Go(o)d and Evil

This post was inspired by an article written by a very dear friend for her local paper.  If you are interested, her article can be found at No Evil.  The original is in Greek, but an English translation by the author is included


So this post may go somewhat off the usual topics, but I felt the need to write it.

Our world.  How can anyone look at the world presented to us on cable news, the Internet, newspapers, etc., and not be horrified at what seems to be daily occurrences of evil:

  • wars between countries that are enemies today, and will becomes allies in the future against some other perceived common enemy
  • the slaughter of innocent children, babies barely out of their mother’s wombs
  • the murder of parents before their children’s eyes.
  • the willful starvation of those caught in man-made Armageddons
  • the sadistic cruelty that justifies the torture and maiming of  our fellow humans
  • the destruction of children’s innocence

And so much more can be added to this list that the heavens should cry out in agony.

But they don’t!

And millions read their Bibles, their Qur’ans, their Gitas, their Surtras, in some attempt to answer their despairing question:

Why does  God allow such evil in this world?

It’s the wrong question.  Yes, certainly we use our religions as weapons to justify our hate of those who think differently.  We can pull passages from our holy books where our God seems to order us to commit terrible sins in His name.  But a God who needs men to perform such deeds for Him is no God at all, just a pathetic and weak reflection of the worst of us   A good part of I’m God ands You’re Not explores this, possibly to the point of ad nauseam.

Okay, you say, let’s take religion out of it.  You still have earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, tsunamis, volcanoes, floods.  Aren’t these evil?  Certainly, these cause terrible tragedies and suffering to all living things,  but unless the planet is intelligent after all and is trying to wipe out the human plague that infests it, no, these are not evil.  Arguments about global warming aside, these are the natural phenomena of the planet–there is no intent, no thought behind them.  We just happen to be here when they occur.

For Evil requires intelligence behind it.  The earth is not sadistic, humans are.  It is we  who intentionally blow each other up, cause the loss of arms and legs (sometimes physically performing the act, sometimes through our war machines where individuals only exist to be counted as the enemy dead), we who send back boats of desperate refugees while we suppress the knowledge that we are most likely sending them back to living hell or death, we who built concentration camps and tolerate the Holocausts of the innocents.  Only an intelligent human being  can be so insanely stupid as to hate another human being merely for where he/she comes from, the clothes they wear, the way they worship or don’t worship a God.

And now in America, the nation of immigrants, hate raises it head.  Follow on a  blog or on Facebook, you can read such insanity as threats of civil war because conservatives and liberals have different views–I have read death threats to both sides  on the Facebook pages of American politicians and political groups, where there seems to be a new vision of an America that cannot tolerate the very differences that it was founded on, forgetting the promise and ideals that made it the “Golden Land” of opportunity and a light to the world.

Is such sadism ingrained in us?  Is there some part of our unconscious that relishes the idea of such torture and cruelty, that contains a spark of evil in all of us?  Even though we would never condone such actions in the physical world, are we playing holier-than-thou and are unwillingly to acknowledge that under the right set of circumstances. we are blood-thirsty little gods and goddesses of vengeance?

To which wiser men than me have answered that you can have the thought, you are NOT the thought.  Throughout history, better men than me have stood up before evil and said “No!”, even at the cost of losing their lives to that very evil,  martyrs that lead the way to the best inside us.

Why should I hate you to the point of seeking your death merely for being different from me?  Why should I be so insecure, so little a person,  to feel so threatened that I become a betrayer of the ideals I hold sacred?   For what do I become less than the best in me?

What kind of world do you wish to leave behind?  One, better for you having existed, or one that only causes more and greater misery.

No, the question isn’t why does God allow such evil to exist; the question is why do we do.

 

PS.  Thanks to Angelina

 

 

Is God worthy of worship (part 1)

I have struggled with my understanding of the nature of God for almost all my life — from my bar mitzvah days, through my teen years where my doubts about the Bible caused my father to often call me an “atheist”, and through my adult life all these years, as I explored different religions and philosophies.

Events in my life would often convince me that God didn’t like me very much and was often out to get me.  Among other areas were issues with marriage, my issues with my looks,  love life, and the sense of despair that hit when I found out that my only child was autistic.  Rightly or wrongly, I often felt like a fly captured by a schoolboy who delights in slowly pulling its legs off, one after the after.

And what kind of God existed that seemingly stood silent during the Armenian genocide in the beginning of the 20th Century, the Holocaust of the Second World War, the continued poverty and suffering of so many innocents across the world., a God that watches as madmen invoke His name as they kill those of different faiths or beliefs, a world continued to be bathed in blood.

And even in nature, there are horrors:  what sort of a worshipful God would come up with things like parasitic wasps that “impregnate” a caterpillar with its eggs.  The caterpillar continues to eat and grow while the larvae suck its blood and grow as well.  Then the wasp larvae use their specialized jagged jaws to cut through the tough, thick layers of the caterpillar’s skin that would otherwise present an impermeable barrier. The larvae also release chemicals that paralyze their host, rendering it powerless as they eat their way out.

Who comes up with elephantiasis? Bubonic plague? Ebola?

This is the creation of a loving God? Or is it the work of a sadist?

And do not say who are we to question the ways of God. If a parent tortures a child, is that okay because he is the parent?

No, if this is willful of God, than that God is NOT worthy of worship. That God is not worthy of us.

So, I am left to conclude that IF this is God, I have to disown him. I cannot believe in such a God

Or I must come to a different understanding of what God is.

Seeing God in the Third Millennium – Oliver Sacks – The Atlantic

How the brain creates out-of-the-body experiences and religious epiphanies

Having myself having had both (an out-of-the-body experience as a child after a massive dose of penicillin), and a religious epiphany while walking on the top of the walls of Jerusalem  in 1990, I found this article by Dr. Sacks very interesting.  Does it preclude a genuine religious experience of God?  Personally, I think the jury is still out.

Seeing God in the Third Millennium – Oliver Sacks – The Atlantic.