The Problem of Pain

Part of an ongoing discussion:

A reader named VicqRuiz comments:

Indeed, it would be wonderful if there was a loving creator of the universe. and it would be the greatest news ever if Christ truly came offering eternal release from pain and grief for all humanity.

But Christ unfortunately comes with a whole lot of additional baggage that I reject in mind and in spirit.

One of the main parts of this baggage is a God who, if he knew in advance that Adam and Eve would fall, is akin to someone who would set a blind and deaf man to walk a tightrope, and then condemn him for failing to keep his balance.

My reply:

Please wake up. Please think about what you are saying.

Should God have aborted Adam and Eve, then? Killed them before they had a chance to sin? Would it have been better, speaking as one member of the human race to another, for the human race never to have existed? Would it have been better not to give them the free will which makes sin possible? For such a creature, whatever it is, is not a human being.

God gave free will to angels also, and some of them fell into sin. Should he have not created them? Or made them robotlike, unable to love or be loved?

I do not think you have thought this thing through.

His writes a counter argument which does not answer even a single question I asked. Perhaps he thought they were rhetorical.

You seem to be coming from a position of divine command theory. In other words, you are saying that since God created us, he may do with us exactly as he pleases.

He may deliberately set Adam and Eve, fallible humans that they were, into an environment with a deceiver of infinite malice and near-infinite (by comparison with humans) wiles, and then condemn them, along with all their descendants, for failing to resist deception.

Is that correct? I do think it is consistent with the Christian scriptures.

But it certainly is not something that you or I would do to our beloved children.

My answer to his counter:

When someone ignores what I say and puts other words in my mouth to answer, that is usually a sign of a failure to communicate.  Please do me the honor of paying attention to my words. If what I say is unclear, ask, and I will attempt to clarify.

I said nothing about ‘divine command theory’ and have never even heard of this theory. It is not part of mainstream Christianity.

You say that God should never have created man to begin with, on the grounds that Adam marred himself, and introduced imperfection into the perfect creation. You then say you and I would not have done the same for our children.

The statement is false. I would bear sons even if they were imperfect. My son was predicted by the doctor to be suffering a birth defect, and he suggested I abort, that is, murder him. It is rather impertinent of you to say that I would not let my beloved child live just because he is imperfect: or that he should be blotted from existence.

Since your theory is that God is wrong to have made the race of Man, a race to whom you belong, you are, in effect, voicing a death wish.

I do not share your desire for non existence, particularly since the imperfections of our sinful nature are temporary, and can and will be cured. From the point of view of eternity, the span of time our sins inflict pain on us is as nothing. Compared to infinity, all finite numbers might as well be zero.

To answer your question: Not only is your story about the fall not correct, is not even a funny parody. Adam had the ability to resist temptation, as do you, or I, or anyone. He merely did not employ that ability. Satan before his fall had such an ability also, and also freely chose not to employ it.

What you are saying is consistent with the part of the Genesis story where Adam tries to throw the blame for his fault on God, for giving him a wife, and on then on Eve; and then Eve tries to throw the blame for her fault on the snake. You are basically saying what man says whenever he seeks to escape from the gravity of sin.

Also, the concept of Satan being infinitely wily does not appear in the Genesis account. The temptation offered: disobey God in order to be like God is the selfsame sin offered to each man, in one form or another, each time we sin.

It is the arrogance of thinking God is a bar to your happiness rather than the fountainhead of happiness. It is the self-deception of thinking that God is deceiving you, but that you are smart enough to see through His trick.

This is not an infinitely irresistible temptation. Each and every time a man resists sin, he humbles himself before God. It is not infinitely clever and cunning a trap. Indeed, it is remarkably naked.

No one bears the blame for Adam’s fall but he.

The idea of creating a being capable of love and obedience but not capable of disordering that love or acting in disobedience is a logical contradiction in terms. Not even Christ can break of law of non-contradiction. Christ is Logos, that is, Logic. Nonsense spoken about any topic is still nonsense, even when the topic is God.

So when you hold God blameworthy for failing to do an act while also doing the opposite, this is illogical on your part. Man is made in the image of God, hence has godlike freedom of the will and capacity for love. The will of man cannot be compelled. It cannot be chained by the laws of cause and effect, no more than can God’s. God cannot compel love from a free willed being, nor force it, nor ordain it.

If God foresaw before Adam’s fall that man would ruin man’s perfection, then the only two options open to God are, first, see to it that divine love restores the lost perfection, or, second, abort man, and see that he is never born in the first place.

Is the punishment for sin too severe? That point is hard to prove one way or the other. But since Christ offers us a way to alleviate the punishment, through love, it is hard to complain of any injustice involved, unless you wish to complain about Man’s injustice to God.

You are blaming God for Man’s sin. I will ask you again: do you think it would have been better had mankind never been created at all? Do you think it would have been better had angels never been made?

Because robots unable to do evil are also unable to do good, and are not human beings, not angels, not any form of rational creature, since reason is choice.

Adam was not a child when he fell. Lucifer was not a child when he fell. The were fully adult and fully aware and awake moral actors, forewarned of the consequence of their sin. They did it anyway.

The ills that follow those falls will all be cured, but, like the fall itself, it rests with us to accept or reject the cure.

We still have free will. We can accept or reject the cure for the world’s pain.

You reject it. For you, the evil will continue, and you will die and turn to dust. For me, I drink the wine of immortality, and will rejoice in endless feasting and levity forever.

Your reason for rejecting the cure, as best I understand it, is that you think it wicked and wrong of God to have created a universe where it was possible for men, like God himself, to have free will. Logically, your position is that you cannot accept the cure because you call it unjust that you be allowed to make yourself sick in the first place.

Look, one cannot blame God for failing to shower us with infinite bounty and infinite blessings. He did. We, mankind as a whole, and each of us severally and independently, have rejected God and hence rejected the blessings.

The curse of Adam is our curse on ourselves.

We did it to ourselves. No one else. I conspire and join in Adam’s rebellion against God and the moral laws of the universe each and every time I sin.

Now, God offers the same blessings Adam rejected, the same blessings you now reject, and I once rejected. But you reject it on the grounds that they are not imposed on your against your will when you reject them? A paradox, since the foremost of those blessings, and the one without which the others cannot exist, is free will. And you are so overbold as to say it is God is the one being unfair here?

I do not really see the advantage of your position. You accept death because you think it unfair that God grants eternal life only to those who desire it, and desire Him.

Forgive me for being blunt, but so far as stated, your position has no logic to it.