New Resource: The Tale of Twelve Officers

J.L. Hinman, one of the contributors to this blog as well as being the author of his own blog, Meta's blog, has written a response to The Tale of the Twelve Officers written by Mark Vuletic and posted on the Internet Infidels website. His response, entitled The Tale of Twelve Officers has been posted on the CADRE's official website (accept no substitutes).

The original essay by Mr. Vuletic, is a parable (or anti-parable) about the problem of pain. It seeks to critiques twelve different Christian responses to the problem of pain by pointing out their alleged inadequacies by positing twelve different policemen who observe a heinous crime and do nothing about it for twelve different reasons. The reasons, of course, attempt to mimic the arguments made by Christian to respond to the very real and difficult problem of pain in this world.

Here is an example of one of the reasons with Hinman's response:


[The fourth officer explains his inaction:] "When I first arrived on the scene, I actually drew my gun and pointed it right at the rapist's head," confessed the fourth officer, with a very guilty look on his face. "I'm deeply ashamed I did that. Do you know how close I came to destroying all of the goodness in the world? I mean, we all know there can't be any good without evil. Fortunately, I remembered this just in time, and a wave of such strong nausea came over me when I realized what I had almost done, that it knocked me to my hands and knees. Man, was that a close one."

This is a misapplication of several arguments none of which say that if God stops evil good will be destroyed. I have argued against atheist' views that try to make evil into an essence. Thus, many times they will argue that some contradiction obtains because God is good and evil exits, thus God is contradicted by evil or some such idea. Sometimes they push this to the point of making evil an essential quality. I say evil is not a positive thing. It's the lack of good. But that doesn't mean that in space somewhere there's this big "lack of good" sitting around. The lack of good is in the heart, the human heart, or the attitudes. That is not an argument that evil is in any way necessary to good. The relationship of good to evil is like that of light to shade. Light does not depend upon shade for its existence. Shade does depend upon light.

Absolutely. Consider what the officer (being an analogy for God) is supposedly saying: without evil there cannot be any goodness. Where in the world did that idea come from? Goodness doesn't exist because of evil. Evil, as Hinman correctly points out, has been held for many years by Christian thinkers and theologians to be the absence of good. In fact, Revelation foretells of a time to come when all evil will be destroyed. Does that somehow mean that all goodness will be destroyed, too? Absurd!

While I don't agree wholeheartedly with every point, I think that J.L. Hinman's article is an excellent response to an anti-parable that is given way too much credit for what little it actually does.


Anonymous said…
Very interesting; I will have to read it.

Though I don't agree with the statement "Evil is the absence of good"; at least not entirely, that is.
Anonymous said…
I've noticed a meta-problem with the whole analogy: God is not a police officer, He is the judge.

Secondly, I always held a skepticism for the problem of evil, knowing from my own experience and human nature that pain and suffering are both real and percieved. Therefore no matter how much or how little suffering there is in our lives or the lives of others, we will always percieve it.

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