Evil and beating the head against the wall

 

In Suffering, Evil and the Existence of God, an opinion piece in New York Times, two books on that topic are reviewed. They seem to share a conventional Christian theological approach to the topic, the view that there is no good solution to the question of why a good God allows evil in the world, and they also share not going much further.

Within the conventional Christian views on this topic, we end up beating our heads against the wall. So the reasonable course of action would then be to go outside of this context and see what we can find there.

Why not look at why the Christian mystics have to say about the topic? What about other philosophies and religions? And maybe most importantly, why not explore it in your own experience?

Even a superficial inquiry into our own experience would tell us that (a) good and evil are human-made and culturally dependent concepts, and (b) suffering comes when our stories about what is and should be clash.

In a way, it is so obvious and so simple that it is easy to dismiss. We may notice it, explore it to some extent, and then tell ourselves that there has to be more to it than that. It cannot be that simple. And there may also be a fear that embracing this fully would lead to a breakdown of any shared norms into anarchy, nihilism, the worst forms of value relativism.

Exploring it a little further for ourselves, we find a freedom from identification with particular views, which is also a freedom to apply any view as seem appropriate to the situation. With this release of identification with views, the appearance of substance and inherent truth in views goes out, there is no need to defend or attack the truth of views anymore, and they appear as tools of limited and practical value only. We can allow ourselves to be guided by our experience and the natural empathy that arises when there is this release from identification with views, and freely and fluidly use any view that has practical value in a particular situation.

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