Join the Unexplained Mysteries community today! It's free and setting up an account only takes a moment.
- Sign In or Create Account -
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 2
markdohle

Turning the Problem of Evil On Its Head

49 posts in this topic

Posted (edited)

Turning the Problem of Evil On Its Head

Many atheists are fond of using the argument from evil to debunk the notion of God. It goes something like this:

  1. If God is all-powerful (omnipotent), He could stop evil.
  2. If God is all-loving (omnibenevolent), He would stop evil if He could.
  3. Therefore, if an omnipotent, omnibenevolent God existed, evil would not.
  4. Evil exists; therefore, an omnipotent, omnibenevolent God does not.

Another variation of the argument was put forward by the Greek philosopher Epicurus, centuries before the time of Christ:

Against Catholics, this argument is stronger rhetorically than logically. But against atheists, it's ironically quite devastating. Let me explain what I mean.

I. The Problem of Evil for Catholics

Continue: http://www.strangeno...g-problem-evil/

Edited by markdohle

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The old "morality can't exist without God" argument.

2 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The only people that piece will convince is those that already agree with it.

2 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hmmm

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've met a few atheists who have tried religion and just said they didn't feel any sort of connection.

Personally, I chose not to believe or disbelieve because of the way gods are described in various texts. If they are truly all powerful beings, they could let us know if they exist or choose not to. Humans can't really know for sure, can't really speak for an all powerful deity. So I'll just wait until I die to find out- and if I'm generally a good person in life (because I want to be, not because I'm told to be) and there is an afterlife, I will be accepted into a positive one.

Though the argument presented in the OP has given me lots to think about. I have heard it before, yes. The believers usually site some force opposing god as the cause; the devil, Loki, etc.

But I say we can't know for sure.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Mark, pretty sure we've gone over the perennial PoE (problem of evil) before, but I'll go through the article you cited because I'm still open to a satisfactory solution (theodicy).

The authors first answer: "God gives us free will, because free will is inherently good."

Yup, that's the most popular answer but it doesn't address the greater problem, natural evil.

Next up is William Lane Craigs argument for objective moral values. If objective moral values (God) don't exist then "we cannot criticize the Nazis for killing millions of Jews". Well, actually we can, but not in any supreme moral court of authority. Many Nazis thought they were doing the just and moral thing, in the long run (ends justifying the means). We have no way to counter that argument logically.

We could the same for any ideology. Many argue that the "general will of the people" is supreme, and justified the French reign of terror. Many Communists argue that mass executions were morally justified for the good of the proletariat. We could do this all day long; the reason being there are no objective moral values. That's not the end of the world though and does not prove or disprove an omnimax God. The author thinks it does though; "So atheists can either believe that morality is nothing more than a “shifting moral Zeitgeist,” of no more importance than the latest fashion, or they can criticize what's “inside the books of our religions.” But they can't coherently do both.."

People do bad things sometimes, that's just a given. Just because I don't believe in objective moral values doesn't mean I don't have the right to criticize Christian scripture. This argument still does not address the evidential problem of natural evil. This is a much more serious problem. How do you reconcile an omnimax God with millions of years of unnecessary pain and suffering? This leads to Leibnitz's argument for the "best of all possible worlds" and would be a subject of another thread.

So conclusion; nothing new here. Same old theodicies formulated in a different way. The author is using a logical fallacy, specifically a false dichtomy; either believe in objective moral values (God) or you are disqualified from complaining about evil.

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

Evil is the absence of God... simple. We as humans will throw any word around that suits us, or any word that works in our favor. People look to themselves too often, but when you take the word "religion" and see that its original meaning is "return to bondage", then what you see as "religion" today is not that meaning. Some may see it that way, because of course "you personally" have all the answers. Were all here seeking together for something bigger than ourselves. And if you say to yourself that your not, your lieing, and if so, you would'nt be on this site. There is just someone whos so exspansive that our tiny human stubborn brains can't accept it. Just know someone does care about you, get used to it.

Edited by Jessem

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Evil is the absence of God... simple.

Too simple. For the purposes of theodicy there are two types of evil; moral evil (committed by humans) and natural evil (earthquakes, tsunamis, ebola virus, etc). Your stipulative definition of evil is too vague, it could also be applied to Hell, in fact I've heard hell described as the absence of God.

We as humans will throw any word around that suits us, or any word that works in our favor.

Not so. In any scientific or philosophic field, terms and definitions are agreed on by consensus. If academics used any old words and took them to mean anything they wanted, knowledge would come to a standstill.

People look to themselves too often, but when you take the word "religion" and see that its original meaning is "return to bondage", then what you see as "religion" today is not that meaning.

I have never seen such an interpretation. It comes from the Latin "ligare "bind, connect", probably from a prefixed re-ligare, i.e. re (again) + ligare or "to reconnect," from wiki. In other words, religion is the tie that binds people together. Bondage I think has negative connotations.

Some may see it that way, because of course "you personally" have all the answers. Were all here seeking together for something bigger than ourselves. And if you say to yourself that your not, your lieing, and if so, you would'nt be on this site.

No doubt, no human is omniscient.

There is just someone whos so exspansive that our tiny human stubborn brains can't accept it. Just know someone does care about you, get used to it.

Now we are back to Job's answer;

"“Who is this that obscures my plans

with words without knowledge?

Brace yourself like a man;

I will question you,

and you shall answer me.

“Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?

Tell me, if you understand.

Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know!

Who stretched a measuring line across it?

On what were its footings set,

or who laid its cornerstone—

while the morning stars sang together

and all the angels shouted for joy?"

In other words, how dare you presume to ask questions? Sit down and shut up. By saying the problem of evil is so complicated our puny brains can't comprehend it is the same as responding "it's a mystery", which is no answer at all.

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Evil is the absence of God... simple. We as humans will throw any word around that suits us, or any word that works in our favor. People look to themselves too often, but when you take the word "religion" and see that its original meaning is "return to bondage", then what you see as "religion" today is not that meaning. Some may see it that way, because of course "you personally" have all the answers. Were all here seeking together for something bigger than ourselves. And if you say to yourself that your not, your lieing, and if so, you would'nt be on this site. There is just someone whos so exspansive that our tiny human stubborn brains can't accept it. Just know someone does care about you, get used to it.

Absence is not presence. The absence of good, is not the presence of evil. If you believe in the two mutually exclusive types of energies, then you will understand that they can both be absent.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

Too simple. For the purposes of theodicy there are two types of evil; moral evil (committed by humans) and natural evil (earthquakes, tsunamis, ebola virus, etc). Your stipulative definition of evil is too vague, it could also be applied to Hell, in fact I've heard hell described as the absence of God.

Yes, moral evil is sinning, and natural disasters are just apart of this world, its not evil, some christians actually "interprete" it as Gods wrath. No such thing is too simple either. Simplicities are the most useful and complete answers we as humans have. God understand that in us, we make it complex from moving away from him. I've heard hell is without God also, and I believe it would be as a believer, but even in psalm it states:

Psalm 139:8

New King James Version (NKJV)

8) If I ascend into heaven, You are there;

If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there.

So I simply believe "pure" evil is something without God.

Not so. In any scientific or philosophic field, terms and definitions are agreed on by consensus. If academics used any old words and took them to mean anything they wanted, knowledge would come to a standstill.

Yes, I was meaning people in general, not scholastic professors and learned theologians.

I have never seen such an interpretation. It comes from the Latin "ligare "bind, connect", probably from a prefixed re-ligare, i.e. re (again) + ligare or "to reconnect," from wiki. In other words, religion is the tie that binds people together. Bondage I think has negative connotations

.

This one is my fault. I used the wrong interpretation.

No doubt, no human is omniscient.

We agree.

Now we are back to Job's answer;

"“Who is this that obscures my plans

with words without knowledge?

Brace yourself like a man;

I will question you,

and you shall answer me.

“Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?

Tell me, if you understand.

Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know!

Who stretched a measuring line across it?

On what were its footings set,

or who laid its cornerstone—

while the morning stars sang together

and all the angels shouted for joy?"

In other words, how dare you presume to ask questions? Sit down and shut up. By saying the problem of evil is so complicated our puny brains can't comprehend it is the same as responding "it's a mystery", which is no answer at all.

Heres the whole Chapter for you. As a student of theology, first never just quote a couple of verses without understanding how it all comes together please. Job is being tested completely and utterly, but never fails in HIS ACTIONS and faith toward the Lord. God Bless.

Job’s Repentance and Restoration

42 Then Job answered the Lord and said:

2 “I know that You can do everything,

And that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You.

3 You asked, ‘Who is this who hides counsel without knowledge?’

Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand,

Things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.

4 Listen, please, and let me speak;

You said, ‘I will question you, and you shall answer Me.’

5 “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear,

But now my eye sees You.

6 Therefore I abhor myself,

And repent in dust and ashes.”

7 And so it was, after the Lord had spoken these words to Job, that the Lord said to Eliphaz the Temanite, “My wrath is aroused against you and your two friends, for you have not spoken of Me what is right, as My servant Job has. 8 Now therefore, take for yourselves seven bulls and seven rams, go to My servant Job, and offer up for yourselves a burnt offering; and My servant Job shall pray for you. For I will accept him, lest I deal with you according to your folly; because you have not spoken of Me what is right, as My servant Job has.

9 So Eliphaz the Temanite and Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite went and did as the Lord commanded them; for the Lord had accepted Job. 10 And the Lord restored Job’s losses[a] when he prayed for his friends. Indeed the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before. 11 Then all his brothers, all his sisters, and all those who had been his acquaintances before, came to him and ate food with him in his house; and they consoled him and comforted him for all the adversity that the Lord had brought upon him. Each one gave him a piece of silver and each a ring of gold.

12 Now the Lord blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning; for he had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, one thousand yoke of oxen, and one thousand female donkeys. 13 He also had seven sons and three daughters. 14 And he called the name of the first Jemimah, the name of the second Keziah, and the name of the third Keren-Happuch. 15 In all the land were found no women so beautiful as the daughters of Job; and their father gave them an inheritance among their brothers.

16 After this Job lived one hundred and forty years, and saw his children and grandchildren for four generations. 17 So Job died, old and full of days.

Edited by Jessem

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Absence is not presence. The absence of good, is not the presence of evil. If you believe in the two mutually exclusive types of energies, then you will understand that they can both be absent.

Not so, as you speak you sound as if you understand how tao works, correct? Yin and yang? One not without the other. They are both always present in the world, but one can exclusively override the other, or one is there without the other. Something without either is non-existant.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Not so, as you speak you sound as if you understand how tao works, correct? Yin and yang? One not without the other. They are both always present in the world, but one can exclusively override the other, or one is there without the other. Something without either is non-existant.

I must not exist then. I do not have a "good" god, or an "evil" one.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I must not exist then. I do not have a "good" god, or an "evil" one.

That was a nonexistant rebuttal then :unsure2:

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

That was a nonexistant rebuttal then :unsure2:

Something without something else, is still itself(Still existing).

Energy without light or dark energy, is raw energy.

Defining of good or evil is a matter of relative perspective, what you define as such would not necessarily be my definition of such.

The flaw in this conversation, is the duality of what is being defined. One or the other must be... What if neither are, and there is a third option? From both perspectives of the debate, they define humans as themselves.. While defining God as himself, and Satan as himself. By the terms stated above, humans can be humans without the presence of God or Satan.

Edited by xFelix

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes, moral evil is sinning, and natural disasters are just apart of this world, its not evil,

Natural disasters, viruses, all the unnecessary pain and suffering that is inherent in nature is called natural evil in theodicy. Your response that is "just part of life" in one proposed answer to this problem, the philosophical technical term is nomic regularity. But that is just a fancy way of saying "that's just the way it is", which again, is no answer at all.

some christians actually "interprete" it as Gods wrath.

Yes, that's another answer. But it is unsatisfactory, for it doesn't explain all the unnecessary pain and suffering.

Heres the whole Chapter for you. As a student of theology, first never just quote a couple of verses without understanding how it all comes together please. Job is being tested completely and utterly, but never fails in HIS ACTIONS and faith toward the Lord. God Bless.

I just wanted to summarize Job, in that God revealed to him that pain and suffering is a mystery, too big for him to comprehend. Adding the full context doesn't really add anything to this weak argument. The answer is still the same, the Mysterium Iniquitatis.

2 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

Natural disasters, viruses, all the unnecessary pain and suffering that is inherent in nature is called natural evil in theodicy. Your response that is "just part of life" in one proposed answer to this problem, the philosophical technical term is nomic regularity. But that is just a fancy way of saying "that's just the way it is", which again, is no answer at all.

Yes, that's another answer. But it is unsatisfactory, for it doesn't explain all the unnecessary pain and suffering.

I just wanted to summarize Job, in that God revealed to him that pain and suffering is a mystery, too big for him to comprehend. Adding the full context doesn't really add anything to this weak argument. The answer is still the same, the Mysterium Iniquitatis.

No worries Redhen. God Bless! It's not a mystery. Earth is a place of evil unfortunately, but its also Gods Creation :). My beliefs just don't refelct yours, so in actuallity the argument is moot.

Edited by Jessem

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

No worries Redhen. God Bless! It's not a mystery.

Ok then, in that case you should be able to defend this argument. If it's not a mystery, and you have the answer, please explain it?

Earth is a place of evil unfortunately, but its also Gods Creation

Well that may be, but it certainly is not an all loving God. I would be able to accept a different deity, Zeus, Odin for example, but not the Abrahamic omnibenevolent God.

My beliefs just don't refelct yours, so in actuallity the argument is moot.

Theodicy has a long history. This argument will go on forever, with or without you.

cheers

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The atheist can not prove that God doesn't exist. Yet they maintain a pretentious pompous attitude that He doesn't. If an atheist was at all spiritually intelligent, they would not be atheist in the first place.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The atheist can not prove that God doesn't exist.

That's a logical fallacy called shifting the burden of proof.

Yet they maintain a pretentious pompous attitude that He doesn't.

Well the evidence for God seems to be lacking, especially an all-loving God, which is the focus of this thread. Perhaps you would like to join the discussion on natural evil?

If an atheist was at all spiritually intelligent, they would not be atheist in the first place.

That's not true, there are many "spiritually intelligent" people who are atheists, Buddhists are just one example.

2 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't know that one can be a Western type of atheist and still be spiritual. It doesn't fit the materialist/physicalist or reductionist or positivist frame of mind. To me being spiritual means understanding that there are real aspects of existence that transcend physical stuff, such as beauty and goodness and compassion and of course mind and sentience and will. Recognizing such things as objective realities does not require that we personify them.

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As far as burden of proving God goes, I would say anyone who asserts His existence clearly has the job of proving it. Those who default to non-belief have no such need.

3 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I wouldn't consider a natural disaster evil. Many actually bring people together in support and love.

I would consider the atrocities caused by mankind and his lack of love for the next man as evil. Aka it's 2013 and thousands upon thousands die daily because of hunger and that's because of mankind (who shows little sign of fixing it...)

Simply put, it ain't up to God to fix the mess that mankind makes. You don't expect your parents to fix messes you get into now you're an adult do you? Or do you..?

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I wouldn't consider a natural disaster evil.

In philosophy and theology, natural disasters, disease, genetic defects, parasites, viruses, carnivores, floods, tsunamis, asteroids, earthquakes, fires, hurricanes, tornadoes, deadly bacterial infections, pain and sufferings of old age are all classified as natural evils. The criteria being that they not caused by man.

Many actually bring people together in support and love.

I have always found this argument odious. What you are saying is that God causes these horrors to give humans the opportunity to respond compassionately. Nice.

I would consider the atrocities caused by mankind and his lack of love for the next man as evil.

Right, this is known as moral evil and apologists are always quick to seize on it because they have a ready answer at hand; free will. Easy peasy, now justify all the natural horrors over the last several million years since hominids have been around.

Aka it's 2013 and thousands upon thousands die daily because of hunger and that's because of mankind (who shows little sign of fixing it...)

Starvation has been around a lot longer than modern agriculture and distribution systems. Drought, blight and swarms of locust are not caused by man, they are caused by God or nature if you will.

Simply put, it ain't up to God to fix the mess that mankind makes. You don't expect your parents to fix messes you get into now you're an adult do you? Or do you..?

Agreed. But you have not addressed the nightmare of natural evils.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The biggest "natural evil" I see is natural selection.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

In philosophy and theology, natural disasters, disease, genetic defects, parasites, viruses, carnivores, floods, tsunamis, asteroids, earthquakes, fires, hurricanes, tornadoes, deadly bacterial infections, pain and sufferings of old age are all classified as natural evils. The criteria being that they not caused by man.

I don't care about philosophy :D philosophy, nor anything else, defines my beliefs or thought patterns but myself. I don't consider an earthquake "evil", there is "good" and "bad" in all nature. That's the very make up of nature.

I have always found this argument odious. What you are saying is that God causes these horrors to give humans the opportunity to respond compassionately. Nice.

Are you denying that natural disasters bring people together? Actually, it would be considered "nice" considering disasters evoke emotion and stronger bonds between people that wouldn't necessarily have existed without it.

Starvation has been around a lot longer than modern agriculture and distribution systems. Drought, blight and swarms of locust are not caused by man, they are caused by God or nature if you will.

And like I already said, disaster brings people together.

Agreed. But you have not addressed the nightmare of natural evils.

The difference is you interpret them as evils and I don't.

If you want the biblical explanation, then we can just blame the guy with the pitchfork.

Edited by Heaven Is A Halfpipe
1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 2

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.