[asa] Philosophical Musings on Heaven & the Problem of Evil

From: Christine Smith <christine_mb_smith@yahoo.com>
Date: Mon Jul 28 2008 - 14:22:13 EDT

Hi all,

Thought I'd add to the mix of "problem of evil" themed
threads the following musings...I hope in some way,
shape, or form, they're not redundant on previous
conversations...would appreciate all of your insights
as always :)

I recently read the book "The Unexpected Way: On
Converting from Buddhism to Catholicism" by Paul
Williams. Among the items in his book that I found
thought-provoking was his take on the problem of evil.
The basic essence of his argument is as follows:

1) Because there are, theoretically, an infinite
number of universes God could have created instead of
this one, it is logical contradiction to say that God
could have created the "best of all possible worlds",
since being a part of an infinite set of
possibilities, there would always be a better
possibility. Therefore, it is not a violation of
God's omnipotence to say that He couldn't create the
"best" world, and thus the question is reduced to "why
didn't He create a BETTER universe"
2) Being God, He is under no obligation to make a
better universe than the one we currently live in, if
the one we currently live in suits His purpose.
Therefore, God's creation of a universe that includes
suffering and evil is not a problem, and indeed,
should probably be expected.

My musings on these lines of reasoning are as
follows...

Regarding #1, this sounds reasonable on the surface,
but is this a correct understanding of the idea of
what an infinite series means, and is it
scientifically correct (so far as we can understand
things) to say that there could have been an infinite
number of universes created? Also, regarding the idea
of the "best of all possible worlds", doesn't this
equate in some sense, to what we believe heaven to be?
If so, does the idea that this type of world could not
be created, violate our theological creeds which state
that God is the creator of "heaven" and earth, and the
general understanding that Christ "came down from
heaven" and "ascended to heaven". Or, rather than
being the "best of all possible [created] universes",
is heaven rather to be understood as the place (so to
speak) where God resides, outside of created time and
space? If so, then will heaven (where we will rest
eternally) merely be better than our current universe,
rather than the best possible universe? Is it possible
that the creation of a lesser (containing more
suffering & evil) universe is in some way a
requirement of being able to create a better universe,
thus the need to endure the lesser to get to the
greater?

Regarding #2, I question the premise of his argument.
In the act of creation, doesn't God submit Himself to
certain obligations, in the same manner that a parent
is obligated to a child? Certainly, it is clear that
God does submit Himself to certain obligations through
the form of historical convenants with His people.
Doesn't this mean that God does, in some sense, have
an obligation to create a better universe than the one
we are in now (or perhaps that's what He's doing as we
speak?)?

Thanks ahead of time for your insights and your
patience as I reflect on these questions in an attempt
to better articulate my own thoughts on it.

In Christ,
Christine (ASA member)

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Received on Mon Jul 28 14:23:06 2008

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