Thursday, September 18, 2008

what if there is no problem of evil?

That's what I'm left with after tonight's adult ed class.  We are in the midst of a 101 series, currently in Theology 101.  and in discussing the classic theodicy problem (if God is both all-good/loving and all-powerful, how is there evil?) I discovered that the people in my class consider "evil" to mean "evil intentions behind the action" and therefore the vast majority of bad things that happen aren't evil.  Even when I changed language to "bad things" it didn't help...natural disasters were first off the list, then illnesses too, and then there was discussion of how extreme poverty/starvation/etc is our responsibility to take care of so why don't we do that, and then you're just left with the category I called "mean people."  and then there was free will.  So it looks like there is no problem of evil.  I offered them the classic solutions, but it doesn't matter because they don't seem to believe that God is so intimately involved in ordering things that happen to *them*...instead they are trying to focus on the big-picture "all will be well" sort of deal.  So love and power are not incompatible with the relatively small picture stuff, and even the bigger stuff isn't technically evil.  That's what I walked away from the class with.

What's interesting is that I WANTED to talk about predestination tonight, and leave theodicy for another time.  alas, no.  so now i'm pushing into a third week of theology 101 and leaving spirituality 101 (which I'm calling "how we relate to God" since the theology stuff is a lot about who God is and what God is like and what God has to do with us) for the 4th week.  (sigh)  so tonight:  attributes of God (which I should have known was going to get me to theodicy since "in control?" came up in both "God is" and "God is not" columns...), theodicy, sin, and the beginnings of atonement.  Next week:  finishing up atonement/reconciliation, justification/sanctification, predestination, and heaven/hell.  I can do that in an hour, right?  ;-)

an interesting conversation during the attributes of God section:  does God hate?  if God is love, and most human hate is grounded in fear, and perfect love casts out fear, is it possible for God to hate?  interesting thinking...


  1. We live in an amoral society where no absolutes are acceptable.

    This is what happens when the Church no longer cares about standing up for right or wrong.

    Today's theology:

    Good is getting what I want when I want it...evil is anything that stops me getting what I want

  2. we discussed that but no one was willing to say that "evil" is "when bad things happen TO ME."

  3. For some reason it wouldn't let me comment on the Advent Conspiracy blog, so I'll just comment here. Are you going to do this with your church? I'd love to know how you are going to spread the word. This is a GREAT thing!