For some reason I got sucked into a decent, if ultimately pointless Ask MetaFilter thread on the problem of evil.
I wrote a post but MeFi went down before I could post it and I didn’t want to lose it. So here it is.
“transworld depravity?” Ill-mannered skateboard magazine readers? I don’t get it.
I think a part of the problem here is attempting to associate culturally-derived values and perceptions with the attempts of cultures to represent an idea which is necessarily beyond culture. If God is eternal and omnipotent and the universe derives from God, our little corner of that universe can’t wholly represent or comprehend the nature of God at all.
Additionally, it’s clear that what is or is not evil changes depending on the cultural perspective of the perceptor. We tend to associate evilness with torture and murder and so forth; other cultures at other times have associated evil with, oh, porn and gay sex. Still other cultures have sanctified sacrificial murder and even genocide.
A common thread in other posters’ attempts to look at the nature of evil in this thread is the acknowledgement of a differentiation between the idea of a world without evil and the world we live in. Evil, then, is apparently seen as a consquence of living in an imperfectible, non-ideal world, which includes suffering and, most crucially, change.
The deistic idea, which posits an extrauniversal reality, eternal, omnipotent, and ideal, must also therefore depict a sort of stasis, where no entropy can effect change. If this gloss is accepted, suffering is a consequence of entropy, of time itself, and therefore will always be with us. Evil may be described as directed suffering, in my view, and as long as humans remain monkeys with complex troop-building and maintenance behavior, some monkey will be suffering at the hands of others.