The completed rejection of the argument from evil

Once we’ve made up our minds that the argument from evil doesn’t work we’re committed to believing that failure to see evil’s justification, ultimate destiny, or place within the whole is due entirely to the limitations of our intellect. We are committed to holding that there never was and never will be an action or event or occurrence which entirely drives out the necessity of our thanking and blessing God for it. This does not mean that we must wish everything to be or to have been, but only that we recognize that irrespective of what happens we will never confront a situation that does not in any way demand praise, blessing, and thanksgiving.

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11 Comments

  1. RP said,

    November 28, 2010 at 10:36 pm

    but only that we recognize that irrespective of what happens we will never confront a situation that does not in any way demand praise, blessing, and thanksgiving.

    O ye abortion, bless the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.
    O ye Gulag, bless the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.
    O ye murder of Jews by the Nazis, bless the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.
    O ye heresy and apostasy, bless the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.
    O ye fire-bombing of Dresden, bless the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.
    O ye Nagasaki and Hiroshima, bless the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.

    etc, etc.

    • November 29, 2010 at 4:29 am

      The statement you quote does not demand that a situation be praised in every way. The qualification is important: a crucifix depicts a far worse sin than any of the ones you mention, yet Christians do nothing as absurd as your Psalm in blessing, praising, and giving thanks in the face of the image of Christ crucified.

      • RP said,

        November 29, 2010 at 2:24 pm

        that does not in any way demand praise, blessing, and thanksgiving.

        Okay. Tell me how any of these these “demand praise, blessing, and thanksgiving.”

  2. Crude said,

    November 29, 2010 at 4:01 am

    James,

    I agree with you on this, and I’m glad to see someone put it so bluntly and forcefully. It’s a realization I came to a while ago, and the more I consider it, the more sense I find it making.

  3. Brandon said,

    November 29, 2010 at 3:10 pm

    RP:

    Surely that God’s mercy extends so far as even to cover sins such as these is something that demands praise, blessing, and thanksgiving?

    (I think heresy and apostasy and also Hiroshima and Nagasaki are more complicated than the others; Hilary of Poitiers argues somewhere that God allows heresy and apostasy in order to correct the failings of the Church; and Nagasaki Catholics have from the beginning seen their tragedy as calling them to a providential role, along lines laid out by Takashi Nagai in The Bells of Nagasaki. Because evil is parasitic on different kinds of goods, different evils require different responses.)

    • RP said,

      November 29, 2010 at 10:54 pm

      The Church prays, “Oh happy fault that merited so glorious a redeemer.” Probably this or something similar is what Chastek had in mind. But it’s not what he wrote.

      Good can’t come from evil but in spite of evil.

      • Brandon said,

        November 30, 2010 at 5:29 am

        I’m not sure I follow; good comes from evil all the time. Or do you mean it in a sense other than good coming from evil as a consequence?

  4. November 29, 2010 at 3:13 pm

    But my whole point is that there are only two resolutions of the AFE a.) We claim there are no “justifications” (to use the contemporary term) of some evils or b.) we assume that there are justifications that we can’t know. Who has ever claimed to know the the particular justification of some evil, absent a particular revelation? As a Christian, I claim to know the particular good that came from Christ dying, but why any other innocent person dies is utterly beyond be and I cannot even begin to guess what particular good it was for. When I look at the death of innocents I see no more particular reason for it than anyone else. So either there is nothing to see, or I can’t see what is there. Those of us who are theists must give thinks for and glorify precisely a thing we cannot see. In this sense even natural theism demands a faith in what is unseen, based on the love of the infinite good.

  5. thenyssan said,

    November 29, 2010 at 5:14 pm

    The Catholic looks back at the Decian persecution and gives thanks for it, feels a swell of joy and pride, recognizes the occassion of God’s many victories over man’s weakness and sin. That doesn’t mean the Catholic praises this act of mutilation, that unjust beheading, that violation of a consecrated woman, all as such.

    If and when we see the glorious operation of God’s grace in the hours of human depravity, we cannot help but give thanks for the hours that made those graces possible. If we can’t on our part extend this thinking to the murderous sins of man in the 20th century, then so much the worse for us. We cannot reduce the surest sign of God’s wisdom and power to a pious banality without sending God down that same path soon enough.

    Perhaps this kind of thinking must be a disciplina arcana, something never to be shared with a non-Catholic for the scandal its absurdity must cause. Perhaps no one still thinking with this world can understand how such evils could be trivialized. But that is no reason not to think it, love, and give thanks to God for seeing sin in the light of grace.

    • PatrickH said,

      November 29, 2010 at 6:26 pm

      It is those who refuse to see any grace in the evils of the world that trivialize those evils. But that is, I believe, another way of saying what you just said, if I understand you.

  6. RP said,

    December 1, 2010 at 2:00 am

    Brandon:

    I’m not sure I follow; good comes from evil all the time. Or do you mean it in a sense other than good coming from evil as a consequence?

    Two things: evil is a privation. For good to “follow” from evil something has to make up for the deficiency; the evil itself cannot do it.

    Secondly, in accord with Chastek’s post it seems to me the whole point of hell is that the evil of mortal sin will never be paid for sufficiently to restore the good that is lacking. For example, in the case of the fallen angels (for whom Christ’s death had no effect).


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