Sat, 02 Jun 2001
Dear Mr Wonderful,
So here we are, living our happy little lives whilst the world rots away. Oh, sure, it's nothing new. In fact, despite how bad things may be now, they're definitively better than they were, say, 100 or 1000 years ago (thanks also to Mr. Adams for reminding me of the fact that we have these cool digital watches, to boot!).
However, there still arises the question of "evil", suffering, cruelty, starvation, and the lot. Well, obviously, there's no question -- it simply exists whether we want it to or not. So, we come back to the oooooooold question of Mr Judeo-Christian god.
And you know the old set of Judeo-Christian ethics, and beliefs in said god: "He is Omnipotent, Omnipresent, Omniscient, and Omnibenevolent". I'm sure you've had this question before, but, heck, I'd like to know again in case people have forgotten (and now the question):
So, obviously, if god is all of the four "O"s as stated above, AND there's "evil" in the world (which there most certainly seems to be according to said Judeo-Christians), there's a paradox. So, either the universe allows for an epimenidesial set of logic, and all's well (and I get to go to hell for disagreeing), or god is not all four of the "O"s at once (and the most likely candidate to be tossed out to avoid the paradox is the Omnibenevolence). Which of the two possibilities is it?
I know you have some insider information, so GIVE ME THE SKINNY!
Dear St. Thomas Agnostic,
Awww, the world's not so bad. Why, at this very moment, The Cartoon Network is holding their annual "June Bugs" celebration - 48 hours of pure Bugs Bunny cartoons. If that's not a reason to get out of bed in the morning, I don't know what is.
Actually, I don't get out of bed in the morning... maybe because I'm up all night worrying about the Problem of Evil. No, I tell a lie. I'm up all night playing "Zone of the Enders" on the Playstation 2 and watching Bugs Bunny cartoons. Here's a better reason to get out of bed in the morning: it's on fire. Which wouldn't happen, as you so rightly point out, if an all-powerful, alleged God were watching over us.
How about this - what if God is, yes, Omnipotent, Omniscient and Omnibenevolent (Omnipresent is kind of wrapped into the Omnipotent thing, so we'll leave that out), BUT He is also Omnidistractable. Like, He knows all, and He can do anything and He really wants to help but "Ooooh! There's a new episode of Invader Zim on Friday! Yeah, yeah, I'll stop that starvation in Somalia in a minute-- I just gotta get through through Dark Realm level of "Onimusha Warlords". Fuck, that's hard. What? Baby deer on fire in the forest and no one to save it? Okay, we'll go... oh! oh! oh! We need to stop at 7-11 first."
He means well, our Eternal Architect, but the little things just keep piling up. And yeah, He can put Time on hold to attend to the many needs of the Universe, but Meta-time is still ticking, and, you know, He's only got these DVD's for a couple more nights, plus the features they pack on these things are just incredible, man, it'll take hours to get through 'em all, yes, I know He knows all the deleted scenes already, but they're still fun to watch, plus He's been meaning to get out to the City and do some clubbing.
Now, contrary to popular opinion, this does not make God the Ultimate Stoner. He's just, well, He's like a writer who began this really great novel with lots of fun and complex characters who mean a lot to Him and it's all plotted out and everything... but He just can't seem to find the time to write the scenes or do the revisions He knows are necessary. But He'll get to it, He swears.
Could be worse. We could be in a Hemingway novel. Then God would be dead, and we'd keep coming across great splatters of brain matter on the pages of our lives.