defining that which does not exist

Seldom do we stop to consider the nature and the essence of the absence of a thing for in doing so we must first evaluate and quantify that which is present and thus not absent. This, I am sure, makes perfect sense to absolutely no one at first glance but perhaps an example will help to elucidate.

Heat and Cold

Heat and Cold

Consider the concept or notion of “cold”. Precisely what is cold? How would you define it? As it turns out, cold is actually rather easy to define but it is not intuitively obvious to most of us as to just how to define it with any level of precision. I suspect many would say you just know it when you feel it or that you believe cold is when the temperature falls below a certain point.

From a personal and perfectly human viewpoint our inability to define “cold” with any reasonable precision is the direct result of our inclination to think of cold in relativistic terms rather than as a precise objective value. What cold feels like to you will almost always feel different to me as anyone who has ever engaged in the battle of the thermostat will most assuredly attest. And it is this relativistic view that generally causes us to misunderstand or misconstrue the nature and essence of cold.

“Cold”, simply stated, does not exist; it has no existence or a physical quality of its own for it is the absence of heat. While admittedly this is neither a complete nor accurate scientific description, heat is a type of transfer of energy, something that exists and therefore can be measured. In a sense the difference in measurable temperature between two heat sources is the measure of how “cold” the lower heat source is to the higher one. Cold cannot be generated or produced while heat can be and is easily generated or produced by many methods.

The same can be said for “evil” and “hate”. We hear it said that the world is filled with evil and hate, which when you give it any serious consideration makes little or no sense at all. Why should this be so? It is because, as with cold, “evil” and “hate” do not exist. Just as with cold, evil is the difference between perfect goodness, which is a quality of God who is all good and the innate goodness which exists within each of us. It is the same with hate, which is the difference between the unconditional love of God and the God-given gift of love instilled within our souls.

So the question remains: If evil is the absence of good and hate the absence of love then how can two absences fill anything at all, let alone an entire world? In the presence of perfect good and perfect love, there can be no evil and hate. The higher we aspire to the all-goodness of God the narrower the difference and the less the “absence of good”, that is to say “evil”. Correspondingly, the greater our love, the closer our love becomes to the all-encompassing, unconditional love of God, the less the “absence of love” which we call “hate”.

So why don’t we try filling the world with goodness and love? There is no telling what may happen but it certainly is worth giving it a try.

About the author: Deacon Chuck

Deacon Chuck was ordained into the permanent diaconate on September 17, 2011, in the ministry of service to the Diocese of Reno and assigned to St. Albert the Great Catholic Community. He currently serves as the parish bulletin editor and website administrator. Deacon Chuck continues to serve the parish of Saint Albert the Great Catholic Community of the Diocese of Reno, Nevada. He is the Director of Adult Faith Formation and Homebound Ministries for the parish, conducts frequent adult faith formation workshops, and is a regular homilist. He currently serves as the bulletin editor for the parish bulletin. He writes a weekly column intended to encompass a broad landscape of thoughts and ideas on matters of theology, faith, morals, teachings of the magisterium and the Catholic Church; they are meant to illuminate, illustrate, and catechize the readers and now number more than 230 articles. His latest endeavor is "Colloqui: A journal for restless minds", a weekly journal of about 8 pages similar in content to bulletin reflections. All his reflections, homilies, commentaries, and Colloqui are posted and can be found on his website: Comments are always welcome and appreciated. He is the author of two books: "The Voices of God: hearing God in the silence" which offers the reader insights into how to hear God’s voice through all of the noise that surrounds us; and "Echoes of Love: Effervescent Memories" which through a combination of prose and verse provides the reader with a wonderful journey on the way to discovering forever love. He regularly speaks to groups of all ages and size and would welcome the opportunity to speak to your group.

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