The Other I

April 9, 2009

An improved world order?

Filed under: Catholicism and other questions of religion,Uncategorized — theotheri @ 9:40 pm

Holy Week – which it is in the Christian calendar – seems to be inevitably a time when I start remembering my childhood.  

Today I was thinking about the time when, at about the age of seven, I asked my Dad why, if God didn’t want us to commit sins, and if he could do anything he wanted, he let us do bad things.  Dad said it was because God wanted us to be free more than he didn’t want us to sin – an answer that, in retrospect, was more explosive than I could possibly have realized at the time.

Eventually  my childhood conundrum matured into the question philosophers call “the problem of evil,”  which  led to a complete and fundamental rethink of my belief in that God of my childhood.

That one grows out of ones childhood conception of God should not be so shocking.  We grow up and realize our parents are not the paragons of perfection and power we might have thought.  We get married and discover that there was a great deal to our partner that we never suspected in the first mad passion.  Certainly our concept of divinity should also change as profoundly.

Today, the nature of the problem of evil has also changed for me.  I’ve been taking a sharp left turn since I asked myself exactly what kind of a world I would have created if I were God.

I was shocked to realize that I cannot improve on the present model.  Every time I get rid of one bad thing, something equally good disappears at the same time.  The only way I can think to rid the world of what I consider evil or injustice or suffering is to create a static, boring, unchallenging world.

Which gives me a lot of sympathy for my brother Tom’s problem at the age of seven, which was that heaven sounded horribly boring, and hardly an improvement on hell at all.  Certainly not worth sacrificing all the joys of living today to get there.

The world today certainly isn’t my idea of heaven by any definition.  But what is?  The question gives me a whole new problem with the problem of evil.


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