Background

Why God Allows Narcissistic Abuse, Evil Psychopaths? (Theodicy, God Cycle, Lecture 1)

Uploaded 11/17/2023, approx. 41 minute read

Why does God allow evil? Why does God permit narcissism and the wickedness of psychopathy?

And if God really lets these things happen and these people exist and even thrive, then maybe God is not necessary. Maybe we can do well without God and maybe it's all just self-deception and delusion.


Today's video like everything Jewish is divided in two parts.

The first part is a description of the narcissist's relationship with evil. In which sense is the narcissist wicked? In which sense is the narcissist sinful? And in which sense is the narcissist exempt from such judgment, exonerated from this attributed malice?

And then the second part of the video is a survey, a whirlwind review of 2000 years of thinking about evil, God and narcissism.

Well over 20 or 30 philosophers, what they had to say and how this can be applied in your attempt to cope with narcissistic abuse, to make sense of what has happened and to somehow recover and heal.

Philosophy is a great healing instrument. Indeed there are some philosophers who administer philosophy as therapy.

And so regard this video as a therapeutic tool, listen to it and try to connect with all those who preceded you, all the people who were exposed to evil and narcissism and tried exactly like you to introduce a modicum of structure in order and justice and meaning into the unthinkable.

So welcome on this tour.


In his best-selling book People of the Lie, Scott Peck claims that narcissists are evil and that narcissism is just the modern word for evil. He makes additionally preposterous claims in his book about demons and what have you.

But this is an interesting proposition. Is narcissism really just the modern reification or manifestation or expression of what we used to call evil in ancient and medieval times? Or is it a totally new phenomenon?

If you go online and monitor empaths, forums, support groups, it's all a morality play. The victims are all good, the narcissists are all bad and even demonic. It is all a cosmic battle between good and evil.

Narcissistic abuse is just the emanation or manifestation of the miasma of wickedness, maliciousness, malevolence of narcissists. And the victims had just happened to be there. They're incidental, they're angelic, they're flawless.

So it's a morality play. It is cast in terms of good versus evil.

But is this justified? When we try to make sense of evil, when we try to understand how God and evil can coexist in the same universe, we come up with three answers.

Number one, evil is necessary.

Number two, God is not necessary.

Number three, there is no such thing as evil. Evil is just our perception of the world which is by definition finite and limited. We are limited beings. We are not privy to the grand divine design.

There is some plan in action and it is inaccessible to humans.

If we were to adopt, theoretically speaking, God's point of view, we would have realized that everything is absolutely good. Everything inexorably leads to the realization of some end time or end goal which is salvation and absolution.

So there's not such thing as evil.

These are the three answers.

Evil is necessary, there's no such thing as evil, there's no such thing as God.

We're going to review each of these three answers in depth.

If we kind of move forward in time into the postmodern age, we come across evolutionary psychology.

Many scholars in evolutionary psychology claim that narcissism and psychopathy are actually positive adaptations. They are helpful to the survival of a species and that's because narcissists and psychopaths are daring. They are risk takers, they are confident, they are directional, they have a vision, they are dysempathic and this allows them to act without prejudice objectively and to respond to changing circumstances and environments most efficaciously.

Think about a surgeon who is to cut a living body or a soldier who is to kill someone on the other side. These are examples of narcissism and psychopathy in action but good action.

So evolutionary psychology is founded on the premise that everything in nature is needed. Everything in nature has a function, has a role and therefore by definition contributes to the overall functioning and activity and good.

Of course, utilitarians don't accept the concept of evil at all in many ways.

What you utilitarian say is that evil that is intended to prevent a bigger evil is not evil.

So if you have to kill someone in order to save a hundred lives then killing that someone is not evil.

Okay.

Essentially, there are two types of evil. From meditated, menswear in legalese, from meditated evil and incidental evil, strict liability evil in legalese.

And there's also another possible division or distinction. Evil is one's inherent innate nature. You know, you are evil, that's who you are, that's your identity, that's your essence, that's your quiddity. It permeates every cell in your body and every dimension of your mind. You're evil. It captures you well.

So evil is a nature or evil is a choice. You are not evil but you do evil things. You are not evil but you act sinfully and wickedly.

So these are the two ways to look at evil. Either it is something one is born with, almost genetically determined if you wish, a brain abnormality, for example in psychopathy, or it is essentially a choice.

Psychopaths are goal-oriented. Maybe they choose evil as an instrument.

Narcissists do the same.

The concept of evil in this age of moral relativism is slippery. It's ambiguous.

The Oxford Companion to Philosophy defines evil as the suffering which results from morally wrong human choices.

Element of choice is emphasized here.

To qualify as an evil person, an immoral agent, or amorally agent, you must meet some requirements.

First of all, an evil person can and does consciously choose between the morally right and the morally wrong and constantly and consistently prefers the morally wrong to the morally right.

The second condition is that such a person who is construed as evil, perceived as evil, that such a person acts on his choice, irrespective of the consequences to himself and to others, regardless of these consequences.

So these are two very important conditions.

Clearly evil must be premeditated.

Francis Hutchison and Joseph Butler argued that evil is a byproduct of the pursuit of one's interest or one's cause at the expense of other people's interests and causes.

And that is a great description or encapsulation of narcissism.

But all this ignores the critical element of conscious choice among equally compelling and efficacious alternatives.

People often pursue evil when it jeopardizes their own well-being, when it obstructs their own interests.

In other words, Hutchison and Butler failed to take into account self-destructiveness.

Self-destructiveness can inflict evil on other people and yet destroy the evil doer as well.

There's no interest here. There's no pursuit of a goal, or maybe the goal is self-destruction, if you wish to say it that way.

Sotomayor relish this ogee of mutually assured destruction.

Narcissists satisfy the above mentioned two conditions only partially.

The evil of narcissists is utilitarian. In other words, we will be hard-pressed to say that narcissists are evil by nature. That would be more the psychopath.

The narcissist is evil only when being malevolent secures a certain outcome, for example, narcissistic supply.

Sometimes narcissists consciously choose the morally wrong but not invariably so. Narcissists act on their choice even if it inflicts misery and pain on other people. That much is true.

But they never opt for evil if they are to bear the consequences themselves. Narcissists act maliciously because it is expedient to do so, not because it is in their nature.

The narcissist is able to tell right from wrong. He is able to distinguish between good and evil but he is equally trapped in a fantasy and his reality testing is very impaired.

Very often narcissists behave in ways which are hurtful and harmful to others, not because they mean to harm or hurt anyone but because they can't tell reality from fantasy.

In the pursuit of the narcissist's interests and causes, the narcissist sometimes chooses to act wickedly. He does not deny this because he lacks empathy and lacking empathy.

The narcissist is rarely remorseful or regretful. In this sense, narcissists are indistinguishable from psychopaths.

Narcissists also feel entitled so exploiting others is justified and is of second nature. The narcissist abuses other people absentmindedly, off-handed, as a matter of fact, not as a main passion or pursuit but just because it's collateral damage.

The narcissist's evil is collateral damage. The narcissist objectifies people. He treats them as expendable commodities to be discarded after use and this in itself of course is evil and yet it is the mechanical, thoughtless, heartless face of narcissistic abuse which is devoid of human passion and familiar emotions.

It is this that renders narcissistic abuse so alien, so frightful, so repellent.

I would argue that the narcissist's automatism, his artificial intelligence or alien aspect renders the narcissist much more terrifying than his evil wickedness.

An argument can even be made and I'm not making it but can be made that narcissists and psychopaths are like a force of nature like viruses or tornadoes. They inflict havoc on their environment but they cannot really help it. There's nothing the virus can do about killing people.

I disagree because viruses, at least those I've come across, can't tell right from wrong and they are not in the position to make decisions and choices.

Healthy people are propelled and compelled by the process of socialization to make moral choices.

Narcissists and psychopaths are compelled by nature and nurture alike to not make moral choices.

I would even say that narcissists and psychopaths are amoral, lacking any morality rather than immoral. This is what they are.

We are often shocked less by the actions of the narcissist than by the way that he acts.

Not the action but the way he acts.

In the absence of a vocabulary rich enough to capture the subtle use and gradations of a spectrum of narcissistic depravity, we default to habitual adjectives such as good, evil and so on.

As such intellectual laziness does this pernicious phenomenon and its victims little justice in my view.

Victims who are confronted with this good versus evil eschatology, they remain victims for life.


Let me read to you a few quotations before we move on to the second part and to remind you in this forthcoming part I'm going to review what other thinkers had to say.

But let me read to you a few quotations.

Aquinas Manlius Sevenius Boethius, not my fault, was a Roman philosopher and statesman and he wrote the constellation of philosophy which is widely read to this very day.

And here's a segment for the constellation of philosophy. It's a dialogue.

One of the interlocutors says there is nothing that an omnipotent God could not do. The other one agrees. No, there's nothing that an omnipotent God could not do.

Well then, can God do evil? No. So that means that even is nothing since that is what God cannot do, who can do anything.

Interesting.

Sof history.

Quentin Smith, the author of the book The Anthropic Coincidences: Evil and the Disconfirmation of Theism, wrote the following.

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 designer 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 evil, evils are precisely what we would expect if a malevolent spirit created the universe. If any spirit created the universe, it is malevolent, not benevolent.

What he's saying in a long about way is that since there is evil it proves that if there is a God, God is malevolent.

By the way, a Gnostic position, the Gnostics, thought the same, the Demurge.

Okay.

Lucretius in De Re Natura wrote more or less to say. And let me reiterate something that Abraham Lincoln, who was variably considered evil by many and the epitome and reification of good by others, here's what he had to say.

If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses which in the providence of God must needs come, but which having continued through his appointed time, he now wills to remove. And that he gives to both North and South this terrible war, as the woo due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to him?

Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away.

Yet if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman's 250 years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn by the lash shall be paid by another drawn by the sword, as was said 3,000 years ago, so still it must be said the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.

Another long text which says simply, "The Civil War according to Abraham Lincoln was payback to the South for slavery. Slavery was evil and this was a punishment of evil, the war, and that's why the war is good, it is the judgment of God upon the South."

You're beginning to see how intricate and uneven this ground that we are treading on is.

Some things that appear to be evil could be construed as good if you reframe them.

It's the same with narcissism. From a species point of view, narcissism may be beneficial. On an individual level it's utterly destructive, traumatizing, abusive, and horrific. Which point of view should we adopt? The point of view of the species, the collective, or the point of view of the individual? Should individuals make sacrifices for a collective? And if they shouldn't, what does an army mean? Why do we go to the army?

So there are issues here. It's not clear-cut, it's not as straightforward as it sounds.

Richard Dawkins, the famous evolutionary biologist, traces the roots of evil to organized religion and to faith itself, which numerous others consider to be good embodied. Dawkins says that the belief in God has spawned all manner of wickedness and malice throughout history.

But religion is merely a private case of a much larger phenomenon. Men's quest for meaning, the search for an organizing, interpretative, exegetic, emanoite, overriding, all encompassing, all pervasive principle.

We want to make sense of life and of reality. Religion is one way of doing this.

The yearning for sense and justice amid apparent randomness and chaos is unremitting and unrelenting and led us to religion and later led us to science. Science of which Dawkins is an adherent.

Similarly, narcissism is an organizing principle. It makes sense of our experiences. It imbues our existence and suffering with meaning. It explains things.

And so we could say that narcissism is morally neutral. It's just the way things are.

It's how reality falls into place. It's how the Lego castle is erected.

Narcissism is a form of human interaction, one of many.

In every single human interaction, religion included has an evil side and a good side. Indeed, secular religions known as ideologies have proven to be even more lethal and pernicious than the epiphanous kind.

Right. You know, Nazism, communism, fascism, they wreaked more mayhem and death than any divinely inspired count-up. So did nationalism and even liberal democracy as the denizens of Iraq and Afghanistan.

And this still leaves the perplexing question of evil and its convoluted relationship with all manners and modalities of faith.

Remember that narcissism is a private religion. The false self is a deity, is a divinity. The narcissist worships the false self and tries to convert everyone around him to this private religion. So it's a faith.

What is, is there an inherent inevitable relationship between evil and faith?

The shared fantasy that the narcissist imposes on his intimate partners, friends, colleagues, family members and children, you name it. The shared fantasy is also a kind of fairy tale. It's kind of faith. It's a narrative that has pronounced religious overtones.

There's a Godhead which is a narcissist. There's a worshiper which is for example a child or an intimate partner and they interact in a ritualistic ceremonial space.

Whether you're an atheist, an agnostic like me or a fervid believer, the questions of why does evil exist, what purpose does evil serve and how evil and justice are intertwined. These questions torment all of us on a daily basis.

We have all experienced injustice for example and loss. How can we explain it to ourselves?

Evil is a logical problem. God is supposed to be omniscient, omnipotent and good. Even the narcissist who considers himself a kind of God or deity considers himself to be good. He self regards as good.

We do not discuss here more limited versions of a divine designer or creator. Let's put that aside.

Talking about God, the classical perception of God, view of God.

So if God is all good and he's also omnipotent, all-powerful and he's all-knowing, why doesn't he eliminate evil?

If God cannot eliminate evil then he is not all-powerful and definitely not all-knowing. If God refuses to eliminate evil then surely God is not good.

Epicurus is said to have been the first to offer this simplistic formulation of the logical a priori deductive problem of evil, later expanded on by David Hume in his dialogues concerning natural religion, 1779.

Evil is a value judgment. What is evil to you is good for me. What is evil in one culture or period in history or society or region of the world is considered absolutely the thing, a great thing, a good thing elsewhere.

So evil is relative, it's a value judgment. It's a plainly human culture-bound period specific construct.

And one can argue that so is narcissism. Saint Thomas Aquinas called it "ens rationis" the subjective perception of relationships between objects and persons or persons and persons and persons and persons and persons and persons and persons and persons and persons and persons and persons and persons and persons and persons and persons and persons and persons and persons and persons and persons and persons and persons and persons and persons and persons and persons and persons and persons and persons and persons and persons and persons and persons and persons and persons and persons and persons and persons and persons and persons and persons and persons and persons and persons and persons and persons and persons and persons and persons and persons and persons and persons and persons and persons and persons and persons and persons and persons and persons and persons and persons and persons and persons and personsmetaphysically evil is an inevitable part of the best logically possible world, a cosmos of plenitude, the greatest possible number of compatible perfections as he called it.


But what about acts such as murder or rape in peacetime and in wartime? What about horrendous evil, it's a phrase coined by Marilyn Adams to refer to unspeakable horrors.

There is no belief system that condones these acts. These actions are universally considered to be evil so we can't really deny evil, the existence of evil and we can't reframe it as an illusion because there is no way to claim that murder or rape are not evil and therefore are illusory, are illusions.

That is unacceptable philosophically speaking. It is hard to come up with a moral calculus that would justify rape and murder no matter how broad the temporal and spatial frame of reference is and how many degrees of freedom we allow.

The Augustinian etiology of evil that it is the outcome of bad choices by creatures endowed with a free will, this etiology is of little help. It fails to explain why would a sentient, intelligent, sapient being fully aware of the consequences of his actions, fully aware of the adverse impacts of his choices and decisions on himself and on others.

Why such a creature? Why would he choose evil?

To say that evil is a choice and that it is at the heart of free will is great but it doesn't explain the motivation or what used to be called in the 19th century the provocation.

What's the motivation here? Why do people choose evil?

When misdeeds are aligned with the furtherance of one's self-interest, for example, in narcissism, evil narrowly considered appears to be a rational choice.

At least this is a kind of rational evil. We can make sense of it. It is meaningful and so it's less horrible.

But as William Rous observed many gratuitously unnecessarily wicked acts which lead nowhere and accomplish no goal and further no interest, these are self-defeating, some often, often self-destructive, irrational, purposeless acts.

Many of them are evil but they don't give rise to any good. They don't prevent a greater evil. They don't result in any achievement. They increase the sum of misery in the world including the misery of the perpetrator.

So why?

The core question is not why does evil exist. The core question is why do some people choose it over good even when they pay the ultimate price in terms of freedom or even life.

As Alvin Plantinga suggested in 1974 and then again in 1977 and Beaux-Anges and Saint Thomas Aquinas suggested centuries before Plantinga, evil may be an inevitable and tolerated byproduct of free will.

God has made himself absent, absented himself from the world, from a human volition that is free, non-deterministic and non-determined.

Of course this flies in the face of Calvinism but we'll put it aside for a minute.

So it's as if God created a field of potentials, a space of possibilities, introduced men into this world with a free will, the ability to choose and then withdrew, absented himself so that the ultimate responsibility would lie with men not with God and accountability would accrue to men not to God.

And this is where narcissists, this is the narcissistic failure, this is what they fail to understand.

Narcissists perceive themselves as God-like and reject the concepts of responsibility and accountability.

Ironically this implies the absence of free choice. It's as if the narcissist says by my nature I'm programmed to act this way and I'm being because I'm a superior being, a Superman, a Nietzschean Superman, I have no other option.

The amount, the number of self-contradictions in this self-perception is a perfect being. The number of contradictions is mind-boggling.

The divine withdrawal is also known as self-limitation, it's a process known as self-limitation in the Kabbalah, simtzum, self reduction, minimization.

But where there's no God in a universe which is God-less, either because God absented himself or because there's no God, the door to evil is wide open because it depends exclusively on human judgment and the imperfections of human heart and the human mind.

This is a narcissistic universe. God therefore can be perceived as having absconded, having let evil in so as to facilitate man's ability to make truly free choices.

But was the price worth it? Was the price of evil worth the commodity of free will?

If free will ineluctably comes packaged with evil, should we consider free will a good thing?

It can even be argued that God inflicts pain and ignores, if not leverages evil, in order to engender growth, learning and maturation.

Loss, pain, grieving are the engines of personal growth and development in maturation.

And this is again where narcissism is inexplicable. No one has been exposed to trauma and abuse like the child who had become a narcissist later in adulthood.

Ostensibly such a child should have matured beyond his age, should have grown and developed, should have become sagacious, wise.

Instead the child remains frozen.

It seems therefore that evil does not always induce growth. Sometimes it retards growth, does not always cause learning, sometimes causes resistance to learning and does not always force maturation on the individual or even the collective. Sometimes it retards it.

Even therefore is not an unalloyed, unmitigated good. It is the God that absences himself, the God that withdraws from the world, is a God who rejects, who has rejected humanity, abandoned it.

It is a God of not of indifference, as proposed by theologians and philosophers from Lactentius to Paul Draper, but it is a God of tough love. That's what philosophers say.

I think it is a God of indifference. It is a God of betrayal. It's a God who abandoned us.

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

And Jesus retorted, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"


Back to the issue of free will, the ability to choose between options. Degrees of freedom, that's the hallmark of intelligence, the entire edifice of human civilization, rests on the assumption that people's decisions, unerringly, express and reflect their unique set of preferences, needs, priorities, values and wishes.

But individuality is inextricably intermeshed with our ability to not act predictably, to not succumb to peer pressure or group dynamics, to not toe the line.

The capacity to choose evil is actually what makes us human. We are expected to choose good. That's a reasonable thing to do in the vast majority of cases. It's definitely the altruistic and charitable thing to do.

So many of us choose evil just to demonstrate that we are separated, individuated.

This applies to narcissists as well.

The choice of evil within the shared fantasy is a test for humanity. The narcissist tests his intimate partner, his friends and so on with his behavior.

And on the other hand, it's a defiant display of individuality. Evil and individuality are flip sides of the same coin.

Things are different with natural evil. What I've just described is evil by choice.

But when we come to natural evil, evil is not the same. Disasters, for example. Diseases, premature death, they're all evil. They're all bad, at least.

These have very little to do with human choices and human agency.

Unless we accept Richard Swinburne's anthropocentric or shall I say anthropic belief that they are meant, these occurrences, these events which are bad, are meant to foster virtuous behaviors, teach us survival skills and enhance positive human traits, including the propensity for a spiritual bond with God and soul making.

So Swinburne said even evil natural disasters, even bad events, even bad luck, it has a good purpose, good agency. It makes us positive people, connects us to God, teaches us skills, renders us more spiritual beings. And this is shared by the Mooktazili School of Islam and by theologians such as Irenaeus of Lyon and St. Basil, John Heil, many others.

Natural calamities are not the results of free will. Why would a benevolent God allow them to happen? Even if we were to say that natural disasters are instrumental in the upbringing of the human species, could there not have been another way less impactful, shall we say, less evil?

Well a benevolent God would allow natural disasters and diseases and epidemics and pandemics to happen because nature, sports, incorporates its own version of free will.

It is known in physics as indeterminacy. As Leibniz and Malmarsh noted, the laws of nature are pretty simple actually, but the permutations and combinations of the laws of nature are highly complex, unforeseeable, an urgent complexity characterizes myriad beneficial natural phenomena and makes them possible.

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

This is the philosophy of life in Baha. Genetic mutations drive biological evolution but also give rise to cancer, for example. Plate tectonics yielded our continents and biodiversity but often leads to fatal earthquakes and tsunamis.

Physical evil is the price we pay for a smoothly functioning in a fine-tuned universe, as simple as that.

Therefore we cannot compare physical evil to human evil. Natural wickedness or natural badness to human wickedness. Human wickedness and human evil involve choice. They are not byproducts, not side effects of the design of the world, of the features of the world. Their choices, they can be avoided. They're avoidable.

There is an evidential problem of evil.

Some philosophers, for example William Raung, Paul Draper, someone suggested that the preponderance of specific, horrific, gratuitous types of evil does not necessarily render God logically impossible. What they meant to say is that the problem of evil is not a logical problem.

But they did say, even though the existence of evil does not prove that God logically is impossible, it does prove that God logically is unlikely. And this became known as the evidential or probabilistic, a posteriori, inductive problem of evil.

As opposed to the logical version of the problem of evil, the evidential variant relies on our fallible and limited judgment as human beings.

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, against gratuitous evil, that can be prevented without either vanquishing some greater good or permitting some evil equally bad or worse.

Since intrinsic evil abounds, it is highly unlikely that God exists.

And this is exactly the problem we have with narcissistic abuse. Narcissistic abuse appears to be gratuitous, preventable, avoidable, unnecessary, counterproductive.

So we can't make logical sense of it. We cannot embed narcissistic abuse in a bigger picture of the world or a bigger picture of God and say, well, narcissistic abuse is an inevitable byproduct, side effect of a benevolent good process, which is necessary for the sustenance of life, its maintenance and its thriving.

We can't say this. We fail to find any framework or explanation to accommodate narcissistic abuse in a way which is logically rigorous.

And so, skeptic faiths counter the evidential problem by deriding the thinkers themselves. It's kind of ad hominem.

How can we, these theists say, how can we with our finite intellect ever hope to grasp God's motives and plans, his reasons for action and inaction, to attempt to explicate, to attempt to justify God, theodicy is not only blasphemous, it is also presumptuous, futile, and in all likelihood wrong, leading to fallacies and falsities.

In short, it is a grandiose endeavor, grandiose undertaking.

Yet even if our intelligence were perfect, even if we were truly omniscient, it would not necessarily have been identical. Our intelligence, our sapiens, our sentience would not necessarily have been identical to God's coextensive with God.

It's possible to conceive of two infinite intelligences which are not identical.

As we well know from experience, multiple intelligences with the same attributes, physical attributes and so on, often obtain completely different behaviors and traits. 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, we can paraphrase Rho. We can say if there is an omnipotent and omniscient being, if there is a God, then there are specific cases of such a being intentionally allowing evil occurrences that have wrong-making properties such that they are right-making characteristics that it is reasonable to believe exist or unreasonable to believe do not exist and that both apply to the cases in question and are sufficiently serious to counterbalance the relevant wrong-making characteristics. So this was a long paragraph. You may wish to rewind and listen to it again. What it simply says is that there are specific cases where wrong-making, evil acts, choices, bad choices, wicked decisions go hand in hand with right, good, commendable benevolent characteristics and these good right characteristics count away, balance the bad ones. We can definitely conceive of such specific cases, maybe not in all cases, but in such specific cases. Therefore it is likely that, and this is the inductive leap from theodicy to defense, it is likely that if there is an omnipotent and omniscient being, a God, then there is the case of such a being intentionally allowing specific or even all evil occurrences that have wrong-making properties such that there are right-making characteristics that it is reasonable to believe exist or unreasonable to be unreasonable to believe do not exist, including ones that we are not aware of.

But these right-making characteristics and the wrong-making characteristics both apply to the cases in question or to all evil and these right-making characteristics are sufficiently serious to counterbalance the relevant wrong-making characteristics.

Okay, that was a bit of a philosophical detour.

Back to reality, given our limitations, what to us may appear evil and gratuitous, God may regard as necessary and even beneficial, period.

Alston said it, Wijkstra said it, Plantinga said it, many others said. Even worse, we cannot fathom God's mind because we cannot fathom any mind other than our own.

The truth is we have no access to anyone else's mind, let alone God's. We don't even have access to minds which are very much like our minds. And this doubly applies to God whose mind is infinite and omniscient. If God does exist, his mind is alien, inaccessible to us.

And all these speculations about God and all these assured statements about what God wants and doesn't want, this is narcissistic grandiosity, period.

There is no possible intersubjectivity between God and ourselves. There's no way we can know God. There is no way we can know God. We cannot know his attributes, his characteristics, his wishes, if he has wishes. He cannot even have wishes.

Our language breaks down. Our language breaks down when we come to describe an infinite omniscient, omnipotent entity. We cannot empathize with God. God and men have no common ground and no bridge of language. It is not his epistemic distance which can be bridged by learning to love God and worship him. No, it is an unbridgeable abyss, a cousin.

And this inaccessibility may cut both ways.

Open theists harking back to the Sosinians in the 17th century.

Open theists say that God cannot predict our moves. It's not only that we have no access to God's mind because it is so different to ours. God has no access to our minds because it is so different to his.

These say that God doesn't care to access our minds. Having created the universe, he has moved on, leaving the world and its inhabitants to the old devices. God doesn't intervene or interfere in the world.

Hence the nonsensical nonsense of miracles. Soren's miracles.

Perhaps God doesn't care about us. Perhaps he's a narcissist. Perhaps it's because he cannot possibly know what it is to be human. He cannot empathize with us. He doesn't feel our pain. God is incapable of empathizing with us because he's never had our experiences, not even one of them.

But this view of an indifferent God, a deus ex machina, a God removed from the world, negates God's imputed benevolence and omnipotence. And it raises very serious questions.

For example, 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 about God actually pertains to someone else.

We are tropomorphizing. The Gnostic said that we are praying to the wrong divinity. The entity that created the universe is the demiurge, not God. It's an evil entity.


Another question is if our minds are inaccessible to God, if we cannot read our minds, if he cannot become human for a day, ignore for a minute the Christian doctrine of Jesus as God turned human, how does God make himself known to us?

Again the answer may well be that God does not make himself known to us and that all our so-called knowledge is sheer confabulation and worse, delusional disorder.

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

Be that as it may, we seem to have come back full circle to the issue of free will. God cannot foresee our choices, cannot predict our decisions, cannot tell in advance our behaviors because God has made us libertarian, free, moral agents. We are out of God's control and determination, out of his comprehension. We can choose evil and there is little that God can do about it.

Actually we do choose evil all the time.

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

Medieval folk believed, narcissistically, may I add, that demons and angels were waging a battle over their precious mortal souls.

Faust anyone?

This implied this micromanaged intimacy with the divine runs contrary to the godly attribute of a seity which states flatly that God is self-sufficient and does not depend for his existence, for his attributes or for his functions on anything outside himself.

A seity. God therefore by definition cannot be concerned with the cosmos with any or any of us with anything outside with any any characteristic of creation, including God cannot be concerned with the manifestations of good and evil.

The principle of a seed taken to its logical conclusion implies that God does not interact with the world and does not change it.

This means that God cannot or will not either prevent evil or bring evil about. So he's not benevolent, he's not malevolent, he just is exactly as it says in the Bible.

Still there have been several schools of philosophy that contemplated the possibility that God is actually a malicious being, a bit of a narcissist, a lot of a narcissist actually, a psychopathic narcissist.

Admittedly God's depiction in the Old Testament easily fits clinically speaking a malignant narcissist. He's vindictive, he's grandiose, he's self-centered etc.

But today we are dealing with philosophy more than psychology. A universe that gives rise to gratuitous evil may indicate the existence of an omnipotent, omniscient, but also supremely malevolent creator.

Again turning on its head the familiar consequentialist attempt to refute the evidential argument from evil, we get, and I'm quoting now from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophies article about the problem of evil, we get the following.

Number one, 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.

Number two, an action is morally wrong if and only if it is not morally right.

Number three, if one is an omnipotent, an omniscient being aka God then for any action whatever there is always some alternative action that produces greater value.

In other words the actions of an omnipotent and omniscient being God are always morally wrong, never morally right.

And this harks back to the heart of narcissism. The narcissist perceives himself as God, omniscient, omnipotent, and good.

Consequently he also behaves as God would.

And the fact that God can never be morally right 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 value and greater good.

Moreover an omnibenevolent, merciful, and just God is hardly likely to have instituted an infinite hell for non-believers.

This is more in tune with the wicked, vicious divinity, vindictive, right, narcissist's personal choice to not be with God to sin, to renounce his grace, doesn't solve the problem here.

For why would a being such as God allow ignorant defective mortals a choice that may lead them straight to hell? Why is he playing with us? Doesn't he realize how stupid we are? How limited we are? How defective we are?

Why does he play with us the way a cat plays with a mouse? Why does it give us the option of ending up in hell to start with? Why doesn't he protect us from ourselves? Why doesn't God protect humanity from the terrifying outcomes of our nation's ignorance and imperfection?

What kind of choice is it anyway?

Either you believe in me or else you burn in hell or be annihilated. It doesn't sound much of a choice.

The relationship between God and mankind is very convoluted and very problematic and is very reminiscent of a relationship between a narcissist and his victims.

There's a lot of narcissistic abusing though. 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.

I agree.

But how can God achieve these admirable and egosyntonic goals without micromanaging the world and without reading the world of the twit gifts of free will and indeterminacy?

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

This is the view of the Kabbalah by the way, to some extent, Hagar.

We are God's right-making agents, his long arm, his extension, his medication, some kind of healing agents. God is broken and needs help.

Gradually, mankind acquires abilities hitherto regarded as the exclusive domain of God. We can cure diseases, we can eliminate pain, we can overcome poverty, we can extend life, fight crime, do justice in the not too distant future.

We are likely to be able to retard aging or prevent it altogether, ameliorate natural catastrophes, eradicate delinquency, clockwork orange, remember, create life, terraform planets, I don't know, anything you can do, God. We can do better.

Imagine a future world in which, due to human ingenuity and efforts, evil is no more. Will free will vanish with it and become a relic of a long-forgotten past? 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. Wilson's dystopia, the time machine?

Why is it that God tolerates evil and we seek to dispose of it?

In trying to resist evil, in trying to limit evil, in trying to punish for evil, are we not acting against God's will, against a divine plan, or are we actually in full compliance with it?

We will never know, because we have no access to God's mind. Are we risking God's wrath every time we tamper with nature? Every time we counter our propensity for wickedness and sinfulness and evil, are we then enraging God? Or is this precisely what he wants us to do, precisely what he has in store for us, and why God made us?

Many of these questions resolve as if by magic, once we hold God to be merely a psychological construct, a cultural artifact, a narrative, an invention. The new science of neural religion traces faith to specific genes and neurons.

Indeed, God strikes some people as a glorified psychological defense mechanism, intended to fend off intimations of a universe that is random, meaningless, an ipso facto profoundly unjust by human criteria, also deadly. By limiting God's omnipotence, since he is not capable of evil, evil thoughts, evil deeds. So a God that is not capable of evil is a crippled God. By crippling God, by invalidating God, by limiting his omnipotence, even as we trumpet our omnipotence in the libertarian view of free will, we have rendered his creation less threatening in the world more habitable, more welcoming.

If God is up there, he may be smiling upon our accomplishments against all odds, and he may be blessing our narcissism.


I want to make one last comment and call it a day.

We have been medicalizing evil, wickedness, sin. Freud and his disciples started the medicalization, he was a neurologist, yes, of what was hitherto known as sin or wrongdoing.

As the vocabulary of public discourse shifted from religious terms to scientific ones, offensive behaviors that constituted transgressions against the divine or against the social order, these have been relabeled.

So self-centeredness, this empathic egocentricity have now come to be known as pathological narcissism. Criminals have been transformed into psychopaths. Their behavior, though still described as antisocial, the almost deterministic outcome of a deprived childhood or a genetic predisposition or a brain abnormality, biochemistry, gun or eye in the navy.

We have medicalized these behaviors, casting in doubt the very existence of free will and free choice between good and evil.

The contemporary science of clinical psychology now amounts to a godless variant of Calvinism, a kind of predestination by nature, nurture or chemicals.

Could God have failed to exist, especially considering his omnipotence? Could he have been a contingent being rather than a necessary one? We'll discuss it in the next entry in the God Cycle.

Thank you for listening.

If you enjoyed this article, you might like the following:

COVID-19: Good News and is God Evil for Allowing It to Happen? (LAST MINUTE)

The text discusses the problem of evil and the concept of God's omnipotence and omniscience. It argues that if God exists, his mind is inaccessible to humans and that we cannot fathom his intentions or reasoning. The text also explores the idea of free will and the role of humans in fighting evil. It concludes by suggesting that it is up to individuals to take responsibility for their actions and shape the world they live in.


Embrace Nothingness: Help God Heal

Professor Sam Vaknin discusses the concept of God and evil, arguing that God is a complex character and that mental illness is a precondition for creativity and creation. He suggests that humans are products of God's own dissociation and that the task of humans is to help God to heal by reintegrating themselves with him. The text explores the problem of evil and questions whether God is indifferent or malevolent, and whether free will and the ability to choose evil is a sadistic act. Ultimately, the text suggests that as we heal individually and collectively, so does God.


Narcissism’s Enemies: God, Work, Family (Prophets of Narcissism: Christopher Lasch, 1979, (lecture)

The lecture discusses Christopher Lasch and his views on narcissism, the decline of society, and the role of religion. Lasch criticizes capitalism, consumerism, and the intellectual elite, advocating for a return to traditional values and religious faith. He also discusses the impact of progress and the decline of religion on society. The lecture ends with a preview of the next lecture in the series.


Four Pillars of Self-love

Self-love is about having a realistic view of oneself and pursuing happiness and favorable outcomes. It is essential for living a proper life and being capable of loving and being loved. The four conditions for healthy self-love are self-awareness, self-acceptance, self-trust, and self-efficacy. These conditions are necessary for survival and guide individuals to make rational, realistic, and beneficial decisions. Experience alone is not enough without self-love, as self-love serves as a reliable compass in life.


Evil Rubs Off: Cleanse Yourself!

Professor Sam Vaknin discusses the concept of evil and how it is multifaceted. Evil can be found in power plays, self-contempt, self-loathing, self-hatred, and emotional dysregulation. Negative emotions such as fear, envy, hatred, and greed pave the road to evil. Evil is contagious and can infect and possess you. To avoid evil, you must cleanse yourself and avoid it at all costs.


Psychotic Grandiosity: The Case of Jesus "Christ", Narcissist

Professor Sam Vaknin discusses the psychology and potential psychopathology of Jesus Christ, suggesting that he may have been a narcissist. He supports this claim by analyzing passages from the Gospel of Saint Matthew, highlighting instances of Jesus' grandiosity, lack of empathy, and manipulative behavior. Vaknin concludes that Jesus' narcissism ultimately led to his downfall, as people grew tired of his overbearing presence and destructive influence.


What Can Twins Teach Us About Narcissism? (Webinar on Addiction Psychiatry and Human Resilience)

Professor Sam Vaknin discusses the lack of studies on twins in the field of psychology, particularly in relation to narcissism. Twins provide an ideal case study for understanding individual effects on personality disorders, but research in this area is scarce. Vaknin suggests that being a twin does not seem to be a significant predictor of developing Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) later in life. Instead, age and sex appear to be more important factors in the development and progression of NPD.


How I Experience My False Self

The speaker describes being held hostage by a false self, created as a coping mechanism in response to childhood trauma. The false self gradually took over, leaving the speaker feeling empty and disconnected from their true self. They developed a deceptive persona to protect themselves and cope with their experiences, but ultimately feel imprisoned by it. The speaker longs for love and understanding, hoping it will set them free, but ultimately feels there is nothing left of their true self.


No Narcissist Without YOU as Ego and Self

Professor Sam Vaknin discusses the role of internal objects in the narcissist's fantasy life, the connection between the narcissist's latent homosexuality and autoeroticism, and the significance of imagination and creativity in the narcissistic experience. He delves into the psychological aspects of fantasy, its impact on personal development, and its connection to sexuality and frustration.


You Don't Deserve To Be Happy, Loved ( Bad Object)

Professor Sam Vaknin discusses the concept of the "bad object" and its impact on individuals' self-perception and behavior. He delves into the role of harsh inner critics and how they instill feelings of unworthiness and self-loathing. Vaknin also explores how individuals may reject happiness and embrace misery due to the influence of the bad object, leading to self-sabotaging, self-defeating, and self-destructive behaviors. Additionally, he examines the connection between masochism and narcissism, as well as the emotional investment and catharsis in narcissistic individuals.

Transcripts Copyright © Sam Vaknin 2010-2023, under license to William DeGraaf
Website Copyright © William DeGraaf 2022-2024
Get it on Google Play
Privacy policy