I was asked this question recently. It refers to a problem that, in one form or another, bothers many people and prevents them accepting that there is a spiritual reality behind outer appearance. That can lead to discouragement and the attitude that there is really little point in trying to make oneself a better person with potentially disastrous results both for the individual concerned and for society as a whole. But if we could understand why the world is not as ideal as we might like it to be I think that would remove one of the main obstacles to belief. It would give meaning and purpose to our existence, and what is life without meaning and a higher purpose than the satisfaction of personal aims which, even if achieved, never brings lasting content?
Q. Why is the world such a terrible place? Why did God, if he exists, not create it perfect? Doesn’t the fact that it’s so imperfect support the materialistic thesis that it arose in a random way rather than an ordered one? I once heard a famous naturalist talk about a worm that burrows into the eye of a child somewhere in Africa and how he couldn’t believe in a God in a world in which such things happened.
A. Have you ever considered the possibility that maybe the world was created perfect, as in the story of the Garden of Eden, and that it is fallen human consciousness that has afflicted it? Traditional spiritual teachings say that when man fell he dragged nature down with him because his consciousness affects or, in this case, corrupts his environment. Incidentally this is why our current materialistic attitudes actually make our world more material and how altering our attitudes to life can have a positive external effect too. But, setting this aside, the point is that Earth nowadays is a school so it is not intended to be perfect as in all good. There is choice and there is good and evil as a result of that. You might even consider that perhaps the Earth is perfect as an environment for the growing of consciousness as we are given the opportunity for a variety of experiences here. That’s not to say we can’t make it better or worse but to expect this world to be a paradise is to misunderstand its purpose.
That was my original and rather brief answer to the question. It makes for a short post but I intend to do a longer one on a similar theme shortly. In the meantime I'd like to end this post by saying that the world is not a terrible place. There may be bad things in it because the purpose of it is to provide choice so that we may grow. Therefore the possibility of distorting the light must exist. But the light, which is the basis to everything, is good. Bad things only exist as corruptions of good things. They have no intrinsic reality in themselves.