Written by Wendell Krossa
Fundamental to becoming human in this imperfect world is the natural impulse to distinguish between good and bad/evil. We do this across life, with thinking, acting, and all sorts of imperfection in life . We cure diseases and generally improve the human condition in myriad ways because we want something better, not something “bad” to continue. We fight violence because it is bad. We seek peace because it is good. This distinguishing between good and bad across life is our fundamental human project; fundamental to learning to be human.
The error of the ancients who were still new at this and still learning to understand and explain reality, they projected a lot of what are now recognized as bad things, out to define the gods. They projected “evil” onto the gods. Tribal features like “us versus them”-us versus the other band or outsider.
We have done better in cleaning up our gods, humanizing them more over the millennia. But still too much of the old dung clings to God/gods. Reform is often peripheral, tinkering at the edges because of that fear of challenging the sacred.
The result is, for instance, the continuing re-affirmation of the primal human fear, the fear of retaliatory, punishing gods (whether God, Gaia, angry planet, or karma). So human minds and spirits continue to be enslaved by those fears. And so we also get things like theodicy- wrestling with the imperfection/evil of life and how to understand ultimate Good in light of this world. What is ultimate Love in this imperfect world? Why is the world created imperfectly? What does that mean in terms of the world, for instance, as a learning arena, where we learn how to be human.
It may be true that the ancient people had no idea of indirect or independent causation and therefore saw God as actively involved in every event in nature and history. However whatever theistic worldview we embrace e.g. Deism or Open Theism etc. we are still left with the quandary of God’s relationship with our world.
An ancient man may have experienced anyone of a multitude of diseases as the direct curse or judgment of God. We would understand it as one of those unfortunate things that can happen on a planet that is not rigidly deterministic. But we have hardly resolved the “why” question. Perhaps we will have to learn how to live without all the answers.