The last bit of writing I was working on before taking a break to work on some other things was an essay on the Problem of Evil. I ended up having to take a break before finishing because the explanations I was coming up with involved a number of intertwining concepts that would make for a complex description that proved exceedingly difficult to put into a digestible essay. This essay will include one of these concepts. I’ve titled this essay “the Remnant” as an homage to the biblical idea that the masses of humanity would not stay the course of faith, and ultimately only a remnant of God’s beaten down faithful would remain. Normally descriptions of God’s remnant involve descriptions of those who are disciplined and persevering, but here I am going to take a different, more philosophical approach.
In essence, my answer to the Problem of Evil is essentially a description of the “best possible world” response to the problem, although contextualized heavily by Irenaeus’ “soul grooming” answer. Neither Leibnitz nor Irenaeus was able to fully expound their insights to a full level of depth, and this was my aim, though I am becoming convinced that my goal is impossible, particularly within the context of trying to reach those whose eyes have been blinded to the truth by powers beyond the visible. Now in this essay, I certainly will not ‘solve’ the Problem of Evil, as I will not be reconciling evil with God’s benevolence. I am merely going to talk about one aspect of our existence that makes evil truly evil in contemplating God’s omniscience. The occasion for this writing, actually, has nothing to do with the Problem of Evil, but actually to provide an explanation of a phenomenon that God’s faithful see abundantly in this later age in a way that could not be perceived in previous ages before the advent of global communications technology. This phenomenon is that of the development of a monolithic world view upon which the grand multitudes of the human race hold to be absolutely true and verified by ‘science’, but happens to in fact be utterly wrong.
Returning to the Problem of Evil for just a moment, if I must give some sort of answer to it in just a few sentences, I would have to say that evil exists, necessarily, because the beings who are to populate a universe that is to exist perfectly forever, must, as a part of their own perfection, have had experiences which enable them to avoid imperfection. In other words, we learn of evil in order to be able to define good and therefore have the capability of avoiding evil forever. Put in theistic terms, we learn about God by seeing what God is not, and we become able to prefer God, and good, to godlessness and evil. Now there are a number of reasons why this actual living experience of evil is a necessity, rather than “poof – you have what you need” that many opponents of God’s method insist that he should do. That will have to be explained elsewhere for the time being, however. It will just have to suffice here to say that the point of all this suffering in our current world and lives is to explain every possible objection to that which is true in a way that cannot be impugned as a lie by any detractor of that truth. The only way to do so is if the truth come to be known via actual experience of reality. God can’t show us a movie of everything going wrong and call it good. We could call such a movie false. But if we’ve actually lived it, we don’t have that option.
Likewise, if God merely appears to people and says that he is real, these appearances could be called into question. In fact, God (or his Word/image) has appeared to people, yet the masses remain unconvinced. The reality of God must be absolutely demonstrated by something more than just an appearance. Further, the characteristics of God and the justifications for why he has decreed for things to be as they are must likewise be demonstrated beyond doubt.
And on that note, we inch closer to the specific point that this essay is intended to make. At the outset of creation, it is possible to insist that reality is merely the sum of what is perceived by the creatures within it without any reference to any ultimate omniscient, omnipotent, omnibenevolent source. Such a being would certainly be beyond empirical perception. We simply are, and we don’t directly perceive why. In order to receive an answer, we would have to be told by someone who knew. Such a someone would have to be an appearance or image possessing or having access to absolutely infinite knowledge. And when that someone spoke, we would have the option of believing him or not. As mentioned above, the ultimate point of the universe is to ensure that we believe that someone.
We are finite beings with limited sense experience and finite knowledge. No matter how much we learn, our knowledge will always be finite. Now it is exactly in this circumstance that we find ourselves in a difficult position, as being wrong is not an option. For an infinite universe to endure forever, completely whole, it must be absolutely perfect. Think of the proverbial fly in the ointment, the wrench in the machine, and the butterfly effect. Given enough time, any flaw in a machine will ultimately be a participant in a chain of events that will prevent the machine from functioning. Reality is such a machine. Every butterfly’s wings must be flapping just right in order for the weather to be perfect, and if the weather isn’t perfect, there will eventually be a storm, and eventually there will be a storm that will bring the house down. Well, a world full of clueless butterflies certainly isn’t going to have everybody flapping just right. This is essentially where humanity stands. We are finite beings. We will never have all knowledge. So, we will never be able to do everything correctly. Our only chance at perfection is to have adequate access to that which does have all knowledge, and can inform us of the perfect course of action, in a situation where we comply with that omniscient being’s instructions.
Now, in our world, we have been gaining more and more knowledge. Yet, we have not been informed by perfect omniscience, fully anyway, and in general, we are not compliant with what instructions we receive. The more knowledge we receive, we find ourselves continually with unknowns. We make assumptions. We rely on the assumptions of others. As a collective, we become comforted by our increasing repertoire of observations mixed with suppositions and theories, and our worldview becomes more and more solid. Yet, a certain rare few of us, those of us who actually are receiving input from God, are noticing that our evermore detailed worldview is just solidifying in its incorrectness. Pretty much everyone will acknowledge the phenomenon of Nazi Germany. Archaeologists and anthropologists from Nazi Europe scoured the world collecting evidence that white Europeans were descended from a Nordic master race from the North Pole that has been in a forever war with the Jews, the root of all evil. The society as a whole became convinced of this, and it took losing a war to shake the view.
Likewise, scientists from all over look into various collections of fossils, molecules, genes, and whatever they can find to come up with the view that we evolved from animals, that our universe is a random accident, etc. The more we observe, the more we fit into this supposition, this collectively dreamed up, yet totally inaccurate and logically impossible scenario. At the end of days, humanity will never be more convinced of its view of itself, and humanity will never be more wrong. We are making the puzzle fit our preconceptions derived from limited knowledge.
It’s actually ironic that I am writing this on the day that the US President has withdrawn from the Paris environmental agreement. The news is ablaze with scientists screaming about environmental catastrophe. While there are many small theories contributing to the whole of the climate change movement, ultimately, the movement propounds the notion that the earth is heating up, that this will melt the world’s ice, and the earth will be flooded. The primary catastrophe that threatens the earth is global flooding. I can’t help but laugh with a wince. The bible predicts a great many ecological catastrophes in our future. Plagues the likes of which we have not yet seen are predicted. A huge amount of aquatic life is to be destroyed. The sky will be darkened. Stars will actually fall. Asteroids perhaps? Who knows. Trees burned, land scorched. It’s all there. Exxon Mobil will probably not be the cause of all this stuff. Biological weapons the likes of the various zombie apocalypse movies? Maybe? Yet, the bible tells us that the world has already been flooded, and there isn’t going to be another flood. According to the bible, there is really only ONE ecological disaster that we don’t have to worry about, yet that one is precisely what the population of the earth is so convinced is going to happen, and so violently insists can only be averted with just the right corporate tax scheme.
So now we get to why I called this essay “the Remnant”. Only a very few people will realize that humanity just doesn’t have the knowledge to be right about everything without divine help. And only these same few will watch with their eyes open as all the scientists and politicians hold hands and pronounce statements about the nature of existence that are completely wrong. Members of this remnant will be called deniers by a population that cannot comprehend that all the people who have been to our schools, who we call smart, could all be absolutely wrong. Yet, this situation is exactly the intent of history. God is indeed telling us that without access to infinite knowledge, errors will creep into the system, compound, and become the bedrock of subsequent errors until the whole system is unified in an improper course, which would ultimately lead to destruction if not corrected.
So here I am not talking about the faithful Remnant as those with discipline to stay the course, but that the faithful Remnant are those (same people) who see our flawed and finite race going off the tracks. The more ‘knowledge’ our society amasses, the more this remnant will be called deniers of the patently obvious. In the end, though, we will be the only ones who are correct. As every human leaves their mortal coil and meets the truth, they will be utterly shocked to learn that all of their scholars and academics and founts of knowledge were wrong about the very basics about where we came from and where we are. And this will demonstrate just one of the many things that God is trying to teach us with this fallen world: without him, we will fall into delusion, and the only way to avoid this is to believe what he tells us.
With the above on the table, I hope to have explained that the notion of humanity increasing in knowledge while increasing in being collectively incorrect is not only possible, but actually a likely lesson from an infinite God to humanity. The more we study, our fundamental impression is to think that the likelihood of being wrong should decrease over time. This, however, is a supposition based on a very limited starting premise that we are here, we study more, and decrease our incorrect understandings. This reasoning works in a laboratory if only the most basic of factors are accounted for. This supposition does not account for the fact that we are doomed to fail in our current status as finite beings guided by nothing in particular. If, however, we account for a larger set of factors, we see that the likelihood of our intellectual perfection is zero. In addition to the Nazis mentioned above, we can point to the phenomenon of collective human delusion in countless scenarios. Entire civilizations have based themselves on patent falsehoods. Karl Marx supposed that at one point the have-nots would rise up in a great revolution after which everybody would be nice to each other, no one would need personal property, etc. The fact that Marx had the idea is nowhere near as weird as the historical fact that half of the world piped this fantasy as truth for 70 years. Yet in the middle of the 20th century, they piped that humanity had more knowledge than ever before. And everybody else was certain he was correct (except that other half of the world). The Soviet Union and Red China couldn’t be wrong, could they? Here we are less than 100 years later, and we look at them as primitive and uninformed – painfully wrong. They didn’t even have iPhones! How could they have known whether they were right or not?
In spite of these and countless other examples, when it comes to making suppositions about the past that can in no way be verified, such as the Big Bang, or when it comes to telling what is going on in other galaxies billions of light years away, people insistently and violently maintain that our scientists can’t be wrong. We are definitely animals, random assemblies of chemical reactions. Of this so many are so certain. With this essay, I don’t merely want to cause uncertainty about that world view. I actually want to present idea that humanity being wrong about where it came from and what it is doing is more likely than not.