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Pain and Evil

  1. Example in point:  Tom S. and Russian roulette.
    1. Who is to blame?
    2. Why didn't God stop it?
  2. Stating the problem
    1. God Exists
    2. God is all-good
    3. God is all-powerful
    4. Evil exists
    5. One of these four, it appears, has to go.
  3. The known "solutions"
    1. Atheism - God does not exist
      1. But can evil then exist?  Is there "right and wrong?"
      2. And if it does, can it ever be overcome?  (Unyielding despair).
    2. Pantheism - God is not all-good
      1. Yin/Yang
      2. Dark side of the Force!
      3. Dualism (Zoroastrianism) - evil & good equal and opposite
        1. How do you know which is which?
        2. And are you sure you want to be on the "good" side?  Maybe the evil side pays better.
    3. Naturalism (and ancient polytheism) - God is not all-powerful
      1. God allowed whatever the supreme being (man) will permit (in your mind)
      2. God is known only in how useful He is - or how angry.
      3. The Philistine temple prostitutes - and the sewer at the back.
      4. The praise of that sewer by National Geographic.
        1. "Let us rid ourselves of ancient taboos"
        2. The sociological viewpoint - as long as some culture approves, it's morally right (all cultures are equally valid).
    4. Idealism (Some Hindu, Christian Science, New Age) - evil doesn’t exist (all in your mind).
      1. The Matrix - your mind determines what is "real".  If you don't think it exists, it doesn't.  Man is the ultimate judge. 
      2. But where did we get this idea of right and wrong in the first place?
    5. Theism - these four things are not self-contradictory
  4. How does theism (Judaism, Christianity, Islam) solve this problem?
    1. The nature of evil itself
      1. Evil is not a "thing", or a being.  Things are not evil.  Hence, dualism fails, for God is.
      2. Evil is real, however - just as shadows are formed by light.
      3. Evil - the separation of man from God.
    2. Free will - our ability to choose to do evil.  Free will causes the separation from God, by our choices.
    3. That this is intrinsically human (Garden) - but that we were originally designed to be called good. 
    4. Omnipotence, but not absurdity
      1. "Can God create a rock so big…"
      2. Putting "God can" at the beginning of nonsense still yields nonsense.
      3. God is; therefore He is not self-contradictory
    5. Goodness, not mere kindness (the dentist's drill)
  5. God's answer to evil
    1. We separate the sin from the sinner, or so we're told.
      1. Example:  ourselves
      2. Simple fairness
    2. God separates the punishment of the sin from the punishment of the sinner
      1. Old Testament - sacrifices
      2. Calvary
    3. Forgiveness - grace - is God's ultimate solution to evil.
    4. God allows no evil out of which He cannot bring a greater good.
      1. Teacher's rejoinder again:  He's not finished yet.  (2nd Coming)
      2. See His treatment of Pharaoh
  6. Pain - very similar argument, with additions
    1. Pain as punishment and discipline
    2. Eternal pain - hell


Book of the week:  The Problem of Pain, Lewis

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