2014 Grateful 29

I had lunch yesterday with  a Hare Krishna friend of mine and was once again enthralled by the sense of peace he radiates. Whatever I might or might not think of the doctrine of Krishna Consciousness, I thoroughly enjoy our conversations and always end up leaving with more than I came with. He gives me food for thought – a sort of spiritual take-way.

The old conundrum of the existing of God and evil came up. He told me this story, which he rightly thought was incorrectly attributed to Albert Einstein, but even without Einstein, it’s still an interesting one.

Does evil exist? The university professor challenged his students with this question. Did God create everything that exists? A student bravely replied, “Yes, he did!” “God created everything? The professor asked.

“Yes sir”, the student replied.

The professor answered, “If God created everything, then God created evil since evil exists, and according to the principal that our works define who we are then God is evil”. The student became quiet before such an answer. The professor was quite pleased with himself and boasted to the students that he had proven once more that the Christian faith was a myth.

Another student raised his hand and said, “Can I ask you a question professor?”

“Of course”, replied the professor.

The student stood up and asked, “Professor, does cold exist?”

“What kind of question is this? Of course it exists. Have you never been cold?” The students snickered at the young man’s question.

The young man replied, “In fact sir, cold does not exist. According to the laws of physics, what we consider cold is in reality the absence of heat. Every body or object is susceptible to study when it has or transmits energy, and heat is what makes a body or matter have or transmit energy. Absolute zero (-460 degrees F) is the total absence of heat; all matter becomes inert and incapable of reaction at that temperature. Cold does not exist. We have created this word to describe how we feel if we have no heat.”

The student continued, “Professor, does darkness exist?”

The professor responded, “Of course it does.”

The student replied, “Once again you are wrong sir, darkness does not exist either. Darkness is in reality the absence of light. Light we can study, but not darkness. In fact we can use Newton’s prism to break white light into many colors and study the various wavelengths of each color. You cannot measure darkness. A simple ray of light can break into a world of darkness and illuminate it. How can you know how dark a certain space is? You measure the amount of light present. Isn’t this correct? Darkness is a term used by man to describe what happens when there is no light present.”

Finally the young man asked the professor, “Sir, does evil exist?”

Now uncertain, the professor responded, “Of course as I have already said. We see it every day. It is in the daily example of man’s inhumanity to man. It is in the multitude of crime and violence everywhere in the world. These manifestations are nothing else but evil.”

To this the student replied, “Evil does not exist sir, or at least it does not exist unto itself. Evil is simply the absence of God. It is just like darkness and cold, a word that man has created to describe the absence of God. God did not create evil. Evil is not like faith, or love that exist just as does light and heat. Evil is the result of what happens when man does not have God’s love present in his heart. It’s like the cold that comes when there is no heat or the darkness that comes when there is no light.”

The professor sat down.

There are numerous variations on the same theme. All no doubt fictional. But who cares. Am sure that many of you could dissect this particular one from a scientific standpoint. Yet no matter what religion you are, or whether your God is the Universe itself, or doesn’t exist at all, it could simply be that evil is the absence of good.
hkWhat strikes me most about my HK friend is that he doesn’t feel the need to convert or convince. He simply states his beliefs and owns them. I can’t help but think how much better the world might be were everyone so calm and peaceful in putting their point of view across. And unlike others I know with equally firm convictions, he doesn’t argue or feel the need to justify and defend his faith. It simply is what it is.
Today, as I unpack to repack, I’m grateful that I made the time to see him. I’m grateful for his unconditional friendship and for the different perspectives he offers. For our wealth is found not in our bank balances, but in the friendships we have that challenge our thinking and keep us engaged.