Physics, Struggle, Evil

I am working nights this week. Don’t really like it but only have to do it 4-5 weeks a year. It’s not all that bad as the overall workload is less, the responsibilities are less, and I am probably at home more. But it is nights. It gets my body all out of rhythm. I feel tired by the end of the week. But I have learned to make it more tolerable to doing things like blogging, looking at triathlon websites, reading, etc. I do like going to my office at 11 or 12 PM and working on my computer and reading. I keep the lights low and listen to the radio while I am fiddling around. Generally, I can get 2 or 3 hours of broken sleep, and there is nothing like getting paid for sleeping. I still to not find myself able to sleep in the hospital, left-over baggage from those dreadful residency days of continual overextending one’s self, so I have a little cot that I set up in my actual office which is right next to the hospital. So it’s all bittersweet, some things I like and some things I don’t. As I was driving in tonight to deliver a baby, I was praying and thinking, and that has led to this post.

Lately, I ‘ve been thinking a bit about how life on this earth under this set of physics is based on struggle. I really cannot think of anything in this world that gets better, that progresses, that improves, that does not involve struggle. It is just a fact of life. And when you try to circumvent that, when you try to get the benefit without the struggle, in the end that scenario costs you. I challenge you to produce a scenario that does not work this way. This I have blogged on before. No surprises.

But tonight I made a couple other connections and came up with a couple other questions, which as many of my questions seem to be lately, are largely inadequately answerable. For the most part we are, as humans, in search of peace and happiness. We want to be at a place of comfort, rest, happiness, peace, fulfillment. Natural to want that. And when we get there, we then want to stay there. Again, very natural. In fact, maybe it could be said of you if you didn’t want this in some form that you are a bit off, crazy, loco. So tonight I was thinking, with the struggle principle in mind, how we really can only experience happiness and peace if we know what sadness and unrest actually are. And the opposite is true too. We can only know sadness because we know happiness. Taking this a bit further, it would seem to me that the more severe the sadness is that we have known, the greater the happiness that we can experience. Or at least the greater the sadness that one is willing to risk, the greater the happiness that can be known. So if this struggle principle is true, it would then mean that we cannot, once we are in a place of peace and happiness, continually exist there. If we do, then we would get numb to it, wonder where it went, and then we wouldn’t be peaceful and happy anymore. At a minimum, the dulling of the state of peace and happiness would become a new norm and then not seem happy and peaceful anymore, necessitating a struggle to advance to further happiness and peace. And we wonder why God just doesn’t keep us in a place of happiness and peace all the time. Well nothing in his world the way it is currently set up works that way. We can’t stay that way. It’s impossible. The system demands it.

The next question that then came to mind as I was thinking about this was that maybe this helps answer the question of evil. Why it exists. Why it is here. Is it all just because there has to be counter to good in order for us to understand what good actually is? Does a good God in fact need evil in a sense in order to stand against it? If so that seems a bit cruel to humanity to subject us to all this potential evil and actual evil just so we can understand that God is good. I don’t really know the answers to these questions. They seem to be questions for which a good answer is impossible to devise. So as I was driving I was thinking about this and praying and asking God why humanity is not yet free from this evil if his kingdom is continually advancing in the world since Christ’s death, another thought came to mind.

I have been taught first of all that the bible is to be taken literally. I don’t think I any longer agree with that, but what I have understood about evil is more clear if for this discussion we assume that to be true. In a literal reading, I have understood Satan to be a fallen angel and for evil to have originated with him. He, at some point, decided that he wanted to be like God. God didn’t agree with him. So he is now Satan, and evil exists. But that is really just too simple. And it is probably impossible. In order for Satan as an angel to make a self-centered decision like this, evil had to already be in existence. If evil didn’t already exist, he would not have been able to decide to do this. He wouldn’t have even know to do it. So them I am left with a God that I learned is good and responsible for creation to himself have also created evil.

I really don’t know what to do with all that. Somehow, it actually feels reassuring to me, but I confess I do not have the slightest idea why. I’m sure there are books about this which theorize this and that, but I can’t really think than an adequate explanation is very possible. Sorry to put something down here that is just more questions than it is explanations. And I am also sorry if my blog of late seems to be a bit all over the place with a bunch of crazy statements that seem like just one big mess. I don’t really feel like a mess at all. I feel pretty solid actually which I think shows me that the finding really is in the searching more than it is in the answers. I think I’m feeling less like I need to know all the answers. And that is peaceful.

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7 responses to “Physics, Struggle, Evil

  1. for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. this is how the world works, it’s set up… how we got it into our minds that there was a shalom or perfect state we fell from is beyond me. suffering and struggle are givens… so instead of asking “why am i faced with this suffering? why do bad things happen to me?!” maybe we should be asking “why did all this good stuff happen to me?”

    life is fragile and rather short. the fact that we’ve survived this long with the blessings we have is nothing but the grace of God and, maybe, some genetic fitness ;-)

    such a brave new world with such people in it!

  2. Doug

    More and more I see the world from the perspective that it has a format. I have ideas that are similar to yours. I think its important to realize how the system works and mold our world around that fact. I think “hell” is when I try to make the format fit my life, rather than me fitting into the format. A favourite quote of mine sums up some of it.

    “Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional”

  3. No one has ever been able to completely explain the matter of evil. For there to be angels and humans with personhood there had to be choice. Out of choice evil emerged as choice was used to move away from God. Evil seems to have a life of its own and progresses in degree. Evil seeks control over its victime. God always leaves us the freedom of choice.

    One consequence is that everything good requires effort and struggle from growing a garden to training for a race, to following God, to loving him and others.

  4. “how we got it into our minds that there was a shalom or perfect state we fell from is beyond me” (Luke)

    You bring up an interesting question. That is, again if the story of Adam and Eve is taken literally, what would have happened if they had made the opposite choice, chosen God over themselves? And what was it like around here before Adam and Eve? Did plants and animals still die? Was it still a struggle to get better? Maybe death and struggle would still be part of the “format” to use John’s word, we would just view it from a different paradigm.

    “I think “hell” is when I try to make the format fit my life, rather than me fitting into the format” (John)

    This reminds me of something I learned from Brian McLaren’s writings. I don’t know if you are familiar with them or not. One of his stories completely opened my mind up to a new way of thinking about hell. The idea is kind of like this: If you lived a life of self-centered-ness, trying to make the format fit your life as you say, if you then found yourself in the presence of a Creator who was all about love and self-less-ness, that for you could be hell. It doesn’t necessarily take a literal dungeon of eternal suffering to have hell. Hell can be had in the middle of love if you haven’t conditioned your soul for it. It at least says to me that I ought to rethink what I think of hell.

  5. I think if we are to have ‘faith’, shouldnt the first acknowledgement be “We are safe”. If one believes that in the grand scheme of things, they are OK and safe, doesnt that make it easier for Love to flow. Ultimately evil stems from the fear of not being safe. Even in the midst of suffering or pain you can still be ‘safe’. Challenging place to discover but isnt that what we are all looking for?

  6. Denise. Thanks for the comment. Hope I don’t say anything too scary for you. To say we are all looking for saftey of course depends on what your definition of safety is. I think I would say for myself that I want a place of peace, peace with who I am and what I believe to be the truth and how I relate to God. Safety is a part of that as I battle against the idea of hell that was burned into my brain by well-meaning but probably errant professors, friends, and pastors.

  7. LOL. Well Doug, that was me talking again. I have to get used to the fact that Denise is now blogging too. So I need to check out whos name is being posted. Sorry about that. Mind you she does agree with this comment of mine. ;)

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