You meant it for evil (2)

You thought I forgot about this little series which I intended to complete in October 2008, didn't you? Yeah, well, you get a new job, move your house and family and close a lucrative bookstore during November and December some time, and then you can get to your complaint. Indeed: where were you when I liquidated the ESVSB? And how did you measure for me the span of the storage space?

Anyway, the last time we mentioned that if Joseph had never been sold into slavery, he would have never been in a position to become what he became.

And the wily atheist -- the one who admits, btw, that even he might be willing to suffer for the sake of something, like being part of the 60 million who had to die to bring to an end the suffering of 6 million others in a small minority group -- would probably say, "hey: that's an overstatement at best. Maybe Joseph could not have made his way from Potipher's house to the jail to the right hand of Pharaoh (granting, implausibly, that there is a shred of truth in this story), but to say there was no way for him to become Pharaoh's agent to make the storehouses of grain without him suffering is far-fetched at best. He didn't have to suffer to become king of the world: God could have just wedged him in there either by birth or by some other non-suffering method."

But the thing that the wily atheist overlooks here is that this objection is speculative at best, and disjointed from reality at worst. He has abandoned his existential reasoning for fantasy exactly when the existential truth betrays him.

Let's take Barack Obama for example -- who didn't get sold into slavery in order to become President-elect of the United States. Someone might have the audacity to say he certainly didn't suffer to become leader of the Free World -- but those people, frankly, have never tried to lead the life he lead to run for President.

Now, don't get me wrong: I'm not hardly shilling for Sen. Obama here. What I'm saying is that the reality check against the atheist claim that suffering is theoretically not necessary to achieve power is against the existential fact that he cannot produce one person in the history of the world who came to significant power without suffering. They had to pay some kind of price to get what they wanted, and it was not a small price.

See: the measuring stick here is existential fact. The "problem of evil" is measured by the atheist by the existential fact that there is pain in the world. Having pointed this out, and having set the groundwork for his complaint, if we allow his complaint to stand we cannot then walk away from its basis after he has finished complaining.

If the existential fact of pain is the problem, and it exists when we rule out God as a cause or a solution, we cannot then just toss out pain as a factor in the world.

As in, for example, Joseph's life. Existentially, the story of Joseph makes sense. That is, it fits the pattern of the world we know to say that Joseph had to suffer some kind of hardship to become a close advisor to the ruler of Egypt.

One may say, "well, fie upon the dreams and the miracles -- those condemn that story as complete nonsense," but that is a different complaint. The Bible uses the story of Joseph to make one singular point: in some way, men intend some actions for the sake of evil, but somehow those actions play out to redeem them in spite of themselves.

And the "somehow" here is critical to the point of the Bible as a whole -- and it is the thing which the atheist must deal with in the end.

These men intended what happened to Joseph for evil -- but because Joseph was sold into slavery, and made a prisoner under false pretenses something which saves many is made to happen.

Mull that over, and I'll be back again later to give you some more of the remedy to the problem of evil.