15 September 2007

The Indolent Bystander

I'd really love to see your facile explanations for "theodicy" (the theological problem that questions how there can be so much evil in a world supposedly created by an all-powerful, all-good God) stand up to this deeply personal essay (clearly a product of long, anguished reflection) by my friend Ryan. Ryan combines the clear reasoning of a lawyer (which he is) with the heart of a compassionate friend (which he is also), and - the result is worth a read. Of course, we theists will read it and go back to our neat little mental defense mechanisms for believing around this crap. (If you're a theist, you know you have them. I certainly do. G'wan, admit it.)

Does the argument of Caputo (to whom Ryan refers) help? Thinking of God as a "weak force" as opposed to the all-powerful (yet far from all-active) "magic hand from above" that most of us grew up with? I know it's helped my friend, at least a little, but it certainly does fly in the face of what we've been taught to expect from our Deity.

3 comments:

Gary Glass said...

Not one taker? Very disappointing. Maybe if you put the question another way: how does one believe two things that are contradictory?

Mike Croghan said...

Oh, *that's* easy. Everybody does that. :-) The hard thing is doing that when you're deeply emotionally invested in both contradictory things. Simultaneously saying "I believe in an all-powerful, all-good God" and "There is evil in the world though there shouldn't be" is cake - just don't think about it too hard. Simultaneously saying "I believe in the God I've had faith in all my life" and "My God, my God - my friends' baby boy just died" - *that's* hard. Those aren't things you can "just not feel about too hard".

Gary Glass said...

Depends what you mean by "hard". Certainly it's *painful*. Because disillusionment is painful. Which I've always thought is a very curious thing. To be wrong is painful. But the person who awakens to their illusions is in better shape than the person who just doesn't have the nerve to think about it too hard. Intellectually that's easy to believe, but emotionally it's awfully scary to embrace.