Okay, it’s just time to thump out some text on the problem of evil. As I write, I confess freely that this essay, much like the last one, is reactionary. Once again, I’ve had it up to my neck with the legions of heathen internet trolls who have read a chapter or two of a Christopher Hitchens book and a few Wikipedia articles and think that the “problem of evil” as it is called, has defeated the notion of the existence of God. As if all the religious people in the world, billions of us for thousands of years, just somehow missed those Wikipedia articles that killed God. Now hopefully, the impassioned regurgitation that follows will help me get past the writer’s block that accompanies trying to tackle the task of “solving” this problem. However, I apologize in advance for any meandering that I do. The likelihood that I will just put this thing on my website without too much editing is rather high.
So, to define the problem, I’ll just say that as far back as Epicurus, and possibly before, the statement has been floating about that: if God is benevolent, he cannot be omnipotent. If he is omnipotent, he cannot be benevolent. If he is benevolent and omnipotent, then why does evil exist? In a nutshell, theists have claimed that God is all-loving and God is all-powerful. Yet we live in a world of evil and suffering. This just doesn’t square with some people. If he could place us in a perfect world, he would, if he were good. So, either he can’t, or he can, but he’s just a jerk. This is the “problem of evil” in a nutshell, and is a pretty fundamental resistance to the idea that an all-loving and all-powerful God exists, which is precisely the kind of God that the monotheists of the Abrahamic variety maintain that they worship.
As mentioned, a great number of atheists assume that the statement of the problem of evil simply closes the book on the possibility of the existence of the God of Abraham. Yet they cannot have read much more than their Hitchens book, as answers to this problem have abounded. The answers are not merely incoherent imaginations. While there have been a number, there have not been an infinite number, and those that exist ultimately boil down to a very similar common position, though they may at first glance appear to come from differing perspectives. The latest addition to the family of answers to the problem is Alvin Plantinga’s Free Will Defense. The penultimate answer to the problem was in fact Leibnitz’ 16th-century Best Possible World Defense. And finally, the earliest major and enduring answer to the problem was Irenaeus’ Second Creation Defense. Others, such as Origen, have also posed answers, generally similar to Irenaeus’ solution.
As stated above, though, all of these answers rely heavily on the fundamental concept of necessity. Plantinga perhaps less so, but when you ponder his propositions and logical arguments, even with his heavy use of “freedom” and words like “preferable”, he basically tells us a story that things just have to be the way they are. It is precisely this necessity that does not resonate with the naysayers, as necessity and omnipotence seem at first glance to be incompatible. An omnipotent being can do anything, and therefore cannot be forced to do or not do anything. However, this assumption is utterly cursory, and in absolutely no way accurate. And so, it is at this point that we begin our explanation of our answer.
In beginning the answer, we have to make the observation of the fundamental quality of existence as we know it. The fundamental quality of existence as we know it is differentiation. Without differentiation, existence as we know it cannot happen. We have a universe. I am in the universe. You are in the universe. I am not you. You are not me. We are not the trees or the stars. Because the trees and the stars are the trees and the stars. They are not us. Things are differentiated from one another. That is the only way that we can have “things”. In order to have a tree, you must also have that which is not a tree as that which is different from the tree, in order for the tree to be a tree, a thing that is distinct from all the other things that are not the tree. That is the most fundamental quality of existence. You could have a comprehensible reality where there were no matter for example, or perhaps even missing one of the dimensions that we perceive, such as length or time. However, in order for reality, any reality, to exist, there must be differentiation. Interestingly, differentiation is something that God came up with. God is in fact an undifferentiated being. And it may in fact be true that some level of being derived from God does not involve differentiation, but whatever existence that being may be is completely outside the scope of our comprehension. It would be a world so foreign, even thinking about it is pointless. Therefore, I used the phrase “existence as we know it” above. So, for specificity’s sake, existence as we know it requires differentiation. Existence with me in it or with you in it requires differentiation.
This leads us to the so-called laws of thought. They are the basis of classical logic. In describing them you will see their relation to the fundamental necessity of differentiation. The laws of thought are the Law of Identity, the Law of Non-contradiction, and the Law of the Excluded Middle. Stated succinctly, the Law of identity states that a thing is what it is. If a thing is A, then it is A. The Law of Non-contradiction states that a thing must be A or B (or C or D ad infinitum), and it cannot be both A and B. Finally, the Law of the Excluded Middle states that a thing must be either A or B. It cannot be something in between. So, the proposition: time exists (law of identity). Time cannot exist and not exist (law of non-contradiction). Time cannot be in a state between existence and non-existence. That’s basically the fundament of classical logic.
Now some have posed that classical logic is not a complete description of the realm of possibility and point to logical developments such as fuzzy logic, which disregards the law of the excluded middle, as a proof. Fuzzy logic allows for a proposition to be partially true and false. For example, the proposition: the glass is full, is TRUE. Therefore: the glass is empty, is FALSE. However, if the glass is three-quarters full, then the proposition: the glass is full, is 0.75 TRUE. The proposition: the glass is empty, is 0.25 TRUE. However, fuzzy logic and many of the newer developments in practical logic have come to us by way of computer science and artificial intelligence, which deal with limited sets of propositions. The computer only knows “full” and “empty”. But in reality, there is no limit to the set of propositions. Therefore, the proposition: the glass is three-quarters full, is TRUE, and in compliance with all three laws of thought and classical logic. So, in the end, classical logic holds for discussions of possibility when dealing with reality.
Because of the previous three paragraphs, the standard, accepted definition of omnipotence is the ability to do anything logically possible. Applying this to God, our omnipotent being, God cannot create a square circle. By definition, squares have corners. Circles do not have corners. According to the law of non-contradiction, a circle cannot be a square, and a square cannot be a circle. As long as God can create a square or a circle, or a square and a circle as two things, we can say that there is no real limit observed in God’s ability in this context. Many armchair genius heathen internet trolls will mockingly say, “if God is omnipotent, can he create a stone so heavy that he cannot lift it?” The answer is, “no,” and God remains omnipotent nonetheless. Any alternate definition of omnipotence must rely on nonsense, or, stated differently, the unreal.
This idea applied can be stated thus: God can be omnipotent and yet be limited by the consequence of his own actions. God cannot create the universe and not create the universe. If God creates the universe, then universe exists. Beyond causing it not to exist, there is nothing to be done about its existence. If God creates the universe, he has to accept that it exists. He can instantly wipe it away, but nonetheless, he MUST wipe it away if he wishes it not to exist. None of this means that God is not omnipotent. He has the power to create it. He has the power to wipe it away. But the action he takes is the action he takes, and the action he takes, and when an action is taken, must be dealt with.
So, then the several paragraphs above accomplish precisely one thing. They allow for necessity to accompany omnipotence. Logically, God can be omnipotent, while at the same time, he can be constrained by what happens (things he has chosen to happen). An illustration may clarify this point and the above paragraphs. So, I am standing in front of a potter’s wheel with a lump of clay on it with a jug of water beside it. I am able-bodied with two hands. I can make that clay into whatever I want. I can make it into a bowl or a dish. If I make it into a bowl, I MUST turn up the edges. If I make it into a dish, I MUST flatten everything. If I turn up the edges, I have made a bowl. I have not made a dish. Now with the jug of water I can change that decision later and flatten it out to make a dish. However, if I make a bowl, I have made a bowl and I have to deal with that. I have been constrained by my own choice to make a bowl. That, however, has in no way diminished my power to make whatever I want out of the clay. Therefore, within the context of this limited system, I can be called omnipotent as in having the power to make anything.
Again, the above basically states that God can be omnipotent and operate within constraints. Yes, they are constraints that he himself creates, being limited only by his own action. Nevertheless, God can be omnipotent and yet be constrained. Yes, he could have well chosen to not make the universe, or made a universe completely foreign to our laws of logic, but in order for him to create the universe as we know it, he must take action, and with that, must take on constraints.
With the above, the classical problem of evil has been decimated. Evil is somehow necessary. God had to do it in order to make us. Why would an all-loving, all-powerful God put us in such an evil world and cause or allow such evil things to occur? The only answer is that he must cause or allow such things to occur. No, this does not diminish his omnipotence even slightly. He could have not created us. He could have created some other foreign existence. However, for this world of differentiation to exist, in which I am me and you are you and you are not me and I am not you, this world of evil is somehow a necessity. Hence the verse:
“Woe to the world for temptations to sin! For it is necessary that temptations come, but woe to the one by whom the temptation comes!Matthew 18:7
So, in a nutshell, the problem of evil that so many have claimed is the greatest logical threat to the existence of God really isn’t a problem at all. The crux of it is that those who are impressed by the problem of evil have a faulty understanding of omnipotence. Essentially, everything I have said above ultimately leads to the conclusion that an omnipotent being can operate within constraints, namely the constraints that he puts on himself by making choices and taking action. So, for the skeptic, the issue is solved. He must look elsewhere for a proof that God does not exist. But for the faithful, the questions only here start to roll in. The initial conclusion is that evil is necessary and unavoidable. An all-loving God can only subject us to this world if it is necessary. But then why?
This brings us to the book of Job. We’d be ridiculous to conclude that we are the first to ask this question. It was indeed asked for thousands of years from the beginning of civilization. And Job got an answer. Most commentaries on Job conclude that evil is a test, based on the dialog between God and Satan at the beginning, with God’s answer at the end merely being an admonishment that we aren’t always going to have the information we’d like, so we must trust God. In fact, it was a test, but singular events or chains thereof in our lives often offer multiple lessons providing many layers of understanding. From my perspective, the depiction of the wager between God and the devil does provide occasion for understanding, but I think we’d be remiss to think it ended there. Further, I think that there is more to God’s answer than “I’m bigger than you and know more than you do, so keep the faith in ignorance.” That is indeed an important answer and valid understanding, but I want to mine the text for some clues as to what actually God could be on about with all this “evil” stuff.
The first thing I noticed in reading God’s answer to Job is that God seemed to reference determinism quite a bit. Determinism may not exactly be the best word, as it is normally associated with the sovereignty-freedom debate. I certainly don’t want to open that can of worms. What I am referring to here by determinism is the notion that everything affects everything else. There is the concept of the “butterfly effect” that was initially developed around weather forecasting. Essentially it was the statement that the flapping of the wings of every butterfly in the world will participate in a great chain of events that will ultimately affect the storms of the world and the particular storm analyzed. Let’s take a look at some of the verses that gave me that kind of a feeling.
Who provides for the raven its prey, when its young ones cry to God for help, and wander about for lack of food?Job 38:41
“Who has let the wild donkey go free? Who has loosed the bonds of the swift donkey, to whom I have given the arid plain for his home and the salt land for his dwelling place?Job 39:6
“Is it by your understanding that the hawk soars and spreads his wings toward the south?Job 39:26
These verses, and many like them in God’s discourse with Job, may not be among the grandest statements that God makes. He also talks about hanging the world on nothing and loosing the belt of Orion! These verses I am quoting, though, are references to every day natural processes. Telling the wild donkey where to live, telling the hawk to fly south for the winter, etc. They give a distinct sense, though, that these natural, every day, and in many ways still mysterious natural occurrences (I mean how DO ducks know how to fly south for the winter?) show God’s careful attention to EVERYTHING – that everything is playing a part in his plan. From hearing this, Job is given a sense that he too is playing a part in a plan that is very grand and far beyond his comprehension.
Now in the thoughts above, we establish that the problem of evil isn’t really, a problem, and by referencing Job we proffer the idea that suffering has a purpose, and that purpose is so grand that it involves every detail of this world. However, in keeping with the title of this essay, I would like to offer some ideas about what the purpose of all of this could be. In doing this, however, I risk becoming one of Job’s friends. In reality, the bulk of the message that they gave him really wasn’t incorrect. God does lay the lofty low. God does chasten us when we fall short. We see this in our lives and the lives of others. If there is anything to critique about their answers, it is that they are all entirely personal and immediate. Their answers involved God’s interaction with Job, as he was in life, for purposes to be fulfilled in this life. God’s answer tells us that we should be open to ideas that extend far beyond that. So, I will offer some things that I have come up with, but please be aware that I am not offering the only answers that there could be. If the true answer weren’t something beyond what any person can come up with, God would have just said it to Job, I think. But just to put food on the table, to offer some reasoning about possible purposes for all this, I’ll start with a couple of verses from John.
But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.John 4:23
Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.”John 18:37
It’s interesting that the clearest question posed to the Messiah concerning just exactly what his deal was ended up being asked by Pontius Pilate. Jesus’ answer is even more impressive. Many of us have heard of Descartes’ saying, cogito ergo sum, “I think, therefore I am,” which basically states that an individual cannot be certain of the truth of anything beyond his own existence. Every individual knows without a doubt that he exists, because he is seeing something. However, what one sees could be a dream or a hallucination. In other words, we could be like the humans were in the movie The Matrix, where everyone’s reality was a simulated hallucination controlled by advanced computers. However, I posit that after this world is done, no rational being will be able to doubt that the reality we experience is actually reality. God will establish truth.
This question would have been a fairly important one at the beginning of creation, not just of our universe, but of the heavenly abode. Only philosophers and really devote much energy to the question of humans creating reality in our world today. We have a very limited set of controls over our world, namely our bodies and minds. None of us doubt that if we walk out in front of a moving bus, that we are going to get hit. For the angels, though, this was not necessarily so. Whatever they wanted to happen actually happened. In truth, their wills became reality because they lived in a paradise, completely in harmony with God, who makes everything happen. What would prevent one of them from considering the idea that not only were they dreaming up the thoughts in their mind, but also dreaming up the world around them? If that were the case, that reality is the creation of the individual within reality, then that individual would be God, creator of all. Interestingly, tradition records that Satan ended up being kicked out of heaven for claiming to be, or trying to be, God. It may just be that Satan came up with this theory that all of reality was his dream, and ended up finding out that he was wrong, since his fate involves a great many things happening that are not in accordance with his will.
Now if a being within reality, such as Satan or an angel or one of us, were to be creating everything around us like a dream, the agent of that creation would have to be our unconscious mind. In our interactions, there is actually a very limited set of information that we know about and control consciously. The exact shape of every blade of grass around us is not determined by our conscious willing, so then if we create it, it must be our unconscious mind that is doing so. The other alternative is that an infinite being is causing all of this. Namely God. In fact, each blade of grass is so complex that it would boggle the understanding to think that any one of our unconscious minds would have the information required to define every aspect of it. Nevertheless, the possibility has not been eliminated that there is no God, but that I am God, or you are God, or we are God, unconsciously creating a consensual hallucination in which to exist.
I think evil disproves such a notion, however. It’s really an argument from common sense. If I am creating this reality around me, is it really likely that I would create such a pile of garbage as our current world? My unconscious mind, which would have to be the agent which creates everything of which I am not consciously aware, would really have to hate me. This notion becomes even more extreme when we consider the possibility that I could go to hell, which we will discuss below. Not that I am going to hell, but if a person were actually God, and created a world full of suffering such as this one and then were to go to hell for an eternity, something would be seriously wrong with that person. If a person’s unconscious mind actually did something like that to them, this would really be saying something. Now modern psychology maintains that everyone maintains some degree of self-hatred, and that in balanced people this actually motivates us to excellence and is healthy, while self-hatred in unbalanced people is the cause of a number of psychological disorders. Theism doesn’t really disagree with this.
And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.John 3:19
This verse tells us that human shame is at the heart of a great amount of the fallen human condition. Even so, though, given the amount of hostility people show toward the notion that God may send people to hell, it seems ludicrous that human beings would create a world like this one, and even send themselves to hell via their own will. Religion often maintains that people send themselves to hell, in a way, though through a completely different process than that of a person creating their own hell to send themselves to.
Now with this talk about hell, let’s mention a variation on the “I am God, I create everything” theory. It’s the “We are god, and we create everything” theory. According to this theory, the first conscious being did indeed create reality, and at some point, created another conscious being. At that point, reality became the common denominator for the two conscious beings. Reality is then a consensual hallucination. According to this thinking, the reason I cannot will my metal, glass, and plastic iPhone to be made out of gold is because you don’t think it is made out of gold. However, if both of us could believe without a doubt, to the point that it is our reality, that my iPhone is made out of gold, it will be made out of gold. According to this theory, then, in order to affect a change in reality by will, the majority of conscious beings must will it. The change must be real for them. In short, this theory is that reality is what 51% of us consider real.
Theism has a response to this. According to Christianity and Islam, and certain strands of Judaism, a large majority of humanity does not believe the truth and will be catastrophically wrong. Far more than 51% of us will at some point experience a condition of existence that they never considered to be possible on the basis of it being too horrible to be real. So how could they have made it up? This situation would result in the absurd notion of millions or billions of “gods” defining reality, in which really sucks, and results in an eternity of unimaginable torment. Does this seem likely? You’d think that after an eternity in hell, any reasonable being would have to conclude that reality is not what they make it. I’d wager they’d be in a position to admit that there is this thing called “objective reality”, that they don’t create it, and that they were wrong. So, with this, it’s time for another scripture.
What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory—Romans 9:23-24
My understanding of this verse leads to the notion that the purpose of hell is not necessarily to mete out a deserved punishment, but merely to illustrate the truth to those who are not going to hell. I’m not specifically stating that those in hell do not deserve it. That, however, is another conversation. Here I just want to say that the purpose of hell may be different or more than simple retribution. Whether or not the people there deserve to be there, their going there serves a purpose: to defeat the notion that truth is a creation of the conscious beings within reality.
There is also another scripture that to me really states with utmost clarity why our world is happening.
so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.Ephesians 3:10
This verse states that not only are we the beneficiaries of the lessons of this world, but that the angels also are to be included in the “vessels of mercy” that God is teaching. When we consider angels as well as humans as learning from this world, we can consider the benefits of another condition that is often inquired about. It also brings us to an explanation of the number of qualities of this world.
Why don’t we see miracles from God all the time? Why do they never occur, as some believe, or only occur in unverifiable ways among individuals or small groups of people who accept their existence? The answer lies in the area of patterns and correspondence. If the overwhelming majority of the population of our world only has experience with this world and the natural state of it, then it can serve as a sort of a test subject for the angels, and the patterns that occur in this world can be observed and compared to their world by them. For example, in the description above about the iPhone, where we have the idea of being able to turn the iPhone into gold if that became the reality for 51% of the people in the world, if the angels were in our world, then the phone could be gold if 51% of angels and humans believed it were gold. Separating our world from the world of the angels allows our world to be learned from on its own. If they were in our world, you’d need many, many more people to go to hell in order to make the statement that 51% of the conscious beings within reality are wrong, and therefore cannot be creating reality.
Yet there is another thing to consider. If things that occur in our world correspond directly to things that happen in the angels’ world, then populations of beings within these separate worlds would not be able to say they created their respective worlds. Something outside of the world would have to have caused both worlds to be what they are and “aligned” them so that they correspond.
Take for example the story of Saul and David. In that story, the people wanted a king. God wanted to be their king, but they insisted they receive one. Saul was chosen as king, but he lost the kingdom. David was anointed, and Saul did everything he could to stamp him out. David let him run his course, not interfering with his evil, and Saul ultimately died, and David took the kingdom and stamped out Saul’s supporters and legacy.
Now also, in heaven, God was king, but the angels wanted a leader, so Satan was appointed leader of the angels. However, he failed in his leadership by claiming he was God, so God let him run his course in this world, which he caused to fall. Ultimately, Satan’s actions will lead to his obliteration, and the Messiah, God’s anointed, will assume the kingdom and obliterate the supporters and legacy of Satan.
The story of David and Saul corresponds to the traditional story of God and Satan. How could this be the case unless both worlds were created in such a way as to correspond? Of course we only see our world, but the angels see both, and know the ways in which they correspond.
Now certain things in the above paragraph are commonly believed, though I understand that I’ve added a detail or two. Nevertheless, if the general story of Satan’s destiny or my rendition of it holds, then we have a correspondence between the events of heaven and the events of earth. How could such a situation arise if the events of the earth are determined by the will of the beings on the earth and the events of heaven are determined by the will of the beings in heaven, but there is no normative interaction between these two worlds? I’d say the only way the events of two separated universes can correspond in such a way would be if the events of each world were determined by something outside and beyond both. This thing would have to be immensely powerful and intelligent. So, something like God.
So, after showing that the problem of evil is not a problem at all at the beginning of this essay, and explaining that the purpose of evil has a part in a very grand story, we’ve given an example showing how our world, as a distinct and isolated world, serves as a lesson to both angels and humans that explains to us that we are not God or gods, by providing a history that only God could cause, which involves the majority of humans being wrong about the nature of reality. In so doing, we have touched on a number of matters that go beyond the existence of suffering to explaining why our world is separate from heaven and even explaining the value of hell – suffering beyond this life. From here, though, let’s return to offering an explanation for the suffering that we experience here on earth in this life.
Now at this juncture I would like to address a common objection to the best possible world defense of the problem of evil. In doing so I will tie in a couple of concepts that I’ve mentioned earlier in the essay. So, at the outset I defined the fundamental quality of reality being differentiation – reality is made up of finite beings with limited knowledge. In order for me to be me, there have to be things that are not me, and in order for me to know what I know, there have to be things I don’t know. In each of our interactions, the amount that we don’t know dwarfs the amount that we know. When you walk to your car, do you know everything about every molecule of air that you will breathe on the trip? Do you know if it will contain poison? You don’t. Do you know if a meteor will crash through the ceiling and kill you while you are reading this essay? No, you don’t. You can assess probability, but that’s it. Now, for reality to continue forever, it must be perfect. Referencing the butterfly effect from earlier, the only way for reality to continue forever will be for every butterfly in existence to flap its wings in such a way that will not cause a chain of events that will ultimately destroy reality. The only way for that to be possible is for a being that knows everything to be able to ensure that the butterflies flap their wings properly. When it comes to humans, the only way that we can guarantee that some human or humans won’t wreck reality is if they are in compliance with some perfect and all-knowing governor. That is, if we are to ensure that nothing is ever going to go wrong, somebody has to be omniscient, and everybody else had better comply with that omniscient being. Now the objection that I often hear is that this world can’t be the best possible world. The example cited would be that instead of creating us in this world of suffering to give us what we need, why doesn’t God just show us a video of all this suffering? Or another version involves some kind of memory implants. This actually speaks to what Irenaeus was getting at with this notion of continuing creation. The objection states that when the universe was created, it was created in some kind of a state of completion that belies some kind of a past that didn’t happen. For example, Adam was created as an adult. Maybe even with a belly button! We know that fertilized eggs become kids who become adults, but Adam was created as an adult, so he was created with a past that didn’t happen, so to speak. Concerning a literal understanding of the creation story, Adam was even created with a language that he did not learn. Adam is just an example here, but the process holds true in general. The biblical creation story says the universe was created with some fully-formed concept of “water”. The big bang theory says that the universe was created as a singularity with some sort of “quantum fluctuations” already going on. Irenaeus was saying that while the universe was created in some form of complete state, the actual creation of things is completed with the world that will come AFTER this one, and that our lives here are a part of that creation, namely that there are some aspects of creation that could not have been plugged into us in the beginning. Adam was created with his language and possible belly button as a fully-formed adult, but there are things that he actually needed to go through. The Skeptic thinks that God could have placed evil and suffering in Adam’s initial creation. He could have been created with a memory of suffering that didn’t actually happen, but he remembered it and already benefits from the lessons learned by experiencing suffering.
However, Irenaeus was correct, as whatever memories Adam would have been born with could be accused of being fictional. Just as any video God showed us could also be accused of being fictional. So, for example, at the beginning of things, the Word of God most certainly told Satan, ‘hey, if you deny the existence of God and insist that you create reality, bad things are going to happen.’ Satan without a doubt said to the Word of God, ‘nah, that’s not going to happen.’ Then the Word of God could have sat him down in front of a big screen TV and popped in a video of all the stuff that was going to happen. Yet Satan still could have said, ‘that’s some really good directing, and a really interesting story, but it’s not what would REALLY happen.’ The only way for God’s demonstration of the effect of evil and the effect of a godless world to be absolutely unassailable, is if IT REALLY DID HAPPEN. Likewise, if Satan or Adam or whoever were simply created with a memory of evil having happened, the memory could be questioned. “Wait, I was created a minute ago. My memories must just be implants. Fictional. Made up by somebody. They aren’t necessarily TRUE.” If memories aren’t identifiable as implants, then the point is really moot. Perhaps you and I were in fact created a few minutes ago with memories of our entire lives. We really don’t know. If that’s the case, well, whatever we remember is in fact reality. So, with these couple of paragraphs I want to reinforce that this world certainly can be the best possible world. I have yet to encounter anyone who has presented a better possibility that addresses all the issues that I am writing about.
After answering the above objection, however, I want to return to my final point about what could actually be accomplished via this world of suffering. It can be said that it is impossible to understand a thing without understanding what a thing is not. I can’t really have a grasp on you unless I am also familiar with what you aren’t. I can perceive you, but I cannot really appreciate that which is distinctly you unless I also know what is not you. So is it with God as well. God is being, and in our world, we have both experience of being and not being. God is love, and we have in this world experience with love and hate. God is harmony, and in this world, we have experience with harmony and disharmony, with order and chaos. Further, in this world we choose what we prefer. We can prefer love or hate, order or chaos, being or not being. Finally, we see the effects of these opposing elements upon one another. Love, being, and harmony provide a perfect state of existence, while hate, destruction, and chaos provide a disruption of that perfect state. In this life, we regularly see the one who has created something having his creations stolen. The one who lives is killed. The one who loves his neighbor finds his care for his neighbor threatened by those who hate him and his neighbor. By experiencing these things and witnessing others experiencing these things, we learn that for a world to be perfect, there must be only love, order, and harmony. Further, much of the evil in this world is a result of confusion and lack of knowledge. We have entered into a state of history in which knowledge is available in greater amounts than ever before, yet it is not enough to enable perfection. Our knowledge that we find on the internet is mixed with lies, and often the right people don’t find the knowledge available when they need it. It would seem that only omniscience is sufficient to guarantee no flaw ever occurring in an immense universe.
We typically find a common pattern. The loving, the good, and the meek are disrupted by the hating, the evil, and the proud. Now all of these loving, good, meek humans (and yes, I use “good” in a general sense – I am aware that the only fully good people that we see are the forgiven ones) are the way they are due to the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Basically, what I am describing is the suffering servant of Isaiah 53. The person who is inspired by and in harmony with God is beaten down and opposed in this world which runs contrary to God. Because the Holy Spirit is within the suffering individuals, it can be said that God suffers in them, and has with them and will with them throughout all the ages of this fallen world. Further, God is omnipresent. He has been in every room where every rape and murder has been committed, where every lie and betrayal has been perpetrated. As an infinitely compassionate and loving being, so too has God always suffered and always will until there is no more suffering. Finally, God’s Messiah was chased, hounded, opposed, and ultimately suffered at the hands of the children of this godless world. When you see an innocent person robbed or beaten, the anguish within you comes from the compassionate and loving part of you. It comes from the Holy Spirit within you (now whether you have chosen that Spirit to be you, and whether God counts that Spirit as you, is a matter of whether or not you have chosen God). Yet love is never destroyed and always lives on. The Holy Spirit is victorious over his suffering. Likewise, God is not harmed or destroyed by the evil of this world. And finally, the Messiah was raised on the third day, just as all of the suffering servants of the world were raised when they died, will raise when they die, and will return with the Messiah on the last day. So, the Messiah is a suffering servant just like his brothers, and his life on earth reveals God, just as all suffering servants in history reveal God. Therefore, the verse:
For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering.Hebrews 2:10
So finally, existence in this godless world reveals the character of God by showing us that which is not of the character of God, and the effect of the way of this fallen world on God and all those inspired by God.
And that concludes this essay, or at least this iteration of it. There are more reasons for the suffering and evil that we experience in this world than any one person can come up with. However, we see here that the evil of this world does not make the existence of God impossible. This world is a necessary beginning to creation. The next world will indeed be perfect. This world is a lesson. We learn that the reason this evil world exists is to serve a purpose. My observations as to what this purpose might be are that our world will, at its conclusion, prove beyond the possibility of doubt the existence of God. Further, it will tell us who exactly God is.