On the outer rim

§ One solution (among others) to the “problem of evil” is to classify “good” and “evil” as strictly human-derived models. That is, our concepts of good and evil may not line up with God’s; therefore, whatever might be God’s good and evil, we can’t ourselves make normative statements about the world. We can certainly make pragmatic statements about preferred outcomes (about which we may disagree), but we must humbly defer judgment when something happens that we otherwise might call good or evil: it’s not our call.

It’s a nice solution, free from paradox. However, acceptance of this solution necessarily damages your position in social discourse, and that’s understandable. It’s hard to take seriously someone who doesn’t take seriously the usual terms of conversation. Much of social identity derives from the good-and-evil dichotomy, albeit sometimes in different form: us-and-them, clean-and-dirty, success-and-failure. Diregarding those identities creates quite a communication gap.

There is an Abrahamic story that around Creation there was a garden planted with, among other things, a tree of knowledge of good and evil. God told humans not to eat of its fruit, and that we would regret it. We did eat the fruit and were cast out of that garden. I think humans are still in a sort of garden, though we now know good and evil. There is another tree here that we weren’t explicitly told about—well, honestly, probably many. But this specific is, I suspect, also potentially regrettable to have eaten of: it makes you forget good and evil again, and once you’re sensitized to good and evil, the absence feels vastly empty. You’re out in space, far away from the atmosphere of ideas breathed by most of us.

Suppose it is an accurate solution, and you opt for it—opt to trade an internalized, intuitive recognition of illusory normative categories for an internalized sense of positive, unweighed being. The trade may or may not be worth it. Truth is nice and all, but is it useful to be out in space? If it turns out not, it might not be possible to return from that outer rim, but, perhaps there is another solution, similarly free from paradox: one which, in addition, doesn’t rift so with human discourse.

That would be a wonderful miracle.