(Originally penned and posted on April 18, ARSH 2011. I have added some precisions. This is one of the most common questions I receive, as any thinking person slams up against the seeming contradiction of an omnipotent God Who is Perfect Good and the presence of evil in the world almost immediately when any sort of conversion or reversion process begins. Priests, if I may offer some advice, THESE are the kinds of questions that people need explanations to. PLEASE, just explain this stuff from the pulpit so screeching harpies like me don’t have to do it.)
There are a couple of things that have always greatly troubled me about Christianity. And let me state for the record that I do believe in God and I do believe that He sent His Son to Earth to be our Savior. But, how can it be claimed that God is in absolute control of EVERYTHING, including all of those fusion reactions, in this universe? In order to accept that notion, one must accept that God is in ABSOLUTE control of all evil, not just all good. And if God absolutely controls all evil, and nothing happens in this universe without his consent, permission and “go ahead”, well, where does that leave us? Logically, If God exists (and he does) and Satan exists (and he does) and God has absolute and complete control of everything Satan has, does, thinks and wants, doesn’t the line of separation between the two get blurred? And by even thinking that blasphemous thought have I committed the Cardinal Sin?
FANTASTIC question. How can God be all-powerful and still allow evil? If God is all-powerful, aren’t we all just little chess men being moved around on a chess board?
First, we have to pin down the concept of free will. Because God LOVES His creation, most especially sentient beings, He gave all sentient beings FREE WILL. He didn’t want us to be his “toys” or “pets”, because toys are mere objects and animals have no rational nature. Since that which is loved must FIRST be first apprehended by the rational intellect, animals lack the ability to truly LOVE. No debate will be entertained on this point. Lassie does NOT love Timmy. Lassie may be attached to Timmy, but I will not permit any debasing of love, TRUE LOVE, by giving any quarter to the Modernist lie that animals are capable of it. This is pure, sentimentalist lying nonsense which has bubbled up from the pit of hell in order to convince MEN that they are animals.
Men are NOT animals. God created us as SUBJECTS. He wants to interact with us and have a dynamic relationship with us. He wants to love us, and for us to love Him in return. The way He did this was to bestow upon us individual sovereignty, or free will. We can choose. We can, through our decisions and actions, alter the timeline. In fact, every decision and action we take does just that. As we travel through linear time, we are constantly shaping and directing, through our free decisions, how the timeline unfolds.
Now a quick precision about these “sentient beings” that God created. There are two populations within that set. The first is human beings, who are spirits joined to a body. We are BODY-PERSONS. The other population is referred to as angels. Yes, angels are very real, as Our Lord makes REPEATED, SPECIFIC reference to them in the Gospels, and they are present throughout the canon of scripture, which was, of course, authored ultimately by God the Holy Ghost. Angels are PURE SPIRIT. They do not have physical bodies. They have, on occasion, made themselves manifest to people by taking on the appearance of a body, but that is done purely for our benefit. They are pure spirit.
Satan is in this population, along with what we call “demons”. These are pure spirits who chose to rebel against God. Why did they rebel? Angels exist, like God, outside of time. They saw that it was God’s will, one way or another, to Incarnate and take on human flesh so that He could love us AS one of us. A certain percentage of the angels were repulsed by this – repulsed at the idea of bowing down and worshiping a mere Man, even if that Man was God Incarnate, and so they rebelled. Since God made them free sovereigns, they were permitted to do this. Think about it. If God just started snuffing beings out of existence when they made a choice that wasn’t in accord with His will, wouldn’t that cheapen all life and existence to the point of meaninglessness? Wouldn’t all rational beings just be mere object-playthings at that point? Yep. Love means putting up with the periodic insufferable behavior of the beloved. Most ESPECIALLY for God. The corollary to this is the following fact: No matter what you do, you will always, always, always exist. God loved you into existence, and loves you because you exist, and will never stop loving you, and will never, ever snuff you out of existence, no matter what. If you reject Him, that is your free choice, but understand, you will continue to exist FOREVER after you have rejected God. Every one of us will exist and exist forever – either in Heaven (inside of the Trinity, the Beatific Vision), or completely cut off from Him. F.O.R.E.V.E.R. That’s hell. There is no “snuffed out of existence feeling neither happiness nor pain” option. So disabuse yourself of that lie right now.
So, that explains how evil entered into the world and is allowed to persist. Now a little recreational physics. I have always LOVED physics, even though my math education was horrible. When I was in the 8th grade, my grandmother bought Steven Hawking’s “A Brief History of Time” for me with her senior discount card at Waldenbooks. Oh, I was so happy. One of the concepts that Hawking explained was the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle. In a nutshell, the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle states that we can never know the exact position AND velocity of any particle, because in order to observe a particle, you have to bounce a photon off of it – which then alters its position and velocity. Now, you might think that is no big deal, but it is a HUGE deal. You’re just going to have to take my word for this for the moment, but what this means is that when a particle travels from point A to point B, it traverses EVERY POSSIBLE PATH SIMULTANEOUSLY. I’m not kidding. This is experimentally proven. Hey! Here’s a video of it! Stay with this to the very end. The final punchline is a mindblower…
SHUT UP! Is that not the COOLEST THING?
What does this have to do with God and free will? God in His omniscience knows and sees not only the Reality Timeline, which is the result of all of our individual decisions, but he also knows and sees all of the, what I call, “Heisenberg Timelines” which are constantly and infinitely shooting and branching off from the Reality Timeline. In other words, the Heisenberg Timelines are the timelines that WOULD have happened IF we had made a different choice. When we say that God is INFINITE and ALL-KNOWING, we really don’t comprehend the real scope of what we are saying. Infinite means infinite – not limited in any way. Hence, the infinite number of Heisenberg Timelines fit very easily into that set. God has provided not just for the decisions that we actually make (Reality), but also for every possible decision that we COULD have made.
What God does is constantly execute His Providence and drive forward Reality from among the infinite dataset that is His Perfect Will and Providence after every decision every person makes. Let’s say that right now in this moment His will is for Ann to do action Y, which is in accord with His Perfect Will, but I instead choose to do action Z, which is a sin. After I choose and execute action Z, He then executes the specific plan from within His Divine Providence dataset given action Z. If action Z was a sin, His Perfect Will and Providence in the Reality Timeline is that I confess and repent of that sin, but the timeline continues given the reality of Action Z, which I freely chose. If I choose action Y, He drives the Reality Timeline forward given the dataset and Providence that results from my action Y.
I cannot emphasize enough the infinite love, patience and condescension we are talking about here. There just aren’t words. Not only has He Provided for our salvation, but He has Provided for it in infinite upon infinite upon infinite possible paths so that we can have free will, and thus be able to love Him as our own free choice – which is the only kind of love there is.
So what we see is that God is in an unending and infinite dance of love manifested in freedom with all of us. His Will is always for perfect good, but in His love for us, He allows us to act freely, and then in His Mercy, He Provides a path to Salvation given our choices. He allows us to, in a sense, cooperate with Him in authoring reality. This is why wonderful things tend to come out of bad situations. Think of all of the husbands and wives who have met and fallen in love . . . because of a war. How many times have you heard a person recall a terrible childhood, or a terrible accident, and then say, ” . . .but I wouldn’t change a thing.” Now you know why.
Does God ever enter into the timeline and “nudge” events? Oh, yes. Many times these “nudges” are barely perceptible and exist almost entirely within the conscious or sub-conscious mind. But He does also on occasion physically enter into spacetime to nudge the timeline, and those instances, when recognized, are called “miracles”.
And yes, He is managing to do all this while driving 1.659 novemdecillion fusion reactions per second. The truth is that 1.659 novemdecillion fusion reactions per second in all of the stars in the universe is NOTHING compared to the enormousness of the dataset that contains every possible decision and its consequence, and its consequence, and its consequence… that could be made by every single human being ever, and the corresponding Divine Provision for every possible decision, just so that a few of us might, in whatever feeble and pathetic way, look upon a Crucifix, or upon Him, physically and substantially present in the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar, and say freely without any coercion whatsoever in the Reality Timeline, “I love You, too.”
I hope this helps you.
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts: nor your ways My ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are exalted above the earth, so are My ways exalted above your ways, and My thoughts above your thoughts.”