This Dark Age

A manual for life in the modern world.

By Daniel Schwindt

NOTICE:
This Dark Age is now available in paperback on Amazon. The print version is MUCH cleaner than this online version, which is largely unedited and has fallen by the wayside as the project has grown. If you’ve appreciated my writing, please consider leaving a review on the relevant paperback volumes. The print edition also includes new sections (Military History, War Psychology, Dogmatic Theology).

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The absence of theodicy and the Islamic conscience

Theodicy deals with the question of evil and is an effort to vindicate divine goodness and providence in view of evil’s existence in the world. Theodicy tries to answer the question, “How can a good who is all good, all knowing, and all powerful, create a world where evil exists?”

What is interesting is that this question has not bothered Muslims nearly so much as it has bothered Christians. In Christianity there is a ceaseless stream of literature seeking to assure Christians that God could not possibly be responsible for the existence of evil, and every sort of logical argument is deployed to demonstrate this.

Nonetheless, it has always seemed to us that theodicy, or the impulse to engage in the project of theodicy, is an expression of skepticism, at best, and the production of such a body of apologetic literature on this subject is, I think, telling about the Christian conscience. It expresses a deep concern for who exactly is to blame. If Adam, then what justice holds the world responsible? If God, then what of His Goodness?

We will not delve into that question from the point of view of Christianity, for which is pivotal given that it leads directly to the necessity of Christ’s sacrifice. Here we only wish to point out that for Muslims it does not really seem to be much of an issue, and to suggest that this is tied to the Islamic view of man as one who still possesses the goodness good imparted to him and merely needs to remember it, and also to the centrality of submission to God’s will.

Moreover, the Islamic understanding of creation, which implies separation from Perfection, necessitates that all things created will be marked by imperfection. To use the words of Christ: “Only God is good.” Islam agrees: and so to create anything that is ‘not God’ is to permit imperfection to come into existence, which is another way of saying that in order for God to create anything that is not identical to Himself, by this very decision He is ‘permitting’ evil to exist, since evil is the absence of pure and perfect goodness in the things created. No evil, no creation. It is as simple as that.

Since Islam does not have reason to dwell so much on the need for a sacrificial lamb and therefore a Redeemer, it has no reason to dwell on problems of man’s ‘original sin’ and guilt: instead everything is taken in stride as the only way things could possibly be, and if evil must come with existence, then we are thankful for it because it is the condition of our being created in the first place.

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