Evil Is Real, and it Does Harm the Innocent

Marvin Jacob Lee

Marvin Jacob Lee

There’s a New Age myth floating around that evil is not real; that evil is just an illusion; that if anything evil happens to us, it’s either karma for evil we ourselves did in a past life, or it’s something we chose to have happen to us as a learning experience.

But it’s not true.

Evil is real.

Evil is not an illusion.

And although sometimes we do bring evil upon ourselves, to say that every bad thing that happens to us is the result of our own actions or choices is the ultimate case of blaming the victim.

For those whose minds aren’t clouded by faux-spiritual mumbo jumbo, every day brings news of innocent people harmed by the machinations of evil minds, or by people whose lives have gotten seriously derailed into destructive ways of thinking, feeling, and living.

Here is one such news story from the past week:

For Jefferson Heavner, of Catawba County, NC, it was a family tradition to help motorists whose cars had slid off the road in stormy and snowy weather. Heavner’s father had died in a car accident years earlier. Helping drivers in need was one of the ways Jefferson and the rest of his family remembered and honored him.

So it was all in a day’s good deeds when he and some friends pulled over to assist Marvin Jacob Lee, whose car had slid off the road in a snowstorm.

He couldn’t have known as he pulled over that this would be his last act as a Good Samaritan on this earth.

Good repaid with evil

Jefferson Heavner and his infant son

Jefferson Heavner and his infant son

When he and his friends got out and approached the car that was off the side of the road, they quickly realized that the driver was a bit off. He was clearly under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and he was acting belligerent. So they did what any sensible person would do in that situation: after talking it over, they called the police.

Unfortunately, when Marvin Lee, the driver, overheard them talking about calling the police, he pulled out a gun and shot at them, knocking Heavner to the ground. As his friends scattered, Lee got out of the car, stood over Heavner, and shot him repeatedly, killing him on the spot. He then got back into his car. And it took an armed police swat team to get him out.

You can read all about it in these articles:

Jefferson Heavner had every reason to live. He was the single father of a one-year-old boy. He was just out to help people in need.

And though he commonly received the gratitude of those he helped, this time he was repaid with a killer’s bullet.

Evil does harm the innocent

Multiply this tragic story by thousands and even millions of times per day, and can we really deny that evil is real, and that it does hurt people who neither deserved it nor brought it upon themselves?

If you think that every bad thing that happens to you is because you did something bad, or you somehow brought it upon yourself, put that idea out of your mind.

Of course if you know you did something stupid or evil that brought harm upon yourself, such as getting drunk and driving off in a car, that’s a different story. If we do something stupid or destructive and get hurt or killed as a result, then it truly is our own fault.

But the reality is that every day, people all over the world get hurt and killed through no fault of their own, because of the intentionally wrong or grossly negligent actions of others. Evil hurts all people, both the guilty and the innocent. That’s what evil is all about.

Jefferson Heavner’s young son will have to grow up without his father. Heavner’s family and friends have lost someone they loved and cherished. And all he was doing was trying to help someone in need.

That’s evil harming the innocent.

And evil harming the innocent is the very definition of injustice.

Spiritual and eternal justice

But there’s one thing evil can’t do to the innocent. Other people’s evil actions cannot kill and destroy the soul of those who are good and innocent.

Marvin Jacob Lee’s actions killed Jefferson Heavner’s body. But no bullet made of lead and steel can kill the soul of a person whose heart is good.

Yes, the destructive words and actions of people who are up to no good cause much pain and grief for millions of innocent people. But the victims of evil who—even in the face of undeserved pain and suffering—continue to love and care for their fellow human beings will preserve the integrity of their own character and the life of their own soul. They may even become stronger for it.

Heavner’s days of doing good deeds on this earth are now over due to the actions of an intoxicated killer. But Heavner’s soul is now moving on to a place where evil can no longer harm him.

And I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who from now on die in the Lord.” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “they will rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them.” (Revelation 14:13)

For further reading:

About

Lee Woofenden is an ordained minister, writer, editor, translator, and teacher. He enjoys taking spiritual insights from the Bible and the writings of Emanuel Swedenborg and putting them into plain English as guides for everyday life.

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Posted in Current Events, Pain and Suffering
18 comments on “Evil Is Real, and it Does Harm the Innocent
  1. sparky480 says:

    New Age victim blaming has been a profit-making machine since at least the 1970’s. There are so many different beliefs associated with New Age cults, reincarnation and karma.

    Ironically the Bible appears to be a tool they use, where they either cherry pick or interpret texts to suit their agenda. New Age snake oil salesmen/women especially like to use the eye for an eye mantra or Galatians verses to ‘prove’ karma.

    Even many respectable afterlife and near-death websites have been contaminated by New Age thought, and have turned into religious websites (pretty much). This is sad considering these websites are probably the best in trying to demonstrate there’s evidence for an afterlife. What was supposed to have been unbiased, secular-based research has turned into religious philosophy.

    Yes, it’s very sick the way New Age folks look for ways to condemn others, but yet always seem to find a way to justify their own happiness, success and safety. As a result now we have New Age gurus and ‘advanced’ spirits telling people they made deals with other group souls to be both perpetrators and victims on Earth. In my opinion karmic law and the lessons/experiences mantra are not even compatible with each other. On top of this New Age thought renders the afterlife almost meaningless, being nothing more than a vacation spot between lives.

    Personally I think these people should have to face sick children in hospitals, violent crime victims or those who’ve lost loved ones and tell them it was ‘their plan’. I’ve also noticed the overwhelming majority of those in agreement with New Age thought tend to be on the better side of life.

    Why are New Agers so indifferent to the evil of their beliefs, and the suffering of others one may ask? Personally I think blaming the victim makes people feel better about themselves, and have less guilt about their happiness, success and materialistic tendencies. Many people also don’t want to think bad things can happen to them.

    Let’s face it, most people involved with New Age thought are materialistic. It’s extremely clear from their comments that material gain and hedonistic tendencies are their sole motivators, not any true spirituality where service to others is the foundation. Just look at Rhonda Byrne’s cult followers.

    I wrote a long post here, and I could of added much more. New Age thought angers me greatly I’ll admit, but I’m not the only one it does. However, even my own dislike of something does not mean it’s not a fact. Hopefully my scepticism of New Age thought is justified.

    • Lee says:

      Hi sparky480,

      Thanks for your thoughts. New Age thinking doesn’t work for me, either—and it never has. It’s just too fuzzy, and it doesn’t focus on facing and overcoming the evil and falsity in our own hearts, minds, and lives, which is where our spiritual labors must begin. If you deny the reality of evil, you really can’t deal with it effectively.

      Having said that, despite the “snake oil salesmen and women,” and despite the many faulty and objectionable beliefs, such as our being responsible for all the evil that happens to us, there are also many good and thoughtful people in the New Age movement who simply can’t accept the harsh, old, and false “Christian” doctrines that have corrupted the entire edifice of traditional Christianity. So I do have a certain amount of sympathy for many people who have turned to New Age beliefs.

      The Christianity I was brought up with was very different from the harsh, irrational Christianity that still holds sway in so many churches and denominations. And because I was never taught fallacies about God sending billions of people to hell just because they believe the wrong thing, I never had any need to turn to New Age thinking.

      At any rate, I do generally agree with your assessment of New Age beliefs. I just don’t want to tar every New Ager with the same negative brush. It’s good to make a distinction between the faulty beliefs many people hold and the goodness in the hearts of those who continue to love their fellow human beings in practical ways every day.

      • sparky480 says:

        Hello Lee. I should had written ‘many’ New Agers instead. It was my intention but somehow I missed it. Perhaps my emotions got the better of me, and this is one of my trigger warning topics.

        I’m probably not as forgiving as you are here concerning many people who seem enthusiastic about karma and lessons. Reincarnation itself does not bother me as much as some of the philosophies behind it.

        Yes, there are some decent people involved with New Age thought who really do have good intentions. However, it appears the majority are nothing more than drama seekers with narcissistic tendencies and strong materialistic desires. Do you really think people who buy into stuff such as ‘The Secret’ are interested in doing good works? What about the majority of them on the better side of life who belittle the less fortunate? Something tells me their intentions are not the best either. Why I have little sympathy for many of these types of people is explained in my sixth paragraph in my latter post here.

        How can I have empathy for those who don’t have empathy for others? I have some empathy for such people, but there are others much more deserving of it in my opinion, like the victims of horrible circumstances they love to blame. It’s not actions as much as intentions that matter to me the most. I can forgive, but only when people who’ve done bad things start to demonstrate signs of remorse. Maybe this is wrong but that’s me I guess.

        I grew up originally in a Catholic home, but when my mom married my future stepdad we became more involved with Protestantism. However, I was always sceptical of my religions even before I was ten.

        Eventually I became an agnostic atheist who became highly sceptical of anything considered paranormal. It took the deaths of my brother and stepdad within very close time frames of each other, and the odd events that followed which ended up shaking the foundation of my scepticism. Furthermore, my mom actually dreamt about the death of my brother in vivid detail two weeks before he actually died.

        I turned back to my old religions for answers, because at the time I was not aware there was another alternative to the rigid religious and atheistic paradigms.
        I myself ended up getting hooked on New Age thought. This was the result of looking at near death experiences and the ocean of New Age websites.

        However, even then I was never fond of many things they taught. Ten years ago I’d probably be debating you that you were wrong about reincarnation. My shelves are still filled with New Age and reincarnation books.

        Eventually I got in contact with James Webster and Michael Roll online, and they started offering me material that ended up making me sceptical of New Age thought. Webster was one of the magicians who attended the Scole experiments. Michael Roll is an atheist who’s a major advocate of afterlife research. Like I’d written before, I’m still up in the air about whether reincarnation is a fact or not, but I now have a sceptical stance concerning it until I’m provided sufficient evidence to support it.

        • Lee says:

          Hi sparky480,

          It sounds like you’ve been on quite a journey of faith—and that it’s still ongoing. I will say that I don’t enjoy listening to most New Age teachers I’ve encountered. I disagree with too much of what they say, and I find their views on many subjects misleading and distasteful.

          About reincarnation, I presume you’ve seen my fairly lengthy article on the subject: The Bible, Emanuel Swedenborg, and Reincarnation.

  2. Ian says:

    I used to be a New Age person myself, so I understand where a lot of this article is coming on. I turned to New Age philosophy after leaving the judgmental and dogmatic Christianity that’s so common these days, and it gave me a lot of comfort, guidance, and help when I was “adrift” so to speak. However, looking back on it many years later, I see the New Age movement as a bit too “Dreamy,” for lack of a better word, and that it places a lot of emphasis on spiritual beings who aren’t God and rather abstract notions of laws of attraction, energy, and karma that, in my opinion, aren’t that helpful in everyday life. And while the belief that evil does not exist, and that everything is love is very appealing, all it takes is a glimpse at the front page of any newspaper to see that isn’t true.

    However, I do believe that the majority of New Age practitioners do have their hearts in the right place, are more aware of the faults of religion than most people, and do want to help make the world a better place. I also don’t regret being a New Ager, as with hindsight I can see that it was a critical and important step on my own spiritual journey. Once I had gathered everything I needed, I moved on to other spiritual ideas that were more fulfilling and enriching, and perhaps that’s the best way to look at the movement: It’s a stepping stone to something better for those who want more from spirit than what our cultures traditionally offer.

    • Lee says:

      Hi Ian,

      Thanks for stopping by, and for providing a balancing perspective, which I do appreciate. I was never a New Ager myself, but in my younger years I did spend a certain amount of time in New Age circles. I came away with a similar sense to yours. I don’t think New Agers are awful people, and I agree with you that the New Age movement has its uses for many people who need to break away from their old, rather rigid and judgmental religious paradigms.

      So thanks for your perspective as one who’s been through that whole process and come out the other side. That’s exactly why I believe God provides and allows for all different religious and spiritual perspectives: because we humans need them at various points in our spiritual development.

  3. sparky480 says:

    Yes Lee, I’d read that entire page and wrote posts on there. The New Age mantra appeared to be my first step away from dogmatic religion, but it was my personal anomalous experiences that changed my scepticism of anything deemed as mystical.

    Why don’t more reincarnationists see these red flags concerning the dangers of relying on spirit communication? How can the following be so overlooked:

    1) The Michael teachings convey that criminality is pre-planned for the purpose of lessons.

    2) Kardac’s Spirits’ Book states the above is false, and that nobody is encouraged to wrong others. (They do admit that sometimes people take challenges that end up being more than they can handle, getting these people into serious trouble upon entering the spirit world).

    3) People like Newton and Olsen deny there’s a hell at all, and claim all is light on the other side.

    4) Half of sources claim we only spend a few years on average on the other side before reincarnating. The other half claims the time on the other side is several hundred years.

    4) There are major contradictions concerning what ‘Self’ really is.

    5) Under the way human emotions and amnesia tend to play out, karma will likely never be resolved.

    6) Karma is incompatible with the lessons mantra.

    7) A great deal of reincarnation research has had subjects in some instances recall the life events of another person, except that person was still alive at the time (implying something other than past life recall is taking place).

    8) My debate with Roy Stemman revealed he believed some cases of past life recall had to be legit, despite the fact with some of these cases these people could not have been on the other side for more than a year. In his opinion vengeance was their reason for reincarnating so quickly. This implies to me if this is so there’s no real order or well a intentioned purpose behind the reincarnation process.

    8) Birthmarks can be explained via other paranormal phenomena most reincarnationists never even read about. Examples include hypnotic impression, maternal impression, spirit possession, etc.

    9) In a great deal of reincarnation investigations key information tends to be left out that may undermine reincarnation hypothesis. Bowman and Stevenson are good examples of this.

    10) The fact that past life regression therapy helps people likely due to the belief they had reincarnated, rather than actually recalling a past life.

    There are more I have left out, but does Occam’s razor really side with reincarnation hypothesis? I veered off topic here I’ll admit, and I’m a debater by heart. My intention was to highlight why we should think more critically before accepting anything as a’fact’. I also wanted to highlight why I think reincarnation (with or without karma) can not solve the problem of evil. How can one solve problems if they deny they even exist?

    Confirmation bias, fueled by cognitive dissonance can be a major enemy of reason. Information cascades do not help either. Hopefully my post will plant seeds in the minds of anyone who accepts their version of reincarnation as a ‘proven fact’. Any belief can be dogmatic whether it’s New Age, religious or secular.

    • Lee says:

      Hi sparky480,

      Ah yes, I see that we’ve already had a conversation in the comments to the Reincarnation article. Hard to keep track of all the comments here, which are now up in the thousands.

      Anyway, your questions are all very good ones for reincarnationists to face. As I said in the article, I don’t think reincarnation holds water at all. And I find it to be highly objectionable morally and spiritually. But all of that is covered in the article. I do understand why many people believe in reincarnation. But ultimately I believe it is a mistaken idea, and does not actually occur.

      Thanks for your further thoughts!

      • laurisolups says:

        Hello Lee.

        If you don’t think reincarnation is true, what is your concept of the soul? Where does it come from or how is it created at the time of birth? What is its destination after death?

        • Lee says:

          Hi laurisolups,

          Thanks for stopping by, and for your excellent questions.

          The short version is that I believe that just as our physical body is a new and unique creation whose genetic blueprint is a unique combination of unique offshoots from our biological father’s and mother’s genes, so our soul is a new and unique creation whose spiritual “genetic blueprint” is a unique combination of unique ofshoots from our father’s and mother’s souls. For more on this, see a question asked by a reader named Chuck Gebhardt here, and my responses to his comment.

          My second response there touches on our destination after death, which is eternal life in the spiritual world, where we continue to learn and grow as a person forever. For more on these subjects, please see:

          I hope this helps! And if you have any further questions as you read, please don’t hesitate to ask.

  4. Tony says:

    Hi lee

    From what I can gather from your articles we human beings tend to bear evil and everyone bears a certain amount of it and supposedly god only gives us the amount of what we can bear and no more and because we grow spiritually god opens up even greater evils for us to endure my question is will there come a point where we can bear all evil and eventually overcome it thereby never having to deal with evil ever again or is it impossible for us to eventually overcome all evil?

    • Lee says:

      Hi Tony,

      Good question.

      Being finite, not infinite, we humans will never overcome all evil. That was Christ’s job. However if, during our lifetime on earth, we choose to battle the evil within and around ourselves, and commit ourselves to following the truth and doing good to the extent of our admittedly flawed and fallible abilities, then there will come a time when although we still have elements of evil in us, they have been pushed to the side so that they are no longer a serious problem, but only an occasional nuisance or challenge.

      Swedenborg says that angels continue to grow in love, knowledge, and capability to eternity, but never actually reach perfection. Only God is perfect good. We humans are always traveling toward (or away from) God.

      Angels in the highest heaven have no more desire for evil, so it has no hold on them, but only causes them to recognize that they are still dependent upon God’s love, wisdom, and power flowing in.

      Angels in the middle heaven do still fight against evil, but they are always victorious, through the Lord’s love, wisdom, and power flowing in.

      Angels in the lowest heaven still have many areas in the deeper parts of their soul that have not been reborn, or regenerated. However, they are willing to be led and taught to do good rather than evil, and the Lord therefore keeps them focused on good rather than on evil.

      Of course, evil spirits in hell have chosen evil over good, so they obviously do not fight against evil, but rather indulge in it as much as they can. Still the Lord keeps them from falling into deeper hells, meaning into deeper evil thoughts, feelings, and behaviors than the ones they chose to put at the center of their lives here on earth.

      In short, though we humans never fully overcome all evil, we can, through the Lord’s power working in us, overcome it to the extent that there will be no more possibility that it will take over our life and enslave us to its power. We may still feel its effects from time to time, but it will never rule us. That is the state of all the angels in heaven.

  5. aga says:

    God is love, Jesus died for us and we ought to suffer with Him. This is well explained in ROMANS 8, especially ROMANS 8:17,18. First Apostles, Disciples were martyrs. God never expects more of us than we can take, even when we think we can not cope any more. God loves us, and He is with us with our suffering. Very good book that helped me to understand was written by a Blessed Catherine Emmerich, Life of Our Lord Jesus Christ and Biblical Revelations. She had visions given from Heaven.
    I am a Catholic , I was born Catholic, at some point I got interested in New Age, also, what was wrong, is wrong, but I will not write about it here now.I will write about True God and His love for us. At the time I started to question religions, etc. Only after some years I came back to Catholic religion with a solid faith. Just in time of my life when I thought I finally found God again, when I felt that God is with us, and He loves us, I got hurt, by people I suppose to trust. The questions started coming. Only recently I realized that or try to accept, that it is not about our perception of suffering or happiness, it is about doing things, living our life according to God’s Will. We people sometimes create our own image, and if it goes different way we question why. It is difficult to go through suffering, to accept it, it is a tragedy for many in different sufferings – lesser or worse. I feel for family of Jefferson Heavner, and pray for them. God knows the good, He sees the good. God sees all good and bad. For those who suffer I can only say, God loves you, He knows of your suffering, Holy Mary stood and watched her Son Jesus on the Cross , dying for all of us, and she also is with us. With God , in His Sacred Heart we will find consolation, He is with the suffering, consoling us. Life can be very very hard sometimes, but we have to remember, God loves us, and time will come even often here on earth that life will still be calm and peaceful and happy even through tears and through memory of some past, because the Love of God never will leave us, when we believe, and that one day after we die we will finally be happy, free of suffering, than with God in heaven.

  6. Tori says:

    What about killing for the greater good or for self-defense? Like, killing a terrorist or a murderer? Those people were going to hurt others, so would you go to hell for killing them?

    I’m not going to kill anybody for any reason. I’m just asking.

    What about getting drunk or high and driving and ending up killing somebody? It was an accident and you feel guilty for it, but would you go to hell? (I didn’t actually do this, I’m under 21 and I don’t plan to drink or do drugs, but I’m just curious)

    Man, I wish religion was easier than this…

    • Lee says:

      Hi Tori,

      More good questions.

      Killing in self-defense, or to protect the people you love, is accepted in human societies all around the world. And although Jesus’ statements about loving enemies and turning the other cheek have gotten major press, that is only one side of the story. See my article, “Can Christians be Hardass?

      Even the commandment, “Thou shalt not kill,” is regularly interpreted as meaning that we are not to murder—meaning we are not to kill with malice and evil intent in our heart.

      As far as getting drunk or high and killing someone, there is no excuse for that whatsoever. People who do that deserve the punishment they get. Putting “recreational” drugs into one’s body is a personal choice (and usually a stupid one, in my opinion). But you’re still responsible for what you do under the influence of those drugs. (And alcohol is simply another drug, even if it is legal in most places.)

      As for whether you would go to hell for it, that is a more complicated question. Going to hell results from having evil intent, or from simply not caring what effects our actions have on other people. So if someone kills another person through negligence rather than from actual intent, by, for example, getting drunk or high, getting out on the road in a car, and causing a fatal accident, its effect on their spiritual life will depend upon how they react to it, and whether they recognize that what they did was wrong and evil, and commit themselves to not doing that sort of thing ever again. If they do that, and actively deal with the issues that caused them to drink or take drugs and get behind the wheel of a car, then the fact that they caused a fatal accident that killed innocent people will not send them to hell. But if they don’t care that someone died because of their actions, and keep right on living the same way, then they are indeed in danger of hell because they have failed to love their neighbor as much as they love themselves, as Jesus commanded us to do.

      And yep, nobody ever said it was easy to live a good and spiritual life. But mainly, it’s hard because we come out of the womb, and even hit adulthood, thinking much more about our own pleasure, possessions, and power than we do about the wellbeing of other people. For more on this, see: “Is it Easy or Hard to Get to Heaven?

      Besides, having an easy life does not build our character and humanity. It is precisely by struggling against difficult circumstances and facing hard tasks that we develop moral and spiritual strength as human beings.

      • Tori says:

        Thanks for replying!

        I’m asking about the whole drugs thing because there was a girl that went to our school to tell kids not to do drugs because she did them. She had a VERY difficult life, her father committed suicide and her best friend died so she turned to drugs. I believe she was sorry for accidentally killing that person because she did care for others more than she cared for herself. She got help for herself so thats good. I felt like after all she’s been through it’ll only be fair if she did go to heaven and lived a peaceful life. So thanks for clearing that up for me ^-^

        Have a great day and happy new year 🙂

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