Evil, agency, and suffering

In my posting regarding the Huckabee flap, I noted that the LDS approach to ‘angels and demons’ avoids some of the issues regarding the problem of evil (theodicy), largely due to our rejection of creatio ex nihilo (creation from nothing). While this helps neutralize the “God created evil” issue, we do still have the issue of ‘why does God permit evil?’ I think it’s because it’s a necessary consequence of our agency, which from an LDS perspective is an essential aspect of our eternal progress.

Beyond that, I suspect that in the next life, our perspectives regarding evil, suffering, and injustice will shift dramatically — in part because we will have ‘grown up’ and will have an eternal perspective on things. As a child, I hated getting shots; I would literally scream and thrash about. I’m still not a great fan of needles, but I can calmly watch myself getting a shot or giving blood — I think two years (during my missionary work in Central America) of getting a gamma globulin shot every three months probably did that for me. That’s a trivial example, but I think that our perspective will truly change in an eternal setting.

Beyond that, however, I suspect we may see examples of evil on an eternal level that make the worst sufferings here on earth look paltry and momentary. Consider this: if agency is an eternal aspect of eternal intelligences, what about those intelligences that chose evil early on — before ever receiving ‘spirit bodies’? If agency existed prior to spirit incarnation — and I would certainly read the scriptures and the prophets that way — then the spirit sibling we call Lucifer is clearly a ‘Johnny-come-lately’ to the dark side.

At the risk of sounding like a Latter-day Lovecraft — I wonder what evil might exist that has been following that course for much of eternity? What form might it take, and what threat might it pose to (a) other intelligences, (b) pre-mortal spirits, (c) post-mortal spirits, and (d) resurrected beings? (Think about it:  who tempted Lucifer?) We may find that our mortal life is just a warm-up for the real battle.

Thoughts? ..bruce..

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