Thursday 28 March 2024

Why are innately-evil people incarnated?

Our thoughts may be transparent, but our fundamental selves are not.

Thus God knows what we are thinking, but does not know our "hearts". 

This is important to recognize, because it explains why so many people are incarnated into this mortal life, who seem to be evil; and evil in an apparently unredeemable way. Who appear to be utterly incapable of love, or to hate love - and who behave accordingly. 

If the human heart/ soul/ ultimate-self were transparent to God - i.e. if God knew for sure that such people were structurally incapable of love - then there would be no reason for innately-evil people to be incarnated into mortal life...

Because mortal life could do such persons no good, because they are incapable of learning the lessons of this world; and because there are many reasons for hope-lessly evil people not to be incarnated - since they cause so much suffering, and may induce other people to engage in and desire evil.   

This world and life therefore make best sense if we realize that God does not know our fundamental nature, cannot see into our "hearts;  and cannot be sure of any individual that he will not at some point in his life; learn-spiritually, repent, and eventually accept the gift of Salvation. 

Such is one reason why this world contains individuals who truly are greatly evil, some who were (apparently) born evil, some who seem incapable of good - even some who, in their hearts (if anyone but knew that) may be totally evil. 

NOTE: It is likely that very few of the famously historically evil leaders were innately and totally evil, since this would usually be a bar to social success and power. Past societies were also alert and keen to exclude or eliminate (one way or another) such persons. Total evil is most likely to be seen among children, youths, and among obscure adults; and is probably much commoner in modern societies - where value-inversion is positively-regarded, official and enforced. 


Stephen Macdonald said...

From time to time I am deeply shaken by a human being whom I discern has an almost reptilian quality. Recently there was a TV interview with a woman in Vancouver who in a flat monotone defended her government-sponsored role distributing fentanyl to destitute drug addicts on the street, including to teenagers. (Vancouver has the highest overdose death rate in the world, and it climbed dramatically when the government began handing out the drugs). I experienced in this moment a glimpse of the total evil to which Dr Charlton alludes. This is a very different experience than meeting, for example, a typical notorious criminal, which I have had occasion to do. Some criminals are certainly "totally" evil (as you say, many of them are youths who kill with utter indifference) but most are not. A friend has a prison ministry and she regularly describes her experiences there to me. Many men have come to Christ while in prison, and a good percentage of those conversions are bona fide and seemingly permanent.

Most of the "reptiles" are apparently respectable but low-profile middle-class functionaries. They do indeed seem to have an irredeemable quality. They lack the desperation that leads so many criminals and other reprobates to turn to God. They are calm and measured as they secrete the venom of deep evil in our midst. As we saw with the birdemic, many of these people also exude a hypnotic charisma over great swathes of the public when suddenly thrust into public view due to some concocted "emergency".

The thesis that God does not know their hearts would of course alarm many traditional Christians. I am not among them. I follow Christ because He is Truth. All that rings deeply of Truth is of Him. I don't know whether Dr. Charlton's thesis in this regard is true or not, but it makes sense.

Laeth said...

I take it as fact that indeed there are people born evil, but I don't know if I agree that it means God does not know our hearts, at least not to an extent that would allow him to judge what even we can judge more or less easily, as is the case here. I think I prefer to relinquish God's abilities, so to speak, on the other side, which is that he cannot prevent certain selves from being incarnated, so that he has no hand in all bodies of flesh that are made, but only in some. I can imagine hell sending minions here, especially after Jesus opened the doors to everything, including hell. this option is very disturbing, but it does not mean it isn't true. the way I understand God, it makes more sense to me that he has more knowledge than power, rather than the other way around. and of course, this does not mean there is no possibility of one of these persons to repent, although it seems unlikely, both from experience and from a logical point of view.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Laeth - I have found that IF one assumes that that God can see the nature and hearts of Men, then "free will"/ agency is negated.

I think we must regard thinking/ consciousness as a different entity from our-true-selves; as "emanations" of our true selves.

I can't make coherent sense of a schema whereby the self can be known - because if it is transparent and can be known, then it is not fundamental. I regard the self of a Being as the bottom line, not directly knowable, not divisible, beyond which we cannot go.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Stephen - I don't disagree exactly, but it is important to be clear that all our actual judgments of specific people are *ultimately* of the nature of hypotheses. We must make and act upon such judgments, but my point is that they may be wrong - since the self is "opaque".

Laeth said...

@Bruce, I agree, but the knowledge I'm talking about is not some sort of exact and total knowledge, but the kind that even we can have access to, for example, to discern Good and Evil. Not a certain knowledge by any means, but some.

In fact I think there has to be some knowledge on the part of God of each Self that he helps to clothe with a fleshly body, because otherwise, and for example, he might give an improper body to the self, which I don't believe is the case (for example, being born with the wrong sex). In short, there have to be things that God knows about our intimate selves, just not everything because that is impossible, otherwise our bodies (which are fashioned by God, in my opinion) would have no relation to the Self to which they belong, and I think, exceptions notwithstanding, this has to be the case, otherwise the bodies would not function properly.

this in my opinion also helps to explain why certain kinds of evil are more prevalent in certain kinds of people, because the body is to a large extent an expression of the self.

Inquisitor Benedictus said...

In my youth I had a Faustian moment where an evil spirit offered me worldly success in exchange for malevolent service/bondage. Christ intervened and I avoided it. Just before that the evil spirit gave me a taste of that "reptilian quality" Stephen Macdonald mentioned above—it was a kind of outward, superficial brilliance and charming affability which concealed a total darkness within; I was taken aback by the power and strange malleability of it (for this reason I have to disagree about famous historical villains lacking this quality of evil; you'd be shocked to see how magnificently it masks itself and how it can wear a pleasantly human disguise). Also, a taste of the total, megalomaniacal, devoted hatred of mankind.

That said, I don't think anyone is born innately evil, truly and completely. There might be some that come close to it. The evil spirits which excite and charge it are so evilly corrupt and diabolically deranged that you would certainly take them as innately evil on appearance; but even these abominably wicked ones have a perverse sort of reasoning to justify their heinousness. It also can't be exaggerated how much such spirits hate themselves and their existence; and how their entire spiritual posture is a kind of schizophrenic, double-minded flitting between proudly hating God and cravenly hating themselves—one moment begging God to erase them from existence, and another moment cursing God out of heaven.

The modern notion that human evil is entirely a matter of poor circumstances and traumatic experiences is certainly false and condescending—it misunderstands human nature fundamentally. I did have a traumatic experience which the evil spirit tempting me certainly played upon, but there was no doubt that my submitting to it would have been a freely-willed, malicious and responsible act. However, there is always a trauma at the heart of such corruption, if only the basic trauma of existing in a world of suffering and alienation from God; as such, buried deep within this evil is a cry for redemption. The evil heart proudly resists and despises this in itself, but it's there nonetheless.

I don't think evil can subsist in itself as that would imply an infinite potential in Evil co-equal to God's. I think such evil must always exhaust itself eventually, and either expire out of existence or convert to the Good—although my belief is in total redemption, apokatastasis, of all souls. As someone who's had a glimpse of the diabolic, though, I wouldn't blame someone for thinking such a hell is unrepentant in eternity.

As for why evil souls are born here. I think they've probably gone through a refining process prior to birth which just about qualifies them for earthly existence, and the hope is that they will experience some kindness here that will change their hearts furthe. There's always a risk here though, even for formerly very good souls.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Laeth - "there has to be some knowledge on the part of God of each Self"

Indeed. I am saying that this knowledge comes from the transparency of our thinking - God knows what we are thinking. From this are made inferences as to our nature.

"he might give an improper body to the self, which I don't believe is the case (for example, being born with the wrong sex)"

Like Mormons; I believe that sex is a fundamental division of selves; which enables creation in the first place. So, sex is known by God - for sure, and not by inference from thoughts.

Bruce Charlton said...

@IB - " I don't think anyone is born innately evil, truly and completely. "

You may be misunderstanding me. I am talking about people incapable of Good because they are incapable of love.

That is indeed "complete" evil, but not in the sense of having all possible evil attributes to the max; but in the sense of being incapable of salvation.

Ed said...

I have a concept that God created a finite number of souls, but runs them through an infinite number of worlds or universes until one "clicks". God is outside of time and space and can do that.

A soul in each universe will adopt a persona, which is how it deals with other souls in that universe, and while the soul is oriented towards God, the persona is determined more by the environment, including the body, the soul is placed in in that iteration. The persona can be more or less "good" or "evil", but its soul may be encased in a "good" persona in one universe or iteration and an evil one in another, and vice versa.

Some souls will be within infants who die a short time after being born, and within a persona in that universe that never develops much. This won't happen in every universe or iteration the soul finds itself in.

So there are iterations where a soul may be within an evil personality, just as it might be within a physical body that is born defective in some serious way.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Ed - This doesn't make sense to me, because I regard the Omni-God concept as wrong, and because my metaphysical assumptions must fit with Christianity - including an essential ("cosmic", creation-changing) role for Jesus Christ.

Michael Coulin said...

I know you aren't fond of 'cyclical interpretations' but to me the 'problem of evil' is very straightforward - it is simply the tangible manifestation of the process of entropy in the cosmos, which is steadily increasing over time.

We can align ourselves with this entropic 'tide of history' or we can stand against it. Those men and women of spirit who resist are akin to a blade sharpened by the world's constant friction.

Michael Zorn said...

In connection with God's foreknowledge and free will: once we realize that God exists outside of time (time as we know it), the contradiction disappears.
Consider this thought experiment: I go ahead a little bit, to see who wins the World Series, or a horse race, then I come back and bet accordingly.
Did I determine the outcome?

People have always been puzzling over the nature of Evil; why God allows bad things to happen; why bad men prosper and good men fail.

For humans, free will is a necessity. It's better to be God's willing servant than a serf.

But because God is there at the outcome, as He was in the Beginning, .....
... doesn't mean that He doesn't know about it.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Michael Zorn

You are arguing the classical theological position - e.g. of Boethius. To me it makes no sense to talk of outside time - because I regard Beings as the primary metaphysical reality, and beings are alive hence intrinsically dynamic - so time is built into reality.

But the Boethian explanation has not been successful in answering simple and vital questions about freedom and evil - pointing at incomprehensible abstractions doesn't really count as an explanation in my book.

Michael Zorn said...

The God must be a primary metaphysical reality, and therefore exist Somewhere. Is it a fool's errand to as Where? In other words, is that even a Question?