Profound book Essay
In his profound book on Theism, J. L. Mackie, who is widely considered a champion of the atheistic school discusses the various bases on which the concept of God is founded, perceived and practiced the world over. In so doing, he touches upon the various approaches that have either necessitated God or have described God. In chapter 9, which Mackie has aptly named the “Problem of Evil”, he questions the basis of the description of God provided by almost all the religions of the world and all the theistic philosophies at one point of time or another.
God is described according to traditional theism, as omnipotent (and omniscient) and wholly good. Mackie’s question starts with the poser “.. and yet there is evil in this world. How can this be? ” (Mackie, 150). The question that Mackie poses and the logic he supplies are wholly satisfactory to the intellect to understand and appreciate his question, to say the least. Mackie argues that according to the initially plausible and widely admitted premise, Good is opposed to evil that being good eliminates Evil.
Proceeding with the same logic, a good and potent being eliminates Evil as far as he can and God being Omnipotent and, there being no limits to His capacity, there should be no Evil at all. Mackie goes on to point out (rather gleefully) “then we do have a contradiction. A wholly good omnipotent would eliminate evil completely; if there really are evils, then there cannot be any such being” (Mackie, 150) A very well made argument indeed. However, the proponents of Theism and Religion have addressed the problem of evil and this logical paradox on the existential basis for ages together.
But sadly, those arguments have never been to counter a clever poser as Mackie’s. However, it is not entirely impossible to adopt those answers to this obvious rejection of God on a quirky basis of a logical exemption. In most Theistic concepts, read Religion, God has indeed been described as omnipotent and completely good. But all Religions have taken note of eh fact that God did not will his creation to be a static equilibrium. It has been ordained to be a Dynamic equilibrium.
All dynamics as logics permit can happen only when there are at the least two opposite directions and two opposing forces. Creation has been described as the collusion of two opposing or differing forces giving birth to new . All religions envisage creation as such. Heightened awareness of the power of two different, (not necessarily opposing) and individual powers have been found in the deification of the Shiva Linga (the phallus) in the (rather primitive for some) Hindu religious symbols and the concept of Ying and Yang that pervades the ancient Chinese philosophy and medicine.
More than attributing Good as a characteristic to God, most Religions have described God as an omnipotent being who is beyond definition or a being from whom Definitions originate. Therefore a creation that has good, as perceived by Human mind and the inherent logic and Evil, as held repulsive by civilization are both creations of God. God is described as a singularity that is beyond the grasp of any man made attempts to attain it including Logic.
More over all religions hold central the belief that the Universe is a grand design (and some religions which provide ample space for mysticism in their practice call it a Game God created to entertain himself). Consciousness is an ability God has provided Human being to be able to entertain the thoughts of quest for truth and try to decipher the secrets behind the creation. If consciousness is provide by God, then the entire capabilities covering the gamut of good to evil are all provided by god so that man can continue his (most probably, the ordained) task of quest for truth and die trying.
( Let us imagine God gave Tiger Woods his prowess in Golf, he also gave him his handicaps so that Woods can justify his life by trying continuously to overcome them and pit himself against several other god given powers of other golfers and justify his attempts at perfection) To Him, He being the singularity beyond the grasp of logic, reasoning and justice, He, who is the source of all definitions, Good and evil are part of the equilibrium he has provided Man with, to play out his life and continue the evolution of Civilization as per the design of God.
Therefore, it is entirely possible to have God who is fondly defined as omnipotent and the personification of unending Good and kindness to allow Evil to exist as a small counter force to help establish the dynamics in the world. Though there are mythological stories that abound with the stories of incarnation of God triumphing over one form of evil or another, it is entirely the manifestations of the Theological concepts which use stories of God to guide man in his quest for morality which again is an underlying concept of the happening Universe, God must have envisaged.
The existence of Evil is like the directions along a road on a long journey. If there is a signal, which entrusts the person on the journey to take right, drive east or any other direction, it is understood that by taking the opposite direction, he would go away from his goal. The presence of the opposite direction is not proof enough to say that the correct direction is not the right direction.
It is the supreme power which has conceived both directions and stands aback amused to see if in its grand design, its creation, the man on the undertaking the journey, uses its consciousness and the powers of reasoning (again provided by Him) in making the correct judgment or not. Therefore the argument (which is precisely that, an argument) does not stand that the presence of Evil nullifies the probability of having an Omnipotent, omniscient being, which is wholly good called God. Let us take the analogy of the Games, which we had briefly touched upon in the case of Tiger woods.
Why does a man create opposing teams with opposing goals and efforts in the opposite direction to entertain himself, say as in Football? It is to provide the necessary conflict that can make the game interesting and entertaining. By the same token, God provides for opposing moralities to see if the being he created (most religions fondly believe in His likeness) exercises his god-given prowess of understanding, logic and reasoning to make the right choice and comes out victorious in his quest.
Armstrong made a strong reference to Relativity when he said that his small step was a giant leap for mankind. Similarly a giant leap for mankind might just be a speck of a movement in the grand and long journey God has planned for his creation towards the ultimate Truth. Einstein had proposed in his Relativity theory that as the speed inches towards the ultimate threshold of the speed of light, the energy required to accelerate towards it gets close to infinity.
If Einstein has stumbled on a profound truth of the universe, then mankind’s each step towards unraveling of the truth about God, only makes his next step that much more or infinitely difficult. It is the opposing force of Evil, also part of God’s design that makes for the interesting conflict. It is but the duty of mankind to justify his existence by making his own judgments at every step to dodge the evil, so strategically placed to further his quest for a living God would have ordained him to live, not in an easy manner but in a difficult and interesting manner.
Greatest factor of God’s creation is the seeming Choice for human being at every step, always accompanies with the uncertainty of not knowing the result of his choice. For a choice to be present there need to be two opposing or at the least different factors- if one is Good, the other has got to be Evil. For the omnipotent, Evil is not as evil as it is for us. It is another factor of his creation, which he has put in place to help his chosen being, the mankind to exercise his judgment. It is with admiration for the intellectual virility of J.
L. Mackie, one must reject his theory that the presence of Evil negates the presence of God, because God as felt (and not described) by the miraculous attempts of Theists and religion is not just beyond description and definition, in fact He is the basis and the fountainhead of all the definitions and in whom all dissimilarities merge, unite and find their roots.
Mackie, J. L. The Miracle of Theism: Arguments for and against the Existence of God Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1982
University/College: University of Chicago
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 19 April 2017
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