I told my knowledgeable pal that I was trying to trace our ‘universal court case’ explanation for God’s permission of evil. Where and when did that develop? In-house or are there forerunners, even duplicates, elsewhere? He sent me off on a wild goose chase hunting up a certain Great Courses lecture series entitled Philosophy of Religion. He said he had come across a Seventh Day Adventist who said of that course that finally the SDA explanation for evil was validated. The professor included it in one of his options, even with the endorsement that this explanation made the most sense to him but also that it was little known these days. So I reviewed all his long-winded explanations of evil—not his, but those of others that he explores and shoots down one by one before coming to the last—the obscure one that he found the most logically consistent.
It was all a red-herring! What the professor finally came to was not the universal court case explanation that still, to my knowledge, is found only in Jehovah’s organization. What he finally arrived at was an explanation that took “dualism” into account (none of the others did!) that one good being (God) is responsible for good, but he is not responsible for bad because he has an evil counterpart (the devil) to pin all the blame on. That was what the professor found the most logically consistent, someone to blame the bad on, not the actual explanation as to why God would allow that evil one to exist and make mischief!
This was an eye-opener to me because I had assumed everyone knew about Satan and took him into account when factoring in evil. In fact, none of them do! And so when the prof finally entertains one that does, as though encountering an oasis in a desert of BS, he says, “you know, that makes a certain amount of sense”—even though it falls far short of what any servant of Jehovah learns from Day One.
Of course, everyone knows about Satan, but he’s apparently been relegated to fairy tale status, just like Adam and Eve, so he doesn’t come up for serious consideration when the “educated” people congregate! It really is so that people educate themselves into foolishness. I have yielded to this myself. Somewhere in my blog I confessed that, since my intended audience will be the type that are not so sure about God, preaching Satan will really send them over the edge, and so I rarely do it. But that’s not to say if you’re speaking of the origin of evil you can ignore it! Sheesh. It’s kind of integral. But the great thinkers do ignore it.
Relegate the Devil to the status of metaphor if you must—same thing for Adam and Eve. That way you can at least play with the metaphor and figure just what is its application. Be like the mathematician who assumes a condition is true just to see where that logic will take him. But don’t just throw it away unless you are determined not to find an answer to your question.
So now if I am to pursue my project, and there’s one other to complete before I get to it, I must have insider access to the really old publications—maybe I can trace the beginnings of the universal court case there. They’re not available to any Tom, Dick, or Harry, because most Tom, Dick, or Harrys are not Witnesses but only want to dig up dirt or find changed beliefs over the years—and beat us over the head with them.
Sometimes I think there should be a disclaimer on all the old stuff specifically directed to such ones: “If you have to go back 100 years to dig up dirt, there can’t be that much dirt to dig.” Preface it all by saying how opposers look a little silly if they harp on ‘flip-flops’ since it is freely admitted that they happen all the time. Use analogies like the watchman peering into the gloom, how sometimes he will call an imaginary approaching ship, how the alternative is the guy who doesn’t call the approaching ship until its bow pinches his toes. Point out that nobody thinks now as they did in 1880. Point out all the times they incorrectly understood things in Bible times. (The trick is not to sanitize the present—it is to desanitize the past.)
Of course, modern-day ‘thinkers’ will call that ‘whataboutism.’ What used to be called ‘keeping things in perspective’ and was universally thought a wise thing to do is now called whataboutism. If we didn’t consider apostates the bogeyman, creating almost a superstitious fear of them, we might be able to handle their salvos better than we do.
At any rate, maybe I should follow the course that I recommended to another—write and ask for access, not like she said—for everyone, but just for me. The trouble is I fear I may get the same response as my old college housemate did from the government, or actually from me pretending to be the government.
College students back then were inclined to ridicule the ‘townie’ patriotism of those in the off-campus community, making much of how the peace sign was the “footprint of the American chicken.” Kevin would do this, more good-naturedly than most because he was a townie himself. He came from a tiny town called Madrid, NY (emphasis on the first syllable, not the last, ridiculous though that may sound. Moreover the ‘Ma’ was not pronounced ‘Muh’ like in the Spanish city but like the ‘maaaaa’ of a bleating sheep!). So that was the backdrop—taking the ‘chicken’s’ way out by enrolling in college. At the time there were student deferments from the draft, but everyone else was off to Nam—as though college-educated students alone were important and everyone else might just as well be cannon fodder.
Amidst that backdrop, I sent my buddy a form letter as though from the government:
“This country has enough (a long check list of college majors followed, and I checked off the major that was his), Kevin! What we need now are soldiers. Enlist now, you chicken!”
So I am afraid that I might get a letter from Bethel: “This organization has enough authors, TrueTom. What we need now is pioneers! Sign up now, you slacker! Pick up that telephone! Sharpen up that pencil! Get off that internet!”