A Wholly Unsatisfactory Explanation On the Problem of Evil

And so, it’s back to the horse beating. I’ve been thinking alot about why this problem of evil thing just won’t go away. I know that there are plenty of reasons why we think that there is a “problem” with making our belief in God jive with the fact that there isn’t just evil – but a fairly significant amount of evil in the world. Just this week, some dude in Oakland shot and killed four police officers, and here in SoCal, some lady killed her 18-month old daughter and left her body by the side of a freeway (she says it was an accident). Nonetheless, I completely see why, with all the evil in the world, we look to the heavens and demand to know why a loving God would allow such evils to exist. I guess, if I had to nutshell the problem, the problem (in the form of a question) goes a little like this: why does God, if he is all-knowing and totally good, permit evil? Like I said, I’ve been thinking alot about this lately, and I think that the answer may be this: evil just is. That’s it. Evil is. It hit me while I was watching last Sunday’s episode of Cold Case. The soundtrack for that episode was John Lennon songs. There’s one (doesn’t really matter which) that has a line that goes, “I tell them there’s no problem, only solutions”. I think that our problem of evil is a little like Lennon’s lyric, only twisted. So, there are no answers, only questions. What I’m saying is that we may be asking a question for which there is no answer. Our questions are like John Lennon’s solutions. We keep on giving them, hoping that we’ll hit the right one (the one that we expect will give us an answer), but the real trick is, is that there is no answer to the question, ‘why does God permit evil?’. This isn’t an entirely unphilosophic outlook on the situation – since the point of philosophy is to ask questions. We ask, even in the face that we might never actually get to an answer or that our answer, despite all of our well-reasoned arguments, is wrong. This idea is, I’ll admit completely unsatisfying. But, still I see no problem in including the idea that for some questions there may be no answers along with our list of possibilities. I know that humans want answers. We want them especially if we are talking about our beliefs in God. It’s the answers that give us reasons to believe or to obey. This is unsatisfying, especially for the philosopher, because we are indoctrinated that every event must have a cause and so forth… we just cannot accept the notion that the answer why God permits evil is “because he does”. If you think about it, that reason, in a way underpins all of our defenses and certainly it’s the foundation of every theodicy out there. God has his reasons, we say. We just don’t want to admit that a reason may be that his reason is that he has no reason. That’s scary. Maybe for God, our lives (the ones that he watches 24/7 like Santa Claus), are like one big reality TV show. What we call “evil” are merely plot devices for God to move the plot along. Our evils are what they say in the biz “dramatic tension”. It makes things interesting… for God. I remember hearing Miles Copeland, the brother of Stewart Copeland of the Police, saying that when he worked for the Moody Blues, he tried to get VH1 to do a Behind the Music on the band. He said that he told the execs that the band had been around a long time and was very successful, so they were a perfect example of a true music success story. He said that VH1 rejected the idea. Why? No dramatic tension. No drug overdoses, no rehabs, no backstabbing or drug-induced accidents in which the drummer loses a body part — they weren’t interesting enough for the show. Maybe it’s the same for God. Maybe without evil, humans are like the Moody Blues. Plain boring and not much fun to look at. Still, this is unsatisfying. Worse yet, it paints God as some sort of sadist who screws with our lives for shits and giggles. My answer to this is ‘oh well’. Look, God does a great many things that do not please us, because things happen to us. As much as we would like for there to be a reason, we gotta get hip to the fact that not only may we not find an answer, but also to the fact that there may be no answer! And really, no matter what God tells is is his answer, we won’t be satisfied no matter what he says. We’d still ask him if there was another way that he could have accomplished the same result? God could tell us that things happen according to his plan, or to serve a greater good, or tell us “look, it doesn’t matter how you die, all people die. What matters is that you go to heaven, which by the way you will”. we’d still complain! If God told us, no matter how carefully his reason, we’d never say ok and have done with the question asking. We’d never understand his reasons becuse we can’t understand his reasons, even if he draws diagrams. But God, lucky for us, doesn’t ask us to understand his motives. He justs tells us to accept. Accept that God moves (mysteriously so) with no reason whatsoever — at least none that we can ever understand. I know that this makes no one happy at all.

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