The problem of evil is such an interesting philosophical question to examine. If God is all powerful, and loving, how can evil exist? Surely, God must either be limited in power, or in His capacity to love if He will allow evil to exist? Wouldn’t any other option merely be an attempt to justify evil? Today, I would like to take a look at one aspect of this quandary and see if we can find a scenario that does not limit any of the premises in the problem of evil. At the end of this article, hopefully, we will have a single scenario where God can be loving, all powerful, and allow evil.
Two people return to their garden, which they have neglected for quite some time now, and find, among the weeds, the flowers they had planted were still thriving. The first person believes that someone must have been taking care of the garden in their absence. Due to the presence of the weeds, the second person disagrees. I would like to examine this parable, originally written by John Wisdom, and look at the parallels between this story and the theological problem of evil. How can there be an all powerful, good God, while evil still exists in the world? How can there be a gardener, if there are weeds in the garden?
Imagine being told that you have no choice but to murder your own son. How would you deal with that situation? Disbelief? Bargaining? Rebellion? There are many ways that we could choose to try and come to terms with that sort of task, but imagine being Abraham. He is literally commanded by God to sacrifice his son Isaac as an offering. What is the point of this moral conundrum? Has Abraham lost his mind?
The emergence of life from dead matter, or abiogenesis, is the the generally accepted reality derived from the concept of evolution. There are many questions surrounding the details of this process and many theories have been proposed over the years. Indeed, it is up to science to determine how this process may have occurred, however, it is up to philosophy to determine the why. Was this a chance occurrence, or was it by design?
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If God is able to use our actions to produce a desired outcome, do we really have free will? If mankind is unable to resist sin, do we have free will? Does the existence of an all-knowing God imply that we have no free will? This group of questions came to me after finishing the story of Joseph at the end of the book of Genesis and I think they are an appropriate set of questions given Joseph's statement to his brothers at the end of the story.
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The Epic of Gilgamesh is an ancient Sumerian tale regarding a heroic protagonist that goes on a tremendous journey. Along the way, he meets a person who was divinely chosen to survive a massive flood on a boat which he had built himself. Sound familiar? Of course it does, this portion of the Sumerian story is remarkably similar to the story of Noah. In fact, there are a great number of similarities between stories found on Sumerian tablets and Genesis. This is commonly used to discredit the Bible itself, with the claim being that Genesis is simply a plagiarized version of older creation stories. The question I want to ask is, should we really be surprised by this?
The voice is the voice of Jacob, but the hands are the hands of Esau. Was Isaac truly fooled by Jacob on his deathbed, or does this narrative from Genesis 27 convey a deeper meaning regarding the nature of the world? There are many lessons to be learned from the story of the rival sons of Isaac, but I wanted to focus in on this particular scene, where Isaac seemingly blesses Jacob by mistake, to investigate the possibility of a deeper meaning in the text. Of course, in order to get to the end, we must start at the beginning.
Humanity has had many opinions about the earth’s role in the universe throughout our brief history. Only recently in our history have we even understood that there was much more to the universe than earth, that we might be able to travel beyond earth. For many centuries we thought that the earth was the center of the universe, but the Copernican Principle taught us that the appears to rotate around our sun just as the other planets within our solar system do, and that the earth is not particularly special within the universe. This seems to fly in the face of the Judeo-Christian idea that the universe was created for humanity. If we don’t exist within a special place in the universe, how could the universe be “for us”?