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manbearpigg

Problem of Evil

283 posts in this topic

Like a dog chasing it's tail it just goes round and round and round.............

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I disagree. It was saying that a human questioning God is about as fruitful as a pot questioning a potter - ie, useless.

You've just reworded what I said before - A pot wont question its maker, therefore a human shouldn't question god <-- that's basically what it says.. Its useless

Not quite, the Bible cannot provide every answer imaginable, but it provides us everything we NEED.

You're right It can't, Romans 9 proves that.. It selects what it wants to give you.. If it can't, it will tell you arrogantly who are you to ask god? You're on a need to know basis, and right now, you don't need to know , kindly be on your merry way...

Sometimes "who are you to talk back to God" is the only answer given

Questioning god is not talking back... He gave us the ability to question him, and yet he cannot explain why that is? ...... If he was a Londoner, he would say on to you - On yer bike !! If he were Irish, he'd tell you to get stuffed. and call you a chancer.. If he were an American he would say - Take a hike ...All arrogance, which is what he used according to the author.. Only because the author can't give a good enough answer..

Edited by Beckys_Mom

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Vietnamese Buddhism came from China, so it is mainly Mahayana, and Guanyin is immensely popular, although most of the traditional Chinese deities have been "bodhisattva-ized." Daily Buddhist practice here is very Taoist, making it much more colorful than Thai practice.

The idea of becoming extinct is I think a Western translation of things the first missionaries didn't really understand, as even the most severe Thai monk will raise his eyebrow at that. Perhaps Emerson and the Transcendentalists were closer to the idea. The self never existed in the first place, so saying it becomes extinct or merged into a greater sea is kinda meaningless. What ends is the cycle of desire and delusion and rebirth.

Thanks for that clarification :tu:

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You've just reworded what I said before - A pot wont question its maker, therefore a human shouldn't question god <-- that's basically what it says.. Its useless

Saying a Pot "cannot" question, and saying a person question is fruitless are not the same thing - they are two points, and though their end result is the same they are not the same.

You're right It can't, Romans 9 proves that.. It selects what it wants to give you.. If it can't, it will tell you arrogantly who are you to ask god? You're on a need to know basis, and right now, you don't need to know , kindly be on your merry way...

Not a "need to know" basis, just an "unable to know" basis.

Questioning god is not talking back... He gave us the ability to question him, and yet he cannot explain why that is? ...... If he was a Londoner, he would say on to you - On yer bike !! If he were Irish, he'd tell you to get stuffed. and call you a chancer.. If he were an American he would say - Take a hike ...All arrogance, which is what he used according to the author.. Only because the author can't give a good enough answer..

Whether or not it is an answer liked, it is the answer given.

And with that statement, I believe we have just turned around back to the beginning of the discussion again :tu:

~ PA

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Whatever God might have chosen, is irrelevant. It is what God has chosen.

That's not the case. The method of creation has a huge impact on the magnitude of suffering.

You may think of several other alternatives but have you truly thought through all the consequences?

Ok here's one idea. Create the earth and everything in it in six days. That would go along way to mitigating millions of years of pain, suffering and death. As for the consequences of this concept. Well, apparently theologians and the faithful had no problem with this method of creation.

How do you know your alternatives sufficiently answer all questions, while teaching us everything God wanted us to learn?

The hexameron was perfectly acceptable for at least 2,500 years of human history.

You can't know this. It's impossible.

I don't claim to know this, the hexameron as outlined in Genesis is scripture.

I know you may think these alternatives are great, but at the end of the day, I'm glad you're not God (though it's only a movie, see "Bruce Almighty" to get an idea of how a mere human may end up trying to stand in God's shoes for a day or two.

Yes, pretty funny movie. Anyways, this is not a satisfactory answer either. It's the answer Job got; "Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand. Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know!"

In other words "it's a mystery", which is no answer at all.

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Saying a Pot "cannot" question, and saying a person question is fruitless are not the same thing - they are two points, and though their end result is the same they are not the same.

No, it says, When a potter makes a pot, the pot wont ask why is is just a pot So the humans should not be asking why to god either....Useless analogy comparing the pot to the human, or even comparing a potter with a god.. Not the same thing.. An utter cop out

Not a "need to know" basis, just an "unable to know" basis

Its more of - I don't know the answer so I'll tell you not to question him...

Whether or not it is an answer liked, it is the answer given.

Telling you not to ask questions, is not an answer, it's a statement and a command to tell you to know your place and hush up ..

Edited by Beckys_Mom
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That's not the case. The method of creation has a huge impact on the magnitude of suffering.

Suffering would have existed regardless of whether we were created out of nothing six thousand years ago or whether the human race has evolved over the aeons.

Ok here's one idea. Create the earth and everything in it in six days. That would go along way to mitigating millions of years of pain, suffering and death. As for the consequences of this concept. Well, apparently theologians and the faithful had no problem with this method of creation.

Ok, so let's say God did that. Then man invented science, and there's now no proof of evolution. We don't know how our species relates to the rest of the world, we can't study the complexity of life, and suddenly a major branch of science goes missing. This branch has attachments to other branches of science, such as the broader range of biology, which in turn has attachments outside of that. Remove evolution, and the entire realm of Science as we understand it vanishes. We could not create vaccines to ward off childhood illness. We could not even combat the common cold. A virus would wipe out half our population like it did back in the times of the Black Plague.

This is just an example, and it may work out differently, I'm just saying that since we cannot know all the variables, there's no reason to say that God could have done it better. I'm sure he could have done it differently, but he didn't, we have what we have.

The hexameron was perfectly acceptable for at least 2,500 years of human history.

Bully for them, now we know that the days of creation were not written as scientific accounts, and therefore our understanding of the world must change with it.

I don't claim to know this, the hexameron as outlined in Genesis is scripture.

I think we have a crossed wire here, I don't understand this comment in relation to the response I was making. I said that you can't know that choosing an alternative to God's choice in creation would have a better outcome than the one we currently have.

Yes, pretty funny movie. Anyways, this is not a satisfactory answer either. It's the answer Job got; "Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand. Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know!"

In other words "it's a mystery", which is no answer at all.

Unfortunately, since can never have the knowledge base of the Creator we cannot ever presume to think that we could do a better job than God.

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No, it says, When a potter makes a pot, the pot wont ask why is is just a pot So the humans should not be asking why to god either....Useless analogy comparing the pot to the human, or even comparing a potter with a god.. Not the same thing.. An utter cop out

We'll just have to agree to disagree then :)

Its more of - I don't know the answer so I'll tell you not to question him...

Telling you not to ask questions, is not an answer, it's a statement and a command to tell you to know your place and hush up ..

And yet, hypothesis is permitted. Remember that while Paul did write - "who are you to talk back to God", in the very next sentence, Paul begins to answer the question anyway - what if God created those prepared for destruction to show his glory to those prepared for glory. So he did answer the question, just prefaced it by saying that we are only humans and not the creator.

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Suffering would have existed regardless of whether we were created out of nothing six thousand years ago or whether the human race has evolved over the aeons.

Well it would have greatly mitigated unnecessary pain, suffering and death. Also, there used to be (and still is) theological agreement that the pre-lapsarian humans (and animals) did not know pain, suffering and death. Hence, paradise. The New Jerusalem also promises a future where the "lion will lay down with the lamb" in an utopian new heaven and new earth. So, it can be done (and has been).

Ok, so let's say God did that.....We could not create vaccines to ward off childhood illness. We could not even combat the common cold. A virus would wipe out half our population like it did back in the times of the Black Plague.

This is just an example, and it may work out differently, I'm just saying that since we cannot know all the variables, there's no reason to say that God could have done it better. I'm sure he could have done it differently, but he didn't, we have what we have.

Sure, roll the dice again and you get a whole new game. I understand where you're going with this, but you're starting after the Fall, when before everything was perfect.

Unfortunately, since can never have the knowledge base of the Creator we cannot ever presume to think that we could do a better job than God.

This is an argument from ignorance. We can't know the mind of God so all bets are off. That's a cop out. It seems that many believers have a firm grasp of God wants and His plans for mankind, in detail. Anyways, I don't have to come up with original concepts for an ideal world free of suffering. God already has shown that He can; before the Fall, and after the parousia (whenever that comes about).

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Well it would have greatly mitigated unnecessary pain, suffering and death. Also, there used to be (and still is) theological agreement that the pre-lapsarian humans (and animals) did not know pain, suffering and death. Hence, paradise. The New Jerusalem also promises a future where the "lion will lay down with the lamb" in an utopian new heaven and new earth. So, it can be done (and has been).

Sure, roll the dice again and you get a whole new game. I understand where you're going with this, but you're starting after the Fall, when before everything was perfect.

The depiction of pre-fall existence being perfect was a theological discourse on the nature of man and God, it was not an historical account of reality. Appealing to pre-Fall existence is not an argument in your favour as such an existence was never perfect.

This is an argument from ignorance. We can't know the mind of God so all bets are off. That's a cop out. It seems that many believers have a firm grasp of God wants and His plans for mankind, in detail. Anyways, I don't have to come up with original concepts for an ideal world free of suffering. God already has shown that He can; before the Fall, and after the parousia (whenever that comes about).

First, as noted, before the Fall it was not perfect. Second, I did not argue that we can't know the mind of God so all bets are off. I argued that we do not have the knowledge base that God does and therefore cannot say we would do a better job at creation. And in the context of this discussion we can't say that God should have made a world without suffering, because we simply don't know the ramifications of that.

At the very least, suffering was part of God's plan for salvation - through Jesus' suffering and death (and eventual resurrection). If we had no suffering, Jesus' death would have no meaning. Therefore God's chosen manner of redemption would have been different. What else would change if suffering did not exist?

~ PA

Edited by Paranoid Android

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The depiction of pre-fall existence being perfect was a theological discourse on the nature of man and God, it was not an historical account of reality. Appealing to pre-Fall existence is not an argument in your favour as such an existence was never perfect.

Ok, maybe not perfect (whatever that would mean) but at least pain free. I don't know what the consensus of Christian denominations is, but the Roman Catholic Church asserts that suffering is a consequence of original sin and that before the fall, the world was death free. Sounds pretty good to me.

Second, I did not argue that we can't know the mind of God so all bets are off. I argued that we do not have the knowledge base that God does and therefore cannot say we would do a better job at creation.

Granted.

And in the context of this discussion we can't say that God should have made a world without suffering, because we simply don't know the ramifications of that.

Do you agree then that He could have created a world without pain and death, i.e. before the Fall, or in a New heaven and earth? If you agree, then the argument for the greater good has to be dealt with. If God could create a world without pain, suffering and death, then what possible greater good could outweigh millions of years of this necessary horror?

At the very least, suffering was part of God's plan for salvation - through Jesus' suffering and death (and eventual resurrection). If we had no suffering, Jesus' death would have no meaning. Therefore God's chosen manner of redemption would have been different.

The problem of evil predates Christianity. The quote below is usually ascribed to Epicurus who died 300 years before Christ;

Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?

Then he is not omnipotent.

Is he able, but not willing?

Then he is malevolent.

Is he both able and willing?

Then whence cometh evil?

Is he neither able nor willing?

Then why call him God?

What else would change if suffering did not exist?

No natural evil; no tsunamis, no plague, no carnivores. Lots would change. It would be a Garden of Eden. Let me ask you, for the record, would you confirm or deny the proposition that; all things being equal, a world with less pain, suffering and death is better than a world with more pain, suffering and death?

Thanks

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Ok, maybe not perfect (whatever that would mean) but at least pain free. I don't know what the consensus of Christian denominations is, but the Roman Catholic Church asserts that suffering is a consequence of original sin and that before the fall, the world was death free. Sounds pretty good to me.

Not pain free, either. Have you read anything I have written about the story of the Fall being focused on the theological implications, and not as an historical event. There was no literal Garden, there was no literal Adam and Eve, there was no tree that could not be eaten. We were never in a state of perfection or free from pain. Our species evolved (most likely) by the process of time as generation upon generation of our ancestors lived and died and evolved from earlier species.

Do you agree then that He could have created a world without pain and death, i.e. before the Fall, or in a New heaven and earth? If you agree, then the argument for the greater good has to be dealt with. If God could create a world without pain, suffering and death, then what possible greater good could outweigh millions of years of this necessary horror?

Yes, I agree he could of. I'm just saying that God felt suffering was necessary for our world. Because there is more to existence than this physical world. But I'm pretty sure I've already mentioned that.

The problem of evil predates Christianity. The quote below is usually ascribed to Epicurus who died 300 years before Christ;

Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?

Then he is not omnipotent.

Is he able, but not willing?

Then he is malevolent.

Is he both able and willing?

Then whence cometh evil?

Is he neither able nor willing?

Then why call him God?

No natural evil; no tsunamis, no plague, no carnivores. Lots would change. It would be a Garden of Eden. Let me ask you, for the record, would you confirm or deny the proposition that; all things being equal, a world with less pain, suffering and death is better than a world with more pain, suffering and death?

Thanks

Having gone through some events that brought me great suffering, I would like to say that I'd prefer not to have suffered. But with that said, I will not confirm that proposition! I can't predict what our world would be like had we not suffered. For one, we'd definitely be overpopulating the planet by now. For two, Jesus Christ would never have died on the cross. Taking just these two examples of what will have changed, and I have to deny the proposition - all things being equal, the world would not be better without pain, suffering and death.

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Suffering comes in two forms -- physical discomfort (pain, nausea, itching, stuffed head, heartburn, choking, bad odors, hunger, thirst, cold, heat, weariness, and others) and emotional discomfort (grief, frustration, irritation, anger, hate, confusion, humiliation, disappointment, envy, anxiety, fear, depression, boredom, loneliness, and, again, others).

What a long list of things to make us miserable!

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Not pain free, either. Have you read anything I have written about the story of the Fall being focused on the theological implications, and not as an historical event. There was no literal Garden, there was no literal Adam and Eve, there was no tree that could not be eaten. We were never in a state of perfection or free from pain. Our species evolved (most likely) by the process of time as generation upon generation of our ancestors lived and died and evolved from earlier species.

I don't know what denomination you belong to (if any), or what theology you subscribe to, but without a Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve and the Fall, you're on shaky ground. Without the Fall, the cause of original sin, what need of a redeemer?

Personally, I dislike the idea of vicarious salvation though the ritual of animal and human slaughter.

Yes, I agree he could of. I'm just saying that God felt suffering was necessary for our world. Because there is more to existence than this physical world. But I'm pretty sure I've already mentioned that.

Ok thanks for clarifying this for me.

Having gone through some events that brought me great suffering, I would like to say that I'd prefer not to have suffered. But with that said, I will not confirm that proposition! I can't predict what our world would be like had we not suffered. For one, we'd definitely be overpopulating the planet by now. For two, Jesus Christ would never have died on the cross. Taking just these two examples of what will have changed, and I have to deny the proposition - all things being equal, the world would not be better without pain, suffering and death.

I'm sure God could have figured out a way to deal with any potential overpopulation problem caused by immortal humans. But lets leave death in the equation, since its absence would strongly violate metaphysical laws on impermanence. I still think God could have put in a little more effort to mitigate unnecessary pain and suffering.

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I believe in diversity of gods, and I should point out that although the bible says, not to worship other gods, but see that same god speaks of tolerance and acceptance, so I take that he means acceptance of other peoples gods and faith too BUT I can add, you're wrong and you might burn for it....If I am wrong, I can always pray like hell on my death bed to all the gods, in the hopes of catching the right one..

Err, no. Your shotgun version of Pascal`s bet does not work, because a lot of the gods (and certainly the Abrahamic ones) are jelous and angy and send you straight to hell for believing in others beside them.

So you might as well stay with the atheists, that is probably less offensive to Yahweh et al.

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I don't know what denomination you belong to (if any), or what theology you subscribe to, but without a Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve and the Fall, you're on shaky ground. Without the Fall, the cause of original sin, what need of a redeemer?

Personally, I dislike the idea of vicarious salvation though the ritual of animal and human slaughter.

I describe myself as a Bible-believing Conservative Evangelical non-denominational protestant Christian. I attend an Anglican church, though I do not call myself "Anglican". Most Christians I know do not demand a literal Garden of Eden/Adam and Eve/Fall/etc. "Original Sin" is a concept that is equally valid if it refers to the first time a human being knowingly acted against the wishes of God. It does not have to be specifically Adam from the garden.

I'm sure God could have figured out a way to deal with any potential overpopulation problem caused by immortal humans. But lets leave death in the equation, since its absence would strongly violate metaphysical laws on impermanence. I still think God could have put in a little more effort to mitigate unnecessary pain and suffering.

Well, as Bruce Almighty found out, you're willing to try, but without God's knowledge you cannot ever know that you'd be right in doing so.

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Most Christians I know do not demand a literal Garden of Eden/Adam and Eve/Fall/etc. "Original Sin" is a concept that is equally valid if it refers to the first time a human being knowingly acted against the wishes of God. It does not have to be specifically Adam from the garden.

And that first act would have been ..... ?

Well, as Bruce Almighty found out, you're willing to try, but without God's knowledge you cannot ever know that you'd be right in doing so.

I loved the part where everyone won the lottery and therefore only got a few cents, lol. Hollywood aside, I think it might be fruitful to examine some of the best Christian minds of today and see how they deal with evolution and the problem of evil.

The Language of God written by the former director of the Human Genome Project, Francis Collins reconciles (to his mind) natural evolution and the Abrahamic God. He calls his idea biologos. I've read this book and he makes a plausible argument, but no where in the book does he tackle the implications of millions of years of unnecessary pain and suffering.

Likewise, the cell biologist, Ken Miller has written a book, Finding Darwin's God in which he also reconciles (to his mind) evolution and God. He does this using the indeterminacy inherent in quantum mechanics. I've also read this book in it's entirety and again, Like Collins, he does not even try to defend the slow and painful method naturalistic evolution in the context of natural evil.

I have scoured the library stacks at a Catholic university I attended, searched scholarly databases and talked to theologians. There is very little material dealing with the evidential problem of natural evil. It is almost non-existent. I have read what little work that has been done on this subject, and the answers are totally unsatisfactory.

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And yet, hypothesis is permitted. Remember that while Paul did write - "who are you to talk back to God", in the very next sentence, Paul begins to answer the question anyway - what if God created those prepared for destruction to show his glory to those prepared for glory. So he did answer the question, just prefaced it by saying that we are only humans and not the creator.

That answers nothing..Romans 9 doesn't give you any answers, It was written with what If this and that.?. but states you are only human and not god ..Not an answer, just his own statement and a command for you not to question.. When you tell someone not to question you, that is saying you are not giving them an answer, they are not entitled to ask or be given.. You cannot class that as an answer itself.. It holds no logic..

I don't like the answers given, I wish they were different.

I meant to ask you before.. Can you explain why you personally do not like what is said in Romans 9 ? You noted you don't like the answer ( even though I do not see it as one ) ..Why do you feel that way ?

Edited by Beckys_Mom

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The depiction of pre-fall existence being perfect was a theological discourse on the nature of man and God, it was not an historical account of reality.

I argued that we do not have the knowledge base that God does and therefore cannot say we would do a better job at creation. And in the context of this discussion we can't say that God should have made a world without suffering, because we simply don't know the ramifications of that.

I don't have a problem with God's ineffability and unknowability, but then why not likewise temper the things you are fairly certain about because of it? The story about Jesus and his miracles and resurrection, you don't classify that as a theological discourse and not reality I don't think? I don't see how you have any basis at all either for determining that God is a good god; any action we think is good or bad may be the exact opposite, as we don't know what the ramifications are. If things that appear evil (millions of years of bloody suffering) are really good, then I see no reason to not think the opposite may also be true.

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And that first act would have been ..... ?

I don't know, I can't answer that for you.

I loved the part where everyone won the lottery and therefore only got a few cents, lol. Hollywood aside, I think it might be fruitful to examine some of the best Christian minds of today and see how they deal with evolution and the problem of evil.

The Language of God written by the former director of the Human Genome Project, Francis Collins reconciles (to his mind) natural evolution and the Abrahamic God. He calls his idea biologos. I've read this book and he makes a plausible argument, but no where in the book does he tackle the implications of millions of years of unnecessary pain and suffering.

Likewise, the cell biologist, Ken Miller has written a book, Finding Darwin's God in which he also reconciles (to his mind) evolution and God. He does this using the indeterminacy inherent in quantum mechanics. I've also read this book in it's entirety and again, Like Collins, he does not even try to defend the slow and painful method naturalistic evolution in the context of natural evil.

I have scoured the library stacks at a Catholic university I attended, searched scholarly databases and talked to theologians. There is very little material dealing with the evidential problem of natural evil. It is almost non-existent. I have read what little work that has been done on this subject, and the answers are totally unsatisfactory.

I haven't looked into it as you seem to have, but I still see no reason why suffering (natural or otherwise) is an argument against God. I am a victim of natural suffering. I witnessed three people drown, including someone I was coming close to being in a relationship with. And still I believe that God was in control of it all.

Just saying,

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I witnessed three people drown, including someone I was coming close to being in a relationship with. And still I believe that God was in control of it all.

And I look at the same thing and see so clearly that there can't possibly be a God. Interesting how two people can look at the same thing so differently.

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I believe the Bible because it works. And not only does it work, it's the ONLY thing that works. No other religion or philosophy or political mechanism can say that. The Judeo/Christian values of the Bible actually work in real life.

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I haven't looked into it as you seem to have, but I still see no reason why suffering (natural or otherwise) is an argument against God.

Wiki does a fairly decent job of summarizing theodicy;

"The evidential version of the problem of evil (also referred to as the probabilistic or inductive version), seeks to show that the existence of evil, although logically consistent with the existence of God, counts against or lowers the probability of the truth of theism":

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I believe the Bible because it works. And not only does it work, it's the ONLY thing that works. No other religion or philosophy or political mechanism can say that. The Judeo/Christian values of the Bible actually work in real life.

I'm glad they work for you, but I wouldn't say that it is the only thing that works. I'm a happy Buddhist, and I assure you it works too.

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I saw something on television recently about a child born both deaf and blind and I thought to myself, what kind of god would sentence a child to a life of darkness and silence. .I expect I will get the usual replies full of platitudes

fullywired

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