We wrap our discussion of evil and suffering with a look at some other sorts of responses to the problem and a reflection on where we land personally. If you haven't heard part 1, start there first.
Due to the subject and the tone of this conversation, these episodes do not include a beverage tasting.
Content note: this conversation includes discussion of evil and suffering and is probably not suitable for children. Though we try to avoid explicit extreme examples where possible, there is mention of specific instances of harm, including to children.
You can find the transcript for this episode here.
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NOTE: This transcript was auto-generated by an artificial intelligence and has not been reviewed by a human. Please forgive and disregard any inaccuracies, misattributions, or misspellings.
I'm Randy, the pastor half of the podcast and my friend Kyle is a philosopher. This podcast host conversations at the intersection of philosophy, theology and spirituality.
We also invite experts to join us making public space that we've often enjoyed off air around the proverbial table with a good drink in the back corner of a dark pub.
Thanks for joining us, and welcome to a pastor and philosopher walk into a bar. And our last episode, we talked about something super weighty. And that is the problem of evil. And it's something that as a philosophy and pastoral theological podcast, we have to talk about, we can't get around. And really, as people who are maybe spiritual, maybe religious people, we should talk about this as well, we shouldn't try to get around this, we shouldn't ignore it, we should actually just have this conversation. And so we began that in our last episode, and I really enjoyed it. I really appreciated you guiding us through that conversation, Colin framing it historically and philosophically. And today, we might get a little bit more personal. We're also going to go down a little bit more of what are some of the what are some of the theories and the Odysseys that are out there? And why they may or may not work?
Yeah. And really kind of try to emphasize this time, where it all comes back to at least for me, you know, what, at the end of the day, can I do as a religious person about this? Was what should my decision be? Yeah. And there's not going to be any clear answers. So fair warning, we're going to try at least to frame the conversation in a way that's helpful.
Yeah. And let me just say pesto early that I hope this conversation doesn't short circuit someone's spirituality in the moments to where like, Well, shit, I can't believe this, you know, what I hope this does is inform a longer and larger conversation, both inwardly and then corporately, collectively, this is what the church is for is to have these conversations. And this is what, you know, relationships are like, I hope this just is a piece in your process spiritually, philosophically, just in trying to figure out what is what is humanity, and what is the world and what is reality, all of that. We don't we don't advocate for this being kind of a spark that just changes some someone's belief, right? In a moment, right.
Right now, we're not trying to D convert anybody. I mean, yeah. Now, these are things you have to wrestle with, for a long time, like yours. Yeah. And you may come out in a happy place that you expected, and you might not. But I think honesty is better than self deception.
That's part of what I'm trying to say is, we've gotten emails from people that said, like, this thing just made a left turn. And, you know, I don't know what to do with this episode, we've heard that about a couple of episodes. These are probably going to be a couple of those episodes. But at the same time, I hope this is a healthy endeavor, which where we can think honestly about our faith. We're not pretending we're not trying to believe something just because it's it feels fun to believe, but we're actually taking our faith seriously, or lack of faith at this, you know, whatever, wherever you find yourself in the faith spectrum or the spirituality spectrum. We just hope this helps you take a little bit more seriously, and brings up some really good conversations.
Yeah, good. And you know, to be frank, a lot of people have D converted as a result of this problem. And there's no getting around that fact, and I think those people are unreasonable, but no, but we haven't. I haven't. And so try to motivate why that is. And it's
a spectrum right? You You haven't in a way that is different than why I haven't exactly and we're gonna go into that a little bit today. Yeah.
Okay, so I think we left off talking about we were talking about a bunch of different types of theodicy, which again, is just a way of responding to the problem of evil, trying to explain how a good powerful, intelligent God could allow evil or could be compatible with this, much of it, this kind of evil that we see around us. And there's lots of ways to try to explain that we went through several of them last time. There's some that are, I wouldn't even call them theodicy, they're interesting responses to the problem, that aren't quite doing the same thing that the other theocracies are doing. So I said before, the kind of common thread of almost all theodicy is maybe all have is this idea of a greater good that in some way there's going to be whether it's at the end of time, you know, we're in heaven, we're looking back at the end of the evolutionary trajectory of our species, whatever. There's some sense in which God allows evil in order to bring about something better, something that is really good and beautiful in the end, and we just need the right perspective to understand that we don't have that perspective. That's kind of compelling. I mean, it's the core of, as I said, all theocracies That's what freewill is about. That's what the soul building thing was about. It's what a bunch of them are about. But there's a couple that are different than that. That's not they don't really try to do that. We just talked to a person who advocates a response to the problem of evil, actually a couple of them that don't really do that. So Thomas J. Ord, for example, as I read him anyway, he's not really doing that. He's saying, we let's go all the way back to the beginning of the conversation where we defined what God was. And let's rethink that. Let's say God doesn't have the all those attributes that created the problem in the first place. So you know, remember, we said, God has a title, and that title includes certain features. And among those features are critically, that God has all power that is needed to stop evil, that God has all the knowledge that is needed, and then God wants to do so in other words, God is good. Tom's response to that is the first one is mistaken. God, in fact, does not have the power to stop evil. That changes the whole ballgame. It's not trying to explain why a God who did have the power let it happen. It's just straightforwardly saying God didn't have power
in, like, fill in the blanks for me, because I'm not remembering our conversation with Tom, it perfectly. I believe he thinks that that's the the reason that God doesn't have the power is because of the way God set things up.
So we needed to have a more careful conversation with him. And I don't want to misrepresent his view. But I think just given kind of the process, theology background that he kind of comes from, or that he is friendly to that, I think he would have to say, God is
God is limited God's self, because of human agency is what I want to like kind of trap would be
kind of a version of the freewill theodicy. That's not quite how I'm understanding Tom, I could be wrong. I'm understanding Tom to say something more like God's nature, and particularly God's incarnational. Nature disallows God, from being able to stop evil in the physical world. Okay. And how much of that was God's limiting choice on God's self? I'm not clear on that. So that's okay. That's a fair question. Yeah. But you know, that's a different way of approaching this. That has not been priests, that kind of way. It's not been persuasive to most philosophers who have thought about this issue, because it doesn't seem to a lot of them that we're talking about the same thing anymore.
So if you're not omnipotent, you're not God. Philosophers. Yeah,
at least not in the kind of Anselmi and sense of the greatest conceivable being the thing that all the religions have taken themselves to be about to be worshipping the creator of the world that can do far more than is conceivable to humans. And surely something as simple as making a world with less suffering in it, for example. Yeah, I think most philosophers would just see that as kind of a changing of the subject, rather than a resolution of the problem, but it is an option. And I want to put it out there because it's, you know,
any frames a biblically, very much. Yeah.
There's another one. This is called skeptical theism. And this has been kind of popular in philosophy, religion in the last, I don't know, decade or two. And this is kind of what you get in job. Those. That's how I read it. Now you're a pastor, you know more about job than I do. I'm sure you've probably preached on it. Well, when I read job, I do not see a response to evil, so much as I see a kind of putting the questioner in their place. Yes. So when when God finally shows up towards the end of that book, and I get SAS, it speaks Yeah. It's, it's interesting. It's maybe not what you would have expected. It's pretty fun. That job doesn't get his answer so much as he gets put in his place. It's hard. It's hard. How else to say that, like,
wherever you established the universe, where were you? When I rolled out the you know, the cosmos, like a like a carpet? Where were you gird yourself like a man Job and listen to it? Let's reason together. Yeah, yeah.
Job who was righteous? And God never denies that. So it's kind of like, Who are you to question me? Yeah, kind of response. You're not God. And what skeptical theism does is try to drive a wedge into the evidential problem of evil, which we defined last time. And say, you know, that thing that Bill row, the philosopher, he talks about that thing he said, where we're surrounded by evidence that God doesn't exist. Is that right? The skeptical theist says we should be skeptical of that claim. Because our ability to conclude what that evidence points to is extraordinarily limited. And they have lots of fun thought experiments that I won't bore you with, but essentially, it's kind of an argument for humility. And it's kind of the most charitable read of it. I think. There are other ways to read it too. Some influential philosophers read it as ignoring certain kinds of powerful evidence that we have and certain instances of suffering. But I think at its best, it's an argument for humility. It's saying, we're extraordinarily limited. And we simply have no idea what reasons and omnipotent, omniscient, Omni benevolent being might have. And so, concluding anything on the basis of the evidence that seems to be available to us, is a bad move.
Yeah. On one hand, I think it's not a terrible theodicy. And on the other hand, I think it's silly to suppose that like, moral good, you know, goodness, is more complex than I see it to be. Does that make sense? Like, if I see something as being evil or evil or suffering in some large scale thing, it's it's kind of silliness to me to say, well, there's something beyond that, that we can't know. Because we're finite human beings. Like I like that humility, that epistemic humility, but I don't like explaining everything away to say, well, we can't know. And we're not God.
Yeah, it's unsatisfying to a lot of folks. I'm one of those folks, for sure. It doesn't quite go as far as some, for example, deterministic thinkers have gone. And that means people who believe that God ordered the world very intentionally to include all of the suffering that it does include, and is causing it all directly to happen. It doesn't go as far as some of those thinkers do. And saying that goodness applied to God and goodness applied to humans are just different concepts. They mean different things. And so when something seems evil to me, I can't attribute that to God, because God is above me. We're totally different kinds of creatures. And the words just don't mean the same thing. The skeptical theists doesn't go that far, but they do caution drawing any conclusions about God's goodness, on the basis of how suffering seems to me. Yep. And, you know, that's persuasive in some ways. But I also like you find it pretty unsatisfying, especially when we run up against specific instances of suffering that sure seems like could have been avoided.
Well, it just doesn't take a genius to see and recognize evil, and it doesn't take a genius to see and recognize goodness. That's where I'm just like,
Yeah, and this is where those intuitions I talked about come into play, like, yes, given an example, like that fallen example, or any number of other examples we could raise, at sure seems like evidence to me. And I know that's not a good argument. It's not any kind of argument at all. It's just how it strikes me, you know, and I think all philosophical arguments ultimately come back to how things strike you. And yeah, it sure seems to me that certain instances of suffering are gratuitous. And I don't know how to get around that I can tell myself, I need to be humble about that. And be careful about the conclusions I draw. But man, start thinking about it carefully. And you're bombarded with examples. Yeah, it
doesn't. It doesn't. When it's a met with real life. There's problems there. Yeah, did you? I don't think you talked about defeating evil.
So that's kind of where I wanted to bring us to. So we recently spoke with Keith de Rose, who has his own kind of version, and he throws
as a philosopher at Yale University. Right? pretty brilliant.
Yeah, writing a book on problem of evil. And he has this in common with kind of developed in conversations with a philosopher I've referenced before, named Marilyn Adams, who's no longer with us. And they kind of have a view, he calls it defeating that. It's kind of a theodicy, but it's also a little bit different, because the way he described it to us as most of the Odysseys are trying to counterbalance evil, it's that greater good thing, right, we've got evil on one side, it's really dark and bad. But we've got so much good on the other side, that ultimately it outweighs it and justifies the whole thing. He's saying that's not satisfying. If we're going to have any kind of convincing theodicy, it can't just counterbalance the evil has to defeat it. Yes. And what he means by that is, as I understand it, anyway, make it such that it was good that it happened, and that the evil itself. It's hard to think of words that are just synonyms for defeat, it's somehow overcome in a way that makes it like, I don't know, the only the thing God should have done. Right. So and maybe the clearest picture of this is the crucifixion. For the Christian anyway. So there's a sense in which, I mean, that is obviously how Christians have defined themselves. It's the genesis of our religion, and it's awful, and it's also good and beautiful, simultaneously and you you can't have the one without the other. Like you. If it wasn't as awful and depraved as it was, it wouldn't play the role that it has to play religiously. And something analogous to that has to be the case for any kind of theodicy with with respect to Every instance of evil, it has to, in some sense, mirror that kind of interplay between goodness and suffering. It's very difficult to flesh out, I don't pretend to understand it. Well, I'm very much looking forward to reading his book about it. But they're not alone in taking that kind of view. There are other thinkers, somewhat more mystical thinkers, usually who think that there's a kind of divine intimacy and suffering that partially justifies it or serves a role in helping us to understand it, at least that we can partake in the suffering of Christ. And that's somehow central to Christian experience. I don't pretend to understand those claims, but they're different from the other kinds of theodicy. Yeah, I
would say those are similar to where I land. I'll say, Well, okay,
so let me let me say one more thing, and then we can come back to that, because that sounds a lot more hopeful than what I'm about. So we're where I end this, and this is always the part of class, you know, when I'm teaching intro philosophy, that I have the hardest time getting through, lower the lights. So I have my students read some fiction, actually, because they've been reading all this analytical philosophy. And it's difficult to feel emotionally when you're trying to understand a rigorous argument. And so I haven't read some fiction that I think is really effectively put, you know, this view into the right kind of context that you need, in assessing whether the Odyssey has been effective or not, it can't just be rationally satisfying. It has, I think, be emotionally and spiritually satisfying. And so one of the reasons none of them are for me, is because of the way certain authors have have put the case. So I'll just recommend for you a couple there have been a bunch. But in particular, the most famous one is Theodore dusty esky in his book, The Brothers Karamazov, he has a chapter, maybe first third of the book or so you don't have to read too far to get to it. Where a character gives a version of the problem of evil that is extraordinarily powerful and has become famous. Philosophers and theologians reference it all the time. And it's an interesting version, because it's taking square aim at the greater good idea, just cutting right to the quick of all these the Odysseys and saying, let's imagine what it would be like, if that was true. If that was right, would it be satisfying? Would it be satisfactory? And would it in particular, justify the choice to worship that being to continue being religious, in other words, and Dostoevsky character His name is Yvonne concludes with what he calls a kind of rebellion. That's the word he uses. Where he claims to not disbelieve. So the outcome of the problem of evil for him is not atheism. It's rebellion. And he means and it's difficult to convey the view without using specific examples. But I don't want to do that, because I promised. But it's an extraordinarily difficult piece to read, because he uses lots and lots of examples of children suffering, specifically, mostly fictional but enough that are real enough that you know, they've happened. And when confronted with those specific examples, his case is extraordinarily compelling. Because what he says is, take this one instance that I've just described in graphic detail, and imagine your God, and that your goal is to make humans happy and blissful in the end. And that's all true and real. And that's what the greater good, the honest, he says, but that the cost of it was the suffering of this child. Would you consent to that? And the character he's talking to has to admit? No, of course I wouldn't, because I'm a good person. And at the end of the day, and there have been lots of literary examples of this another good one is one of my favorite science fiction writers, Ursula Gwynn, she has a wonderful little short story called The ones who walk away from homeless, it'll take you 10 minutes to read it, Max. I don't want to give away the ending, but it's a very similar kind of thing. If perpetual bliss is built on the edifice of innocent suffering, even if it's just the suffering of one. There's some deep in our, like humanity that wants to rebel against that to say, it's not worth it, even if true. And so that's kind of where I try to leave my students wriggling in that. And I think that there's there's an interesting thing that happens in that Dostoyevsky book because the very next chapter is the most devout Christian in the book, trying to come to terms with it. And Yvonne tells another story called The Grand Inquisitor that says like this brilliant parable about Jesus coming back to Earth, and meeting an inquisitor in the midst of the Inquisition. and they have a really interesting interaction. But it like it puts the focus squarely on what could the Christian response to this possibly be? Is there one, and it has to if there is one, it has to incorporate divine suffering. It has to in some way, God has a party to God, God is not the one behind it, who then has to justify God is, is in it. God is the one suffering. And our suffering might even be an extension of God's suffering in some way. And so this is kind of where Keith landed to. And we talked to him. It's like, it's hard to explain. But the only compelling version of Christianity seems to be one where God died horribly, and how that helps, I'm not sure. But it does somehow seem to help. I think so. I think so. So this is the point where I say, help me figure this out. Because I'm, I'm very much psychologically and intellectually, in the kind of Dostoyevsky's space, I don't. I don't find any of the theocracies compelling when they're stacked against individual instances of innocent suffering. And in fact, I think being who constructed it that way is immoral. I don't see any way around that. And yet I'm still a Christian. And part of the reason for that has to be that God is somehow in it with me. And I don't understand that.
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For me, there's a couple of things and they've all been hinted at, I think mostly, with this idea of can Gnosis, the self emptying have gotten in the clearest picture in Scripture so that we get that as Philippians two where Paul is using Jesus as an example to be for us to be like minded and have one heart, one purpose, one mind all this stuff. But he says, Take, take the posture of Christ, and I'm paraphrasing here is this take the posture of Christ, which Christ was God himself, God, equal with God, and chose to give all of all of what that meant away, and to just empty Himself of that, and to be, you know, creative human being and be a servant, and be in suffer and die and give up everything that that Jesus had an in doing so God glorified Him, and then in every knee shall bow and tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, it winds up but it's this kind of idea of God, emptying God's self of all of God's self, in identifying with the suffering of the world, and taking all of the violence and all of the oppression and all of the hatred and all of the bitterness and all of everything, all of the evil that the world could throw at God, and God absorbing it. And for me, that does a couple of things. It's that notion of incarnation that God doesn't wave a magic wand and make all the suffering disappear. God actually enters into our suffering. And in doing so, perhaps, at the very least, God identifies with our own suffering and perhaps enters into it with us in in that way, in some really mysterious way kind of makes sense of it. If God is entered into my suffering, if God has entered into the darkest, most evil, violent, depraved suffering, could God redeem that suffering then if he's absorbed at all, I think it's part of the mystery of the incarnation and and part of the mystery of the cross, that God perhaps cosmically solved the problem of evil, by suffering under it to the fullest extent that God could. I think that's, there's something poetic and beautiful and mysterious about that. I don't think it's satisfactory. But I think there's something to the idea of, you know, we said in the DeRosa episode of that famous thing of being in a concentration camp and seeing this little boy hanging in the gallows, and this man getting justifiably pissed and angry at God is saying, Where is God? Where's God right now? I don't see God anywhere in this little boys hanging from the gallows. that these awful Nazis did this to him and somebody says God's hanging on the gallows with him. Where's God? I don't know how to explain that. But there's something in it that is like, one of the most comforting thoughts I could ever think of.
Yeah. And that that's the essence of Christianity. I mean, God looks like crucifixion. It's kind of the whole thing. And it's this inversion of values that is difficult to comprehend, especially for a kind of enlightenment, rational or place enlightenment. You know, person who thinks things like evidence and reason are really important. And they're clear senses towards like power. Because if that's what divine power looks like, absorbing suffering, non retaliatory, really? Yeah. Which, you know, being a pacifist, really is compelling to me. But it is, it's just totally foreign. How we've set up the question
kind of completely, which intrigues me a little bit, you know, like that the way to end suffering is to head straight through it, perhaps, in to redeem it from the inside out. And then so that's not all from but that's, that's, that's a, that's a major part of my, I would say, not my theodicy, but my answer to suffering is to say God is God who suffers with in God as he was a god who suffers it that's nonsensical, but it's beautiful at the same time. And then when we think of, there's themes of judgment throughout the scriptures, Old and New Testament. And when we think of judgments, we think of God smiting angrily and vengefully smiting sinners. And maybe because I'm not an oppressed person, there's something really powerful and essential to that picture, that like, God will make this right by making those oppressors suffer. But, and to your right would say that when we see judgment, particularly in the New Testament, it's not this picture of an angry god with fire bolts throwing down from heaven at all the dirty rotten sinners. It's actually this idea. And I've said this before, of Gods setting the world to rights, when Jesus and John 12 set is talking about his crucifixion, and he says, Now is a time of judgment for this world, now's the time for me to cast out the prince of this world. And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all men to myself. And we think what Jesus was saying is that, now's the time for me to set the world to rights, that all of this, all of the stuff, Bambi dying, over and over again. And, you know, I would say even more profoundly, like, children dying, and children watching their their parents go through it all. That judgment of this world looks like God in Christ setting all things to right. And then you get this picture of the book of Revelation. And I've said this before in our conversation, but Ultimate Reconciliation, where you have this vision of, of Jesus and Revelation 19, where Jesus shows up, and he's on a horse, and he's dazzling white, and his name is faithful and true. And he's, his eyes are blazing and his robe is dipped in blood, and he has a sword coming out of his mouth, and he wages war. And on the nation's, it says, And he just slays all of God's enemies. And then all of a sudden, you get this beautiful picture of, you know, the new heavens and the new earth after the satanists thrown into the lake of fire all the things. And that's a really violent picture. It's a very symbolically and metaphorically, terribly violent picture that's disturbing if you take it on face value. But we shouldn't take any of revelation on face value. Literally, you get into a lot of trouble and people have throughout the centuries. But I think what good theologians say is that that's a picture of Jesus judging evil. That's a picture of Jesus judging all that has set itself up against the Divine Love of God. That's a picture of Jesus saying, now it's time to write all the wrongs. Now it's time to set the world to rights because I can't, we can't have new creation, without me judging the world and all the evil that is going on. And so that's a picture of this, this kind of cosmic, spiritual, symbolic, metaphorical picture that helps me a little bit, maybe grasp how God might make things right. And that is that I have to believe that in order for me to have hope in eternity in order for me to have hope in the resurrection or new creation, that that means that this little girl in Africa who died at the age of six and she was endured female circumcision, and I'm not even gonna name all the things that those little girls endure, you know, all around the world that Jesus sees it, and is going to make it right somehow. And that revelation 19 gives us this metaphorical symbolic, weird, but Like, very perhaps even concrete picture of Jesus is going to destroy the evil that is that has wreaked havoc on God's good creation, is what I'm saying making sense?
Yeah, I think so. It might just be because I've been so immersed in Christian imagery, right? For so long, that I'm primed for it to make sense. Sure. So part of my difficulty with this kind of, I don't know, defeat response, or kenosis kind of response, whatever you wanna call it, which I really do find compelling, right? I agree with Keith. That's the only kind of religious perspective that like, could possibly be compelling to me, it has to include somehow God's suffering along with us. That makes it makes a real difference. But it's man, it's hard to understand why. And it's difficult for me to step out of my metaphorical and my, just everything I've experienced within the religion, like it's been my whole life. And so everything that I've been taught has been pointing at that kind of paradigm. And so it's hard for me to know, if it makes sense, because I've been enculturated to it. Or if it really makes sense, if it really helps. Because when I try to step out of it a little bit, do that bracketing exercise and ask myself, how does this help? I confess, I come up a little short, it almost doesn't even seem meaningful, that kind of thing that keeps talking about about two feet? How could and again, I'm trying to avoid using too explicit of imagery, but like one of those cases, like you just talked about, how could that specific moment of suffering, be defeated? By God participating in it? Does that really help?
I think that's the participation of gardener suffering. helps, but it doesn't solve it for certainly, but I do think this idea of God in Christ judging evil in that means something I think, like I don't want to say, metaphysical but it's like, something that really, truly does set evil to write that read, for
my fear about that. It's that if we, if we go in that direction, we might have to go all the way to lose if if divine power looks like absorbing suffering, then at what point does the setting to write seem like the likely outcome, rather than just continually absorbing the suffering? It's kind of the problem I had, with Tom's view a little bit as when we talked to him we kind of came back to, do you really think that? Like, can we really legitimately have good reason to believe this is all gonna come out? Well, and he admitted, the answer was probably not, you can have hoped for it. But you can't really have a conviction that God's going to overcome this. And so I guess that's my fear with going in that direction. I don't I don't like slippery slope arguments. But it seems a little bit like if I opened the door to some kind of divine participation in the suffering is the only path to the eradication of evil, are the justifications, not the right word, the defeat, the overcoming the even just the Making Sense of evil? Maybe the more likely outcome is that we just don't have a being who can actually fix it anymore. And God is suffering along with us because God is loving and compassionate. And that's what a good God would do. Who didn't know how to fix it.
Yeah. Yeah, no, I think that's certainly like something that we should hold, hold space for. But I would say that's why I'm a person of faith. That's why I hold to hope. That's why I believe in the narrative of the scriptures, that shows this grand theme and grand narrative that God's good creation went wrong. And I'm not going to go into all the reasons why it went wrong. And God has got his not willing to settle for that. And so that's, to me, the grand narrative of the scriptures is how God is going to set the world to rights, what is God going to do with his good creation gone wrong? And I think that's where the book of revelation comes in handy for me and when these atonement theories come in handy in the, the mystery and the profundity of the cross and the resurrection. Then, the foolishness of it, even in some ways, as Paul would say, that's where, for me, I still choose in light of this conversation in light of the of the theodicy is in light of the the great evil that I don't want to ignore. I choose to believe that God is going to make things right for all all things and all people and that Um, every shred of matter that exists, is going to be redeemed and renewed and in enter into life, like I choose to believe that I choose to believe that evil is not the the ultimate force in the universe that will when I choose to believe in it, but I choose to believe that God, in His goodness and God in God's love and compassion and kindness and goodness, and patience, is this thing is going somewhere good. I choose to believe it. And it's not evidential. But at the same time, this is where I get, like, really spiritual. I feel like this stuff that I'm talking about is written into the human hearts is somehow like, there's something that like, we're all kind of rooting for. And I don't know if it's not evidential. But it's for me, personally persuasive. Yeah. Does it make sense?
It does. Yeah. Yeah. And it jives with my feelings about it, too. I think that's the right word. Yeah. Cuz, you know, at the end of the day is
really awkward for philosophy. A little bit. Yeah.
But I do think this is kind of where at least for me, we have come nowhere near to exhausting the intellectual side of this problem. And we want to talk to people who are actually specialists in the future. But for me, it this is kind of where this way of approaching the problem runs its course, a little bit of intellectualizing it and trying to assess arguments, right, that can only get you so far. And it's just not satisfying to me past kind of the point that we've gotten to, and I don't, I think the next step for me personally, from here is a kind of liturgy, it's a, it's a participation in a community that is bigger than me, is older than me, has forms that are meaningful, despite my doubts or orientation toward them at the moment. And it's, I participate in something, whether, regardless of my understanding of it, regardless of my beliefs about it, and that goes a lot further towards helping me to believe it. Yeardley giving me hope, making me less angry. Because this issue creates a lot of anger. And when I contemplate it, especially the Dostoevsky kind of thing, right, there's a there's a kind of bitterness in that. That is honest. And I feel it. And I think it's important to express it, but it also feels right, and like a corrective to that when I worship with other Christians in spite of it anyway. And that's a tension that I can't explain, and yet it's real. I don't want it to end us on a place that was honest.
Yeah, no, I think it's why within Christianity, I'm starting to enjoy some of the Eucharistic tradition in Christianity where we're centered around the table of Christ, which is this, you know, real, I believe, mysterious presence of Christ with us, and also some symbolically inviting us to live into, into imagine even a reality that is more than better than this. And I think that was inaugurated in the Incarnation, crucifixion and resurrection and ascension of Jesus that says, There's something more the seeds of the that more have been planted, and they're taking roots. And this is where I like that soul building theodicy, which is we're moving towards it all the time. And our call is to reroute ourselves in Christ and and community where we can see hints of that all over the place, and we can be carriers of that new creation. I know that this is going to make all the philosophers listening to us just completely unsatisfied.
Yeah, but that's kind of my point is there's something beyond the dissatisfaction or there's something that's absurd, that can subsume the disc satisfaction. That, you know, it's optional, totally rational to reject that and not go there. And I get that and I'm, I have those moods. But, but at the same time, we don't have to, we don't have sufficient justification for the view that we should just stop and the dissatisfaction either like the this is one of those situations where I think we're evidentially kind of at an equilibrium and you can you can make a legitimate choice here. And so the choice I make is to participate in a larger community that, you know, it's when you're in that kind of thing. It's, it's impossible to not to deny the deep goodness in the world, and there's maybe no better theodicy, or maybe not as theodicy, just a corrective or whatever you want to call it for focusing a lot on suffering than to just focus on some really good stuff. I remember one of my friends, kids when he was really young, was, you know, kids say silly things and just having a good day and he said, Daddy, there are a lot of good He's aren't there? Yet? That's maybe the best kind of theodicy that there is. You know, it's not it's not so simplistic as a really good day will counterbalance all the bad ones or justify their existence or anything like that. But in a situation where we just simply don't have an answer, and I think that's where we are here. And we have some suggestive metaphors, like, you know, crucifixion or incarnation or whatever. I think it's totally rational and healthy, to focus on the goodness and to let it be healing to let it play that kind of role. Yes, and that happens best in my experience in a community.
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