I will explain why there is evil in this world. God did what is sensible. The world is, as the Hebrew Bible states, “Good.” It gives people free will. Humans cause evil in three ways.

 

The world is created with duality

Opposites are generally two sides of the same thing. For example, love and hate are related. They are two ends of the same emotion. Love can lead to hate and vice versa. It is the cause of many divorces when married couples fail to realize they moved from one end of their feeling to the other. Even when people remember this fact, they forget they can help themselves by moving from one extreme on the continuum to the other.

This fact of nature was recognized in ancient times. While non-existent in Greek theology, Janus was seen as having two faces in Roman theology. He was the god of doors, gates, and transitions. He was the middle ground between dualities such as life and death, beginning and end, youth and adulthood, rural and urban, and barbarism and civilization. Romans turned to this god to ensure that their transition from one end of life’s pole to another, such as war to peace, was successful.

This fact of nature may explain why many people fail to understand why there is evil in this world. They do not see that evil is part of the duality of good and evil. Winds and hurricanes can be harmful, but they also clean the air. Lightning can cause harm, but it also does good. Rain causes floods, irrigates the ground, and gives us water. The challenge is to learn how to use and balance these forces. I do not know how God thinks; perhaps He thought as follows: I can create humans who will always have an easy life, where people always enjoy pleasures, a life without any problems. But if I did so, people would be senseless puppets, just senseless mechanical robots.

Instead of making puppets, God created a world with duality where people are challenged to grow in their thinking and behavior. Those who pay attention will find the world given to them is fascinating. They will recognize the challenges and will enjoy engaging in them. They will seek to improve themselves and all creation.

This understanding that the world was created with duality and with challenges to humans to work to bring matters to the right side of a continuum is consistent with the way the Torah teaches its lessons. The Hebrew Bible, the Torah, was written for the generation to which it was given to help people live a good life. It is filled with hints on how the presented laws can be changed. For example, the Torah allowed sacrifices, slavery, punishment by an eye for an eye, and taking a female captive during a war. Still, it always sets boundaries and hints to encourage change. A close reading of the Torah reveals that it opposes these things and desires the opposite.

Thus, the world is not filled with evil per se. It is filled with duality and challenges, with free will and promptings for humans to face challenges, learn how to behave with them, enjoy the learning, and use better behavior to improve individuals and all God made available.

 

It is impossible to create a perfect law

It must also be understood that creating a perfect law or rule that will never hurt anyone is impossible. Circumstances will arise when a statute or rule that is good for society will harm individuals. This is part of nature. If laws always resulted in good, there would be no free will. This is why Maimonides differentiated morality from rationality in his Guide for the Perplexed 1:2. Morality is not the truth. Morality is the best idea applicable at certain times in certain localities for the best situation for humans. An excellent moral law is not crossing a street against a red light. But there are occasions when it makes good sense to do so, as when one is pursued by a person who wants to kill you. An intelligent person would not follow the moral law. Maimonides, as did Nietzsche in later times, suggested that the intelligent man, whom Nietzsche called the Übermensch, would act according to reason.

Humans who fail to use reason create evil.

 

If it is easy, it is probably wrong

Clearly, acting according to the prior understanding is not easy. People fail to realize that if a thing is easy, it is probably wrong. When they take the easy approach, they are furthering evil.

In short, the world is good. It is designed to give humans free will. Humans have produced evil because they have not acted properly.