Is God Decent and Strong ?

Is God Decent and Strong ? July 2, 2017

A Decent and Strong Man sits idly nearby as an eight year old child beats a five year old child to death with a small ball peen hammer.

Since the Decent and Strong Man is widely known to be exactly as named, decent and strong, we must account for his sitting idly nearby as he watches a murder he could easily stop.

How to account for the Decent and Strong Man’s inactivity?

Let’s start by blaming another character, slightly out of frame but present to the action. This person tries at every step to arrest the uprightness and strength of the Decent and Strong Man. It is this person who is at fault, Mr. Diablo by name, and not the Decent and Strong Man.

But wait. There may be a problem here.

Is Mr. Diablo stronger than the Decent and Strong Man? No? If not stronger, is Mr. Diablo at least as strong as the Decent and Strong Man? No? Then why doesn’t the Decent and Strong Man push Mr. Diablo aside and stop the petite murderer?

Well, move on.

Let’s say that the Decent and Strong Man has good reasons to permit the murder. Let’s say one of these reasons is aesthetic: the Decent and Strong Man thinks goodness can only be appreciated by demonstrations of its opposite. And let’s add that the Decent and Strong Man sees educative potential in permitting the murder: people will learn from this murder: the child murderer will learn, the murdered child will learn, the parents of both will learn, and the larger community will learn.

But wait. There may be a problem here.

Is there really no other way to appreciate beauty of goodness than seeing evil performed? And is there really no other way to learn life lessons than this? And, whereas this is just one tiny murder, is it necessary to aesthetics and education to multiply murdered victims into the millions and extend the casualties further into the animal realm?  Does the degree and extent of these episodes render suspect the decency and strength of the Decent and Strong Man who witnesses all of these?

Well, well, move on.

Let’s say the Decent and Strong Man permits the murder because it’s a just punishment for the murdered victim because the victim was born with a moral taint inherited from an aboriginal calamity performed by the child’s remotest parents.

But wait. There may be a problem here.

Is this punishment too harsh and not fitted to the crime? Is this punishment unjust since no system of jurisprudence penalizes children for the offenses of parents or great grand parents?

Hmm. Move on.

Let’s say the Decent and Strong Man values free will, free choice, above all, and the Decent and Strong Man let’s the chips fall where they may, as long as free will gets its way.

But wait. There may be a problem here.

The Decent and Strong Man esteems the free will of the murderer above the life of the victim? Why is free will the most important value at stake here? Why is free will more valuable than life itself? Any parent would interrupt the free will of a child at the moment of danger to the child or to others. Also, some suffering is not chosen, like the suffering caused by natural disasters and diseases. And these too, we are told, the Decent and Strong Man could prevent if he wished to.

Well, well, well. Move on.

Let’s say that the Decent and Strong Man knows there is a future postmortem state for the murdered child, a future so disproportionately euphoric that all the suffering of this life will pale in comparison.

But wait. There may be a problem here.

What if the murdered child does not belong to the religious sect that supervises entry into this blissful anticipated abode?  What if the murdered child is scheduled for another less happy postmortem destination, by the light of the Decent and Strong Man’s own theology?

Let’s keep moving on.

One of the Decent and Strong Man’s prescient friends has offered a vision of an end-time event that the Decent and Strong Man’s prescient friend calls (pun intended) ‘God is Deposed.’  It is a bit of Courtroom Theater.

Here is that future scenario:

The Decent and Strong Man sits calmly in a chair at a table, his arms crossed at the wrists, legs crossed at the knees as he settles in to give his deposition in the judicial matter of the  ‘Sentient Universe Versus the Decent and Strong Man.’

Every creature ever existing sits silently all around, awaiting the Decent and Strong Man’s testimony, waiting to judge him.

Some chant  ‘Arise Oh Decent and Strong Man and plead Thine own case’  because they are hopeful that the Decent and Strong Man will give persuasive evidence and therefore justify the ways of the Decent and Strong Man to a universe of living, suffering beings.

Every creature has only one question to ask of the Decent and Strong Man: ‘How and why did you do it?’

The Decent and Strong Man replies slowly, methodically, and, as is his custom, in verse:

I pained the lateral lobe
And pearled it to a jellyroll,
Swirled the message ooze into a fitting sum.
Then I jousting with triptych time
And with indulgent ease,
Unhinged the local peace without a warring drum.
Then I heedful of spare word
And remorse about the epoch made,
Slipped into a specimen facere sacramentum. [sacred oath]
Then I the Maker-Maid made all you sorely sick
But demanded you be well.
Now I wonder wonder-makers say non datur tertium.
[no third option—between guilt and innocence, in this case]

When the immeasurable multitude heard the Decent and Strong Man’s deposition, they spoke their verdict suddenly, in unison, and without dissent:  ‘Guilty.’

Then the Decent and Strong Man bowed, chin to his chest and struck with awe. For he knew, and he saw, that he, the so-called Decent and Strong Man, was either not decent or not strong, or neither decent nor strong.

This is the story of the problem of evil—and its solution.

 

Featured image  ‘Wretched’  by Piers Nye via Flickr

 

 

 

 

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