"Of course", replied the professor, “Just as I expect you to answer my questions, I will answer yours. To do anything less would be hypocrisy.
The student stood up and asked, "Professor, does cold exist?"
"What kind of question is this? Of course it exists. Have you never been cold?" The students snickered at the young man's question.
The young man replied, "In fact sir, cold does not exist. According to the laws of physics, what we consider cold is in reality the absence of heat. Every body or object is susceptible to study when it has or transmits energy, and heat is what makes a body or matter have or transmit energy. Absolute zero (-460 degrees F) is the total absence of heat; all matter becomes inert and incapable of reaction at that temperature. Cold does not exist. We have created this word to describe how we feel if we have no heat."
The student continued, "Professor, does darkness exist?"
The professor responded, "Of course it does."
The student replied, "Once again you are wrong sir, darkness does not exist either. Darkness is in reality the absence of light. Light we can study, but not darkness. In fact we can use Newton's prism to break white light into many colors and study the various wavelengths of each color. You cannot measure darkness. A simple ray of light can break into a world of darkness and illuminate it. How can you know how dark a certain space is? You measure the amount of light present. Isn't this correct? Darkness is a term used by man to describe what happens when there is no light present."
Finally the young man asked the professor, "Sir, does evil exist?"
“Undoubtedly”, the professor said, with a harsher voice this time, “To believe otherwise is to admit how ignorant you are to the world around you. Perhaps you know little of crime, or of suffering, or of man’s inhumanity to man, but it is out there. And not nearly as far as you might think or hope it is.”
To this the student replied, "Evil does not exist sir, or at least it does not exist unto itself. Evil is simply the absence of God. It is just like darkness and cold, a word that man has created to describe the absence of God. God did not create evil. Evil is not like faith, or love that exist just as does light and heat. Evil is the result of what happens when man does not have God's love present in his heart. It's like the cold that comes when there is no heat or the darkness that comes when there is no light.
The professor sat down.
“That was quite an argument”, the professor admitted, “Did you come up with it yourself?” “Yes”, the student said, proud of putting the arrogant professor in his place. “You are lucky indeed. Perhaps you should thank God for your good fortune.” The professor said. “Why’s that, sir?” the student asked. “If you’d made an argument like that on your final exam, you’d fail this class for sure.” The student was taken aback. “I-I don’t understand, sir.” “Trust me, you’ve made that much quite apparent. For the moment, I will be generous enough to overlook the fact that your argument contradicts the axiom that God is omnipresent, as well as your dubious understanding of the word “heat”. My issue isn’t with your conclusion, but with the logic you’ve used to justify it. And since you seem such a fan of argument by questioning, I’ll return the favor: What existed before the universe?” The student was unsure how to respond. “Before creation? Nothing existed. Except for God.” “If nothing but God existed, then there was an absence of heat and light. Therefore, by definition, there was Cold, and Dark,” the professor said. “Correct”, the student replied meekly, unable to think of a counterargument. “And what about after the universe?” the professor continued, undaunted. “After the universe, sir?” the student asked. “Surely you’ve heard of The Heat Death of The Universe. The logical conclusion of the second law of thermodynamics, which says that entropy increases in a closed system. The universe itself will tend towards maximal entropy, until stillness comes to all. What do you suppose will still exist when that happens?” The student was too afraid to speak. They all were. “Everything will fade from existence. There will be no light, and there will be no heat. There will be only the Cold, and the Dark. You assert with such confidence that cold and dark are absences of heat and light, yet you have it all wrong. Heat and light are the absences of cold and dark. The existence of light is but a flashbulb compared to the eternity of darkness that extends before and after it. Heat is the transient solution to the universal equations. It will die out as t goes to infinity.” More silence.
“So I ask you all, once again: Where does evil come from?” No one dared speak up. The student who defied the professor looked at his desk, trying to avoid the professor’s gaze. “Surely you haven’t already forgotten the first lesson of this course.” The professor said, directly addressing the argumentative student. “I… I don’t know”, the student admitted. “That brings me to the second lesson of this course”, the professor said, “’I don’t know’ is a valid answer to any question. Whether it is a right or wrong answer depends on whether or not you use it as an opportunity to learn. As for the true answer to the question… You will learn that as the semester progresses. Now open your textbooks to page 13…”