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:#1996  Postby Greta » April 5th, 2017, 5:38 am

TY91 wrote:I also find it curious that many tend to assign gender to the god they speak of, although perhaps part of the reason for that is the language limitations we have:- if not he or she then what? It? Doesn't sound particularly good. In fact it almost sounds insulting. Or at least I imagine it would to some.

Maybe it is time for the pronoun "It" to be given a new respect? The gendering of God is essential to (inevitably patriarchal) fundamentalism. As I mentioned on another thread, if God was thought of as an It then maybe people would have less insane ideas about the concept.
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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:#1997  Postby Steve3007 » April 5th, 2017, 5:48 am

I guess one of the problems with the pronoun "it" is that, in the English language at least, it tends to imply non-sentience. Calling a sentient being, especially a human, "it" is usually seen as an implied insult because (for whatever reason) we tend to think of it as insulting to tell a person that they are not sentient. For people who conceptualise God by analogy with humans I presume the same principle applies.

So I guess we need a new version of "it" which explicitly can't be applied to rocks and can only be applied to thinking beings.
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Re: If there is a God, why is there evil?

Post Number:#1998  Postby Fanman » April 5th, 2017, 6:02 am

DM:

I can see no connection at all between what you say here and anything I've said -- ever.


Fair enough.

---

F4:

Well, some might conclude therefore no God. Others might deny that God is capable of evil, but then either God can but does nothing to mitigate evil, that is God is capable of ignoring evil or God is not capable of eliminating or even mitigating evil. In either case, however, I agree, the problem of evil is not resolved.


I agree. There are a number of ways that the problem of evil brings the concept of God into question. When added to the fact that there's only anecdotal evidence for the existence of God and top-down conceptualisations like the Prime-Mover argument, I think that it is unlikely that God exists. The gaps in our knowledge give the idea of God room to maneuver, but as our knowledge increases and we become more aware of our origins and the nature of reality/the universe, faith and belief may become outmoded. As far as I'm aware, there's no foundational knowledge about God which can be built upon, it must just be taken as a given that God exists, hence the whole situation can be manipulated to suit the aims and goals of it's stewards – I've found that religion can empower anyone who's charismatic enough to preach the gospel in a profound way, and in the process making them very rich and influential.

Currently, believers can ultimately retreat to the position that it cannot be proven that God doesn't exist, personally I cannot fathom how that position could be compromised, since I don't see any advancement which would completely negate the possibility for believers to claim “God did it,” but that is said from my limited perspective. I would hope that in my lifetime, there's a resolution to the God debate, though I'm obviously not holding my breath. Personally, I hope that there is some type of pleasant after-life and given some of my experiences and those I've read about I think there's a slim-chance there may be (like 1%) But these days, I don't believe anything to be a fact which cannot be supported by empirical evidence. However, the question does recur to me... Is there a ghost in the machine?
Once a theist, now agnostic.
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Re: If there is a God, why is there evil?

Post Number:#1999  Postby Fooloso4 » April 5th, 2017, 12:14 pm

Greta:
That's why I asked him those questions for clarification. What are those "higher beings"?

DM:

Nevertheless,we are not left to fend for ourselves. Not only is there a vast hierarchy of intermediaries, or “demiurges,” …

This progressive experience of every spirit being and every mortal creature throughout the universe of universes is a part of the Father’s ever-expanding Deity-consciousness of the never-ending divine circle of ceaseless self-realization.” (UB)

I'm thinking more along the lines of Rupert Sheldrake's idea of morphic fields.


Thanks. I figured it would be something more of that ilk :)


Greta, perhaps you are feeling non-confrontational these days, but I not see how pointing away from the UB to something else answers the question of how DM understands the notion of a vast hierarchy of intermediaries, or “demiurges,”, or spirit beings throughout the universe of universes. Sheldrake’s concept of morphic fields is about what occurs in the natural world on earth. Nor does it address how such things as a vast hierarchy of intermediaries, or “demiurges,”, or spirit beings throughout the universe of universes are to be understood in a non-literal way or what the quotation marks on demiurge symbolizes. It does no good for him to say he does not accept everything in the UB because either he accepts that the things he posted about exist in some way that he has not explained whether literally or not or he is just throwing stuff out there as a smokescreen.

I think there are interesting questions regarding the limits of language, metaphorical language, and mythology. Metaphor and myth give us a picture that points through itself or away from itself to something else. The question then is what does it show us? The limits of language needs to be addressed within the larger question of what it is that we know and the role the imagination plays. Some hold that God is ineffable because God transcends our ability to know, but if God cannot be known then it is not a limit of language that prevents us from saying what God is but rather a limit of knowledge. And this raises the question of the role of the imagination. We imagine what the God we say we cannot know is while at the same time stressing that what we say is inadequate. We attempt to eff the ineffable. Apophatic or negative theology does not get us much further because saying what God is not still presupposes knowledge of God. While some warn against a rational understanding of God they still hold to some concept and construct of God, and when they stumble they think this is due to the limits of language rather than a problem with their own construct and concept of God.
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Re: If there is a God, why is there evil?

Post Number:#2000  Postby RuleOnu » April 5th, 2017, 12:30 pm

It seems, reading through some comments, some have an oblique idea regarding the existence of a "god". There are several well established rationales for a "gods" existence, ranging from objective morality to fine tuning arguments. All of which, I'm sure have been debated ad infinitum on this site.
The question here is, "If there is a "god", why is there evil?", which presumes that the "god" in question is one which is "omnibenevolent", therefore capable of regulating evil in favor of good. The question is broad since the questioner does not specify what he means by evil. Does the questioner consider tripping over an uneven piece of sidewalk evil, compared to torturing a child for self gratification? And, to what extent does this benevolent "god" have an obligation to mitigate any degree of evil by which any individual considers what acts actually constitute evil?
In order to answer the question one must make numerous assumptions and presumptions. The question proposes "if" there is a "god", if there isn't a "god", the question is mute and either evil exists or evil does not exist. Or, there is a "god" and, again, evil exists or it does not.
If there is no "god" and evil exists then evil exists as a product of individual interpretation and nothing can be done to mitigate evil except according ones own actions. If there is a "god", and one who is omnibenevolent and evil exists then one must rationally conclude that there must be some moral imperative or justification that this omnibenevolent "god" allows evil to exist.
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I'm new here so I'll wait and see if there are any responses to my first comment here before proceeding. Thank you.
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Re: If there is a God, why is there evil?

Post Number:#2001  Postby Belindi » April 5th, 2017, 12:59 pm

Fooloso4,

As creators we must become worthy of judging what is worthy, what is noble, and what is good.




Let's match that up with 'Existence precedes essence'.

For instance, those medics who are risking their own health and safety in Syria are creating an essence. Love and fear are the criteria, and I believe that love and fear cover everything else. What do you think?
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Re: If there is a God, why is there evil?

Post Number:#2002  Postby Dark Matter » April 5th, 2017, 1:40 pm

Greta wrote:Many are impatient with nonsense. Maybe they are stretched for time? A huge amount of the material I have encountered, scientific, philosophical and other, has been clearly flawed but I've still enjoyed plenty of it. For instance, I've come across truly silly material regarding sacred geometry, but some of the connections and observations made by those who study the field are thought provoking and fascinating.

Regarding evil in The Urantia, I'm not inclined to agree that suffering stems from our unwillingness to get things right. Rather, it stems from immaturity. Civilised humanity is very young; the dinos dominated for 260m years. We are still making animalistic errors and being lead by animalistic impulses because civilisation is very young, with memetic transmission being orders of magnitude faster than genetic transmission.

As we noted earlier, judging the universe's nature when it is still so young would seem akin to judging a small child or an unfinished work of art. The same leeway can also be accorded to humanity.

Be careful. Saying something like evil "stems from immaturity" can get you in trouble. :wink: Anyway. here's one of the gems I was referring to: "Law is life itself and not the rules of its conduct. Evil is a transgression of law, not a violation of the rules of conduct pertaining to life, which is the law." Mistakes are going to be made on every level of existence short of the infinite and there will will always be those, high and low, who choose to violate law for selfish reasons -- at least, that's the way I see it.

Here's another one of those gems:

Extremely complex and highly automatic-appearing cosmic mechanisms always tend to conceal the presence of the originative or creative indwelling mind from any and all intelligences very far below the universe levels of the nature and capacity of the mechanism itself. Therefore is it inevitable that the higher universe mechanisms must appear to be mindless to the lower orders of creatures. The only possible exception to such a conclusion would be the implication of mindedness in the amazing phenomenon of an apparently self-maintaining universe — but that is a matter of philosophy rather than one of actual experience.

In other words, we're fish in the ocean and blind to the water in which we swim.
TY91 wrote:I don't believe in evil either.
Whether or not there is a god - well, no-one can answer that in my opinion although I am aware that there are many in this world who believe they can.

What I find more interesting is why we humans assume that any perceived god possesses similar emotional traits to us. I also find it curious that many tend to assign gender to the god they speak of, although perhaps part of the reason for that is the language limitations we have:- if not he or she then what? It? Doesn't sound particularly good. In fact it almost sounds insulting. Or at least I imagine it would to some.

But back to the original question. I guess I can't really give an answer to that since as I said, I do not believe in evil (as I understand the meaning of the word).
When discussing this type of issue I tend to get caught up in the semantics firstly. In this case the meaning of the words "god" and "evil". Because there is invariably a subjective element to the understanding of these words.

Hi, TY

I think the anthropomorphism is a carryover from more primitive times and the fact that many people are too myopic to see beyond what's in front of their face.
Steve3007 wrote:I guess one of the problems with the pronoun "it" is that, in the English language at least, it tends to imply non-sentience. Calling a sentient being, especially a human, "it" is usually seen as an implied insult because (for whatever reason) we tend to think of it as insulting to tell a person that they are not sentient. For people who conceptualise God by analogy with humans I presume the same principle applies.

So I guess we need a new version of "it" which explicitly can't be applied to rocks and can only be applied to thinking beings.

I agree. But even the literal translation of "Allah" (the God) runs into problems. It might just have to be a matter of education.
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Re: If there is a God, why is there evil?

Post Number:#2003  Postby Fooloso4 » April 5th, 2017, 2:10 pm

Belindi:

As creators we must become worthy of judging what is worthy, what is noble, and what is good.

Let's match that up with 'Existence precedes essence'.


Right, and when the classical notion that God’s existence and essence are the same we see what Nietzsche was trying to overcome - a religion that attempted to be the final creation and final word.

For instance, those medics who are risking their own health and safety in Syria are creating an essence. Love and fear are the criteria, and I believe that love and fear cover everything else. What do you think?


Love can mean different things and its meaning can change with regard to its object. Love for one’s own can leave a gap between love and fear - indifference or disregard. Unlike those medics many neither love nor fear those in need.

I think love can lead to hate when there is fear that what is loved is threatened, but I am not so sure that fear is always at the root of hatred. Harm can lead to hatred, and hatred can lead to harm. I think that it is this cycle that Jesus wanted to put an end to by counciling love of one’s enemies. Rage may have a biological and physiological connection with fear, but I do not think that an occurrence of rage is necessarily directly tied to love and or fear even though there will be a physiological connection.

It is not clear to me what the essence is that is being created. In post #1977 I touched on the origin and original meaning of the term essence - “the what it is”. In this sense of the term essence means what it is that makes something what it is, but I think you might mean something else - the creation of something important and vital that had not been previously present, the creation of love through an act of love. Is that right?
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Re: If there is a God, why is there evil?

Post Number:#2004  Postby Belindi » April 6th, 2017, 5:58 am

Fooloso4 wrote:

Love can mean different things and its meaning can change with regard to its object. Love for one’s own can leave a gap between love and fear - indifference or disregard. Unlike those medics many neither love nor fear those in need.

I think love can lead to hate when there is fear that what is loved is threatened, but I am not so sure that fear is always at the root of hatred. Harm can lead to hatred, and hatred can lead to harm. I think that it is this cycle that Jesus wanted to put an end to by counciling love of one’s enemies. Rage may have a biological and physiological connection with fear, but I do not think that an occurrence of rage is necessarily directly tied to love and or fear even though there will be a physiological connection.

It is not clear to me what the essence is that is being created. In post #1977 I touched on the origin and original meaning of the term essence - “the what it is”. In this sense of the term essence means what it is that makes something what it is, but I think you might mean something else - the creation of something important and vital that had not been previously present, the creation of love through an act of love. Is that right?


The best gloss on love I know is what some philosopher called 'caring'. I think it was some existentialist philosopher. Those people who neither love not fear are not caring people and are sort of dead-and-alive people. If people who fear get insight into their own fear they become caring people. If people who, for instance hate Muslims or negroes, get insight into their own hate, they become caring by virtue of insightfulness.

I agree of course that love can lead to hate when what is loved is threatened. I doubt if any human individual is Jesus Christ all unmixed love. Jesus saying love your enemies doesn't make sense unless we interpret love as caring. To care for our enemies in human terms is to make the best effort to understand them and feel compassionate towards them as possible. This is not at all the same magnitude of forgiveness that Jesus displayed on the Cross when he asked God to forgive his torturers for they know not what they do. That magnitude of forgiveness we humans can access only intellectually if at all but never feelingly. For us to forgive and care for and about our enemies requires that our enemies seek reconciliation. There is no profit in denying human power structure. None of us is Jesus Christ.

In this relative world I doubt that there is any enduring essence. The existence always precedes the essence whatever it is. For two and a half millennia the civilised essence has been varieties of the Golden Rule but for longer durations, back to the dinosaurs for instance, there simply is no essence at all. The medics working in Syria are creating anew and afresh within the Golden Rule ethic and what they are creating is love. This is not to say that ontologically love endures without an awful lot of topping-up from the people who are not working for love in Syria. Even the memory of the medics' work will vanish unless it's kept alive in some tradition. Don't you think that any essence is fragile ? It's fragile in interpretation and memory, I think. There is no God-essence to keep it alive, as far as we can know, and faith in God-essence is a mixed blessing.

I am saying that the essence that is being created is pro tem, unfortunately, and if I chose to carry a banner it's my choice.
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Re: If there is a God, why is there evil?

Post Number:#2005  Postby Fooloso4 » April 6th, 2017, 10:16 am

Belindi:
The best gloss on love I know is what some philosopher called 'caring'.


I tend to think of Plato’s eros - desire, to want what one does not have. I think it compatible with caring in the sense of wanting for others their well-being. The Chinese Mohist philosophers taught impartial caring, but I think that is something that is something that must be learned and practiced, that it runs counter to our inclinations. While I think that we should not be narrowly limited in who we care for, I am still more concerned for the welfare of my family than that of a stranger.
For two and a half millennia the civilised essence has been varieties of the Golden Rule …
Don't you think that any essence is fragile ? It's fragile in interpretation and memory, I think. There is no God-essence to keep it alive, as far as we can know, and faith in God-essence is a mixed blessing.


I take it you mean the Golden Rule as the essential teaching of human conduct. I am not sure what you mean when you ask whether I think any essence is fragile. If you mean essential beliefs and practices, then yes, I agree. I also agree that faith in God-essence is a mixed blessing, or a blessing and a curse, or, as I heard it said somewhere, every blessing is a curse. When we posit a God whose authority is absolute and demand that human beings obey the will and follow the dictates of that God there will be trouble. Whatever the intention may be, it puts absolute authority in the hands of men who claim that they are God’s obedient servants doing his will and following his commandments and laws.

In partial answer to the topic question: one reason there is evil is because man has created a God who is absolute and follow him absolutely. This, of course, is not the whole of the problem of evil.
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Re: If there is a God, why is there evil?

Post Number:#2006  Postby Belindi » April 7th, 2017, 5:46 pm

Fooloso4, bearing in mind that existence precedes essence, what I meant by "Any essence is fragile" is that for an essential belief to endure through time and tribulation is constant work and attention paid to it. This, I think, is what religious authorities urge people to attend church for. True, the Devil requires time and attention to be paid to it also. However the Devil's path seems always to find plenty of powerful followers, and the path of goodness is indeed narrow and hard.

Do you think that excess of power is inherently corrupting?
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Re: If there is a God, why is there evil?

Post Number:#2007  Postby Heather » April 29th, 2017, 12:10 pm

Floyd wrote:If there is a God, why is there evil? Why do bad things happen to good people? Why is there so much needless suffering in the world, from natural disasters and such? Why would a loving God do this?


Hi:

I am in the "free will" camp.

Perhaps we are supposed to make our own decisions and we are meant to choose between good and evil. God, if there is a god, does not get involved. He/she/it wants YOU to get involved.

Disasters happen, perhaps because we are pushed to find solutions by the very act of witnessing a disaster. Why do we need to find solutions???????? That's a good question.

Of course everything can be simply random. There is no god, no superior intelligence, no rhyme or reason to life. Life just happens. We are no better than red blood cells patrolling our blood stream. We only think we are. We developed by accident and now we are here.
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Re: If there is a God, why is there evil?

Post Number:#2008  Postby Lance » April 30th, 2017, 11:10 am

My take on the subject is that there is a Mind behind the order that we see in the universe BUT it is NOT All-Powerful due to necessity. Allow me to explain:
1. If we look at the massive groupings of evolution (ex. Bird Kingdom, Primates, Insects, Trees) they seem conspicuously like products of Inductive Reasoning. The variations within these groupings (Type of Bird, Kind of Primate, A spider grouping, Pine trees of different sorts etc..) they conspicuously seem like products of Deductive Reasoning. AND, when an individual bird or primate or Pine trees or spider must be replicated then an ALGORITHM called the genetic code is utilized. So, if we use as a NULL HYPOTHESIS that the order in the universe is generated by a computer-like force then we have the evidence (since computers can only follow algorithms) to REJECT the Null hypothesis by virtue of the observation of products of Induction, Deduction and Algorithms. Thus we can conclude that the universe does NOT behave as if it were an Algorithmic computer and that "IT ACTS AS IF IT IS THINKING."

2. OK. Acting as if it is thinking is close enough for me to conclude that some sort of a Mind is at work. The question in my mind is not whether or not a Mind exits but "What are it's properties." i.e omnipresent? omniscient? Infinite in age or finite? Omnipotent (The question I am ultimately addressing)? etc....

3. Let's take the age question. IF God is finite in age then it begs the question "What is before God and before that and before that etc...?" Occums (sp?) razor in science suggests that the simplest solution is usually the best to go with IF all else is equal. So for this SPECULATION I must go with the conjecture that God never began and never ends; it is infinite in age. IF we go with this speculation then how does a God "exist/live" for an infinite amount of time. The answer: It must think continuously forever. That means at the very least, it must do Inductive Reasoning and Deductive Reasoning and Create the products of these 2 thoughts and create the necessary Algorithms such that the universe can function without "re-creating the wheel so to speak."

4. IF God lives forever then it had enough time by now to create the perfect system that algorithmically functions like a fine tuned watch that NEVER needs repair. At that point all is done and thinking is NOT required. Thus there is a chance that God "dies" at that point which would collapse the algorithmic forces in our universe and so on. Thus for God to exist it must create continuously and never get to that final product. Therefore God must destroy in order to create more in order to exist.

Therefore God cannot be ALL POWERFUL for it's own self-interest to survive. Therefore from time to time species go extinct and bad things happen to good people.

This is my short answer to the question.... there is more.

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

Post Number:#2009  Postby Hereandnow » May 1st, 2017, 3:53 pm

Or maybe it is just a faulty assumption that gives everyone so much trouble. forget about god as a human-like agent that judges, knows, understands, interacts, and so forth. Why does this carry so much weight? I mean, it is this personhood that gets us to thinking there is "someone" who would do this, or wouldn't do that. Just take that occamist razor and cut this groundless piece of excess out. Can this be done and still have a god left? Lessee:

If you remove the omniscience, omnipotence, and omnibenevolence; the rational will that acts, thinks, judges, interacts, cares, loves and so forth...what is left? Love and happiness. Or, just happiness, for love really reduces to this. The (serious) Hindus and Buddhists have been saying for a long time: you and I are essentially joyful entities if we would just get over our (to use Heidegger's term) Being in the world. (And if you are familiar with Heidegger, I put this out there for an entertaining juxtaposition. Human dasein IS our attachments.)
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Re: If there is a God, why is there evil?

Post Number:#2010  Postby Felix » May 1st, 2017, 9:06 pm

Hereandnow: The (serious) Hindus and Buddhists have been saying for a long time: you and I are essentially joyful entities if we would just get over our (to use Heidegger's term) Being in the world.


Serious about being playful? So all the philosophy I ever really needed was in Al Green's song lyrics?

But is it "being" or "becoming" in the world that we must get over? - seems more like the latter.
"We do not see things as they are; we see things as we are." - Anaïs Nin
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