Although I am Jewish, I watched the Christian 2018 film “An Interview with God.” The famed Jewish philosopher Maimonides stressed in the introduction to his Guide of the Perplexed that “the truth is the truth no matter what its source.” He used this rationale to support his philosophical teachings which are based in many parts upon the writings of the Greek pagan philosopher Aristotle. Therefore, there was no reason for me to ignore the film.
“God” in the film passed on ideas to a journalist who just returned from a stressful time in Afghanistan where he saw many American soldiers killed. He was suffering from this experience. He was also suffering from the way his wife treated him when he returned. I found that overall the ideas that “God” gave the journalist were ideas that I knew for many years were ideas that I understood Maimonides taught. With one possible exception.
I know that the idea of “faith” is crucial to many Christians. I dislike the idea because I feel that one should not accept an idea that our senses, science, and reason tell us is impossible. The film, being Christian, said that “faith” is important, but then “God” said that faith is just the start. And “God” continued with what I believe. “God” said, what is important is how we act.
The film addressed the age-old question, why do bad things happen to good people? Maimonides also addressed this question. “God” agreed with what Maimonides wrote. Interestingly, Maimonides explained the origin of evil and implied the solution. “God” implied the origin of evil and articulated the solution. So, they agreed.
Maimonides taught in his Guide that evil comes from one of three sources, all human: (1) Individuals or society does something stupid, such as crossing a street against a red light, with evil being the natural consequence. They brought the evil on themselves. (2) A person, group, or nation attacks another person, group, or nation to gain something they want, as revenge or property. (3) A natural event that is good for a large group or for society harms an individual or family, as a storm needed to further the growth of vegetation and food. People foolishly settled in storm areas.
“God” in the film reminds the journalist what “God” said previously. “God” gave people free choice and the power to use it for good and bad. If people would use their intelligence and feed the poor and develop science to alleviate pain and cure illnesses, as was already done in some cases, these evils will cease.
The ancient Chinese philosopher Mencius, who lived around the time of Aristotle, rebuked passive people just as Aristotle and Maimonides did: “Filling with food, warming with clothes, living leisurely without learning, It is little short of animals.” And he said, “A man of wisdom does not stand next to a wall that is about to fall.”
Bad things happen to good people because of human acts or their failure to act. The bad can be turned to good by human behavior.