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.
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Fooloso4
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Re: If there is a God, why is there evil?

Post by Fooloso4 » April 4th, 2017, 4:13 pm

DM:
To continue:
I am looking forward to the part of the story with rainbow unicorns, pink elephants, and flying pigs.

For a whole host of reasons, some people are more susceptible to this kind of nonsense than others.

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

Post by Belindi » April 4th, 2017, 6:57 pm

Fooloso4 quoted Nietzsche:

Must we not ourselves become gods simply to be worthy of it?
You asked me did I think God has or hasn't a referent. I think , like Nietzsche, that God has no referent. We are alone with this huge responsibility to sort the horrors of the world all by ourselves.

The determinism of all our past is both a drag and a launching pad. We can be greatly helped by famous sages from the past such as Jesus(whom I name particularly in view of nearly everyone here coming from the Judeo-Christian tradition). God may be dad but the myth of Christ and His Father is still meaningful if only myths were not so vulnerable to literal interpretation. I mean that the famous sages from the human past show us ways to become more Godlike as we learn more.

If there were a real God, a referent for our talk of God, then I think this "real God" would want us to go it alone and sort of return to him as free responsible adults returning to him.

-- Updated April 4th, 2017, 6:59 pm to add the following --

I mean "God may be dead " not "dad" !!

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

Post by Fanman » April 4th, 2017, 7:28 pm

DM:
God's existence is radically different than our own, or even that of the universe. Our love for another emerges from our potential and is therefore an attribute that may or may not be exercised. Love, for us, is something that can be separated from our total being. Hence, we are compound beings. God's love, on the other hand, is not an attribute: it IS his acting nature. When we talk about God's love, we are speaking analogically -- we are attributing to God's acting nature something like the love we find within ourselves.
Effectively, it seems as though you're arguing that God is love personified. Therefore all of his actions are love. I think what you've stated is what theologians call “rhema word” - revelatory knowings about God revealed through the holy spirit, and based upon your personal interpretation of that “knowledge.” I don't really believe in rhema word, because it's based upon the framework or concept of God you believe in and the foundations of it are related to a particular holy book, it is pure knowledge from on high (so to speak) and carries the bias of belief. Reason and critical analysis I find shoots holes in rhema word, no matter how revealed and clear the knowledge seems. For instance, if God's acting nature is love, why was he willing to barter the life of Job with Satan, one of his prominent servants – even allowing for his children to be killed. Where is the love in what he did to job, simply in order to prove his point? Your reasoning will tell you that its because God is capricious, but your faith will say that you have no place questioning the actions of God. In my opinion, no matter how powerful a being is or their long-term intentions, to barter the life of a sentient being to prove a point is not something I would describe as love. You could of course argue for the limitation of my knowledge and wisdom as compared to God's but then why believe in a God who cannot relate to my condition? In my opinion, love does not risk losing what it treasures for the sake of a test.
God's acting nature cannot possibly be intrinsically improved upon, but its character and personality are amplified by the divestment of the nonpersonal and nonspiritual. We originate in, or emerge from, the nonpersonal and nonspiritual and have the potential to self-actualize, or evolve, in the direction of the purified Self. What we see as "evil" is a privation, an absence of God's personal and spiritual Self. God's love does not allow him to deprive us of the opportunity to self-actualize, and to fret about the difficulties we must endure is proof positive of our immaturity.
Fine, you believe in the absoluteness of God's love, but is it outside the realms of possibility that God also hates, and destroys what he hates? Don't the 10 commandments give you an idea of the character and nature of "God?" Put your faith aside for a moment and apply reason. How can a being of absolute love feel jealousy? Shouldn't jealousy be beyond such a being? If not, then how is God any different from us? Didn't God take a man's life for just touching the Ark of the Covenant? How do you reconcile that with love?

---

F4:
The inescapable truth is that how one answers that question depends on the concept of God that informs the answer. There are various concepts of God and thus various answers.

That's correct. Yet no conception of God resolves the problem of evil. Occam's razor seems the most reasonable application here to me. Evil exists, therefore "God/The Creator" is capable of evil. It seems to me that attempts to reconcile the existence of evil with a God/Creator who is not capable of evil are all faith based. In my opinion, logic and reason just don't support a claim like that.
Once a theist, now agnostic.

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

Post by Fooloso4 » April 4th, 2017, 8:25 pm

Belindi:
Must we not ourselves become gods simply to be worthy of it?
I think this is the central point because everything else turns around it. What does it mean to be worth of what we create? To be worthy creators? That religious myths and rituals that are created can elevate us to new heights is something Nietzsche learned from the example of Christianity. As creators we must create what is capable of making of us gods worthy of the act of killing God. In order to do this we must know what will elevate us, and this means both to know what it is or means to be worthy and what religious myths and rituals will make us worthy. As creators we must become worthy of judging what is worthy, what is noble, and what is good.


Fanman:
That's correct. Yet no conception of God resolves the problem of evil. Occam's razor seems the most reasonable application here to me. Evil exists, therefore "God/The Creator" is capable of evil. It seems to me that attempts to reconcile the existence of evil with a God/Creator who is not capable of evil are all faith based. In my opinion, logic and reason just don't support a claim like that.
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.

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

Post by Dark Matter » April 4th, 2017, 9:26 pm

Fanman wrote:DM:
God's existence is radically different than our own, or even that of the universe. Our love for another emerges from our potential and is therefore an attribute that may or may not be exercised. Love, for us, is something that can be separated from our total being. Hence, we are compound beings. God's love, on the other hand, is not an attribute: it IS his acting nature. When we talk about God's love, we are speaking analogically -- we are attributing to God's acting nature something like the love we find within ourselves.
Effectively, it seems as though you're arguing that God is love personified. Therefore all of his actions are love. I think what you've stated is what theologians call “rhema word” - revelatory knowings about God revealed through the holy spirit, and based upon your personal interpretation of that “knowledge.” I don't really believe in rhema word, because it's based upon the framework or concept of God you believe in and the foundations of it are related to a particular holy book, it is pure knowledge from on high (so to speak) and carries the bias of belief. Reason and critical analysis I find shoots holes in rhema word, no matter how revealed and clear the knowledge seems. For instance, if God's acting nature is love, why was he willing to barter the life of Job with Satan, one of his prominent servants – even allowing for his children to be killed. Where is the love in what he did to job, simply in order to prove his point? Your reasoning will tell you that its because God is capricious, but your faith will say that you have no place questioning the actions of God. In my opinion, no matter how powerful a being is or their long-term intentions, to barter the life of a sentient being to prove a point is not something I would describe as love. You could of course argue for the limitation of my knowledge and wisdom as compared to God's but then why believe in a God who cannot relate to my condition? In my opinion, love does not risk losing what it treasures for the sake of a test.
God's acting nature cannot possibly be intrinsically improved upon, but its character and personality are amplified by the divestment of the nonpersonal and nonspiritual. We originate in, or emerge from, the nonpersonal and nonspiritual and have the potential to self-actualize, or evolve, in the direction of the purified Self. What we see as "evil" is a privation, an absence of God's personal and spiritual Self. God's love does not allow him to deprive us of the opportunity to self-actualize, and to fret about the difficulties we must endure is proof positive of our immaturity.
Fine, you believe in the absoluteness of God's love, but is it outside the realms of possibility that God also hates, and destroys what he hates? Don't the 10 commandments give you an idea of the character and nature of "God?" Put your faith aside for a moment and apply reason. How can a being of absolute love feel jealousy? Shouldn't jealousy be beyond such a being? If not, then how is God any different from us? Didn't God take a man's life for just touching the Ark of the Covenant? How do you reconcile that with love?
Fanman:


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

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

Post by Greta » April 4th, 2017, 9:29 pm

DarkMatter wrote:The First Source and Center is much more than personality, but we are so far removed from the spirit-personality of God that direct contact without destroying our self-actualizing self is impossible. Nevertheless,we are not left to fend for ourselves. Not only is there a vast hierarchy of intermediaries, or “demiurges,” there is within ourselves a fragment of the undifferentiated God, the God prior to any divestment.
I know the dictionary definition, but what do you mean by demiurges in this context? You have already shown a largely naturalistic view of things so I'm guessing that Fooloso's interpretation is overly literal. Do you consider demiurges to essentially be environments - zones where certain tendencies will be common to most denizens?
Fooloso4 wrote:Belindi:
Must we not ourselves become gods simply to be worthy of it?
I think this is the central point because everything else turns around it. What does it mean to be worth of what we create? To be worthy creators? That religious myths and rituals that are created can elevate us to new heights is something Nietzsche learned from the example of Christianity. As creators we must create what is capable of making of us gods worthy of the act of killing God. In order to do this we must know what will elevate us, and this means both to know what it is or means to be worthy and what religious myths and rituals will make us worthy. As creators we must become worthy of judging what is worthy, what is noble, and what is good.
I suggest that, as creators, we are largely flying blind, driven by the basic urge in each individual to connect and to expand their influence. Some would suggest that God is that drive. Again, I do have some qualms about naming love, connectivity or even "the blind watchmaker" after the vain and violent anthropomorphised deity of the Old Testament, although, as with mantras, once a certain amount of conditioning is in place, there's perhaps not much choice for long-time believers but to use that ostensibly inappropriate label.

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

Post by Fooloso4 » April 4th, 2017, 11:41 pm

Greta:
You have already shown a largely naturalistic view of things so I'm guessing that Fooloso's interpretation is overly literal.
Maybe. I try to read things on their own terms. My impression is that the Urantia Book is meant to be taken literally. From the Urantia foundation:
The Urantia Book is a revelation of truth for our world from higher beings in the universe.
http://www.urantia.org

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

Post by Greta » April 5th, 2017, 12:26 am

Fooloso4 wrote:Greta:
You have already shown a largely naturalistic view of things so I'm guessing that Fooloso's interpretation is overly literal.
Maybe. I try to read things on their own terms. My impression is that the Urantia Book is meant to be taken literally. From the Urantia foundation:
The Urantia Book is a revelation of truth for our world from higher beings in the universe.
http://www.urantia.org
That's why I asked him those questions for clarification. What are those "higher beings"?

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

Post by Dark Matter » April 5th, 2017, 12:48 am

Greta wrote:
DarkMatter wrote:The First Source and Center is much more than personality, but we are so far removed from the spirit-personality of God that direct contact without destroying our self-actualizing self is impossible. Nevertheless,we are not left to fend for ourselves. Not only is there a vast hierarchy of intermediaries, or “demiurges,” there is within ourselves a fragment of the undifferentiated God, the God prior to any divestment.
I know the dictionary definition, but what do you mean by demiurges in this context? You have already shown a largely naturalistic view of things so I'm guessing that Fooloso's interpretation is overly literal. Do you consider demiurges to essentially be environments - zones where certain tendencies will be common to most denizens?
I'm thinking more along the lines of Rupert Sheldrake's idea of morphic fields. Using his idea as a referent, "I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me" begins to make real sense. Who knows how many interpenetrating fields there, what qualitative variations there might be, or to what extent they qualify as being personal?

-- Updated April 5th, 2017, 1:14 am to add the following --

I guess I do have a largely naturalistic view of things. But "Materialism is there, but it is not exclusive; mechanism is there, but it is not unqualified; determinism is there, but it is not alone." (People can disparage the UB all they want, but there's a lot of good stuff in it. Papers 99-103 are especially interesting, IMO.)

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

Post by Greta » April 5th, 2017, 1:18 am

Dark Matter wrote:
Greta wrote: (Nested quote removed.)

I know the dictionary definition, but what do you mean by demiurges in this context? You have already shown a largely naturalistic view of things so I'm guessing that Fooloso's interpretation is overly literal. Do you consider demiurges to essentially be environments - zones where certain tendencies will be common to most denizens?
I'm thinking more along the lines of Rupert Sheldrake's idea of morphic fields. Using his idea as a referent, "I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me" begins to make real sense. Who knows how many interpenetrating fields there, what qualitative variations there might be, or to what extent they qualify as being personal?
Thanks. I figured it would be something more of that ilk :) Sheldrake is an interesting thinker. I'm neither convinced or unconvinced by his notion of morphic fields; I don't know enough about it.

I've had similar wonderings about identity, especially if what I think "I" am is actually that. It seems to me that what each of us calls "me" is probably well over 90% just our culture, wrongly attributed. If any of us was raised in the wild by a pack of wolves we would be almost nothing like the person we believe ourselves to be today. Perhaps simple tendencies like timidity, aggression, sociability, introversion, dependence, independence and so on would be present, but the person would still be a wildly different proposition to deal with if raised away from human culture.

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

Post by Dark Matter » April 5th, 2017, 1:56 am

Greta wrote:
I've had similar wonderings about identity, especially if what I think "I" am is actually that. It seems to me that what each of us calls "me" is probably well over 90% just our culture, wrongly attributed. If any of us was raised in the wild by a pack of wolves we would be almost nothing like the person we believe ourselves to be today. Perhaps simple tendencies like timidity, aggression, sociability, introversion, dependence, independence and so on would be present, but the person would still be a wildly different proposition to deal with if raised away from human culture.
I tend to think our simple tendencies as the person we are and the conditioning (in this case by a pack of wolves) being more of a mask.

-- Updated April 5th, 2017, 2:04 am to add the following --

Seriously, Greta. I may be wrong, but I think you will find the UB papers 99-103 quite interesting. The link F4 posted will take you there.

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

Post by Greta » April 5th, 2017, 2:53 am

Dark Matter wrote:
Greta wrote:
I've had similar wonderings about identity, especially if what I think "I" am is actually that. It seems to me that what each of us calls "me" is probably well over 90% just our culture, wrongly attributed. If any of us was raised in the wild by a pack of wolves we would be almost nothing like the person we believe ourselves to be today. Perhaps simple tendencies like timidity, aggression, sociability, introversion, dependence, independence and so on would be present, but the person would still be a wildly different proposition to deal with if raised away from human culture.
I tend to think our simple tendencies as the person we are and the conditioning (in this case by a pack of wolves) being more of a mask.

Seriously, Greta. I may be wrong, but I think you will find the UB papers 99-103 quite interesting. The link F4 posted will take you there.
Yes, those simple tendencies would seem most innate, but they aren't really very profound, not something one would terribly much want to cling on to for eternity. Each of those traits, too, is a genetically preset limit on the ideal balance of engagement and social interaction that, arguably, society as a whole may achieve on the back of variably less aware and balanced parts. Then again, why would genetics be innate any more than conditioning, being essentially the stored and distilled conditioning of ancestors. All rather pleasantly brain-bending.

I've had a scan of 99 and 100 and wondering why you chose those for me. I would like to challenge its emphasis on morality, which I see as critical for an intelligent social species to thrive but is pretty meaningless otherwise. There is a sense that there are these blurred gradations in biology - from life to consciousness to intelligence to morality, the latter being the highest aim. Yes, despite my own sympathies for underdogs, what I see is increasing efficacy more than anything else. Natural history and history suggest that the ends ultimately matter more than the means, at least within the bounds of effective Machiavellian strategy.

Can we rise above nature's ruthlessness? To some extent we already have, but it's tenuous - about three meals away so the saying goes. Life is hard. It hurts. So this entire project of life, as far as I can tell, is about 1) surviving and 2) organising itself to minimise suffering and maximising happiness. Each individual of any given species assiduously works to that end in their own ways.

Conventional morality would have it that, without moral guidance, we would necessarily inflict suffering on others in an untempered way for our own benefit. However, I think the reality is more akin to multiple iterations of Prisoners' Dilemma, where the "always defect" strategy only works "long term" in dysfunctional groups destined for the scrapheap. In context, Epicurus's hedonism seems to have it about right - to be selfish is a strategic error for anyone aiming for happiness:
It is impossible to live a pleasant life without living wisely and well and justly (agreeing "neither to harm nor be harmed"), and it is impossible to live wisely and well and justly without living a pleasant life.
Will have a go at the other papers you suggested. I note that some of the other papers, such as "Adam and Eve", seem to be science fiction with metaphorical underpinnings.

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

Post by Dark Matter » April 5th, 2017, 3:55 am

Greta wrote: Will have a go at the other papers you suggested. I note that some of the other papers, such as "Adam and Eve", seem to be science fiction with metaphorical underpinnings.
LOL! Well, contrary to what F4 thinks, there's a lot in it that I find questionable, superfluous and downright wrong, but there's no sense in throwing out the baby with the bathwater. I kinda enjoy sifting through the nonsense in any book to get to the gems.

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

Post by Greta » April 5th, 2017, 4:52 am

Dark Matter wrote:
Greta wrote: Will have a go at the other papers you suggested. I note that some of the other papers, such as "Adam and Eve", seem to be science fiction with metaphorical underpinnings.
LOL! Well, contrary to what F4 thinks, there's a lot in it that I find questionable, superfluous and downright wrong, but there's no sense in throwing out the baby with the bathwater. I kinda enjoy sifting through the nonsense in any book to get to the gems.
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.

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

Post by TY91 » April 5th, 2017, 5:08 am

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.

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