Saturday, 23 November 2013

On Evil (Part 3)

The existence and abuse of choice, and the nature of the world

This is quite an easy one.  If there is an option for us to do good, then by definition, there must also be the option not to do good.  As has been said by someone once, often that is enough for evil to triumph.  As well as a simple lack of action, there is often the option to do something actively evil.

So why would God give us the option of doing evil, or even of not doing good?  If God desires good, why would He even allow the option of evil?

This comes down to the issue of Free Will, which to me is one of the most important theological and philosophical concepts (Can you tell that I have Arminian inclinations?).  Humans have been given the faculty of choice.  We have been told multiple times, and through various different channels which choice God wants us to take, but ultimately, the choice is ours.  Thus, if we choose Good, it truly is Good.  If there was no choice, it wouldn’t be good.  There is no merit in an automaton following its programming.  I don't think anyone has ever praised a train-driver for his navigation.

And when it comes to evil in the sense of pain, of suffering caused not by people directly, but by natural disaster, it seems to me that there is something similar.  As far as I can tell, these diseases, floods, famines etc are just consequences of the way the world is formed.  The possibility of harvests neccesitates the possibilty of famines.  The existence of life-sustaining water results in the possibility of life-destroying floods.  Could God have created a universe in which you can't drown, or in which crops can't fail?  Of course.  It would require a complete reworking of the laws by which the universe operates, but God could quite easily create a world without the possibility of suffering.  But then, it would not be this world, and we would probably be complaining about someting else instead.

As was pointed out by the villain in the horrendous Hellblazer film they made with Keannu Reaves, what we think of as virtues are really reactions to some form of adversity.  Courage can only exist when we are afraid, and thus when there is something to be afraid of.  Fortitude can only exist when there is suffering to deal with.  Strength can only exist when there are burdens.  For there to be hope, there must be despair.  For compassion, others must be suffering too.  This is not to say that God causes others to suffer just so that you could win some brownie points by being compassionate, but without that suffering, there could be no compassion at all.

So those were my thoughts on evil.  Something a bit more fun for the next one I think!

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