In the evangelical tradition,there isa lot of emphasis placed on the spiritual realm; that is, thatEphesians 6:12 battle against the powers of darkness. We're taught thatthere is a literal Heaven and Hell, that there are real angels anddemons, and that there is a real Devil (especially made apparent duringChrist's 40 days in the wilderness). I've read much of John's discourseregarding his thoughts on the afterlife (a divine memory of personalityculminating in eventual resurrection, dual-aspect monism, etc.), but Ihaven't really seen him comment on these matters relating to the spiritrealm. Do you or John not believe these to be literal places/beings, oris it simply that it doesn't bring much to the arena ofscientific/theological discussion, and thus doesn't warrant attention?
: Demonsand the Devil clearly exist, and they are clearly spiritualbeings rather than physical. Exactly how and in what mode they exist issomething of which we know pretty well nothing, and about whichspeculation seems pointless.
Heaven and Hell clearly exist, and they are clearly spiritual statesrather than physical places. In whichJohn co-authored with other members of the Doctrine Commission of theCofE they state (p199) "Hell is not eternal torment, but it is thefinal and irrevocable choosing of that which is opposed to God socompletely and absolutely that the only end is total non-being... IfGod has created us with the freedom to choose, then thgose who makesuch a final choice choose against the only source of life, and theyhave their reward. Whether there be any who do so choose,onlyGodknows."
What I would add to this is that this final choice of separation fromGod is objectively worse, from the PoV of the 'damned' than beingroased on fires etc.. and the traditional images of Hell. Ultimateloving communion with God is an infinite good, so being deprived ofthis is an infinte loss. The image Jesus repeatedly uses ofending uponto the municipal rubbish heap outside Jerusalem (Gehenna) "where thefire is not quenched" and where there is "wailing and gnashing ofteeth" is (of course!) absolutely right and a far better description ofwhat is really at stake than foolish stoical talk about "going into thenight" The choice of ultimate rejection of God is likechosing tobean abortion rather than to be born into a life far more wonderful andabundant than anything we can now imagine.
PS It is highly probable that Adam and Eve existed - there must havebeen an initial fully morally conscious Man and Woman (resp.) it isseems extremely probable that they were a couple and that they werealso the first to sin. It is clear from the Bible that therewereother members of the around, but presumablythese werenot yet morally conscious enough to be capable of sin. AlsoDarwin andEvolution should not be confused with the ultra-Darwinists (likeDawkins and Haeckel) who hijack(ed) good science to make ill-digestedcod-theology.
:What I think aboutHeaven and Hell is set out at some length in (Yale/SPCK). For animaginative picture of these matters, see CS Lewis's .
When one considers an evil event such as the holocaust, one can seehuman and societal factors that helped to bring it about, but there issuch a weight of evil involved that I think we would be unwise todismiss the possibility of evil spiritual forces also being at work(demons and the devil). Why and how they exist and are allowed tooperate is, of course, a deep and perplexing question. What Ithink wecan affirm is that the ultimate victory lies with God and Christ.
On Adam and Eve I am less confident than Nicholas that they wereidentifiable unique historical beings. I see them as symbolisinghumanity after the almost unimaginable, but certain, event of themergence of self-conscious, God-conscious beings that occurred with ourhominid ancestors.
So John & I agree that theyexisted, but hepoints out that they might be sets of people (symbolised by anindividual member of each - quite standard in Hebrew) rather thansingle individuals.
In his essay, "The Problem of Evil," by Richard Swinburne, the author attempts to explain how evil can exist in a world created by an omniscient, omnipotent, omnibenevolent Being, namely God.
A Study of: John Hick’s “the Problem of Evil” and Arthur …
John Hick describes the problem from the perspective of its proponent, "If God is perfectly loving, God must wish to abolish all evil; and if God is all-powerful, God must be able to abolish all evil.