Embrace Nothingness: Help God Heal

Uploaded 7/17/2020, approx. 37 minute read

Now, what about God? Where is God in all this? Why doesn't God prevent evil? Why did he create people whoseone of their determinants is evil and evil doing? Why did he create, in other words, psychopaths and narcissists?

I want to read a few quotes.

Anišius Sevebinius, also known as Boethius, was a Roman philosopher in the fifth and sixth century. He was also a statesman, and he wrote a wonderful book called The Consolation of Philosophy.

So it's a great picture. We don't read old books, only new ones, if at all. And he wrote, There is nothing that an omnipotent God could not do.

Well, it's like a dialogue, yes? So one person says there's nothing that an omnipotent God could not do. And the other person says no.

Then can God do evil? And the other person says, well, actually no. So that evil is nothing.

So that is what he cannot do. Who can do anything?

In other words, if God can do anything, but he cannot do evil, then evil is nothing, which of course is a contradiction.

And then there's Quentin Smith in the book The Anthropic Coincidences, Evil and Disconfirmation of Theism. And he wrote, An implication of intelligent design may be that the designer is benevolent, and as such, the constants and structures of the universe are life-friendly.

However, such intelligent design may conceivably be malevolent. It is reasonable to conclude that God does not exist, since God is omnipotent, omniscient, and perfectly good, and thereby would not permit any gratuitous natural evil.

But since gratuitous natural evils are precisely what we would expect if a malevolent spirit created the universe, if any spirit created the universe, it is malevolent, not malevolent, and not benevolent, and cannot be good.

And so God is a complex character. The Old Testament God is a malignant narcissist. There's no question about it from the clinical, from point of view of clinical psychology.

He's entitled, he's vindictive, he's disempathic, he is defiant, he's malevolent on many occasions, and he's grandiose. He demands to be worshipped, and he penalizes to death, lethally and mortally, if you fail to worship him.

It's a malignant narcissist bordering on an extreme cycle. God the Father is absent in the New Testament, but his alleged son, self-proclaimed son, is all the above.

And like most other self-styled prophets of religion, he's also psychotic. I've made a video about it.

Psychotic grandiosity. I encourage you to watch it.

So we have two points of view, two variants, two aspects of God.

One of them in the Old Testament is a purebred, classic case of malignant narcissism bordering on psychopathy, reactance, defiance, grandiosity, vindictiveness, entitlement, and lack of empathy.

And then we have his son, self-proclaimed, mind you, Jewish carpenter who decided that he's the son of God. And so we have this person who is all the above and also clearly suffers from extreme delusional disorders and psychotic disorder. He's a very sick man.

And so we have the creators, the creators, the entities who made all this happen are mentally ill. It seems that mental illness is a precondition in the formation of creativity and creation.

We are the figments of mentally ill minds, unusual minds, they're not human minds. We can't perhaps even grasp these minds, but mind is a kind of metaphor. Whatever these minds or mind life or whatever are, they're mentally ill.

And if they had created us in their own image, we are mentally ill by definition.

Mental illness, therefore, is not an aberration. It's the normal state. It's the baseline. And we spend our lives struggling against our innate mental illness.

Evil is an attribute of God. Satan is God in the same way that Dr. Jekyll is Mr. Hyde. Satan is an aspect of God, a dimension of God, an attribute of God. Evil is a trait of God.

It's like God has multiple personality, several self states, very much like a borderline. God has borderline personality disorder.

The Gnostics realize this and they suggested two gods, the Demiurge, which was essentially a malevolent entity responsible for creation, and the Monotheistic God we're used to. If God is everywhere, and if it includes everything, then evil must also be a part of you, as Spinoza alluded, Benedict Spinoza.

So what are the scriptures?

The scriptures are chronicles of God's struggles with his own imperfections and character flaws, with his evil side via the agency of the flawed creation.

So God is in a constant struggle, inner struggle. He realizes that he's imperfect, that he's flawed and very often malicious, evil, and he's fighting this. And he's fighting this via his creation.

He actually made creation as an aid, as a tool, as an instrument to fight his evil side by granting us the ability to tell right from wrong, actually not granting, we took it from the tree of knowledge.

But okay, by endowing us with the ability, with the potential to tell right from wrong, and then with the choice, with the free will, he actually made us the agents of his inner struggle with evil. He gave us the tools to help him to win this war against evil.

Humans are products of God's own dissociation, carriers of his broken memories, repositories of his dissociative states. They are figments of his mental illness, and they, only they, can act against evil as his agents.

This is why God endowed humans with intelligence, sentience, consciousness.

The task of humans is to help God to heal by reintegrating themselves with him, by bringing God back to full awareness and enlightenment, by embracing their own nothingness.

People need to embrace their own nothingness, because if you are something, you are outside God. God includes everything.

To become a part, you must become a nothing. To become a part of God, to heal God, you must mend the vessels, as the Kabbalah puts it. You must disappear in order to reappear as God.

It's not that God is inside you, it's that you are inside God. The relationship is reciprocal, and in many respects it's true that you are God.

Your mental illness is God's mental illness. You heal a little, God heals a little.

It's not that you have to heal so that you can walk with God. It's that God has to heal so that he can walk with you.

And when he walks with you, that is redemption, that is enlightenment, that is healing.

Richard Dawkins, the famous evolutionary biologist and atheist, traces the roots of evil to organized religion and to faith itself.

The belief in a God has spawned all manner of wickedness, he says, malice throughout history, he claims.

But I disagree with Dawkins on multiple levels.

First of all, I think atheism is a religion by itself. And second thing, I disagree with him that organized religion is the source of all ills.

Religion is a merely private case of a much larger phenomenon, men's quest for meaning.

The search for an organizing, exegetic, hermeneutic, overriding, all-encompassing, all-pervasive principle. The yearning for sense, for justice, among apparent randomness, meaninglessness, and chaos. That is religion.

It's a botched attempt. I agree with him on that. It's a totally botched attempt, because it's a botched attempt because people made God in their own image.

I mean, humanity, mankind, is not made in God's image. God is made in humanity's image, grandiose, narcissistic, entitled, defiant, psychopathic, chaotic, antisocial, mentally ill. That's a mistake of religion.

Not devoting God from humanity, bringing him down to us and then crucifying him, killing him, as humans are one to do, and God accepting it.

No problem, he says. Go ahead, kill me. I will die for your sins. God has died multiple times already. I don't know how many lives he has. And he has died for our sins, and he has died for our mental illness, and he's getting more and more broken, less and less healed.

We have betrayed our kabbalistic destiny to heal God.

And this is the foundation and the source of the chaos we are in, of our inner discomfort, of our overwhelming depression, and death, slow death, because we have chosen evil and death over God and life.

God is a metaphor, of course.

Yes, I don't believe that there's supreme being or entity of these primitive renditions of God.

But among these two principles, we've chosen we've chosen wrong one. We've chosen matter. Matter is death. We live in a death cult called materialism.

Indeed, secular religions, known as ideologies, have proven to be even more lethal and pernicious than the epiphanous variety.

What? Nihilism? Nihilism is much worse in terms of the cost in human lives than, I don't know, Christianity. Commonism is worse than Islam, in this sense, fascism. They've wrecked more mayhem and death than any divinely inspired count about.

So did nationalism, so did liberal democracy, and its mercantilism and colonialism.

Whether you're an atheist, an agnostic, or a fervid believer, the questions of why evil exists, what purpose it serves, how are evil and justice intertwined, these questions torment all of us on a daily basis.

Start with the logical problem of evil. God is supposed to be omniscient, all-knowing, supposed to be omnipotent, supposed to be good. We don't discuss here more limited versions of divine designer, divine creator, or malevolent God, as in some religions. Forget all this.

The classic God, the father in the sky with a white beard. This God is supposed to be good.

Why? If he's good, why doesn't he eliminate evil? If he cannot eliminate evil, then he is not all powerful or all-knowing. If he refuses to eliminate evil, then surely he's not good.

Epicurus is said to have been the first to offer the simplistic formulation of the logical, a priori, deductive problem of evil. And it was later expounded on the David Hume in his dialogues concerning natural religion, published in 1779.

Evil is a value judgment, a plainly human, culture-bound, period-specific construct. Same form as Aquinas, called evil and suationis, the subjective perception of a relationship between objects and persons, or persons and persons.

Some religions like Hinduism, Christian science, they don't accept it, they don't recognize it, they shrug it off as an illusion, the outcome of our intellectual limitations, our mortality. We can't grasp the mind of God.

My attitude is different. I think evil exists because it is God. It is a part of God. It's a manifestation, an emanational God. It's God's presence among us, exactly as good.

Evil, everything is God.

But as St Augustine explains in his seminal The City of God, the fifth century, 18, what to us appears heinous and atrocious may merely be an integral part of a long-term divine plan whose aim is to preponderate good.

St Augustine says, well, you are small, you're limited, your intelligence is not a billionth of a billionth path of God. How can you expect? You're like an ant and a human being. How can the ant expect to understand the human being?

Leibniz postulated in his Theodicy in 1710 that evil, more of evil, physical, metaphysical, is an inevitable part of the best logically possible world, a cosmos of plenitude and the greatest possible number of compatible perfections.

But no offense to any of these great minds, this sheer absolute unmitigated nonsense.

What about acts such as murder or rape in peacetime? What about horrendous evil, the phrase coined by Marilyn Adams to refer to unspeakable horrors like the Holocaust?

There is no belief system that condones them, can explain them, incorporate them, or justify them. These are universally considered to be evil under any conceivable system, in principle.

It is hard to come up with a moral calculus that would justify these acts, no matter how broad the temporal and spatial frame of reference and how many degrees of freedom we allow. An infinite mind could not justify a finite rape, a finite murder, let alone the Holocaust.

The Augustinian etiology of evil, that it is the outcome of big choices by creatures endowed with a free will, doesn't help. It fails to explain.

Why would a being endowed with intelligence, endowed with a word, sentient, sapient being, why would we fully aware of the consequences of our actions, fully aware of the adverse impacts on us, on others? Why do we often choose evil when misdeeds are aligned with the furtherance of one's self-interest?

Evil, narrowly considered, appears to be a rational choice.

But, as William R. Anderson observed, many gratuitously wicked acts are self-defeating, self-destructive, irrational, purposeless.

We sometimes evil at our own detriment. These evil wicked acts don't give rise to any good, to the perpetrator or to the victim, nor do they prevent a greater evil.

They just increase the sum of misery in the world.

As Alvin Plantinga suggested, in 1974 and 1977, and as Bede and St. Thomas Aquinas centuries before him, evil may be an inevitable and tolerated by-product of free will.

God has made himself absent from a human volition that is free, non-deterministic, and undetermined. God told us, listen guys, I'm giving you a free will, I'm out of here. I'm busy, don't bother me. You have the free will, that's all you need, use it, choose good.

Interesting perception of God's presence, ubiquitous, all-pervasive presence in the world, how he absents himself when he's comfortable.

This divine withdrawal is a process known as self-limitation, or as the Kabbalah concept, Sumnimization, where there is no God, the door to evil is wide open.

God, therefore, can be perceived as having absceded, having let evil in, so as to facilitate men's ability to make truly free choices.

It can even be argued that God inflicts pain and ignores, if not leverages, evil in order to engender growth, personal growth, learning, maturation, it is true evil, that will become good.

Evil is the inevitable pathway to good. The road to heaven is paved with good intentions, the road to heaven, sorry, is paved with good intentions.

It is a God, not of indifference, as proposed by theologians and philosophers from Lactantius to Paul Draper.

It's not an indifferent God, but it's a tough love God, the Old Testament God, you know.

I know you're going to make mistakes, like all children do, and I'm going to choose evil, I know you're going to do wicked things, as all children do, but as all children do, you're going to grow out of it, you're going to learn from your errors, the errors of your ways, you're going to repent, you're going to become better persons.

Isaiah, Isaiah puts it plainly, I make peace and I create evil.

So you know what, let's examine the issue of free will.

The ability to choose between options is the hallmark of intelligence, that part is true, the entire edifice of human civilisation rests on the assumption that people's decisions unerringly express and reflect their unique set of preferences, needs, priorities and wishes.

Our individuality is inextricably intermeshed with our ability not to act predictably, not to succumb to peer pressure, not to succumb to group dynamics.

The capacity to choose evil is exactly what makes us human.

Robots will be unable to choose evil, according to Asimov's three laws of robotics.

But that is a very, very restricted view of evil.

Things are different with natural evil.

What about natural disasters? What about diseases and pandemics? What about premature death?

These have very little to do with human agency, human choices, unless we accept Richard Swinburne's anthropocentric, or should I say anthropic, belief that they are meant to foster virtuous behaviours, teach survival skills and enhance positive human traits, including the propensity for a spiritual bond with God and soul-making.

Swinburne said, everything that happens with nature has only one purpose, to educate humanity, to help humanity grow, to help humanity mature.

It's a belief shared by the Mutazili School of Islam and by theologians from Irenius of Lyon and Saint Basil to John Hick.

I don't subscribe to this grandiose perception that nature is our slave, nature is our tutor.

I don't subscribe to Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 and 3, where the entirety of nature was created for the crown of creation, the human.

I think we should dispense with such self-centred grandiose perceptions.

Natural calamities are not the results of free will, end of story.

Why would that benevolent God allow natural disasters and pandemics to happen?

Well, one possible answer is that nature sports its own version of free will in determinacy.

Leibniz and Malbarge noted that the laws of nature are pretty simple, but the permutations and combinations of these laws are infinite, they are unforeseeable, there's emergent complexity, and it characterises myriad beneficial natural phenomena that make them possible.

The degrees of freedom inherent in all advantageous natural processes comes with a price tag, catastrophes, viruses.

So if you want nature to have the possibility to combine, to permute, to change, you must accept natural disasters and calamities.

It's a little like bugs in the software or glitches in a computer.

Genetic mutations drive biological evolution, for example, but they also give rise to cancer. Viruses are evolutionary engines, but they also kill.

You may have noticed lately.

Plate tectonics yield our continents and biodiversity, but they often lead to fatal earthquakes and tsunamis.

Physical evil is a price we are paying for a smoothly functioning and fine-tuned universe.

There's also an evidentiary problem of evil.

Some philosophers, for instance, William Rous and Paul Draper, suggested that the preponderance of specific, horrific, gratuitous types of evil does not necessarily render God logically impossible.

In other words, the problem of evil is not a logical problem.

They say the very evil in the world doesn't prove that God is impossible. It's just proved that God is highly unlikely, and this is known as the evidential or probabilistic, a posteriori or inductive problem of evil.

As opposed to the logical version of a problem of evil, the evidential problem relies on our fallible and limited judgment.

It goes like this.

It goes like this. Upon deep reflection, we, human beings, cannot find a good reason for God to tolerate and to not act against intrinsic evil, gratuitous evil, that can be prevented without vanquishing some greater good or permitting some evil equally bad or worse.

If there were a God, it would have prevented evil. It would have prevented any evil that doesn't prevent greater evil, and it would have prevented any evil that doesn't serve some purpose or greater good.

Skeptic face counter, and they derive, they mock such thinkers.

How can we, with our finite intellect, ever hope to grasp God's motives and plan his reasons for action or inaction, to attempt to explicate and to justify God, something, a practice known as theodicy, is not only blasphemous, it is also presumptuous. It's futile and in all likelihood wrong, leading to fallacies, leading to falsities.

Yet even if our intelligence were perfect, let's assume that we are omniscient. We know everything. It would not necessarily have been identical to or coextensive with God's.

In other words, even if we had become God tomorrow, we will not necessarily be the same God. We may develop a kind of intelligence, kind of overview, kind of synoptic view that is not similar to God's.

No one guarantees that all Gods are the same. God-like or deities or divinities are the same, actually.

Before monotheism, it was widely accepted that divinity is an essence. It's a permeating material, and that many, many entities could acquire, even human beings, could acquire divinity. Many Roman emperors were declared gods or divinities. So human beings could become divinities, divinities could copulate with human beings, and so you could have demigods like Hercules, and numerous entities could be gods, and none of them had the same mind.

That you have an infinite intellect, infinite horizon of time, doesn't make you identical to another entity with infinite intellect and infinite horizon of time.

As we well know from experience, multiple intelligences with the same attributes often obtain completely different behaviors, traits, results, and conclusions.

Two omniscient intellects can reach diametrically opposed conclusions, even given the same set of data.

We can turn the evidential argument from evil on its head, and following Swinburne, paraphrase Romes. If there is an omnipotent and omniscient being, call it God, then there are specific cases of such beings intentionally allowing evil occurrences that have wrong-making properties, such as there are right-making characteristics that it is reasonable to believe exist, or unreasonable to believe do not exist, and that both apply to cases in question and are sufficiently serious to come to balance the relevant wrong-making characteristics.

Wow, that was long. Let's break it.

First of all, we assume there's an omnipotent and omniscient being, God. We also assume that there are specific cases where this kind of being, God, intentionally allows evil occurrences, and these evil occurrences have wrong-making properties.

Okay, we accept this, but he allows these evil and wicked events because there are right-making characteristics that it's reasonable to believe exist, or unreasonable to believe do not exist, and that the cases of wrong-making include these right-making characteristics.

So, every event in the world, every behavior, every development, everything, has evil aspects, wrong-making aspects, and good aspects, right-making aspects, and both of them apply to the same case.

And the right-making counterbalances the wrong-making or overpowers.

In other words, perhaps God constructed creation in a way that evil is ineluctable, inevitable, kind of the price you pay for good.

Very similar to the argument that you can't discern the existence of light without darkness. Maybe evil is what puts in sharp relief the existence of good, the existence of good, and therefore it is likely that, and here comes the inductively from the Odyssey to defense, it's likely that if there is an omnipotent and omniscient being, then there is the case of such a being intentionally allowing specific or even all evil occurrences.

He knows that these evil occurrences have wrong-making properties, but each of these events and occurrences and traits and behaviors and everything, each of these evil things has right-making characteristics, and it's reasonable to believe in them. It's reasonable to believe in them, and it's reasonable to believe that these right-making good characteristics exist, it's unreasonable to believe they don't exist.

And it doesn't matter if we are aware of these right-making characteristics or not.

In everything, both wrong-making and right-making, both evil and good, they all apply to the cases of question, and they are sufficiently serious to counterbalance the wrong-making characteristics.

There's no evil without good, that's the argument, the counter argument. There's no evil without good.

The very existence of evil guarantees that it comes with some good.

It reminds me that there are people who are saying that the state of Israel would not have existed without all of us.

Silver lining, clouds, we know.

Okay, back to reality.

Given our limitations, some of us are intelligent, but none of us is as intelligent as God, except maybe Jordan Peterson.

Given our limitations, what to us may appear evil and gratuitous, God may regard as necessary and even beneficial.

This argument was made by Alston, Wijstra, Plantinga and others. Even worse, we cannot fathom God's mind, we cannot understand it, grasp it, because we cannot fathom any mind other than our own.

Can you found your wife's mind? Oh, forget it, your wife is a woman. Can you fathom your children's mind? Can you fathom your boss's mind?

We can't, we don't have access to other people's minds. We don't.

And if we don't have access to other people's mind, we don't have access to other people's minds.

How can we have access to God's mind?

This doubly applies to God, whose mind is infinite and omniscient. His mind is not like our mind.

We may be the image of God, I don't know, as far as our body, we may be a spark of God, we may be a poor imitation of God, we may be a partial element of God, but we're definitely not God.

If God does exist, his mind is alien, inaccessible to us, there's no possible intersubjectivity between God and ourselves.

We cannot empathize with God, we cannot empathize with God. It's a crucial sentence and this raises the terrifying possibility that God cannot empathize with us, which is perhaps exactly why he needed the likes of Jesus and Muhammad and others, because God cannot empathize with us directly.

He needed to empathize with us via agents, agents like the prophets.

God and men have no common ground, no language.

It is an unbridgeable cousin, no amount of worship or faith or either practice like in Judaism, you have to follow the commandments, you have to practice unthinkingly, you don't question, there's no reason for the commandments, you just perform them and this is your way of getting closer to God and worshiping him, by suspending your thought, by embracing nothings.

But even this is not enough, because the abyss between you and God is too large, too large to hop over, to jump over, you will die.

An attempt to enter the mind of God is suicide, it's lethal.

Ask Kierkegaard, this leap of faith cost him his life and this inaccessibility may cut both ways.

Open-faced, harking back to the Sartreans in the 17th century, they say that God cannot predict our rules, because he's so divorced from us, so far from us, there's no way he can understand us, empathize with us, and if you can't understand someone and empathize with him, you cannot predict what he's going to do.

The deists say that God doesn't care to predict us or interact with us.

Having created the universe, God has moved on, leaving the world and his inhabitants to their own devices.

Perhaps God doesn't care about us, perhaps he doesn't care about us because he cannot possibly know what it is to be human, he doesn't have this experience, lucky him, he doesn't feel our pain, he's incapable of empathizing with us.

But this view of an indifferent God, the gaze, his imputed benevolence, his imputed omnipotence, no.

And this raises two questions.

If God's mind is inaccessible to us, how could we positively know anything about God?

The answer is that maybe we don't know anything about God. Maybe our knowledge of God actually pertains to someone else, maybe you've got it wrong.

The Gnostic said that we are praying to the wrong divinity. The entity that had created the universe is the demuret, not God. We got it wrong.

And if our minds are inaccessible to God, how does God make himself known to us?

And again, the answer may well be that God does not make himself known to us, that all our so-called knowledge is sheer confabulation.

And this would explain the fact that what we think we know about God doesn't sit well with the plenitude of wickedness around us, with nature's brutality, with evil.

Be that as it may, we seem to have come back full circle to the issue of free will. God cannot foresee our choices, decisions and behaviors because God has made us.

Libertarian free moral agents gave us personal autonomy. And the minute he did this, we are out of his control and determination. And so we are out of his comprehension.

The question is, are we also out of his compassion?

We can choose evil. And there's very little he can do about it.

But does he care that we choose evil? Is he, I don't know, angry, empathic, understanding, smiling somewhere up there? You know, waiting for us to grow up, traces the issue of assentee and evil.

Both formulations of the problem of evil assume, sort of watch it, that God maintains an intimate relationship with his creation or that it or even that the essence of God would have been different without the world.

Without the universe, God would have been different.

Medieval folk, people in the Middle Ages believed narcissistically that demons and angels were waging a battle over their precious immortal souls. And it carried all the way through to the 18th century with Faust.

This implied and micro managed intimacy with the divine runs contra to the godly attributes of attribute of assentee.

Assentee means that God is self-sufficient, does not depend for his existence, for his attributes, for his functioning on anything, anyone, any entity outside himself. God, therefore, by definition, cannot be concerned with a cosmos or with any of the cosmos inhabitants. He doesn't care a fig about the characteristics of the cosmos, including the manifestations of good and evil.

Moreover, the principle of assentee taken to its logical conclusion implies that God does not interact with the world, does not change it.

This means that God cannot or will not either prevent evil or bring evil about. Either way, he's out of it.

It's none of his business. I am not a proponent of the principle of assentee. I think we are part of creation and creation is a part of God.

And therefore, we must have a goal. We must have meaning. And I adhere to the Kabbalistic perception that we are agents of healing.

We are in the front line. We are the nurses. We are the doctors. We are the support staff.

God is in hospital with severe case of COVID. We need to intubate him, wake him up, make him live again.

Of course, this raises the possibility that God is a malicious being. If we don't know anything about him, maybe he's a psychopath. A universe that gives rise to gratuitous evil may indicate the existence of an omnipotent omniscient but also supremely malevolent psychopathic creator.

Again, turning on its head the familiar consequentialist attempt to refute the evidential argument from evil, we get, quoting from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy article about the problem of evil, we get the following.

An action is by definition morally right if and only if it is among the actions that one could have performed, an action that produces at least as much value as every alternative action. An action is morally wrong if and only if it is not morally right. If one is an omnipotent and omniscient being like God, then for any action whatsoever, there is always some alternative action that produces greater value.

In other words, the actions of an omnipotent and omniscient entity, the actions of God, are always by definition morally wrong, because he could have always done better. He could have always done greater good. His actions are never morally right.

To choose the lesser good is evil. This is because among the actions that such a being could have performed, instead of the action that he did perform, there is an infinity of alternatives that produce greater good, greater value.

Moreover, an omnipenevolent, merciful, and just God is hardly likely to have instituted an infinite hell for non-believers. This is more in tune with a wicked, vicious divinity.

To suggest the hell is the sinner's personal choice not to be with God, to sing, to renounce his grace, to say that hell is inside, something outside there, you carry hell with you, doesn't solve the problem.

Why would a being such as God allow mere ignorant, defective mortals like us a choice that may lead us straight to hell? Why did he give us free will? Isn't this a sadistic act? Why didn't he protect us from the terrified outcomes of our nations, our ignorance, our imperfection? What kind of choice is it anyway?

Believe in me or else you will burn in hell or be annihilated.

Sounds like Adolf Hitler, not like God.

So is mankind usurping God or is mankind fulfilling God's plan? A morally perfect God, and even a morally imperfect God, would surely wish to minimize certain horrendous types of gratuitous evil, albeit without sacrificing the greater good and while forestalling even greater evil.

How can God achieve these admirable and egosyntonic goals without micromanaging the world, without reading the world of the twin gifts of free will and indeterminacy?

In other words, if God wants the world to be only good, he needs to make us zombies. He needs to take us back to paradise before we ate from the fruit of the tree of knowledge. He needs to bring us back there before the original sin and get rid of the snake.

If there is a God, he may have placed us on this earth to function as moral policeman. It may be our role to fight evil and to do our best to eradicate it.

This is the view of the Kabbalah, to some extent Hegel. We are God's right-making agents. We are God's long arm, his extension, his employees.

Gradually mankind acquires abilities hitherto regarded as the exclusive domain of God. We can now cure diseases, almost all of them. We can eliminate pain. We can overcome poverty. We can extend life. We can fight crime. We can do justice.

In the not too distant future, we are likely to be able to retard aging, ameliorate natural catastrophes, eradicate delinquency.

Remember the film, Clockwork Orange? Imagine a future world in which, due to human ingenuity and efforts, evil is no more.

Will free will vanish with evil? Will it become a relic of a long forgotten past?

If evil is not an option and you have free choice, free will, it's a choice between what?

It's a free will to choose what if you have only one option and that is to be good.

It seems that if you get rid of evil, you get rid of free will. Will we lose our incentive and capacity to learn, to improve, to develop, to grow? Will we perish of too much good, as in H.G. Wells' dystopia, the time machine?

Why is it that God tolerates evil and we seek to dispose of it? Why do we have this contradictory?

In trying to resist evil, trying to limit evil, are we not acting against the divine plan? Are we sure that when we are fighting evil, we're in compliance with the divine plan? Maybe we are God's enemies. Are we risking His wrath every time we temper with nature and encounter our propensity for wickedness? Or is this precisely what He has in store for us?

Why He made us? We don't know. We are gambling. We are speculating. We are in the air. We hope for the best. We hope we end at God's mind. We hope we're in accord and concordance with His master plan, but we may well be undermining it, sabotaging it.

Maybe, like Noah's flood, you know, the big flood, maybe he's going to get tired of us. Maybe by fighting evil, we are evil.

Many of these questions resolve as if by magic, once we hold God to be a merely psychological construct, of course, cultural artifact and invention.

The new science of neural religion traces faith to specific genes, specific neurons.

Indeed, God strikes some scholars as a glorified psychological defense mechanism, intended to fend off intimations of a universe that is random, meaningless, and ipso facto, profoundly unjust by human criteria, by limiting God's omnipotence, since He is not capable of evil thoughts and deeds.

Even as we trumpet in our omnipotence, in the libertarian view of free will, we have rendered His creation less threatening in the world, more habitable and welcoming.

What we're saying is God is not all path. He's not omnipotent. Here, He cannot fight evil. He cannot be evil. He cannot think evil. He cannot do evil.

We are more than God. We can do evil. We can choose evil. The fact that we can do and choose evil makes us omnipotent, not God.

And so now creation is not threatening. The world is welcoming. We are in control. If He is up there, He may be smiling upon our accomplishments against all odds.

And so this is the issue with God.

A question of sin has undergone numerous transformations.

The latest one, sin has been medicalized. Wrongdoing is medicalized.

With Freud and his disciples started the medicalization of what was either too known as sin or wrongdoing or evil.

As the vocabulary of public discourse shifted from religious terms to scientific terms, offensive behaviors that constituted transgressions against the divine, against social order, these behaviors have been relabeled, self-centered, disempathic, egocentric.

Well, you're a narcissist, pathological narcissism, criminal, antisocial, defiant, contumacious.

Well, you're a psychopath. Your behavior, though still described as antisocial, is the almost deterministic outcome of a deprived childhood, a genetic predisposition, a brain malfunction, biochemistry, gone awry.

So it casts in doubt the very existence of free will and free choice. There's no choice between good and evil.

The contemporary science, quote unquote, of clinical psychology, psychopathology, amounts to a godless variant of Calvinism, a kind of predestination by nature, by nurture, usually by both.

I will finish by discussing an Italian film. It's titled The Place. It's released in 2017, I think.

In this film, a man sits at the back of a cheap resto bar, and he receives a seemingly endless stream of visitors.

His interlocutors come to ask him, ask this man to grant them their wishes. They are willing to do anything to realize their hidden most fantasies.

Rape a young woman, if that's what he wants, assassinate a toddler, place a bomb in a busy disco. This is the price he demands for fulfilling their wishes.

For these are the horrible tasks assigned to them by the mysterious figure in the restaurant in return for the guaranteed fulfillment of their fantasies.

Many of these people who come to him, including a nun, by the way, they have a difficult relationship with God, a thwarted relationship. They don't fully assimilate or sit well with good, evil family, parents, children.

In short, they are all typical human beings.

From the very beginning of this cinematic masterpiece, things don't mesh.

The stranger appears to be empathic, actually, compassionate, worn out by the stories that he hears. His lying face is a mask of pain, a mask of absolution. He ages in front of our eyes. He never judges, never judges, always understands, always accepts the frailties of his applicants. He has a voluminous, black-bound leather notebook. He meticulously records the inner dynamics, the quirks, the torturous pathways, and the emotions of his clients. These are the only times that he perks up as a scholar of the human mind, soul, and heart.

I sympathize with him. Everyone thinks that he is the devil. Everyone castigates him for being the devil.

But this visitor to the restaurant, he keeps insisting that he is not the decision-maker, that he is working for a higher instance, a higher power, and that he is concerned only with the details.

Of course, it brings to mind the saying, the devil is in the details.

Indeed, it gradually becomes evident that he is, exactly as he says, a mere messenger, a courier, a salesperson.

You know what? At most, a mid-level manager.

But who is his boss? Who is in charge?

It is not easy to ascertain, for two reasons.

The visitor often allocates tasks to people, to his supplicants, so that one of these people obstructs the other. So he kind of gives tasks to people, and the tasks intertwine, get entangled, and then one of his suppliers, supplicants, obstructs the other, prevents the hideous events from actually transpiring. And the outcomes of his assignments are invariably good, actually, beneficial, even therapeutic.

The bars Basti made, Angela praises him for listening to people, in conjectures that he is actually a psychotherapist. I love that. Angela falls in love with this enigmatic benefactor of humanity. She tries to bring light and life to his dreary confinement.

At the very last moment of the film, it becomes clear that Angela, Angelou, is an emissary of God, that her love can redeem this man, set him free from his purgatory.

And she signs the last entry in his book, and whoever his superior may be, Angela prevails.

The film is wonderful. It's a daring exposition of all the problems we have discussed, of the Odyssey. It challenges, it rebuffs our traditional views on good and evil, God and Satan. It hints very clearly that God is Satan, that evil is a godly attribute. These concepts are fluid, and they seamlessly intermesh to form unities, says the auteur.

Our self-righteous distinctions are too crass to truly capture the finer-grained intricacies, nuances and subtleties of life.

We judge others because we are limited entities, because we are grandiose narcissists, because we think we know everything. We don't know anything. We don't know anything.

Things may be preordained, but only if and when we settle on certain choices.

The enigmatic man keeps telling his beseechers, you can cancel the contract, you can forgo your wish. I cannot change what's written in the black book, but you can walk away.

It is a rebuke of Calvinist predetermination. It's predetermination, the belief that there's nothing you can do about your life and about your choices. It's a pernicious abrogation of responsibility. It's sick.

The film is a celebration of the freedom and angst, existential angst, that are the human condition and how each folk in the road gives us a chance and the power to defy even the devil, to defy even God himself as we mold ourselves and our personal histories with our two, all two mortal hands. This is God's hope. God's hope is that we should choose the right way for us, because as we heal individually and collectively, so does he.

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