Friday, July 11, 2008

Post 45. Between Good and Evil. ( translated article)

(This Post is an article from a magazine L'Espresso translated from the italian by the blogger )
This post is a translation from an article written by Vito Mancuso
who is Professor of Theology
at the University Vita-Salute at the san Raffaele of Milan.
published on an Italian magazine "L’Espresso".
Between Good and Evil.
Why is it the Creator allows us to suffer?
Theology is unable to answer,
while Benedict XVI contradicts Wojtila.
By Vito Mancuso.
On the 17th of Novembre 2007, the milanese branch of the Association of Catholic Medical Practitioners ( Amci ), presided by Giorgio Lambertenghi Deliliers, organised a day of discussions under the issue of " To us reaches the crie from innocent pain. What is the meaning of human suffering?" ( further information available from www.aimgroup,eu ).
Participants to the event were, among many others, Massimo Cacciari, Giancarlo Ravasi, e Vito Mancuso, who has sent to the Booksellers, just a few days before this event " The Soul and its Destiny ", edited by Raffaello Cortina, with a foreword of Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini.
It is not without reason that catholic medical practicioners feel driven to a need to reflect about the meaning of human suffering.
They are in fact the ones finding themselves at the front line facing the intellectual brain-storming which may end in shaking their religious beliefs.
It is they, the greater number of medical practitioners and biologists, those who are concretely brought to deal with life and death in their profession, who loose their Faith, as the result of witnessing the arbitrariness with which pain and death offend human life.
This is why it is necessary that Theology questions the reasons for pain and unexpected or untimely deaths.
Benedict XVI has stated in connection with this issue-:
" It is only through questioning as radically as Theology is meant to be radical, that one can hope to find an answer ".
In this case, to be radical requires that Theology poses the question upon a medical, scientific foundation, or point of view.
The question should therefore be-:
" What is the nature of and the degree of God’s participation, in so far as the making of the human body is concerned?".
The problem I wish to confront, as an example, is that of the physical pain that a human being has to suffer as the result of illness that arises from genetic causes which originate even in and while the human body is being created in the womb of the mother .
The Church proclaims that life is sacred since it originates from God, the Scriptures utter that it is by His/Her?Its very hands that God even moulds our very bodies.
Yet, the number of genetic illnesses so far catalogued is 6,000.
" What is the nature of and the degree of God’s participation, in so far as the making of the human body is concerned?",
becomes then a recurring question.
This question is part of the vicious circle presented by the Problem of Evil which has its roots in three unavoidable axioms requiring a synthesis-:
(1) God is Omnipotent and governs the world.
(2) God is Good and does not want Evil.
(3) Evil is a reality and exists as such.
However, whilst the logical synthesis of these axioms is necessary to solution of the Problem, it is not logically possible.
This is the reason why the Problem of Evil never ceases from disquieting a christian conscience.
On the basis of the above-listed axioms, the question regarding God’s participation in the creation of human bodies axiomatically becomes-:
(1) God has power and control over human bodies made by His/Her/Its own hands.
(2) God wills the physical good ( natural in contrast to the supernatural end) for each and every one of these human bodies.
(3) Yet there are human bodies which are born defective as irreversible failures.
All along the course of History attempts have been made to solve the Problem represented by the above given vicious circle which defies synthesis, by denying in turn each of the three axioms-:
(1) God is not really Omnipotent.
(2) God is not really Good.
(3) Evil is not a reality.
However the solutions achieved by denying any of these axioms is unacceptable by Christianity that can neither deny God’s Omnipotence and Goodness nor the reality and existence of Evil.
In fact, the doubts arising in believers in relation to these issues have clamorously come to public notice through the contadiction that occurred between the theological interpretations of John Paul II and of Cardinal Ratzinger.
John Paul II who wrote the book "Memory and Identity" asks the reason for the existence of Evil and says that-: ....evil is somehow necessary to the world and to human kind. It is a fact that in some concrete situations of human existence evil reveals itself to a certain extent useful, in so far as it generates the opportunities for goodness ". and he adds -: " Has not Goethe defined the Devil as: belonging to that systen of forces which, while acting evilly, always end generating goodness?"
To the contrary, Benedict XVI, who was then a cardinal, wrote-: " Evil is not at all, as Goethe wills us to believe in his " Faust", an aspect of the one system that has educational ends, but a force that seeks to destroy our being ?.
This clamorous contradiction between the two Popes is the most evident confirmation of the darkness in which traditional catholic thought about the Problem of Evil is moving, more specifically and at the same time paradoxically more complex, in relation to the original issue in this article, the problem of
" What is the nature of and the degree of God’s participation, in so far as the making of the human body is concerned?".
This is the knot that is strangulating the contemporaneous catholic conscience,
in particular the one of those, who, like health operators and workers, are every day confronting innocent pain.
The issue at a concrete practical level becomes the necessity to recognise that the knot at present consricting and restricting consciences in so far as possible solutions are concerned in relation to the problem of gnetically transmitted illness.
Intellectual honesty is going to be required in so far as a radical restructuring of Faith’s Foundations is going to be required.
Finally the choice is as to whether one prefers to protect conservative belief or whether one chooses to enhance the concreteness of human life.


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