What is Evil? / by Josh Stricklin

“That looks like something the devil would read.”


A lot of people talk about good and bad, right and wrong. Growing up when I did, the fear of an impending World War 3 looming over every news broadcast for years and years certainly dragged the matter of good and evil into light as often as possible. It was a real-life super villain movie, and we were all the innocent civilians of Metropolis.

Good guys/bad guys, naughty or nice, saintly and evil. With the recent rise of the super hero culture, the idea of good and evil is just as prevalent as it always has been.

What is evil? Pure evil?

Is it something real? Can any real person truly be evil? Like Osama bi Laden? Ed Gein? Adolf Hitler?

Or is evil something that can’t exist in reality? Something so bad that people have to create it so no one truly gets hurt. Someone like The Joker? Eric Cartman? Or Cthulhu?

I’ve thought a lot about the idea of evil lately. I can’t say there is true difference between bad and evil, because both are destructive. For either to exist, if has to take away from the good in the world. And in that sense they are very similar.

I have noticed one difference in the two as I wrote The King of Evil. Bad is something that is relative. When a man kills another man as an act of retribution, there is at very least a motive behind the murder. Something that some people would even be able to relate to.

Even when bad isn’t easily justifiable, it is usually the result of some unstoppable belief or desire. Google the Manson family, or Jeffery Dahmer if you need an example. In this case, bad is something that feeds a need—sleeping with another man’s wife for a more general example. But evil…

Evil is something that isn’t vengeful and it doesn’t feed a craving. Evil is completely unmotivated and at the same time, completely unstoppable. Being evil is the act of being bad for no other reason than to be bad.

Evil controls its victims—even when it isn’t there—shutting off parts of the day. Because when it’s dark, or a little too quiet, people stay inside for fear that the evil thing will get them. People don’t go outside when the threat of evil is imminent. They lock the doors and windows and definitely don’t look under the bed.

Because evil won’t stop until it’s got them. The only thing evil exists to do is became more evil. And just like everything else in the world, evil has a hierarchy. And the most powerful go to the top. And what’s up there at the top? Who rules over everything evil?

The King.