Here’s a link I never thought I’d make: French theology and Star Trek.
It’s funny how things correlate. This summer I’ve been watching season 1 of Star Trek: The Next Generation. This week I’ve started reading French theologian Henri Blocher’s book Evil and the Cross. The episode I’ve just watched is called ‘Skin of Evil’. In it, a strange sludge-like being kills one of the starship Enterprise’s crew for the simple purpose of its own amusement. The creature claims to be pure evil; it is what remains from an alien race who sought to purge themselves of evil, somehow having it reside in this creature before abandoning it on the planet.
Blocher approaches evil as a universal human problem, assuming the existence of evil and its negative nature from the spontaneous ‘no’ spoken throughout the ages by humans encountering it. In summarising secular approaches to understanding and explaining evil, he uses three categories: pessimism, optimism and dualism. The latter reflects the approach taken by whatever beings abandoned the creature encountered by the crew of the Enterprise. Dualists explain evil by giving it ‘status as a primary ingredient in being’ (Blocher, p. 15). Reality is governed by the opposing principles of Good and Evil; they are essential constituents of the world as we know it.
The beings who left behind the evil creature sought to escape from their own evil in order to live and experience good lives. This is a modified dualism, in which evil can be avoided or escaped. However, Blocher argues that such an approach to evil makes no sense of the universal human revulsion of evil. If Good and Evil are what there is, what sense is there in feeling any indignation? It just is that way.
The Christian worldview’s biblical account of evil makes much more sense of human experience. Rather than an essential constituent of the world, comes after the world’s good creation. ‘[Evil]is second: it is order, decline, the perversion of a norm that had already been set, the violation and corruption of a prior law’ (Blocher, p. 17).
We react with indignation and horror at the stories and images we have been seeing from Haiti. We exclaim ‘No!’ when we experience suffering firsthand. I agree with Blocher. Evil is not something which is an essential part of the world, something to be accepted as normal. It is an invader. Our spontaneous reaction to it reflects what we feel to be true: this is not the way it was supposed to be.
Is there any other explanation which truly makes sense?