Thursday, September 01, 2011

The Problem of Evil, Redux

A while back, Crystal asked me about my theodicy. More recently, Paul (no, not our Paul) asked something similar. I've finally managed to put together a few paragraphs that communicate the essentials. Mostly it's just a bit of self-justification, but maybe a couple of other people will find it helpful.


It is not enough for God to feel bad about human suffering, or to somehow make up for it after the fact. To allow the torture of innocents is to be complicit in that torture, Free Will be damned. Consequently, it is plainly incoherent to posit a God who is both good and overwhelmingly powerful.

But most of us still believe in a God. So what do we do with this belief?

We should affirm it, but also accept that we must have been mistaken in some ways, and go about finding a different way to think about God.

In my opinion, the best thing to do next — given the track record of power — is to abandon the idea that God is powerful, and by doing so, liberate our claim that God is good … that God is essentially goodness itself … or if we want to angle it a bit differently, we can claim, as the Bible does, that God is love.

This is hard for many of us, because not only does it mean giving up little things, like a God who magically gives us rain and parking spaces and helps us find our keys, it also means giving up really big things, like a God who is a big grand king, who creates everything from nothing, who inspires a Bible, and who raises people from the dead. And maybe these things are too big to give up.

But for those of us who have already given up most of those things, giving up power actually solves more problems than it causes. It’s the piece that makes everything click.

And because I’m one of those people, that’s my position. God is not powerful. Or to put it another way: Love, and nothing else, is God in the world.