I wrote theodicy at the top of this post, but actually this is a little post on un-theodicy. Theodicy being that branch of theological rumination that asks, ‘If God is good, why is there evil?’
Great brains and people far more knowledgable than I will ever be have batted this one about for hundreds, maybe thousands of years.
But, I got to thinking today about the lot of most people in most historical epochs, and as an historian – not as an amateur philosopher or theologian, but as an historian – and as a human – that the question may be backwards.
Given that most people live miserable lives most of the time and have done so for most of history – shouldn’t the question be, Why is there any good?
For most of the human race throughout history, each day brings a struggle to survive, let alone relax and play. Beyond that, for many in many times and places each day brought disease, war, injury, hurt feelings… lost loved ones, lost things, things that don’t work as they were designed, frustrations…. well, I have just thrown a few out there… but the list is very long.
So, when a brief moment of satisfaction, or joy, or calm contentment arrives – it is a rare jewel for most. It seems so out of sync with normality though – if normality is unhappiness then why is this equilibrium of evil thrown off balance every so often by good?
I do understand that there may indeed be people who are happy more often than not – I see them in the streets smiling, laughing, talking, etc. etc…..but they are a tiny minority of the 6 billion or so of us presently crowded here — and a tinier proportion of the vast numbers who have ever lived.
So, why is there happiness, I would like to know —- to try us? to let us more deeply appreciate evil? What?!