I have heard many people say that good cannot exist without evil and that evil cannot exist without good. I would like to debunk the first part of that claim with a simple thought experiment. So let us get right into it.
My point in this post is to show that good can exist independently from evil, but evil cannot exist without good.
How do we know something is evil/bad?
The answer is that we compare it to something that is good. If there were no good, we could never identify evil.
How do we know something is good?
The correct answer is not, “We compare it to something that is bad.” We recognize good without the need for comparison to anything else.
If I had worded the above question, “How do we know something is better?”, then we could have brought in comparison; but comparison is not necessary to identify something as good.
Let me give you a thought experiment:
Q: How do we know stillbirths are bad?
A: Because we see live births.
However, this question and answer cannot be transposed to switch live births in the question and stillbirths in the answer. We do not need to witness stillbirths to know that live births are good.
Someone may reply with, “If all we had were stillbirths, then we would think they were good.” However, that is a nonsensical statement. If all we had were stillbirths, we would not exist.
Standard vs. Deviant
All evil/bad is a corruption or misuse of something that is good. For example: sex is good, rape is a corruption of sex; communication is good, lying is a corruption of communication; aggression is good, using aggression to harm an innocent person is a misuse of aggression; etc.
A standard does not need its aberrant in order to exist, but the only way for an aberrant to exist is for there to be a standard. A standard stands apart and independent from its deviants, but deviants can only come to be because of the standard.
“If there were no evil, we would not appreciate the good.”
I have heard people say that we would not appreciate good if we did not have evil. I disagree with that. I did not need to experience a stillbirth to greatly appreciate the birth of my son. I admit that one can appreciate good differently because of experiencing evil, but I would not necessarily say that one can appreciate good more because of experiencing evil. It is possible that one can appreciate good more because of experiencing evil, but it does not necessarily have to be this way. There have been a number of people who experience evil yet when they finally experience good they become bitter, not grateful. There have also been a number of people who have experienced very little evil yet they are the most grateful people you could meet.
I admit that some people who seemingly have it all can easily grow callous to all the good that surrounds them, but that is not necessarily because they have not experienced evil, but more so because they have forgotten gratitude.
It is completely possible to have gratitude for something without ever experiencing evil/bad. You can have gratitude that you have something better than just good. For example: eating food is good, but eating food prepared by a 5-star chef is better.
Hopefully by now you can see how good can exist independently from evil/bad, but evil/bad cannot exist without good.
One reason I wrote this is because I have heard people say that there can be no God without a Satan. Well, hopefully this bit of philosophy has shown that to not be true. Satan is a corruption of a beautiful creation of God; he is not a self-existent being like God. God is self-existent (independent), Satan is dependent.
In conclusion, evil/bad only exists because it is a corruption or misuse of good. Good exists independently from evil, but evil exists dependently on good.