I’ve stopped keeping track. It’s definitely in the top ten though. I’ve just grouped all my friends’ and family members’ birthdays together because otherwise Valentine’s Day would be knocked out of the top ten. I’ve also started to have more appreciation for holidays like Dr. King Day so that may have knocked V-Day down a few notches.
Anyway, in honor of this holiday, I’m going to go out and buy some wine and philosophize. It will be my act of love (philosophy = love of wisdom so I think I’m justified).
I was talking to JD a few weeks ago about the problem of evil. Not in the way you think though. It wasn’t the problem of “if God is good, how does he allow evil?” it was the problem of “evil does not exist” or as JD put it, “there is no Platonic Form of Evil”. Now I, being the lowly Classicist that I am, had only taken one full-on (read:not crosslisted with something else) philosophy class in college. So I, also being well past my years as a headstrong underclassman who didn’t want to look stupid, told her I had no idea what a “Platonic Form” was and those words didn’t really make sense next to each other.
Here is JD’s paraprashed definition of a Platonic Form. It’s an absolute image. A perfect being. The most absolute embodiment of a concept. So for instance, I would argue that there is a platonic form of love and it is God (Happy Valentine’s Day!).
So back to the story. JD argues there is no Platonic Form of evil. I respect her reasoning and even agree based on her premise. If the premise is that there is no absolute moral framework that humans are privy to so they must make their own, then I guess it does follow that Evil is just a construct. Of course, I argued, this idea, though logical within itself, doesn’t really hold up. For instance, why would humans need to create some moral framework? The assumption there is that we need a moral framework because we shouldn’t kill each other because we’re valuable because we’re human. Of course, this is tautology. Plus, it makes a huge assumption that humans are important/valuable. For some reason, everyone always wants to make that assumption.
I think that’s a flawed assumption. It’s just a really weird place to start. Admittedly, I have assumptions too. Of course, I think mine are better, I’m not gonna lie.*
Anyway, this whole idea that we don’t have an inherent moral framework always gets me thinking about the first few chapters of Genesis. Obviously, the beginning of Genesis has been pretty controversial recently (to add to the controversy, let me drop these on ya: bloop and bleep. I’m kind of a fan of Rashi’s translation). There are some parts of it I have opinions about and other parts I honestly couldn’t care less about. The part that I like to think about though is one of the parts that really annoyed me about my friend’s musical (even though I shouldn’t be surprised because people always mess this up. Also, the musical was very good. I just sometimes have trouble suspending disbelief).
I’m not annoyed about whether the fruit was an apple or not. I don’t care and sometimes I call it an apple accidentally. The annoying part is the tree. The tree of knowledge. No. No. That’s not what it was called. But that’s what everyone always wants to call it. It’s like people prefer the idea of a God who doesn’t want you to know things. At all. No knowledge for you! The tree of knowledge of good and evil. Now, I don’t know exactly why God put that tree there though I have heard some really compelling arguments for why He may have. Choice is one I always here and I’m inclined to sympathize with that understanding. We always have choices but we also have consequences for those choices. Either way, the tree of knowledge of good and evil brings up the idea of good and evil and its role in our lives and our hard-wiring.
You could contest that before Adam sinned he didn’t know good and evil and so that’s how we are, naturally. But then that makes one wonder about how he could have made the choice to do the wrong thing. But then that leads to a discussion about the difference between good and evil and right and wrong. And then you’re so far down the rabbit hole it’s ridiculous.
There are men and women who’ve devoted their entire lives to answering these questions about morality and God. I, however, am not one of them. I am just a human person who decided to spend (at least the first half of) her Valentine’s Day buying wine and asking questions I couldn’t answer.
Happy Valentine’s Day! May you experience such an amazing outpouring of Love today (and everyday :))
*I don’t think humans aren’t valuable, I believe the opposite. That’s just not my starting assumption. I start from the assumption of God and from there I can come to the conclusion that humans are important/valuable. Honestly, I don’t know how you could get to the idea that humans are valuable without some prior assumption about something else. Humans are valuable/important is a very odd initial premise.