Friday, January 18, 2013

Why Evil Exists.

This is from our mid-week noon time video series.  The current one is Why Evil Exists? by professor Charles Mathewes at the University of Chicago.  The lecture series has 36 videos, which undoubtedly qualifies as some sort of evil to have to watch them all.

The first real lecture was on the Enuma Elish and the Epic of Gilgamesh, both of which are from ancient Mesopotamia of creation and the flood.  I have also read both of them, so it was quite easy to separate out the mythology of the ancients from the mythology of the modern professors.  It has many parallels with Genesis, yet at the same time is totally different in character.  Prof. Mathewes did note some of this, but missed the fact that character of the Babylonian myths is more of a spoof than the real thing.  In the later part of the lecture Prof. Mathewes tries to come up with some theological generalizations of the view in these stories, but again we have a huge problem:  The Babylonians and Assyrians did not leave us any examples of abstract reasoning.  In fact, there is a major argument that abstract reasoning simply had not, um, evolved at this point in human development.  My assertion is that abstract reasoning first rears its head in the Hebrew scriptures, but I should whisper this lest some academics try to burn my house down.  The problem is that the academic views of Babylonian and Assyrian theology really have their origin with the modern academics. We can argue that the stories are compatible with these modern theological notions, but any effort to do so should be prefaced with a disclaimer noting that the theological notion did not originate with the Mesopotamians, but instead originate in the imaginations of modern academics.  Let's keep the authorship where it belongs.

Moving along, the specific theological notion that prof. Mathewes assigns to these Mesopotamian stories is that of Dualism.  On what evidence?  It is because the gods squabble and bicker and the like.  I suppose all conflicts require two opposing sides.  My usual contrarian nature must then ask whether or not a group of squabbling children constitutes a profound Dualistic theological statement or not.  The group of squabbling children is the example I will use due to the level of the squabbling between the gods in the Enuma Elish and the way the gods are viewed in the Epic of Gilgamesh.  And what profound moral and philosophical concepts do the participants in the squabbling represent?  Or wasn't it really just the case that our clever academics simply made up the assertion that the Enuma Elish was some profound work of Daoist theology rather than an early form of entertainment?

May The Force be with you!

1 comment:

Delirious said...

This chapter from the Book of Mormon explores the issue of good and evil.