40.01 Overview (pps.32-33)

hard cover page 32

“Ancient man tended to regard misfortune as resulting from cultic neglect in his worship of the gods. A Hittite king once searched long and hard through his records in order to uncover the error that might have angered the gods and brought on the plague that was killing his people.”113

Monism, the philosophical view that the universe forms an ultimately harmonious unity, suggests the theodicy that evil is only apparent and would be recognized as good if we could but see it in its full cosmic context: “All partial evil, universal good.” Dualism as a theodicy, on the other hand, rejects the final harmony, insisting that good and evil are utterly and irreconcilably opposed to one another, and that their duality can be overcome only by one destroying the other.

Under Dualism there arose the Zoroastrian conception of a cosmic war between Ahura Mazda and Ahriman, and the concept of the Kingdom of Satan poised against the Kingdom of God.114 Each of these polar positions has exerted a powerful pull on Christian thought.115 In classic Gnostic tradition the evil god prevailed over the good god.

Paul Tillich has attempted a more rational version of the classic “finite/infinite defense.” This involves a sort of pantheism, in the tradition of Baruch Spinoza116 and Cordovero.117

Tillich posits the unity of all beings: “Only in the unity of all beings in time and eternity can there be a humanly possible answer to the riddle of inequality.118 Since my suffering, ac- cording to Tillich, is ultimately also your suffering, the pain is distributed evenly.

Aquinas posited that if God had created the universe democratically, with equal measures to all, there would be no fullness and stimulation in Creation.119 (This parallels elements of the

——————- NOTES ——————-

113 Schulweis, Evil and the Morality of God, p. i.

114 Gordis, A Faith for Moderns, p. 211.

115 Hick, Evil and the God of Love, p. 15. (“All partial evil, universal good.”-Alexander Pope, Essay on Man, Line 292.)

116 See ibid., p. 17. “Spinoza saw reality as forming an infinite and perfect whole-perfect in the sense that everything within it follows by logical necessity from the eternal divine nature-and saw each finite thing as making its own proper contribution to this infinite perfection. Thus every existing thing occupies a place within the system of universal perfection, and our human notion of evil as that which ought not to be is merely an illusion of our finite perspective.”

117 The kabbalistic theoretician Cordovero daringly offered the formula, a century before Spinoza, that “God is all reality, but not all reality is God,” as noted in Alima Rabati (1 881), fol. 24d, as cited by Scholem, Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism, p. 252.

118 Tillich, The Eternal Now, p. 45. Cf. ibid., pp. 45-46. “There is an ultimate unity of all beings, rooted in the divine life from which they emerge and to which they return. All beings, non-human, participate in it. And therefore they all participate in each other. And we participate in each other’s having and in each other’s not having. … In every death we encounter, something of us dies, and in every disease, something of us tends towards disintegration.”

119 See Schulweis, Evil and the Morality of God, p. 74.
Cf. ibid., p. 108.


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