Why Do Unsexy Things Happen to Sexy People?

Why Do Unsexy Things Happen to Sexy People? November 12, 2014

SMBC has tackled the problem of evil. What do you make of its response?

SMBC tackles the problem of evil

I have this discussion (about the problem of evil – not about fetishes) in my First Year Seminar class regularly. Does anyone actually want to live in a universe in which you get a cookie every time you do something good, and as a result, people do good not because it is good and self-sacrificially, but because of cookies? This isn’t a “solution” to the problem of evil which makes it go away. But it does suggest that it is far harder to make an “ideal” universe than most people who talk about the problem of evil suggest.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • scherben

    Now we’re back to the Book of Job – especially chapter 21… (a bitter lament I’ve often echoed)

  • melayton

    I think you’re assuming here that in a world with rewards people are always motivated by rewards. Not so. As a kid my mum would give me a good (meaning primo cookies rather than something *gasp* healthy) if I’d clean up my room. That was the motivation at first, but then I realized a clean room was actually pleasant or kept my mom in a good mood so I cleaned it for those reasons. None of that means I stopped appreciating the cookie.

    The real motivation behind the problem of evil IMO isn’t that people want a just reward – it’s that they don’t want to feel impotent. I don’t see why that drive necessarily commits them to wanting your cookie world.

  • The best discussion of the problem of Evil is Yudkowsky’s:

  • The answer to the problem of evil, that says “do you want a cookie for good behavior”, seems to me a completely patronizing, devaluing, insincere response to the problem. The problem of evil is the problem of the holocaust, the inquisition, the eruption of Vesuvius, the Indian ocean tsunami, in light of a benevolent God. It is not the problem of whining children.

    I think that’s point of the comic, perhaps captured best in the last ironic reference to the degradation of anti-semitism.

    Whether a benevolent God could create an ideal universe seems to me a different question than whether a benevolent God could create a universe without the extreme and meaningless sorts of suffering that we see everyday.

  • Charles Bauserman

    … I think the question is asked the wrong way.
    We ask it as though someone could be “good” categorically, as though there were two categories of people, one of which is inherently good and the other inherently evil. That’s just not so. So the implied categorization (contained within the question) of the person is incorrect. (It would be so much easier to say that a person is inherently good or evil, but we can’t let ourselves slip down that far. We have an inherently selfish inclination, and it’s entirely up to one’s own self to determine if that inclination is good or bad, and to act accordingly.)
    Second, both the “bad things” one asks about and the designation of what a “good person” is are categorized according to how one’s own self perceives the categories of “bad” and “good”. Our perception of that category is going to be limited, no matter what, to how both one’s own self understands “good” and “evil”, and how mankind understands “good” and “evil” (but even mankind’s perception of “good” and “evil” are not altogether uniform). So “Why do bad things happen to good people?” … is almost an irrelevant question, since “good” and “bad” are going to be filtered through one’s own experience when one asks the question.
    Ultimately, I think the question is the wrong starting point anyway. The starting point, as most of the NT authors saw it, should be the Christ/the gospel (and don’t assume you know what I mean by that – I mean the gospel in terms of the recreation of all things, “all things shall be made new”, not just the “saving souls” part, or even the “Kingdom of God” part). From that answer, we can backtrack into what the problem really should be. (Kind of like what Paul does by constructing a figurehead/construct “Adam” through the work of the historical Christ in Romans 5.)