The Liberal Problem Of Evil.

In the very early fifth century St. Augustine took on a very thorny religious issue: if God is all-loving, why did he create a world in which Evil occurs? Augustine (and later Thomas Aquinas) bucked down and came up with the best answer (though still somewhat unsatisfying) he could: free will.

According to Augustine, a world without Evil is a world where there is no choice between Evil and Good. If there is no ability to choose, there is no free will. If there is no free will, then men are automatons; they walk through their life untempted and untested, so there is no virtue. Men are granted free will to create a higher order of Good, one that transcends Evil, because in freely choosing Good they are intrinsically better. And men are responsible for those choices; if they use their free will to act evilly they accumulate a burden of sin for which they are ultimately to blame. With free will comes responsibility.

Modern Islam also believes in a somewhat weaker version of free will, which is why in some instances it allows or even encourages adherents to use their free will to do things that in western eyes are truly Evil. If a man blows up a school bus because he wants to, that’s Evil. If he blows it up in service to God to advance the goals of the religion, that’s good. Free will used to commit Evil acts against innocents is not a sin in this case because the blame is shifted from the perpetrator and onto the victims. They were Infidels, kaffirs, members of a society that Islam views as inimical to their own. There is no personal sin.

Westerners are mystified at how the Islamic world manages to justify these acts of fierce atrocity committed by men and women who appear, in their daily lives, to be pretty decent folk. The Jihadi who devotes his afternoons and weekends to coach children soccer but then blows up a busload of women and kids is a genuine mystery to westerners and for good reason – he makes no sense. Yet the Jihadis see no contradiction at all – they lionize their murderers and promise them paradise for what we see as foul immoral crimes. How can this be?

Conservatives tend to view this behavior as a consequence of a flawed and dysfunctional value set – Islamic culture is inherently intolerant and violent because their beliefs encourage such. The political left has a different take, to them the Suicide Bomber is a religious nut and since all religions are prone to such excesses, why should he not do as he does? The Beast hears this all the time from his Liberal acquaintances: “Christianity kills lot of people too, and more violence has been perpetrated in the name of Religion over the course of history than anything else. I don’t like religious zealots of any kind” This is a classic secularist argument, but like most of what passes for thought in the liberal world it dangles from the thin thread of false equivalency — namely that all religions represent an equal danger to the world because they are all inherently primitive and potentially violent.

It unarguable that Christendom has shed oceans of blood over the millennia, but just as it is unarguable that the T-Rex did much the same in the Jurassic, one must judge present risk in light of present conditions. Christendom was once as bloody as Islam, but unlike Islam Christianity changed. The Protestant Reformation of the sixteenth century was bloody and violent, but it paved the way for The Great Enlightenment of the seventeenth century, creating and establishing civil societies in which religion became more of a personal and moral element than a political one. This did not happen in the Islamic world – they are still operating from a thirteenth century mindset.

Religiously inspired slaughter by Christians is essentially nonexistent in this world. Your chances of being killed by a Christian zealot for the Greater Glory of God is roughly on the order of being hit by a lightning bolt during a shark attack. If you doubt this claim, news google “Christian Violence” and then “Muslim Violence” and then compare body counts.

There is no doubt that plenty of Christians believe in their religion as deeply and fervently as the most devout Muslim. The difference is – while the Christian Zealot may, on rare occasions, burn down an Abortion clinic he will wait until everybody has left for the night to avoid killing people. The Muslim Zealot does not concern himself with such niceties.

Again, there is no Christian equivalent to the slaughter going on in the Muslim world today, so why does the political left try so hard to group them together on the same moral shelf? There are clear and quantifiable differences, one would think they could see that.

Yet the multicultural left seems to have no problem overlooking the Evils perpetrated by Islam. Bombings in Iraq? Bush is to blame for westerners being there at all. You’ve heard the argument: “If Iraqis were in America we’d be doing the same thing, right?”

Well, no. If America suffered under the yoke of a murderous tyrant and Iraqis came to remove him and then aided us in restoring Democracy, we’d be grateful. We would not be shooting at them. It’s a false comparison.

How about the “Youths” in Europe who chant “Allahu Akhbar” as they light up the fortieth Renault of the evening?

“Social injustice, their complaints are economic, not religious.”

Violence in Iraq?

“America’s fault for removing Sadaam. The country was much more stable under his rule (i.e. good?)!”

So Islam is not to blame for any of this – religious nuts do what they do because they were programmed to do it. And the free choice to riot and bomb and is ultimately not a free choice at all, society (particularly western society) drives them to it.

One has to wonder if the left really shares the concept of free will: Jihadis blow up buses because they are religious fanatics, so they are not personally at fault. And they have been turned to this dark side because they are victims of oppression, racism, land theft, mockery. Nobody is to blame for anything except US in general and Bush in specific.

How does one cope with the problem of Evil if one rejects free will? What are you left with; some sort of neo-Skinnerian socio/economic determinism? Guess it makes sense; remove the opportunity to choose Evil and you get a default choice of good. Gun violence? Get rid of guns. War fatalities? Stop fighting wars.

And yet the slaughter continues, the body parts and the liberal apologies fly despite all the goodwill in the world. Christianity did its work on Evil hundreds of years ago – Liberalism is still at it and their answers are awfully murky. They’d best get cracking if they wish to catch up.

11 Comments

  1. frothingatlemouse
    Posted January 26, 2007 at 11:25 pm | Permalink

    This is most amazingly well said. Holy crap.

  2. Posted January 26, 2007 at 11:39 pm | Permalink

    Frothingatlemouse,

    Well there was no shark news to blog, so The Beast decided to pontificate.

  3. frothingatlemouse
    Posted January 27, 2007 at 12:43 am | Permalink

    Most excellent pontification I must say. One of these days I will gather up my resources and pontificate at some point, but Hillary just announced so I need time to research to shore up my arguments…

  4. Posted January 27, 2007 at 2:21 am | Permalink

    Well…as of yet we in America have not been placed in a similar situation. I think you may find the resolve of some Christians to be quite resolute in their waging of holy wars, historically, presently, and quite possibly far into the future.

    I wonder what you would do to protect your lands, family, and country if it were invaded and God forbid, controlled by Godless heathens, Muslims, Chinese, whomever…what would you do? To what lengths would you go to fight for what you believed in your soul to be “right?”

  5. Posted January 27, 2007 at 2:47 am | Permalink

    jeremiasx,

    The Beast addressed this very complaint in his post but perhaps it did not stick so he will take a second crack at it.

    Have you asked yourself why Americans have not been placed in a similar situation? What is it about this country, this culture that has enabled us to keep ourselves free? Conversely what is it about those various Middle Eastern nations that lends itself so well to brutal, bloody dictatorships and repressive theocracies?

    As for Christians and “Holy Wars” please name the last one you remember. The most recent one The Beast can remember was The Thirty Years’ War, fought between 1618 and 1648. Although it was from the outset a religious conflict between Protestants and Catholics, the rivalry between the Habsburg dynasty and other powers was also a central motive, as shown by the fact that Catholic France even supported the Protestant side. On the Muslim side, the most recent holy war is easy to name as it’s going on right now.

    Once again The Beast will say that if America labored under the heel of a Tyrant who murdered hundreds of thousands of us and a coalition of nations invaded to oust him and help us set up a Democracy he would be grateful and he would aid them. The Beast believes in his soul that this would be “right”, mainly because he knows the difference between Good and Evil. The Beast always strives for the former and never, ever apologises for the latter

  6. Posted January 27, 2007 at 3:29 am | Permalink

    I commend your conviction…just because they crusades were not “recent” does not make them irrelevant…perhaps you should look at the history of the crusades…it makes for informative reading.

    I’ll not get into too many details, but being a Knight of Malta and very familiar with the history of the wars for the Holy Land I personally find the conflict quite fascinating. Also, it’s interesting to note that historical accounts are often altered by the “winners.”

    Keep an open mind is all I ask…there is always two sides to every coin…what we decry as evil will invariably called “good” by someone, whether they be a “godless liberal” or “mujahedeen” or “contra” or “sandinista” etc. etc. etc.

  7. Posted January 27, 2007 at 3:46 am | Permalink

    jeremaisx

    The Beast never never meant to suggest the Crusades were irrelevant, he was responding to your previous comment about Christianity:

    “I think you may find the resolve of some Christians to be quite resolute in their waging of holy wars, historically, presently, and quite possibly far into the future.

    At present there is no Christian holy war going on and since the last true one ended over seven hundred years ago, one might reasonably conclude that unlike Islam, Christians have pretty much gotten that stuff out of their systems.

    And thanks for the wonderful example of Relativism; just because somebody else calls Evil “Good” does not make it so. Knowing the difference is crucial.

    You’ve illustrated The Beast’s points better than he could ever have hoped to do himself. Please keep coming back and commenting, jeremia, you are always welcome here.

    THB

    *EDIT* The Beast almost forgot The Reconquista, descibed by Wikipedia as:

    the process encompassing over seven and a half centuries, by which the Christian kingdoms of northern Hispania (modern Portugal and Spain) conquered the Iberian peninsula from the Muslim and Moorish states of Al-Ándalus. The Umayyad conquest of Hispania from the Visigoths occurred during the early 8th century, and the Reconquista is commonly considered to have begun almost immediately in 722, with the Battle of Covadonga, and completed in 1492, with the Conquest of Granada.

    In 1236 the last Muslim stronghold of Granada under Mohammed ibn Alhamar was subjugated by Ferdinand III of Castile and Granada became a vassal state of the Christian kingdom for the next 250 years. On January 2, 1492, the last Muslim ruler, Abu ‘abd Allah Muhammad XII also known as Boabdil of Granada, surrendered to Ferdinand and Isabella, Los Reyes Católicos (“The Catholic Monarchs”). This resulted in the creation of united Roman Catholic nation encompassing most of modern day Spain. Navarre remained separate until 1512.

    That was a holy war too. A very long one.

  8. Posted January 27, 2007 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

    beast, you forgot “all powerful”… that must be added to all-loving, for the problem of evil to arise…

    after all, liberals are all-lovin too…

  9. Posted January 27, 2007 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

    Yucca

    You are absolutely right – it’s the combination of omnipotence AND omnibenevolence that creates the “problem”.

    Liberals are definitely not the latter and let’s hope they never become the former.

  10. freespiritedkev
    Posted January 28, 2007 at 1:48 am | Permalink

    Hola Beast,

    Very well done blog and to the point sadly you failed too mention or merely forgot the abortion doctorsand nurses murdered by the “so-called”christian right. Now am not taking the left side of this issue merely pointing out as I’m sure some lefty eventually would.

    Keep up the good work

    So Say We All the adamas are wussies

  11. Posted January 28, 2007 at 2:32 am | Permalink

    Kev,

    The Beast has tried to google some concrete stats concerning the murder of medical professionals who work in or for abortion providers and was be suprised to discover they are damn hard to find. Yes, a fallable memory does conjure up references to this sort of thing happening very occasionally across the sweep of decades but nothing recent and certainly not in the amounts that would suggest murder and violence is any more likely to happen among Christian fringe loonies than any other group.

    The Beast never meant to suggest Christians are immune to this sort of thing, just that compared to Muslims we are Pee Wee Baseball vs The New York Yankees.

    THB


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