When modern people apply a mythological concept of good and evil to their experiences, it is an emotional response to inexplicable maliciousness. It is understandable, but it is spontaneous and not reflected, and drawing examples from scripture from 2000 and more years ago only attempts to solidify an emotion and give it a body. There are modern representations of the same principle in fantasy writing.
In the Tolkien fantasy universe, the portrayal of the Ainur mirrors the description of the Elohim, the lesser gods in the OT, and in the Silmarillion, Melkor, the Elven name for the great rebellious Vala, the beginning of evil, and the mightiest of the Ainur, then became known as Morgoth, ‘The Black Enemy,’ after the rape of the Silmarils. His part is of course taken by Satan in Christian tradition, which in fantasy is okay, but we mustn’t forget that Satan as we have come to think of him is a character from John Milton’s epic poem “Paradise Lost,” a fallen angel who rebels against God and is cast out of Heaven. Both Satan and Morgoth share some similarities in terms of their rebellious natures and their fall from grace, but they exist in different fictional worlds and serve different narrative purposes.
My “understanding” or perhaps my interpretation of reality sees the “Ground of Being” or sacred Unity, intricately entwined in our own lives and looking out through our eyes at the unfolding of existence. That would, in a sense be the “good” that initiated and participates in existence as we know it. The bad would be anything intentionally contradicting, opposing, or even destroying those things that we have yet to fully understand, which seems to be restricted to humanity as appearing to be the only sentient life possessing intention, including potential propagation of opposition to the way things are. The futility of such an exercise is emphasised by a conviction that we return to that sacred Unity, which is unassailable and in the end the refuge of broken hearts.
I believe that what a friend wrote to me, “evil just seems like a proclivity stemming from our temptation to always welcome more power and control” is right. In a way it seems contra-intuitive to us that aligning ourselves with reality, rather than seeking to improve it, is the wise thing to do. But as we have seen in recent history, such intentions overlook the consequences of their actions. Trying to make other cultures resemble our own, rather than learning and at best enhancing them, has seldom worked out well, which is why so much strife continues in the world. So, the proclivity to assume we can improve on creation, which may also be the temptation in Eden, is what banishes us from paradise. What follows is a continuous attempt to repair the damage done, and thereby causing further damage, because we lack the understanding, or rather the acceptance of the nature of things. This is the narrative of the Bible as far as I can see.
Essentially, we must accept that humility rather than a feeling of superiority over other traditions is more advisable. In fact, as the Europeans expanded, humility in encountering the foreign cultures of the world would have been the more prosperous approach, just as all the so-called advances in history would have fared better with humility, but it is counter-intuitive, despite being a core value in the teaching of Christ. We do have a similar behaviour in other groups of course but it is probably because the colonisation and exploitation of the world was mainly in the hands of Christians, that the hypocrisy bites so fiercely. The American led globalisation was in reality a continuity of that.
If the narrative of Christianity is based on a cosmic fight against evil like portrayed in fantasy stories, we become not a force for good, which has a completely different character, but inadvertently a force for evil.