Alice in Wonderland and The Problem of Evil
by Jason Wisdom
This year, Netflix added a bunch of Disney movies to the catalog. That has made it easy for me to introduce my son to many of the classic animated films from my childhood. We have had a lot of fun watching The Aristocats, The Rescuers, The Emperor’s New Groove, and many others. Last week we watched Alice in Wonderland.
I have probably seen the movie a dozen or more times in my life, but this time something new occurred to me. It came to me during the scene where Alice takes a bite from a mushroom and suddenly grows taller than all of the trees in the forest. Mind you, that was the result of only a tiny bite. What would have happened if she had eaten the whole mushroom? Presumably she would have become hundreds, if not thousands of feet tall. That is when the thought hit me. If a land like Wonderland existed in reality–a land where simply eating a naturally occurring food could increase a person’s size, presumably indefinitely–we should expect that someone would take the notion to conquer the land simply by becoming unstoppably huge. After all, what match would even the greatest army in the land be for someone who could crush each and everyone of them in a single footprint, or wield a redwood tree as a weapon?
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I know that someone reading this will probably get unnecessarily technical and say, “well, a person couldn’t breathe above a certain altitude.” Fair enough, but that assumes that the atmosphere of such a hypothetical world is exactly like our own. But lest this post degenerate into a debate over the makeup of hypothetical worlds (even though that is tempting for an uber-nerd like myself) it should suffice to say that the specifics are irrelevant to my broader point. You get the idea. So lets move on.
From there, I couldn’t help but think of one of the most commonly raised objections to Christianity; the problem of evil. More specifically, the problem of seemingly gratuitous evil. Skeptics seem fairly satisfied with the coherence of the idea that God could exist, give his creatures moral freedom, and that moral freedom accounts for some evil in the world. At the same time however, a lot of skeptics maintain that if God exists, we should not expect to see such apparently gratuitous evil in the world. But I would argue that they have got it exactly backwards…