"The Way of G-d"
Part 1: "The Fundamental Principles of Reality"
Ch. 2: "The Purpose of Creation"
Since Ramchal delves into the necessity of evil in this week's entry, we'll
focus somewhat on perhaps the most vexing, most haunting human quandary-- why
a good G-d would allow evil to exist.
The greatest human dream is for peace, prosperity, and goodness. And a good,
Almighty G-d-- who's certainly capable of providing all that for us-- would
seemingly want nothing less for His creation.
Why then is there mayhem, malice, sorrow, pain, and out-and-out wickedness?
In order to answer that we'd need to first ask another question: Why would
anybody choose not to be good? And why do so many people commit mayhem, do
malicious things, cause sorrow or pain, and do out-and-out wicked things?
For a number of reasons: either because doing those things feels good in a
wretchedly wicked way to an ill person; or because doing those things seems
right at the time to perfectly well people who misread the situation; or
because doing what was done was actually *right*, though it seemed to be very
wrong to the untrained eye!
Imagine if you will someone laying perfectly still upon a table, then someone
else coming upon him with a knife, slitting open that poor soul's belly and
cutting out a chunk of his flesh!
The unspeakable wickedness of that!... Unless the poor soul laying flat upon
the table were riddled with cancer, and the person with the knife were a
surgeon set out to save his life!
So instead of a morally ill person (an assumed murderer) doing something
wretchedly wicked to someone (his assumed victim) because it makes him feel
good, what we have is a morally well person (the doctor) doing something
actually very good for someone (the patient), which we took to be bad because
we didn't know all the circumstances.
Let's complicate the matter further, though.
Suppose the person wielding the knife were another surgeon, but instead of
saving his patient, this surgeon killed him in all innocence and
inadvertently by cutting away the wrong chunk of flesh. He'd done something
desperately wrong indeed, but only because he'd misread the situation and
thought he was right when he was terribly wrong!
So we see that a lot depends on circumstances, intentions, and conditions;
that what is clearly good in one instance is clearly bad in another; and that
something apparently bad could be actually morally neutral (albeit tragic) in
Such are the ways of G-d as opposed to our ways. We do bad things either
selfishly wickedly or inadvertently (and most often somewhere in between or
in combination), while G-d's "bad" is only *apparently bad* but not actually
So our answer to the question above as to why a good G-d would allow bad to
exist would have to be that G-d's "bad" isn't bad, while human bad oftentimes
But that still begs the question as to why G-d would allow humans to be bad!
And that's in fact the question that Ramchal answers most directly here in
the text (which we necessarily had to take the long road to).
Ramchal contends that mankind had to be allowed to *choose* perfection or
deficiency (i.e., we had to be allowed to choose to do good or bad things
that would ultimately lead to our perfection or keep us deficient); and that
there had to be an environment in which both the potential for perfection or
deficiency could exist (i.e., in which we have the option to choose either)
if we're ever to achieve the perfection we're capable of. And that there also
had to be a multitude of opportunities for either perfection or deficiency
("good" or "bad") in that environment. That explains why there are so many
moral dilemmas and "forks in the road", incidentally.
That's to say, bad had to be an option if good was to be truly good; and our
moral, spiritual strivings had to be thwarted if we were to be truly
challenged and ultimately victorious.
Ramchal's final point is that being the morality-based and spiritually active
beings we are in this universe-- and the only ones who can thus draw either
closer to or farther away from G-d of their own volition-- we human beings
thus stand center-stage upon it. And that everything else-- which doesn't so
much act in this world as *react*-- to our moral, spiritual decisions-- is
thus secondary to us.
(A quick aside to those who are undoubtedly troubled by such a seemingly
human-centric view of the universe. First off, the universe is in fact *G-d
centered*, and we are secondary to Him. Thus other entities aren't secondary
to humans-- they're tertiary to G-d, right behind us. A lot more can be said
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