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Year 3 - N° 149 – March 14, 2010

Rio de Janeiro, RJ (Brasil)
Renata Rinaldini - renatarinaldini@hotmail.com 

Good and Evil

(Part 2 and final)

We shall free ourselves from evil by studying and practicing Christian charity. The study will allow us to discern what is in agreement with the laws of God and what is not

635. The different social positions create new wants which are not the same for all men.

Natural law would therefore appear not to be a uniform rule?

"Those different positions are in nature, and according to the law of progress; they do not

invalidate the unity of natural law, which applies to everything." 

The conditions of a man's existence vary according to times and places; hence arise for him different wants, and social positions corresponding to those wants. Since this diversity is in the order of things, it must be consonant with the law of God; and this law is none the less one in principle. It is for reason to distinguish between real wants and wants that are factitious or conventional. 

636. Are good and evil absolute for all men?

"The law of God is the same for all; but evil resides especially in the desire for its commission. Good is always good, and evil is always evil, whatever a man's position may be; the difference is in the degree of his responsibility." 

637. When a savage, yielding to his instinctive desire feeds on human flesh, is he guilty in so doing?

"I have said that the essence of evil is in the will; therefore a man is more or less guilty according to his light." 

Circumstances modify the relative intensity of good and of evil. A man often commits faults that are none the less reprehensible for being the consequence of the social position in which he is placed; but his responsibility is proportioned to the means he possesses of distinguishing between right and wrong. Thus the enlightened man who commits a mere injustice is more culpable in the sight of God than the ignorant savage who abandons himself to his instincts of cannibalism. 

638. Evil seems, sometimes, to be a consequence of the force of things. Such is, for instance, in some cases, the necessity of destruction, even to the extent of taking the life of a fellow creature. Can it be said that, in such cases, there is violation of the law of God? 

"Evil, in such cases, is none the less evil, although necessary; but this necessity disappears in proportion as the soul becomes purified by passing from one existence to another; and man is then all the more culpable when he does wrong, because he comprehends more clearly the  character of his action." 

In Genesis, Chapter 3: 

8. One can say that evil is the absence of good, as cold is the absence of heat. Wickedness is no more a distinct attribute than cold is a special fluid. One is the negative of the other. Where good exists not, there is necessarily evil. Not to do wickedly is already the commencement of good. God desires only good; from man only comes evil. If there were in the universe a being charged with evil, man would not be able to evade him; but man, having the cause of wrong-doing within Himself, having at the same time his free-will, and for his guide the divine laws, he can avoid it if he desires to do so.

Let us take a common fact as comparison. A landowner knows that at the extremity of his field is a dangerous place, and those who might venture there would be wounded, or perish. What means does he employ to prevent accidents? He places near the place a notice forbidding people to pass there on account of danger. Such is the law: it is wise and provident. If not withstanding the warning, an imprudent person pays no heed, and passes beyond it, thereby injuring himself, whom can he blame if not himself?

Thus it is with all evils; man could evade them if he would obey the divine laws. Gos, for example, has placed a limit to the gratification of wants: man is warned by satiety. If he passes beyond this limit, he does it voluntarily. The illness, infirmities, and death, which may be the consequence of it, are then occasioned by his own fault, not that of God.

In item number 8, one can verify that Kardec adheres to the Augustinian view of evil, by saying that it is the absence of good. It can be also noticed that, the same as Augustine of Hippo did, he also excludes the possibility of the existence of a “preposterous evil “, as opposed to the Manichean proposal.

9. Wickedness being the result of imperfections of man and man being created by God, will they not say that God has at least created, if not evil, the cause of evil? If he had made man perfect, evil would not exist.

If man had been created perfect, he would be carried by fate in the way of goodness. Now, by virtue of his free will, he is carried by fate neither to the good nor bad. God having decreed that he should submit to the law of progress, and that this progress should be fruit of his own labour, in order that he should have merit of it, as well as be responsible for his evil deeds, which he can always avoid by the use of his will. The question then is to know what the source of propensity to evil is in man. 1 

Here we see the point where the Spiritist Doctrine diverges from the Augustinian view of evil. The Codification teaches that we were created “simple and ignorant”, but “endowed with free-will”. So, God created us neither good nor bad, leaving the path we would thread to our own application. For sure we are destined for perfection but to arrive there we are not dependent on God’s mercy, but only on our will. 

10.- If one studies all the passions, and even all the vices, one sees that they have their origin in the instinct of self-preservation. This instinct is strongest with animals, and with primitive men, who approached nearest the animal existence. It govern them entirely, they had not the moral sense for counterpoise, having not being born inot the intellectual life. The instinct is weakened in proportion as intelligence is developed, because the latter rules matter.

The Spirit is destined for the spiritual life: but in the first phases of its corporeal existence it has only material needs to satisfy; and to this end the exercise of the passions is a necessity for the preservation of the species and of the individual, materially speaking. But, past beyond this period, he has other needs, - needs at first partly moral and partly material, then exclusively moral. It is then that Spirit rules matter. If he throws off the yoke, he advances on his providential way; he approaches his final destiny. If on the contrary, he allows himself to be ruled by matter, he is held back on his upward progress by assimilating himself with the brute.  In this situation, that which was oramlly good, because it was a necessity of his nature, becomes an evil, not only because it is no longer a necessity, as because it has become damaging to his spiritualisation. Similarly, that which is considered a good quality in a child becomes an imperfection in an adult. Evil is thus relative, and responsibility is proportioned to the degree of advancement. 

All passions have thus their providential utility; if not so, God has mad some things intrinsically useless and hurtful. It is only abuse which constitutes the evil, man man abuses by virtue of his free will. At length, awaken to the knowledge of in own share in it, he chooses freely between the good and the bad. 

The best Example 

Jesus was not a philosopher of theory, but he was amongst us the magnificent Master who lived everything that he taught with intensity. Thus, in the gospels there is not the narrative of Jesus having taught explicitly to the people or priests the difference between good and evil.  

Instead of this, by use of the moral understanding of the people themselves, he gave examples by his behaviour and his words, of the good man which we all must imitate. As for evil, he led us to understand in a clear manner that its cause was in the transgression of the law of God. After curing people sick with illnesses of the body, assured of his immense kindness, many times he used to say farewell to them urging them not to sin anymore, that is, not to practice evil. With this instruction he made clear that the ones responsible for our physical and emotional health and for our evolution are ourselves, an understanding that, as we saw, totally escaped Augustine of Hippo, on proposing the doctrine of mercy. On curing the ones who were born sick, the meaning of his goodbye was even more profound, as it placed the origin of the sin, that is the mistake which had caused them the disease, in a previous life, corroborating with this the truth contained in the law of reincarnation. He also always emphasised that the responsibility of men of the law was always much bigger that the responsibility of the people, which, in another manner, means to say each one answers for their actions according to the degree of their understanding of the laws of God. 

Jesus taught us that we should still pray to the Father asking him to free us from evil. Well, what is the great evil from which we need to free ourselves? If we remind ourselves of the Augustinian Doctrine about evil and deepen our understanding with the teachings of the Spirits, it is evident that evil is something that places us in lacking in relation to God, something that allows us to make things and to have ideas which are contrary to His sovereign laws. Well, what is the mother of all mistakes if not ignorance? When we pray to Our Father, we finish off the prayer by asking God to free us from evil. We shall understand, that by saying this, in truth, we are asking God to free us from ignorance and from the consequences of our ignorance, albeit from other’s whose effects will affect us. 


We shall free ourselves from evil by studying and practicing Christian charity. This study will allow us to discern what is in agreement with the laws of God and what is not, teaching us to act in every circumstance so that we always make the right choice, positioning ourselves beside the good. The exercise of moral charity will make us practice what we have learned, making of us instruments to diminish ignorance in the world and its sad consequences, so known to us, paving the way for the world of regeneration which we all aim for.


1 The error consists in presuming that the soul leaves the hands of the Creator already in a state of perfection, whereas it is the opposite. God wants our perfection to be the result of our own labour, through a gradual purification of the Spirit. He further wishes the soul- which is endowed with free will- to be able to choose between good and evil, and that its final goal should be attained at the price of activity, and by resisting evil. If He had created the soul as perfect as Himself, by securing its eternal beatitude right from his hands, he would have created if not after his image, but after his own self. (Bonnamy, “The Reason of Spiritism”, chapter 6)



1.COSTA, Renato. Adam and Eve In Revista Internacional de Espiritismo, October 2004

2. Kardec, Allan. Genesis, the Miracles and Predictions According to Spiritism,  36th edition , Rio de Janeiro: FEB,  1995.

3.  The Spirits’ Book. 76th edition, Rio de Janeiro: FEB, 1995.

4. LIMA, Raymundo. Manichaeism: The Good, Evil and its Effects Yesterday and Today. Magazine Espaço,  Academic Year I, number 7, December 2001.

5. SAMPAIO, Rudini. St. Augustine,  Key Elements of his Doctrine. Retrieved on 29/05/2006 from http://www.ime.usp.br/ ~ Rudin / filos.agostinho.htm. 


Translation References:

1. Kardec, Allan. The Spirits’ Book, 6th edition, Rio de Janeiro: FEB.

2. Kardec, Allan. Genesis, 1st edition, Spiritist Alliance Books: New York, 2003. 


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