The Problem of Evil, part 2 - The Multiverse vs Gnosticism
To complete the picture, I want to address two more things - one is another proposed answer, the other is another brick to pile on our list of "problems" with God.
One last tactic taken in attempting to answer the Problem of Evil is to downplay evil itself. If we say that physical suffering is not really that bad, then we can absolve God of guilt. We can say that suffering produces character (and this is true), therefore it is good to have suffering. But this flies in the face of a biblical value system. Can we really say that rape leaves the victims better off? Can we really say that all the people who died from the tsunami are building character? Can we really claim that the Jews are better off for the holocaust?
These are the mind-numbing things we end up implying if we try to downplay the significance of evil. They devalue the physical existence, in order to claim that only the spiritual matters (more traces of gnosticism). And they end up robbing us of a humane value system.
On the other hand, the bible seems to have no qualms about placing the blame for all events squarely on God's shoulders (thanks to Kevin for pointing this out):
"I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things." Isaiah 45:7It's as if God was saying, "don't even think of blaming someone else!" God wants us to know that no other force is interfering with his plans. If a disaster happens, we can look to no one other than God. So much for our "Satan-is-to-blame" theory.
If Christianity is going to continue to exist, it needs a coherent argument against both atheism, and gnosticism. The indications are good that in the absence of such an argument, the world will head towards one of these options or the other. This argument needs to deal with the Problem of Evil head-on: without degrading our own moral responsibility and sensitivity, and without diminishing God in any way.
Historical Christianity has always struggled with its inherent tendency to devolve towards gnosticism, and as the Problem of Evil becomes more acute in people's minds, this tendency will continue. Without an answer, gnosticism or atheism will win out.
But I believe there IS an answer to be found, and that this answer is unique. I believe that there never will be another answer that will ever work. Further, I believe that this answer solves almost all of the ancillary questions to the Problem of Evil: Why does God hide? Does God answer prayers? Why does God sometimes do miracles, and sometimes does not? How do we reconcile God's omniscience with Free Will?
But to discover this answer, we need to understand a theory in modern physics.
I suspect that many people will not like this. After all, should we really come to a better understanding of God through something as crass as science? I think this attitude is an example of our tendency towards gnostic thought. God has told us that creation is "very good", but we sometimes want to believe that God is so separate and apart from a "dirty" creation, that nothing we humans can discover would be of any use in understanding God.
But the bible has always told us otherwise. Not only is God present everywhere, but the ways of understanding him are present everywhere as well. And when asking questions about the nature of our existence and this creation, it only makes sense to take into account the insights of science. Especially when those insights FINALLY give us an answer to the most difficult theological problem of all time.
<div>All attempts to answer the Problem of Evil postulate a theory about the universe. The Gnostic answer is that the universe is composed of two co-equal forces fighting it out, one ruling the spirit world and one ruling the physical world. Other answers give us other theories of reality.</div>
<div>But physics has revealed what I believe to be the truth about the nature of reality. Let me explain this truth, then discuss WHY it solves our questions.</div>
<div>The truth is that our universe is really a multiverse, a collection of an infinite number of different histories. In the multiverse, all possibilities have and DO happen.</div>
Every time a decision is made, every time there are different alternatives that could happen, all of them actually DO happen. We only see one of these history-paths because of the way in which our perceptions are limited. But God sees all.
<div>This fact has been very well-established by quantum physics, and despite the philosophical hesitations many have in accepting it, it is nevertheless true.
Schrodinger famously proposed an experiment called “Schrodinger’s Cat” to demonstrate how ludicrous quantum phyics was. In this experiment, scientists place a cat in a box, then place a small bit of cyanide poison in the box with the cat. The cyanide will only be released if a radiation detector goes off. This radiation detector is set to trigger if a particle emits a certain amount of radiation. The scientists then shoot a particle into the radiation detector which has a 50/50 chance of emitting radiation. A couple of minutes later, the scientists open the box to discover if the particle emitted the radiation, triggered the detector, released the cyanide and killed the cat. According to our suppositions, the cat should have a 50/50 chance of being alive.
But according to quantum physics, the cat is both alive AND dead! This result led many people to be uncomfortable with quantum physics, to try to disprove it, or to try to interpret it away.
You may have heard of the “Copenhagen Interpretation” of quantum physics, which suggests that when the scientists open the box, they get to decide whether the cat is alive or dead. They don’t realize it, but by looking at the cat, they are deciding. The Copenhagen Interpretation attempts to explain away what quantum physics actually says by attaching some magical power to humans, which allows them to control the universe with their minds. This is the reason you’ll see so many new age mystics talking about quantum physics. They’re actually talking about the Copenhagen Interpretation, which allows them to teach a lot of crazy things.
But if we take quantum physics for what it says (and it is the most well-tested theory in all of science), then we live amongst a multitude of histories. Every decision we make, every time we flip a coin, every time there are options in our world, every time the universe could take one path or the other…it actually takes both.
And that is a good thing, because it means we really DO have Free Will (but we’ll save that for another time), that God really does know all of history, and that we can finally understand why evil exists.
…to be continued…</div>
<div>Part 1, 2, 3</div>