If there is a God, why is there 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.

Re: If there is a God, why is there evil?

Post Number:#2041  Postby Nick_A » May 9th, 2017, 4:29 pm

Felix wrote:
Nick_A: How did the ancients responsible for the Vedas acquire their knowledge? Did it come through discursive thought, noesis, or what Plato called anamnesis?


From Sri Aurobindo:
"In the East, especially in India, the metaphysical thinkers have tried, as in the West, to determine the nature of the highest Truth by the intellect. But, in the first place, they have not given mental thinking the supreme rank as an instrument in the discovery of Truth, but only a secondary status. The first rank has always been given to spiritual intuition and illumination and spiritual experience; an intellectual conclusion that contradicts this Supreme authority is held invalid.

Secondly, each philosophy has armed itself with a practical way of reaching to the supreme state of consciousness, so that even when one begins with Thought, the aim is to arrive at a consciousness beyond mental thinking. Each philosophical founder (as also those who continued his work or school) has been a metaphysical thinker doubled with a Yogi. Those who were only philosophic intellectuals were respected for their learning, but never took rank as truth-discoverers. And the philosophies that lacked a sufficiently powerful means of spiritual experience died out and became things of the past, because they were not dynamic for spiritual discovery and realisation.

In the West it was just the opposite that came to pass. Thought, intellect, the logical reason came to be regarded more and more as the highest means and even the highest end; in philosophy, Thought is the be-all and the end-all. It is by intellectual thinking and speculation that the truth is to be discovered; even spiritual experience has been summoned to pass the tests of the intellect, if it is to be held valid — just the reverse of the Indian position.

Even those who see that the mental Thought must be exceeded and admit a supramental “Other”, do not seem to escape from the feeling that it must be through mental Thought, sublimating and transmuting itself, that this other Truth must be reached and made to take the place of the mental limitation and ignorance. And, again, Western thought has ceased to be dynamic; it has sought after a theory of things, not after realisation. It was still dynamic amongst the ancient Greeks, but for moral and aesthetic rather than spiritual ends. Later on, it became yet more purely intellectual and academic; it became intellectual speculation only without any practical ways and means for the attainment of the Truth by spiritual experiment, spiritual discovery, a spiritual transformation."


Nice post Felix. I’ll have to save it in my records. Can you imagine how helpful it would be for western education if it accepted the value of arousing noesis? What would it mean if Western education appreciated the value of noesis by teaching in the manner explained by Plato?

"If men learn this, it will implant forgetfulness in their souls; they will cease to exercise memory because they rely on that which is written, calling things to remembrance no longer from within themselves, but by means of external marks. What you have discovered is a recipe not for memory, but for reminder. And it is no true wisdom that you offer your disciples, but only its semblance, for by telling them of many things without teaching them you will make them seem to know much, while for the most part they know nothing, and as men filled, not with wisdom, but with the conceit of wisdom, they will be a burden to their fellows." ― Plato, Phaedrus


From Jacob Needleman’s book: “The American Soul.”

Our world, so we see and hear on all sides, is drowning in materialism, commercialism, consumerism. But the problem is not really there. What we ordinarily speak of as materialism is a result, not a cause. The root of materialism is a poverty of ideas about the inner and outer world. Less and less does our contemporary culture have, or even seek, commerce with great ideas, and it is the lack that is weakening the human spirit. This is the essence of materialism. Materialism is a disease of the mind starved for ideas.

Throughout history ideas of a certain kind have been disseminated into the life of humanity in order to help human beings understand and feel the possibility of the deep inner change that would enable them to serve the purpose for which they were created, namely, to act in the world as conscious individual instruments of God, and the ultimate principle of reality and value. Ideas of this kind are formulated in order to have a specific range of action on the human psych: to touch the heart as well as the intellect; to shock us into questioning our present understanding; to point us to the greatness around us in nature and the universe, and the potential greatness slumbering within ourselves; to open our eyes to the real needs of our neighbor; to confront us with our own profound ignorance and our criminal fears and egoism; to show us that we are not here for ourselves alone, but as necessary particles of divine love.

These are the contours of the ancient wisdom, considered as ideas embodied in religious and philosophical doctrines, works of sacred art, literature and music and, in a very fundamental way, an indication of practical methods by which a man or woman can work, as is said, to become what he or she really is. Without feeling the full range of such ideas, or sensing even a modest, but pure, trace of them, we are bound to turn for meaning.


The thread would make more sense for me if its title were “If there is no absolute, can anything be expected other than evil?” Without the effect of the ideas mentioned connecting us to higher consciousness can we ever get beyond the devolutionary effects of arguing superficiality and opening to inner conscious experience?
Man would like to be an egoist and cannot. This is the most striking characteristic of his wretchedness and the source of his greatness." Simone Weil....Gravity and Grace
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Re: If there is a God, why is there evil?



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Re: If there is a God, why is there evil?

Post Number:#2042  Postby Mary » May 10th, 2017, 5:36 pm

1. Consider some examples of “characterizing” and “appraising” value
judgements in the practice of social research. How useful is the
distinction?
2. What is “value”?
3. Weber had a very particular notion of value freedom in social science.
Can you think of examples of research where a Weberian description
of value freedom can be said to apply?
4. How “objective” is critical theory?
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Re: If there is a God, why is there evil?

Post Number:#2043  Postby Belindi » May 11th, 2017, 3:02 am

Mary wrote:

3. Weber had a very particular notion of value freedom in social science.
Can you think of examples of research where a Weberian description
of value freedom can be said to apply?


Weber's notion of value freedom in social science must be of historical interest surely? Doesn't every social scientist from Weber to the present day aim for value freedom? Naturally no social scientist, including historians, can eliminate subjectivity from the participant observation of fieldwork* however hard she tries, and probably should not anyway.

After all, what sort of zoologist would be worth their salt if they did not care for animals? Nobody is a machine. Autism is a disability.

True, statistics are free from moral evaluation. However interpretative applications of stats are not value-free.

Please see Georg Gadamer on hermeneutics: not only is value-freedom impossible when interpreting relationships between living things but it would be impossible in a relativistic world to advance knowledge if absolute value freedom from subject to object were insisted upon.

A really good questionnaire might be pretty nearly value-free , as it will include various wordings of the same question

* Historians do it vicariously.
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Re: If there is a God, why is there evil?

Post Number:#2044  Postby Nick_A » May 13th, 2017, 4:48 pm

Mary wrote:1. Consider some examples of “characterizing” and “appraising” value
judgements in the practice of social research. How useful is the
distinction?
2. What is “value”?
3. Weber had a very particular notion of value freedom in social science.
Can you think of examples of research where a Weberian description
of value freedom can be said to apply?
4. How “objective” is critical theory?


Why would a communist value freedom? Why would a person valuing the psychological slavery of the we are all the same philosophy value freedom?

The value of critical theory depends upon quality of the variables creating it. If we've lost the concept of objective value the value of critical theory has been compromized.

Simone Weil wrote in: “On Science, Necessity, and the Love of God:”

What makes the abyss between twentieth-century science and that of previous centuries is the different role of algebra. In physics algebra was at first simply a process for summarizing the relations, established by reasoning based on experiment, between the ideas of physics; an extremely convenient process for the numerical calculations necessary for their verification and application. But its role has continually increased in importance until finally, whereas algebra was once the auxiliary language and words the essential one, it is now exactly the other way round. There are even some physicists who tend to make algebra the sole language, or almost, so that in the end, an unattainable end of course, there would be nothing except figures derived form experimental measurements, and letters, combined in formulae. Now, ordinary language and algebraic language are not subject to the same logical requirement; relations between ideas are not fully represented by relations between letters; and, in particular, incompatible assertions may have equational equivalents which are by no means incompatible. When some relations between ideas have been translated into algebra and the formulae have been manipulated solely according to the numerical data of the experiment and the laws proper to algebra, results may be obtained which, when retranslated into spoken language, are a violent contradiction of common sense.


The modern secular world as a whole has lost any sense of objective value or the third dimension of thought which can enable math to acquire objective value.
Man would like to be an egoist and cannot. This is the most striking characteristic of his wretchedness and the source of his greatness." Simone Weil....Gravity and Grace
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Re: If there is a God, why is there evil?

Post Number:#2045  Postby Belindi » May 14th, 2017, 4:30 am

Nick, Marxists don't believe that we are all the same. Marxists understand that ruling elites exist in all societies. I wonder if you are confusing communists with Marxists.

The basic premiss of Marxists is that how we earn our bread, often wrestling with natural forces to obtain it, is what determined and should in the future determine how a society's wealth is distributed. Labour is needed by society far more than top-down religious doctrines. Top-down religious doctrines tend to be Conservative and supportive of top-heavy elites.
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Re: If there is a God, why is there evil?

Post Number:#2046  Postby Nick_A » May 14th, 2017, 10:06 pm

Belindi wrote:Nick, Marxists don't believe that we are all the same. Marxists understand that ruling elites exist in all societies. I wonder if you are confusing communists with Marxists.

The basic premiss of Marxists is that how we earn our bread, often wrestling with natural forces to obtain it, is what determined and should in the future determine how a society's wealth is distributed. Labour is needed by society far more than top-down religious doctrines. Top-down religious doctrines tend to be Conservative and supportive of top-heavy elites.


A functioning free society requires more than wealth. It requires the mutual acceptance of values that support freedom. I believe we disagree as to the source of these values and what allows them to be psychologically respected and accepted.

I believe the source of higher values is higher consciousness which can awaken conscience. You seem to believe it comes from society or what I now refer to as the Great Beast. Naturally for me, communism, marxism, or anything similar is doomed in relation to freedom that furthers Man's conscious evolution.
Man would like to be an egoist and cannot. This is the most striking characteristic of his wretchedness and the source of his greatness." Simone Weil....Gravity and Grace
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Re: If there is a God, why is there evil?

Post Number:#2047  Postby Belindi » May 15th, 2017, 3:32 am

Nick_A wrote:

I believe the source of higher values is higher consciousness which can awaken conscience. You seem to believe it comes from society or what I now refer to as the Great Beast. Naturally for me, communism, marxism, or anything similar is doomed in relation to freedom that furthers Man's conscious evolution.


So much is clear, Nick.

Religions are enactments and beliefs about the societies of which they are necessary components. Religion is both individual and institutional.

If what inspires you to call society "the Great Beast" is the institution of individuals' moral and practical beliefs then , in a free democracy, it is for individuals to change the institutions that are bad.

Sometimes the individuals in a society are disabled by lack or education, poverty , or fear of the authorities. This is a bad situation and ruling elites know that revolution will result if oppressed and disempowered sections of the society are uncontrolled.

Bad regimes seek to avoid revolution by ratcheting up the oppression. Good societies seek to remove the power differential between the masses and the more powerful individuals. In a capitalist society those more powerful individuals are the rich ones.

I wonder if you imagine that men can live in the absence of some society. Probably not, as you single out communism and "marxism" as the bad societies. Can I take it that you think that right wing regimes are more free?

You and I both support freedom of the individual. I endorse that "man's conscious evolution" is good.
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Re: If there is a God, why is there evil?

Post Number:#2048  Postby DannyC » May 15th, 2017, 9:56 am

I find the argument from suffering, the logical argument from suffering to be very convincing. When it comes to the classic theistic conception of God then the existence of Evil seems highly problematic. I prefer the problem of suffering, rather than calling it the problem of evil though. I've yet to be convinced that it is possible to find a compatible relationship between a God and suffering.
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Re: If there is a God, why is there evil?

Post Number:#2049  Postby Dolphin42 » May 15th, 2017, 5:49 pm

Nick_A:
You seem to believe it comes from society or what I now refer to as the Great Beast.


Are you one of those people who has gone off to live in a remote cabin somewhere with a big stash of freeze-dried food to wait for the end of civilization and watch its approach on the TV news? That does seem to be quite common these days in the US (if the TV news is anything to go by, which I guess it probably isn't).
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Re: If there is a God, why is there evil?

Post Number:#2050  Postby Nick_A » May 15th, 2017, 6:22 pm

Belindi wrote:Nick_A wrote:

I believe the source of higher values is higher consciousness which can awaken conscience. You seem to believe it comes from society or what I now refer to as the Great Beast. Naturally for me, communism, marxism, or anything similar is doomed in relation to freedom that furthers Man's conscious evolution.


So much is clear, Nick.

Religions are enactments and beliefs about the societies of which they are necessary components. Religion is both individual and institutional.

If what inspires you to call society "the Great Beast" is the institution of individuals' moral and practical beliefs then , in a free democracy, it is for individuals to change the institutions that are bad.

Sometimes the individuals in a society are disabled by lack or education, poverty , or fear of the authorities. This is a bad situation and ruling elites know that revolution will result if oppressed and disempowered sections of the society are uncontrolled.

Bad regimes seek to avoid revolution by ratcheting up the oppression. Good societies seek to remove the power differential between the masses and the more powerful individuals. In a capitalist society those more powerful individuals are the rich ones.

I wonder if you imagine that men can live in the absence of some society. Probably not, as you single out communism and "marxism" as the bad societies. Can I take it that you think that right wing regimes are more free?

You and I both support freedom of the individual. I endorse that "man's conscious evolution" is good.



From Simone Weil's Gravity and Grace:

The Great Beast [society, the collective] is the only object of idolatry, the only ersatz of God, the only imitation of something which is infinitely far from me and which is I myself.

It is impossible for me to take myself as an end or, in consequence, my fellow man as an end, since he is my fellow. Nor can I take a material thing, because matter is still less capable of having finality conferred upon it than human beings are.

Only one thing can be taken as an end, for in relation to the human person it possesses a kind of transcendence: this is the collective.


It isn't that society is bad by definition. the problem is that it has become an object of idolatry within which a person sacrifices the needs of their being to the transient whims and attractions of the great collective.

Should a person sacrifice the needs of their being to serve the great collective as an atom of the Great Beast or should society provide the means for a person to become themselves by awakening them to what they are? Should the collective serve the creation of individuality or should individuality be absorbed to serve the idolatry of the collective?
Man would like to be an egoist and cannot. This is the most striking characteristic of his wretchedness and the source of his greatness." Simone Weil....Gravity and Grace
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Re: If there is a God, why is there evil?

Post Number:#2051  Postby Belindi » May 16th, 2017, 2:58 am

Quoted by Nick_A

(Simone Weil)

The Great Beast [society, the collective] is the only object of idolatry, the only ersatz of God, the only imitation of something which is infinitely far from me and which is I myself.


What does Simone imagine God to be other than the personification of society?

This question apart, I agree with Nick that society should serve individuals.
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Re: If there is a God, why is there evil?

Post Number:#2052  Postby Nick_A » May 16th, 2017, 8:25 am

Belindi wrote:Quoted by Nick_A

(Simone Weil)

The Great Beast [society, the collective] is the only object of idolatry, the only ersatz of God, the only imitation of something which is infinitely far from me and which is I myself.


What does Simone imagine God to be other than the personification of society?

This question apart, I agree with Nick that society should serve individuals.


Simone Weil wrote in the beginning of:

Draft for a Statement of Human Obligation
Profession of Faith

There is a reality outside the world, that is to say, outside space and time, outside man's mental universe, outside any sphere whatsoever that is accessible to human faculties.

Corresponding to this reality, at the centre of the human heart, is the longing for an absolute good, a longing which is always there and is never appeased by any object in this world.

Another terrestrial manifestation of this reality lies in the absurd and insoluble contradictions which are always the terminus of human thought when it moves exclusively in this world.

Just as the reality of this world is the sole foundation of facts, so that other reality is the sole foundation of good.


A brilliant description of the relationship between the Good and facts. The Source is outside the limitations of space and time. Attempts to put a face on it are idolatry.
Man would like to be an egoist and cannot. This is the most striking characteristic of his wretchedness and the source of his greatness." Simone Weil....Gravity and Grace
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Re: If there is a God, why is there evil?

Post Number:#2053  Postby Belindi » May 17th, 2017, 3:02 am

Nick_A quoted Simone Weil:

Draft for a Statement of Human Obligation
Profession of Faith

There is a reality outside the world, that is to say, outside space and time, outside man's mental universe, outside any sphere whatsoever that is accessible to human faculties.

Corresponding to this reality, at the centre of the human heart, is the longing for an absolute good, a longing which is always there and is never appeased by any object in this world.

Another terrestrial manifestation of this reality lies in the absurd and insoluble contradictions which are always the terminus of human thought when it moves exclusively in this world.

Just as the reality of this world is the sole foundation of facts, so that other reality is the sole foundation of good.



There are people alive and dead who never long for good, whose "hearts" apparently are entirely occupied by fear and selfishness. Ian Brady, a torturer and murderer of children has just died in prison. When I examine "the longing for an absolute good" I find that absolute good is either subjective (immoral), or expresses societal consensus (moral).

If there be absolute good , and even that most people long for it, nobody can know. Simone is wishfully speculating.

Good is what men must make from the raw material of the world as it appears to be at any time and place. This is uncomfortable to say the least.

Simone's vision expresses her hopeful feelings , and the hopeful feelings of many others. Hope can inspire courage; and surely courage is needed. Some hopes are unrealistic . Hope that there be an absolute good is realistic enough and may well inspire, however the hope and faith in absolute good should not include that this absolute good is all-powerful to intervene in nature and in history, as that belief and faith would be fatalistic.
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Re: If there is a God, why is there evil?

Post Number:#2054  Postby Fooloso4 » May 19th, 2017, 1:16 pm

Belindi:

Simone Weil:

There is a reality outside the world, that is to say, outside space and time


Simone's vision …


The ambiguity of the term ‘vision’ reveals what is at the heart of many of our debates. Some may believe that somehow Weil was able to transcend the world to see a reality outside of time and place, that she experienced this reality. Putting aside the question of the etiology of what she saw for a moment there remains the interpretation of it. This is what Wittgenstein called “seeing as” and refers to what we bring to what we see, to how we actively construct what we see.

Now when her follows hear of this and ascribe truth to what they themselves have not seen or experienced, it becomes a matter of faith and any claims of its objective truth without merit or support. They accept an image of their own making based on what they imagine this reality is like, only they insist that it is not an imaginary construct but the objective truth. What they cannot determine is whether this image corresponds to reality. Reality is not independent of their construct of reality, not independent of their own image of what lies outside the world, outside space and time.

Weil has an experience and sees or interprets it, which is to say forms an imaginary construct of it, as something given. Her followers take it as a report of something independent of her that she saw and believe it to be real because she saw it.

Simone is wishfully speculating.
Simone's vision expresses her hopeful feelings , and the hopeful feelings of many others.


This sums it up.

I do not deny the truth of her experience for the same reason that others cannot affirm it. I remain skeptical. The point is not to diminish the primary importance of the imagination but rather to keep the imagination from imagining that it transcends itself via the images it creates.
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Re: If there is a God, why is there evil?

Post Number:#2055  Postby Eaglerising » May 20th, 2017, 4:17 am

One thing I have noticed about the discussions about whether God exists or not is that neither side has considered the possibility that they are both are based upon belief and are wrong! What if what is commonly called “God” is an illusion created by thought? What if the primal source of everything is an unsolvable mystery that cannot be described, conceptualized, or imagined. Can we really imagine or conceptualize anything that has no beginning, always existed? The same applies to “infinity.”
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