Answering Job Today
Evil is a refutation of God. The existence of the former indicates the nonexistence of the latter. That is, of a caring, good, loving, all-powerful God. This fact has been recognized since the days of Job, if not earlier. Real God either is not caring, or is not good, or is not loving, or is not all-powerful, or any combination of these, or does not exist at all.
The tortured replies to Job since Biblical days, which try to reconcile the contradiction of the existence of evil in the world and the undeserved sufferings inflicted on innocents, with the simultaneous existence of a caring, good, loving, all-powerful God, are simply not credible. What is credible is an atheism that accepts the statistical workings of chance to sprinkle the world of human experience with good and evil, bad breaks and lucky breaks, which often are completely independent of a person’s supposed merits — if lucky — and supposed just deserts — if a victim, or a convict in the eyes of others.
The fact that those statistical workings are not perfectly random has been recognized as the concept of karma, and with Biblical epigrams like: “those who live by the sword, die by the sword,” and with real world statistics showing that your likelihood of being killed or injured by a gun are much higher if you live in close proximity to a gun, regardless of who owns it.
But neither the idea of karma, nor the idea of retribution for sin, which is espoused by Biblical apologists and other religious fundamentalists, can justify an inflexible assignment of guilt worthy of earthly punishment allowed by a Supreme Divinity onto clearly innocent people who are visited by undeserved evil. Victims of genocides, mass bombings as terrorist attacks or in campaigns of war, victims of epidemics or who contract fatal diseases like cancers in young children, are not guilty and do not deserve a punishing evil.
There is no “good” or divinely guided “lesson” that comes out of the experience of suffering the visitations of evil into your life, there is only relief if you survive. The people who walked out of the Nazi concentration camps, and lived on, did not deserve the punishing evil they went through; and their subsequent freedom and new resolutions about how they would conduct themselves thereafter, if they had any such new resolutions, were not “a good” or “silver lining” or surprising and compensating benefit that came out of their punishing experiences, that renewed freedom was just simply the relief of surviving. So, the idea of “a good” coming out of “an evil” is pure bullshit.
In this world we have people who do evil, and people who do good, and for each category not all of those in them may do whichever all the time. A fair generalization is that most “normal” people have times in their lives of doing evil — of varying degrees — and times of doing good — also of varying degrees. A dramatic example easily visualized is that of the military veteran who was a killing machine during a war and became a devoted humanitarian after. Billions of simple examples are all of us “normal” people who have at times hurt others with intentional cruelties, and at other times been caring, nurturing helpers selflessly relieving the pain and suffering of others.
There are really only three kinds of people: those who are suffering, those who inflict suffering, and those who relieve suffering. The nature of human society is determined by the relative proportions of these three populations, and we must recognize that any particular individual can be in two of those categories simultaneously at any given time, and maybe even all three. If I were tasked to state just one rule that each person was supposed to follow, as the purpose of individual life, it would be: spend as little time as possible causing suffering. What I would wish is for human society and its governments to be designed entirely for the relief of human suffering. As we know, today human society is designed for the few to profit from the sufferings of the many. And the workings of that design are increasingly killing off the species of the designers. The aspects of those sufferings that are projected into Nature have produced a blunt counterattack by Nature, a fever called global warming climate change, to disinfect Planet Earth from the human pathogen causing the planetary illness, a broad-spectrum disinfection that includes the sacrifice of many harmless organisms.
Even in the hypothetical ultimate world-society designed entirely for the relief of human suffering, we would still have the occurrence of natural disasters and eruptions of diseases, to visit evil — bad luck and cruel fates — upon undeserving victims, but we would also have minimized the reach of what can be termed “evil” into the continuation of human existence. That would be so much better than any orthodoxy about God, and any organized fantasy with restrictions and prejudices, called “religion.”
I am a great believer in the First Amendment of the United States Constitution, proclaiming a freedom of expression, which also means a freedom of religion. Every individual should have the freedom to fashion their own belief-system for mediating their personal relationship with eternity, basically the story they tell themselves to console them for having a finite lifespan with a certainty of death. No one else should be allowed to compel you to live under the restrictions — called religion — that they proclaim as preeminent and under which they say they live (for there is so much hypocrisy here) and to which they want everyone else to submit.
So, I don’t care what you believe in order to assuage yourself to the inescapable eventuality of death, I only care about how you act as a member of our joint civil society. We can craft purely secular just laws to specify the limits of acceptability on human actions in civil society, and we can do our duty as members of human society to obey those laws for each other’s benefit. Ancient traditions have recognized this obvious principle as ahimsa with karuņá, and the moralistic Golden Rule: “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” It was also recognized in the early 20th century by the anti-capitalist Spanish Anarchists of the CNT (Confederación Nacional del Trabajo) as: “no property, no god, no bosses.”
It is by having communities of people committed to their mutual relief of unavoidable and haphazard suffering, as the design purpose of human societies, that we most effectively confront evil and limit its extent in the world. And that is Paradise in reality.
God and Country
Darwin’s Living Legacy
Asian Philosophies, Oppenheimer, & the New Age
An October Sunday Reflection