Makugutu, a naturalist blogger over at this site, disagrees with some of my reasoning regarding evil in the world. The quote below is from my article here. I think it is interesting to note that when we began to elaborate on this topic, the conversation moved very quickly away from the nature of God and more towards human perspective.
James D is telling us in this post that god allows evil and sickness to exist in the world because he gave us freewill and faith. Knowing some of you to be as lazy as your host and might not click on the links, David says
I think that the honest truth is that in order for God to show us his grace, we have to live in an environment that is inherently dangerous to us. Otherwise, what would be the point of faith? Without the bad things in the world, could we truly appreciate the good things?
and isn’t this ridiculous? There are times i have had continental breakfast where my choice is between all good and healthy stuff. Should I take oats instead of weetabix. Should I eat boiled egg or fried omelette, should I eat bread or a croissant? My point is we don’t have to live in a dangerous environment to appreciate being loved.
First, I would like to thank Makugutu for providing me with some level of insight regarding how people receive my writing. It is very helpful for me to understand areas where clarification may be needed.
So let’s take a quick look at this healthy continental breakfast analogy. The final point made in the paragraph is that we don’t have to live in a dangerous environment to appreciate being loved. I disagree with the premise being made here. With the analogy, we appreciate that all of the options available to us are healthy because we are aware that there are unhealthy options that are being withheld. If we were unaware that there were worse options for breakfast, then we would just think that the breakfast options were normal rather than “healthy” options.
This same logic can be applied to the world that we live in. I was stating that God allows us to have free will and for the most part, the world that we live in is what we make of it. This is a very clear fact when we talk about murder, theft, assault, etc. But it is not as clear when we talk about disease and natural disasters. Mankind has the ability to work together and cure diseases, we also have the ability to work together to predict and prevent natural disasters. War and crime distract and delay us from achieving these goals. Perhaps the a few of the people that would have cured cancer by now were never born because their ancestors were killed in World War I. Perhaps the suffering caused by diseases is necessary to draw us together, and we simply make it worse by utilizing our ability to choose not to cooperate with one another, then we blame God because things seem to be too bad. But here is the secret, the one thing that we choose to ignore when we claim that we don’t need bad things to help us appreciate the good. The secret is that things could be much, much worse. Every single person on the planet could live their entire lives in agony from arthritis starting the moment they are born, and yet we don’t appreciate the fact that this is not the case. Instead of appreciating how good our lives are and how good things can be, we turn to God and curse Him for the way things are and willingly ignore the fact that quite a few “unhealthy” options are being withheld from us.
There are quite a few studies that have been done regarding our mentality towards negative things, and many of them have found that our appreciation for what we have is based on a curve or comparison with what we think is versus what we actually have. It turns out, we tend to ignore the fact that things could be worse than they are when making this comparison. The middle class tend to compare themselves exclusively to the wealthy and ignore the poor while doing so. In this way, they focus on how things could be so much better than they are, rather than appreciating how far from homeless they are.
When we look at the world, we focus on how it currently is in comparison with how we want it to be and ignore the fact that it could be worse as well.