On the Problem of Good: A book review.
As is the way of the Internet and Blogging it is inevitable that connections are made in all four corners of the globe. Some connections are transient, others become long-term. The connection between author John Zande and this blog fits the latter description.
If, dear reader, you have read my posts of the last two days, then that connection between John and me will be clear.
So on to John’s latest book: On the Problem of Good.
For John’s book played around with my head in so many ways that I am still far from returning to a settled mind. Indeed, I have a sneaky suspicion that On the Problem of Good represents another one of those turnstiles in life where once through the ‘gate’ there is no returning to the past way of seeing things.
It played with my mind in the sense of forcing me, albeit with a very small ‘f’, to truly comprehend the consequences of unanticipated outcomes. You know that old saying: “Never underestimate the power of unanticipated consequences“.
Here’s an example.
In 1889 a total of 26 road deaths were recorded in the United States. By 2013 that number had exploded to approximately 35,500. Globally, the number stands at 1.24 million and the World Health Organisation predicts the body of carnage will grow to 1.9 million by 2020. (p.44)
That is just one of the many examples that John uses to support his premise that “good simply does not exist”.
But it goes deeper than that. For John reveals the incalculable, unstoppable force of evolution. Going right back to the very origins of matter. How hydrogen fused into the more complex helium that, in turn, fused into the still heavier and more complex carbon, then along came the fusing of helium and carbon to make oxygen. Then the journey of evolution of atoms. From single atoms to simple compounds, binding to produce double compounds and on to molecules. Then the marriage between molecules to produce amino acids, and on and on to proteins and enzymes and … well, you get the idea!
That continuum from simple to complex organisms and on and on to air-breathing animals (including wolves and then dogs!) and all the way to the likes of yours truly sitting in front of a modern computer writing the review of another person’s book.
All the time, since 13.82 billion years ago, the evolutionary force being a one-way street. A one-way street where John, with some degree of persuasiveness, demonstrates that everything that might, at that time, be seen as a good is not fundamentally a good because it is inextricably connected to a resulting evil.
The Problem of Good is a word problem. It is a lexical glitch, a squabble in temporal, fleshy definitions, and nothing more.
There is no disagreement or antipathy because there is no problem.
Good does not exist. (p.29)
See what I mean about this not being a comfortable book to read!
Nevertheless, you are waiting to hear from me as to whether or not you should read this book?
In answer, here’s a part of what I wrote for my review of the book on Amazon:
If you ever pause for a moment and wonder about the meaning of life, better written as The Meaning of LIFE, then this book is for you. More than that. For if you never ponder about the meaning of life then this really, really is the book for you.
Because for most of us, for most of the time, we live in the land of the blind.
So, thank goodness, that from time to time along comes a person who is the one-eyed King.
Thank you, John Zande.