Problem of Evil Resolved

Last night my wife wanted to go to a Christmas party that would require me to make small talk with a bunch of people I didn’t know for several hours.

I decided to stay home alone and resolve the Problem of Evil.

And here is the Resolution:

God is Functionally Non-Omnipotent. 

Considering the experience of our daily lives and atrocities that occur on a daily basis it is obvious that a Good God is not in control of daily events. From car accidents to cancer, child abuse to cholera, tsunamis to schizophrenia,  and from terrorism to racism, sexism and corruption the world is full of pain and evil.

Yet there is love and beauty and kindness and generosity. There is moral progress gained by courage and sacrifice. There are cures and treatments and therapies and solutions and technological advancement. There are powerful personal transformations. There are epiphanies and life changing enlightenment. There is cooperation and community. There are signs of transcendence and a Higher Power everywhere.

There is a carefully landscaped Garden overgrown and full of weeds.

A Da Vinci’s Gran Cavallo. A masterpiece abandoned in the planning stages.

What I am actually solving for is not the answer to “The Problem of Evil”. I am solving for the answer to “The Problem of Simultaneous Good and Evil that cannot be explained solely by Darwinian Self-Interest”.

A compelling explanation is that God is Functionally Non-Omnipotent. It is impossible to know if God is actually limited or has chosen limits. If God has chosen these limits it is impossible to know why these particular limitations were chosen. We can speculate but those speculations are always ultimately unsatisfying to say the least.

God always works for good in any and all situations. The calling for humans is to cooperate with God in the progressive mitigation and elimination of pain and evil while promoting love, peace, health, and human flourishing.

God doesn’t dictate instructions and solutions. God only works at the level of spirit to inspire, transform, and guide. God is present and works in that space between stimulus and response called consciousness. But God cannot override natural law and cause and effect.

God is the Invisible Hand guiding us through awareness and expanded consciousness. God cannot ‘zap us’ into expanded consciousness. It only comes spiritually and organically.

In all of this a God Algorithm calculates God’s engagement vs. God’s limitations. God is always working for the most possible good within the parameters of the God Algorithm.

The only path to peace that I can see is to accept life on life’s terms and trust that there is an ultimately reasonable, loving and beautiful explanation. As we accept reality and surrender to Life we increasingly open ourselves to God to be guided and shaped into humans who are expanding Love and solving Pain and Evil.

I Miss Worship

I sleep in on Sunday’s now.

As I stumbled down the hallway towards the light coming from the kitchen this morning the melody of a popular Evangelical worship song slowly penetrated my “I am not a morning person” brain fog. My wife’s pitchy soprano kicked in on the chorus, “Here I am to worship, Here I am to bow down, Here I am to….”.

Simultaneous reactions:

  1. I have a PTSD reaction. I am feeling manipulated. All the repugnant ideas of a God requiring death and blood and violence to satisfy his wrath and ‘holiness’ and that the horrific act is somehow ‘proof’ of how much God ‘loves’ me. The idea of being ‘saved’. ‘Saved’ from the Eternal Conscious Torment created by a depraved, pagan God.
  2. I can tell my wife is enjoying singing the worship song. It is meaningful to her. Am I forcing my path on her? I spent 5 decades worshiping like this. Who am I to deny her this?
  3. I miss worship.  I can’t participate in Christian worship anymore. The message is too full of things I find morally repulsive and irrational. The “Good News” of Christianity sounds like “Toxic, Dysfuntional, Pagan News” to me. But I do miss the experiences of connection with God that I used to have in personal and church worship.

Unitarian Universalist Worship

I have tried worshiping at our local Unitarian Universalist church. And I will probably try again. But their strength is their weakness. I went to choir practice once. The lyrics of one song were redacted from “Spirit” to “Love”. The UU’s careful avoidance of dogma and belief in God results in lyrics of vague, inoffensive, life affirming sentimentalism. Songs without spiritual traction to connect with my spirit.

Kirtan Worship

I discovered the Kirtan music of Krishna Das. The songs are simply chants of the names of God in Hindi or Sanskrit. I traveled to Madison, WI to see Krishna Das perform live. Between 500 to 1,000 people were packed into a Lutheran church. I felt an immediate spirit of camaraderie with the people sitting around me. I was reminded of some of my more powerful Evangelical worship experiences. The simple singing of the names of God avoids the specific dogma that ejects me from the worship experience. It is simple communion with God through music and singing in community.

If you want to check out Krishna Das I would recommend this Youtube video of his live performance of Baba Hanuman:

 

Cloud Cult Worship

I have found several bands that supplement my need for spiritual music that used to be filled by Contemporary Christian Music. Music from John Lennon, George Harrison, and some Beatles’ music. “Closer to Fine” by the Indigo Girls. A band that has been especially important to me is Minnesota band “Cloud Cult”. I traveled to Duluth, MN this summer with my family to see Cloud Cult live. Very earnest, intelligent, spiritual and musically interesting. I stood in the front of the stage with other hard-core fans with my hands raised and tears streaming down my face as they performed this song:

Group Meditation

Sometimes I go around the corner to “The Yoga Effect”. They have a free community meditation every Sunday morning. There is really nothing special about it. It is a simple guided meditation. But I always “feel it” when I meditate with other people. There is a different energy.

A La Carte Worship

Right now I am practicing “A La Carte” worship. There are many reasons for this. I am not settled enough in my beliefs or lack of beliefs to commit to an organization. And I am deeply suspicious of religious organizations. Religious organizations seem so hopelessly and inherently focused on sustaining their own existence. Keeping the machine running. Making payroll. Putting butts in seats. And like so many people, time is scarce as I am hustling multiple jobs to pay the bills.

But I do have a longing for a worship community. A worship community that does not have an organization behind it. A worship community that is not a weekly concert. Worship that is organic, heartfelt, earnest, and dogma-free.