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A Belated Response To Yanniru

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Posted by Mario Dovalina on February 7, 2003 05:58:14 UTC

Hey Richard:

Sorry I haven't been around recently, but life's been a bit hectic lately. Between differential equations (which has a curious tendency of making me feel like mangling myself with a plastic spoon) and ye olde girlfriend (who happens to be a fundamentalist -- how about that?), most of my free time is tied up. But on the other hand, at the end of this semester I may be competent enough to discuss quantum physics with you without asking you questions like "What's Shroedinger's Cat again?"

Anyway:

"There is a Jewish story in the Midrash, I think, that explains the Jewish belief. It is said that one day the Rabbis captured the Devil and they cast him in a barrel of concrete. Unfortunately as a result the world and particularly human progress came to a scretching halt. No one had ambition to accomplish anything for personal gain, and very few were willing to do anything altruistically. There was no more lust and young people found no other reason for getting married and having children. The number of things that stopped happening were unimaginable ahead of time (...) I do not have firm beliefs in this regard but I suspect that the idea that god is everything must include evil."

I've always loved stories like these, and I find it interesting how much moral ambiguity like that one finds in Judaism. Such tales rarely survive the Christian morality gauntlet. I'm reminded of this real-life story (it may be an urban legend but I've heard it several times so who knows?) about how a lab rat recieved brain surgery, with a wire connected to its pleasure center, where endorphins are produced. When the rat pressed a button, a signal was sent to the rat's brain which sent it into a state of euphoria. The rat, addicted to the pleasure and with all negative instincts of self-preservation removed, starved to death.

Indeed, evil and suffering is absolutely required for our species to thrive. It's instrinsic to the way our universe functions. However, the question is why would God create such a universe where a Devil is needed? Why set the initial conditions to require the antithesis of benevolence? Your idea of an imperfect God has often caused me to wonder, if he exists, whether or not he knows what he's doing. Ever read Memnoch the Devil?

"Humans are in control of their own destiny."

Does this rule out a divine plan, in your eyes?

" I suspect that if good is winning too easily, god will help the undergod just to make the game more interesting and a greater challenge to humans. But if the evil team is on the verge of a wholesale win, then some disaster like the dinasaur-extinction meteor or whatever will happen."

One day, life will end, the Earth will be consumed in fire, and the universe will expand into an endless void of decay. Who wins?

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