Week 8 MKMMA – The Train has left the station

harold wright bell . JPEG“Eyes blinded by the fog of things cannot see truth.

Ears deafened by the din of things cannot hear truth.

Brains bewildered by the whirl of things cannot think truth.

Hearts deadened by the weight of things cannot feel truth.                                                                                     Throats choked by the dust of things cannot speak truth.”                                                                                     ~ Harold Bell Wright, The Uncrowned King

 

Week 8 brought into being; flux in my life. I found myself creating discord in my sphere of influence. Not a just for a minute nor an hour but enough to grab hold of the week and bring things to a standstill. In a great sense I found it fortunate as I now could put mental labor into surrounding a thought conducive to enfold the situation. Wrestling with these devils of chaos was not done by might or muscle but rather by the small seed of substituting a thought, then cultivating it with imagination, watering it with confidence that the energy provided by God would cause a small sprout of beneficial and pleasant design to spring forth. The branches from this positive thought yielded a fruit of a new future where dreams do come true for all who are involved.

In the first few weeks “The MKMMA Team” told us that this course was all about authentic self- discovery. The kind that brings success!!!

I am overjoyed with the commitment and determination that continues to fill my mind and compels me to strive for the best effort. This train is bound for glory, this train!!

“Here, then, is the secret of the origin of both good and evil, this is all the good and evil there ever was or ever will be. Let me illustrate. Thought results in action, if your thought is constructive and harmonious, the result will be good; if your thought is destructive or inharmonious, the result will be evil. There is therefore but one law, one principle, on cause, one Source of Power, and good and evil are simply words which have been coined to indicate the result of our action, or our compliance or non-compliance with this law. ~ Charles Haanel

These statements of Mr. Haanel’s caught my attention and caused me to examine the question this week of what is evil? And could it have a purpose?

Here and now is a humble attempt to present a view of evil for this application. The first step in answering the problem of evil is this: We’ve got to get clear on what this thing “evil” actually is.  Some would say and it does seem to follow, that if God created all things, and evil is a thing, then God created evil. This is a valid syllogism. If the premises are true, then the conclusion would be true as well.

The problem with that line of reasoning is that the second premise is not true. Evil is not a thing. The person who probably explained it best was  Augustine of Hippo, and then Thomas Aquinas echoed and focused the thought further. Presently there have been others that have argued the st-thomas-aquinassame premise; that evil has no ontological status in itself. The word ontology deals with the nature of existence. When I say that evil has no ontological status, I mean that evil, as a thing in itself, does not exist.

Let me give you an illustration to make this clearer. We talk about things being cold or warm. But coldness is not a thing that exists in itself; it has no ontological status. Coldness is the absence of heat. When we remove heat energy from a system, we say it gets colder. “Cold” isn’t a thing. It’s a way of describing the reduction of molecular activity resulting in the sensation of heat. So the more heat we pull out of a system, the colder it gets. Cold itself isn’t being “created.” Cold is a description of a circumstance in which heat is missing. Heat is energy which can be measured. When you remove heat, the temperature goes down. We call that condition “cold,” but there is no cold “stuff” that causes that condition.

Here’s another way of looking at it. Did you ever eat a donut hole? I don’t donut holesmean those little round sugar-coated lumps you buy at the donut shop. I mean the hole itself. Donut holes are actually what are left when the middle is cut out of a donut. There’s a space called a hole, a “nothing,” the condition that exists when something is taken away.

Evil is like that in a sense. Evil isn’t like some black, gooey stuff floating around the universe that gloms onto people and causes them to do awful things. Evil is the absence of good, a privation of good, not a thing in itself.

When God created the universe, he created everything good. He made a universe that was perfectly good. Everything was as it should be. After God was completely done with creating everything, something happened that reduced the good in the world. That loss of good is called evil.

Now to the second part of the discussion on evil; to what purpose, a question that the Greeks coined a phrase to; called Theodicy, it is derived from the words for “deity” and “justice,” it “refers to the attempt to justify the goodness of God in the face of the manifold evil present in the world.”  It begs the question, if God is good and powerful, why does God allow bad things to happen? It speaks to the heart of the issue—the very nature of God, who He is, and who we are in relationship to Him. CS Lewis asserted in his book the Problem of Pain “If God were good, He would wish to make His creatures perfectly happy, and if God were almighty He would be able to do what He wished. But the creatures are not happy. Therefore God lacks either goodness, or power, or both.”

Be that as it may CS Lewis continues and leads us to look at two important perspectives which can radically alter out concepts of being happy. The first is the law of non-contradiction, this basic law of logic applies even to God. God cannot grant free will to humanity and not grant free will at the same time and in the same way. Holding God to a standard of applying two mutually exclusive alternatives is essentially meaningless. Secondly, God allows us as human beings to be free agents with free choices. We cannot desire freedom to choose and yet hold God responsible for not preventing our choosing of evil. Either we have freedom or we do not. Either we choose or we do not. We cannot have it both ways. We cannot blame God for our evil actions when we freely chose them. We cannot excuse ourselves and accuse God when freedom was truly granted to us. Our understanding of what it means for God to be all-powerful must be viewed within this informed reality. We must not “think things possible which are really impossible” ~ CS Lewis.

However this perspective though does not, in any way, compromise God’s sovereignty or power. Noticeably it brings the co-existence of God with pain and suffering into alignment “without contradiction” ~ CS Lewis. Granting free will to humanity, to love self more than God or to love God more than self, is the ultimate power by which a Creator can grant freedom to His creation. The natural, fixed order of the universe provides a stable framework in which freedom, and the possibility of pain and suffering as well as love, is viable.

“Is it not so that birds, the wind, the sea and all nature speaks with the music of praise for their creator? Cannot I speak the same music to his children? Hence forth will I remember this secret and it will change my life” ~ Og Mandino

Lewis soberly reminds us that if the possibility of suffering is excluded, life itself is excluded. God, in His omnipotent power, allows us the greatest amount of freedom to choose for or against Him and our fellow man. Pain is a consequence inherent in this sovereign design. Without this freedom, the full extent of goodness, joy, or love cannot be authentically known.

“We were made not primarily that we may love God (though we were made for that too) but that God may love us, that we may become objects in which the Divine love may rest ‘well pleased’. To ask that God’s love should be content with us as we are is to ask that God should cease to be God: because He is what He is, His love must, in the nature of things, be impeded and repelled by certain stains in our present character, and because He already loves us He must labor to make us lovable”. ~ CS Lewis

“Deal with your servant according to your love” (Ps. 119:124 NIV).

 

 

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11 thoughts on “Week 8 MKMMA – The Train has left the station

  1. Sue B

    Luther, I can see that you’ve been doing some deep thinking this week! My friend, I am VERY impressed with you. Your leadership is shining through these written words!

    Reply
  2. Ed Bouffard

    Hi Luther!

    I LOVE this post! Very well thought out and presented. Thank you.

    I do, however, disagree with the basic premise C.S. Lewis promulgates: that God is something separate from us. The greatest illusion mankind entertains is one of ‘God and Other, Other and God’.

    Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness … God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.”
    ~ Genesis 1:27

    Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?
    ~ 1 Corinthians 3:16

    How do you explain what “It” is that “sees” colors and form … “hears” sounds … “feels” sensation … “tastes” flavors … “smells” odors … “understands” phenomena … RIGHT NOW?
    ~ Zen Master Chi Nung

    The fundamental essence of all things is thus … like clear water, like space, it is pure, clear, and sparkling clean, harmoniously fluid and unobstructed. There is nothing revealed outside of ones own mind, there is not a single particle that can veil ones own spirit … the whole being is clear and bright … have you not heard it said that everyone’s light is brighter than a thousand suns shining at once? Those in the dark seek outside, while the illumined do not remain within.
    ~ Zen Master Keizan

    … As it was in the beginning, both now, and always, and to the ages of ages.
    ~ The Gloria Patri

    I agree with the assertion that evil, as a thing in itself, does not exist. To extend that argument, good therefore, as a thing in itself, does not exist. “Evil” exists in our consciousness as a label meant to categorize effects manifested by wrong thinking; conversely “Good” exists in our consciousness as a label meant to categorize effects manifested by right thinking.

    What is being differentiated is effect, not cause. The presence of anything is absolutely dependent upon the memory of the experience of its absence; likewise the absence of anything is absolutely dependent upon the memory of the experience of its presence. But memory is a tricky thing. The exposure of the senses to an experience produces an effect within the brain that remains as a fading distortion of the truth called memory, providing the truth was realized during the experience; otherwise that which is remembered is a fading distortion of an illusion.

    Ed

    Reply
  3. Luc

    Hello Luther, I liked your post, especially the metaphore of the cold and the hole in the donut for describing the evil. I will meditate on this. In a book written in 1938 but published only two years ago by his successors, Napoleon Hill imagined a creature – the devil – to represent “the thing” that brings into manifestation the cold and the whole in the donut. The book title is “Outwitting the Devil”. Luc.

    Reply
  4. Genie L Witt

    I loved the insightful poem you began your post with Luther. And quotes from one of my favorite authors were included also, CS Lewis. You seem to have an abundance of wonderful and thought provoking resources at your fingertips for each of your blog posts. It is always a pleasure to read your thoughts penned in each of your blogs.

    Reply
  5. Erika Lukacs

    It was a pleasure to read your blog this week,great post-as usual! Very interesting. Thank you for sharing.

    Reply
  6. Nancy Mills

    Found myself humming along, “This train is bound for glory, this train” and wondering if your first paragraph, after the Harold Bell Wright quote (love it, though I don’t know of him) about Week 8 was a description of your Sit and pondering of the World Within? Thank you.

    Reply

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