Uncreated numbers and the problem of evil

  Who created evil? Is that a silly question? Here’s Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. The God of Love, the one who loves us all, has placed an evil deceitful serpent in the garden. Not like Him, but never mind; next thing we know, Adam and Eve get contaminated by the lying little talking reptile, and God blames them all. And all their children too. The contamination is passed on through generations to you, and me,so that before we are born we are already destined for eternal punishment as a result of God accidentally or deliberately creating evil, unless it was someone else? Some people think this makes nonsense. And it does needs unravelling 

Here is an idea that I picked up from a talk at the St.Mellitus School of Theology. A respected apologetic from Cambridge I think, was reviewing the well-rehearsed arguments for the ‘existence’ of God. 

(Let’s not get distracted by the idea that God does not ‘exist’ (!) ..or at least does not ‘exist’ in the same way that we think of objects ‘existing’,.. )

So, along the way we were introduced to the concept that some things might exist before the creation event, such as numbers. For example, before creation, it would be true that there are no planets, and it would also true that there were not ‘three planets’. 

Now a LONG time ago (1970), I was asked to do the ‘Epilogue’ at the end of a Boys Brigade, meeting. So, I pulled out my Rubik cube and gave a short talk on the comprehensive nature of God and His creation, asserting that the God did not just create matter, but also the three dimensions in which matter exists, and in which matter interacts with other matter.

I made this up on the spot, and it appealed to me as a 16 year old, ..and I didn’t get asked again. 

Anyway, now along comes this contrary idea in apologetic philosophy that ‘three’ or the concept of ‘three’ cannot, need not, be invented or created! At least, if you wanted to object, then you would have to insist (as I did in 1970) that God created order, and space itself, not just the stuff that exists within the order and space. Certainly I would accept that the beginnings of creation are expressed in establishing axiomatic, fundamental distinctions that ask us if light and darkness, or matter and space, could ever not exist? Or not be separate?  

 “And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.” Etc. 

‭‭Genesis‬ ‭1:2‬ ‭KJV‬‬ http://bible.com/1/gen.1.2.kjv

Taking these ideas with us into The Garden, before The Creation of Adam and Eve and the serpent, there are no creatures,.. But already, there are exactly three missing creatures!

So, if I do go along with the idea that numbers existed before creation, then very quickly I personally can accept that mathematics, and the laws of thermodynamics exist regardless of any space, matter or energy being there for them to act upon. We might say that God invented ‘applied maths’, but pure maths was already there. Even before there was energy and matter, it would already be true that laws would hold for the proportional interaction of pressure, volume, and temperature, if energy was to be stored in the vibration and velocity of molecules of matter. 

Now given that pure maths, number theory, even the number zero, all predate the the writing of Genesis, and the idea that stories and myths have always been God’s preferred medium for revelation and guidance, let’s look at two similar propositions about the ‘Concept of Disobedience’: 

1. Disobedience need not and cannot be ‘created’. Of course, before creation, no person exists whose actions would constitute obedience or disobedience. However the possibility or concept pre-exists of them doing A or A’ where A is permitted. 

2. The myth would present this concept in personified form, say as a serpent, with all its associations with low, cold, and harmful behaviour. The serpent personifies nothing that was created by God, but merely the fact of the possibility of disobedience; a fact which predates creation, and is not a product of The Creator, despite being represented as an inhabitant of the creation.

Voila. God did not create evil. Everybody happy now?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s