“I saw in heaven another great and marvelous sign: seven angels with the seven last plagues—last, because with them God’s wrath is completed.” – Revelation 15:1
Again I wish to express my sympathy for the loss of life, grief, and personal hardship to all during this unprecedented pandemic. Nothing in these essays is intended to diminish the loss others have suffered. Instead I hope to find a philosophical grounding in order to extract the lessons and meaning of this tragedy and the possibility of consolation.
The next philosophical issue regarding the pandemic is the implications on our belief in God or theodicy. Would an all-powerful, all-knowing, morally perfect God allow such an evil to develop, that is, can this global scourge be justified? It seems to me the answer is no; it is unimaginable that net moral good can derive from our current predicament, nor is it clear to me how viruses in general can be ethically justified by the science at our disposal. My only hesitancy is the possibility that we are ignorant of a role viruses might serve as a means of natural genetic engineering that facilitates the evolution of species. I find implausible any argument to the effect that a rampant infectious disease can be defended as the divine means to population control. Perhaps other readers can postulate a net balance of benefits I am missing.
Likewise I will leave it to theologians to justify the evil of the pandemic for the deity’s purposes for moral strengthening or as divine retribution. Of course I am not denying some good can come from this (or any) evil, but metaphysically the pandemic is undeniably, on balance, an evil. I also appreciate the comfort religion offers to the frightened and grieving during a crisis, but that does not mitigate the inconsistency of a triply-perfect God and patently needless evil. Nonetheless, this site’s definition of God as the origin of the universe or the universe itself, contests the premises of logic-defined omnipotence and omniscience, in which case theodicy is not applicable.1
Next time I will explore the pandemic metaphysically with respect to free will, fate, fortune, and destiny.
1See posts on this site 3/18/19, 3/20/19, and 3/22/19 and Table 3 in the Appendix.