Announcement

Collapse

Apologetics 301 Guidelines

If you think this is the area where you tell everyone you are sorry for eating their lunch out of the fridge, it probably isn't the place for you


This forum is open discussion between atheists and all theists to defend and debate their views on religion or non-religion. Please respect that this is a Christian-owned forum and refrain from gratuitous blasphemy. VERY wide leeway is given in range of expression and allowable behavior as compared to other areas of the forum, and moderation is not overly involved unless necessary. Please keep this in mind. Atheists who wish to interact with theists in a way that does not seek to undermine theistic faith may participate in the World Religions Department. Non-debate question and answers and mild and less confrontational discussions can take place in General Theistics.


Forum Rules: Here
See more
See less

My perspective on The Problem of Evil

Collapse
X
 
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • My perspective on The Problem of Evil

    Hi,

    The Problem of Evil, especially as it relates to the Holocaust, has torn at me a lot over the years. It was heavy on my mind when I decided that I couldn't be a Christian anymore. Recently, though, I've begun to consider the question in a different light.

    It seems to me that whether there is a God or not, all of us are still faced with a world that is both full of wonders and full of unspeakable evil. For every bird that takes flight, there's a baby that gets cancer. For every rainbow or Hubble telescope image, there's a Good Friday earthquake. I'm sick to death of theodicy and this post is not an exercise in that. If there is a God, then I'm fully prepared to find out that He is simply a sadist laughing at our suffering. But if there is no God, then we're still confronted with an existence that is nasty, brutish, and short to an extent that I'm tempted to call it a cosmic joke with no punchline.

    If God has some grand reason for this, then He isn't telling us and we have no clue as to what it could possibly be. My gut tells me that there is no good reason for an omnipotent God to make the world like this, but I'm open to being wrong on that. Either way, in the face of God's silence on the matter, we might as well be living in a cold universe where suffering simply has no answer. The atheist and the theist are faced with the same absurdity in practice, if not in the ultimate reality.

    So whether there is a God or not, we're also all still confronted with a choice to make-whether to "opt out."

    I find that I've taken the words of Albert Camus from his Myth of Sisyphus as a sort of life motto- "There is but one truly serious philosophical problem, and that is suicide. Judging whether life is or is not worth living amounts to answering the fundamental question of philosophy." One can either find a reason to carry on in spite of the practical absurdity of existence or one can give their middle figure to the heavens.

    Either way, one is equally forced to find something that one personally finds meaningful enough to justify the continuation of this painful life. Whether one lives for the glory of God or the companionship of others, it's all essentially the same thing when looked at in this light. So, I really don't see the Problem of Evil as a logical reason for not believing in God (or at least for not being a sadotheist). I disbelieve for other reasons.

    -----

    PS.

    The only remaining possible variable that I see is Romans 8:18- "For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us." It's tricky, but I guess my response at this time would be that this verse is only good enough to justify suffering in a world in which babies don't get cancer, in which God does not kill the just and the unjust alike, or at least a world wherein we knew without a doubt that "Heaven [and the resurrection of the dead] is for real." In other words, I think Paul is here siding with Job's interlocutors against the innocents who suffer in this world in which God is silent. It's just not a good enough answer for me anymore. Suffering, especially something like the Holocaust, is too much of a cosmic brown note to be soothed with so simple a balm. It takes all our reasonings and theodicies and laughs in our face.

    As you can see, I have a hard escaping the idea that God Himself died in the ovens at Auschwitz and He isn't going to rise again this time.
    O Gladsome Light of the Holy Glory of the Immortal Father, Heavenly, Holy, Blessed Jesus Christ! Now that we have come to the setting of the sun and behold the light of evening, we praise God Father, Son and Holy Spirit. For meet it is at all times to worship Thee with voices of praise. O Son of God and Giver of Life, therefore all the world doth glorify Thee.

    A neat video of dead languages!

  • #2
    A very real problem, and one whose concerns I share. I have examined all the usual responses to this and I find them lacking, or at least insufficient. From the position we are in now, with what we know now, it sure does seem a terrible waste.

    Comment


    • #3
      I think most religions attempt to come up with an answer for the problem of evil. There are a lot of religions that explain this one in myths. I find the best answer to Christianity is a partial one, which is why evil exists, and that has everything to do with Lucifer's choice of pride and desire for revenge on God for his punishment, which admittedly, seems very myth-like in and of itself; and the result of evil's effect on human suffering, which, IF we allow it to, gives us the opportunity to know God, and understand his Love for us and show it to others. I don't pretend to understand, but I think that is what makes the most sense to me. Not that its my choice anyway
      A happy family is but an earlier heaven.
      George Bernard Shaw

      Comment


      • #4
        I think there are two unsolvable concerns about existence. One is the problem of evil, in particular, undeserved, unedifying suffering. The other is the 'problem' of the existence of great beauty and unrewarded compassion. I know of no human philosophy or religion which 'explains' both with any completeness.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by 2nd Kelp View Post
          If God has some grand reason for this, then He isn't telling us and we have no clue as to what it could possibly be. My gut tells me that there is no good reason for an omnipotent God to make the world like this, but I'm open to being wrong on that. Either way, in the face of God's silence on the matter, we might as well be living in a cold universe where suffering simply has no answer. The atheist and the theist are faced with the same absurdity in practice, if not in the ultimate reality.
          Though I'm not that studied or convinced about all of it, Kabbalah has some interesting ideas about how God created everything and why there has to be evil. For a very simplified version adapted to my own Christian understanding:

          God wanted to create man as a physical expression of Himself, just as we want to procreate children.

          Since the infinite God was everything, there had to be a realm where infinite God wasn't everything so we could exist. So in the beginning God withdrew Himself, the Tzimtzum. This is comparable to Kenosis of God's Word emptying himself to be as a man, Philippians 2:7.

          Now there's a realm that isn't completely God and creation of things that aren't God can take place, we can suppose that the universe began as a single particle arising from an absolute vacuum, or whatever.

          The real point is that where there's not God there's not infinite goodness, wherever there's not goodness evil exists. So the idea is to bring more of God's goodness into our realm to drive out evil as a lingering byproduct of initial creation, which are what Judeo-Christian religions are all about.

          In more practical terms it could be described as having a canvas that's already got a picture of you filling it up, but you want to paint in a picture of your kids so you first have to wipe part of the canvas blank. When you're done painting, no more blank. You = God, Kids = Creation, Blank = Evil.

          Comment


          • #6
            I don't know, I don't see a real problem here. God gave men a high degree of moral freedom - He is letting us have our way and this is what it looks like.
            Atheism is the cult of death, the death of hope. The universe is doomed, you are doomed, the only thing that remains is to await your execution...

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jbnueb2OI4o&t=3s

            Comment


            • #7
              I'm not convinced that we even have free will, but even if I was that still doesn't rule out undeserved suffering. That's why I brought up Job's friends. A murderer might chose to take a life, but God could still have stopped the act for the sake of the innocent victim in any of a million ways. In any kind of coherent ethical system, a "good" being is one who acts to prevent the suffering of others when possible.

              Even if we have free will, I have a hard time buying the notion that an omniscient God is not also "omni-persuasive" and capable of convincing anyone to take the righteous course of action in a given situation. I say the same thing about suffering as a teaching tool. It should be no big thing for God to create in the human mind the knowledge of His goodness, mercy, or whatever other lesson is desired.
              Last edited by Kelp(p); 11-11-2014, 07:53 AM.
              O Gladsome Light of the Holy Glory of the Immortal Father, Heavenly, Holy, Blessed Jesus Christ! Now that we have come to the setting of the sun and behold the light of evening, we praise God Father, Son and Holy Spirit. For meet it is at all times to worship Thee with voices of praise. O Son of God and Giver of Life, therefore all the world doth glorify Thee.

              A neat video of dead languages!

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by JohnnyP View Post
                Though I'm not that studied or convinced about all of it, Kabbalah has some interesting ideas about how God created everything and why there has to be evil. For a very simplified version adapted to my own Christian understanding:

                God wanted to create man as a physical expression of Himself, just as we want to procreate children.

                Since the infinite God was everything, there had to be a realm where infinite God wasn't everything so we could exist. So in the beginning God withdrew Himself, the Tzimtzum. This is comparable to Kenosis of God's Word emptying himself to be as a man, Philippians 2:7.

                Now there's a realm that isn't completely God and creation of things that aren't God can take place, we can suppose that the universe began as a single particle arising from an absolute vacuum, or whatever.
                That doesn't make any sense. God isn't some gas or liquid that prevents other things from taking up the same space.
                O Gladsome Light of the Holy Glory of the Immortal Father, Heavenly, Holy, Blessed Jesus Christ! Now that we have come to the setting of the sun and behold the light of evening, we praise God Father, Son and Holy Spirit. For meet it is at all times to worship Thee with voices of praise. O Son of God and Giver of Life, therefore all the world doth glorify Thee.

                A neat video of dead languages!

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by 2nd Kelp View Post
                  I'm not convinced that we even have free will, but even if I was that still doesn't rule out undeserved suffering. That's why I brought up Job's friends. A murderer might chose to take a life, but God could still have stopped the act for the sake of the innocent victim in any of a million ways. In any kind of coherent ethical system, a "good" being is one who acts to prevent the suffering of others when possible.

                  Even if we have free will, I have a hard time buying the notion that an omniscient God is not also "omni-persuasive" and capable of convincing anyone to take the righteous course of action in a given situation. I say the same thing about suffering as a teaching tool. It should be no big thing for God to create in the human mind the knowledge of His goodness, mercy, or whatever other lesson is desired.
                  I don't know if God is "omni-persuasive" - that is not a classic attribute of God. And no, taking the test yourself is not the same as someone giving you the answers. One builds character, the other doesn't. And what is a better lesson, God just telling us He is good or demonstrating that goodness through the cross? God telling us that He will forgive and love - or actually forgiving and loving. Telling us He is just or actually demonstrating that justice through the judgement of the wicked. But at bottom, there is only a problem with timing. God will intervene and set the universe straight. No more death or suffering, the lion will lie with the lamb. Creation itself will be reconstituted. So what you long for is coming - just not according to your time table. Not only that - how does a godless universe, void of all future hope make anything better?

                  For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.
                  Atheism is the cult of death, the death of hope. The universe is doomed, you are doomed, the only thing that remains is to await your execution...

                  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jbnueb2OI4o&t=3s

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by 2nd Kelp View Post
                    That doesn't make any sense. God isn't some gas or liquid that prevents other things from taking up the same space.
                    The idea is that the infinite God withdrew to allow creation from what is not infinitely God. Creation where God is infinitely everything and everywhere would be pantheism, kind of like that Hindu God where creation is really just God pretending to be creation.




                    I'll chime in on this one:

                    Originally posted by 2nd Kelp View Post
                    I'm not convinced that we even have free will, but even if I was that still doesn't rule out undeserved suffering.
                    Research about it:

                    Source: Psychology Today

                    On the basis of these results, some researchers concluded that free will is an illusion. (however) We have free will to abort an action. So, we may better think of volitional action in this case not as free will, but as "free won't." We can stop an action initiated by our brain nonconsciously. -Free Will

                    © Copyright Original Source



                    Originally posted by 2nd Kelp View Post
                    That's why I brought up Job's friends. A murderer might chose to take a life, but God could still have stopped the act for the sake of the innocent victim in any of a million ways. In any kind of coherent ethical system, a "good" being is one who acts to prevent the suffering of others when possible.
                    If a "bad" being doesn't prevent the suffering of others when possible, doesn't that make all parents who ever existed "bad" for bringing children into a world where suffering is inevitable?

                    Originally posted by 2nd Kelp View Post
                    Even if we have free will, I have a hard time buying the notion that an omniscient God is not also "omni-persuasive" and capable of convincing anyone to take the righteous course of action in a given situation. I say the same thing about suffering as a teaching tool. It should be no big thing for God to create in the human mind the knowledge of His goodness, mercy, or whatever other lesson is desired.
                    To eliminate all suffering would amount to having God think for you which again would be like that Hindu God or programming a robot. I know when I pray a lot I have a lot of what you say, when I don't I do all kinds of stupid things, that's one way God is there to help.
                    Last edited by JohnnyP; 11-11-2014, 08:49 AM.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by seer View Post
                      I don't know if God is "omni-persuasive" - that is not a classic attribute of God.
                      That's why I put it in quotes. I just mean in terms of God's ability to open our hearts, regardless of free will.
                      Originally posted by seer View Post
                      And no, taking the test yourself is not the same as someone giving you the answers. One builds character, the other doesn't. And what is a better lesson, God just telling us He is good or demonstrating that goodness through the cross? God telling us that He will forgive and love - or actually forgiving and loving. Telling us He is just or actually demonstrating that justice through the judgement of the wicked.
                      I'm not talking about teaching us. I'm talking about creating all the knowledge and character that we need in our heads in the same way He hands out Prevenient or Irresistible Grace (depending on your "ism"). It would save a lot of suffering and would mean Christ did not have to die.

                      Originally posted by seer View Post
                      But at bottom, there is only a problem with timing. God will intervene and set the universe straight. No more death or suffering, the lion will lie with the lamb. Creation itself will be reconstituted. So what you long for is coming - just not according to your time table.
                      I dunno. Some would say that justice delayed is justice denied. I also see no reason to believe that this cosmic horror show of a universe is the only way God could have accomplished his end. If he'd prevented suffering in the first place, there would be no need for any time table at all.
                      Originally posted by seer View Post
                      Not only that - how does a godless universe, void of all future hope make anything better?
                      I didn't say it did. My point is that suffering does not necessarily provide a disproof of God. I was kind of hoping some non-theists would also be around to address the point.

                      But if God and suffering do in fact coexist- then given my points above, I think it says some disturbing things about God. It's like a parent who intentionally burns his child in order to teach them not to touch the stove top but even worse given God's apparent omnipotent ability to instill us with the knowledge not to touch the stove in the first place.
                      O Gladsome Light of the Holy Glory of the Immortal Father, Heavenly, Holy, Blessed Jesus Christ! Now that we have come to the setting of the sun and behold the light of evening, we praise God Father, Son and Holy Spirit. For meet it is at all times to worship Thee with voices of praise. O Son of God and Giver of Life, therefore all the world doth glorify Thee.

                      A neat video of dead languages!

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by JohnnyP View Post
                        The idea is that the infinite God withdrew to allow creation from what is not infinitely God. Creation where God is infinitely everything and everywhere would be pantheism, kind of like that Hindu God where creation is really just God pretending to be creation.
                        I disagree. Where is God? God is nowhere, because He doesn't have physical form. Omnipresence refers to all of Creation being in God's presence and before His eyes and knowledge. The Son is on Earth yet in the very bosom of the Father. No withdrawals necessary.
                        Originally posted by JohnnyP View Post
                        Research about it:

                        Source: Psychology Today

                        On the basis of these results, some researchers concluded that free will is an illusion. (however) We have free will to abort an action. So, we may better think of volitional action in this case not as free will, but as "free won't." We can stop an action initiated by our brain nonconsciously. -Free Will

                        © Copyright Original Source

                        The article admits that it has little to do with the free will debate in actuality. It's interesting, though it seems to me that the test subjects were being behaviorally conditioned to veto their wrist flexing anyway. It seems like quantum mechanics is the best proof of determinism, though, anyway.


                        Originally posted by JohnnyP View Post
                        If a "bad" being doesn't prevent the suffering of others when possible, doesn't that make all parents who ever existed "bad" for bringing children into a world where suffering is inevitable?
                        Maybe (look up the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement). Either way, God bears the greater blame for not stopping suffering before it gets that far.

                        Originally posted by JohnnyP View Post
                        To eliminate all suffering would amount to having God think for you which again would be like that Hindu God or programming a robot. I know when I pray a lot I have a lot of what you say, when I don't I do all kinds of stupid things, that's one way God is there to help.
                        Maybe it's "unamerican" of me, but I'm not sure being a robot would be such a bad thing. We wouldn't know the difference, for one.
                        O Gladsome Light of the Holy Glory of the Immortal Father, Heavenly, Holy, Blessed Jesus Christ! Now that we have come to the setting of the sun and behold the light of evening, we praise God Father, Son and Holy Spirit. For meet it is at all times to worship Thee with voices of praise. O Son of God and Giver of Life, therefore all the world doth glorify Thee.

                        A neat video of dead languages!

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Catholicity View Post
                          I think most religions attempt to come up with an answer for the problem of evil. There are a lot of religions that explain this one in myths. I find the best answer to Christianity is a partial one, which is why evil exists, and that has everything to do with Lucifer's choice of pride and desire for revenge on God for his punishment, which admittedly, seems very myth-like in and of itself; and the result of evil's effect on human suffering, which, IF we allow it to, gives us the opportunity to know God, and understand his Love for us and show it to others. I don't pretend to understand, but I think that is what makes the most sense to me. Not that its my choice anyway
                          I agree. I think one of the biggest components missing in answers to the Problem of Evil is that they don't often factor in a spiritual adversary who the Bible calls the "god of this world/age", and the "prince of the power of the air". I think the primary reason for evil on this earth is because, through deception and disobedience, the power of dominion that the spirit-made man (Adam) had over the earth was stolen from him, and in turn lead to the fallen state of world. The adversary, Satan, legally wields that power, that dominion, and it took God sending the perfect man, Jesus, to legally take it back. What was set in motion at the cross will finally be accomplished with the coming of the new heavens and earth.

                          Now, I suppose one could push this all back one, and ask, why did God create Satan if God knew that through him evil would come into this world? And for me, the Free Will Defense fits perfectly here. That God, through his foreknowledge, determined that this was the best of all possible worlds in which the most number of people could both have free will, and be united with Him.

                          One thing I always consider when thinking about the Problem of Evil is the spiritual laws that God put in place that, in my opinion, are as concrete as the laws of logic. I think that God, being one of order and perfection, necessarily abides by those laws, and has planned accordingly. So, long story short, evil and the fallen state of this world is, in my opinion, the result of the free will of Satan and mankind, but that God had a plan of redemption, and that eventually there will be no more room for evil in the coming world.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Kelp(p) View Post
                            That's why I put it in quotes. I just mean in terms of God's ability to open our hearts, regardless of free will.
                            I'm not sure what that would look like, or at what point God would crossover from persuasion to coercion. After all, if as Scripture teaches, the love of God and our fellow man is the ultimate goal, perhaps there needs to be significant room for individual will.

                            I'm not talking about teaching us. I'm talking about creating all the knowledge and character that we need in our heads in the same way He hands out Prevenient or Irresistible Grace (depending on your "ism"). It would save a lot of suffering and would mean Christ did not have to die.
                            But again, that would require no action on our part. Nothing to be gained and nothing to be lost. Character is not earned through trials and tribulation. Sure, I would be happy if you gave me a thousand dollars, but I wouldn't value it as much if I had earned it myself by the sweat of my brow. And again, we would have never known the depths of God's love and forgiveness apart from the fall and the cross. Yes, God could have just told us that He was loving and forgiving but that would have been little more than lip service. In a fallen world God can actually demonstrate both.

                            I dunno. Some would say that justice delayed is justice denied. I also see no reason to believe that this cosmic horror show of a universe is the only way God could have accomplished his end. If he'd prevented suffering in the first place, there would be no need for any time table at all.
                            The bottom line is that the fall of man has allowed God to demonstrate attributes that would have remained hidden, or not actually practiced. Saying that you love someone is quite different than putting that love into action. What value is there in loving the perfectly lovable?

                            But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?

                            I didn't say it did. My point is that suffering does not necessarily provide a disproof of God. I was kind of hoping some non-theists would also be around to address the point.
                            But the bottom line is that we either live in a universe were suffering could have redeeming qualities, or we live in a universe where suffering is completely meaningless.


                            But if God and suffering do in fact coexist- then given my points above, I think it says some disturbing things about God.

                            No Kelp, it says some disturbing things about us.
                            Last edited by seer; 11-11-2014, 12:31 PM.
                            Atheism is the cult of death, the death of hope. The universe is doomed, you are doomed, the only thing that remains is to await your execution...

                            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jbnueb2OI4o&t=3s

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Kelp(p) View Post
                              I disagree. Where is God? God is nowhere, because He doesn't have physical form. Omnipresence refers to all of Creation being in God's presence and before His eyes and knowledge. The Son is on Earth yet in the very bosom of the Father. No withdrawals necessary.
                              I'm not talking about physical form, as you said like gas or liquid, but spirit. God's limited presence is here by the Word and Spirit. If the infinite presence of God weren't withdrawn and was everywhere permeating everything, we'd all be God and that's pantheism.

                              Originally posted by Kelp(p) View Post
                              The article admits that it has little to do with the free will debate in actuality. It's interesting, though it seems to me that the test subjects were being behaviorally conditioned to veto their wrist flexing anyway. It seems like quantum mechanics is the best proof of determinism, though, anyway.
                              Another one, I'll have to check into it more:
                              Source: Real Clear Science

                              Then along came quantum mechanics. When physicists observed that behavior at the atomic level was fundamentally indeterminate, the universal validity of classical physics, as well as philosophical determinism came into question. -Source

                              © Copyright Original Source


                              Originally posted by Kelp(p) View Post
                              Maybe (look up the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement). Either way, God bears the greater blame for not stopping suffering before it gets that far.
                              But then after God all parents should be blamed for continuing the suffering by procreating? If you have kids do you regret it, since you could prevent them and countless descendants from suffering?

                              Originally posted by Kelp(p) View Post
                              Maybe it's "unamerican" of me, but I'm not sure being a robot would be such a bad thing. We wouldn't know the difference, for one.
                              You wouldn't exist as you anymore, same as if you never existed. I'd rather live my life suffering and all.

                              Comment

                              Related Threads

                              Collapse

                              Topics Statistics Last Post
                              Started by lee_merrill, 10-30-2020, 09:01 PM
                              28 responses
                              120 views
                              2 likes
                              Last Post thormas
                              by thormas
                               
                              Started by Whateverman, 07-26-2020, 11:01 AM
                              330 responses
                              6,602 views
                              0 likes
                              Last Post Electric Skeptic  
                              Started by shunyadragon, 09-09-2016, 03:27 PM
                              1,253 responses
                              55,038 views
                              0 likes
                              Last Post Tassman
                              by Tassman
                               
                              Working...
                              X