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

  • 26
    Why would god create evil?
    – Lexible
    Jan 21 '19 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
    Jan 21 '19 at 13:04
  • 6
    He did, indirectly.
    – Mithoron
    Jan 21 '19 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
    Jan 23 '19 at 9:27
  • related: scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/64471/…
    – user24069
    Jan 23 '19 at 11:52

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.'

  • 36
    +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. Jan 21 '19 at 5:04
  • 24
    "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! Jan 21 '19 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. Jan 21 '19 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. Jan 21 '19 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. Jan 21 '19 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 Tolkiens 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 Numenor. 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
    Jan 22 '19 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
    Jan 23 '19 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
    Jan 21 '19 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
    Jan 21 '19 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
    Jan 22 '19 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
    Jan 22 '19 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
    Jan 22 '19 at 17:49

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.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.