Sunday, March 5, 2017

Theodicy: Problem of Evil Continued

This post is continuing a chain started on March 3, Theodicy Introduction.

I realized while thinking about the introduction to this series, as I discussed the problem of evil it was in an impersonal manner.  I discussed how the masses view it, as opposed to how it impacts you, the reader.  As our Savior is a very personal being it is more important that this applies to you than me simply attempting to answer a question the masses posed.

While the problem of evil is a general idea with predefined and argued attributes, it is something very real in every person's life.  Like the adage goes, "Life sucks, then you die," a constant across every life is suffering.  While I don't know what you have gone through, if you have not gone through a trial that has brought you to your knees, you will.  The worst of these trials are often more than we feel we can take.  Joseph Smith was one of the greatest men to live and in his darkest moment he plead "O God, where are thou? And where is the pavilion that covereth thy hiding place?" (D&C 121:1)

Here, Joseph Smith was essentially asking the problem of evil himself.  I read that passage as, "God, you have all power.  I know you can end this suffering, I know you can.  And God, you love me.  So if you have all power, and if you love me, how can you see all that I and those I love are going through and still let us suffer?  You must be gone, gone into hiding, because if you were here I cannot understand how you do nothing!"

I read it this way because honestly that is how I have felt before in my life.  After a broken engagement, I asked this very question.  If I am being honest, I did not answer this question well.  I became angry and distant with God because I did not want the brand of love of He was offering.  This meant that as I dealt with my greatest suffering, I had to deal with it alone.  I forced out some of God's mercy.

As I answer the question of the problem of evil to the masses, I hope that I also find a way to make the answer personable.  So that when you come to a moment of suffering you will not forsake your greatest comfort as I once did.  To be like our Savior who in His suffering cried for His father to take away the bitter cup, but said "nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done." (Luke 22:42-43) And as Christ was then comforted with an angel of support, strengthening even the Son of God, I know God will give aid to you if you humbly seek him.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Theodicy Introduction

As I explained in my last post, part of my writing is to help myself to learn how to write.  This whole post though is very similar to a video posted in Crash Course Philosophy (the video can be found at the bottom of the post).  If you would prefer to watch the video (or read and watch!), feel free to do so.

As a scientist who also loves studying ancient scripture through the lens of scholarly work I often come in contact with those who adamantly disagree with God's existence.  There are countless arguments for and against God, but one that has rung throughout time is the problem of evil.  To sum it up essentially it asks if God is omniscient, omnipotent, and omnibenevolent (all knowing, powerful, and good/loving) than why does God allow evil in any form from the big things like Hitler down to small things like a bad hair day.  Opponents of God essentially say that if God has all these characteristics then He would know when evil would happen, have the power to stop it, and do so because of His goodness and love.  Since He does not, either this view of God is wrong or God does not exist.

A theodicy is an attempt to explain the existence of the omni-God (what I will call the view of God all the omni-attributes), especially despite the problem of evil.  A common one used in Mormon circles and among others is the Free-Will Defense.  That God allows and wants each of us to be free moral agents, and so He allows us to make choices that may cause harm due to His love.  He may have the power and knowledge to stop someone from doing something, but loves us enough to allow this to happen.

This brings up another key definition, the difference between moral evil and natural evil.  Moral evil is the evil caused by humans and their choices.  Natural evil though is the evil we have no control over like natural disasters or illness.  The Free-Will Defense only addresses moral evil, but does not answer why God allows natural evil in our lives.  Mormons again offer a common defense to this saying that natural evil is key to our growth and learning.  The point of life is to one day become like God, and we could not do that without facing natural evil leading to scriptures like, "For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth." (Hebrews 12:6)  This is not alone to Mormons, as it is expressed quite well by John Hick as the Soul-Making Theory.

Most find this answer sufficient as to answer the problem of evil, but those who are not satisfied take the problem of evil a step deeper.  They will admit that things like the Free-Will Defense and the Soul-Making Theory explain the logical problem of evil, or why logically there is evil in the world.  They will argue however that it does not explain the evidential problem of evil, or the fact that there is SO much evil that often seems pointless, that does not actually prepare us to become as God is.  This evidential problem of evil is an epidemic in Israel.  Many many believe there that if there truly was a God then He would have stepped in before the Holocaust, and it is unconscionable that something as evil as the Holocaust was needed to bring about God's greater purpose.  They take it even a step further that if God can justify the Holocaust for some greater good, than they do not want to worship such a God even if He is real.

Having seen and secondarily felt the pain and anger these Jews feel, I simply cannot dismiss what they say.  There is an evidential problem of evil that makes it hard to answer how an omni-God could exist.  My hope however is my next few posts to address this very problem, step by step, and build my own theodicy.

Further, it is my hope in doing so that I can share some of the simple truths (dew of Heaven) I have been given in the process of understanding this myself.


Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Starting Blogging Anew

Times before tried to blog and have found that I am easily distracted.  I have formed a new goal in my life however, to write a book.  As I started upon this endeavor however, I found my writing skills suck, inhibiting my ability to write a decent book.  Therefore I am recommitting myself to practice writing, primarily through blogging, to sharpen my skill set.  I love religious philosophy, and so that is what I will write on.

What I find of most value and clarity I will post here.  If I write something that needs to be thought out a bit more I will post it to religiousrampages.blogspot.com, to keep what I post here of higher value.

I doubt many will read what I have to say here.  But it is my hope that through practice I will one day be able to share with the world the sublime truths, the dews of heaven, that God has distilled on my soul.