Posted by: Millard J. Melnyk | March 8, 2015

The Evil Problem of Evil

Exciting new thoughts today about my most challenging question! Sparked by a great conversation yesterday with my son and a friend’s statement this morning…

“One important lesson I have learned through my experience, is not to depend on a deity to intervene on behalf of the innocent.”

I agree, and it’s one of my big remaining quandaries. There’s something deeply conflicted and inconsistent about operating in trust in a hostile or indifferent environment where violation occurs unless someone intervenes. I’ve asked many who ought to know — believers in a “loving God” — about the most capable interventionist possible (if he exists): “Why doesn’t God intervene?” All I ever get back is shoulder shrugs and “The Lord’s ways are past finding out.”

That’s pathetic. Poppycock! We can do better than that, and I’m making inroads, but it’s still perplexing.

But forget about God. The G question is beside the point of this one.

I think maybe part of the problem is our expectations about our roles as intelligent, caring beings. We want to just enjoy ourselves while we’re here, but what if enjoyment is a perk, and we’re here specifically to solve a problem? Even cosmologists and theoretical physicists have been suggesting this, likening the universe to a kind of grand computer crunching information towards some end.

We assume it’s all about Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe and Everything, but that’s something that we decided we want to know for our own reasons, and we aren’t even sure that our reasons are good ones. We just know that not knowing sucks. We never ask if it’s the wrong question. And then we fall to fighting over whether the answer is actually 42.

But maybe the real question is another one: What are we going to do about it? That is in fact the question we’re faced with every time we encounter something amiss. It’s also the question we face after something terrible happens. And it’s the question that we actually define ourselves by.

We ask “Why?” and argue over what things mean, but after all that commotion dies down, we’re still faced with: So? What are ya gonna DO?

Asking “Why?” is actually asking for someone else’s answer — their opinion about what it means, their definition of who we are and what we matter — even if they’re an authority or the Pope or Dalai Lama or God himself. Those are not our answers. No one but us can find and give our answers.

And what if being engaged in creating meaning and understanding is more important than the results? What if the products are secondary to the process? What if being together on the journey is more important than where it lands us, as long as we have and keep each other? It sure beats fighting and killing each other over routes and destinations.

Maybe we need to start defining what things mean instead of asking, and creating meaning instead of wanting to be told.

Maybe if we start doing that we’ll hit a tipping point.

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