The Problem of Evil
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  1. #1
    AO Curmudgeon rcgreen's Avatar
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    The Problem of Evil

    Here we go. by popular request. In some other threads, as we
    discussed various issues, one or more participants happened
    to mention God, or quote the Scripture in support of their
    arguments. Others immediately said, "Leave God out of it,
    because if there was a righteous and all-powerful God,
    there wouldn't be evil and suffering in the world
    "

    Journalist and best-selling author Lee Strobel commissioned George
    Barna, the public-opinion pollster, to conduct a nationwide survey. The survey
    included the question "If you could ask God only one question and you knew he
    would give you an answer, what would you ask? The most common response, offered
    by 17% of those who could think of a question was Why is there pain and
    suffering in the world? (Strobel 2000, p. 29). If God is all-powerful,
    all-knowing and perfectly good, why does he let so many bad things happen?
    This question raises what philosophers call ‘the problem of evil.’
    http://www.iep.utm.edu/e/evil-log.htm


    Open any contemporary introductory textbook and philosophy and it
    becomes clear that the problem of evil in contemporary philosophy is thought
    of as an argument for atheism. Since, the atheist contends, God and evil
    are incompatible, and evil clearly exists, there is no God. Some, thinking
    that the claimed incompatibility in the above argument is too strong, argue
    that even if the existence of God and the existence of evil prove compatible,
    the existence (or duration, or amount, or distribution) of evil provides us
    with at least strong evidence that God does not exist.

    Framed in this way, the "atheistic problem of evil" invites certain sorts of
    responses. In particular, it invites the theist to explain how a being that
    is all-knowing, all-powerful, and all-good can allow evil to exist. And thus,
    contemporary responses to the problem of evil focus largely on presenting
    "theodicies" that is, reasons why a perfect being does or might allow evils
    of the sort (or duration, or amount, or distribution) we find in our world.

    When we turn back, however, to the works of those medieval philosophers who
    treat the problem of evil, the "atheistic problem" is not to be found. Since
    these figures believed that the arguments of natural theology demonstrated
    overwhelmingly the existence of God, the problem that evil presented was
    quite different. For them, the problem was how the existence of evil was
    compatible with divine moral purity or holiness. Since, they argued, God
    is the author of everything that exists, and evil is one of the things
    that exists, God is thereby the author of evil. And if someone is an "author
    of evil," they are thereby implicated in the evil and thus cannot be morally
    pure or holy. Thus, God cannot be morally pure nor holy. Let's call this
    problem of evil the "holiness problem."
    http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/leibniz-evil/

    So, for some people, the existence of evil is a slam-dunk victory
    for atheism, because of the obvious logical problem. Ask a Christian
    about evil, and watch him squirm.

    The problem looks like this.

    • Assume God exists.
    • Assume God is Omnipotent.
    • Assume God is Righteous.
    • Assume that evil exists.


    How can you believe all of these propositions at the same time?

    Possible answers.

    [list=1][*]God doesn't exist after all.[*]God means well, but his "hands are tied"[*]Maybe he is really a monster[*] Or, maybe all the things that seem to be evil aren't really evil.[/list=1]

    If you're expecting an instant answer from me, you'll be disappointed.
    I will make one argument, however. I believe that the Problem of
    Evil presents just as much of a difficulty to all of the other
    religious and philosophical systems as it does to Christianity.

    It is not instant proof of atheism, because, if you assume that
    there is no god, and no devil, and no sin, you still have
    to answer, "why does evil exist?"

    If you are a Satanist, and you believe that God (if he exists) is evil,
    and Satan (if he exists) is fighting a battle of liberation against
    the totalitarianism of God, you still haven't answered why.
    Why does the evil one seem to have so much power, and why do
    terrible things happen?

    Modern evangelical Christians have dropped the ball on this question,
    seeking to excuse God from blame by portraying him as helpless
    in the face of man's "free will"

    Some religions try to duck the issue by denying the existence of evil.
    Either it is an illusion, or it is "good" in disguise.

    Whatever is, is right. Evil does not exist. Evil is good.
    No matter what man's path may be, good or bad, it is the path of divine
    ordination and destiny. (Childs, Whatever Is, Is Right).
    http://wri.leaderu.com/wri-table1/spiritualism.html

    So take your pick. Whatever religion or philosophy you feel comfortable
    with. But all of them must struggle with the Problem of Evil.
    I came in to the world with nothing. I still have most of it.

  2. #2
    Macht Nicht Aus moxnix's Avatar
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    So take your pick. Whatever religion or philosophy you feel comfortable
    with. But all of them must struggle with the Problem of Evil.
    Sorry, but not to me. Good and Evil fit very well in my religion.

    It quite a simple philosophy really. God creared every thing. He is all things, both good and evil. Man is the one that said God must be good.....not God. Man has a problem looking at himself and really seeing that he is a complex creature and that he has a mix of good and evil in himself, so he can not imagine a god that has the same mix. Yet God has stated (in the bible, that was written by men) that he created man in his own image.....both good and evil.

    Most of the bible was written over 2,000 years ago (1500 actually, but whos counting). It was written in a form that was understandable to the people of that time........not to the people of this time. Do you explain a complex problem to a child of 4 years, the same way you would explain the same problem to a child of 12 or 13?

    In my personal beliefs, God does exist and he is a *******. He is not out to help us, but to study us and create problems for us to be able to test us farther. The bible is a great mythology.

    thats my beliefs, and I am actually glad most if not all of you will disagree with me.
    \"Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, Champagne in one hand - strawberries in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming WOO HOO - What a Ride!\"
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    AO Ancient: Team Leader
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    RC:

    You could have shortened your argument by not framing it in terms of a christian god but simply that of a supreme being since really, that is the question, is there a supreme being(s) as laid down in any religion?

    You'll also note that the issue of the "athiestic problem" did not exist in medieval philosophy thus implying that it is a more modern phenomenon. This actually fits in quite nicely, IMO, since the lesser sophistication of the philosophers and scientists of the time would, generally, lead most of them not to question the existence of a supreme being, thus atheism itself would not be something that could be considered. They considered instead the phenomena of evil when found in a universe created by a benevolent supreme being... A very valid question, but still really only begins to "hold water" after the existence is proven. Until then the assumtion is still the major failing in any argument since it is just that - an assumption.

    The question of a benevolent supreme being when coupled with the obvious existence of "evil", (I prefer to think of it as harmful acts or events), is a powerful argument that places the theist "on their back foot" so to speak. However, as an athiest, I would suggest that those of us who lay their atheism at the feet of this argument alone are somewhat simplistic. Coupled with other, equally compelling arguments, it forms a belief system that is better rounded and more logical. IMO, any system of belief that relies upon a single premise is doomed to failure the moment the single premise is refuted

    The problem looks like this.

    Assume God exists.

    Assume God is Omnipotent.

    Assume God is Righteous.

    Assume that evil exists.
    Making the _assumption_ that we both agree _evil_, (no matter how we see it), exists then the final statement of those four is mis-stated. It should "Knowing that evil exists". Since the first three are based on a premise that is, to date, unprovable even for the most theistic amongst us their quandry really revolves around the assumptions they made in the first three. I understand that they _believe_ that the first three are not assumptions which makes it impossible for them to "step back" and consider the issue in a logical fashion and then proceed to any conclusion that does not fit their assumptions. That's the problem. If you are theistic then you accept your assumptions as fact. From that point onwards your mind is focused on proving the premise that your supreme being exists. That's bad science and bad philosophy.

    Interesting post though.... Are you _sure_ you aren't agnostic?
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    \"A nation that draws too broad a difference between its scholars and its warriors will have its thinking done by cowards, and its fighting done by fools.\" - Thucydides

  4. #4
    AO Curmudgeon rcgreen's Avatar
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    Making the _assumption_ that we both agree _evil_, (no matter how we see it), exists then the final statement of those four is mis-stated. It should "Knowing that evil exists".
    You and I may take it for granted that evil exists, but notice my last quote,
    in which the person says "whatever is is right". In fact, I bet there are lots
    of people who deny the existence of "evil" as we define it. They would
    say "this is reality, deal with it", essentially meaning that there is
    nothing fundamentally wrong with the universe, or human nature,
    and that those who see "evil" in the world are naive whiners and losers.

    In fact some of the most predatory and conscienseless people boast
    that the rule of life is "survival of the fittest", and are entirely happy
    with the world in its present state. It is a place where they
    are the predators and everyone else is the prey. "might makes right"
    and "Whatever is, is right." Those who acknowledge the existence
    of evil are making an assumption, every much as those who assume
    the existence of God.
    I came in to the world with nothing. I still have most of it.

  5. #5
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    My religion also allows for the existance of both Good and Evil. Yin and Yang - without one, the other could not exist, and we're locked in the eternal struggle between the two forces. You offered the argument in the form of the question 'Why does evil exist?' - easy enough to explain.

    Without evil, we wouldn't appreciate good. Without bad days, we wouldn't know what a good day was. Without keytones and methane, we wouldn't like the odor of flowers.

    Applying this back to Christianity - We live in an imperfect world. There is sin among us, and none are free of it, but some of us are forgiven. Does evil exist in the Christian mind? Absolutely. God is Omnipotent, but he wants us to actively choose to believe in and follow him. In our faith, those who have knowledge of him and still deny him are damned - evil. This doesn't mean he's going to eliminate them on the spot, or kill all evil immediately. Our faith leads us to believe that he's giving every opportunity for those 'lost souls' to see the error of their ways and repent.

    Our faith also allows for 'evil occurrances' - like 4 hurricanes hitting and devastating parts of florida, or incurable diseases that ravish one's loved ones. It does so by the existance of the 'Evil one' - Satan.

    Hope that at least hit the point on a few things, and maybe taught a bit.
    Even a broken watch is correct twice a day.

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    Socialist Utopia Donkey Punch's Avatar
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    Making things easier, evil exists because man by nature is selfish. Man makes rules, religion, and whatever else to place limits on man's never ending wants.
    In loving memory of my step daughter 1987-2006

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    Originally posted here by rcgreen
    I believe that the Problem of Evil presents just as much of a difficulty to all of the other religious and philosophical systems as it does to Christianity.

    It is not instant proof of atheism, because, if you assume that there is no god, and no devil, and no sin, you still have to answer, "why does evil exist?"
    "Evil" isn't a clearly definable term. It is a term that has changed throughout history, and will most likely continue to change. At one point in time, black people were considered evil. At another point in time, there were groups of people who thought that mass-murdering millions of jews was a good thing. And today, there are people out there who consider technology of any kind evil.

    Good is whatever an individual likes, evil is whatever he doesn't like. Most religious systems attempt to teach people their view of good and evil. Good and evil are, like taste, in the eye of the beholder. How good or flawed the logic is behind choosing good and evil is a different matter.

    Originally posted here by rcgreen
    If you are a Satanist, and you believe that God (if he exists) is evil, and Satan (if he exists) is fighting a battle of liberation against the totalitarianism of God, you still haven't answered why. Why does the evil one seem to have so much power, and why do terrible things happen?
    You are not talking about Satanists. Satanists do not believe in any god. You are talking about Luciferians or Devil-worshippers.

    Originally posted here by rcgreen
    Some religions try to duck the issue by denying the existence of evil.
    Either it is an illusion, or it is "good" in disguise.
    Not only religions do this, and it isn't "ducking" the issue. It's simply nature, how things work. A world where nothing happens you don't like is an unrealistic dream. Like I said before, if evil is different for each person, evil as a global definition is an illusion.

    Originally posted here by rcgreen
    In fact, I bet there are lots of people who deny the existence of "evil" as we define it.
    This is probably because we are all individuals. Who are you to dictate your definition of good and evil onto others?

    Originally posted here by rcgreen
    In fact some of the most predatory and conscienseless people boast that the rule of life is "survival of the fittest", and are entirely happy with the world in its present state.
    I actually do think it's "survival of the fittest," although I'm definately not happy with the world in its present state. I can assure you that, against your obvious prejudice and generalization,
    that I am not conscienseless.

    Originally posted here by Donkey Punch
    Making things easier, evil exists because man by nature is selfish. Man makes rules, religion, and whatever else to place limits on man's never ending wants.
    I agree with you that, like any other animal, man is a selfish being. There should be practical laws in place to control man to a certain degree. Man being a hypocrit and denying his own nature is an entirely different matter. This way of thinking brought extremely "evil" ideas into this world.
    Bleh.

  8. #8
    AO Curmudgeon rcgreen's Avatar
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    Good is whatever an individual likes, evil is whatever he doesn't like.
    However you personally define "evil", does its existence argue for
    or against the existence of a supreme being, or is it, as I say, still
    a philosophical puzzle whatever your religious system may be?

    You are not talking about Satanists. Satanists do not believe in any god. You are talking about Luciferians or Devil-worshippers.
    I wasn't sure what term to use. But just out of curiosity, what is the difference
    between an Atheist and a Satanist, if neither believes in any god?
    I came in to the world with nothing. I still have most of it.

  9. #9
    Socialist Utopia Donkey Punch's Avatar
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    Satanists do believe in god. Atheists do not.
    In loving memory of my step daughter 1987-2006

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  10. #10
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    nothing is evil, except what man creates. everything else just is. Earth quakes, volcanos and tidal waves are not evil, just the result of the earth slowly moving. no evil in nature. even oil is not evil, only mans lust for the money that can be had by it's sale are evil. look at the hurricanes that hit haiti. a true tradgedy but the only evil there has been created by man...stealing, killing. the hurricane just set the scene

    hitler was evil, saddam is evil, bigotry is evil.
    Bukhari:V3B48N826 “The Prophet said, ‘Isn’t the witness of a woman equal to half of that of a man?’ The women said, ‘Yes.’ He said, ‘This is because of the deficiency of a woman’s mind.’”

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