"A Wretched Hive of Scum
and Villainy": Star Wars and the
Problem of Evil
CHRISTOPHER M. BROWN
Why do bad things happen to good people? This perennial question has been especially troubling for philosophically inclined men and women who believe that some all-powerful, perfectly good being rules the universe. Why? Because a perfectly good being that has control of all things would presumably have created a world where good people are rewarded for their virtue and evil people are punished for their crimes. Yet good people often go unrewarded for their good deeds, and some even suffer terribly in this life. Meanwhile, bad people prosper. They even manage to attain the most prominent places of power. If goodness is more powerful than evil, why is there so much evil in the world? Could it be that evil is actually stronger?
In The Empire Strikes Back, Luke Skywalker raises this very question while listening to one of Master Yoda's early lessons on the Force. Yoda warns Luke about the Dark Side, the path that Darth Vader has followed. Luke asks Yoda, "Is the Dark Side stronger?" Yoda responds: "No … No "softer" … No "even softer yet". Quicker, easier, more seductive." Although Yoda answers Luke's question in the negative, his delivery suggests that Yoda is not certain, but at most only wistfully hopeful, that good will overcome evil in the end.
Intelligent attempts to make sense of the apparent power that evil has over goodness in this life are bound to lead to more basic questions about evil. Why do bad things happen at all? What is the ultimate origin of evil? And what is evil, anyway?