How likely is it that all this was created by something evil?

Discuss philosophical questions regarding theism (and atheism), and discuss religion as it relates to philosophy. This includes any philosophical discussions that happen to be about god, gods, or a 'higher power' or the belief of them. This also generally includes philosophical topics about organized or ritualistic mysticism or about organized, common or ritualistic beliefs in the existence of supernatural phenomenon.
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Vajra
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How likely is it that all this was created by something evil?

Post by Vajra » February 17th, 2018, 2:07 pm

I look at this world from the viewpoint of wisdom; I see all the death, predation, pain, disease, filth, untold amounts of completely pointless suffering and so on. I do not believe that all this is the product of blind evolution and random chance, and I certainly do not believe that it is the product of a good, benevolent god. I believe that there is a wicked 'creator' behind it all (which doesn't necessarily have to be an entity, it could also be some sort of mind or awareness). He/it is insidious and uncaring, an evil sadist, or a predatory beast. The concept that this universe was created by something evil is one that very few people are able to stomach.
If there is a good, divine god, then He had no hand in creation, creation is not His work, He took no part in it.

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Re: How likely is it that all this was created by something evil?

Post by Greta » February 17th, 2018, 6:51 pm

Yet it's all getting better - a vast improvement from the mindless and merciless approach of simpler animals in the Earth's past. While elements of the past always remain, they are increasingly being superseded, marginalised and controlled by more civilised things.

Humans too have come a long way since prolonged torture methods of indigenous people, public crucifixions as entertainment, blood sports (including gladiators), the Inquisition etc.

Yes, reality is brutal in its relentless cycle of growth, destruction and renewal but there is always massive long term improvement. Short and medium term prospects are obviously problematic but when the dust settles, growth and progress will continue apace as it always does.

Suffering is a bit like a predator that pursues life and, like predators, it ultimately shapes the evolution of its prey to make them ever stronger and more capable of avoiding suffering. Humans are especially skilled here, protected in the relatively safe bubble of civilisation. However, while we are physical beings, suffering is inevitable - sickness, injury, hunger and thirst, death, emotional pain.

Humans do have philosophical capacities to reduce pain - will, courage, wisdom, faith, knowledge - but it's obviously not going to catch on with the masses. To that end, digitisation of the human mind is the only escape from suffering, if it is possible, and even then it's hardly guaranteed, certainly not at first before the systems are refined.

As digital beings we would have no environmental footprint and would thus not be inflicting suffering, which is a good start. Physical pain would perhaps not be present at all. The mental aspect though is harder to anticipate. Would a pain-free world bore us?

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Re: How likely is it that all this was created by something evil?

Post by Dark Matter » February 17th, 2018, 7:34 pm

From the viewpoint of (your) wisdom, why do you put up with it? You can end it all by simply putting a loaded gun in your mouth and pulling the trigger.

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Re: How likely is it that all this was created by something evil?

Post by Greta » February 17th, 2018, 8:03 pm

DM, that's a dull and depressing strategy for topping oneself - if I lost my mind or health I'd rather OD on an enjoyable drug or jump off the tallest cliff and experience flight (well, falling very quickly anyway).

Then again, I suppose if one is keen to make their death as beautiful as possible then they are probably also keen to make their life as beautiful as possible, in which case they would surely be more inclined to go for the ride and just snuff it of natural causes. One's perspective on anything significantly changes how it appears to you. Everything has its most beautiful and ugly perspectives. Sometimes we are forced by circumstance to focus on the problematic, but usually we have the choice to pay more attention to happier perspectives, which are just as valid.

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Re: How likely is it that all this was created by something evil?

Post by Vajra » February 17th, 2018, 8:39 pm

Dark Matter wrote:
February 17th, 2018, 7:34 pm
From the viewpoint of (your) wisdom, why do you put up with it? You can end it all by simply putting a loaded gun in your mouth and pulling the trigger.
I do not believe that you can simply kill yourself out of this hell.

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Re: How likely is it that all this was created by something evil?

Post by Greta » February 18th, 2018, 1:09 am

Vajra wrote:
February 17th, 2018, 8:39 pm
I do not believe that you can simply kill yourself out of this hell.
I note that you entirely did not relate to my relative optimism, thus no reply.

I don't think you have made any kind of convincing case that life is hell. Without further explanation, your expressed views sound more like depression and a cry for help than philosophy. Lists of terrible things mean little because one can just as easily compile lists of wonderful things. Yes, life is hell at times for everyone and it is hell all of the time for a minority, but life for most of us most of the time is okay, and sometimes wonderful.

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Re: How likely is it that all this was created by something evil?

Post by Steve3007 » February 18th, 2018, 5:20 am

Vajra wrote:...death, predation, pain, disease, filth, untold amounts of completely pointless suffering...
...The concept that this universe was created by something evil is one that very few people are able to stomach.
Hi Vajra.

I might be able to stomach/believe it if you could explain what you mean by this "something evil" and show me how it's a better fit for the world around us than some other theory, like a "good" being or no being. I would guess it means a conscious being of some kind who takes pleasure in the suffering of others. If so, it doesn't seem to fit the evidence.

But it's not about evidence. It's about what you want - what you find psychologically useful. I think the reason why you want the death, predation, pain etc to be deliberately caused by an evil conscious being is exactly the same as the reason why some other people want all the things they regard as good ("all things bright and beautiful, all creatures great and small...") to be caused by a good conscious being. You want it because you yourself are a conscious, thinking being, descended from a long line of similar beings whose survival was helped by the very useful tendency to look for reasons for things and to see agency in the world, to try to make sense of it all.

Whatever floats your boat.

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Re: How likely is it that all this was created by something evil?

Post by Spectrum » February 18th, 2018, 6:09 am

Vajra wrote:
February 17th, 2018, 2:07 pm
I look at this world from the viewpoint of wisdom; I see all the death, predation, pain, disease, filth, untold amounts of completely pointless suffering and so on. I do not believe that all this is the product of blind evolution and random chance, and I certainly do not believe that it is the product of a good, benevolent god. I believe that there is a wicked 'creator' behind it all (which doesn't necessarily have to be an entity, it could also be some sort of mind or awareness). He/it is insidious and uncaring, an evil sadist, or a predatory beast. The concept that this universe was created by something evil is one that very few people are able to stomach.
If there is a good, divine god, then He had no hand in creation, creation is not His work, He took no part in it.
The term 'evil' is a very loose word.
So first you need to define what you meant by 'evil'.

If you define 'evil' as some sort of mind but it exists as absolutely independent, then that is not possible, i.e. impossible.

If you define 'evil' as some sort of mind [human-liked] generated by some human-liked aliens from billions of light years away, then that is a possibility but the chances of its existent is almost negligible.

It would be more realistic to confine and define 'evil' in terms of evil acts of humans, i.e. we do not consider natural disasters [earthquakes] or human-eating lions as evil.
In this case, the concept of evil is created by humans and evil acts are committed by some [not all] humans. To resolve the problem of evil, then we need to resolve it within evil prone human themselves rather than looking for some external independent source.
Not-a-theist. Religion is a critical necessity for humanity now, but not the FUTURE.

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Re: How likely is it that all this was created by something evil?

Post by Vajra » February 18th, 2018, 2:39 pm

Spectrum wrote:
February 18th, 2018, 6:09 am

It would be more realistic to confine and define 'evil' in terms of evil acts of humans,
Evil is not bound up with bad men but with the nature of the world itself.

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Re: How likely is it that all this was created by something evil?

Post by Greta » February 18th, 2018, 6:32 pm

Steve3007 wrote:
February 18th, 2018, 5:20 am
I think the reason why you want the death, predation, pain etc to be deliberately caused by an evil conscious being is exactly the same as the reason why some other people want all the things they regard as good ("all things bright and beautiful, all creatures great and small...") to be caused by a good conscious being.
Some consider the Earth itself to be Hell but in what ways is it worse than any other known body in the cosmos? It seems, rather, that the Earth is the richest oasis in our local part of a barren cosmic desert (from a biological perspective).

What do people expect from life and evolution? That life should emerge from geology with inbuilt high order human ethics? So these inherently ethical microbes then grow into ever more decent beings, with all life either eating rocks or others' waste, or maybe taking in all they need from the air? Or maybe not even need to eat at all?

Could it be that ... middle ground exists between absolute good and absolute evil? ...

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Re: How likely is it that all this was created by something evil?

Post by Steve3007 » February 18th, 2018, 6:46 pm

Greta wrote:What do people expect from life and evolution? That life should emerge from geology with inbuilt high order human ethics? So these inherently ethical microbes then grow into ever more decent beings, with all life either eating rocks or others' waste, or maybe taking in all they need from the air? Or maybe not even need to eat at all?
I guess people simply think: "I don't like pain. Why does there have to be pain? I wish there was a world without pain. The fact that there is pain must be somebody's fault.". It's a simple very childlike line of reasoning. I don't mean that as a put-down. There's nothing wrong with being childlike, in many ways.

Some creation stories explicitly fantasize about this ideal pain-free world, with stories of such things as vegetarian lions.

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Re: How likely is it that all this was created by something evil?

Post by Greta » February 18th, 2018, 7:20 pm

Agree Steve, and it's of course understandable. Many times I have thought life was inherently bad, like almost everyone to some extent. Largely it depends on circumstance. When life is going badly and everything is falling down around you, well, not everyone has Job's mythical forbearance.

I think this is where religion comes is. Imagine you are an uneducated refugee. How do you cope with the agonisingly poor and dangerous living conditions? Believing that there must be something better on the other side - be it the other side of homelessness or the other side of life. In the most dire of circumstances despair is self fulfilling.

Then again, after one has paid their dues with life's torments they can enjoy a period of stability, maturity and emotional calm, and you would be hard pressed to find such a person positing that life is inherently evil. Those who are most miserable tend not to be those within poor communities, but the poor and isolated in wealthy societies, who carry the unfair stigma of blame for being a "failure" - as superficially tagged as such by lucky and ungrateful insecure people.

Ideally, though, creation myths would soothe rather than inflame misery.

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Re: How likely is it that all this was created by something evil?

Post by Spectrum » February 18th, 2018, 11:35 pm

Vajra wrote:
February 18th, 2018, 2:39 pm
Spectrum wrote:
February 18th, 2018, 6:09 am

It would be more realistic to confine and define 'evil' in terms of evil acts of humans,
Evil is not bound up with bad men but with the nature of the world itself.
No matter how the 'concept of evil' is used will always fall back to humans.

What is critical with evil is, evil is a critical threat to humanity.
As such there is a need to manage and control evil as a threat to humanity.
To facilitate the management and control of evil as a threat to humanity, it would be more realistic and effective to confine 'evil' to human acts.

It would be bad and ineffective philosophy to link evil acts to the whole of nature.
If one were to say volcanoes, tsunamis, earthquakes, and other natural catastrophes as 'evil' this is like using an ax or chopper to do brain surgery.

Besides you will have a tough time proving the above thesis, i.e. evil as a force is from the whole of Nature.
Not-a-theist. Religion is a critical necessity for humanity now, but not the FUTURE.

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Re: How likely is it that all this was created by something evil?

Post by Griffin » February 19th, 2018, 1:42 pm

The argument that God must be bad because the world contains bad things is as unsound as the argument that God must be a cat because the world contains cats. (The same goes for the argument that God must be good because the world contains good things.)

There is no reason to believe either in a good deity or a bad deity, and in fact the suggestion that the world was created by a deity suffers from three defects: first, there is no evidence for it; second, it is unnecessary; and third, saying that something was created by some person does not count as an explanation unless you can say how they created it, and no theist has any idea how a deity is supposed to have created the world. They seem to think it was done by magic, but as we all know, there is no such thing as magic.

In any case, good and evil are categories that we humans have invented and which we superimpose on the world, they are not in the world itself. Good and evil are mere ideas, and it is we, not some hypothetical deity, who created these ideas.

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Re: How likely is it that all this was created by something evil?

Post by Steve3007 » February 19th, 2018, 6:19 pm

I suppose we should probably note that some people in the past did, in fact, seem to have reasoned that god must be a cat because the world contains cats. Or something similar to that.

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