Weblog of a Christian philosophy student

Weblog of a Christian philosophy student. Please feel free to comment. All of my posts are public domain. Subscribe to posts [Atom]. Email me at countaltair [at] yahoo.com.au. I also run a Chinese to English translation business at www.willfanyi.com.

Location: Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Monday, September 29, 2008

My Approach to the Problem of Evil in a Nutshell

365 words

Say, first of all, that God originally makes everyone perfect and free, and this means giving people the freedom to sin.

If they choose to sin then they have to go through a laborious process to be made perfect again. Next go around they're perfect as long as they make a certain choice.

Think of this choice as a 'deep' choice that should be made over a long time, kind of like the choice to be a good person. This means that God has to let people who are imperfect be imperfect for a while.

Now, with the problem of evil, just find a way to 'make stuff up' or 'insert theology' into the idea of God so that people being imperfect = people suffering. Just make stuff up so that while people are in the 'choosing stage' there has to be a whole lot of suffering that God can't stop.

What's some stuff you can insert into your theology to make people being imperfect = people suffering? You could say that as long as people are imperfect they have to suffer a little bit from their sin... a small amount of suffering every minute, and not even God with all his power can stop this.

But this doesn't fit with science, which sees no reason for us having to suffer. Well then say that the physical world is like a 'veil' in front of us, and we're really spiritual beings in spiritual space, who have to suffer, and God makes us only see the physical world.

But then how come no one experiences suffering like this? Because God passes the suffering around from person to person and sometimes focuses it in really intense bursts. He makes suffering happen in really random, unfair ways, and makes us see it in terms of bad physical stuff (I believe God has a reason to hide the spiritual world).

But isn't this unfair distribution a serious problem? It's hard to know why God does this... but the necessary suffering has to be felt by someone, and we all contribute to it equally by existing as imperfect people. Maybe there's a reason, so this can be a decent defense.

Added Note 10/3/08 about God's redistribution of suffering (for those interested)

Maybe part of the reason God distributes suffering in our world so unjustly is that making evil people suffer uses up hardly any suffering, because they're evil.

In other words, an innocent person suffering a given horrible event might use up 10 units of suffering, whereas an evildoer suffering the same thing would only use up 1 or 2 units of suffering (or even none at all if they really deserved it.)

This could be because evil people deserve to suffer from their evil actions, regardless of whether they are physically brought to justice by a court of law or other people, because of their evildoing.

This could help explain God's distribution of suffering in our world. In this theory, making evil people suffer gets rid of hardly any necessary suffering... so even if you make every evil person in the world suffer you still have to dispense the vast majority of suffering to the innocent.

The question then becomes: is it better to have a system where some evil people live happy lives, and the vast majority of suffering goes to the innocent, or is it better to have a system where all evil people suffer terribly, and the innocent suffer a tiny bit less?

Well, given the almost insignificant contribution the suffering of evildoers makes to using up the total amount of suffering, then maybe it's OK to let evildoers be happy. This could give them a chance to repent. Meanwhile, good people in this plan who have to suffer a little bit more could be rewarded with happiness beyond their ability to imagine in heaven.

Also, truly good people on this model would enjoy heaven or a happy afterlife regardless of how much they suffer in this life, but the truly evil may never experience joy again after a brief interlude of momentary good feelings in this life (i.e. they'd be stuck in humanity's current situation, in a world full of evil, which could be thought of as hell, instead of moving on to heaven.) So maybe it's nice of God to allow them to enjoy some genuine happiness in their existence.

If this theory makes sense, then you could explain God's seemingly unjust distribution of suffering in our world a lot better.



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