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Did Eru bring about evil?

BalrogRingDestroyer

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I know this almost sounds blasphemous, but he actually said that even Melkor's diverge from the themes of the others, which supposedly created evil and sadness, had its source in Eru, not Melkor, and that Melkor was ultimately doing his will, even though he thought he was doing his own.
 

Olorgando

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It's the problem faced by every theodicy. I doubt it will be solved here.
I doubt it will ever be solved ...
Basically, evil has to exist for good to exist, and vice versa.
There's a passage in (Sir) Peter Ustinov's amazing, and to me brilliant 1990 book "The Old Man and Mr. Smith" (which I have in a 2004 10th printing of the German translation), between the title protagonists (and antagonists) about light needing dark so that a contrast can be seen ...
 

Phantom718

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I doubt it will ever be solved ...

There's a passage in (Sir) Peter Ustinov's amazing, and to me brilliant 1990 book "The Old Man and Mr. Smith" (which I have in a 2004 10th printing of the German translation), between the title protagonists (and antagonists) about light needing dark so that a contrast can be seen ...
Precisely. We may not understand or appreciate things if they didn't have a contextual or theoretical opposite: Light/dark, day/night, up/down, left/right, good/evil, dry/wet, easy/difficult, salt/sugar, etc. etc. etc. list goes on.
 

Olorgando

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Just to pick two of your opposites, their being considered "good" or "bad" (I do not use the term "evil" for reasons I will explain (I hope) below).
Day / night. All birds except for owls (as far as I can recall) would very much opt for "day", while practically all bats would opt for "night". Both for good reasons.
Dry / wet. This gets even more fundamental, as all air-breathing creatures would certainly opt for dry (or would drown). All fish (or other gill-"breathers") would opt for wet (ask a fish flopping around on dry land).

"Evil" is an entirely human concept (we don't know, and may never know, if some of the more - by our terms - "intelligent" creatures such as our nearest relatives, dolphins, crows, whatever have at least rudiments of such a concept - my guess would be yes, and that it remains unprovable). And unfortunately, by our own definition, we are the only beings capable of true evil, senseless destruction.
 

Phantom718

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I was only listing things that are considered by most to be exact opposites of each other. Nature uses these things in their own ways, as you pointed out (with bats, owls, fish, etc.) My point was simply that you must have one to understand the other. If there was no daylight, the concept of darkness would be completely different. If everyone was a bad person, we wouldn't appreciate the good ones.

It's all part of how the universe balances things.

In the OP, it is explained how Melkor's M.O. is derived from Eru himself; he allows it to be so. Hence the historical analogy to God and Satan. There's an entire philosophical/theological debate there however,, that I won't get into 😎
 

Olorgando

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I may have been trying to make the point that not (nearly) all opposites are equals, in the sense of a balancing scale. Mahatma Gandhi and Hitler (or Stalin, or…) do not balance.
To exaggerate a bit (recent history has rendered the exaggeration so small) there may be say 99 highly respected and eminently competent scientists on one side, and a corrupt, criminal, narcissistic, psychopathic raving lunatic on the "other side". Some parts of society, seriously misinformed for whatever reasons, might conclude "the issue is in doubt!"

Nope. It ain't.

To repeat a very sarcastic post of mine in another JRRT site. Einstein's relativity theories have been proven (and as all serious scientific theories they await their being possibly disproven) massively. GPS needs both the special and the general theory to work, for example. I am seriously unable to explain either of them (the mathematics involved are extremely non-trivial).
So someone quotes my post and claims "Einstein's theories are unexplainable!". Next poster does not quote my post, but the already mangled interpretation of that first poster.
Continue that for a handful of posts. and you get unmitigated garbage. It's called "Stille Post" in Germany, "Chinese Whispers" by Richard Dawkins, one of the best explainers of Darwin's theory (by now refined and confirmed even more that Einstein's). When people do not transmit what they have heard (read, whatever), verbatim, but their (all-too-often) faulty interpretation.
 

Elthir

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In Tolkien's poem Mythopoeia, he writes:

Then looking on the Blessed Land 'twill see
that all is as it is, and yet made free:
Salvation changes not, nor yet destroys,
garden nor gardener, children nor their toys.
Evil it will not see, for evil lies
not in God's picture but in crooked eyes,
not in the source but in malicious choice,
and not in sound but in the tuneless voice.


To me this seems to echo a Christian notion that God did not create evil, but created a world in which free will exists, and thus evil is possible (which can also redound to good). God can create automatons that simply play out a script, or, he can create beings with free will/choice.

Is this the answer to the Problem of Evil? No. It's an answer. But as noted, there's no all-agreed-upon answer, so whether it "makes sense" or not, or the most sense, to anyone, is subjective in any case -- and if I merely pick the answer that makes the "most sense" to me (not that I necessarily have), that wouldn't necessarily mean, of course, that it automatically reflects Tolkien or Eru.

So in that light: JRR Tolkien wrote this part of this poem . . . but not this post 😇
 

Miguel

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He was not supposed to go into the darkness of the void, when he came back into the halls he was probably like: "This fools have no idea what i just saw, i need that place filled with light immediately, not when he decides..." Eru was referring exclusively to the music, hanging out in the void has nothing to do with the music.
 
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Sartr

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I was thinking about this recently and came to the same conclusion. Melkor was deliberately created to provide opposition to the other Valar. Each of them has a domain of influence, like "water" or "air" or "plant life", but Melkor has some of the power of each. If he was meant to be just another Vala, that would make him redundant, wouldn't it? He is told right in the very beginning by Illuvatar:

And thou, Melkor, shalt see that no theme may be played that hath not its uttermost source in me, nor can any alter the music in my despite. For he that attempteth this shall prove but mine instrument in the devising of things more wonderful, which he himself hath not imagined.'


Which to paraphrase, essentially is "go ahead and do evil things, because greater good will come of it." And to reinforce the idea, this statement follows shortly after:

In the beginning the Elder Children of Ilúvatar were stronger and greater than they have since become; but not more fair, for though the beauty of the Quendi in the days of their youth was beyond all other beauty that Ilúvatar has caused to be, it has not perished, but lives in the West, and sorrow and wisdom have enriched it.

This theme is repeated all throughtout the canon from Feanor to the Hobbits - Middle Earth thrives under an analog of the medieval virtues: bravery, charity, sacrifice, etc. These virtues need an antagonist - you can't showcase courage against all odds without something to fight. And so Melkor is the necessary evil which brings out the best in Man and Elf. That's why the Silmarillion is about the Noldor and not the Vanyar, who are pious and innocent but never seem to accomplish much of anything.

My unanswered question is: Melkor is told right at the start that rebelling against Illuvatar is exactly what he wants. So why does he do it anyways? Is he truly rebelling, or just doing what his job is supposed to be?
 

Elthir

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I was thinking about this recently and came to the same conclusion. Melkor was deliberately created to provide opposition to the other Valar [ . . . ] And thou, Melkor, shalt see that no theme may be played that hath not its uttermost source in me, nor can any alter the music in my despite. For he that attempteth this shall prove but mine instrument in the devising of things more wonderful, which he himself hath not imagined.'

Which to paraphrase, essentially is "go ahead and do evil things, because greater good will come of it." And to reinforce the idea, this statement follows shortly after:

Or, to paraphrase this slightly differently, if you choose to go against goodness, you shall see . . .

For myself, I see nothing here that necessarily disagrees with the Augustinian view of the Problem of Evil, very arguably expressed in Tolkien's poem, and I think, fairly well explained here.


Again, I don't plan on defending the argument as the best answer, or most "logical" answer to the Problem of Evil, only that I think the difficult notions found in this article are expressed briefly and poetically above by JRRT.

As the poem states:

Evil is not in God's picture.
Not in the source.
Not in the . . . sound!

The first two seem "all encompassing" to me. And the third is, I think, a particularly noteworthy choice of words given the "musical" creation in The Silmarillion. Melkor's "tuneless voice" was his choice, and in an Augustinian sense at least, evil is not a thing, thus Melkor has chosen "less goodness", which Men call evil.
 

Olorgando

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It's the problem faced by every theodicy. I doubt it will be solved here.
I doubt it will ever be solved ...
If theologians of every confession continue to the maximum possible to contort themselves until our sun becomes a Red Giant in several billion years in the future, they do not have the slightest chance of explaining this (away). The basic fallacy of all such "arguments", including Eru's pathetic "explanations" to Melkor, is that you need black to be able to see white in contrast.
Thundering Baloney Slices. Even light shades of grey suffice as a contrast, and never mind the other colors of the rainbow, all far more spectacular than all "shades of grey".
 

Olorgando

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Roses are red,
Violets are blue;
Analogies are imperfect,
And so is this poem.
My spontaneous reaction to your post was "bro, you don't know how bad poetry can get unless you've read some of mine!" … 🥴
The I started searching my fading memory about when I may have last perpetrated anything of the sort … 🤔
My best guess, and I really can't narrow it down to more than a decade, would be the 1960s (I was all of 13 when they ended).
And again, this faded memory seems to stem from about 1996, when we had a 30-year reunion of people having attended the German school in Bombay (mow Mumbai), India.
If this were true, I was just 10 when I composed it (for the teacher I had in the fourth grade - and for me last grade there).
While I doubt it was as bad as the Vogon poetry in Douglas Adams's "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" (or the two even wore ones), it was probably pretty insipid.
And anyway, of this I'm certain, it was in German, and poems translate very badly, as a rule.
The translation might have matched the Vogon stuff, so be happy you're ignorant of it! 😉
 

Boffer Balsashield

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To take a sort of "meta" approach to this, Tolkien always said the Lord of the Rings was a Christian story. The Book of Isaiah (45:7) states that God creates evil, so presumably this would apply to Eru as well.
 

Olorgando

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My source is a "Saint Joseph New Catholic Edition of the Holy Bible", copyright 1963 Catholic Book Publishing Company, New York, presented to me on June 22 1969 by our diocese bishop Joseph P Denning, by the date it must have been my graduation from eight (and last) grade from this grade school, for … mathematics?!?!?

Dim memories - but then this was most likely sub-algebra (in which I was diffident, except for a perfect 100% score on the state final exams), never mind even geometry or trig and calc.
I can still do sums and related arithmetical stuff just by thinking, at least to plausibility levels ...

Isaia (in my above-mentioned version), chapter 45:7: "I form the light, and create the darkness, I make well-being and create woe; I, the Lord, do all these things."

One of the least-quoted passages in this book, is my spontaneous guess. :mad:
 

Olorgando

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Ah. Sorry, my source was the KJV...which does contain a lot of poor bits of translation. Yours is probably closer to the original.
Not the slightest need to apologize. Translation errors from the ancient Greek that much of the NT was written in abound, and never mind errors in the translation of the Hebrew Bible or Tanach, with confusion thrown in by the Septuagint, translated from Hebrew into the then prevalent Greek a bit before 200 BC.

Martin Luther, credited with translating the (for 99% plus illegible) Vulgate, meaning Latin, Bible into then current German (I am a dual native speaker of German and English), actually did far less of this than credited for. His linguistically far more adept follower Philip Melanchthon did far more of it. I have no idea where the King James version fits into this collection ...
 
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