Friday, January 1, 2010

The Meaning of Life (part 3 of 3)

So then, if God is love, as we deduced or theorized in our previous section, why is evil permitted to exist? To answer this, one must truly explore a critical aspect of what constitutes 'love'. An example most people are familiar with of love, is the romantic love two people begin to feel for each other. This largely chemical reaction can result in spending time together, getting to know each other, affection, and perhaps at last intimacy. But there is a critical component without which this process cannot occur - 'freedom to choose it'. Think of it this way, if you were magically granted the power to literally control how someone else felt about you; you could in effect 'make' them love you; would you really be happy using this power? Oh sure, in the short term, and on supermodels, this would seem like an ideal superpower to have. Think of it, unconditional slave-like love and devotion to you. But over time, you realize the object under your power, may not really have ever loved you if given the choice. It is only your ability to control them that has led to this form of robotic devotion to you. Can you really even call this love? Sounds more like emotional slavery to me. In order for it to be true, love MUST be voluntary.

God being the author of love knows this. As He created, or rather is the origin of love, he also understands that any other intelligent life form would have to have the ability to choose love, and/or the ability to walk away from it, in order for it to be real. Thus God must allow the freedom to choose to hate, if love is also to be real. This takes us back to our question, why are we where we are with respect to the existence of evil? At this point we face a dilemma. Do we embrace the concept of 'pure' science and simply attribute the origin of emotions, and morality (i.e. good and evil), to the existential netherworld of yet more unanswered questions; or do we begin to choose to embrace the concept of an all powerful and benevolent God who actually has an answer to our query?

Christianity, Judaism, and Islam (the big 3) all trace back the answer to this question to the same source. Buddhists, Hindu, and various other schools of thought I am sure have their own take on the subject as well. We will discuss the commonality of these ideas in a future section. But for now, it appears that crazy book 'the Bible' seems to have the clearest answer to our question. In a nutshell, we are told that God existed as we deduced logically, before our understanding of time, space, and matter. God was and is Love. And beyond that He is a creator. Not just of the 'spark of life' that living things seem to exhibit, but He seems to be origin of the entire periodic table of elements, the rules of physics, the science of mathematics, and the more nebulous things like the source of emotion, author of our senses, and of course our freedom to choose. And arrogant as we sometimes are, this book also tells us we were NOT the first forms of life He created. In fact there were other forms of life considered on His scale to be 'higher' in nature than ourselves. No telling how many other planets, with eco-systems, and other life forms He created over the eons, before He got around to humans. But at least one very important other creation he made were Angels, that predate us. Why include them in the Bible, because they are central to our story of existence.

Turns out, an Angel, in fact the number three Angel in all of creation at that point in time (time of course hardly being relevant, but we'll skip the meta-physics for now), exercising his own free will, asked a simple question and began to explore it's answer - i.e. What about me? This very exalted being thought highly of himself, and turned his service for others around to begin to serve himself. He essentially stopped giving and started taking. What's more having started down this path towards self, he started identifying rules that no-one knew ever existed before.

In perfection, all created beings simply chose the same things God did, it was the familiar, they were happy, they had no reason not to. No-one before this #3 exalted angel had ever thought to choose something different from God. And of course no-one had any idea what that might lead to. It was unknown. It essentially was new. His thinking might have gone something like this … “It has some merit after all, why do all these created beings keep worshipping God? Do they have to? What happens if they choose not to? Why don't they worship me, considering I am beautiful, smart, and the number 3 guy in existence? I want to be 'like' the Most High.”

There was no 'evil' in understanding the difference between Love and Hate. The knowledge of good and of evil was something only God had been familiar with up to that point in time/existence. God knew the extent to which choices away from good would eventually lead. Lucifer, as this #3 angel was called then, simply stumbled across it by centering his focus on himself. I am certain initially he had no idea where this would lead. And given the benevolence of God, I am sure God tried to reason with him, to help him see the wisdom of making 'right' or better choices.

We are left with little knowledge about the particulars that occurred in heaven before our creation other than as evil has always done, it fed on itself, it grew, and there came a point where the first WAR was fought. Between God who still held 2/3 of the numbers of angels, and Lucifer and his now fully 1/3 of the remaining angels. Lucifer predictably lost. I cannot even imagine what that must have been to witness. But at the end of the day, the beings that chose something other than God were cast out of perfection (i.e. Heaven) and sent out to the Universe at large.

I'm certain a great political campaign was waged then with Lucifer trying to convince other intelligent beings that he was correct - his assertion - God was a tyrant, He demanded obedience, and He enforced it on pain of death (i.e. non-existence, which again was something totally NEW in concept at that point in time). Nothing had ever died before then. Nothing that was alive had ever ceased to exist before. It was a completely foreign concept. But it did leave God with an unfortunate dilemma, He must now allow the Universe to choose for itself whether to trust in Him, and continue to choose what He chooses, or to embrace now Satan's philosophy. All of this is prologue to our existence. All of this history is in place BEFORE we are created. Satan works his political campaign throughout the Universe without a single taker, until he gets to Earth. . .

The question we posed was, why does evil exist? It exists as an alternate choice to good, and before it can be extinguished, the entire Universe must come to choose its extinction. Even humans must come to see the true nature of evil for themselves, and make a choice to embrace it no more. We are the unfortunate grand Petri dish experiment of what happens when intelligent beings choose NOT to trust God, but to look to self for the answers.

While God has permitted evil to exist for a time, He knows, as history has taught us, that it must be eventually eradicated in order for the continued survival of all that is good. The cancer of evil must be cut from the body of existence and cannot be indefinitely permitted to go on lest the entire body perish over time. We exist in this tension between freedom to choose, and the consequences of those choices. But something that PROVEs the benevolence of God was at work, even before our entry into existence. It is the single differentiator between the God I speak of, and the other candidates I have heard of. We'll discuss this in a future section . . .

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