The thing about human consciousness is that, really, human consciousness transcends the human him or herself. Human consciousness functions far differently from that of any other life form on Earth in that the operative ability of it is what psychologists and other clinicians/scientists term “self-awareness”.
The ironic thing about self-awareness is that it really functions as an awareness of “self” beyond the person…as I said, transcending the actual human being. Self-awareness, to me, then, is really the idea of a self beyond the self, our self existing somewhere outside of the body; always in proximity to it, perhaps, but certainly not an inexorable part of it; there is always something metaphysical about human consciousness, whether you are a “spiritual” person or not.
I believe that it is from this primary ability of man’s consciousness we arrive at the concept of an immortal soul…and so easily can we separate ourselves from our bodies in how we functionally interpret almost all of our conscious reality, that even non-religious people will generally concede some sort of “mystic” plane upon which human consciousness exists apart from the fleshly, material realm.
However, speaking of the Christian faith, there is nowhere in the scriptures that I can find where it is claimed that there is existence for man apart from a body. Meaning, there is really no such thing as life apart from the biological…from the fleshly “house” of the person, I could say, so that you function as some sort of nebulous, ethereal mist with neither form, nor space, nor time. But that, as a human being you now and you always will, even in the afterlife, occupy a body…though that body made be made of different “flesh”.
So, it seems to me, not only as a person who only accepts that truth comes from empirical and consistent knowledge rooted in human reason (a nod here to my first cousin, the erudite philosopher, John Locke) and also as a Christian, that indeed the consciousness and particularly self-awareness–again, as the pervasive acknowledgement of your “self” outside of your person…meaning, you are able to functionally remove your consciousness from your body, including your brain–are truly functions of the biological (and I would be surprised if anyone other than a metaphysician or a religious person/leader would argue this point). That is, the OBJECT, the physical body, drives the abstract function/ability we know as consciousness, and more importantly self-awareness, and that it was purposefully designed to be this very way by God, Himself. Indeed, it would be utterly impossible to fulfill even the most basic of divine commands, entreaties, or bare suggestions without the ability to be self-aware, in order that we may make an abstract quantification of our surroundings, acknowledge “choice” and “future”, and to rule and subdue while giving deference in our lives to our Great Creator.
And this is why the Fall is so cruel and so abusive to the human being more so than any other creature on Earth. Why it is so damaging to the human psyche. Now, do not take this to mean I am somehow impugning God in this abuse. Those of you who know me understand that I rank man’s culpability for his actions–that is, his free volition and the utter end of himself to be his ability to reason APART from ANY divine control, possession, or irresistible mystic, irrational, ludicrous and rationally retarded whozeewhatzits whatsoever–as a part of his basic ability to have been created at all. So, that being said, the “Fall”, that is, the exchanging of absolute moral purity as a physical creature of God for the abstract and metaphysically abusive dualism of the moral “law” of good and evil, is indeed utterly upon man’s head. Man was told NOT to go there by God, whom man acknowledged as God and, thus, acknowledged all that that meant. Man went there anyway…man reaps what he sews. It is part of actually BEING, and so you can dispense with all the nonsensical talk of the “problem of evil”. There was no problem until man freely choose to go and do what was made clear he should not do. God did not equivocate.
The problem of evil then is merely the idea that IF Creation exists, it must be free to do whatever it can do according to its ability. That is, it is NOT controlled by God. Therefore, when creation does something, the result of the natural reality of cause and effect relationships manifests itself. And when man does something stupid, like drive drunk, or not wear a motorcycle helmet, or believe in Calvinistic despotic “authority”, or preach ideas that say that people’s greatest sin is their existence at all, OR eat a fruit salad at the behest of Satan, then…well, the fecal excrement WILL, as a function of rank, rational existential course, hit the wind motivator. And so there’s your “problem”. You ask for an explanation of the “problem of evil”; I give you: free will.
Why did God send the tornado, and all those people died?
He didn’t send the tornado. He couldn’t haved stopped the tornado. The tornado, in order to actually BE the tornado, has to do what a tornado does…and that is, occasionally and unfortunately, to level this or that and to kill him or her; adult, child, dog, cat, boy or girl. It is a byproduct of living in a world that is NOT God. IF God is real, then this world has to be REAL. And if this world is real, then humans were given their own separate will, volition, and reason to deal with it. If God is in control of the world, then your will is irrelevant. It is fighting against God. And you will always lose…and by that, I mean, you will not rule nor subdue anything at all. The world will rule you. And if that is true, then you are merely an extension of the world, which IS God. And moreover, if that is the case, your will is indeed not free, but is also controlled by God. And if God controls the world and controls you then God is the world AND God is you…and you are not here and neither is the world. It’s all God. You can’t even think. There is no such thing as your consciousness…your self awareness. There is no such thing as YOU.
Get it? Good.
Deal with it.
Why did the twenty year old die in that tragic motorcycle accident? Why didn’t God stop it?
Well, I submit that God is asking his own why-question: Since he gave that young man a normal brain with a self-aware consciousness and all that, why was said young man going a hundred miles an hour without a helmet?
So it seems that, in many cases, the problem of evil is merely people being stupid, or incompetent, or, in the case of mass murder, criminal violence, despotic regimes like North Korea and Marxist Russia, the problem of evil is the problem of people being rank assholes.
In the case of natural disasters? The problem of evil is: shit happens.
Sorry to be blunt, but there is no other explanation needed. We Christians have got to start using the brains God gave us, and stand up for the rationality of what we believe because we DO have the monopoly on rational TRUTH. When an atheist glares at you and demands that you renounce your God because it is “impossible” to explain the “problem of evil”, you glare right back and say, “Guess what? People are either stupid; incompetent; assholes like you, or shit happens.”
You want to get an atheist’s respect? Stop conceding their premises and ANSWER THEM! Debate them! And I don’t mean proof text your bible. That will was NOTHING with an atheist. Debate them according to REASON. WHY God MUST be who God is; and why YOU then ARE what you are. A Christian faith rooted in REASONABLE acknowledgement of the physical world as the operative force behind all abstract constructs AND consistent, RATIONAL metaphysical truth will destroy their atheist schtick. Every. Damn. Time.
And one more thing. Stop being so nice to people like that. Atheists love to make fools of you. They live for it. They hate you; they think you are a bumbling, drooling, cross-eyed moron who believes in the tooth fairy, and their goal in any argument is to back you into a logical corner where you essentially have to concede just that, and then they promptly snicker into their ape-like hands (oh, they looove evolution, you know; they wave it around like a cheerleader pom-pom…I mean, I believe in evolution too, but, honestly do you really think that showing people that the Bible just might be metaphorical in some places (sarcastic gasp here) is, like, the smoking gun for faith in God? Idiots.) And then they’ll post the incident on their stupid blog sites and tell the world how smart they are and what a dumbass you are. Don’t let them. And don’t be afraid of the four letter words. Really. Whether you like cuss words or not, they are poignant, and do a great job of getting the emotional point across. Believe me, a four letter word here and there will shut them up, too. Do the unexpected. Get them off their game. You’ll throw their own hypocritical beliefs back in their faces, starting by turning their own assumptions about YOU as a Christian on their heads. You won’t cause them to “stumble”. They are atheists. They are as low philosophically and emotionally as they can get already. And you certainly won’t affect how they see you. The nicer you are, the more they hate your Christian guts. The bigger a dumbass they think you are.
How do you explain the problem of evil, you will ask them. How do YOU know what is GOOD? What do you have to offer in the way of philosophical truth to defend the poor, the sick, the helpless, and other people in general from violation, tyranny, bloodshed, exploitation, and pain? Their answer is, believe me, jack squat. The ONLY moral truth an atheist can have is themselves, alone. The world must live and die for them, it is the only definition of good to an atheist. Atheism is self-worship. It is not good and right individualism…it is individual self-worship. It is the sinister and satanic response to the true individual human freedom and love that Jesus came to declare; the love and reverence for ALL human beings AS individuals.
Thus, atheism will only ever conclude with the annihilation of the human race. You think Islam or Calvinism are scary? Look around at the communists . Are they any better? No…they are every bit as bad. And that is why atheists are hypocrites. Like the pharisees and every other mystic tyrant, worshiping self is no better than worshiping a false religious paradigm. 20 million dead in Stalin’s Russia are nodding right now. Oh wait…they can’t nod. Atheistic Mother Russia chopped all their heads off.
But back to my original point.
We humans live our lives, essentially, as an out of body experience. We understand our world by pulling ourselves out of it…out of our own bodies. This is how we do anything. Almost every thought of every day and every moment is a thought of the future…a function of yourself, but nowhere physically near yourself, because the abstract is wholly removed from the physical. And the same for thoughts of past. Thoughts of present? Same thing. We see and acknowledge things in terms of abstract quantification, qualifications…everything is an abstract concept to us because we qualify and quantify everything with language. Language is how we do and know anything from the moment we can comprehend it…even expression, outside of “language” proper is linguistic in this regard: it is abstract. It places ALL experience, even experience directly related to the body, in the abstract place of the self-aware; an abstraction of wholly out-of-body existence.
And this is why death, and pain, and sickness is so horribly cruel; why Christ came to heal, and to save from death. Because when we realize how cruel a thing physical death is for a self-aware consciousness, we can truly understand the gravity of the Fall; why God is so compassionate to save. Because He understands the psychological torture and abuse of physical pain and death for a man or woman who lives in a consciousness which is wholly removed from the physical. Because He NEVER intended this contradictory thing to be so…physical death combined with a consciousness that is designed to function APART from the physical in practical application. You see, without a self-aware consciousness, man cannot be man. He can never experience the GOOD that was intended for him. His mortal body was intended to function as a compliment, and adjunct to his out-of-body awareness; pleasure through the body, manifested by a free-will cognitive relationship with God, the Father, in love.
But the problem now with death and pain is that it psychologically enslaves this conscious mind of man to the fear of the pain and torment and death of the body, because the mind understands the inevitability of it. The mind understands that though it, the mind, is out of the body, it is not really thus. The mind IS the body, and that is the visceral truth. And at no time is this more real than when death has come to overtake; when sickness bears down with the heavy and merciless blindness of a natural, unstoppable force of destruction…like a raging wind, it cannot be reasoned with because it does not think; and it does not SEE your consciousness, but only your body.
And when that time comes, when the meeting of the physical body and the self-aware consciousness occurs at the crossroads of death and pain, then the psychological horror is felt like devouring, crushing hoard. You realize then–and you cannot get around it because your BODY refuses to let go; gripping you with white hot anguish that lets you know that your body IS you–yes, you realize that for the entirety of your life you have lived the lie.
It is the lie of a self beyond the self. A mind without the body.
There is no such thing.