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Religious Studies

Sikhism: good and evil

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All religions teach the difference between good and evil, but have different beliefs about evil and suffering.

The two types of evil

Religion has a great deal to say about ‘good’ and ‘evil’. Religious leaders and sacred texts all encourage believers to live ‘good’ lives. The problem of evil and suffering is one of the commonest reasons people give for not believing in God.

There are two types of evil:

  • natural evil - suffering caused by events that have nothing to do with humans, and which are to do with the way the world is eg, natural disasters such as volcanic eruptions, floods or earthquakes
  • moral (or human) evil - suffering caused by humans acting in a way that is considered morally wrong eg, bullying, murder, rape, theft or terrorism

Human evil and natural evil can often work together, with human evil making natural evil worse - or better! For example, the suffering caused by an earthquake or floods can be made worse by people looting, but it can be made more bearable by people showing compassion and making personal sacrifices to help those who are suffering.

It is important to remember that: 'evil' is a cause of suffering; 'suffering' is a result of evil.

Sikhs believe that suffering is not inflicted directly by God but is permitted by God as a test of courage and faith.

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