Friday, September 30, 2016

The Problem Of Good

I just finished Andrew Klavan's excellent conversion memoir, The Great Good Thing: A Secular Jew Comes To Faith In Christ. In it, he discusses how the Holocaust was an impediment to his conversion. How could such evil exist?

As I listened to his discussion of wrestling with that issue, I thought of the converse. How can good exist? The Holocaust is only unique in that it was perpetrated by industrial Germany. Only the Germans could do it with railroads, chemical factories and paperwork. Everyone else who has engaged in mass slaughter has done so much more crudely. From the Romans taking revenge on Carthage to Mao's Communists starving their own people to death in China by the tens of millions, mass murder has been a part of our collective history.

And why not? Ants do it. When ant colonies fight it out, there's no peace treaty and rebuilding program at the end. The wining ants slaughter their enemies. When dolphins go after balls of bait fish, they don't do it in a sustainable way. When a new male baboon becomes alpha, he doesn't send the loser's babies to boarding school in Switzerland to get them out of the bedroom, he kills them.

If we're just animals, why don't we act like animals with animal logic and animal disregard for a vanquished foe? Why is it that when we do, historians point at it with remorse and talk about the guilt of the winners? If we're just animals, why are we expected to be different from animals?

It's not evil that's the conundrum for believers. It's good that's the conundrum for the doubters.

If the Marquis de Sade had it right, we're on the wrong side of History.


Ilíon said...

"It's not evil that's the conundrum for believers. It's good that's the conundrum for the doubters."

Exactly. And that's a point that so many not only do not see, but actively do not see.

Ilíon said...

By the way, is Klavan's conversion recent? Last I knew, he was a "secular Jew" (and a rarity, being a non-leftist "secular Jew").

K T Cat said...

Ilion, Andrew Klavan's conversion is several years old. 10, perhaps?

Foxfier said...

Blurb says he was baptized at 50, he was born in July of 54, so 12 years ago.

I didn't know he'd become Christian, but I'm not surprised; his humor has the mix of joy, rueful mocking, I guess I'd call it, that fits.