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Saturday, September 18, 2021

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On the question of pain and evil, I think that your readers would profit from reviewing your excellent posts from more than a decade ago on the privation theory of evil. I have read these many times over the years, in conjunction with my attempt to understand Aquinas on this question. I have never been comfortable with the privation theory of evil, and your thinking has been of great help to me in seeing the faults in reasoning on which it depends. Again, I strongly recommend the following posts to your readers:
https://maverickphilosopher.typepad.com/maverick_philosopher/2010/11/evil-as-privation-and-the-problem-of-pain-part-one.html
https://maverickphilosopher.typepad.com/maverick_philosopher/2010/11/evil-as-privation-and-the-problem-of-pain-part-two.html

Strangely, I've not met or read any theists who have tried to sweep the problem of evil under the rug, nor have they downplayed pain or suffering. (I'm not implying that there aren't such theists)
They do attempt to clarify what the problem is, and to achieve that clarification will usually sweep out the underbrush of misunderstanding and anthropomorphism, and the persuasive power of emotional rhetoric. Lewis' passage imo served those particular ends well. He was not, of course, ignoring or minimizing the fact of evil in the world.

If as a thought experiment we were to remove humanity from the natural order, then animals would continue on in their natural course of killing and eating whatever is lower on their food chain. Torturing, not so much, correct? All the pain would come from animal on animal violence (except for such things as fires, perhaps famines). Suffering would usually be short-lived, so to speak.
Is that "natural" order a good or a bad thing? Is that order 'evil'? Is there a way to even answer that question?
Well,if we remove whatever pain and suffering that humanity inflicts on animals, we are left with an 'order' that we still may not be happy with.
Which is no problem, except: God. Because either He just does not care about the thoughts, feelings, perceptions of a vast part of His creation, or He just could have done 'better' in directly creating such an order, or in allowing the evolutionary process to go its own ruthless way? Or, did He do the 'best He could' but sadly, not good enough? Or could He be wise and good 'in spite of' our judgment on things? Can we live with this cognitive dissonance?
If the only answers acceptable to a critic must be within the limits of that critic's understanding - if he firmly stands only in Athens, with not so much as a fare-thee-well to Jerusalem - if he is enclosed in the prison of rationalism - if the Real is exhausted by his atheistic world-view - then the Theist's reasoning (him not being a rationalist) cannot be of much help.
Yes, I'm claiming that the metanarrative of Christian belief, and the fulness of understanding Reality in terms of that belief, allows for exceeding confidence in the now and hereafter, and provides an epistemic platform from where what we don't yet understand can to be acknowledged. Not to everyone's satisfaction, to be sure.

Well thank you, Vito. I was thinking of re-posting the entries you mention in a larger font and with such redactions as now seem necessary. Reposting also gives me an opportunity to re-think the subject. I will enable comments in case you have any.

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