Warning: The author of this web-site and this blog post has been diagnosed with Schizoaffective Disorder, a particularly nasty psychological illness. The root of his disorder is religious in nature. This post has been heavily influenced by said disorder and the so-called “delusional” belief system it has engendered; some may find it offensive; well, okay, everyone may find it offensive. For more information regarding the specifics of this disorder, click here.
The problem of evil is an age-old philosophical question that has been the source of much debate through the ages. In simplest form, it can be stated as follows: if God is all-powerful and all-good, how can evil exist? The traditional answer is, of course, free-will. But before we deal with that, let us go back a step and set up some context.
First, what do we mean by the term “evil?” I won’t give a philosophical definition, as that is not pertinent here, but I will refer to a few examples. To me, it seems that there are two different types of evil. A man murders another man. That is a form of sentient evil: evil committed by a conscious, sentient being. Compared to this is natural evil. For example, suppose a tornado destroys a house killing a family of four. Such natural evil is generally regarded as non-sentient; it is the action of inanimate forces that leads to bad events.
Now that we’ve made that distinction, let us return to the traditional answer to the problem of evil. According to the religious, God will not infringe on the free-will of others; hence, evil is allowed through the actions of freely-choosing humans. The man who kills another is responsible for the evil of the deed, not God. Although such a position answers the problem of evil in the case of sentient evil, it falls short when it is applied to natural evil. Most people don’t think a man’s free choice has any impact on a tornado (although the Butterfly Effect might differ with us there, that still seems to be a stretch). This leads us to the question: Is the death caused by a tornado truly evil? Perhaps, ‘evil’ is the incorrect term and it should just be noted that it is something ‘bad.’ Either way, the problem of ‘evil’ (or badness) remains. How can God be all-good and all-powerful and yet allow a tornado to kill four people?
Natural evil is either the result of a sentient being’s choice, or it is not. If it is the result of a choice, it is either good, evil, or neutral. If it is not the result of a choice, it is either good, evil, or neutral. If sentience is involved (pantheism or divine intervention), in my view, it is difficult to imagine how it can be anything but evil. The only way it can be good is if it can be understood in some grand scheme that humans are too limited to understand. I suppose that would be an act of faith, trusting that God knows what is best in the grand scheme. In this case, it is a necessary evil inflicted for a greater good. Similarly, it could be a neutral in the grand scheme of things—as it is understood to be something that is balanced out somewhere else—but again, that denies the initial, gut reaction and may only be true on some grand scale that humans don’t fully understand. Regardless, either way, it is a bitter pill to swallow when you or someone else is dying. If natural evil is not the result of a choice, the options are quite similar, but more accidental. As such, the options for good and neutral can still be there, again in the “grand scheme of things,” but there is no divine guarantee that this is the case. If it is to be understood as truly evil (or perhaps just ‘bad’), the scale doesn’t matter, the evil is at it is and is obvious.
To sum up, the faithful might accept that sentient evil is the result of a flawed human’s flawed choice, while natural evil is something we fail to fully understand but the omniscient Deity does. From God’s point of view, what we think of evil in natural evil is actually good or necessary.
As I’ve said previously, I suffer from a mental illness (at least that’s what my psychiatrist tells me). One of the issues I struggle with is the nature of Satan. From my “illness,” I came to an unusual solution to the problem of evil. I decided that natural evil is a form of sentient evil. I came to the conclusion that Satan was the universe and the universe is evil. So, when the tornado kills four innocents, it is a result of Satan exercising his free will and taking delight in the killing of innocents. God gave Satan free-will, just like he did man, and as a result God won’t infringe upon Satan’s free will, so Satan will do what he wishes, and there is very little man can do about it. Well, except maybe pray to God for protection (but won’t that count as interference?).