If Satan had never come to earth, would there still be evil?
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“If Satan had never come to earth, would there still be evil?” New Era, Dec. 1974, 13

“If Satan had never come to earth, would there still be evil?”

Answer/Brother Ellis T. Rasmussen

While it is not a vital question to ask what “would be” (since what is will be, and what might have been will not be), it may be useful for us to consider whether there is any source of evil besides Satan. On that point James made a clear statement:

“Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.

“Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man:

“But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.

“Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.” (James 1:12–15.)

Evidently, then, there is a potential for evil as well as for good in our appetites and desires. Their satisfaction must be accomplished in the ways the Lord intended if they are to bring forth good. Whether we would ever bring forth evil if there were no satanic influence for evil is treated by Lehi:

“Wherefore, the Lord God gave unto man that he should act for himself. Wherefore, man could not act for himself save it should be that he was enticed by the one or the other.

“And I, Lehi, according to the things which I have read, must needs suppose that an angel of God, according to that which is written, had fallen from heaven; wherefore, he became a devil, having sought that which was evil before God.” (2 Ne. 2:16, 17)

A suitable summary of the matter is also found in a statement by Lehi: “For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things.” (2 Ne. 2:11.)

  • Dean of the College of Religious Instruction, Brigham Young University