Saturday, June 09, 2007

"If There Is A God, Then He Is The Devil."

(Voltaire said that, by the way.)

I've always been interested in the problem of how to explain evil, ever since I read the following:

"I form the light, and create darkness; I make peace, and create evil; I the LORD do all these things." - Isaiah 45:7

That's pretty unequivocal, isn't it? God (at least the Old Testament flavor) was a lot like a lot of the gods back then - capable of doing bad things as well as good, with little or no explanation of why he bothers at all. If you don't believe me, witness the way he manages to avoid answering Job's questions regarding his suffering.

The philosopher Pierre Bayle had a similar problem with evil, likening God to a doctor who allows his children to break their legs just so he can demonstrate his skill at healing. He broke it down into three statements, all of which (if you are Christian) are true:

1. Evil exists.

2. God is all-powerful.

3. God is good.

In order to reconcile ourselves, one of these statements has to go. Now, evil does exist; we see it all the time, so we can't readily discard that. That leaves the last two. Strike away #2, and you reach a heresy known as Manicheanism, which supposes that God is counterbalanced by the Devil - the two are coequal in power. But, strike away #3, and you have a capricious, all-powerful ogre on your hands.

Back in 2001 Christian leaders (at least the bigmouthed, smallbrained variety) blamed the 9/11 attacks on God, saying that it was God's punishment for having feminists, gay and liberals running around in America. After the earthquake and tsunami in 2004, similar points were raised because the 200,000 or so dead people weren't Christians.

And in 2005, there was Katrina.

I'm fairly convinced that there is no deity superintending us; every good thing and bad thing is the result of randomicity and contingency. The bad things hurt more, but they can teach us valuable lessons.

And maybe we can learn, and advance beyond the need for tribal totems.


Blogger PeterofLoneTree said...

"They came to earth millions of years ago to spread the poison of hatred, war and catastrophe... they are with us still..." -- William Bramley The Gods of Eden

3:02 PM EDT  

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