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manbearpigg

Problem of Evil

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There is nothing in natural processes that prevents this sort of thing. Nature doesn't care about suffering because nature is not a thing that can care about anything -- or know about it.

I agree. This poses no problem for atheists. It is however a problem for theists.

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I submit that's because for some people, their conception of God's love is unfalsifiable. There is no evidence whatsoever that could persuade them to believe that their concept of an all loving God is incompatible with the evidential problem of evil.

Perhaps no evidence can change our mind on the problem of evil because the belief in the character of God does not require evil to be a problem to begin with.

I agree. This poses no problem for atheists. It is however a problem for theists.

I think you'll find that theists would disagree.

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Perhaps no evidence can change our mind on the problem of evil because the belief in the character of God does not require evil to be a problem to begin with.

Well, you've already given us several arguments (which I've previously listed) to reconcile an all loving God with the problem of evil. So that seems to show that evil does need an explanation. Out of all your arguments, I think the nomic regularity claim is the most strong (least weak?). Which is another way of declaring "that's just the way it is", meaning the forces we see in nature as evil (things to avoid) are just the unavoidable consequences of life.

That of course assumes that this world we live in is the best of all possible worlds. The assumption behind that is the belief that God would certainly not want to create a flawed or imperfect world. So the question is "is this really the best of all possible worlds?" Leibniz thought so, but I think he either lacked imagination or was being purposefully disingenuous.

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Well, you've already given us several arguments (which I've previously listed) to reconcile an all loving God with the problem of evil. So that seems to show that evil does need an explanation.

Why? Just because I post in a topic titled "Problem of Evil" doesn't mean I feel it needs to be explained. Put it another way, if no one started this thread, I wouldn't bring it up. To me, it is a non-issue. But someone brings up the question, and so I felt I'd add my reasons as to why I don't see a problem. On another thread, someone brought up the concept of the "God Code". I think a God Code is a laughable concept. But I still respond as to why I disagree. Does that mean I think the God Code needs an explanation? Not, it's a discussion forum where opinions and ideas are presented.

Out of all your arguments, I think the nomic regularity claim is the most strong (least weak?). Which is another way of declaring "that's just the way it is", meaning the forces we see in nature as evil (things to avoid) are just the unavoidable consequences of life.

That of course assumes that this world we live in is the best of all possible worlds. The assumption behind that is the belief that God would certainly not want to create a flawed or imperfect world. So the question is "is this really the best of all possible worlds?" Leibniz thought so, but I think he either lacked imagination or was being purposefully disingenuous.

"Best of all possible worlds" is an ambiguous statement, for the simple fact that we then need to ask "best for who"? I think a more appropriate statement would be "best for the purposes God had in mind", in which case I'd entirely 100% agree with that statement.

~ PA

Edited by Paranoid Android
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I'm sure everyone here is familiar with the problem of evil but just in case here it goes:

Before we get started lets define evil according to the Bible. The Hebrew word for evil is ra. In a basic sense it means something that results in pain, sorrow or distress. It can, depending upon the context, also be translated as bad, gloomy, ugly, calamitous, malignant, ungenerous and envious. (Genesis 2:9; 40:7; 41:3; Exodus 33:4; Deuteronomy 6:22; 28:35; Proverbs 23:6; 28:22). The Greek word for evil is kakos. It is something that is morally bad and destructive. Bad, hurtful, injurious, wrong.

An illustration, if you will. A young child is told by his parents not to play in the street. To do so would be bad (Hebrew ra) because it could result in something bad (Hebrew ra). There are two possibilities if the child disobeys. Both of them are bad (Hebrew ra). Either the child gets hurt or the child gets punished. To the child the rule or the punishment may also seem bad or evil.

In the sense of punishment the Hebrew ra can and often is translated as calamitous. For example, at Isaiah 45:7. The KJV translates ra there as "evil." God created evil. A more accurate translation is calamitous. God created the punishment of the flood, and the expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden.

1) GOD (in the Abrahamic Religions) is omnipotent (ALL ABLE), omniscient (ALL KNOWING) and omni-benevolent (ALL LOVING).

That God is omni anything is more of a theological assumption (and not a very accurate one) than it is a biblical fact, especially in the context that it is often given. Consider what it means to be omnivorous, for example. It has practical limitations, it doesn’t mean eating everything. God, for example, is most certainly not omnipresent. His position is fixed in heaven. He can go anywhere he likes, but his position is fixed. That he is omniscient isn’t entirely true in that although he can get to know anything he needs to know he doesn’t know everything. For example, he didn’t know what Cain had done, or what Adam and Eve had done, he had to ask. He sent angels to get to know if the complaints he was receiving from Sodom and Gomorrah were true. Is God omnipotent? God can’t lie. God can’t sin. It could be argued that he could do these things if he wanted to, but the fact is that his sense of justice prevents these things. Similar to when a person says I couldn’t kill another person. Is he Omni benevolent? He hates some things.

2) EVIL/SIN exists (again in the religious sense.)

Okay. Just for clarification evil is calamity through justice, as explained above and sin means simply to miss the mark. If the Bible is explaining that a marksman, a thrower of stones or spears, misses his mark the word used is sin. So to sin against ones boss is to show up late for work, to sin against your neighbor is to do something that he expects you not to do. The same as to sin against God. If God says not to kill, then to kill is a sin against God.

3) GOD is not one of those three things thus the GOD that many major religions believe does not exist.

That isn’t a logical conclusion given the facts.

The COUNTERARGUMENT:

1) What we perceive as evil can be good in GOD's plan

2) In order to know and experience GOOD there must be a relative EVIL (light/shadow theology)

3) As an ANT cannot fathom the renaissance or computers, WE cannot fathom GOD's actions.

What is evil is subjective, yes. We may perceive God’s workings evil. Good is also subjective, but good can exist without evil. Adam didn’t have to sin, he could have remained faithful and so not have died. Jesus demonstrated this by not sinning. It is promised that, just as God intended when he created man, man will live forever in peace upon the earth. We can fathom God’s actions. Through study of his word.

This is my COUNTER-COUNTERARGUMENT:

1) if God is all powerful why does not create an alternate reality without the need for evil? (AKA HEAVEN?)

Well, he did create heaven, but there is evil in heaven as well. Disobedient angels. There will be a new heavens and a new earth, meaning without sin.

2) If God Is all knowing, why does did he go through the process of creating something that he does not desire?

The earth was created for man, and man will live forever upon it.

3) If God is all loving, what happens to those who are not fortunate enough to know or even hear one of the three major Abrahamic Religions? (CHRISTIANITY, ISLAM, JUDAISM)

Acts 24:15: and I have hope toward God, which hope these [men] themselves also entertain, that there is going to be a resurrection of both the righteous and the unrighteous.

The Bible promises everyone will have the opportunity to make an informed decision. That is why it says that some will be resurrected to life everlasting and some to judgment. That is why Satan is released for 1000 years after the resurrection.

Seriously, what proof do you have that God exists besides personal testimonials?

what proof do you have against the fact that people have existed before the founding of these religions?

what would you say if i told you that the modern bible was CREATED in 325AD by the first council of NICAEA?

Where is your God now?

In answer, I would say, with all due respect, you have much to learn.

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Why? Just because I post in a topic titled "Problem of Evil" doesn't mean I feel it needs to be explained. Put it another way, if no one started this thread, I wouldn't bring it up. To me, it is a non-issue.

Ok I'll accept that. It seems to a very common view. Bart Ehrman explains in his book God's Problem: How the Bible fails to answer our most important question - why we suffer that the biggest problem he had when teaching a course on theodicy to a class of privileged teenagers was convincing them there was a problem.

"Best of all possible worlds" is an ambiguous statement, for the simple fact that we then need to ask "best for who"? I think a more appropriate statement would be "best for the purposes God had in mind", in which case I'd entirely 100% agree with that statement.

Yes, I hesitated about posting a link to Leibniz's thoughts. "Best of all possible worlds", what does that actually mean? If you have two identical planets, and one has a tree that has one extra leaf, is that a better world? I threw that out there because I still think there could possibly be more humane mechanisms for creation, i.e. the hexameron, six days of creation. While not perfect, it would have gone a long way to mitigating unnecessary pain, suffering and death.

But I disagree with your proposition that this is the best world for "the purposes God had in mind". God doesn't have to live in this vale of tears, we do, and all the other innocent species. C.S. Lewis wrote in his book The Problem of Pain; "So far as we know beasts are incapable either of sin or virtue: therefore they can neither deserve pain nor be improved by it."

Anyways, I'm not sure there's much left to discuss with you, not that I haven't found the discussion engaging and interesting, but you've stated that your belief in God's love is unfalsifiable. There's no evidence that could possibly convince you that there is a problem. So I think we're at a stalemate here.

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Before we get started lets define evil according to the Bible. It is something that is morally bad and destructive. Bad, hurtful, injurious, wrong.

That's the problem of moral evil which can easily be answered by free will. Natural evil is a more difficult challenge.

That God is omni anything is more of a theological assumption (and not a very accurate one) than it is a biblical fact, especially in the context that it is often given. Consider what it means to be omnivorous, for example. It has practical limitations, it doesn’t mean eating everything. God, for example, is most certainly not omnipresent. His position is fixed in heaven. He can go anywhere he likes, but his position is fixed. That he is omniscient isn’t entirely true in that although he can get to know anything he needs to know he doesn’t know everything.

Can I ask how you know all this to be true?

We can fathom God’s actions. Through study of his word.

Ah, ok. Independently, all by yourself? Not to be rude but, are you fluent in Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek, Coptic, Syriac and Latin?

There will be a new heavens and a new earth, meaning without sin.

Will there be pain, suffering and death in this new world?

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That's the problem of moral evil which can easily be answered by free will. Natural evil is a more difficult challenge.

What is the distinction between the two?

Can I ask how you know all this to be true?

It is all according to the Bible, I can give scripture upon request.

Ah, ok. Independently, all by yourself? Not to be rude but, are you fluent in Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek, Coptic, Syriac and Latin?

I can easily find any information I need.

Will there be pain, suffering and death in this new world?

No.

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What is evil is subjective, yes. We may perceive God’s workings evil. Good is also subjective, but good can exist without evil.

From a human's finite point of view...can good really exist without evil? Is it possible to have a concept without its polar opposite existing? Can we say that God, before He created humanity, knew of the concept of evil?

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The world is both Yin and Yang, both good and evil, beautiful and ugly, wise and foolish, sane and insane.

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The world is both Yin and Yang, both good and evil, beautiful and ugly, wise and foolish, sane and insane.

The world is, yes. But the world will perish while the Earth will last forever.

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What is the distinction between the two?

Natural evil includes things like earthquakes, cancer, the ebola virus, carnivores, and all kinds of other horrors that are not caused by humans.

It is all according to the Bible, I can give scripture upon request.

I can easily find any information I need.

Ok, I'll leave it at that. Textual criticism is a whole other debate.

No.

So, if originally the world had no pain, suffering and death, and in the future there will be a new earth with no pain, suffering and death; this shows that God could in fact create a world with no pain, suffering and death if He wanted to. So I ask you why is our present world such a nightmare of suffering given an all loving God?

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The world is both Yin and Yang, both good and evil, beautiful and ugly, wise and foolish, sane and insane.

Well I read that as distinguishing between the "world," of mankind and the physical Earth.

First, the earth will not last forever; it will be vaporized when the sun becomes a red giant.

Of mankind may by then be long gone -- who knows.

The earth too has its yin and yang -- sunny days, balmy breezes, cool ponds -- volcanic eruption, typhoons, roaring floods.

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From a human's finite point of view...can good really exist without evil? Is it possible to have a concept without its polar opposite existing? Can we say that God, before He created humanity, knew of the concept of evil?

The Bible sometimes uses the word know in interesting ways which if you are not careful you will miss. For example, the men and boys who approached the angels who visited Lot wanted to "get to know" them, meaning develop an intimate knowledge. Sex. The tree of knowledge of good and bad, or good and evil, represented God's sovereignty. In a footnote to Genesis 2:17 The Jerusalem Bible of 1966 put it this way: “This knowledge is a privilege which God reserves to himself and which man, by sinning, is to lay hands on, 3:5, 22. Hence it does not mean omniscience, which fallen man does not possess; nor is it moral discrimination, for unfallen man already had it and God could not refuse it to a rational being. It is the power of deciding for himself what is good and what is evil and of acting accordingly, a claim to complete moral independence by which man refuses to recognise his status as a created being. The first sin was an attack on God’s sovereignty, a sin of pride.”

To answer your question , God knew that if man rejected his guidance and wisdom the result would be evil or bad for man. He warned Adam accordingly, but, at the same time, God had no and to this day has no intimate knowledge of evil. That is to say that he doesn’t know what it is like to live as a result of sin, he hasn’t personally experienced it.

That is why, though the meek shall inherit the earth and live forever upon it once sin is removed, only a relatively small number of people, 144,000, will go to heaven in spirit form to judge with Christ. Jehovah and Christ don’t know what it is like to live under sin, but they do.

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That is why, though the meek shall inherit the earth and live forever upon it once sin is removed, only a relatively small number of people, 144,000, will go to heaven in spirit form to judge with Christ. Jehovah and Christ don’t know what it is like to live under sin, but they do.

Huh! Aren't they omniscient? Also, although I'm not good at thumping the Bible, isn't there something in 2 Peter that tells us the earth will be consumed?

In a perfect world where there is no suffering, and therefore I presume no pain, how will we know when we've stubbed our toe? Will an angel accompany us everywhere we go to prevent such things?

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Natural evil includes things like earthquakes, cancer, the ebola virus, carnivores, and all kinds of other horrors that are not caused by humans. . . . So, if originally the world had no pain, suffering and death, and in the future there will be a new earth with no pain, suffering and death; this shows that God could in fact create a world with no pain, suffering and death if He wanted to. So I ask you why is our present world such a nightmare of suffering given an all loving God?

Let's go over the facts according to the Bible. God created man perfect, without sin. The word perfect indicates a limited state, like when a baby is born it is, in its parents eyes, perfect. It is chubby, bald, toothless with a slight drooling problem on occasion much like my current state, which seems far from perfect, but I digress. The baby is perfect as it was meant to be by a specific standard with an opportunity for growth and improvement. The same with Adam in Jehovah's eyes. That is why God rested on the seventh day. Not because he was tired, nor even that his work elsewhere was halted, but that with regards to man and earth which he created for man, it was perfect. They still had to fill the earth and subdue it.

Thousands of years after Adam's creation and the 7th day of rest, King David said that day continued, and still thousands of years later the apostle Paul quoted him and reminded us that it remained in his day. Now, thousands of years after that I tell you that the 7th day of rest continues to this day. What this means is that that day in which God set aside for mankind to fill and subdue the earth as was his purpose for man, was temporarily extended due to the fact that Adam rejected God's sovereignty by disobedience.

The Earth, though, he had given Adam. Much like a father gives his son a house but under the stipulation that his son not destroy it or it will be taken from him and given to another who will respect it. The father can't condone the destructive nature of the son and so removes himself to an extent. Up to the point that he and others may see the issue settled.

The issue that Satan raised in deceiving Eve was witnessed by the angels who cried out in joy upon the finished work of creation. So in fairness God allowed the issue to be explored. Had Satan lied? Does man need God’s protection and guidance or can he do it on his own without destruction?

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From Frank Merton:

"In a perfect world where there is no suffering, and therefore I presume no pain, how will we know when we've stubbed our toe? Will an angel accompany us everywhere we go to prevent such things?"

Great question! I personally believe that pain and suffering are two different things. In my own life, I've had most of my personal growth in times of physical and emotional pain. Suffering, on the other hand, occurs when I wallow in self-pity and anger towards God for seemingly treating me like a child.

This will be controversial, but I personally believe there may indeed be pain in Paradise, though without suffering. Pain is not evil in and of itself.

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From Frank Merton:

"In a perfect world where there is no suffering, and therefore I presume no pain, how will we know when we've stubbed our toe? Will an angel accompany us everywhere we go to prevent such things?"

Great question! I personally believe that pain and suffering are two different things. In my own life, I've had most of my personal growth in times of physical and emotional pain. Suffering, on the other hand, occurs when I wallow in self-pity and anger towards God for seemingly treating me like a child.

This will be controversial, but I personally believe there may indeed be pain in Paradise, though without suffering. Pain is not evil in and of itself.

It all depends on the nature of the pain, is it natural or inflicted by some mad sadist?

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Suffering takes all sort of forms -- pain, nausea, hunger, suffocation and so on as well as emotional pain -- grief, fear, worry, frustration, revulsion.

Saying that existence is possible without these things is to not be realistic.

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Suffering takes all sort of forms -- pain, nausea, hunger, suffocation and so on as well as emotional pain -- grief, fear, worry, frustration, revulsion.

Desire. Dukkha.

Saying that existence is possible without these things is to not be realistic.

Would it be realistic to say that in the future there is the possibility that suffering caused by death, sickness, aging, and injury will be a thing of the past?

Edited by David Henson
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Desire. Dukkha.

Would it be realistic to say that in the future there is the possibility that suffering caused by death, sickness, aging, and injury will be a thing of the past?

Quite so; I think mankind is headed toward such a future as we progressively eliminate sickness and injury and eventually figure out aging and death.

I deliberately left "desire" off the list so as to avoid getting into Buddhist teaching here, but I do agree with the old man that desire is probably the main cause of suffering.

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Quite so; I think mankind is headed toward such a future as we progressively eliminate sickness and injury and eventually figure out aging and death.

So, when you say "Saying that existence is possible without these things is to not be realistic" you mean they are not realistic from a God but they are through science and technology?

I deliberately left "desire" off the list so as to avoid getting into Buddhist teaching here, but I do agree with the old man that desire is probably the main cause of suffering.

Why avoid getting into Buddhsit teaching here?

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So, when you say "Saying that existence is possible without these things is to not be realistic" you mean they are not realistic from a God but they are through science and technology?

Existence is not possible without pain and frustration and so on. Sickness and death seem removable. If there is a God then anything is possible; I don't think human technology is quite that competent.
Why avoid getting into Buddhsit teaching here?

I'm a Buddhist in that I think the man made more sense than anyone else I know of, but I'm not a "believer" and while I'm happy to talk about it I don't want to preach.

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It all depends on the nature of the pain, is it natural or inflicted by some mad sadist?

Now, I realize you may see God as the "mad sadist" who inflicts pain on people just for his own pleasure. I've spent some time thinking about this myself, because it seems as though pain is often unnecessary and gratuitious. For instance, why are good, faithful Christians imprisoned and tortured for their faith in God, as happens on a daily basis around the world? If put in that position, would I remain faithful, or would I immediately cave, curse God, and beg for mercy from my tormentors? And I've always believed, knowing my own weak nature, that yes, I would immediately cave, curse God, and beg for mercy.

And then I read the stories of people who spend years in hellish prisons, imprisoned for their faith in God, and upon their release proclaim the goodness of God. How is that even possible?

This is an excerpt from Richard Wurmbrand's "In God's Underground":

"The prison years did not seem too long for me, for I discovered, alone in my cell, that beyond belief and love there is delight in God: a deep and extraordinary ecstasy of happiness that is like nothing in this world. And when I came out of jail I was like someone who comes down from a mountaintop where he has seen for miles around the peace and beauty of the countryside, and now returns to the plain."

He was in prison for 14 years. He didn't view God as a heartless, distant diety inflicting pain on his creation, but as a benevolent, caring Father.

Edited by simplybill

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Let's go over the facts according to the Bible. God created man perfect, without sin.

If you believe that the earth is only a few thousand years old, your argument has some merit. If however you believe in macro-evolution, then you are faced with the fact of pain, suffering and death existing before Adam and Eve. The warrant for this argument being the fossil record.

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