I’ve gone over my own theodicy re the existence of evil before, but maybe I’ll be a little bit more in-depth this time. I may even learn something about what I myself believe that I believe.
It started something like this:
One day I was “being good” and walking on our elliptical machine (I should do that more often ) and simultaneously reading All Shall Be Well (edited by Robin Parry). Pictures came into my head. Sometimes that happens to me. In this picture, I imagined Jesus, having died, reeling off into the “nothing,” the “nowhere,” the “chaos.” It seemed impossible for Him to come to Himself; He was completely dependent on His Father to bring Him back. But how could He even hear the Father’s voice calling? It seemed impossible to me that He could hear. Yet He did hear, and somehow He was able to respond from a billion miles away (but there were no miles there – nothing was there – it couldn’t even be CALLED a “there” because it was nothing) and somehow move Himself or submitted to being moved by God across the infinite vastness of the void. This was the GREATEST miracle that had ever been done – far greater even than the creation of the universe. I had an idea that Jesus needed to go “there,” into the void, the chaos, to make it His – to claim it, as it were, though it was “nothing.”
From this thought the idea sprang that THIS – this NOTHING – was perhaps the “stuff” of which God made the worlds. What if He somehow opened up a “wound” within Himself (as He filled all in all, this would be necessary in order to create anything that was NOT Himself) in which to make the universe? It would be a place where there was nothing, yet He somehow took the nothing and wrested it into matter. The nothing would be disorganized (inasmuch as “nothing” CAN be said to be disorganized), or at least, at any rate, it would not BE organized. It occurred to me that life IS organization (not ONLY organization, but organization is absolutely essential to life), and when disorganization progresses too far, we call the result “death.” This void, maybe it was death, and maybe death was the void?
Did God pull life from the deathfull void by main power and by infinite wisdom, and force the “nothing” to be made “something?” What if the “nothing” didn’t “like” being made something? (“Like” is an anthropomorphism here – I don’t mean it literally.) Everything left to itself becomes disorganized and dies or falls apart. Leave a house uncared for over the course of several decades and see what I mean. Eventually, if not resuscitated, the house will fall to splinters. This world “wants” to do the same thing. It’s only held together by the One in whom all things hold together – Jesus. (If for some impossible reason God had found Himself unable to raise Jesus from the dead, WOULD the world have held together long? Hmm . . .
As it is, what if all the turmoil we see about us – tidal waves, volcanoes, asteroids, sink holes, earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, landslides, and so on, are symptoms of the disorder “fighting” against the order, “desiring” to return to its own natural state of chaos? What if God has been fighting that battle, inch by inch transforming the “nothing” into what He means for it to be? And what if it HAS to be a slow process, because that’s what it takes to make a soul that can respond to Him, and be like His Son, and be free yet loving, and eventually, perfect and mature?
For ME, that would explain a lot. Why do we have all this suffering? It’s the result of the turmoil of a world in the process of being made. I drive by a construction site and I think, “What a mess! Yet I know that in a year’s time or maybe more, this will be a beautifully landscaped public building. If I didn’t know that, I’d sure never guess by what it looks like now!” From this view, instead of the fall, we have a world slowly being sketched out by a pen in the hand of the Almighty. It may not look very good just yet. There’s suffering certainly. It’s temporary and it’s a necessary part of creating the world, but Father doesn’t ignore it. Sometimes He alleviates it. He’s with those who call out to Him (even if they don’t know who He is or THAT He is.) Usually He lets it continue, knowing that it’s temporary and that His creatures will benefit from it even though it isn’t, in itself, a good thing. He didn’t create the suffering or the evil, but in a sense He IS responsible for it, because if He had never created at all, there would be no suffering – BUT in order for Him to create the soul discrete from Himself, He has to allow suffering. Otherwise there could be no “other ones” beside Himself – creatures destined to be one with Him, yet also to remain discrete (though not separated) from Him.
In this view, we still have room for the concept of free-willed individuals being allowed to cause suffering (because otherwise there could BE no free will). The suffering is not good, but it does work a good purpose in those who suffer (and that DOES NOT mean we aren’t obligated to work to relieve suffering!)
Because of all this, I started thinking how the theory of evolution fit this model better than the 7-day creation. If God gradually creates, then why not through evolution? It makes perfect sense to me now. We all develop from embryos to our physical/mental peak conditions, and then as our bodies age, disorganization sets in and we go that same way eventually – that same way that Jesus went. But the world as a whole, trending in a direction that is NOT natural to it – from disorganization to organization – could certainly, with the command of God, bring forth every green herb and the fruit yielding seed, each according to its own kind. The sea could bring forth living creatures and the land could bring forth creeping things and every beast, and eventually Adam into whom God breathed the breath of life – the sort of life in which you know you have a name, and that you are separate from the world around you, though you are also one with it. All these things could have developed their unique organization just as an embryo develops eventually into a tall, strong man capable of who knows what feats of strength or intellect or imagination.
I see God working in nature from the simple to the highly organized – even in the life of a finite human being. God seems to work in patterns. A developmental model for humans, a developmental model for nations, a developmental model for the universe? It makes sense to me. This is consistent with the way He works. He is making souls and that is a long process. At least to us it is.
There is evil and suffering because these things come from a universe that is good, and yet is not finished. It’s still disorganized. There are still large chunks that don’t work they way they WILL work when they’re finished. They’re still settling in, and because of this they cause upheavals, storms, suffering. Humans are like this too, in our treatment of one another, our carelessness, our fallibility. THAT’s why I believe evolution, in one form or another, must have been the way Father created the world – because it fits with all the other things we CAN see that He does. He sketches us out, then paints, then inks if we’re that kind of a picture, tweaks and revises and perfects, and finally mats and frames that work of art which is our universe.
That’s my theodicy – best I can explain it at present. Now it’s time for bed!