Past Events: Good God, What a Mess: Evil in a World Created By a Good God

GOOD GOD, WHAT A MESS! EVIL IN A WORLD CREATED BY A GOOD GOD: On Sunday 14 November 2010, 3pm at Glen Iris Road Uniting Church, Glen Iris. Rev Dr Lorraine Parkinson explored how progressive understandings of God and Christian scripture can create space for living with a world that, according to human ego, is imperfect.

You can download the text of Lorraine's address by clicking here - download now - [PDF; 215KB]

The audio file can be securely downaloaded from the PCNV download store by clicking here.

1 comment:

  1. The Origin of the Problem of Evil.

    We tend to ignore both the history behind the Bible, as well as the original version of the story that underpins Biblical religious beliefs.

    Some historians of religion claim that the Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) were strongly influenced by the Zoroastrian religion. (See Mary Boyce, Emeritus Professor of Iranian Studies, University of London, ‘A History of Zoroastrianism’, vol. 2, Leiden, 1982). Prior to its battles with Athens and Sparta, the first Persian Empire, led by Cyrus the Great, rescued the Jews from their Babylonian exile in 538 BC and sent them back to Jerusalem to rebuild their Temple. Cyrus the Great was thenceforth revered as a Messiah in the Temple’s ceremonies until its destruction by the Romans in 70 AD.
    From the sixth century BC onwards the Jews became increasingly influenced by the concepts of Zoroastrianism, the religion of the Persian and Parthian empires, particularly the radical elements amongst the Jews, i.e. Pharisees and Christians.

    In the story of the cosmic battle between ultimate Good and ultimate Evil contained within the divine narrative of the Zoroastrian religion, the good creator god Mazda is not all-powerful. He was limited by the opposition of Ahriman, an equally powerful but evil god. Mazda had created the world in order to carry out the moral imperative that good must destroy evil. Ahriman’s purpose in attacking Mazda’s creation was to harm and destroy it.
    So in Zoroastrianism all natural evil is the fault of the evil god. Ahriman is responsible for all the decay, deterioration, disease, pestilence, floods, storms, lightning strikes, tornadoes, volcanoes, earthquakes, etc. Today we would add in tsunamis and asteroid strikes.

    As a monotheism, Judaism could not accept that Evil be a god in its own right. So the Zoroastrian concept of a god symbolizing evil was rejected by Judaism. (Eventually, within Christianity, Satan the Devil is portrayed as an archangel who led one-third of the angels in revolt.) However, such concepts were an integral part of polytheistic Zoroastrianism. These concepts do not adequately fit into monotheistic religion without being seriously warped. Hence we are left with the nonsensical situation that the benevolent creator God, as portrayed in the Abrahamic religions, is responsible for the ‘Acts of God’. That is, all the natural evils that originally were acts of the Evil God aimed at destroying the Good God’s creation.
    In the Zoroastrian narrative there was no mystery, everything was explained. By needing to make a mystery out of divine purposes, the Abrahamic monotheist religions have disqualified themselves from participating in the debate about the moral and ethical implications of creation. They do not know why their God created. They do not know what his purposes are for his creation or for his creatures. It is all a mystery. They can only guess. Hence they are left with the Problem of Evil.

    We need to be aware of the history and beliefs of the derogatively-labelled ‘pagan’ peoples within whose confines the Abrahamic belief-systems arose. Ignoring them only leads to confusion.