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September 2020, #79 The Mystery of Evil – Part 1

An old song from my youth inculcates Love as “The Sweet Mystery of Life,” but something more needs to be said for a fuller understanding of the human condition, the mystery we find ourselves engaged in. The mystery of evil has fascinated theologians and religionists as long as mankind has given thought to this strange paradox. Religionists have said it is a test of faith, but reason has required deeper questioning. “Plotinus argued that the very infinitude of God must therefore involve imperfections like moral and physical evils and that instead of infringing on the omnipotence of God, these imperfections really point to the infinitude of God.” [All quotes are from PB’s essay, “The Mystery of Evil.]

The original unpublished essay, ‘The Mystery of Evil,’ is now on the PBPF website and is relevant to the world situation today. I encourage you to read it.

PB warns us to learn from history. He cites “Hitler’s half-conscious mission was to liquidate the old order of things and to destroy world-views which had lost their timelines and serviceability. He warns that the prevalent state of materialism in the world and its consequent influence on human character may lead to something even more devastating than war. Nature might take a hand in the game. Within a couple of months, there were slain by the influenza epidemic just after the First World War many times more people than were slain during the four years of that war itself.” “The science and civilization, the culture and cities of Atlantis were erased from the earth’s surface, engulfed by a vast mass of water which has since, during thousands of years’ ceaseless rolling, washed its site clean of the ancient foulness.”

This work addresses the education and evolution of human intelligence. “What is the true place of evil in a universe whose informing soul is itself a benevolent one? Although all that happens in the world will not happen outside the divine knowledge and will not escape the power of the divine laws, the development of the thinking power of man is a part of the evolution of intelligence,” writes PB. A better balanced psyche is able to let two ways of viewing the world exist side by side without developing a divided mind. An investigation of concepts and meaning of the use of words is necessary to define evil. “Evil in the world is only relatively and partially such, never absolutely and eternally.” Turkish hordes ousted Charlemagne’s forces who were promoting Christian beliefs by sword, and they broke into Constantinople and drove their keepers to Italy releasing upon Europe new forces which greatly stimulated the Renaissance movement already in being. “Evil warfare produced ‘good’ cultural results. The divine idea works itself out through human frailties as well as through human virtues. In this case evil is at times our teacher.”

Thus, the cosmic plan is introduced into the teaching. “Both evil and pain have been allotted roles in human development from its very start. They have not appeared by accident or by any unexpected ‘fall.’ They have not been introduced against the divine will by some satanic power. The fall into sin and the experience of pain are integral parts of the cosmic plan for human development. What is at fault is human perception, human impatience and human limitation. It is his quality and degree of consciousness which makes one man perceive only evil where another man perceives both evil and good, as well as comprehends that human evil is both the consequence of human freewill and the cost of human evolution.”