Archive for the ‘problem of evil’ Category

love and wrath are only the obverse and reverse of the same thing

November 17, 2009

It is hard for us to imagine wrath which is entirely free from the personal elements of malice
and vindictiveness, and therefore we misconstrue the wrath of God. But if we express it in other
words, His wrath is no more than the clear shining of His light, which must go forth implacably
to the destruction of all darkness. The best way to understand the doctrine of the wrath of God is
to consider the alternatives. The alternative is not love; since rightly conceived, love and wrath
are only the obverse and reverse of the same thing. The alternative to wrath is neutrality –
neutrality in the conflict of the world. To live in such a world would be a nightmare. It is only
the doctrine of the wrath of God, of His irreconcilable hostility to all evil, which makes life
tolerable in such a world as ours.’

Bishop Stephen Neill

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There will be no major solution to the suffering of mankind until we reach some understanding of who we are

October 30, 2009

There will be no major solution to the suffering of mankind until we reach some understanding of who we are, what the purpose of creation was, what happens after death. Until these questions are resolved we are caught.

Woody Allen

man is not only an executioner, not only a victim, not only a spectator: he is all three at once

October 30, 2009

In Night, Elie Wiesel describes how a father and a son fight each other to death for a piece of bread:

(The old man) collapsed. His fist was still clenched around a small piece. He tried to carry it to his mouth. But the other one threw himself upon him and snatched it. The old man again whispered something, let out a rattle, and died amid the general indifference. His son searched him, took the bread, and began to devour it. He was not able to get very far. Two men had seen and hurled themselves upon him. Others joined him. When they withdrew, next to me were two corpses, side by side, the father and the son.
I was fifteen years old.

Wiesel reflected later:

Deep down, I thought, man is not only an executioner, not only a victim, not only a spectator: he is all three at once.

Elie Wiesel, In his novel The Town Beyond the Wall.

Nothing justifies Auschwitz. Were the Lord Himself to offer me a justification, I think I would reject it. Treblinka erases all justifications and all answers

October 29, 2009

Nothing justifies Auschwitz. Were the Lord Himself to offer me a justification, I think I would reject it. Treblinka erases all justifications and all answers.

The barbed-wire kingdom will forever remain an immense question mark on the scale of both humanity and its Creator. Faced with unprecedented suffering and agony, He should have intervened, or at least expressed Himself. Which side was He on? Isn’t He the Father of us all? It is in this capacity that He shatters our shell and moves us. How can we fail to pity a father who witnesses the massacre of his children by his other children?…

…by allowing this to happen, God was telling humanity something, and we don’t know what it was. That He suffered? He could have–should have–interrupted His own suffering by calling a halt to the martyrdom of innocents. I don’t know why He did not do so and I think I never shall. Perhaps that is not His concern. But I find myself equally ignorant as regards men. I will never understand their moral decline, their fall. There was a time when everything roused anger, even revolt, in me against humanity. Later I felt mainly sadness, for the victims.

Elie Wiesel, Memoirs, vol.1, p.105

Never shall I forget that night, the first night in camp, which has turned my life into one long night, seven times cursed and seven times sealed

October 29, 2009

Never shall I forget that night, the first night in camp, which has turned my life into one long night, seven times cursed and seven times sealed. Never shall I forget that smoke. Never shall I forget the little faces of the children, whose bodies I saw turned into wreaths of smoke beneath a silent blue sky. Never shall I forget those flames which consumed my faith forever. Never shall I forget that nocturnal silence which deprived me, for all eternity, of the desire to live. Never shall I forget those moments which murdered my God and my soul and turned my dreams to dust. Never shall I forget these things, even if I am condemned to live as long as God himself. Never.”

The words of Elie Wiesel, winner of the 1986 Nobel Peace Prize, describing his reaction to his first night in the Nazi camp of Birkenau, ‘reception centre’ for the concentration camp at Auschwitz. Those who failed Birkenau’s rudimentary ‘selection’ procedure, including Wiesel’s mother and his little sister, didn’t even live long enough to make it to Auschwitz. With his own eyes, Wiesel saw children being thrown into ditches from which gigantic flames leapt up.

The 15-year-old Wiesel, whose passion for God had been his whole life in his Hungarian home town, saw his faith evaporate in those same flames. He had once spent his nights eagerly studying the Jewish scriptures. But, in the concentration camps, he found himself unable even to join in with prayers for the Jewish New Year.

“This day I had ceased to plead. I was no longer capable of lamentation. On the contrary, I felt very strong. I was the accuser, God the accused…How I sympathised with Job! I did not deny God’s existence, but I doubted his absolute justice.

Steve Chalke

God whispers to us in our pleasures

September 12, 2009

God whispers to us in our pleasures speaks in our conscience but shouts in our pains; it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.

C. S. Lewis, Problem of Pain, 1957, Collins, p.81

Until the evil man finds evil unmistakably present in his existence, in the form of pain, he is enclosed in illusion. Once pain has roused him he knows that he is in some way or other ” up against” the real universe…Pain removes the veil; it plants the flag of truth within the fortress of a rebel soul.

ibid.,p.83

Suffering without purpose is unbearable

September 9, 2009

Until the advent of the ascetic ideal, man, the animal man, had no meaning at all on this earth. His existence was aimless; the question, ‘Why is there such a thing as man?’ could not have been answered….behind every great human destiny there sounded as a refrain a yet greater “in vain!” This is precisely what the ascetic ideal means: that something was lacking, that man was surrounded by a fearful void—he did not know how to justify, to account for, to affirm himself; he suffered from the problem of his meaning…

He also suffered otherwise, he was in the main a sickly animal: but his problem was not suffering itself, but that there was no answer to the crying question, “why do I suffer?”

Man, the bravest of animals and the one most accustomed to suffering, does not repudiate suffering as such; he desires it, he even seeks it out, provided he is shown a meaning for it, a purpose of suffering. The meaninglessness of suffering, not suffering itself, was the curse that lay over mankind so far…man would rather will nothingness than not will.

Nietzsche, Genealogy of Morals, Third Essay, 28

Why Communism is dangerous

September 8, 2009

Proletarian coercion, in all its forms, from executions to forced labour, is, paradoxical as it may sound, the method of moulding communist humanity out of the human material of the capitalist period.

Nikolai Bukharin, 1920

Communists often blame the excesses of the Soviet era on Stalin as a nasty individual. But even if they admit to the evil done by Lenin, it is clear that the root of the problem is in the system that denied a basic diginity to all humans regardless of class. The image of God supplies a trans or supra-class basis for the fair treatment of all. When Bukharin said this the revolution was just 3 years old. The rot didn’t take long to settle in.

God’s Sovereignty

August 24, 2009

…an omnipotent God visits upon sinful men and nations just and inevitable punishments…There is not therefore the smallest accident which may seem unto men as falling out by chance, and of no consequence, but that the same is caused by God to effect somewhat else by ; yea, and oftentimes to effect things of the greatest worldly importance, either presently or in many years after, when the occasions are either not considered or forgotten.

Sir Walter Raleigh, History of the World, in Antonia Fraser, Cromwell, p.307

see

THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD. 

Eastern Religion and ethical distinctions

August 7, 2009

“Good and evil,” says the Buddhist, “are both fetters: the perfect one became master over both.”; “what`s done and what`s not done,” says the man who believes in the Vedanta, “give him no pain; as a wise man he shakes good and evil off himself; his kingdom suffers no more from any deed; good and evil – he has transcended both” – an entirely Indian conception, whether Brahman or Buddhist.

Friedrich Nietzsche, On the Genealogy of Morals,Third Essay: What Do Ascetic Ideals Mean?, 17

Cf.

If you want to get the plain truth, be not concerned with right and wrong.  The conflict between right and wrong is the sickness of the mind.

Zen master Yun-Men, quoted in Alan Watts, Beat Zen, Square Zen, and Zen (San Francisco: City Lights, 1959), p. 10.