The social argument against the problem of evil

Connectedness is something that is highly prevalent in today’s society. It’s almost become the core of our culture now. Smart phones, the internet, social networking, etc. Everything we do seems connected to everything else we do, and it’s all posted on Facebook or Twitter.

But that’s not the type of connectedness I’m talking about. Think about it this way: how many people do you know? How many of those people do you have strong ties to, minor ties to, or interact at all with on a regular basis? Our lives are intertwined with the lives of others, Things that happen in our lives and to us affect those around us. 

One thing that really hit me in the wake of the Boston Marathon tragedy are the reactions of the perpetrators’ family and friends. The older of the two brothers had a wife and small son. They have parents. While the whole world was reeling from the tragedy, these people were mourning the loss of their sons, father, and husband.

Shortly after this I read a particular passage of the Bible in the book of Matthew:

24 Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. 25 But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. 26 When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared. 27 “The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’ 28 ” ‘An enemy did this,’ he replied. “The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’ 29 ” ‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may root up the wheat with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.’ “

(Matthew 13:24-30).

One of the things this parable states is that in the world there are good people and bad. No duh, right? Often I have wondered why God doesn’t strike down those who do evil. A lot of people wonder that. It’s often argued that God and evil cannot coexist. That if God is all loving and all powerful, then He would not allow evil to happen. I’ve addressed this issue in some of my previous posts, In short, God cannot both preserve the free will of human beings and restrict their decisions, such a thing is a logical contradiction, and logical contradictions cannot exist. For the sake of argument, let’s grant this (meaning if you got all in a harrumph over what I just said, uncross your arms and suspend your disbelief for a second….), and then we can wonder “Well, okay, if God doesn’t prevent evil things from happening, why not strike down evil people before or when they do evil?”

This is where the parable comes in. We are all interconnected. Nothing happens to us without affecting others. The Boston bombers got what they deserved, but in doing so it crushed their family, people not in any way guilty for what happened. The bad people, the weeds, are so entangled with the wheat, the good people, that there is no way to pull up the weeds without puling up some of the wheat with it. God told Lot that He would not destroy Sodom and Gomorrah if even one righteous person lived there. If God were to blot out an evil person, how many righteous would be affected? Wipe out the son, and it crushes the mother. Wipe out the husband, and it crushes and irrevocably affects the child and wife for the worse. God doesn’t wipe out the evil person, people curse Him. God wipes him out, and people curse Him also. Sounds like a tough situation to me.

Perhaps the reason an all-loving God doesn’t wipe out the evil-doers, is because He is all-loving.

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4 thoughts on “The social argument against the problem of evil

  1. What about heaven? Will we still need suffering to build decent societies in heaven?

    If yes, then you can’t really call it heaven.

    If no, then this life is a completely superfluous waste of time.

    • Well, for one, my post had nothing to do with heaven, so this is a bit of a red herring. Second, this is also a false dichotomy, meaning the two options you listed are not the only two choices. It stands to reason that by suffering and the resultant growth here on earth, it will forge a perfect society in Heaven. But, keep in mind, Heaven is also a higher plane of existence and so the governing laws and properties of this world may not even apply there, so we lack sufficient information (and even language) to adequately talk about it in sufficient depth.

      • Genius, man. Pure genius. I had thoughts along the line of our incapabililty to understand parallel [or higher—as you put it] existences; and this trickles down to humans trying to understand animal consciousness. I wrote a post called “Love, are we being engineered?”. Let me know what you think of it. Thanks

  2. Let me make something clear: on my blog, I will not allow comments that include personal attacks, and I am undecided if I will allow comments that rebut other commenters’ comments. The first type is simply unprofessional, and I think that if you wish to engage in a discourse with someone else on my blog, I would ask you do so in a personal communication to them. I say this in response to some comments I’ve had to delete that violated these guidelines. Admittedly, I didn’t post those anywhere before this comment, but I am posting them now and would ask they be abided by.

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