty.
3. The Scripture never gives us any indication of where evil comes from or how it got here. We know only that, given the chance to know good-and-evil in the Garden (via the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil), Adam disobeyed God and came to his knowledge of evil through a rebellious action.
If Adam had obeyed God and not eaten the fruit, he would have gained just as much knowledge of Good and Evil through the experience… without triggering the Fall and all of its effects.