Wednesday, January 26, 2011

TMC Volume 2, Issue 4
section III: The existence of badness in what it is not

"God" is a hotly debated topic. It has been for ages, it is in the current age, and it will certainly be for ages to come. Now, that is not a prophetical statement, but rather more of a well-founded assumption based on the nature of the topic and the observations made about the discussion of it. "God" is impossible to prove by empirical means and "God" is largely indistinguishable for any other theistic (or atheistic) assumption made upon which any philosophical arguments are made. In light of these two facts, "God" will be a topic of infinite unresolution into the indefinite future.

But let's step back for a moment from that bleak, emotionless perspective. Let us instead proceed in the realm which we know best, that is, the human realm. The realm of emotion and logic, pursuit and remembrance, intuition and evidence. It's in this realm we live in, and it's in this realm we find ourselves thinking abstractly and concretely, often forgetting about the abstract concreteness of an existence lived in between these two concepts. People have personalities along with those fabulous eyes, they have tendencies to match that luxurious hair. On top of all that, they have ideas to go along with the ebb and flow of blood that rushes through and through their veins. In this realm we have assumptions and facts working together to provide an accurate, real, reliable picture of the world and the principles that pin it down, allowing us to act knowledgeably and fearlessly. In this world, God exists.

Now, before you get upset and that bile in your heart towards your old protestant mother or overbearing sunday school teacher boils over into your medulla oblongata and gets your heart racing, know that I am in no way an expert or professional at describing philosophical proofs. If I make errors, typographical or otherwise, I apologize in advance. On the other hand, fallacious arguments and incorrect facts are fair game. So, if by the end of this argument you feel the need to point these things out or present an argument of your own, proceed with impunity, because God knows I've got no authority over you.

The proof is this: Christians believe that God exists, God is good, and God created the world as good. The fact is that world we live in is filled with both good and bad things. If one can prove that only good exists, then one has proven that God exists.

Let's begin first with our assumptions. God is good and God created the world as good. The word "good" here refers to an absolute trait, not to be confused with the word "good" as used in "that guy isn't a great player, but he's pretty good". When "good" is used to describe God here, it is meaning that he is perfect, whole, and complete. The "goodness" of God is not simply an attribute of God that is contained in his personality, rather it is a descriptor of his person as a whole. It is used in the same way in describing the world. The world here is describing the universe. A "good" world in this sense is a world that is built on the principles of perfect goodness. It operates on the principles of goodness and contains only good things. I could continue by naming many of these good things, but the most relevant of these good things is choice.

Choice can be designated as perfectly good only as an abstraction, but that should not disqualify it from being perfectly good. The reason is more obvious than you might think. Choice as a good is a paradox: it allows for things to be done more than one way. It's concrete goodness comes from it's ability to allow good to occur in spite of adverse circumstances, insufficient resources, personal tendency, and even intentional oppression. Choice is the vehicle by which good can enter the world, and therefore must be good.

The facts, on the other hand are less simple. The fact is is that the world as we perceive it is clearly bad and good. The good is apparent in acts like those of our charitable forebears: Mother Theresa, Jesus, King Arthur. The evil is apparent in acts like those of our more malicious ones: Adolph Hitler, Josef Stalin, Mao Zedong. After all, it's clear to any observer that bad occurs in equal amounts to good. Even moreso, the existence of abundant amounts of materials harmful to human life (and life in general) as well as the cold and unforgiving vastness of space proves to many that the world and universe are in fact averse to life, and are therefore evil.

But let's go deeper. The majority of good acts are good as defined by their outcome: a boy gets a heart, a village receives food and water, a family is saved from death after a terrible train wreck. The majority of bad acts are bad as defined by their process: heart-boy's wealthy family uses their money to prioritize their child over less wealthy, equally needy children; poor water-village gains access to this water after slaughtering their riverside-dwelling neighbors; and train-wreck family survives only because they managed to run to the first car by means of trampling other passengers and unhook the lead car from the rest the moment before derailment.

Or perhaps you don't agree with the analogies presented here. Perhaps you're a bit more sophisticated, you've spent more time in the world and you know that not all bad situations are simply a "spin" on a good situation and vice versa. Suppose you know, for a fact, that bad people exist, and bad people do bad things because they like being bad. Bad for badness sake, so to speak. And, to be fair, if this fact is in fact true, then you would have me bested. Well then, as Bakugan Battle Brawlers might say: One, Two, Three -- LET 'ER RIP!

My argument here is simple. Examine your thoughts. Examine the language. Examine the paradigm you use to describe the situation that you've just presented. A bad person does bad things for the sake of being bad. If this story had a name it would be "Bad People Like to Be Bad - and There's Nothing You or I Can Do About It". But think about it. Think hard about it. Why are they Being Bad? Being Bad here meaning that they do bad things: they hurt people without cause, they act selfishly, they steal and cheat without desiring gain. They are not hurting people because they want power or wealth, they are hurting people for fulfillment. They do not act selfishly because their circumstances dictated the need for it, they do so because they feel gratified by it. They do not steal and cheat to earn good marks or fill their coffers, they do it because "they just want to watch the world burn." These are Bad People, for goodness sake. But what are they getting out of their badness? What is the terminal goal of their bad nature, their bad behavior? What do they perceive to be the idea, the motivation, the force, and the end of their action and thought?

Good. They pursue Good. Perhaps it is a small good, not a capital letter G good. But all small goods are in some way part of the greater Good. The man who hurts his fellow man and the lower creatures of conscience does so because it is his desire to do so. In doing so he fulfills his desire, and experiences fulfillment. Fulfillment in another context is, as in a doctor beginning his private practice after a long and arduous road of academic excellence, humble apprenticeship, and magnanimous networking, easily considered good. The only thing that divides these two men is the means by which they pursue their own perceived good, and in turn the great capital G good. Now, men who are Bad can be said to have a skewed vision of the great Good, and therefore are pursuing a Bad rather than a Good, but in their minds, in any person's mind, they are pursuing Good. We may in fact describe these individuals as simply pursuing Good in the "wrong" way as opposed to the "right" way. What does this mean then?

It means that, in the larger picture, in the great scheme of the universe in which we, as actors and choice-makers, mull about, only Good exists. In our minds, we only believe in good. In the world, we see Bad as it deviates from Good. Bad has perverted Good to its own Bad ends, searching for its Bad version of Good. But all that really exists is Good. God is Good. Good exists, God Exists.

Now, I understand if some parts of this are confusing, but I will try my best here to sum up my argument concisely:

  • God, being Good, created the world (universe). Wanting to create a Good world (as He is wont to do, being Good), he included all those things that are Good. Namely, Choice.
  • Choice, having been included because of its Goodness, allows for many possibilities. One such possibility is the pursuit of Good at the expense of good, and vice versa.
  • Humans, having been given command of this choice, choose to follow one of either path - Good over good, or good over Good. Both paths eventually lead to Good, however, one path prioritizes the farther-reaching, eternally minded Good over the temporary, finite, self-exhausting good.
  • Therefore, only Good exists. Of the various views and objectives of humans, they all attempt Good, only being able to accomplish good. Any good done that prioritizes good over Good is what Humans perceive as Bad. This is where the idea of Right and Wrong come from.
  • Since only Good exists, God exists.

    Any questions?