Fr. Michael Smith, a former philosophy professor and current pastor in Temiscaming, Qc (my next-door-neighbor... even though he's almost 60 miles distant) has offered the following in response to my previous post on Epicurus' dilemma on the existence of evil. I thank Fr. Mike for the kindness of his response and trust that it might serve to prompt further comment on this subject. The italicized (not) is my addition to his message as I believe that it was omitted in error when he sent me his post.
I include my response to him at the end of his post.
I have read your appeal for help with the problem of evil. The whole argument is subject to a number of limitations:
1. If one grants, as Augustine does, that God would not permit evil unless a proportionate good could come out of it, the problem is that we have such limited knowledge that we cannot possibly know what good can come from some forms of evil (e.g., the Holocaust). Quite bluntly, we do not know why the earthquake occurred in Haiti, other than the natural causes at work (tectonic plates moving).
One thing is clear: Augustine’s argument does not mean that God uses evil as a means to an end.
2. If one grants the argument that a world where there is free choice, but moral evil, is better than a world where we are all good, but programmed to be so, this has nothing to say about natural evils such as earthquakes.
3. Another thing is clear: This life on earth does (not) give us any guarantees of safety from accidents, tragedies, and natural disasters. Miracles exist, but they are exceptional.
4. No explanation of evil could ever come to the point of a scenario where evil fits perfectly into the picture. As radical nonbeing, evil is that which, in principle, does not fit in.
5. To paraphrase Albert Nolan, to believe in God means to believe that good will ultimately triumph over evil. The problem, for each individual, is this: Given my necessarily limited knowledge of the grand scheme of things, can I trust God? Each of us spends his or her life living out the answer.
With regards to your 2nd point, can we not say that creation suffers from the imperfection of sin (Romans 8:22) and that such events as an earthquake is a manifestation of this imperfection? After all, when creation is renewed with the coming of Christ at the end of time, could we still expect that this new existence will still be prone to such events? If we can assume that there will not be earthquakes etc. in the renewed world, is it also not logical that we could find what exists (or is lacking) now which would explain the existence of natural disasters?
Further, if can conclude that what is different is the presence of sin, and if I can say that sin is a direct result of the misuse of the gift of free will, can it not be said that then that it is sin which is responsible for the death and suffering of an earthquake?
Perhaps I am using at least one of my terms in an analogous fashion for I am tying this entire schema into our Catholic understanding of the preternatural gifts (with its perfect understanding of death as a normal phase of life by which we leave time and enter into eternity), gifts that were lost to us via the "original" sin.
I does seem to me that the key to comprehending of all of this is to understand "free will" as the penultimate gift of God - the freedom God gave us to chose Him (presence of God = grace) or not to (privation of God = evil).
- American Papist Blog
- American Spectator
- Archbishop Tim Dolan's (NY) Blog
- Big Blue Wave
- Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC News Site)
- Catholic Dialogue Blog
- Catholic Education Resource Center
- Catholic Exchange
- Catholic Heritage Website (Ireland)
- Catholic Insight
- Catholic News Agency
- Catholic Online
- Catholic Sensibility
- Catholic, and Loving It
- CTV News Site
- Ethics and Public Policy Center
- First Things
- Fr. Raymond De Souza - National Post Columnist
- Fr. Raymond deSouza personal blog
- Freethroughthought blog (excellent site)
- Friar Rick's Webblog
- Get Religion.org
- Global TV News Site
- Holy Post - National Post Religious Blog
- Inside Catholic Blog
- New Advent
- Pave the Way Foundation
- Priests for Life Canada Website
- ProLife Blog
- Roman Catholic Diocese of Pembroke
- Rosary for the Bishops
- Salt & Light TV - Canadian Catholic Television Website
- Sandro Magister
- Sane Conservatism
- SoCon (social conservative)
- Sylvia's Website: Canadian Clergy Sex Abuse Cases
- The Catholic Register
- The Hermeneutic of Continuity
- The National Post: Canada's National Daily
- The New Jesuit Review
- The New York Times Website
- Vox Nova
- What Does Prayer Really Say - Priest bolg
- Whispers in the Loggia
- ► 2015 (2010)
- ► 2014 (2437)
- ► 2013 (1381)
- ► 2012 (1527)
- ► 2011 (1437)
- Fr. Ron Rolheiser's take on the "what bad things h...
- Evangelical Catholicism as expressed by John Allen...
- KEEP PRAYING FOR DR. ROB SUSIL
- Atheists go postal over stamp honoring Mother Ther...
- Pope Benedict - and his great drive for ecumunism....
- Your prayer help is URGENTLY and IMMEDIATELY neede...
- Point to remember when posting comments
- An excellent reflection on the Church's use of the...
- Here's you chance to put your "John Henry" on an i...
- US Federal Buildings closed for people of faith
- Today is a fruitful one on the internet
- A quick and easy post!
- Another civil exchange of the challenge the Church...
- Thoughts to consider before leaping into reaping v...
- BIG BLUE WAVE: Atheism: a danger to freedom of rel...
- Christianity: A Threatened Belief (The arrival of...
- Interesting statistics of the life of the Catholic...
- One of Bishop Fred Henry's (Calgary) classics
- Insightful editorial on the issue of God & Haiti f...
- From the "now I've seen everything" file
- Pope calls on priests to use the internet to sprea...
- Canadian Government continues its ATTACK against i...
- A theologian-pope sidelines theology | National Ca...
- More on the connection between evil, sin , grace a...
- Looking for help with an ancient theological puzzl...
- A summary for Martin - a fellow seeker for truth i...
- How did "sex" change from meaning one's gender to ...
- Another thought produced by the tragedy in Haita
- Kate McGarrigle R.I.P.
- Video report on Pope Benedict XVI to Jewish Synago...
- Moral/Mental Reservation
- Robert F Kennedy: 4 April 1968.... man of peace an...
- A little humor at the end of the day
- This puts the current War in Aghanistan into the p...
- Quebec defines that heterosexuality cannot be taug...
- Help!! I lost the Red Cross!!
- Pope B16's visit to the Roman Synagogue
- The devil is real... and he is us.
- Does Haiti teach us any lessons about God?
- Keeping "clean" on the muddy paths of the internet...
- Getting the most out of Mass
- Confession by the Numbers
- Canadians cannot withhold taxes in abortion contes...
- ROME REPORTS TV News Agency - Best keep secrets of...
- Finding God in clay vessels
- A Group worthy of support, praise and reading!!!
- Where Rights came from. A video series by Dr. Tom ...
- Accessing the historical memory of the Catholic Ch...
- Amid the hysteria... some perspective
- Defending the indefensible!
- Calls for moderation within the greater world wide...
- How to reach lapsed Catholics
- Eleven steps to a better ministry
- Questions about genetic research... is it about to...
- A Bishop faces and angry parish in France when he ...
- Why Catholic scandals are treated differently than...
- "You might be a redneck" as morphed for Catholics!...
- OPEN FORUM
- Picture Proof of what heaven must be like (at leas...
- Interesting articles.. and subsequent ruminations ...
- "The perspective of size"
- Code Words in the Clergy Sex Abuse Scandal - anoth...
- Demographic bomb in the heart of Europe
- A good news post
- John Allen's take on the past 10 years in the Vati...
- ▼ January (67)