Saturday, December 18, 2004

A pained "unbeliever" wonders...

Thoughts of a pained atheist/whatever

In essence, the person whose posting I've linked to, is crying out about the age old problem of "why do bad things happen to good people?" or more specifically "why does God allow bad things happen to good people?" To put an atheistical spin on it, one could say this situation means there can be no God - to put a more "even handed" spin on it, this could mean "there is no good God."

Many have answered this question in various ways, some of which I think are very true, others plausible, and others just (IMHO) examples of word juggling and obfuscation.

I'm inclined to believe as follows...

Our journey in this world is temporary. Yes, it can seem like a long time - but even if you are "long lived" by our current standards (say, you live to be 100 years old), but viewed in comparison of recorded human history (let alone in contrast to the history of this world, or the universe, which by the most popular estimates spans into the billions of years) this life is a drop in the bucket. Also, the duration of this universe, however vast it may seem (indeed, 1 million years is simply incomprehensible to us as a reality), contrasted with "eternity" is not even worthy of comparison.

The point? Yes, this life can be filled with that which is unpleasurable and miserable, but it is only for a time. While it may seem glib to say it, even the most horrid happenings are temporary. They come and go. The same is true with the flip-side, pleasures and joys.

Connecting with what I wrote previously (Why is Anything? - posted Fri. Dec 17), the incompleteness/imperfections/"failings" of all creatures, are what seem to distinguish us from the Deity to begin with, and from one another - they're the "negative space" which allows "form" to appear in the great canvas which is "being". This lack of fullness is obviously by design, and purposeful. Hence, as awful as some things seem (and are!), they too have their place - even if that role is not very clear most of the time (perhaps to teach, to purge, or to simply be struggled against).

The baby does not get why the doctor sticks the awful needle into his tender little arm. Faced with the temporary horrors of this life, I think it's clear many of us (myself included) are not much different than that screaming child - we still don't like our booster shots.


Blogger the Cogitator said...

While you're discussing theodicy, don't forget William Alston's crucial bluff-calling question: If you had the choice, would you CHOOSE NOT to have life again, regardless how erratic and tumultuous it might be? The point being, the argument against God from evil is all a big bluff unless the arguer himself is willing to admit the pain of life decisively outweighs the sheer goodness of his own life at/to that point in time. The longer the pause, the greater the diffidence, the weaker the argument becomes. For, if I myself admit the goodness of life is irreducibly greater than the evil of life is terrible, then on what grounds can we claim the goodness of the world in general is inferior to the tragedy of its evil? Suicide is perhaps the only meaningful defeater for this question (as Camus anticipated).

12:48 a.m.  
Blogger the Cogitator said...

My bad: I meant to say Hasker's question, not Alston's.

1:09 a.m.  
Blogger The Rambler said...

Excellent point, and thank-you for bringing it up. I wish I had something else to contribute at the moment, but I do not. :-)

10:16 a.m.  

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