Theodicy: Another Perspective

[Updated 4/5/2024 to add Addendum]

This spinning dancer is one of my favorite visual effects. I usually see her spinning clockwise but with a change in view I can see her spinning counterclockwise.1

This same change of perspective is possible with the "problem" of evil (and divine hiddenness) which are two arguments employed for the non-existence of [a good] God.

The first step to the change of perspective is to remember that logic does not prove its axioms. It cannot, otherwise one is engaging in circular reasoning. The next step is to recall that logic neither adds to, nor subtracts from, the system described by the axioms. If it isn't "in" the axioms, it doesn't appear as a result; if it is "in" the axioms, it doesn't disappear from the result. Logic is a physical operation, not unlike a meat grinder. Beef in, hamburger out; pork in, ground pork out.

These first two steps should be without controversy. So should the third, but it's less familiar; namely, that nature does not impose on us the axioms that we choose. There are more axioms in "mind" space than there are in "meat" space
2,3, and nature does not "tell" us which axioms we should use to describe it.

The switchover may come from the observation that the problem of evil and/or divine hiddenness are problems for some people and not for others. Jesus, for example, affirmed the existence of a good God in Luke 18:19 and denied a problem with hiddenness in his sermon on the mount [Matthew 5:8].

So if evil and hiddenness are problems, then the problem is inherent in the axioms; if they aren't problems, they aren't problems inherent in the axioms.

Since nature doesn't tell us which axioms to choose, why do we choose the axioms we do? Are these "problems" just a mirror to our souls?


It's gratifying to find someone coming to the same conclusion independently. In the coffee shop this morning I read the following and had to update this post.

Our passions infiltrate our intuitions. When in a bad mood, we read someone’s neutral look as a glare; in a good mood, we intuit the same look as interest. Social psychologists have played with the effect of emotions on social intuitions by manipulating the setting in which someone sees a face. Told a pictured man was a Gestapo leader, people will detect cruelty in his unsmiling face. Told he was an anti-Nazi hero, they will see kindness behind his caring eyes. Filmmakers have called this the “Kulechov effect,” after a Russian film director who similarly showed viewers an expressionless man. If first shown a bowl of hot soup, their intuition told them he was pensive. If shown a dead woman, they perceived him as sorrowful. If shown a girl playing, they said he seemed happy. The moral: our intuitions construe reality differently, depending on our assumptions. “We don’t see things as they are,” says the Talmud, “we see things as we are.” – "Intuition", David G. Myers

[1] I usually make a "v" with my middle and index fingers and look at the dancer through the gap, starting at her feet and moving up until she changes direction. If she doesn't switch by the time I get to the waist, I move down and try again. Sometimes I have to vary with width of the gap. Blink several times and she goes back to the initial direction.
[2] This assumes that there is a difference between the two spaces. We certainly perceive that there is. But, as the dancer illustrates, we might not be looking at reality the right way.
[3] Non-Euclidean geometry is one well-known example of this.
[4] See "
The Rules of God Club" for one set of axioms in which evil and hiddenness are not problems.
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