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The Problem of Natural Evil

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  • The Problem of Natural Evil

    I can grant theists free will on the problem of moral evil. I don't grant them free will on the problem of natural evil. I simply cannot bend my mind to accept that free will is responsible for the problem of natural evil. Are there some theists here who struggle with that as well?

  • #2
    I guess I'm still a theist and yes I do struggle with it, though more in the sense of I think it indicates a sadistic or impotent God rather than none at all. We've currently been going over that question and others in this thread.
    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!

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    • #3
      Originally posted by whag View Post
      I can grant theists free will on the problem of moral evil. I don't grant them free will on the problem of natural evil. I simply cannot bend my mind to accept that free will is responsible for the problem of natural evil. Are there some theists here who struggle with that as well?
      I don't struggle with it at all. I simply do not accept it. How could free will be the cause of natural evil? Makes no sense at all.
      βλέπομεν γὰρ ἄρτι δι᾿ ἐσόπτρου ἐν αἰνίγματι, τότε δὲ πρόσωπον πρὸς πρόσωπον
      ἄρτι γινώσκω ἐκ μέρους, τότε δὲ ἐπιγνώσομαι καθὼς καὶ ἐπεγνώσθην.

      אָכֵ֕ן אַתָּ֖ה אֵ֣ל מִסְתַּתֵּ֑ר אֱלֹהֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל מוֹשִֽׁיעַ׃

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Kelp(p) View Post
        I guess I'm still a theist and yes I do struggle with it, though more in the sense of I think it indicates a sadistic or impotent God rather than none at all. We've currently been going over that question and others in this thread.
        Thanks. I read that and think it's much more about moral evil, which is easily answered with "free will" and tends to become a repetitious and boring apologetic. That's why I'm granting it here. I think a much more challenging and fascinating topic is natural evil. William Dembski tried to answer it in his book The End of Christianity by saying that the fall's effect was retroactive, for instance. I think he really failed at repackaging that old answer, though it was a valiant and bold attempt.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by robrecht View Post
          I don't struggle with it at all. I simply do not accept it. How could free will be the cause of natural evil? Makes no sense at all.
          I agree that it makes no sense that Adam and Eve or Satan (or all three) created tsunamis and venom. But look at it from the theist's perspective--dysteleology is equally nonsensical to them.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by whag View Post
            I agree that it makes no sense that Adam and Eve or Satan (or all three) created tsunamis and venom. But look at it from the theist's perspective--dysteleology is equally nonsensical to them.
            I do look at it from a theist's point of view. Adam and Eve and the Serpent is a great ancient poetic narrative, but it does not really explain the existence of natural evil from a modern philosophical perspective.
            βλέπομεν γὰρ ἄρτι δι᾿ ἐσόπτρου ἐν αἰνίγματι, τότε δὲ πρόσωπον πρὸς πρόσωπον
            ἄρτι γινώσκω ἐκ μέρους, τότε δὲ ἐπιγνώσομαι καθὼς καὶ ἐπεγνώσθην.

            אָכֵ֕ן אַתָּ֖ה אֵ֣ל מִסְתַּתֵּ֑ר אֱלֹהֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל מוֹשִֽׁיעַ׃

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            • #7
              Originally posted by whag View Post
              Thanks. I read that and think it's much more about moral evil, which is easily answered with "free will" and tends to become a repetitious and boring apologetic. That's why I'm granting it here. I think a much more challenging and fascinating topic is natural evil. William Dembski tried to answer it in his book The End of Christianity by saying that the fall's effect was retroactive, for instance. I think he really failed at repackaging that old answer, though it was a valiant and bold attempt.
              We did do a little about natural evil, but I don't blame you for not seeing it since it's a big thread. The basic response to earthquakes and tsunamis that I was given was that it's our fault for building on fault lines, etc. and God should not be expected to clean up after us. Since human frailty and stupidity comes from the Fall, there's the Adam and Eve connection.

              Another part of that which I've read elsewhere is that we and our wastefulness or short-sightedness are also to blame for the lack of charity, technology, and government infrastructure that would make natural disasters less severe.

              Another way to argue that occurred to me just now is to say that natural disasters are a necessary by-product of the Earth that God wanted to make with it's features and processes. I'm not sure I find that satisfying because God could still stop natural disasters as they happen or heal the damage, but it is something to think about at least.

              Then, some Christians would respond that if we had never sinned we would be immune to the earthquake damage and such, so that might be another possibility.
              Last edited by Kelp(p); 11-15-2014, 03:10 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 Kelp(p) View Post
                We did do a little about natural evil, but I don't blame you for not seeing it since it's a big thread. The basic response to earthquakes and tsunamis that I was given was that it's our fault for building on fault lines, etc. and God should not be expected to clean up after us. Since human frailty and stupidity comes from the Fall, there's the Adam and Eve connection.

                Another part of that which I've read elsewhere is that we and our wastefulness or short-sightedness are also to blame for the lack of charity, technology, and government infrastructure that would make natural disasters less severe.

                Another way to argue that occurred to me just now is to say that natural disasters are a necessary by-product of the Earth that God wanted to make with it's features and processes. I'm not sure I find that satisfying because God could still stop natural disasters as they happen or heal the damage, but it is something to think about at least.

                Then, some Christians would respond that if we had never sinned we would be immune to the earthquake damage and such, so that might be another possibility.
                The problem here is the Parable of the Good Samaritan. Jesus made it clear that a good person goes out of his way to help those in need. When we look at earthquakes and tsunamis, not to mention diseases like polio and smallpox, we can we that God is not behaving like a Good Samaritan.
                My Blog: http://oncreationism.blogspot.co.uk/

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by The Pixie View Post
                  The problem here is the Parable of the Good Samaritan. Jesus made it clear that a good person goes out of his way to help those in need. When we look at earthquakes and tsunamis, not to mention diseases like polio and smallpox, we can we that God is not behaving like a Good Samaritan.
                  Did you mean to say something like, '... we can see that God is not behaving like the Good Samaritan'?
                  βλέπομεν γὰρ ἄρτι δι᾿ ἐσόπτρου ἐν αἰνίγματι, τότε δὲ πρόσωπον πρὸς πρόσωπον
                  ἄρτι γινώσκω ἐκ μέρους, τότε δὲ ἐπιγνώσομαι καθὼς καὶ ἐπεγνώσθην.

                  אָכֵ֕ן אַתָּ֖ה אֵ֣ל מִסְתַּתֵּ֑ר אֱלֹהֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל מוֹשִֽׁיעַ׃

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Kelp(p) View Post
                    We did do a little about natural evil, but I don't blame you for not seeing it since it's a big thread. The basic response to earthquakes and tsunamis that I was given was that it's our fault for building on fault lines, etc. and God should not be expected to clean up after us. Since human frailty and stupidity comes from the Fall, there's the Adam and Eve connection
                    That's an answer but too specific to earthquakes. Besides, faults are everywhere.
                    Moreover, the bases of volcanos contain the richest volcanic soil. And it doesn't make the most logistical sense to settle AWAY from coasts where the fish are and river banks that irrigate agricultural land. Those locations are vulnerable to flood and tsunamis.

                    For those reasons, I don't find that response satisfactory at all.

                    Originally posted by Kelp(p) View Post
                    Another part of that which I've read elsewhere is that we and our wastefulness or short-sightedness are also to blame for the lack of charity, technology, and government infrastructure that would make natural disasters less severe.
                    I'm not seeing how good will could lessen the severity of a pyroclastic flow or bolide impact.

                    Originally posted by Kelp(p) View Post
                    Another way to argue that occurred to me just now is to say that natural disasters are a necessary by-product of the Earth that God wanted to make with it's features and processes. I'm not sure I find that satisfying because God could still stop natural disasters as they happen or heal the damage, but it is something to think about at least.

                    Then, some Christians would respond that if we had never sinned we would be immune to the earthquake damage and such, so that might be another possibility.
                    That forces one to posit that we once had the power of The Incredible Hulk, in a sense. If a landslide buried a civilization--no problem. The inhabitants could just excavate their out of it with super strength. That seems like a reach to me.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by whag View Post
                      I can grant theists free will on the problem of moral evil. I don't grant them free will on the problem of natural evil. I simply cannot bend my mind to accept that free will is responsible for the problem of natural evil. Are there some theists here who struggle with that as well?
                      Define what you mean by 'natural evil'.
                      "The man from the yacht thought he was the first to find England; I thought I was the first to find Europe. I did try to found a heresy of my own; and when I had put the last touches to it, I discovered that it was orthodoxy."
                      GK Chesterton; Orthodoxy

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Kelp(p) View Post
                        We did do a little about natural evil, but I don't blame you for not seeing it since it's a big thread. The basic response to earthquakes and tsunamis that I was given was that it's our fault for building on fault lines, etc. and God should not be expected to clean up after us. Since human frailty and stupidity comes from the Fall, there's the Adam and Eve connection.

                        Another part of that which I've read elsewhere is that we and our wastefulness or short-sightedness are also to blame for the lack of charity, technology, and government infrastructure that would make natural disasters less severe.

                        Another way to argue that occurred to me just now is to say that natural disasters are a necessary by-product of the Earth that God wanted to make with it's features and processes. I'm not sure I find that satisfying because God could still stop natural disasters as they happen or heal the damage, but it is something to think about at least.

                        Then, some Christians would respond that if we had never sinned we would be immune to the earthquake damage and such, so that might be another possibility.
                        First, sorry we haven't talked much Kelp. Been rather busy. Anyway, the main thing I'd remember here is that you need to look at the entire picture and not just a small part of it. Remember that we see death as this end wall. The end all of everything, but does God see death as this end all wall that we do? This is the biggest and often times hardest thing to remember. God is eternal and this world of ours and our lives are not. God simply will not have the same views on death and suffering that we tend to have.
                        "The man from the yacht thought he was the first to find England; I thought I was the first to find Europe. I did try to found a heresy of my own; and when I had put the last touches to it, I discovered that it was orthodoxy."
                        GK Chesterton; Orthodoxy

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by lilpixieofterror View Post
                          Define what you mean by 'natural evil'.
                          The traditional definition works for me. From Wikipedia:

                          Natural evil is evil for which no human being can be held morally responsible for its occurrence.

                          The phenomena discussed here are sufficient examples of it.

                          ETA: In his book The End of Christianity, William Dembski uses the broader example of the evolutionary arms race as representing the problem of natural evil.
                          Last edited by whag; 11-15-2014, 10:56 AM.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by robrecht View Post
                            I do look at it from a theist's point of view. Adam and Eve and the Serpent is a great ancient poetic narrative, but it does not really explain the existence of natural evil from a modern philosophical perspective.
                            I'd contend you're only looking at it from the liberal Christian theist's perspective. I'm talking about the conservative perspective that regards those ancient characters as real and being responsible for the corruption of nature.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by whag View Post
                              I can grant theists free will on the problem of moral evil. I don't grant them free will on the problem of natural evil. I simply cannot bend my mind to accept that free will is responsible for the problem of natural evil. Are there some theists here who struggle with that as well?
                              Kind of interesting article about it from a Jewish perspective, a general idea being if all the world repented, moral and natural evil would go away:
                              Source: Rabbi Steinsaltz

                              With the exception of Yom Kippur, there is no mention of fast days in the Torah, although they are the subject of significant discussion in the books of Nevi'im and Ketuvim. From these writings we can glean much about the significance and purpose of fast days, both public and private, as they were kept in ancient times. Thus, many of the principles found in Masechet Ta'anit are based on oral traditions going back to Mount Sinai as we find them described in the prophetic writings.

                              The underlying theory behind a fast day is the idea that worldly occurrences are not happenstance. Just as there is a physical, rational explanation for a given event, so there is a spiritual explanation for it, as well. This includes a basic belief in reward and punishment as well as hashgaha peratit - attention bestowed by God on every individual, community and nation. Thus, a disaster or tragedy must be seen either as a warning or as punishment (as is described in detail in Chapter 26 of Vayikra), both of which demand a response of prayer and repentance.

                              In Israel, the most common natural disaster is a drought, which is the focus of a large part of this tractate. A lack of rain is indicative of the wrath of God (see Devarim 11:17) as both punishment and warning. More than any other calamity, when there is no rain, one has no recourse other than to turn to God in prayer. -Source

                              © Copyright Original Source

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