Eru was infinitely more powerful than the Dark Lords, why didn't he stop them from trying to enslave the Free Peoples?

  • 27
    Why would god create evil?
    – Lexible
    Commented Jan 21, 2019 at 2:10
  • 1
    I read the Silmarillion a long, long time ago, but I don't remember Eru intervening a lot through it. Was he particularly active and present after the creation ?
    – Don Pablo
    Commented Jan 21, 2019 at 13:04
  • 6
    He did, indirectly.
    – Mithoron
    Commented Jan 21, 2019 at 16:48
  • Same reason the fellowship of the ring didn't just use the eagles to drop the ring into Orodruin, I guess. Or why Tulkas didn't just beat up Melkor and make him put the lamps back up, etc.
    – einpoklum
    Commented Jan 23, 2019 at 9:27
  • related: scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/64471/…
    – user24069
    Commented Jan 23, 2019 at 11:52

5 Answers 5


It was part of Eru's plan? Eru implied as much to Morgoth at least, when he commented on Morgoth attempting to alter the music that created the world.

And thou, Melkor, shalt see that no theme may be played that hath not its uttermost source in me, nor can any alter the music in my despite. For he that attempteth this shall prove but mine instrument in the devising of things more wonderful, which he himself hath not imagined.'

  • 37
    +1. Note that Tolkien was a committed Catholic, and though he famously rejected any allegorical reading of his work, an understanding of the Catholic thought he was steeped in helps uncovering much deeper layers of meaning. The passage you cite is straightforward Catholic teaching on the existence of evil. Compare the concept of felix culpa. Commented Jan 21, 2019 at 5:04
  • 25
    "Melkor, you're derivative and even if you think you're being creative, you're just playing my tune" Dayum. That's enough to make anyone upset! Commented Jan 21, 2019 at 11:47
  • 31
    In the Song of the Ainur (Silmarillion), which sets up a sort "Fate" for Middle-Earth, Melkor keeps trying to introduce new discordant themes into Eru's song. Instead of kicking Melkor out of the choir, Eru adapts his song to turn those themes into something more beautiful than the song had been originally. Tolkien is saying that this struggle in Middle Earth that ensues from Melkor's rebellion is something more beautiful, greater, than a world without such conflict. The stories we care about all have such conflict. A story without conflict would be boring. Commented Jan 21, 2019 at 15:11
  • 4
    @M.A.Golding - a story must have an obstacle to overcome, something to cause growth in its protagonist. What makes the story interesting is not so much the obstacle, but that growth. How do the events change the protagonist? Tolkein's Eru overcomes Melkor's rebeillion by making something more beautiful out of it. The residents of M.E. are given passion by their struggle against it, and that passion is the beauty of Eru revised song. This is the essense of Tolkein's message (as I interpret it). Whether you or I approve or disapprove of it does not change it. Commented Jan 21, 2019 at 17:56
  • 5
    @Schwern - The story sounds to me like it wasn't part of his original plan, but every time Melkor tries to introduce a new theme of his own, Eru responds by incorporating it into a greater melody. The quote is more Eru saying to Melkor "I created you, so everything you do ultimately comes from me." That is my take on it anyway. Other opinions are certainly possible. Commented Jan 21, 2019 at 20:30

There would be no story.

Following the "World as Myth" interpretation of reality (Robert A. Heinlein), the creatures of Middle-earth by necessity live in an interesting world, because no stories are written about boring worlds. In the infinite multitude of possible worlds, the many in which Eru snapped his fingers and half the universe... err... the evil half of creation disappeared are not manifested in stories.

In-world, Eru is not a god that actively participates in the events inside his creation. In fact, not even all of the Ainur entered Eä. The Valar (the gods of Tolkien's world) are a subset of the Ainur. And Eru himself intervenes at a rate of about once per age. In the first age he created the races of elves and men. In the second age he sunk Númenor. And in the third age, he resurrected Gandalf, at least according to some interpretations.

Could he have eliminated Melkor or Sauron? Most likely, yes. He just isn't that kind of guy.

  • 3
    Every good artist knows that no creation can ever be "perfect" in every way. At some point you have to step back and leave "good enough" alone, to be experienced by the audience. ;-)
    – DevSolar
    Commented Jan 22, 2019 at 10:58
  • The Children of Eru (Elves and Men) were part of the original theme, so their awakening isn't really an example of "intervention" in the same sense as the changing of the physical nature of the world at the end of the Second Age or the return of Gandalf at the end of the Third.
    – chepner
    Commented Jan 23, 2019 at 17:34

Why doesn't (insert real world deity of choice) stop nasty things from happening? Possible answers - again, these are real-world ones I've heard - range the gamut from "deity doesn't care/enjoys human suffering" to "it's a learning experience".

Of course for Tolkien, if Eru had, LOTR would have been a pretty short book :-)

  • 8
    He was under the malign influence of BigFantasyWriters. They set up a honey pot and blackmailed him to create faulty worlds so they'd have something to write about.
    – RedSonja
    Commented Jan 21, 2019 at 11:40
  • 1
    This answer seems to contradict the actual quote from the books shown in the other answer. By that quote, seems this is neither "doesn't care", nor "learning experience" case.
    – hyde
    Commented Jan 21, 2019 at 19:35
  • 1
    @hyde: Depends on what you think is an appropriate answer. As comments to that answer point out, the quote from the books is just a re-wording of real-world (insert religion of choice) "explanations". which I find entirely unsatisfying.
    – jamesqf
    Commented Jan 22, 2019 at 5:09
  • 4
    What I mean is, this answer is just speculation without references. Unlike with (insert real world deity of choice), with Tolkiens world we have actual words written by Tolkien, as well as some knowledge of the person, Tolkien, and his beliefs.
    – hyde
    Commented Jan 22, 2019 at 6:49
  • @hyde: But invoking Tolkien's beliefs answers a different question, "Why did Tolkien choose to write his invented mythology with a non-interventionist god?" You start by assuming that it's something he invented; I assume that he reports on something that exists.
    – jamesqf
    Commented Jan 22, 2019 at 17:49

Because of Free Will, or so Tolkien explained in his Letter #153

Free Will is derivative, and is only operative within provided circumstances; but in order that it may exist, it is necessary that the Author should guarantee it, whatever betides: sc. when it is ‘against His Will’, as we say, at any rate as it appears on a finite view. He does not stop or make ‘unreal’ sinful acts and their consequences.

In order for Free Will to exist, not only the Author should allow Morgoth to fall mentally, but also factually.

So in this myth, it is ‘feigned’ (legitimately whether that is a feature of the real world or not) that He gave special ‘sub-creative’ powers to certain of His highest created beings: that is a guarantee that what they devised and made should be given the reality of Creation. Of course within limits, and of course subject to certain commands or prohibitions. But if they ‘fell’, as the Diabolus Morgoth did, and started making things ‘for himself, to be their Lord’, these would then 'be', even if Morgoth broke the supreme ban against making other ‘rational’ creatures like Elves or Men. They would at least 'be' real physical realities in the physical world, however evil they might prove, even ‘mocking’ the Children of God.

If God wouldn't allow any Will that's against His to factualize, Free Will wouldn't be operating at all.


The Ainur, each inherited an aspect of Eru which is to say that Morgoth was just as much a part of Eru as any of the other Ainur.

The question is not why would he not stop Morgoth from causing trouble so much as, did he see Morgoth as trouble to begin with. Nature lasts longest when there is a balance between creation & destruction; so, Eru would have likely seen Morgoth's actions with the same approval that a homeowner would have for a gardener pruning his bushes... it's just really hard to see it that way when you are the bush.


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