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Monday, March 11, 2013

The Problem of Evil in a Nutshell

Let us say we are looking in on a typical home one Sunday afternoon. Mother and dad are in the living room with two of their boys ages 8 and 10. The detritus of the day has gathered in a pile of trash towards one corner of the room. Dad says, OK boys carry out the trash for us. Two avenues of action are now possible.

The boys can see themselves a team. They can with generosity and goodwill pitch in to quickly and efficiently take care of the problem—all the while bonding their relationship even stronger and bringing great love, satisfaction, and pride to their observing parents. The problem is taken care of almost immediately. It is the smart, commonsensical way to meet the issue.

The other option unaccountably too often occurs. After dad's request, immediately bickering breaks out and charges and counter-charges abound as to who should do this or that. Ill will as a contagion envelopes the room enshrouding even the adults. The bickering subsides and then re-surges all afternoon and well into the night. In the end with great bitterness, meanness, and anger; somehow the job gets half-heartedly done in an atmosphere that reeks of venomous spite and recrimination.

Even though the the former approach has clear and vast advantages and is a direct route to happiness, the latter is typical and characteristic of human behavior throughout history. In many ways it represents evil in the world and (considering its plainly evident disadvantages) it is a great mystery as to why it persists and rules in petty as well as great matters.

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