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The problem of evil posted 20 July 2004 in Philosophy DiscussionThe problem of evil by Grantaire, Moderator

Ok, I'll just state this now- I'm Catholic. I've been brought up on those beliefs for all of my (admittedly, so far short) life. My idea of a God is that of the judeo-christian one, and I definately don't have much knowledge of other religious beliefs. Recently, I've begun to internally question my religion (mostly because of various philosophical thoughts, such as on this and on free will). So I just feel like writing down some of my thoughts on the problem of evil right now- I acknowledge right now that it's probably going to be pretty jumbled and nonsensical, because of my conflicting thoughts about god and religion <!-- s:wink: --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_wink.gif" alt=":wink:" title="Wink" /><!-- s:wink: --> To make this clear- I do believe in a god, but since this post is going to be voicing my conflicting thoughts, it will likely end up attacking the idea of god. So please, no religious people take offense or anything.

Now, the problem of evil. Typically, the terms "good" and "evil" are used to describe the righteousness (that's probably not a good word though) of all actions, things, etc. And those two concepts are usually embodied in religious beliefs as the entities "god" and "satan/devil/demons/etc". Now, the problem I see is that many religious people (again, I'm speaking about christianity for the large part, so this can't speak for all views) consider there to exist an allpowerful, loving and benevolent god, and there to exist a pure evil entity, through which sin comes, called satan.

Ok. That's the basis. Now here is where the real problem is. If god is all powerful, then shouldn't he have the power to destroy any evil? If he doesn't rid humanity of evil, would he then not be loving and benevolent? It could be argued of course that he could still allow evil, and yet be benevolent, but wouldn't the very idea of "god" mean perfection? And if he is perfection, shouldn't that mean perfect love, which should allow absolutely no evil or ill to befall his creation?

If he isn't completely loving, caring, and benevolent, isn't he then not perfect? And if he is not perfect, then can he not truly be "god"? If human sin stemmed from the devil, then wouldn't a perfectly loving god be able to destroy that? Instead, it seems to make more sense that all good and evil stems from human nature. Some of us are good, some are evil, and we all do actions of both.

Well, those are some of my thoughts. It ended up pretty jumbled like I expected, but I just really wanted to but down some of those thoughts.

Your thoughts? view post


The problem of evil posted 20 July 2004 in Philosophy DiscussionThe problem of evil by Taliesin, Peralogue

Thoughts....

Let's see, I wrote a paper on the problem of evil for philosophy last semester, and basically came out of it realizing that there was no real answer to the question. That is, there's no all-encompassing answer that can justify the presence of evil if God is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent. It's simple enough for those who don't believe in God to use this as another of their proofs, because it does seem so counter to what one would think God would want for his people. One argument is that evil exists due to free will; were God to constrain us from carrying out evil acts, we would not truly have free will. Yet, why couldn't God create men who were capable of evil, but would instead always choose good? And for that, I have not yet come up with an answer....

There are many separate justifications given for the presence of evil (result of free will, in order to be able to appreciate the good, to bring about some greater good, to strengthen our souls, etc...) None of these are really satisfying, though.

All of this thinking makes faith much harder <!-- s:wink: --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_wink.gif" alt=":wink:" title="Wink" /><!-- s:wink: --> But then, I believe that faith is pretty meaningless if it hasn't been examined and tested and such - the question is, how well will it hold up?

Oh, and another point, personally I don't ascribe any evil in the world to the influence of an evil entity. It always seemed a little hokey to me, and I guess it's far too easy to blame the devil for our actions. Rather, the evil is a result of that potential within all of us. Why God gave us that potential is obviously up to debate, but that's how it is.... You can always chalk it up to the inscrutability of God's purposes, but I suppose that's the easy way out.... view post


The problem of evil posted 20 July 2004 in Philosophy DiscussionThe problem of evil by Wil, Head Moderator

I have thought long and hard on an issue similer to this (especally when questioning my own fait, I was raised Mormon).

Without evil, good could simply not exist. There has to be some balance or we could not regognized evil. It's like if the sun never set and hadn't since the beginning of time. "night" would not exsits, so there would be no reason for the concept of "day".

As for why God dosen't destroy evil, I think that if he did, he could no longer be loving, caring, and benevolent because those words would no longer hold any meaning, because that is all there is.

I hope this makes sense. view post


The problem of evil posted 20 July 2004 in Philosophy DiscussionThe problem of evil by Grantaire, Moderator

Taliesin, I think faith in and of itself is...unreasonable. Why have faith, when we don't have definitive proof of something? I understand that that's what makes it faith, but why have faith in the unknown and ununderstandable? Good post though, good reasoning.

Wil, you made sense but...hmm, I'm going to have to counter that in the morning, too tired now.. view post


The problem of evil posted 20 July 2004 in Philosophy DiscussionThe problem of evil by Taliesin, Peralogue

Wil, that's an argument I have considered, but I'm unconvinced that evil is really necessary for there to be good. Would we have to know something was good for it to be good?

Grantaire, that's something I'm really struggling with myself at the moment... how to have faith, when there is no definitive evidence to prove God's existence.... So, I don't really have any answers. I mean, I think that there are a lot of things in this world that we believe without really having definitive proof, though I can't come up with any good examples this late at night <!-- s:wink: --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_wink.gif" alt=":wink:" title="Wink" /><!-- s:wink: --> Maybe it's kind of like believing weather forecasters, as they don't understand the weather as well as they'd like us to think... or maybe nothing like that.... view post


The problem of evil posted 20 July 2004 in Philosophy DiscussionThe problem of evil by Replay, Auditor

Nice thought Grantaire - it's always good to see someone questioning the dogma that is thrown down throats since birth.

You're right that when you really get down to it, the idea of an all powerful creator being doesn't seems to hold up, and you have to wonder at times how so many people can believe in such a thing. Of course, many will say 'well you just have to have faith', but I think you have gone past just accepting that.

Since the idea doesn't hold up, does this then mean that there is no God? Perhaps, perhaps not. Perhaps the problem is that the idea itself of what God is is wrong. There is an old saying that goes, "To meet God, you must first kill him," which means that you should let go of any thoughts you have on just what God is, as only then will you be open enough to get a true understanding of it.

Keep on doubting, and don't accept any easy answers. Searching for an answer to this question can be one of the greatest things anyone can do with their life. view post


The problem of evil posted 20 July 2004 in Philosophy DiscussionThe problem of evil by Grantaire, Moderator

Taliesin- I know that a lot of what we take for granted we don't truly understand, however, there's evidence and proof that we interpret to predict results and such. But with religion and the idea of god, we don't really have "proof" per se. Sure, we have the bible, a two thousand year old book- but is that definitive evidence?

Replay- Thanks. I think that organized religions are rather detrimental to spiritual development really. I think that being able to live life while evolving your own spiritual beliefs is far better than being indoctrinated in the beliefs of the religion that your parents happen to be. view post


The problem of evil posted 20 July 2004 in Philosophy DiscussionThe problem of evil by Replay, Auditor

I can agree that on one hand organised religions can be detremental to your own search, because so many require that you accept things on blind faith rather than finding out for yourself (perhaps because the ones in power refuse to put in the work themselves). On the other hand though, it is very difficult to come to any true realization without others to point the way, and believe it or not, most organised religions can do this is if you manage to cut away a lot of the crap that surrounds them. Of course, this is no easy task either.

If you're still have some feeling towards Christianity, you might want to check out [url=http&#58;//www&#46;christianmystics&#46;com/index&#46;shtml:1nwid4vr]this site[/url:1nwid4vr], and read some of the articles on there. They seem to be much more interested in finding out the truth for themselves rather than just taking things on blind faith. If like me that's not really your cup of tea though, there's no need to worry as there are many other paths out there - it's just a matter of finding one that's right for you.

There's a good saying that goes: "All paths are like sets of clothes - don't worry so much about which one is the best, just chose the one you are most comfortable with." Though even if you do find one your comfortable with, always keep that doubt with you. view post


The problem of evil posted 20 July 2004 in Philosophy DiscussionThe problem of evil by saintjon, Auditor

Well for me it all became simple when I figured God isn't perfect after all. A perfect being would be self-sufficient and wouldn't need us at all, for anything, and certainly wouldn't care (as God is shown to most certainly care in the Old Testament) whether we gave him the glory or not. Fits of righteous anger do not a perfect being make.

I'm not claiming to be able to understand something that goes beyond human comprehension, but honestly, God as presented in the Bible makes a lot more sense if you drop the demand that God be perfect.

As for evil, well if you think that God wants us to learn something why should God hand us a world without challenge? There are children with character and there are spoiled brats. Also, since I believe that God isn't perfect, I think God (whatever It is) is learning from us too. Like I think I must seem pretty omnipotent and unfathomable to an ant, but scientists study ants to learn from them don't they?

Free will wherein you always choose the good isn't free will at all, whether it's reason whipping you or some deep genetic predisposition. view post


The problem of evil posted 20 July 2004 in Philosophy DiscussionThe problem of evil by Grantaire, Moderator

Replay- Yes, I probably always have doubts, no matter what I settle on. But that's a good thing, convictions are the enemy of truth. I'm still interested in christianity, but I don't like the blind faith, I like facts. I just need to cut away the crap, and explore.

SJ- I get the idea of God being perfect by believing Him to be omniscient, omnipotent, etc. I think that the very concept of a being entitled "god" means an entity who knows all, and has power over all. But of course, that's just my view, because language allows so much room for interpretation, everyone has different views regarding a single word/concept. view post


The problem of evil posted 20 July 2004 in Philosophy DiscussionThe problem of evil by Aldarion, Sorcerer-of-Rank

Just a semantical bit to make things interesting: Originally, to be "perfect" meant that nothing more could be done; the object was complete and whole. Humans can't by that definition ever be perfect because of our paths from birth to death. God is held to be immutable, to be Above the trials and tribulations of life/death, according to some. Just something to consider. view post


The problem of evil posted 20 July 2004 in Philosophy DiscussionThe problem of evil by Grantaire, Moderator

Larry, I didn't say the humans could ever be perfect. view post


The problem of evil posted 20 July 2004 in Philosophy DiscussionThe problem of evil by Aldarion, Sorcerer-of-Rank

I know, but I was thinking of God when writing about the original meaning of "perfect." view post


The problem of evil posted 20 July 2004 in Philosophy DiscussionThe problem of evil by Grantaire, Moderator

Ah. Well, by that definition, I'm not sure that God could be considered perfect. Of course, as I said, the nature of language means that words and concepts can be interpreted as many different ways as there are people. So what "perfect" and "god" mean to one person won't mean the same to another, and the original meaning of one's interpretation is corrupted in the mind of one who hears it. view post


The problem of evil posted 20 July 2004 in Philosophy DiscussionThe problem of evil by Wil, Head Moderator

Just something that hit me the other night when thinking about this. It may not contribute much to the conversation but it's a quote that when I heard, I liked a lot.

"God exists, my friend. He just doesn’t give a damn." view post


The problem of evil posted 20 July 2004 in Philosophy DiscussionThe problem of evil by Grantaire, Moderator

Good quote Wil. I think that does contribute.

If God doesn't care though, it ruins the religious image of benevolence. Which isn't strictly a bad thing. view post


The problem of evil posted 20 July 2004 in Philosophy DiscussionThe problem of evil by Replay, Auditor

Originally, to be "perfect" meant that nothing more could be done; the object was complete and whole. Humans can't by that definition ever be perfect


Are you sure of that? view post


The problem of evil posted 20 July 2004 in Philosophy DiscussionThe problem of evil by Aldarion, Sorcerer-of-Rank

Yes, I'm sure of it. For one reason: each and every one of us has the potential for some sort of change, for better or for worse. If perfection is taken to be analogous to immutability (as the older definitions of per fæctum seem to say), then humans, with the potential for change, could not be perfect.

Mind you, I'm referring to a very specific definition, one that is not usually employed today when discussing "perfect." view post


The problem of evil posted 20 July 2004 in Philosophy DiscussionThe problem of evil by Grantaire, Moderator

Yeah Larry, I think it's important to take into account what way you define words like "perfect". view post


The problem of evil posted 20 July 2004 in Philosophy DiscussionThe problem of evil by Replay, Auditor

Well I was refering to you mentioning "was complete and whole", which deep down, humans are. Plus you could also say that humans are perfect because we change. But as you said, it really depends on how you want to define perfect. view post


The problem of evil posted 20 July 2004 in Philosophy DiscussionThe problem of evil by Grantaire, Moderator

Replay, what is your definition of perfect? view post


The problem of evil posted 20 July 2004 in Philosophy DiscussionThe problem of evil by Replay, Auditor

Hard to say, as there can be many different uses for the word. I guess it really all depends on the context. All I was trying to say in the last post was that perhaps everything is perfect just the way it is - including having the ability to change into something better (or worse). view post


The problem of evil posted 20 July 2004 in Philosophy DiscussionThe problem of evil by Grantaire, Moderator

Indeed. All depends on your viewpoint. view post


The problem of evil posted 20 July 2004 in Philosophy DiscussionThe problem of evil by Taliesin, Peralogue

Gotta love how you can have a discussion about something, and yet you are each talking about completely different things. And, that even if you are actually talking about the same thing, you each perceive it differently, so you still aren't really talking about the same thing. view post


The problem of evil posted 20 July 2004 in Philosophy DiscussionThe problem of evil by Grantaire, Moderator

Taliesin, that's exactly what I was speaking about...yet another topic I'm going to be needing to make a thread about <!-- s:wink: --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_wink.gif" alt=":wink:" title="Wink" /><!-- s:wink: --> view post


The problem of evil posted 21 July 2004 in Philosophy DiscussionThe problem of evil by saintjon, Auditor

Well to me, perfection is where something has the kind of perfect balance that can't happen in existence. Like for me, I conjured this out of some ideas on chi and stuff, there's always this interplay of opposites, there's an equilibrium but not a static balance (which would be immutable I guess). I don't think perfection can happen because to me existence is a progression that relies on that interplay of opposites... man I confuse myself trying to explain this sometimes.

Anyways, I would say that given God's ascribed behaviour in the Bible God is somewhat mutable, God has moments of temper and immense calm. Also, if you consider how many miracles are attributed to God in the Bible and how many in the modern day, it would seem that God's behaviour about the world has changed a bit.

I guess I reached a point where the theme of the Bible was saying that God was perfect but the content was saying something else entirely.

I don't know if I'd chalk perfection up to all those omni's either, there are animals with less at their disposal than us to whom we probably could seem fairly omnipotent, but we know well this doesn't make us perfect.

I don't claim to understand how great God is in lieu of being perfect, I just don't see the perfection.

OH OH OH before I end the post, Aldarion your perfection model of being whole and immutable, an awareness that was truly whole, why would it need us? Or want us even?

I hope I'm not coming across as preachy, I'm just trying to share this aspect of my personality I guess. view post


The problem of evil posted 21 July 2004 in Philosophy DiscussionThe problem of evil by Grantaire, Moderator

I suppose the concept of perfection is something that I need to think about more. Saintjon, couldn't perfection change dependent on circumstances? Circumstances dictate the ideal. view post


The problem of evil posted 21 July 2004 in Philosophy DiscussionThe problem of evil by Loof, Peralogue

I suppose the concept of perfection is something that I need to think about more. Saintjon, couldn't perfection change dependent on circumstances? Circumstances dictate the ideal.


Just to add my two &lt;currency of choice&gt;. I would say that not only does perfection differ dependant on circumstances it also differs with viewpoint, making it a verry subjective concept.

On the subject of Good and Evil I am of the opinion that they don't exist as definite things, at least for humans. By that I mean that I don't think any human action can be purely good or bad since what is good and bad is a function of viewpoint but it is also like wil pointed out relative to other actions.

Hmm now that I'm writing this out... maybe what I'm saying is that the whole subject is pointless because the object of the discussion is to subjective. <!-- s:? --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_confused.gif" alt=":?" title="Confused" /><!-- s:? -->

Note: And as always everything I state as fact is actualy just my opinion. It's not that I'm not aware of doing this it's just that I'm so bad at letting that shine through in the actual text <!-- s:( --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_sad.gif" alt=":(" title="Sad" /><!-- s:( --> view post


The problem of evil posted 21 July 2004 in Philosophy DiscussionThe problem of evil by Grantaire, Moderator

Haha Loof, I know that in the end it doesn't matter. Most all philosophy doesn't truly matter, because it's all so subjective. view post


The problem of evil posted 21 July 2004 in Philosophy DiscussionThe problem of evil by Taliesin, Peralogue

Yeah, it was hard not to get annoyed in philosophy class last semester, because there never really are any answers.... But I guess it's the thinking that really matters, not that anything definitive comes out of it. view post


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