The Christian Response

I want to thank everybody who responded to my last post, The Christian Double Standard, and to Gabe for his contribution. I asked Christians to give me their take on the scenario, and query, set up my my correspondent (and Gabe, if you’re reading, I’d love to hear your take on it too). I actually received quite a few responses, primarily from the WordPress Tag system, and I think it was a good set of responses. It didn’t change my mind at all, and probably didn’t change too many Christians either, as this particular dialog goes on daily, with little change in the demographic positions, but is intellectually stimulating nonetheless.

The original discussion revolved around the Problem of Evil, and Gabe set forth what I consider a very difficult question to answer, but only if you believe in a god such as the one Christians assert exists. Gabe posited that if God seems to do something, or refrains from doing something, that we would condemn our fellow man for, why does he get off the hook? I had a variety of responses, and I’m still not really satisfied with most of the answers. Let’s look at some of the assertions.

A guy named Poppies (I kept wanting to type “Poopies”, but figured that’s too scatological) said:

The historical record *does* show God intervening in human existence in rare circumstances, but all these events were connected specifically with the plan of salvation, and were typically actions affecting individuals set in their path already.

It was pointed out by a few atheist commenters that the historical record doesn’t seem to be that clear. My experience with most Christians is that when then use history to justify the existence of their god, (not to mention science) they founder on the shoals of wishful thinking, invariably using one “historical” record, commonly referred to as the Bible. I would love to see real historical evidence of God intervening in human affairs, but sadly, I have yet to find any. Maybe we can all get Poppies to come back and show us this evidence?

Gary Crosby then wrote:

There is yet another matter which I struggle with myself and that is the basic issue of death. Why choose death as the means of exit at all?

I have a better question. Why is there death? God wanted to create something that he could use to insure a stable of worshipers, right? He wants us all to praise his glory. So why set us up to die in the first place? Why create earth, a transit stop, at best, on the road to heaven? Why not just create us in heaven in the first place? This whole mortal coil thing seems just so inefficient, and to boot, he refuses to show his face to prove to us that he’s even up there waiting for us to find him. So, Gary, why are we mortal? Couldn’t god have created us immortal in the first place? Why do we have to run this little gauntlet he set up?

Thmichael then posed this question, which sort of diverged from the original post, but let’s run with it.

You trust in your own wisdom and understanding supposedly based on “logic” and build your beliefs around you like a moat. Why attack Christians? Why carry a banner to stake your claim to self knowledge?

I could actually turn this around. Why do Christians insist that what they clearly call their beliefs, something they accept on faith (which requires no evidence whatsover) are the absolute Truth, something that must be believed by everyone. That’s EVERYONE.

Why do we have to fight Christians in school board meetings because they want to force their peculiar creation myth (debunked by science) down the throats of unsuspecting children? ALL children within their particular jurisdiction, not just the ones who share their beliefs.

Why do we have to deal with a war created by a man who thinks that god told him to start the war? Why do our strongest and best citizens have to die in this war?

Why do we have to deal with blue nosed and blue haired Christians when we want to make private decisions involving our personal sex lives?

And why do all these people want to inject their religion into the political process in this, a secular country?

Answer those questions, Thmichael, and you’ll find the beginnings of an answer to your question.

I think vitaminbook set forth a succinct explanation. Allow me to riff off of it.

The ‘problem of evil’ is easily explained if you think of the Bible as reactionary to the real world rather than describing the ‘blueprint’ (if you will) for the real world. By that I mean that the writers had to account for the fact that death, destruction and sickness exist, even though their God is supposedly all-loving.

This is exactly the underpinning for the rise and existence of religion. Relatively ignorant human beings (and I mean ignorant in the sense of lacking knowledge, not as a pejorative) looked around at the world they lived in and had no explanation for natural phenomena, like lighting, drought, floods, weather, illness and other obviously significant occurrences in their daily lives. With the expansion and development of the human brain, they naturally asked what caused this stuff. They reacted to these occurrences, and devised the best explanations they could with their limited understanding of nature. It was spirits, or supernatural agents (and they would not have understood the distiction between supernatural and natural — it was all the same to them, just an explanation). And the next thing you know, religion was started. Christians, tell me I’m wrong.

Davo asked the most enlightening question of all:

I never understood why God is a “he.” Does God have a penis?

Well, Jesus Christ! Isn’t it obvious? He certainly doesn’t have a vagina. Would we have so many patriarchal religions if god didn’t have a schlong? Seriously, this is quite good evidence for the proposition that religion arose out of ancient mythology, because males ran the world then, when brawn was important and the equalizing brain less so.

So lets have a round of applause for Goddesses.

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164 thoughts on “The Christian Response

  1. As long as every believer’s idea of God is different – and on top of that, constantly subject to revision – I don’t think there can be a meaningful discussion between believers and non-believers. The first step should be to define God, but I suspect we would never get beyond that step because believers will wax poetic about how their God is beyond our mortal comprehension.

    The idea of an anatomically correct God is very interesting. It’s also something that the bible tells us must be so because, “God created man in his own image.” I can’t imagine a reason why God would need a penis. Maybe some believers could explain that?

  2. That depends on what is meant by “image” – more liberal Christians believe it’s the mind, not the body. The Bible has plenty of stories that give Jehovah the same body as Zeus, of course, and for the same reason, so literalists are stuck.

    I didn’t answer the original, since this week has been crazy, but I’d venture to guess that the reason is a blend of genuine gratitude at getting one child back and equally genuine fear of having God dump a building on your whole family. Christianity is a blend of carrot (not terribly attractive to modern minds: an eternity of standing around singing praises and forgetting your missing loved ones) and stick (Hell).

    Which is one reason for the incessant proselytizing, of course: saving the loved ones from Hell. Given the premise, not proselytizing would be unconscionable. Which is why we need the separation of church and state: everyone believes their own premises.

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  4. SI,

    The “Problem of Evil” is not so much a problem as a necessity. If God desires His special creation to love Him, then He must offer a real choice to not love Him. This other choice is Evil. Then, for man to love God by choice he must have the option to not love Him and so Evil is allowed. You can read more at my blog if you like.

    In the love of Christ,

    -Mel

  5. I was once in a service where the preacher whipped the congregation into a frenzy of we’ve got to get everyone saved, especially our relatives. I was in full agreement, feeling the fire of the holy spirit so to speak. Right up until the point when he started praying that god would put cancer, aids, and other horrible diseases and calamities on these same people. That god “would do whatever it takes” to bring these people so low they would be convinced of their sin and get saved.

    There were hundreds of people at this service and the vast majority of them were shouting amen and other forms of agreement. He even had them call out names for god to afflict. Since my best friend had recently been eaten alive by cancer, I found this whole thing repugnant.

    The depravity and absolute illogic of calling on god to save you from god was lost on all of them. But it was a major turning point away from god for me.

  6. The Ridger: “That depends on what is meant by “image” – more liberal Christians believe it’s the mind, not the body.”

    Given that “image” is strongly related to physical form, I find it hard to apply that to a mind. Even if there are ways to justify it, do liberal Christians think they can know the mind of God because it is so similar to our own. God does not then “work in mysterious ways”? I’ve always been disturbed by the brutality in the Bible and would have a very low opinion of any human that was associated with this behavior.

    I’m somewhat puzzled by the patriarchal reputation of God, if the mind is all we have to go by. Why is God considered to be male? The only things that occurs to me is maybe being less emotional and sympathetic. Or is it more a patriarchal culture’s aversion to a God conceived of as a woman or a neutral being?

  7. Why on Earth would I want to read more of that nonsense, Mel. Since you said though that your god provides an alternative choice, evil, that would imply your god is the good choice, right? How do you know?

  8. Expanding on what The Exterminator and Phillychief said to Melvin, If god created evil so as to give us something to compare himself too, where’s free will in this process?

    “Love me and do everything I say, or burn in hell forever.” WTF kind of choice is that? When did you stop beating your wife? There’s no free will, no process of choosing between competing alternatives there whatsoever. It’s a false dichotomy.

    In truth, life gives us a infinite number of choices, none of them having anything to do with a supernatural checklist holder.

  9. He is good and the source of all things good. He is the Creator of the universe and all that in there is. He has mercy on those He will have mercy. He is the beginning and the end. He is Truth. If He is not good, then good does not exist. Any reasonable person knows that good exists. Therefore, God is good.

    God made you. God made you that you need Him. If you reject Jesus, then you will suffer in that your primary need will not be fulfilled. This state of unfulfillment will last for eternity. This is what we refer to as hell. If you accept Jesus and love Him as Lord, then you will be reconciled and fulfilled in the presence of God for all eternity. You can’t get around these facts. Call it what you will. God does not answer to you or I. God will not be mocked. Choose life. Call on Jesus.

    In the love of Christ,

    -Mel

  10. Point #1: Mel said that God: is good and the source of all things good…He has mercy on those He will have mercy.

    Why is the mercy of this oh-so-good God selective? If God is so good, then why does his great mercy co-exist with his great wrath? Why doesn’t he just have mercy on everyone and be done with it if he’s so all-fired good? By your own admission, “He is the Creator of the universe and all that in there is.” This gets back to SI’s original point: God, if such a being exists, is the creator of both good and evil. In fact, since his wrath co-exists with his benevolence, he embodies both good and evil. This is, understandably, difficult for theists to accept, which is why they posit weird ideas like Original Sin and Free Will to let God off the hook.

    Point #2: Mel, your syllogism only works if everyone accepts the premises. Deductive logic (which is the category to which syllogisms belong) does not lead to new knowledge. Deductive logic simply tests the consistency and relationships of stated premises. Yes, reasonable people (it’s probably safe to say all of them) agree that good exists. No, not all reasonable people believe that God is the source of good. Therefore, this “argument” is dead in its tracks and you have not proven, via this syllogism, that God exists. This does not automatically lead to the contrary conclusion that God does not exist. It simply means that, since its premises are flawed, your argument proves nothing one way or the other.

    Let me give you and other Christian apologists some advice: the way to derive new knowledge is through Inductive Logic, which happens to be the basis of – wait for this – scientific inquiry. Isn’t that interesting? Therefore, your best course of action would be to stop devising syllogisms and start finding logical bases for inferring God’s existence and the nature of said being’s activity in the world. Last bit of advice: teachings from an ancient book do not count as evidence – don’t waste anyone’s time or energy by going there.

    Point #3: Mel, even though your vision of hell as an eternal state of unfulfillment is infinitely preferable to the traditional notion of hell as eternal torment, I’m interested in knowing the foundation of that belief. Why should I believe in your version of hell? The fact that it’s more palatable than the traditional alternative is not good enough for me. I’m not interested in believing just any old thing because it sounds good. I need reasons, not mere wishful thinking, for my beliefs.

  11. I can’t help but be struck by the irony of citing Matthew 7:6 here. I see pearls cast and I see swine, but I doubt this was what the author(s) of Matthew had in mind exactly. Kind of funny

  12. Hey everybody, I’m Gabe, the guy who sent the original hypothetical argument to SI. Sorry to join in on the argument so late.

    I have read all of the responses to SI’s post and I have yet to see a good Christian explanation. Every Christian who has responded with a half-way buyable argument has done so by retreating to belief in a Deistic God. They say that because of Freewill or whatever, God cannot intervene to save us from suffering. In other words, we have made our own boat and God can’t save us anymore. The problem is that these same Christians constantly praise God for intervening to give them a nice dinner, for helping a relative survive a heart attack, or for helping them do well on a test. But when a child falls from a building and dies, all of a sudden, God can’t save us. We are on our own. This does not make logical sense. If you feel that God cannot save us from suffering, that is fine, and you have successfully responded to the dilemma that I presented. However, I wish you would be honest enough to admit that you believe in a God that is different than the God described in the Bible; you believe in a Deistic God, a Nature God.

  13. I’d add to that Gabe that such a response to the dilemma also makes praying illogical, does it not?

    The responses, Gabe, are sadly typical religious responses in that they’re not thought through in terms of their ramifications but merely thought through just enough to solve this particular dilemma. That’s not honestly addressing a situation, that’s just finding and employing any means necessary to get out of a jam. It’s at least lazy and at worst disingenuous.

  14. Point #1: I agree that the origin of “evil” is a dilemma of sorts. I understand it as follows: God gave man free-will. Evil is a necessary consequence of free-will. One can’t exist without the other. However, I do not take this to mean that God is the source of the Evil. Evil springs from the exercise of free-will. Many of you disagree; that is your choice. Remember, our freedom to believe what we like does not change the reality of the situation. Also, don’t confuse God’s wrath with Evil just because you disagree with Him. If He is who He claims to be, then He is a righteous judge and therefore His wrath is justified.

    Point #2: I was asked how I knew that God was good. I accept my assumptions. Therefore the syllogism works in the context of the question asked. I submit that God is manifest to those open to perceive Him. The only way to know something completely is to accept it on faith. One can know nothing completely by induction. The following statement is a paraphrase of a statement by Steven Hawking in his book “The Universe in a Nutshell”: I can tell you nothing of reality. I can only give you the best mathematical model to describe reality. I think you will concede that the term “best” is always subjective. Science is a tool used to help us navigate the physical world. It is not the Truth; nor can the Truth be discovered by it alone. To attempt such again and again expecting different results is insane.

    Point #3: Why would you choose an eternity separated from your only source of fulfillment over an eternity in a lake of fire? They seem equally distasteful to me. Now a choice between heaven or hell does seem obvious. In heaven, God will love and provide for me, I will love God, and I will do what He says is right for eternity because I believe and know it is right. What is wrong with that? That is what I was created to do. In hell I would be cut off from the source of all things good (be in torment) for all eternity. Why would anyone ever want that?

    Look I am not trying to prove anything. I am just trying to shed some light on why Evil is allowed to be practiced in the creation of the good God.

    In the love of Christ,

    -Mel

  15. Gabe,
    God can save. He saved me from my sins. God could have stopped the baby’s physical suffering and death in the fall from happening. He is not required to do so however. His only promise is that if you call on the name of Jesus to save you from your sin, then He will save you from your sins. He does not love us because He has to. He loves us because He wants to.
    In the love of Christ,
    -Mel

  16. Melvin said:

    Gabe…God could have stopped the baby’s physical suffering and death in the fall from happening. He is not required to do so however.

    Therein lies the crux of the whole post. In my view, and I imagine Gabe’s, god IS required to stop the baby’s physical suffering and death in the fall from happening. It’s part of the compact. If he wants us to love, worship and obey him, and keep all of those silly commandments he made up, then he owes us the obligation to not allow innocent children, the one’s he supposedly gave us to raise to love, worship and obey him, to die an untimely and horrible death. That is his obligation.

    Under the same circumstances, he has required us to act that way, so why is he exempt? That’s the double standard.

    You do realize that you worship an arbitrary and capricious god, don’t you?

  17. Melvin may trample absently on these, but I feel compelled to write this anyway…

    Point#1
    • If B is a NECESSARY consequence of A and god made A (“one can’t exist without the other” as you said), then god is responsible for B
    • If god is all knowing, then he knew when he made A he was making B

    So IF god is all knowing, Then he knowingly brought evil.
    IF god brought evil inadvertently, unaware that it would be a consequence of free will, Then god is not all knowing. He’d still be responsible for evil, but it would be an accidental result rather than a known result of his actions.

    our freedom to believe what we like does not change the reality of the situation

    Very true, and ironic that you’d invoke reality while arguing for fantasy

    Point#2

    The only way to know something completely is to accept it on faith.

    That’s patently absurd.

    Point#3
    Mel’s comments here are merely false dichotomies predicated upon naked assertions such as:
    – the existence of an afterlife
    – the existence of a heaven and hell
    – that heaven and hell are like what he imagines and not like a muslim’s for instance
    – the existence of a god
    – that god being his god and not allah, Odin or even Wakantanka
    – that his god is just like he imagines him to be

  18. Mel,

    I would be interested in hearing where you derived your concepts of “heaven” and “hell.” I would also encourage you look into the words used in the original Biblical text, and their original meanings.

    The Bible primarily uses three words that are commonly translated into English as “hell.” Those words are: Sheol, Hades, and gehenna (or something close to that). Sheol and Hades both refer to a place where people go after they die. However, both of these places (in Hebrew and Greek culture, respectively) refer to a place where ALL people go, no matter if they were the Mother Teresa or Adolf Hitler. Nothing you do or believe in life will help you escape this destination (according to Hebrew and Greek belief). Good people go here. Bad people go here. If you are a person, and you die, you go here, end of story. Furthermore, since Jesus lived in the Hellenistic world, he would have held this perspective of “hell” (which he referred to as Hades).

    The other word for “hell” (used primarily by Jesus) is Gehenna. Most of the verses referencing burning and perishing. “Gehenna” actually refers to an actual physical location, most likely a valley, outside of the walls of Jerusalem. It was the local trash dump and morgue for criminals. The reason for the references to burning, etc., was because there were constant fires going in this valley, burning up the city’s trash. So when Jesus used the word gehenna, he wasn’t talking about a state of eternal separation from God, but rather an actual physical place, which you could go to and visit today if you wanted to.

    Look it up, if you want. There have been numerous books written on the topic.

  19. Well said, Phillychief and SI. Melvin, who is probably like most of us, in that he would do everything in his power to save the two children hanging from the building even if it were not legally required, worships a God who, because he is not required to, does not save both children. Melvin, you are better than the God you worship.

  20. PC,
    We are close to agreement on Point #1. I would phrase it as: God knowingly allows the existence of Evil.

    Ok PC, how is it that you know something completely (Point#2)?

    According to the Bible there are only two real eternities: Heaven and Hell. And, you get to decide which one you will be end up in (Point #3).

    SI,
    By what power, authority, or sovereign is God required to stop the physical suffering of any human? Physical suffering has in itself no eternal significance. It is a consequence of sin. It is used by God for the good.

    I must go to work now. I will address the other points later.

    In the love of Christ,
    -Mel

  21. SI,
    By what power, authority, or sovereign is God required to stop the physical suffering of any human?

    He created man in his own image. Does he allow himself to suffer? Why create man to suffer? What are we, little play men on a game board, for him to move us around, kill us off at will?

    “Oh, I think I’ll have an earthquake over here. Barooom. Whoops, look at all those dead people.” By the very morality he supposedly gave us, that’s immoral.

    HE is the ultimate power and authority, if you believe Christian doctrine (which I don’t). He is the embodiment of good. He is the Supreme example for us. We are to strive to be like him, right? If that’s true, then I guess it’s OK if I create a little fun and game trap in my back yard where people can fall in and die, ’cause god can do it.

    He is supposed to be omnipotent, omnipresent and omni-benevolent. If he isn’t then he’s not god, by Christian definition. If he is, then it’s his responsibility to act in a good, positive way, and protect his creatures. If he doesn’t, then he’s really Satan in disguise.

    Physical suffering has in itself no eternal significance. It is a consequence of sin. It is used by God for the good.

    What a perverted thought process you subscribe to. Physical suffering is used for the good? Tell that to those who are suffering. And Dying. And watching their loved one suffer and die.

  22. SI,
    Yes, in fact He did allow Himself to suffer. He suffered, and suffers, revile from His creation; namely man. He suffered torture at the hands of man. He suffered death. All these, as horrible as they are, do not compare to the spiritual suffering our Lord endured. He the Father was separated from He the Son. We can’t even imagine the degree to which Jesus went to reconcile the lost.

    I have already explained why man is allowed to suffer. First, he chooses to suffer by rejecting God’s perfect will. Second, he deserves to suffer by God’s perfect judgment. Third, his suffering can be temporary by his acceptance of the offer of forgiveness and grace through faith in Jesus Christ. The temporary physical suffering is used by God to lead people, otherwise lost for eternity, back to Jesus. You reject the free gift of God’s righteousness. You are allowed to do so. You look to establish your own righteousness. This false righteousness is like the blade of grass; here today and burned in the fire tomorrow. God’s righteousness is everlasting.

    You seem to have some understanding. But, we are not so much as little play men as we are clay. We are to yield to the Fathers hand as He forms us. If our will rises up as a hard lump in the clay, then of what use are we to the Father? Does not the potter have power over the clay, to make one vessel for honor and one for dishonor (Romans 9: twenty something)?

    True, Jesus is our example. However, there are differences between Jesus and us. The most important is that Jesus is God and we are not. You want to be God and decide what is right and what is wrong? You are unqualified. You lack the wisdom. You lack the power. You lack the authority. “Have you an arm like God? Or can you thunder with a voice like His? Then adorn yourself with majesty and splendor, and array yourself with glory and beauty. Disperse the rage of your wrath; look on everyone who is proud, and humble him. Look on everyone who is proud, and bring him low; tread down the wicked in their place. Hide them in the dust together, bind their faces in hidden darkness. Then I will also confess to you that your own right hand can save you.” (Job 40)

    I do, on a regular basis, tell those who are suffering that their suffering is being used by God to save the lost. Most accept this as a blessing.

    In the love of Christ,

    -Mel

  23. SI,
    Yes, in fact He did allow Himself to suffer. He suffered, and suffers, revile from His creation; namely man. He suffered torture at the hands of man. He suffered death. All these, as horrible as they are, do not compare to the spiritual suffering our Lord endured. He the Father was separated from He the Son. We can’t even imagine the degree to which Jesus went to reconcile the lost.

    C’mon, you can’t be serious about this. The Son of God, (who is really god himself), suffered? The omnipotent god? The one who does not experience pain, else he would not be perfect? Get real. The whole story is a sham where he goes through the motions of suffering, in a little playacting, dies (temporarily, because obviously he didn’t) then gets to spend the rest of existence in heaven. Where actually is the horrible suffering in that?

    I have already explained why man is allowed to suffer. First, he chooses to suffer by rejecting God’s perfect will.

    So what you’re saying is that every man who has ever suffered in life, and that would be every one, has rejected “god’s perfect will”? That to me is the definition of an unattainable goal.

    Second, he deserves to suffer by God’s perfect judgment.

    What exactly does that mean? I really don’t understand. He deserves to suffer because God, who is perfect, says so? That makes no sense.

    Third, his suffering can be temporary by his acceptance of the offer of forgiveness and grace through faith in Jesus Christ. The temporary physical suffering is used by God to lead people, otherwise lost for eternity, back to Jesus. You reject the free gift of God’s righteousness. You are allowed to do so. You look to establish your own righteousness. This false righteousness is like the blade of grass; here today and burned in the fire tomorrow. God’s righteousness is everlasting.

    This is what Christopher Hitchens calls “white noise”. It’s meaningless gobbledygook language which sounds important but has no substance. WTF does the above paragraph mean? In English?

    You seem to have some understanding. But, we are not so much as little play men as we are clay. We are to yield to the Fathers hand as He forms us. If our will rises up as a hard lump in the clay, then of what use are we to the Father? Does not the potter have power over the clay, to make one vessel for honor and one for dishonor (Romans 9: twenty something)?

    More white noise. You’re now speaking in metaphors. Let’s talk about it in realistic terms. WTF are you saying?

    True, Jesus is our example. However, there are differences between Jesus and us. The most important is that Jesus is God and we are not.

    Actually, until proven otherwise, the most important difference is that I exist and he never did.

    You want to be God and decide what is right and what is wrong? You are unqualified. You lack the wisdom. You lack the power. You lack the authority. “Have you an arm like God? Or can you thunder with a voice like His? Then adorn yourself with majesty and splendor, and array yourself with glory and beauty. Disperse the rage of your wrath; look on everyone who is proud, and humble him. Look on everyone who is proud, and bring him low; tread down the wicked in their place. Hide them in the dust together, bind their faces in hidden darkness. Then I will also confess to you that your own right hand can save you.” (Job 40)

    Oy. Now you’re using Biblical quotes, which are worse than useless. First, they are written in oblique, parabolic language, comprehensible only to the people for whom they were written, if then. Second, they are being used as some sort of authority, when they have none, except to those who want them too. To independent, rational minded, objective people, they have none. Please don’t quote the Bible, unless you want me to quote my favorite fiction.

    I do, on a regular basis, tell those who are suffering that their suffering is being used by God to save the lost. Most accept this as a blessing.

    Or perhaps they’re just humoring you. They have no idea whether you’re dangerous.

  24. Mel,

    We’re miles apart on point #1, and that’s not even addressing the issue of the very existence of your god. The dilemma remains for you:
    If he’s all knowing, then he was fully aware of his actions being responsible for evil.
    If he didn’t know what the full consequences of his actions would be, then he’s not all knowing.
    Saying he “knowingly allows the existence of Evil” does not address the dilemma at all. It avoids it altogether.

    Was the only way to completely know that I had made a comment here for you to respond to and to know what that comment was to have faith that it was here and what it said? Let me remind you of what you said earlier:
    “The only way to know something completely is to accept it on faith.”
    Let’s try an even easier one – is the only way you can completely know there’s a chair under your ass when you’re seated reading this is through having faith that it’s there?

    As for point #3, yes, I know what the dichotomy is in the bible. The point is, which is one of the ways Pascal’s wager fails, that there could just as easily be other options, or that those options are not exactly the way the bible says they are.

  25. You don’t escape the proverbial ‘brain in a vat’ dilemma Mel by declaring you simply have faith you’re not a brain in a vat. Anyway, as far as dilemmas, you still have a few pending, don’t you? It seems foolish to me to embark on another while the others sit ignored.

  26. Patience Chief,

    Point #1: God creates a universe where everything is good. As part of it He creates the special beings we call humans. He wants the humans to love Him. Logically then He must knowingly allow them a real option to reject Him. Thus He willingly allows the sacrifice of the good in His creation so that humans are able to love Him. But, He does not perform the sacrifice. Since the Evil is the rejection of God, then the perpetrators of that Evil must be the ones who actuate the rejection – namely humans. God, in no way shape or form, makes or participates in the decision. That is the point. He then is not responsible for the rejection; which is the Evil.

    The dilemma was really: What is more important, a universe with no possibility of Evil and no possibility of love or a universe with the possibility of Evil and the possibility of love. He, thankfully, choose the later.

    How is the Evil, knowingly allowed, worked for good? One way is that it provides the very opportunity for true relationship between God and His created humans. Does this make Evil good? Certainly it does not. The provision is good; yet the rejection Evil.

    Please understand, my intent is not to frustrate. I appreciate your position better than you know. There was a season (30 years long) when I looked on the idea of Jesus as God with pure contempt. I can only tell you that He, in His mercy and grace, revealed Himself to me in my self induced suffering and saved me at my request. This is foolishness to those who are parishing; but, to those who are being saved it is the power of God.

    In the love of Christ,

    -Mel

  27. Shooting you, Mel, would be evil, and I’d be responsible for the evil, right? Now let’s say I tell you that you have a choice, give me all your money or I shoot you. When you refuse to give me your money, I shoot you. So would I then not be responsible for the evil of shooting you? Afterall, YOU rejected the option which avoids getting shot, right? Sounds like, based on your logic, I’m not responsible for your choice, so I’m not responsible for the result.

    Hey look, if you want to believe a fairy tale and it makes you happier now than reality did for you, have at it. If however, you want to actually defend that fairy tale as being reality and defend the contradictions as not being contradictions, try harder or don’t bother and just sit back and enjoy your high.

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  29. Pingback: See You in Hell! « An Apostate’s Chapel

  30. Your analogy, as stated, does not fit the situation. You equate the act of shooting me with God’s casting a soul into the lake of fire. Now, I agree that on the surface the casting sounds much worse than the shooting; and it is. But, are they sinful? The shooting could be a sin. I infer from your story that you have set yourself up as judge. Don’t take this personally, but, you lack the authority to do so. The reason shooting me is sinful in the first place is because God, by His authority as Creator, has said “Thou (that means us; He is not talking to Himself when He says thou) shall not kill.”

    What if you were a police officer and I had just robbed a bank? In this case you would have been given the authority to shoot me (Romans 13) and if you were exercising this authority properly, then shooting me would not be a sin. When God, on the Day of Judgment, casts souls into the lake of fire for all eternity, He is not sinning. He is exercising His supreme authority justly. God is judge, jury, and executioner. Thankfully, God is righteous. Therefore, His judgments are just. The soul that is cast into eternal hell fire has not only sinned but has done so repeatedly. Therefore, that soul deserves the second death. What is more, that soul has repeatedly turned down a stay of execution by rejecting God’s work of grace over and over again. God has offered to pay the sin debt of every soul. The soul, in defiant self-righteousness, has declared God to be a liar and has foolishly decided to rely on his own works to establish him as good. This is a mistake for which the soul will suffer the consequences for all eternity. But that soul will have no excuse and no one to blame but himself. Nothing could be more horrible.

    In your analogy you try to pin the blame on God (does not follow). You say that I have money. I guess I am supposed to assume the money belongs to me. How childish and self-centered an assumption. Let’s say the money represents praise, honor, and glory. Well guess what. All those things belong to God alone. If God wants them from me and I decide to try to keep them for myself, then I am wrong; I have sinned. I have taken something that does not belong to me. The authority ought to come and do to me what I deserve. But wait! I have an advocate. I have one who loves me and is willing to redeem me by His blood; shed for me. He is worthy to take the scroll; praise be to God, for I was crucified with Christ and now I live.

    In the love of Christ,

    -Mel

  31. **God, in no way shape or form, makes or participates in the decision. That is the point. He then is not responsible for the rejection; which is the Evil.**

    But in order for God to give free will, and thus capable of rejecting him, he must also create them with the ability to do evil. He “installed” that ability, if you will. That would make God a participant, because the source of that ability is him. Otherwise, how could people do evil? If God as a Creator gets to claim responsibility for all the good that his creation does, because he gave his creation the ability to do good, why does that not work for the ability to do evil?

    The other problem is that if we define part of God’s perfection as the inability to do evil, then we have a situation where God made humans less than perfect (because they can do evil), and then punishes them for failing to live up to perfect standards, which they could never do in the first place.

    **By what power, authority, or sovereign is God required to stop the physical suffering of any human? **

    Well, if Christians are told to be Christ-like, and part of being Christ-like is to stop the physical suffering of any human, then I would say God is required to stop the physical suffering, if he’s telling his children that doing so makes them an image of God.

    **You equate the act of shooting me with God’s casting a soul into the lake of fire.**

    The idea behind this seems to be who is responsible for the outcome — based on PC’s analogy, since the victim ignored the choice which would lead to not getting shot, the victim is entirely responsible for the outcome. The perpetrator bears none, because he gave the victim a choice. It’s the same with God and choice. We are told that God bears no responsibility to us “choosing” evil/hell, and yet God is the very person who created us with the ability to do evil in the first place. Doesn’t a creator have some sort of responsibility for all acts his creation does? If the creator made his creation less than perfect, doesn’t he bear some sort of responsibility when that creation does exactly what it was created to do? Be less than perfect? Make both good and bad choices? If I put someone in a position where their choice could lead to me harming them, then I do bear responsiblity for the outcome — I’m the one who created the situation in the first place.

    **The reason shooting me is sinful in the first place is because God, by His authority as Creator, has said “Thou (that means us; He is not talking to Himself when He says thou) shall not kill.”**

    So, people suffer because they don’t follow the perfect standard of God, which includes the Ten Commandments. So if a man kills a five year old, the man has violated the Commandment and thus didn’t follow the perfect standard of God. If part of being perfect is following those standards, then shouldn’t the giver of those standards contain the same perfection, and thus also not kill? Since not killing is part of being perfect.

    **God is judge, jury, and executioner. Thankfully, God is righteous. Therefore, His judgments are just.**

    The problem with this is that many posting here have no way of determining that God is just. You say that God is righteous, or just — there’s no way to prove that. What standard do you use? One part of justice is not ordering the death of children, and yet we see God do that in the Tanakh, more than once. But with people, if we say that someone is just, we have a standard of justice in order to determine the claim. What standard is used for God? Given the multiple religions out there and consequences that each claim, shouldn’t there be a sure-fire way to determine? And asking God to prove it isn’t an answer, because that really becomes internal proof. Someone just “knows” that Christianity is the right religion. The human mind is very, very good at self-deception.

    Melvin, I’d also be curious as to your reponse to Davo’s question, in terms how you arrived to your concepts of heaven/hell, given what SHeol/Hades and Gehenna meant.

  32. Mel,

    It certainly does, since I have as much right as your god in that situation to become the “supreme authority”. Both your god and I are taking that mantle by what? Right of might. As the all powerful guy, he lays down the law. As the guy with the gun, I lay down the law. EXACTLY the same. Defy him, you go in a lake of fire. Defy me, I shoot you dead. Ah, but he’s righteous? So am I, and I’ll justify that the same way he’s said to justify it, because I say so and I have the might to punish you if you disagree. Like your god, I offer to pay your sin debt, the sin of defying me. Don’t deny me, give me all your money (which is actually my money afterall), and your debt is paid, because I’m good and righteous you see and it would be childish and self-centered of you to assume you have a right to MY money. Call me a liar, be foolishly defiant, rely on your judgement instead of trusting in mine and you’ve made a mistake, and you’d have no excuse and no one to blame but yourself.

  33. Chief, your claim to authority is absurd (clearly untrue). You did not create all things nor do you claim to have created all things. You have no just claim to my money, talents, praise, honor, or glory. You especially can’t claim my love (OneSmallStep: I will build from this statement to relate my idea of hell in my next post). That is something I offer to you as a gift in that I tell you the truth.

    Now, if God did not create all things, then His claim of authority is equally absurd. I agree that His power is not the key to His authority. The key is the Truth of His claim that He spoke the universe into existence. Reason demands that if this claim be true, then all is rightfully His. If you withhold anything from Him, then you sin.

    Do you see now that it is not the same?

    In the love of Christ,
    -Mel

  34. Mel asked:
    Do you see now that it is not the same?

    Well, the only thing different about Philly and your god is that I can verify that Philly exists. I’ve written to him and actually received an answer. Shit, I’ve seen him work in mysterious ways, too: just look at some of the graphics on his blog, f’Chrissake. They seem pretty magical to me.

    Anyway, I sure don’t want him shooting me dead.

  35. OneSmallStep,

    To blame God is the oldest excuse in the book. Adam tried it when he said (and I paraphrase): Look God, it’s your fault. The woman that you made gave me the apple. God would have none of it. “But indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God? Will the thing formed say to Him who formed it, ‘Why have you made me like this?’” And so, Adam suffered loss for the sin. Again I say, our love for God, while not needed by God, was so desired by Him that He sacrificed all just for the opportunity to get it. Why does He desire it? It is because that is what is best for us. We are the ones in need. We not only need God to love us. We need to love God. It is for our benefit that love for God is the first and greatest commandment.

    You have so twisted around your neck the Biblical text with respect to Christ-likeness that it is a wonder of God you can breathe at all. I will only attempt hear a MASH like work here to open the air way. A complete recovery will take much humble study on your part. We were created in the image of God. We each have a spirit. You and I can never make ourselves into His image. Our Christ-likeness (Sanctification) is done by His power not ours. It will happen to all those who have believed.

    I am sorry; Davo’s question will have to wait. My family needs me now.

    In the love of Christ,
    -Mel

  36. Melvin,

    **“But indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God? Will the thing formed say to Him who formed it, ‘Why have you made me like this?’”**

    This isn’t what God said to Adam. Not only that, but it is kind of going into my key question: who created us with our ability to do evil? You can’t tell me on one hand that I’m not allowed to ask why I’m formed with the ability to do evil, and then turn around and say that God doesn’t bear responsibility for that aspect. It’s one or the other.

    I also ask again — if God is the source of our ability to do good, then who is the source of our ability to do evil? Also, is it just to blame imperfect creations for being unable to behave perfectly?

    **We were created in the image of God. We each have a spirit. You and I can never make ourselves into His image. **

    This is going nowhere close to the point I was making. The original aspect was if God is required to step in and stop suffering. If Christians are told that being Christ-like is behaving as God would, which is to step in and stop the suffering, then we have a clear picture of what God is required to do. If you, as a Christian, are required to help end suffering, then isn’t the God you’re modeling after required to do the same? The whole idea of God requiring you to act justly, love mercy and so forth? Or the idea that Jesus judges based on who feed the poor, visited those in prison, and so forth? Part of being Christ-like is social justice. It has nothing to do with “making” yourself into something, it has to do with what being Christ-like means. If you have received salvation, there should be a radical change in behavior, such as feeding the poor, helping the orphan, aiding the widow. On a larger scale, protesting against genocide, starvation, and unjust governments.

  37. I don’t know what it was that was so horrible in your past Mel that this shit became the buoy that you decided to cling to in order to keep from drowning. I’m sure it must have been horrible, so horrible that you’re terrified of having to experience that again, and this shit is your magic feather that makes sure that will never happen. So you squeeze it tight, never even daring to consider any part of the belief in any other way than the literal way. You’re incapable of objectivity, incapable of even daring to engage in hypotheticals that put your beliefs in a slightly different light, and have to continue repeating the absolutes of your belief like mantra ad nauseum.

    I understand your need for these absolutes, and that they remain absolutes. Doubt is scary, uncertainty is uncomfortable, but faith is a fool’s opium. It’s an escape from reality, a fantasy that gives you the illusion that there are absolutes when there are none. You can keep telling yourself they’re real and keep insisting to others that they are, but that doesn’t make them so. You can accept the fantasy, live the rest of your life in such a delusion, and, if fortunate, won’t suffer too great a hardship from it. Hopefully too, your delusion doesn’t cause any undo hardship on others either. I find it both sad and dangerous to live a life in such a way, but it’s your life, so squander it if you want.

    Now at first I would think that coming here would be a mistake for someone in your condition. Someone who so desperately needs his magic to be real shouldn’t engage in exercises where it’s shown to be illusion, yet I’m starting to think that in some perverse way coming here and vacuously spouting dogma actually invigorates your delusion, doesn’t it? If you come to a real place, where real people are attempting to expose your fantasy and you close your eyes and ears to it all and just repeat again and again that your magic is real, your magic is real, it’s somehow emboldening, isn’t it? It reinforces the delusion for you. Now of course I could be completely wrong since I’m just speculating, and certainly there’s one very easy way to disprove my hypothesis, and that’s by not continuing the behavior. A simple, rational response where, instead of spouting dogma vacuously, you present a rationale for why what your asserting is correct. Support it somehow with a reasoned argument that rather than depend on your beliefs, actually supports and justifies them. It should be simple unless, of course, I’m right.

  38. I’ve been thinking about this thread for a few hours. I think the problem of suffering is poorly-exploited as a weakness by traditional atheism. Take the popular saying attributed to Greek philospher Epicurus (340 – 270 b.c.e.) as an example: “Either God wants to abolish evil, and cannot; or he can, but does not want to; or he cannot and does not want to.” This statement contains several presuppositions, chiefly, 1) that God wants to, has to, or should abolish evil RIGHT NOW; 2) that God is not actually in the process of abolishing evil right now; 3) that God may not temporarily tolerate evil for a greater purpose of which we humans may or may not be aware, and 4) that God may not in fact do things to offset the effects of human evil, things of which humans may be completely ignorant.

    Be wary of the either-or fallacy, which manifests in many forms but always forces the observer to make a choice based on limited options. In the aforementioned example, Epicurus omits at least four other possibilities and in so doing limits the number of valid options.

    IMO, all such attacks rooted from the problem of evil manifest these or similar erroneous presuppositions, none of which are warranted in scripture or sound reasoning.

    Of course, I’m also addressing the problem of evil, of which the problem of suffering is corollary.

    Interesting thread though..

  39. cl

    Thanks for your comment, and the one on my “About ” page. And welcome to my blog.

    Yes, to a certain extent, I’d agree with you. However, in my experience, the problem of evil is a problem primarily for the Christian god, primarily because it is that god that is posited as being omnipotent, omniscient, omni-present and omni-benevolent. Another way of describing this god is “perfect”. So while there are probably multiple scenarios in which one might remove god from the Epicurean equation, doing so detracts from one of those “perfect’ qualities, thereby assuming the particular god being posited is not quite so perfect. Once one starts doing that, it’s only a matter of time before god really isn’t god.

    For instance, to say:

    1) that God wants to, has to, or should abolish evil RIGHT NOW

    is actually saying that either he isn’t omni-benevolent, or he isn’t omnipotent, or both, or some combination. If that’s the case, we’re now describing a god with certain nuances and limitations. We’re not arguing about the same god any more. At some point, we’ve defined god to a point of irrelevancy.

  40. What SI touches on here is what’s necessary before you enter into this and that’s defining your god. The deist god is under no obligations, but the christian god, for instance, is. Speaking of which d, your #3 sounds like the classic “he moves in mysterious ways” line.

  41. I agree on the importance of a sound definition from which we might resonate. Assuming we are all talking about the perfect God (the 4 o’s), here’s the part I don’t understand. You write, “‘that God wants to, has to, or should abolish evil RIGHT NOW’ is actually saying that either he isn’t omni-benevolent, or he isn’t omnipotent, or both, or some combination.”

    Are you saying the existence of suffering is a logical impossibility under the idea of the aforementioned perfect God? If so, how? Why? I don’t see how, but if you feel like clarifying I think it’s an interesting line of argument..

  42. d says there are some suppositions that shouldn’t be made when contemplating a god and the existence of evil:

    1) that God wants to, has to, or should abolish evil RIGHT NOW …
    Well, if he doesn’t want to abolish evil, and if he CAN abolish evil, we’re back to Epicurus again, aren’t we? Unless you’re comfortable with a god who tolerates evil, for whatever reason. But if he does tolerate evil, then what’s hell about? Why doesn’t he send himself there, and let somebody who gives a crap about right-and-wrong abolish evil.

    2) that God is not actually in the process of abolishing evil right now …
    OK, then what’s taking him? He made the world in six days, right? Even if they’re allegorical days, it’s still a pretty spectacular trick for one guy. I mean, it includes all the good and all the evil, as well as the fish, and the birds, and the beasts of the field, and maybe a couple of trees and stars and viruses. Is he slowing down because of old age?

    3) that God may not temporarily tolerate evil for a greater purpose of which we humans may or may not be aware …
    This is weasel-speak. If you’re not aware of your god’s purposes, then shut up about him. You shouldn’t claim to be aware of those purposes in any situations whatsoever, because you clearly don’t know what he’s up to. You can’t pick and choose the purposes you’re aware of and the ones you’re not. Either you “get” your god or you don’t.

    4) that God may not in fact do things to offset the effects of human evil, things of which humans may be completely ignorant …This is the same argument the most malevolent preachers make when telling their congregations that 9/11 was the liberals’ fault and Hurricane Katrina was the homosexuals’. It’s ugly and beneath contempt.

  43. Are suffering and evil synonymous?

    Most theists I’ve encountered have no problem with a God willing to tolerate evil. They see it as mercy, to which many an atheist responds, “So people getting cancer and wasting away is an effect of mercy?” And that creates a difficult situation.

    As for, “Why doesn’t he send himself there?” I don’t know.

    As for “Weasel-speak?” What God do you presume I’m defending? Hook me on my own words, please.

    “You shouldn’t claim to be aware of those purposes…” Um, excuse me but I didn’t! I only stated such purposes MIGHT exist, and to deny that such purposes MIGHT exist is to deny a logical possibility; I wouldn’t advise it if we wish to make a fair and logical assessment.

    “OK, then what’s taking him?” I don’t proclaim to know, but to deny that something could be is, again, to deny a logical possibility.

    I most certainly agree with you that it’s beyond contempt for a “preacher” to tell their congregations that 9/11 was the liberals’ fault and Hurricane Katrina was the homosexuals’. In no way, shape or form did I argue such. What I meant by this point was, some may argue 9/11 was intended to occur with a more horrific magnitude, but somehow limited by God.

    Ah, this brings up the next moral dilemma: What good ground might God have for allowing the particular thousands of WTC to die, while letting others live??

    All this sounds like a recipe for self-inflicted mania. I’m not sure what you’re getting at, but I’m just looking for a reasonable, non-hostile explanation as to how the God (please define) is irreconcilable with the existence of evil, if anyone has one.

    Conversely, if anyone wants my best shot at offering a God that is reconcilable with the problem of evil, I suppose I could try, but I don’t think it would be anything you haven’t heard before.

    Also difficult is that even to offer such a God is to presume to some extent that we know or can know that God’s motives. Motives are indispensable to the proper understanding of actions.

  44. Also difficult is that even to offer such a God is to presume to some extent that we know or can know that God’s motives. Motives are indispensable to the proper understanding of actions.

    Then perhaps you can explain to me how one could simultaneously argue that their god is good while claiming we can’t possibly know his reasons for this or that.

    Once again d, without defining a god of which we’re speaking of, this conjecture is a waste of time. Christianity has a definition, which is what SI is focusing on here I think, so unless you have another god we should be speaking of, we’ll have to assume that’s the one you’re using, in which your responses don’t seem to jive. That’s what Ex is referring to as weasel-ly, I believe. To me though, it sounds like you’re speaking of some deist god, the infamous “no obligations”, all-purpose god.

  45. cl said

    Are you saying the existence of suffering is a logical impossibility under the idea of the aforementioned perfect God? If so, how? Why? I don’t see how, but if you feel like clarifying I think it’s an interesting line of argument.

    Yes. It’s a logical impossibility. If this god is all he’s cracked up to be, then there would be no evil and no suffering in the world. Period. The Exterminator has shown how those 4 examples you mentioned don’t make sense given the Christian god, and I agree with him. And the more examples you come up with, the less this god is, well, god.

    If god created evil (whether it was 12 billion years ago, or 6000 years ago, it doesn’t matter) he is not omnibenevolent. If for some reason he’s planning on getting rid of evil, but just doesn’t want to do it RIGHT NOW, as you say, then he’s, again, not omnibenevolent, and there are serious questions about his omnipotence and his omnipresence. What, is he blind and stupid? Does he delight in allowing 100,000 people dying horrible deaths in various natural disasters? What’s he doing, filing his nails and saying “I’ll get to it. Manána.”

    Are suffering and evil synonymous?

    For purposes of this discussion, yes. The examples tend to define what we are talking about. Anything that brings about human suffering is evil. Maybe not intentionally evil (unless you agree that God has something to do with it) but evil nonetheless.

    Most theists I’ve encountered have no problem with a God willing to tolerate evil.

    I would say that this is the end result of the human intellect wanting to believe something so badly, while seeing the contradictions inherent in that belief, that they can rationalize those contradictions into non-existence. One can rationalize something till the cows come home, but that doesn’t make it true.

    As for “Weasel-speak?” What God do you presume I’m defending? Hook me on my own words, please.

    I can’t speak for the Exterminator, but I see you playing devil’s advocate here. I’m not sure you’re defending any god, but rather some amorphous concept of a supernatural creator type being. Whether you believe in the Christian god is irrelevant.

    But it is “weasel speak”. It really is nothing more than “God is so mysterious, we’ll never know exactly what his plans and purposes are, but we should believe in him anyway. Maybe it’ll all work out in the end.” Where’s the logic, much less the common sense, in that? Especially when the same people say if we don’t, we’ll burn in the “lake of fire”. (See Melvin, above) Well, if he’s so mysterious about the former, how does anyone know the latter?

    What I meant by this point was, some may argue 9/11 was intended to occur with a more horrific magnitude, but somehow limited by God.

    Well, sure, Osama bin Laden would have loved to have had all 50,000 occupants of those buildings die instantaneously. Is your argument that god saved 47,000 of them, (giving them no credit for saving themselves) while at the same time ensuring that one of the steel beams be preserved in the shape of a cross (ignoring the fact that the beam was manufactured that way), therefore he should be thanked? That gets us back to the initial email from Gabe, so now we’re going around in circles. That god is beneath contempt, in my opinion.

    I’m not sure what you’re getting at, but I’m just looking for a reasonable, non-hostile explanation as to how the God (please define) is irreconcilable with the existence of evil, if anyone has one.

    I’ve already set forth my position above. The 4-Os god is logically impossible given the existence of evil. Nothing you mentioned really takes away from that.

    As for hostility, I’m still not sure what your particular belief is, but I’m going to guess you’re coming from a Christian starting point. Please don’t mistake hostility towards the idea with hostility towards the person. No one here will be hostile with you. They will be hostile towards your thinking, if they feel that’s necessary to dispel that thinking. If you don’t like someone calling your ideas stupid, don’t advance them, but certainly don’t take it personally.

    My experience is that when Christians start foundering when confronted with the contradictions inherent in their beliefs, they fall back into persecution mode, insisting that their beliefs, which we feel are patently silly, should be given respect simply because they are religious in nature, and when they are not, then we are accused of hostility. And they go away with hurt feelings. Don’t fall into that trap, because when you do, you’ll find yourself marginalized, or dismissed.

    Nothing personal.

    Conversely, if anyone wants my best shot at offering a God that is reconcilable with the problem of evil, I suppose I could try, but I don’t think it would be anything you haven’t heard before.

    Probably true, but that shouldn’t stop you from trying.

  46. d:
    As SI and Philly have both articulated so well, we all obviously have a problem knowing where you, yourself, stand on the question of god. Your views seem to be somewhat inconsistent, so perhaps you should clarify your position.

    (1) If you’re arguing from a belief in the Christian god, you’re stuck with omniscience, omnipotence, omnipresence — AND omnibenevolence. You’re free, of course, to make up some other version of that god, but he won’t be the one accepted by the vast majority of Christians.

    (2) If you’re arguing from a belief in a deistic Prime Mover, then the whole question of good and evil is irrelevant. That Creator god doesn’t care about humans any more than he cares about trees, stars, and viruses. So it’s kind of a copout saying that he works “in mysterious ways.” As far as the survival of the human species is concerned, he doesn’t work at all. And if that’s so, what’s the point of discussing him? In fact, how do humans benefit whatsoever by believing in him?

    (3) If you’re arguing from a belief in a d-istic supreme being, one you’ve concocted yourself, you probably should give us a few hints about him/her/it. Does this god care about humans, and, if so, how do you know that: How does your god manifest that caring? Does this god have any control over the natural processes in the universe? Again, if so, how do you know that, and how does your god exercise that control? In what way does your god differ from the two examples I’ve given above?

  47. What I meant by this point was, some may argue 9/11 was intended to occur with a more horrific magnitude, but somehow limited by God.

    But if god is omnipotent, omniscient, and only gives a shit about Christians, wouldn’t it have been just as easy to make the airplane miss (how hard is it for god to mess with an autopilot) and then cut then make the terrorists on the airplanes lose consciousness so the passengers could take control as it would be for god to just limit the damage? Or if god is not omni(fill in the blank), then maybe mitigating the damage was the limit (in which case he sounds more like the definition of satan that has shown up here (and over at Ex’s site)) of his (its?) ability. Or was god punishing America for making fun of W and unBiblical snuffle-bunnies, then god condones evil and uses it to be mean.

  48. Right Chief; and you have budged one inch in your position on that high horse of alleged reality. You and I have zero capability to establish what is real and unreal apart from faith.

    Yes, something very bad happened to me. I sinned against God. I did it again and again. I separated myself from the very one I was created to be with. Jesus came to me when I was enmity to God and saved me; really. And now you would have me turn my back on Him because I have been called a few names?

    Why do I come to web sites like these? I have a commission. I am to go to the ends of the earth and spread the good news of Jesus Christ. I know no quicker way than the internet. If you accept my words, then you will accept Him and be saved. If you reject my words, then you reject Him and I move on.

    Davo’s question: My ideas of hell come from the Bible. The rich man who died sits across from the chasm separated from Lazerus, also dead, at Abraham’s bosom. He requests comfort from his misery but he is cut off. He is separated for all eternity. When those who are supposed to have been good by the standard of Jesus but did not have a personal relationship with Him because of the hardness in their heart come to Him claiming to do great things in His name, His reply is “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!” I can think of no greater suffering than to be separated eternally from the one you were made to love.

    In the love of Christ,

    -Mel

  49. Exterminator wrote:

    “Well, the only thing different about Philly and your god is that I can verify that Philly exists. I’ve written to him and actually received an answer.”

    You have great faith. You actually wrote your thoughts down and sent them to an entity you believe to reside in a bag of chemicals. You even expected that this entity would formulate a response and cause, by forces you can’t detect, the bag of chemicals to return a message. You took the appropriate action, at the risk of looking the fool, and checked for that response.

    I find it remarkable that you do not allow me the same type of faith when I speak to the Living God in prayer. I listen for His response in the appropriate places; my spirit and His Holy Bible. I expect He will answer even though I do not understand the forces that make this possible; and He does. I do receive an answer.

    In the love of Christ,

    -Mel

  50. Mel said:
    Why do I come to web sites like these? I have a commission. I am to go to the ends of the earth and spread the good news of Jesus Christ.
    Well, you’ve done your job. Do we have to sign anything to verify that you were actually here?

    You actually wrote your thoughts down and sent them to an entity you believe to reside in a bag of chemicals.
    Well, as far as I know, Philly moved out of that bag of chemicals and is now living in a house. You should probably update your Rolodex.

  51. Melvin said:

    You have great faith. You actually wrote your thoughts down and sent them to an entity you believe to reside in a bag of chemicals. You even expected that this entity would formulate a response and cause, by forces you can’t detect, the bag of chemicals to return a message.

    Wait. Does this mean that we’ve been replying to comments from an entity residing in another bag of chemicals? That’s just…yucky.

    I find it remarkable that you do not allow me the same type of faith when I speak to the Living God in prayer.

    Ex has been doing that to you? Mr. Free Speech? I find that hard to believe, but I’ll have a word with him. You go on praying.

  52. Ex:

    That I don’t wear my beliefs on my sleeve has been called chickenshit among other things. I think my words suffice, and anybody truly interested in deducing my ultimate position shouldn’t have to work that hard. It also has no bearing on my logic, or the receiver’s ability to properly process it.

    Billy:

    Not being rude – but I’m unsure if you’re attempting to engage or just venting?

    Philly:

    “Then perhaps you can explain to me how one could simultaneously argue that their god is good while claiming we can’t possibly know his reasons for this or that.” I can actually, in only two words: special pleading!

    SI:

    Thank you for clarifying. To preclude further allegations of ‘weasel-speak,’ should we continue, when I say “God,” I refer to the omnipresent, omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent deity of the Hebrew scriptures. Fair enough?

    Incidentally, accusations of hostility are not allegations of persecution.

    Although you write, “No one here will be hostile with you,” two people here have leveled trivial but hostile ad hominems against me in other threads, just so you understand my hesitancy.

    Also, you write, “Please don’t mistake hostility towards the idea with hostility towards the person.” I understand the difference quite well. I once lost the intellectual esteem of another. Not due to my skepticism of said other’s ideas, but the intonations and condescension I consistently but unconsciously used to express my skepticism. Yeah, it’s true I wasn’t being hostile TO HIM, and he wasn’t taking it personally anyways…but it’s also true I was perceived as a TOTAL ASSHOLE to be around, and I wasn’t even aware that’s how I was perceived. He just closed his mind to my ideas one day.

    Would anyone advise that we continue?

  53. d said:
    I think my words suffice, and anybody truly interested in deducing my ultimate position shouldn’t have to work that hard. It also has no bearing on my logic, or the receiver’s ability to properly process it.
    I really don’t see much logic to what you’ve said.

    Also, d, if you’re going to refer to previous exchanges with others commenters here, why don’t you use the same name you did previously. Just for everyone’s info: This is our old pal, cl.

  54. No Mel, it’s not about budging from your position, it’s about justifying that position and arguing why that position is better than others. You’ve continually failed to do that, resorting to merely regurgitating dogma. Repeatedly interjecting assertions as fact is not an argument. It’s not even a thoughtful presentation of a position. It’s the crazed ranting of a loon.

    Why do I come to web sites like these? I have a commission. I am to go to the ends of the earth and spread the good news of Jesus Christ.

    And a loon who feels he’s on a special mission to rant to the ends of the Earth, but to what end? You’re incapable of presenting any sensible reasons for why anyone should join you in your delusion, so what’s the point? Surely if you truly desire to help people by getting them to join in on the delusion, you’d make an effort to convince them, show them why they should reject all the other religions and of course reject atheism and sign up for your delusion; yet, this is not the case. Ex jokingly asked if there’s anything we can sign to verify you’ve been here, but I don’t think he’s too far off the mark. Rather than truly “spreading the good news”, I think you’re fulfilling an obligation you feel you have, a deferred payment for having been “saved” from whatever it is you overcame in your past. THAT is your motivation, not helping anyone. A purely selfish and obligatory function to accompany the selfish emboldening of your faith which I described earlier. Sad and selfish.

    You and I have zero capability to establish what is real and unreal apart from faith.

    And back to that well since it served so admirably the last time. Try testing this sometime. Cross streets without looking first, but rather go when faith moves you. When driving, don’t bother looking before you turn, merge, or back out but rather rely on faith alone. Hell, do all of that blindfolded!

    —————————-

    Oops, sorry for calling you “d” cl. Now that I look closer I see the tiny space between the c and the l. One draw back of a high res monitor setting is things are wee small.

    Now I must say I’m baffled by your subscription to the omni^4 god idea, specifically the Hebrew one, in light of your previous comments. Would you consider yourself guilty of special pleading, for instance? From your earlier four alternatives to the Epicurus questions, I’m curious about #2. The others are entertaining ponderings but #2 seems inconsistent. How could he be “in the process of abolishing evil”? Saying there might be a reason for it existing, or existing for awhile, or existing in a degree made smaller by him, but “in the process of abolishing evil”? No, if I were you I’d strike that one because it doesn’t make sense. Mr. all-powerful could do it in a nanosecond, right? Oh you can debate WHY he doesn’t, but suggesting it’s a process that’s taking awhile and he’s working on it? That doesn’t jive.

    As for your prior experience cl, I’m struggling to see it’s relevance here. Are you saying you might make the mistake your friend made, that we here might make it, or both sides will?

  55. SI:

    Thank you for clarifying. To preclude further allegations of ‘weasel-speak,’ should we continue, when I say “God,” I refer to the omnipresent, omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent deity of the Hebrew scriptures. Fair enough?

    Sure. That’s the God that gets all the press anyway, and it’s the one that makes the least amount of sense.

    Incidentally, accusations of hostility are not allegations of persecution.

    Semantically, maybe not, but in the field, so to speak, they always seem to be synonymous. Of course, that’s just my anecdotal experience.

    Although you write, “No one here will be hostile with you,” two people here have leveled trivial but hostile ad hominems against me in other threads, just so you understand my hesitancy.

    Well, I don’t have control over others, but again, please try to have a thick skin. Most of the time I hear someone complain about ad hominem, it’s really what they say that’s being attacked, and they take it personally. I get ad hominems all the time, but I never take it personally, because I know they are attacking something they don’t understand, “The atheist”, and not me personally.

    Also, you write, “Please don’t mistake hostility towards the idea with hostility towards the person.” I understand the difference quite well. I once lost the intellectual esteem of another. Not due to my skepticism of said other’s ideas, but the intonations and condescension I consistently but unconsciously used to express my skepticism. Yeah, it’s true I wasn’t being hostile TO HIM, and he wasn’t taking it personally anyways…but it’s also true I was perceived as a TOTAL ASSHOLE to be around, and I wasn’t even aware that’s how I was perceived. He just closed his mind to my ideas one day.

    Sorry to hear that, but it’s a hazard of communications. I always strive to not sound too obnoxious, but I can’t really help how I’m perceived, because as they say, beauty (and one’s perception based on impersonal written contact) is in the eye of the beholder. I can assure you that even at my smarmiest, snidest self, I have no intention of attacking someone I’ve never met. It’s what you write, not who you are, that I respond to.

    BTW, are you black, gay or jewish? (I’m kidding – see the emoticon? —>> 8) )

    Would anyone advise that we continue?

    Sure. Look at the number of comments up there. I’m going for a record.

  56. I have great faith in my eyesight; too great in fact. Only 46 and it is starting to fade already; as is yours, “d” mistaken for “cl”. Why I even place much faith in everyone else who is behind the wheel of a car when I take to the road. You all don’t of course. You know for a fact that they will operate their vehicles in such a way as not to slam into the side of yours.

    Chief, it is you who formulate incomplete and disjointed hypotheticals and task me to obey their absurdities.

    I have been asked to leave. I will comply. I hope that the truth of God’s love for you will penetrate your hardened hearts before the Day of Judgment comes.

    In the love of Christ,

    -Mel

  57. Were you asked Mel? I missed that. I just questioned your point in being here.

    I see you’re using a narrow and strained “faith” to justify “Faith”, like having faith the sun will rise tomorrow, flipping the light switch will turn the light on or off, etc, is justification for having Faith in your god and the dogma that’s attached to that. That’s a mistake. First off, faith is not appropriate anyway. Let’s take your example, your faith in your eyesight. What’s the source for such faith? Perhaps how well your eyesight has worked so far? So having faith your eyes will allow you to see what I’m writing here is not so much faith but a rational expectation of performance based on prior experience. To me, faith would be what a blind man would have if he expected to be able to read what I’m writing here, not someone who has every REASON to expect to be able to see what I wrote.

    You are also mistaken about me thinking I know as fact that the other drivers on the road will operate their vehicles correctly. I don’t claim that as fact because it’s impossible to know such a thing. However, I know from experience driving that it’s thankfully not a common thing for people to drive their vehicles into me or any other vehicle, at least not intentionally. Furthermore, I know there is a set of expectations for every driver to follow and that before they can legally drive they have to exhibit both the knowledge of what those expectations are as well as the ability to live up to them. With this in mind, it’s REASONABLE to expect the other drivers on the road will operate their vehicles in such a way as not to slam into me. That expectation is not based on faith. If it were, I’d hardly need a seatbelt, would I? Do you wear your seatbelt, Mel?

    Now aside from all that, let’s pretend you blindfolded yourself and relied on faith to cross the street safely and succeeded in crossing the street. How would that success either justify having Faith in your god or discredit the use of observation to know the world?

  58. @ SI,

    I apologize for further thread drift to your blog, and I will address your comments last.

    @ Billy,

    My apologies. My initial reading of your words was rushed. Taking a closer look I see your question, but I can’t answer it because I don’t believe in any God that “…only gives a shit about Christians.”

    @ Ex,

    Well…your advice would be cogent except for the fact that it’s your oversight which caused it in the first place. Charging me with moniker switch as you did = strawman.

    (This can be confirmed with a simple copy and paste of said moniker into one’s favorite text editor, where the adjacent characters “c” and “l” likely will not be misinterpreted singularly as “d”)

    Incidentally, Ex, I’m flattered you consider me an old friend, especially how the first thing you ever wrote about me on the internet was, “some blowhard on strike,” and how the second thing you ever wrote about me on the internet was a dis on your own blog. off some trumped-up white rabbit Alice in Wonderland garbage.

    Thick skin? Plenty of it here. Patience for immature rudeness masquerading as cogent discourse? Not as much.

    @ Philly,

    Though who-said-what-to-who-in-what-tone is all trivial, in the interest of response I’ll answer your closing question first.

    Your tone to Melvin illustrates my point. Here you say Mel’s a trauma-based loon, among other things. And I’m contemplating trying to argue his point.

    “Hey fellow atheist bloggers.. Where does the line for immature ridicule start? Hell, can cl cut straight to the front?”

    You ask, “As for your prior experience cl, I’m struggling to see it’s relevance here. Are you saying…”

    I’m saying I’ve made the mistake before, and in the interest of learning I really don’t wish to repeat it. I’m saying I’ve spoke to another like an asshole and lost their respect unknowingly. I’m also saying that Ex and yourself (to a lesser degree) have both previously made this same mistake with me. The only difference is that although respect and the ability to persuade was lost to a certain degree, I haven’t fully closed my mind to either of your words yet.

    Relevance? There is a blogging equivalent of Boyle’s Law in which the amount of snarkiness and disrespect in a thread is inversely proportional to that thread’s ability to sensibly educate it’s readership and deduce positions of true intellectual merit.

    Now in the interest of fairness, your words that I allude to were not ad hominem, and for me to allege such was incorrect. However, like Ex’s, your words were an uncalled-for, snarky reference to a WGA member being on strike. It’s all really trivial, and I checked you on this, but you outright denied it. When I quoted your own words in Comment #51 to you suggesting otherwise, you responded to me with an emoticon sticking it’s tongue out.

    This was the point of my rude “atheist’s sandbox” jibe at the end of said thread, and such is the basis of my skepticism in engaging you, or the one who refers to himself as, “The Exterminator.”

    You write: “From your earlier four alternatives to the Epicurus questions, I’m curious about #2…How could he be “in the process of abolishing evil”? Saying there might be a reason for it existing, or existing for awhile, or existing in a degree made smaller by him, but “in the process of abolishing evil”? No, if I were you I’d strike that one because it doesn’t make sense. Mr. all-powerful could do it in a nanosecond, right? Oh you can debate WHY he doesn’t, but suggesting it’s a process that’s taking awhile and he’s working on it?”

    So, after raising no issue with the idea that God might be allowing evil to exist “for awhile,” why do you then raise issue with God’s non-instantaneous abolishment of evil? Explain this apparent contradiction, please.

    @ SI,

    Sorry, ran out of steam, your comments were thoughtful, and I will be back; I couldn’t finish all the thought-barf in one stretch..

  59. CL:
    Well, it’s nice to know you don’t carry a grudge. But just to show that I’m consistent in my opinions: I still think you’re a blowhard, even though the strike was settled. (And, by the way, if you weren’t relishing the fact that your name was being misread, why didn’t you correct those of us who addressed you as “d”? Didn’t you originally capitalize your initials?)

    Now, that we’ve got the ad hominem stuff out of the way: Do you have a point to make in the midst of all this vitriol? I haven’t seen you take a position yet.

    Yeah, I’m asking you to pin yourself down. Just come off your skateboard long enough to give a straight answer. In logic class, it doesn’t matter what viewpoint you start with when constructing syllogisms. But, much as I’d like to help SI pad his numbers here, in a real discussion — instead of just some exercise in futility — it helps if the parties have some idea of what they’re each trying to prove. To tell you the truth, I have absolutely no clue what big-picture point you’re attempting to make. Perhaps you just enjoy typing.

    So here’s a suggestion. Why don’t you answer a fairly simple question to start with. You said: I think the problem of suffering is poorly-exploited as a weakness by traditional atheism.
    What is this “traditional atheism” of which you speak? How does it differ from non-traditional atheism? Do you have a particular position on one or the other, or both, or neither?

  60. @ SI, Philly, Ex…

    See what I mean?

    Instead of an apology or even an adult-like acknowledgment, Ex further indulges: “I still think you’re a blowhard.”

    That’s fine…I’m consistent too, Ex. I, and at least one blogger you probably think likes you, still feel you come across as an arrogant jerkoff.

    My apologies to SI if I’ve breached conduct in any of the above.

  61. OK, CL, so now that we’ve each gotten our rocks off:

    How about answering my question?

    By the way, it doesn’t faze me whatsoever if I come across as an arrogant jerkoff. I’m hoping that lots of bloggers think that’s what I am, whether they like me or not. To tell you the truth, I’m far more insulted when I’m accused of being a sweetie.

    Whatever my personality may be, that doesn’t in any way negate whatever points I may make. So, how about answering my question:
    What is this “traditional atheism” of which you speak? How does it differ from non-traditional atheism? Do you have a particular position on one or the other, or both, or neither?

  62. I have no idea what you’re talking about cl. Have we crossed paths before or something?

    As for my “discussion” with Mel, I find it rude to simply speak at people, which is all he has done and I made some guesses as to why. Believe what you want, but give some justification and when someone else speaks, listen and address what he says. That’s not much to ask, is it? Well it apparently was for him, especially since, as he admitted, his raison d’etre for being here was to preach.

    So you see, in answer to your citing of Boyle’s Law, there’s PhillyChief’s Law that states the potential for snark and disrespect is directly proportional to the the unwillingness of another to properly engage in a discussion. This explains Boyle’s law of course in that yes indeed the amount of snark and disrespect is inversely proportional to the intellectual merit of a discussion; however, your mistake is in thinking then that it’s the snark and disrespect that are responsible for the reduction of intellectual merit. The failure to engage properly in a discussion is the true cause of reduction in intellectual merit of the discussion.

    Now a great example for cause to exercise PhillyChief’s Law is how you answered my question, cl, and that’s with another question. See, it’s not that you can’t ask a question, it’s just that it’s rude to ask one before you’ve answered one that was asked of you and REALLY rude to answer that question with your question. I’ll spot you this time, but that’s assuming you’ll actually address my question later. If you don’t, well then the snark machine may get turned on. 😉

    I believe the point all along from SI’s original post was trying to make sense of things in light of an omni^4 definition. In that vein, I see 3 of your 4 exceptions cl to Epicurus as things one can argue over but #2 is inconsistent and weak and should be dropped. The language “in the process of abolishing evil” is troublesome. As I took it, it means he’s working on it. Well how long does it take for an all powerful being to do something? It should be instantaneous, unless he has a reason for it to take longer, and then you’re at #3, or he’s incapable of doing it instantaneously, and that cancels out one of his “o”s. See? So now you either agree with me or disagree and give your argument for why you disagree.

    Easy really. Go on, don’t worry.

  63. (Pre-emptive apology to SI for length)

    @ Ex,

    Word I like your approach. I don’t really give a fuck either. Since it’s obvious none of this is about pretext let’s let it roll.

    You ask, “What is this “traditional atheism” of which you speak? How does it differ from non-traditional atheism? Do you have a particular position on one or the other, or both, or neither?”

    I refuse further thread drift, and my spontaneous use of a questionable phrase should be disregarded and substituted with either “most” or “some.”

    Do I have a position on one or the other? Of course. I don’t call myself an atheist if that’s what you mean.

    I like this though: “Whatever my personality may be, that doesn’t in any way negate whatever points I may make.” I often argue that very same point.

    Any other specific questions?

    @ Philly,

    You write, “..your mistake is in thinking then that it’s the snark and disrespect that are responsible for the reduction of intellectual merit.” Now the refusal to sufficiently engage is problematic as you note, but snark and disrespect also obfuscate the logic in any discourse. Admit your share, as I admit mine. It takes two to tango, Chief.

    Regarding the past, I’m not sure if you’re just coping out again, or a bona fide amnesiac who likes to talk shit to people preconceived as Fundamentalist. Just pay attention. That’s all I ask. And sorry to be snarky there but I’m pissed off on some other shit right now.

    I disagree with you saying my answering your question with a question is rude. In science, many questions are answered with questions. Frustrating, maybe, but either way I have to explain myself now so spilt milk it is..

    You’re absolutely right when you say, “The language in ‘the process of abolishing evil’ is troublesome,” but by no means do I think the argument should be dropped, and neither do you. That was my point. In your response, you raised no objection to the idea that God might be allowing evil ‘for awhile,’ which is tantamount to a process of abolishing evil. Yes or no? Reject one or both, or explain how they’re not alike, but be consistent.

    About your objections to process anyways, any connotations of imperfection are arbitrary.

    Now closing off all secondary tangential arguments about sandbox nonsense, it appears nobody caught on to my original point of posting at all. The most cohesive argument I’ve heard pertinent to the suffering issue is the classic Epicurean argument. That’s why I started there. When somebody proposes the idea that the existence of evil contradicts God, it’s based on some derivative of Epicurus’ original either-or statement, which I’ve shown to be potentially fallacious to put it gently. Incidentally, my four points were offered only to show that Epicurus proposed an either-or fallacy that has inspired more than a few people to prematurely conclude there is an incompatibility between God and suffering. Have I not provided at the very least a minuscule beginning of an argument illustrating legitimate weakness in the classic Epicurean dilemma that God and suffering are not incompatible?

    If an inch is too much to give, does anyone here have anything Epicurus didn’t?

    If so lemme chew on it..

  64. ADDENDUM to Philly,

    “It should be instantaneous..” Although this is a presupposition of your own that you are unjustified to qualify, thus rendering your objection unsustained IMO, in actuality, during the times I agree with the idea of God, I reason that if God exists, and is concerned about abolishing evil, then God already abolished evil long ago, and our daily existence is the denser-vibrational result.

  65. SECOND ADDENDUM

    I wish Melvin didn’t split because there are verses in scripture approximating the above notion, which are unilaterally neglected by both skeptics and believers in these types of arguments.

  66. Back on topic, with a moratorium on ad hominems and digressions.

    CL, you said:
    When somebody proposes the idea that the existence of evil contradicts God, it’s based on some derivative of Epicurus’ original either-or statement, which I’ve shown to be potentially fallacious to put it gently.
    No, you haven’t shown that. You’ve asserted it, but you’ve not supported your assertions. You originally posited that atheists made a number of suppositions when gleefully quoting Epicurus’s little epigram. You stated that those suppositions shouldn’t be made, that they’re flawed.

    So, let me address your points about these allegedly flawed suppositions, and simply put to you some short questions.
    Flawed Supposition 1: that God wants to, has to, or should abolish evil RIGHT NOW.
    Why not? Can you explain how a god that tolerates evil comports with the god described in the New Testament?

    Flawed Supposition 2: that God is not actually in the process of abolishing evil right now.
    Why would the Christian god need a “process”? Isn’t he the author of all processes? Why not substitute a quicker process?

    Flawed Supposition 3: that God may not temporarily tolerate evil for a greater purpose of which we humans may or may not be aware.
    See my question for Supposition 1. Also, why does an omnipotent and omnibenevolent being need to “tolerate” anything? If this god you’re speaking of “tolerates” evil, is he not somehow sanctioning its continued existence?

    Flawed Supposition 4: that God may not in fact do things to offset the effects of human evil, things of which humans may be completely ignorant.
    Where does “human evil” come from, in the religious worldview, if not from a god — either directly or indirectly? So why would that very same god need to “offset” the very evil that he created? And if he does need to offset that evil … See my questions for Suppositions 1 and 2.

    Let’s try to avoid the Euthyphro Dilemma, so for the time being why don’t we stipulate that this god we’re speaking of here has himself created the distinction between good and evil. If you don’t want to agree to that stipulation, then perhaps you should supply some further information about the god you have in mind.

  67. Ex,

    The only one of your questions I don’t have an answer for is whether or not I think God created evil. I gotta fend off some other crank right now, but I will indeed answer all your questions straight and square, to the best of my ability.

  68. sorry to be snarky there but I’m pissed off on some other shit right now.

    So you piss on me because something else pissed you off? That’s a ridiculous excuse and your apology is crap. If you were perhaps actually sorry, you could have rewritten your opening. Instead, you tack on this shit excuse and then feign an apology in some passive aggressive way to force rude behavior to be accepted.

    Yeah, now I think I’m starting to remember you now.

    I disagree with you saying my answering your question with a question is rude. In science, many questions are answered with questions.

    That’s incorrect.

    God might be allowing evil ‘for awhile,’ which is tantamount to a process of abolishing evil. Yes or no?

    No. I plan to one day visit Paris. Is that tantamount to a process of visiting Paris? No.

    Now it’s not that I don’t have an “objection to the idea that God might be allowing evil ‘for awhile’”. I merely said that along with two of the other three issues you raised were at least arguable.

    I don’t bother with this evil thing and the omni contradictions much, but here’s how I see it. For the sake of argument (and truly, that’s all it’s for), you have your four premises for the problem of evil (omnipresence doesn’t matter):
    • God is omnipotent
    • God is omnibenevolent
    • God is omniscient
    • Evil exists

    Now those 4 premises don’t hold, but three can. Epicurus is in no danger. All you’ve done is dress up the “he moves in mysterious ways” excuse by arguing that god maybe allows evil for some mysterious reason of his. Well in that case, since it serves god’s purpose, then you’ve essentially removed evil from the four premises because now evil isn’t evil. Postponing the removal of evil is unsatisfactory as well because that begs the question of why, and you’re back to him having a mysterious reason again. Saying he alleviates some evil but allows other evil is a silly way to try and have your cake and eat it too by trying to both remove evil while at the same time keeping it. Nice try.

    They don’t call it “the problem of evil” for nothing. 😉

  69. @ SI,

    sorry for the length. If at anytime you feel I’m hogging your blog let me know and I’ll vanish like them WMD’s..Also sorry to be touchy about it. Greta Christina recently bitched me out pretty good for exactly the same types of comments I’m leaving here..

    @ Philly,

    Cool it homie. My apology is not ‘crap.’ The ‘other shit’ I referred to was ‘other shit’ that spewed out of your mouth, so it doesn’t qualify as a case of shit rolling downhill as you insinuate. I’m still looking for your original comment because I know I have it on file, but let’s drop this part of the discourse entirely.

    Earlier I wrote, “In science, many questions are answered with questions.” You said this was incorrect. I agree. It’s poorly worded. Better wording would be, “In science, many questions are answered that lead to other questions.” You can’t technically answer a question with a question in science.

    This is laughable: “I plan to one day visit Paris. Is that tantamount to a process of visiting Paris?” Of course not Philly don’t belittle yourself or me. My original assertion was that allowing evil to exist for a while is reasonably perceived as indicative of process.

    You say the four premises don’t stand, but you provide no support. And please kill the cliche’ mysterious ways bullshit; I’ve not argued it. Ask me a straight question and you’ll get a straight answer, but don’t confuse me with the confusion of others.

    You need to check your understanding of begging the question. The context in which you use it is disparaged: “Postponing the removal of evil is unsatisfactory as well because that begs the question of why…” There is no circular argumentation here, or begging the question.

    Also, you have yet to assert why you think postponing the removal of evil is incompatible with the God in question. You’ve said you find it repulsive due to ignorance of motive, but not knowing why a phenomenon is occurring is one thing; explaining how that phenomenon is inconsistent with a set of properties another thing entirely.

    @ Ex,

    Epicurus’ argument is logically fallacious and I apologize if you can’t accept that incontrovertible fact. It’s the either-or fallacy, which manifests in many forms but always forces the reader to make a choice based on limited options. However repulsive you find them notwithstanding, I have shown that other options exist. I’m sure you’ll still disagree and I can’t help that.

    You ask, “Can you explain how a god that tolerates evil comports with the god described in the New Testament?” It’s pretty basic. The God of the NT wants ‘all men to come to a knowledge of the truth and so be saved,’ right? In case you haven’t noticed, it’s impossible to legislate obedience. It has to be a choice. And I don’t mean obedience to church or state, or ‘blind obedience’ like you might be inclined to think. When I say obedience, I mean essentially love of all that’s good and fellow man, love of and adherence to the social codes that facilitate a just and progressive society.

    You ask, “Why would the Christian god need a “process”? Isn’t he the author of all processes? Why not substitute a quicker process?” Now I don’t know if God is the author of all processes, but the God we’re discussing most certainly could ‘substitute a quicker process.’ I suspect God might not, however, because to do so might jeopardize the fairness of an eternal human decision, and by definition omnibenevolence can’t allow that. I don’t have a kid to love yet, but I know if I do I’ll never rush or force my child’s important decisions, even if it hurts one or both of us.

    You continue, “Also, why does an omnipotent and omnibenevolent being need to “tolerate” anything? If this god you’re speaking of “tolerates” evil, is he not somehow sanctioning its continued existence?” Assuming omnibenevolence, you can live nextdoor to a total asshole and tolerate his or her total asshole-ness. This does not mean you are sanctioning said asshole-ness, and quite contrarily you are probably not sanctioning such asshole-ness at all. Notice also that at any time, you possess the option of creeping through an unlocked door in some coveralls between 2 and 4 in the morning on some homemade silencer shit and ending the problem of asshole-ness altogether, but to do so would be a breach of omnibenevolence and then we’re back to the thing about the rock.

    As for your last question, “Where does “human evil” come from, in the religious worldview, if not from a god — either directly or indirectly? So why would that very same god need to “offset” the very evil that he created?” As previously stated, I don’t have an answer I feel like giving to the first question here. And in the second question, the problem again comes from assigning arbitrary connotations to the word ‘offset.’ When I originally postulated that God “might in fact be doing things to offset human evil,” I do not mean to imply that the desire to offset human evil comes from a de facto incapacity to eradicate it.

    @ SI, everybody, anybody…

    Here’s what I see as a major point of inconsistency in the average atheist-evolutionist arguments I encounter in debates: Nearly all of them voice a unilateral disapproval of God’s character as expressed in the Old Testament, then assign no similar concerns to the undeniable bloodsport of biological natural selection, which certainly spareth not man, woman or child. If the brutality and hostility inherent in biological natural selection is taken as axiomatic, why do such people not grant this same privilege to spiritual natural selection? Seriously, folks. The God of the Bible claims to have set life in motion for the purpose of testing human spirits for a far better potential, which is absolutely reasonable and tantamount to a process of spiritual natural selection. In fact, I’ll say publicly right now that the only Christianity I would be willing to live with is nothing more than natural selection amongst spiritual beings temporarily residing in denser vibrational states within the quantum potential. And that’s the most I’ve ever said about my own theological position on this thread or elsewhere online.

    Somewhat tangentially, has anyone here ever been institutionalized, arrested or otherwise exposed to legit criminals for any length of time? Stabbed? Shot at? There is much to learn of life in law enforcement, of which I was typically on the offending side, and one of the most brutally honest things I’ve ever heard came from a man who had killed more than one person. Although initially repugnant to me, his words later lent themselves to what I must admit as a slight paradigm shift in my views of death and the sanctity of human life. These words affected me deeply and I referred back to them often for several days afterwards, and obviously even today.

    Now I would describe this person as a ‘moral killer’ meaning that unless crossed, this person generally adhered to the expectations of society, living and letting live and treating others as he would like to be treated. But there were certain types of behaviors this individual simply could not tolerate in other men. He once said something to the effect that, “pervs, moles, rape-o’s…you can’t cure ’em, so you just kill ’em. That’s all there is to it.” Simply put, any man who abused a woman or molested a child was fair game for killing in this person’s mentality, and he once wrung another man’s neck for boasting about killing his own mother. The last words that unfortunate man heard were, “Go see mommy.”

    The point of including this is to advance the argument that there are people who are simply incompatible with any pretense of a just society, and unfortunately any objective determination of who meets this criteria is impossible short of possessing omniscience. Evil is inherent in cultivating voluntary conformity to any standard of goodness, and although it’s not my position to throw the first stone, I will say there exists such a thing as irreparable human malevolence, and this consideration needs to be taken into account of every argument addressing the so-called Problem of Evil.

  70. CL:
    Well, you used a lot of words and obfuscations but still failed to puncture Epicurus’s epigram. There’s no either-or fallacy in it; you haven’t demonstrated that.

    1: The God of the NT wants ‘all men to come to a knowledge of the truth and so be saved,’ right? In case you haven’t noticed, it’s impossible to legislate obedience.
    Not proven by you. You can’t select one line from 1 Timothy and represent it as the sum total of the New Testament god’s wishes. You also haven’t shown that it’s impossible for that god to legislate obedience?

    2: I suspect God might not, however, because to do so might jeopardize the fairness of an eternal human decision, and by definition omnibenevolence can’t allow that. I don’t have a kid to love yet, but I know if I do I’ll never rush or force my child’s important decisions, even if it hurts one or both of us.
    You can’t reasonably claim on one hand that humans may be ignorant of your god’s actions (as you did in your allegedly Flawed Supposition 4) or that he does things of which humans may be unaware (as you did in your allegedly Flawed Supposition 3) and then go on to make the claim that you “suspect” or somehow intuit what he’s up to. In other words, you can’t have it both ways. Do you or don’t you understand what your god is up to. Also, your analogy of your own future child is ludicrous and I “suspect” you know it is. Surely, I have as much ability to “suspect” your thoughts — you being a mere mortal — as you have to “suspect” a god’s.

    3. Assuming omnibenevolence, you can live nextdoor to a total asshole and tolerate his or her total asshole-ness. This does not mean you are sanctioning said asshole-ness, and quite contrarily you are probably not sanctioning such asshole-ness at all.
    Ah, but I’m not a god, and certainly not omnibenevolent, you see? I didn’t make the rules for my neighbor, and, even if I had the delusion that I did, I have no way of punishing him or her for disobedience. This is an even worse analogy than the previous one.

    4. And in the second question, the problem again comes from assigning arbitrary connotations to the word ‘offset.’
    You’re the one who used the word in the first place. If the denotation — not connotation — that I’ve assigned to it is somehow incorrect, why don’t you define it?
    I do not mean to imply that the desire to offset human evil comes from a de facto incapacity to eradicate it.
    This is a dodge by you, and a rather inelegant one, at that. Does your god have the capacity to eradicate evil? Yes or no? If he does, why doesn’t he? If he doesn’t, what powers does he have? That’s essentially what Epicurus asks, and it’s what I’m asking.

    Now, you revealed yourself, perhaps inadvertently, by using the smug phrase atheist-evolutionist.

    Surely you know that there’s no such thing as an “evolutionist,” that it’s a nonsense term made up by creationist ignoramuses. Are you actually referring, by “evolutionist,” to a person who accepts the sine qua non of biology? And are you also claiming that such person is, by definition, an atheist? (The majority of religious biologists would dispute that.) How inane.

    So, to sum up:
    1. You haven’t demonstrated that there’s an either-or fallacy in Epicurus’s famous question.
    2. You haven’t answered in any cogent fashion a single one of my simple questions, and, in failing to do so, have likewise failed to show that the suppositions made by Epicurus are false.
    3. You have tried to slip in a loaded term that’s meaningless to almost all scientifically literate people, but that’s inflammatory for the most ignorant of fundamentalists.

    Try again. Leave the silly analogies out of your answers. Avoid quoting the bible, or leaning on worn-out Christian apologetics. Don’t substitute smugness or glibness for your own original thought.

  71. I’m sure whatever I said before to you was warranted if these comments of yours are anything like your others were.

    My original assertion was that allowing evil to exist for a while is reasonably perceived as indicative of process.

    Your actual question: “God might be allowing evil ‘for awhile,’ which is tantamount to a process of abolishing evil. Yes or no?
    Allowing something to sit untouched until you eventually touch it is not a process for touching it, likewise, planning to go to Paris is not the same as going to Paris. First, when you say “my original assertion was…”, follow it with your ACTUAL original assertion. Second, if you’re not getting something, just say so.

    As for the rest, once again, if you’re not getting something, just say so. I thought you understood the problem of the four premises, which is why I didn’t spell it out. If you need me to, I will.
    All good, all powerful, all knowing god would have to get rid of evil and be quite capable of doing it, but evil exists. Problem.
    – Remove omnibenevolence and he’s not obligated to remove evil
    – Remove omnipotence and he’s simply incapable of removing evil
    – Remove omniscience and, well, he’s simply fallible and failing to remove evil is just a big oops on his part. Also, the tough love excuse fails since if he’s omniscient, he can think of a nicer way to instruct

    So if you don’t want to remove any of those three, then what’s left? You remove evil itself, which is what your ideas try to do. So when you say he’s postponing getting rid of evil, and you’re keeping the above three premises, then he must have some reason to do so and yes, that begs for an answer, but of course we can’t have an answer because we can’t know his mind, but we know he’s good so leaving evil in place must be good, therefore evil is good. There ya go, evil off the list.

    The problem isn’t that we can’t know what his reason is. His reason doesn’t matter because, if the above premises hold, then we can trust whatever it is, it has to be good. I just assumed that was obvious earlier but obviously not since you thought my objection was to not being able to know his reason. I’ll try to drag things out more for you in the future, ok?

    Pardon me because I’m not as attentive to what you’re saying to everyone else compared to what you’re saying to me, but you’re not being straight with Ex. You most certainly have not shown Epicurus’ argument to be logically fallacious, let alone established that as incontrovertible fact. The free will argument also has to take one of the three omnis of the table in order to make the problem of evil not a problem. Even Plantinga acknowledges that by saying god can’t violate free will, which takes omnipotence off the table. As for creating evil, that’s god’s fault if he’s omniscient. I explained that much earlier near the top.

  72. Philly and Ex are doing a good job of responding to you, cl, and I find nothing they’ve said to disagree with. It seems to me, though that you’re positing a god who creates evil as a means of teaching his human creations how to be better creatures, which takes us to a whole ‘nother argument about why god would want to do that. It like the ant farms we had as children. We’re nothing but a plaything for his amusement.

    But I really don’t want to derail my own thread.

    As for this:

    @ SI, everybody, anybody…

    Here’s what I see as a major point of inconsistency in the average atheist-evolutionist arguments I encounter in debates: Nearly all of them voice a unilateral disapproval of God’s character as expressed in the Old Testament, then assign no similar concerns to the undeniable bloodsport of biological natural selection, which certainly spareth not man, woman or child.

    Comparing a “perfect” entity, having its own consciousness, with a mindless biological process, with no purpose other than to continue, is disingenuous, and is really no comparison at all. In fact, one of the main contradictions between a 4^O god and evolution is the utter brutality of evolution presumably created by this god. The sheer mindless brutality of evolution is actually near perfect evidence that it is NOT a divine process.

    If the brutality and hostility inherent in biological natural selection is taken as axiomatic, why do such people not grant this same privilege to spiritual natural selection?

    “spiritual natural” selection? Oxymoron alert.

    Seriously, folks. The God of the Bible claims to have set life in motion for the purpose of testing human spirits for a far better potential, which is absolutely reasonable and tantamount to a process of spiritual natural selection. In fact, I’ll say publicly right now that the only Christianity I would be willing to live with is nothing more than natural selection amongst spiritual beings temporarily residing in denser vibrational states within the quantum potential. And that’s the most I’ve ever said about my own theological position on this thread or elsewhere online.

    That sounds sort of like some kind of new age belief, but having no real understanding of what you’re referring to, I’ll refrain from denigrating it.

    You seem to be going around in circles. If you accept the 4^O definition of god, as you suggested we should do for this discussion, then Epicurus is the correct way of criticizing it. It IS an either or proposition, and hence not fallacious, because by definition god is perfect. So either he’s perfect, or he’s not. If he’s near perfect, or somewhat less than perfect, then he’s a different god than what Epicurus was discussing, or us for that matter. When you start adding possible scenarios as you did it your Flawed Exceptions, you detract from some aspect of that definition, thereby redefining god.

    So either stick to the definition, or discard it, and tell us exactly what god is. Otherwise, this discussion will make us all dizzy.

  73. @ Ex,

    You ask me to “..explain how a god that tolerates evil comports with the god described in the New Testament.” Then, you turn around and chastise me for using ONE LINE of scriptural support from the NT to formulate my argument about said God. Interesting, and strangely reminiscent of the time some guy actually waved me in front of his Porsche, and then ran me over. True story, too..

  74. @ SI, Philly, Ex,

    There’s not much sense in this ‘you said, I said’ stuff, so I’m done with the quote/response formula that’s proving difficult.

    The point of this post was for somebody to explain how an omni4-God is compatible with the existence of evil, and Ex, PC, SI, et al. claim there is no either-or fallacy inherent in Epicurus’ famous dilemma.

    Now I do feel the dilemma is a valid, deductive argument. Each situation Epicurus describes DOES in fact contradict the omni4-God we’re positing. I think we all agree here. To revisit the argument:

    “Either God wants to abolish evil, and cannot; or he can, but does not want to; or he cannot and does not want to.” -Epicurus (340 – 270 bce)

    As stated above, these observations directly contradict one or more premises of the omni4-God. An all-loving God would most definitely want to abolish evil. If said God was incapable of doing so, said God is not omnipotent. If said God is omnipotent and thus capable of abolishing evil, but does not want to, is this a direct breach of omnibenevolence? I think that’s fair. After all, how did we all respond to Gabe’s example about the kids dangling off the building?

    There’s no need to discuss Epicurus’ last argument, because it’s self-evident the God we’re arguing is incompatible with it.

    So Epicurus presents three options.

    SI, Philly, Ex….is everyone on the same page and in agreement up to this point? Just hit me with a quick “Y” if so; if not, please explain. I’ll proceed when we are all in agreement.

  75. Actually two, but otherwise I agree.

    Either God wants to abolish evil, and cannot; or he can, but does not want to. If he wants to, but cannot, he is impotent. If he can, but does not want to, he is wicked. If God can abolish evil, and God really wants to do it, why is there evil in the world? – Epicurus

  76. Wait a minute, CL. Are you actually going back to the beginning now?

    Let’s posit — and here I’ll have the arrogance to speak for myself, Philly, and SI, just to cut to the chase — a god who’s omni^4. Let’s further agree that Epicurus presents an either/or argument, to wit:

    A god cannot be both omni^4 AND also, simultaneously, tolerate evil.

    Actually, Epicurus presents four options, not three:
    1. God wants to rid the world of evil, but he can’t.
    So he’s not omnipotent.
    2. God can rid the world of evil, but, for whatever reason, he chooses not to.
    So he’s not omnibenevolent — at least as far as any reasonable person would define “benevolent.” Because a benevolent being, again using the commonly understood concept, would not watch others suffer just for sport, or even to “teach them a lesson.”
    3. God can rid the world of evil, and wants to do so.
    Then how come he hasn’t done it? We’re assuming, again, that he’s omnibenevolent in the way any sane person would define that term.
    4. God does not want to rid the world of evil, and couldn’t even if he did.
    So, obviously, he’s neither omnibenevolent nor omnipotent. He may be a god, but not the one touted by most Christians.

    Let’s stipulate that Epicurus’s statement is NOT a fallacy because it is, in fact, in whole and in its various parts, either true or not true.

    So that brings us back around to the Problem of Evil, which was SI’s original question, lo these many expenditures of words ago.

    Have you solved it?

  77. There’s not much sense in this ‘you said, I said’ stuff, so I’m done with the quote/response formula that’s proving difficult.

    Well yes, when you have questions and challenges left unaddressed then this whole quote/response thing would prove difficult, wouldn’t it? Just hit the reset button and try again. LOL

    Interesting, and strangely reminiscent of the time some guy actually waved me in front of his Porsche, and then ran me over. True story, too..

    My guess not a stranger.

    Personally, before I’d be willing to go on cl you’d have to do the following:
    1. Acknowledge that you understand my argument for how the four premises of the problem of evil can’t stand or at least acknowledge that I’ve satisfactorily presented an argument to that effect

    2. Acknowledge that you understand now that my objection wasn’t to not knowing your god’s reason for allowing evil but rather that for him to allow it, in light of the omni characteristics, means evil becomes good.

    3. Address my challenge and defense of the challenge that god allowing evil is not tantamount to a process of abolishing evil

    4. Promise to, when citing your earlier comments and positions, to do so verbatim or at the very least paraphrase in such a way as to not change the meaning

    After that, and satisfying any outstanding issues you have with Ex or SI, I’d be more than happy to continue on with you.

  78. @ SI,

    May I ask your personal objections to the potentiality of “God already abolished evil” as a valid alternative Epicurus missed? I completely understand how counter-intuitive the question is, as well. I do own a television and occasionally watch the news.

  79. Ex,

    Minor details aside, everything you said is basically a quote of my second-to-last post. So was that a “Y” ??

  80. Melvin, to quote from Jack Nicholsen’s character Melvin Udall in ‘As Good As It Gets’,

    “Go sell crazy someplace else. We’re all stocked up here.”

  81. CL:
    Philly brings up a few good points, and I’ve thought of a few others myself. In order to make a reargument, I think you’d also have to stipulate that:
    1. Evil does not equal good under any circumstances.
    2. Your god makes a clear distinction between good and evil, and it’s the distinction commonly understood.
    3. For purposes of this discussion, suffering will be understood to be an evil. Similarly, natural disasters will be understood to be an evil.
    4. Your god, being omnipotent and omniscient, needs no processes. He can do anything he wants whenever he wants. And when he does do something he wants, he doesn’t dither about it: He just does it. In other words, he’s not a teenager with homework: “I’m doing it, Ma.”
    5. You won’t misrepresent what you’ve said previously. You won’t claim that you said something before when you didn’t, or claim that you didn’t say something before when you did. Unlike Philly, though, I will happily grant you the opportunity to change your mind from what you’ve written. After all, that’s what a discussion is all about.
    6. All words we use will be understood to have their most common English meaning. If there’s any question about what that meaning is, or if one of us wants to use a word in another way, he’ll define his terms to mutual agreement. Once a term is defined, we can’t turn around and redefine it in a different way.

    So, I’m ready for your solution to the Problem of Evil.

  82. cl asked:

    May I ask your personal objections to the potentiality of “God already abolished evil” as a valid alternative Epicurus missed? I completely understand how counter-intuitive the question is, as well. I do own a television and occasionally watch the news.

    I find this to be troublesome at best, ludicrous at worst. You’re saying that it possible that there is no evil in the world because god ALREADY abolished it? That would require a massive, and as you say, counter-intuitive, redefinition of the term “evil”.

    First, we already stipulated that suffering was synonymous with evil, didn’t we?

    Second, that would mean despite everything in the world we characterize as suffering, we’re deluding ourselves. That means cancer is a gift from god, earthquakes are beneficial (they are to the Earth, but not to humans who reside on its crust), and pedophilia is normal.

    Sorry, I’m not ready to accept that, so I cannot accept the potentiality of “God already abolished evil” as a valid alternative Epicurus missed.

  83. Ex,

    Much of what Philly requests has been clarified IMO, and Philly tried to usurp conversational authority by giving me some lame ultimatum just like the preachers he’s ironically fond of criticizing: “If cl won’t blah blah blah I can’t continue.” Well, I object, and thus can’t continue, so if he’s a man of his word, he shouldn’t say a further thing to me in this thread because I reject his ultimatum.

    Lemme chew points 1-6 and see what you’re trying to do here..

    In the meantime, if you’d like, I’m interested in hearing your answer to the potentiality of “God already abolished evil” as a valid alternative Epicurus missed. And try not to be too snide. I completely understand how counter-intuitive the question is. I do own a television and occasionally watch the news.

  84. CL:
    Your question isn’t counterintuitive; it’s just plain silly. SI already answered it extremely well.

    Look, I have no objection whatsoever to watching the comments mount up here and adding to SI’s well-deserved record, but I don’t think you have to poll the jury every time you throw out an idea. Even you, yourself, were so disenchanted with your little linguistic conceit that you issued a half-hearted disclaimer. You’ll have to argue from the premise that evil does, in fact, exist.

    I’m ready and eager now, though, for your solution to the Problem of Evil. Get to it, please, because it might influence whom I vote for in November.

  85. @ Ex,

    1) Always have agreed.
    2) Clarify ‘commonly understood.’ I’m obviously uncommon.
    3) Still thinking..not fully sure how I feel about natural disasters. I most definitely feel some are man-made, and that those are evil. Whether I think truly natural disasters represent evil or not demands much deeper contemplation of evil from a secular and religious perspective. As a rudimentary beginning, I envision a converse argument of that entertained by Socrates and your pal Euthyphro.
    4) Always have agreed.
    5) Of course I won’t do that, and I absolutely, vehemently disagree with the charge altogether, and am further unsure if asking you for proof of the claim would be beneficiary or more needless backtracking. Reflecting, I was wrong to tell Philly that temporary allowance is tantamount to process, but that’s because his first analogy was unpersuasive and either way that’s different from misquoting myself or slippery debate. I think we should let this point rest in the interest of staying on point.
    6) Always have agreed.

  86. cl said:

    Whether I think truly natural disasters represent evil or not demands much deeper contemplation of evil from a secular and religious perspective.

    Think of them not from an intent point of view, but from the point of view of the humans who suffer the results. They don’t care where the evil came from, just that they are suffering as a result. It’s why I tend to use the question of suffering synonymously with the problem of evil. It’s why Bart Ehrman uses the term suffering rather than evil in “God’s Problem”

  87. @ SI,

    Sorry to respond to Ex first. I overlooked your latest response. I only read your first pp. where you ask, “You’re saying that it possible that there is no evil in the world because god ALREADY abolished it?”

    No, not at all what I’m saying. Evil does in fact exist in the world. We all previously agreed on that I thought!!

    Not being rude, but this distinction nullifies the rest of your questions and concerns.

  88. CL:
    I wasn’t implying anything about your previous comments in my number 5. Just stating some rules based on my previous experiences with Christians. Don’t take it personally.

    “Commonly understood”? It’s the definition that would most probably be used by a person who’s not indulging in the masturbatory exercise we call philosophy.

    So, stop stalling. Solve that Problem of Evil for us. This is my third request. Am I going to have to start calling you at home during dinnertime?

  89. Ex,

    Go ahead and eat. What follows will take some time, and I hope you can concede at least something. Go vote…I’ll post again in 10-15 min.

  90. Much of what Philly requests has been clarified IMO

    Clearly not in MY opinion, but if you think they’ve been cleared, then it should be no big deal to just spell it out one more time. Hell, copy/paste if you want.

    Philly tried to usurp conversational authority by giving me some lame ultimatum…

    AHEM! What’s this then?:
    “There’s not much sense in this ‘you said, I said’ stuff, so I’m done with the quote/response formula that’s proving difficult…”
    Then proceed to wipe the chalkboard clean and dictate the terms of the future progression of the discussion, all the while escaping from the burdens of addressing outstanding points.

    Seriously dude, you’ve been nothing if not frustrating, evasive and deceptive. You try to answer questions with questions, you insult then feign apologies, you attack commentators who say what you think is wrong and then when it’s explained you shuffle off to another topic hoping I guess everyone forgets your mistake, you incorrectly cite your past points, claim to one commentator you’ve proved something when you and I are debating that very thing, and now this ridiculous attempt to just start over and when I call you to pay your tab before starting a new one, you try to pass me off as the usurper. Wow!

    But see, I’m a lover of logic and argumentation, and as such I have quite a dilemma. On one hand I find your behavior heinous, yet on the other I feel compelled to continue the discussion for the sake of argument. So I’m cool with you simply paying your outstanding tab and we’ll move forward. I’m paid in full, as are SI and Ex. You’ve asked questions and posed challenges and we’ve responded. It’s your turn. That’s how it works. That’s not my rule, that’s fundamentals for discussion, an equitable exchange between parties. Now if you paid and I missed it, my apologies, but show me the receipt. As I said above, a simple copy/paste will suffice, or pay now and no hard feelings.

  91. Unlike Philly, though, I will happily grant you the opportunity to change your mind from what you’ve written. After all, that’s what a discussion is all about.

    You dick, when have I denied someone the chance to change their position? I’m watching you, bird brain.

  92. You dick, when have I denied someone the chance to change their position? I’m watching you, bird brain.

    Actually, I realized after I wrote it that I’d misinterpreted something you wrote: Promise to, when citing your earlier comments and positions, to do so verbatim or at the very least paraphrase in such a way as to not change the meaning. Originally, I mistakenly thought that you were asking the poor guy to stick to his previous arguments. Since they didn’t stand up the first time, I thought it was unfair of us to force him to retake the exact same philosophical positions. When I reread what you’d written, I realized that you were not actually asking him to strictly adhere to his flawed reasoning. So I apologize, and I’m glad we’re all on board and ready to give CL another chance.

    He says he’s got the Problem of Evil licked. I don’t know about you, but I’m really anxious to hear what he has to say.

  93. Hey friends!

    Well, I was about to post and I noticed the latest from Philly, whom I thought couldn’t continue.

    There is no problem of evil. If we can make it through this, maybe we can finally get back to that discussion. But I doubt it cuz this is thorough. You guys will say obfuscating.

    Lemme handle Philly’s latest drivel first, since he’s presumably not a man of his word. He said he couldn’t continue with me unless I conceded to bullshit points A-D, yet keeps flapping away like a paper bag in a windstorm.

    Attacking commenters? Who? You and Ex? Maybe. Anyone else though? Yeah, you’re right I’ve been a frustrating, combative dick in tone; to you two only, though. Suck it up! You guys dish it out well enough everywhere else on the internet, to people you don’t know, so quit yer friggin’ whining or start acting the way you want to be treated. Notice I don’t address SI like that AT ALL, or anyone else really, just you two.

    And, if SI asks me to stop or leave, it’s a done deal. I respect him.

    Call yourself a lover of logic and argument all you want Chief, but you might want to learn what an ultimatum is before you imply I made one also: “…a demand whose fulfillment is requested in a specified period of time and which is backed up by a threat to be followed through in case of noncompliance.”

    Reconsider the words of mine you cite. They were an indication of my desire to drop what I perceived as an unsuccessful strategy. No specified time period, and no threat of discontinuing the conversation, like where you say, “I can only continue if cl concedes blah blah blah.” And why didn’t you stick to your word anyway? Especially if I’m such a dick?? You like talking to dicks?

    Incidentally, see them ellipsis? It’s common courtesy to include them when you chop somebody’s statement and only quote part back to them like you do here: “God might be allowing evil ‘for awhile…” There was sentence before “God might..” No biggie though, just a technicality.

    Now for the other crap.

    @ SI, Philly, Ex –

    I realize it’s hypocritical to rehash ‘I said, you said,’ and I wouldn’t normally contradict myself like this, but I just re-read all this vomit from the top, and I have to retract the following statement of mine: “Reflecting, I was wrong to tell Philly that temporary allowance is tantamount to process…” I was not wrong here, and I’ll get to that.

    Basically, you guys (Ex and Philly) got ahead of yourselves, jumped to conclusions, contradicted yourselves and then took me along. I vehemently disagree with three past claims you’ve made that I think have tainted the debate.

    In Philly’s lame-a-matum (3 June 2008 at 5:41 pm), he suggested that I, “Promise to, when citing earlier comments and positions, do so verbatim or at the very least paraphrase in such a way as to not change the meaning.” My claim here is that Philly is the one who paraphrased my words in such a way as to change the meaning. Follow it through – I back the claim near incontrovertibly.

    SI, please, you welcomed me here, we’ve all invested legit effort here, so please spend some time with this, and take a close look. I know it’s very long, but on 3 June 2008 at 9:38 am, you seemed to agree with Philly and Ex on all three points I’m about to raise, saying, “Philly and Ex are doing a good job of responding to you, cl, and I find nothing they’ve said to disagree with.” Now I know that Ex and Philly are your blog homies or whatever but my following three claims are strong, and all I ask is for you to consider them impartially. I fully expect Ex and Philly to object to every point.

    Now let’s trace the pertinent words and see if we can determine a correct chronology of events. Quotes are provided with date and time. All brackets mine.

    Claim #1: Definition Switch:

    There were claims of me switching the definition of the God we were positing. I’m so positive those claims exist, I’ve taken the liberty to not cite them. Incidentally, my second comment to this thread (1 June 2008 at 1:31 am) reads, “Assuming we are all talking about the perfect God (the 4 o’s)…” So, clearly, unless they have valid grounds for the claim of definition switch, anyone who alleged definition-switching after this comment stands in either forgivable oversight or legitimate error. Agree or disagree?

    Claim #2: Improper Justification Of A Premise:

    In his comment (1 June 2008 at 1:57 am) cantankerosaurus rEx wrote, “If you’re not aware of your god’s purposes, then shut up about him. You shouldn’t claim to be aware of those purposes in any situations whatsoever…” Really? Not even in a debate where we all just pre-agreed to claim presumably that God’s purposes were good? At the very least, this seems inconsistent. Agree or disagree?

    Philly also made a similar erroneous claim in response to my neutral concession of presumption: “Also difficult is that even to offer such a God is to presume to some extent that we know or can know that God’s motives” (1 June 2008 at 3:01 am). In a similar vein as Ex, Philly says next, “Then perhaps [cl] can explain to me how one could simultaneously argue that their god is good while claiming we can’t possibly know his reasons for this or that?” (1 June 2008 at 9:50 am)

    It’s actually quite easy. First, we all pre-agreed to presume God is good for the sake of this debate, and second, I DID NOT argue that we can’t possibly know God’s reasons for this or that. Recall my simple demonstration to Ex above (and in addressing Claim #1) that we pre-agreed on omnibenevolence in my second comment (1 June 2008 at 1:31 am). I’m arguing here that God is good only because that’s one of the prerequisites of the debate we pre-agreed to. Again, it’s stated in my second comment (1 June 2008 at 1:31 am).

    Second, Philly’s haphazard paraphrasing ACTUALLY CHANGES the meaning of my words significantly. My original words were a neutral concession of presumption. To review, “Also difficult is that even to offer such a God is to presume to some extent that we know or can know that God’s motives. Motives are indispensable to the proper understanding of actions.” (1 June 2008 at 3:01 am). By no means is concession of the presumptive nature of a singular statement tantamount to Philly’s reworded statement he posited on my behalf, that we “..can’t possibly know [God’s] reasons for this or that.” Clearly, Philly’s paraphrasing altered the meaning of my original statement. SI – Agree or disagree?

    My presumption of God’s goodness is justified on grounds that we all pre-agreed to it. In the context of a debate over an omnibenevolent God, all participants are FULLY JUSTIFIED to assume God’s omnibenevolence. Agree or disagree?

    Incidentally, I will say our only methods for deducing God’s motives outside of revelation that I could think of would be via inference or assumption from fact.

    Claim #3: Changing Positions, Slippery Debate:

    This was by far the most nerve-racking chronology to reconstruct, and pertains only to Philly.

    Here is my original #2 hypothetical rebuttal to Epicurus, insinuating the philosopher overlooked the valid option, among others, that: “…God is not actually in the process of abolishing evil right now.” (31 May 2008 at 7:07 pm)

    I think the ambiguity starts 9:48am, 6/2, when, in response to the above, Philly said, “..I’m curious about #2. The others are entertaining ponderings but #2 seems inconsistent. How could [God] be in the process of abolishing evil?” Clearly, the words ‘in the process of abolishing evil’ were cl’s. Clearly, Philly objected to a process of abolishing evil because to Philly, process implies contradiction with one or more of the four omni-qualities in question, presumably at least omnipotence. Remember? He said the abolishment of evil should be instantaneous.

    I then replied to Philly 11:22pm, 6/2: “You’re absolutely right when you say, ‘The language in “the process of abolishing evil” is troublesome,’ but by no means do I think the argument should be dropped, and neither do you.”

    I used “..and neither do you” for a reason. It was a very poor way of arguing Philly contradicted himself. He APPEARED to have no problem with ‘evil existing for awhile,’ but objected to ‘the process of abolishing evil.’ I felt that was contradictory. I made this original judgment on the following progression, which Philly later clarifies (2 June 2008 at 9:48 am): “How could he be in the process of abolishing evil? Saying there might be a reason for it existing [no objection], or existing for awhile [no objection], or existing in a degree made smaller by him [no objection], but ‘in the process of abolishing evil?’ No…” [objection]

    Here’s where I get totally lost, and am sincerely asking for an explanation: Philly thinks he trapped me, on 3 June 2008 at 4:03 am, where he posits the following words of mine: “[cl’s] original assertion was that allowing evil to exist for a while is reasonably perceived as indicative of process.” Then, as if what he’s about to posit was substantially any different from what he just posited, Philly says, “[cl’s] actual question: “God might be allowing evil ‘for awhile,’ which is tantamount to a process of abolishing evil.”

    Both are saying the same thing. “..reasonably perceived as indicative of process” = “..tantamount to a process.”

    Then Philly has the audacity to tell me, “when you say ‘my original assertion was…’, follow it with your ACTUAL original assertion. I did! Both are the same in substance! Both quotes of mine you posit are saying the same thing! My actual assertion all along was that allowing evil to “exist for awhile” is for all intents and purposes tantamount to a “process of abolishing evil.” I feel safe in arguing that non-instantaneous phenomena are justifiably referred to as processes. But that’s really a moot point.

    I include Claim #3 not so much because there is a readily discernible breach of logic, but to illustrate the hypocrisy of Philly telling me to honor verbatim quoting methodology when I’ve demonstrated he paraphrased my words in a way that changed their meaning. First note that the words “existing for awhile” never came from me, but Philly’s comment 2 June 2008 at 9:48 am. In other words, “existing for a while” represents Philly’s interpretation of my words, not my verbatim words. Interesting, considering he asked me to follow a piece of advice he breaks freely, and I haven’t broke once in spirit.

    At any rate, Philly precluded all of this when he clarified, “Now it’s not that I don’t have an ‘objection to the idea that God might be allowing evil for awhile.’ I merely said that along with two of the other three issues you raised were at least arguable.” (3 June 2008 at 1:16 am) Notice the latter sentence is not complete.

    Dood is riddled with amnesiac proclivities and boldfaces his own hypothetical law. Is it any wonder I laughed at the silly ultimatum?

    Silly Chief! 🙂

  94. cl said:

    Sorry to respond to Ex first. I overlooked your latest response. I only read your first pp. where you ask, “You’re saying that it possible that there is no evil in the world because god ALREADY abolished it?”

    No, not at all what I’m saying. Evil does in fact exist in the world. We all previously agreed on that I thought!!

    Not being rude, but this distinction nullifies the rest of your questions and concerns.

    Color me confused. This makes no sense. You’ll have to explain why you originally asked:

    May I ask your personal objections to the potentiality of “God already abolished evil” as a valid alternative Epicurus missed?

    because, as I read it, you are suggesting that in addition to

    1. God does not want to abolish evil and
    2. God cannot abolish evil

    there should be

    3. God has already abolished evil.

    so if :

    Evil does in fact exist in the world. We all previously agreed on that I thought!!

    What’s with #3?

  95. CL:

    I just read your first six or seven paragraphs above, continuing to attack Philly, bringing up old altercations with me (which I thought we’d agreed to drop), and cozying up to SI. But you didn’t do as you’d promised — which is solve the Problem of Evil.

    I thought we were giving you an opportunity to start from scratch here. But as soon as I saw all the old animosity pop to the surface, and the resumption of the sarcastic tone, I knew we were back to Obfuscation Land. You really don’t know much about anything, do you?
    And it’s painful to read your writing because the quality is so poor.
    I’m not only talking about the empty content; I’m referring to the bloated style.

    So you are a troll and, not surprisingly, an ignorant one, at that. Thanks for helping to build up SI’s comments numbers, but, I, personally am done with you.

  96. cl said:

    Hey friends!
    [snip]

    I’m not going to get into this. This is one of the hazards of written debate, in a linear fashion. As blog owner, I’m going to exercise my prerogative and nip this in the bud. And try to weed out the wheat from the chaff (how’s that for a biblical reference).

    First. We started from the little email from Gabe in the previous post, comparing god to a man who saves one of two children, allowing one to die when he could have prevented it.

    Second, I posted a second set of comments based on the comments received responding to Gabe. That’s this post, and these comments.

    Third, we’ve actually digressed somewhat into a full blown discussion of the Problem of Evil, also know as The Question of Suffering, and the Epicurean Dilemma originally raised by cl in comment 5215.

    As I see it, cl seems to have raised the possibility that Epicurus’s dilemma is actually a fallacy, because it’s couched in terms of an either/or proposition. Cl feels that because there are alternative explanations (his alleged Flawed exceptions in comment 5215) that proves that Epicurus’s dilemma is fallacious. Philly, Ex and I (I believe) feel that there is no fallacy, if you assume the premise that Epicurus presumed, i.e an Omni-benevolent and Omnipotent God. (We added Omnipresence and Omniscience, but I don’t think Epicurus felt they were necessary for the dilemma.) If god is at least Omnipotent and Omni-benevolent, then evil cannot be explained away with those explanations, because to do so, one redefines god (or at least the terms omnipotence and omni-benevolence).

    That’s where the argument stands, in my viewpoint.

    I am not convinced that Epicurus is fallacious, for the reasons set forth above.

    I don’t care who called who, what, nor do I care whether one person misinterpreted the other. I want to know, as does Philly and Ex, what the solution to the problem of evil is, assuming an omni-benevolent and omnipotent god.

    Here’s my solution.

    Evil is not a noun, it’s an adjective in most senses of the word, as it applies in reality. There are evil people, evil actions, evil results, of which human suffering is the one we are most concerned about, as humans.

    Talking about the noun “evil”, in most cases, you are referring to it in an vague, esoteric, philosophical sense. You can’t show me “evil”. You can’t touch, see, hear smell or taste evil, per se. Suffering, on the other hand is a noun, and better describe that for which an omni-benevolent and omnipotent god should be concerned about, and has the ability to do away with. Because he doesn’t, the solution to the problem of evil is….

    {bada-bing}

    God doesn’t exist.

  97. It’s really a shame that you’d spend such time and effort cl squabbling like this and avoiding issues instead of addressing them directly and more importantly, succinctly. How’s that old saying go? Oh yes, shallow pools muddy their waters to appear deep.

    It’s especially perplexing to me that you entered here making such a point about snark and disrespect being inversely proportional to the intellectual content of a discussion and yet you’ve done little else but churn out snarky and disrespectful comments. Hey, be cheeky all you want, but address questions and challenges when you reply directly instead of this “obfuscation” as Ex calls it.

    ——————–

    And Ex, I thought you were just joking and breaking my balls, so the “dick” and “bird brain” remarks were playful retorts in that vein. I didn’t think you REALLY thought I was forcing cl to stick to views that had been shown to be flawed, but were just joking. So thanks for the apology. Sorry about the comments, but I meant them as terms of endearment. 😉

    ——————–

    Btw, if my original comment was worded poorly to lead to Ex’s initial conclusion, I apologize for that. Remember guys, I’m the one here who doesn’t make a living writing. So also to you cl, if that’s how you read them, please revisit them like Ex did. Oh here, I’ll save you the time scrolling:

    1. Acknowledge that you understand my argument for how the four premises of the problem of evil can’t stand or at least acknowledge that I’ve satisfactorily presented an argument to that effect

    2. Acknowledge that you understand now that my objection wasn’t to not knowing your god’s reason for allowing evil but rather that for him to allow it, in light of the omni characteristics, means evil becomes good.

    3. Address my challenge and defense of the challenge that god allowing evil is not tantamount to a process of abolishing evil

    4. Promise to, when citing your earlier comments and positions, to do so verbatim or at the very least paraphrase in such a way as to not change the meaning

    I think you’ll see there’s nothing there that says you have to agree WITH my points, just that I presented them and that you both understand and acknowledge them. You can say they’re shit for all I care (although I’d expect you to explain why). Here’s an example – I acknowledge that you presented what you believe to be 4 points that expose Epicurus’s problem of evil to be flawed and I believe I fully understand those points. See? Easy peasy.

    Now it would be very nice if the ship could be righted, open tabs paid, and we can all move forward. It would be sad to see a discussion be derailed due to some misunderstanding, willful obfuscation or some pathetic harboring of old grudges.

  98. Nice summation. Ever think about living the law?

    I have been lurking in the background through most of this debate and I think that the definition of God and the definition of evil are definitely the sticking points. Until a valid defintition of each is achieved, coherent debate is, well, as we see above, difficult.

    I do find it interesting that some believers, who trust in his or her god to save them from evil, have a problem defining either one.

  99. (((Billy))):
    It’s nice to know there’s a lurker out there. Did Philly, SI, and I convince you to come over to the dark side?

    SI:
    Nice summation.

    But “evil” is a noun, as well as an adjective. It refers to a quality, and is a synonym for “wickedness,” and an antonym for “goodness” (or, simply, “good”). For many philosophers, it incorporates “suffering” but it isn’t limited to that. Those of us who are faith-free, realize, of course, that “evil” isn’t a tangible thing, and that no single being embodies what it means.

    The “Problem of Evil” is driven by ignorant religionists. As creatures of the real world, they’ve noticed that shit happens — but they’re obviously reluctant to place the responsibility for such shit on their god. So they’ve invented a construct, “Evil” (with a capital E), a kind of Platonic Form, and embodied it in the god of the underworld, stolen from the pagans, whom they call Satan. However, Christians are inconsistent from historical age to historical age, from sect to sect, from person to person, and even within their own minds, about what Satan’s “Evil” entails. Which is why the idea of “Suffering” — clearly an evil to those of us who think the whole concept of gods is nonsense — is so rankling. Some crazies, like Pat Robertson and John Hagee, attribute suffering to acts of their god, and find disgusting justifications for those acts. Other, less self-righteous Christians, accept that suffering exists, deplore it, but excuse it as a mystery that’s part of their god’s “master plan,” whatever the fuck that is. In any case, it’s philosophically impossible, despite the wild ravings of some Christians, to reconcile the existence of “Evil” (which includes the suffering of innocents) with an omnipotent and omnibenevolent god. I’d say that it’s also impossible to reconcile it with an omniscient god, because, knowing everything, he must understand how badly his position as champion of the “Good” is undermined by his toleration of “Evil” throughout the world. It’s bad politics for him.

  100. SI: It was your summation I was complementing, though PhillyChief’s list of questions still comes down to definitions, so I guess I was complementing PC’s proactivly.

    Ex: I have a godless blog, right? Is that the dark side?

    The definition of Evil or evil, noun or adjective, really is at the root. And I’m torn here. I understand and accept SI’s assertion that evil is an adjective. By itself, it means nothing, but actions (which would make it an adverb (if I remember Ms. Schindel’s high school English properly)) or individuals can be described as evil.

    Fascism is a perfect example. Is Fascism, in and of itself, evil? Does one even need to write ‘evil Fascism’ in order to get one’s point across? Or are the individuals (and the group dynamics which any authoritarian regime engenders) themselves evil people? Can a non-evil person commit an act that can be described as evil?

    I can also fully agree with the Exterminator. Evil, the concept of evil as a free-standing thought, exists. What was done in the name of Fascism, Nationalism, Communism (or a whole shit-load of other -isms) was evil. But once one treads from the description of an act or an individual as evil to the idea of evil itself, once again that old problem of definition comes up. Is evil, in free-standing nounish incarnation, definable? Is nounish evil suffering? Is nounish evil a willingness to hurt people or accept the ‘necessity’ to hurt people?

    I ask a lot of questions here, and I’ll be the first to admit, I don’t have an answer here. And one of the reasons I cannot adequately answer the question ‘Why does evil exist?’ (keep in mind I am an atheist so goddidit doesn’t work for me) is that I have a hard time even defining evil.

    I apologize in advance if I have moved this interesting conversation into a new realm. Such is not my intention. But the posts of Melvin, D, and CL on one side, and PC, SI and EX on the other, have really got me wondering whether or not I even understand the word evil as it is used in theistic arguments. I’ve also read over much of what I have written at my own blog and realize that I have left evil undefined the few times I have used the word.

    Sorry for the long post, it is, after all, an occupational hazard.

  101. (((Billy))):
    I don’t think you actually do have to define evil, unless you’re having a masturbatory philosophical conversation. For those of us who don’t think it’s a tangible thing — just as “hate,” “stupidity,” and even “the institution of marriage” are not tangible things — it’s really the sum of its various parts. If the adjective “evil” can be used to describe something, that evil whatever-it-is makes up part of the sum total of “Evil.” Obviously, in a non-philosophical sense, suffering is not an evil. But in a Christian worldview, within the confines of that specific philosophical system, it must be, because it’s antithetical to “good.”

    Anyway, to paraphrase Justice Potter Stewart’s comment about pornography: “I may not be able to define ‘evil,’ but I know it when I see it.”

  102. Ex: Part of me agrees. But then I see long ‘conversations’ in which two people are using two different definitions of evil and are thus completely misunderstanding what each other are saying.

  103. Thanks (((Billy))) and Ex (and Philly and even cl)

    My point about defining evil is this:

    I agree with Ex that evil is a noun, in the semantic sense, because we can conceive of such a thing, philosophically. But in the cold hard light of reality, natural reality I might add, evil doesn’t exist as a thing in and to itself. I can’t pull out my trusty evil and brandish it. I can pull out my trusty Bowie knife and create evil with it after brandishing it.

    Does that make sense?

    Now, if you accept that there are only evil things, actions, results and other nouns that can be modified and described as evil, then you’ve somewhat defined it in naturalistic, humanistic terms, rather than theological and philosophical.

    The question is, given the type of god we all agreed to dissect, at least 2^O, if not 4^O, why do human have to experience these evil occurrences? A 2^O god would not allow it. Period.

    Given that fact, and it is a fact unless you can point out the error in the logic, (which you have not, so far, cl) then a 2^O god does not exist.

    All of the rationalizations you’ve offered so far simply strip potency or benevolence from the god we’ve defined as omnipotent and omni-benevolent.

    And that’s all Epicurus has said. His dilemma has not been answered satisfactorily for 2400 years.

    Except by atheists.

  104. “…though PhillyChief’s list of questions still comes down to definitions, so I guess I was complementing PC’s proactivly.”

    I’m not exactly sure what you’re saying, but I like the bit about complimenting me, so I approve this message. 🙂

    SI, I think denying evil as a noun and claiming it’s an adjective is equivalent to denying objective morality. As such, you can dismiss most issues in light of the problem of evil by saying, “well that’s not REALLY evil”. Katrina? Nope, that’s not evil because it’s god showing that all that liberal gayness in New Orleans is what he doesn’t like (incidentally, the “gayest” section, the French Quarter, was practically unharmed). People suffered from that, sure, but the lesson had to be learned so Katrina wasn’t evil. Without an objective evil, there’s no problem of evil, at least on a case by case basis. What of on the whole?

    In answer to the Euthyphro, I see most theists go with the ‘it’s good because god says so’ choice, which of course means evil, indeed all morality, is subjective, the subjective will of their god. Unfortunately, that creates a circular argument:
    God is all good, all powerful and all knowing so anything he does is good so allowing evil must be good because god is all good, all powerful…

    With this choice, there’s no problem of evil then because it circuitously removes evil from the four premises.

  105. Hello gang; welcome back Billy.

    In the interest of going forward, I didn’t read any post that occurred before Billy’s dated 4 June 2008 at 11:51 am. So, if anyone threw down a gauntlet before that I’ve not seen, that’s why I’m not responding to it. If anyone feels I’m obligated to address a response to my extended monologue, which had nothing to do with progression in the debate and everything to do with correcting past misunderstandings, just say so and I’ll oblige.

    I think what Billy says about the importance of definitions is true, and you guys are having a great conversation about the nature of evil without me coming along to muddy things all up again.

    For the sake of this argument, I’m postulating an omnipresent, omnipotent, omnibenevolent, omniscient God. I stated that clearly in my second comment. I’m also positing that evil, although it can be an adjective, is best defined as the absence or opposite of love. That would be consistent with the typical believer who says, “God is love.” Whatever is not love, then, is not of God, and thus evil. Any thoughts, comments?

    Philly makes a great point about the subjective nature of evil if we claim evil is only what God decrees as such. You guys are of course entitled to reject it, but I’ve always thought that some sort of ‘moral plane’ existed. This doesn’t answer Euthyphro though.

  106. cl said:

    I didn’t read any post that occurred before Billy’s dated 4 June 2008 at 11:51 am. So, if anyone threw down a gauntlet before that I’ve not seen, that’s why I’m not responding to it. If anyone feels I’m obligated to address a response to my extended monologue, which had nothing to do with progression in the debate and everything to do with correcting past misunderstandings, just say so and I’ll oblige.

    Yes, read this

  107. Okay..I’ve been assuming the same God Epicurus did all along, with no redefinition. So agreed there.

    And I read all the background material for this post, including Gabe’s post and all the digressions / comments to it in the body of this post, and also in this thread. Sorry if you feel I’ve knocked the thread off topic. I noted Epicurus only because I feel his is the strongest wager ever proposed on the subject. If you gotta attack an idea, might as well go straight to the strongest version of it. Gabe’s dilemma is certain corollary to issues raised by Epicurus.

    SI writes, “If god is at least Omnipotent and Omni-benevolent, then evil cannot be explained away with those explanations, because to do so, one redefines god (or at least the terms omnipotence and omni-benevolence). I disagree, and feel no redefinition is necessary. And I don’t see any support for the argument made here within the paragraph it is contained in, either. SI simply says, “If God is X and Y, then evil cannot be explained away..” Why not? No offense SI, but that’s not even an argument. Perhaps you feel the burden of argument is on me, and that’s okay too.

    Question for everyone: Since we seemingly can’t abolish something that never existed, is the existence of evil a necessary precursor to its abolishment?

  108. @ SI,

    sorry I forgot to endquote your words above, after “…and omni-benevolence).” It could be misconstrued that I was positing my words as yours by omitting that quote. Sorry.

  109. Pingback: It’s All About the Definitions « (((Billy))) The Atheist

  110. cl said:

    I disagree, and feel no redefinition is necessary.

    The problem is you’re the one doing the redefining.

    Let’s try this again, then I give up.

    A perfect god (at least 2^O) would not allow evil to exist anywhere.

    Why not?

    Because he’s omni-benevolent, and omnipotent. That means he is the opposite of evil (all good, good to the max, the goodmeister, SuperGoodMan, etc.) and is all powerful, so he makes sure that there is nothing in the universe that contradicts his omni-benevolence. If there was even a speck of evil in the universe to contradict his supreme goodness, he would be obligated to exterminate it, and he would have the power to do so, too.

    A omni-benevolent, omnipotent creator of the world cannot, and would not, create a universe with evil in it.

    Do you agree with that cl? Because if you don’t, tell us why. I will want to know that you do before proceeding. I know you want to disagree with my ultimate conclusion, but stick with me here, and let’s do this incrementally.

    Your turn.

  111. SI,

    thanks for your time. I mean that sincerely & with no snark. i’m assuming you won’t respond cuz you said one more time and we done. if i haven’t agree to what you ask since ppost 1 why would i now? no, i don’t agree.

    here’s the thing: you keep crying “redefining” – i know what the fuck i’m talking about man! we disagree. that’s different. so quit saying that please, it’s wrong. i understand the qualities, i’m not some lame ass amateur. i understand all 4 qualities thoroughly and have adhered to the same damned defs since comment 2. you see no possible reconciliation; i do. whatever. i bet we have a different flavor ice cream too. whenever we infer from facts more than one interpretation is possible, i know you know that cuz your an attorny for cryin out louud. neither of our interpretations have empirical evidence anyway. i’m sorry we’re unable to see eye to eye, but at the end of the day it’s an internet thread. or is it?

    The following comments indicate your mind is made up:

    “A perfect god (at least 2^O) would not allow evil to exist anywhere.” – okay, if you say so. but what if a perfect god wanted to make a race of beings for future beneficiary purposes, beings that were tested with little and that had the choice between good and evil, even though he knew some would go one way and the rest the other? and you can’t ask “why he would” cause that’s another deal entirely. there are things in life of which you can’t have one without the other.

    and you have not answered this question: is the existence of evil a necessary precursor to its abolishment? yes or no? why or why not?

    speaking of unanswered questions, nobody has answered my fifth alternative to the epicurean fart: that god already abolished evil and life is the living out of that process. anyone – yes or no? why or why not? i realize evil exists.

    “A omni-benevolent, omnipotent creator of the world cannot, and would not, create a universe with evil in it.” – again, i disagree. if god was to abolish evil he would have to first allow it. what premise do i have for asserting it should be abolished then? the creation of autonomous beings. you, me, ex, philly, billy, melvin..we’re all autonomous beings, right? could we be autonomous beings without choice? do you really think you get an equal destiny as hitler? i bet you’ve helped hella people and made legitimate changes in society, SI, and if you ask me the notion that you and hitler pay the same dues in the long run is philosophically repugnant. but that’s all thread drift. point was, the creation of autonomous beings with moral choice demands the presence of good and evil. yes or no?

    incrementally:

    your god and you wanna make autonomous beings with chooiice

    to have choice, at least two alternatives m ust be present right?

    evil has to exist in order to be abolished.

    you cannot abolish that which does not exist.

    evil and good must exist for autonomous beings to have choice.

    i answered all your questions and left 15+ points to attack. you need to change your line of defense in me opinion. if not, show why..

  112. I have been asked back by an anonymous poster to my blog. I should like to know if this is desirable in general; and specifically if SI would be in favor of my return. I don’t like to drown on if the bulk of participants tire with the absolutes replete in my missives.

    My fundamental belief rests in the person of Jesus Christ and who He is. I will not change this just for your comfort level. Everything I say is based on this premise. So, will you hear me again on this matter?

    In the love of Christ,
    -Mel

  113. In response to Philly’s remarks 4 June 2008 at 11:40 am:

    “It would be sad to see a discussion be derailed due to some misunderstanding, willful obfuscation or some pathetic harboring of old grudges.”

    I fully agree, and my steam is dissipated. I tried my best to contain my disdain. I knew months ago when he first spouted off about me to somebody else that Ex is the guy I disliked the most, so when I saw him here, I knew the confrontation was unavoidable because pussy not am I. Now that I’ve at least temporarily succeeded in getting Ex to ‘be done with me,’ I also say that it’s a really nice, new day.

    So, Philly, fresh and anew, me and you? I’m being serious. I will promise right now to never bring up any sandbox stuff that occurred on either of our behalf, again. See, Ex thinks I’m a troll that came here solely to rehash old shit. Not so. I came here for the argument. I originally hesitated from posting, because I knew exactly what was going to happen, and that was old shit would get thrown around because I can’t stand that guy’s baseless air of superiority, and I had a minor issue with you. It’s over, I can be cool with you if you can be cool with me. Anyways, get three or more strong-headed folks together and things like this are bound to happen. If I knew you, Philly, from work or the street, we’d probably be friends, possibly even drink a beer, collab on a project, have a cig or who knows. So…my hand’s extended.

    You write,

    “1. Acknowledge that you understand my argument for how the four premises of the problem of evil can’t stand, or at least acknowledge that I’ve satisfactorily presented an argument to that effect.”

    No problem, I’ve understood the definitions and your argument since square one.

    “2. Acknowledge that you understand now that my objection wasn’t to not knowing your god’s reason for allowing evil but rather that for him to allow it, in light of the omni characteristics, means evil becomes good.”

    There’s two statements there. You did, in fact, take me to task when I posited our inability to apprehend God’s motives. If that was not your original objection, I misunderstood. At any rate, I now understand this is not your objection. I disagree to your conclusion, but I understand what you’re positing. I’ve not ever argued here that ‘evil becomes good,’ and that is what my opposition has posited as the only possibly conclusion of my words. I understand your opinion as saying, “an omni-4 God cannot allow evil under any circumstances.” Is that your opinion? If so, I still disagree. Correct me if I’m reaching or putting words in your mouth..

    “3. Address my challenge and defense of the challenge that god allowing evil is not tantamount to a process of abolishing evil.”

    I see two things going on here as well. Which particular challenge of yours would you like me to address? There’s been a few thrown down around here the past week. And to be clear – do you agree or disagree with the statement that allowance of evil is tantamount to process? I’m pretty sure you disagree. Besides, it’s corollary to the original argument, no?

    #4 is also secondary to the issue at hand. So I won’t respond to #4 because I feel it doesn’t apply to me, and I addressed those claims ad nauseum, although they have not been thwarted. Sorry there..

    What would you like me to do next?

  114. 1.

    No problem, I’ve understood the definitions and your argument since square one.

    Well what you said was “You say the four premises don’t stand, but you provide no support.” (3 June 2008 at 2:13 am) but as long as we’re clear now, great.

    2.

    I disagree to your conclusion, but I understand what you’re positing.

    Ok

    3.

    Which particular challenge of yours would you like me to address?

    You: “God might be allowing evil ‘for awhile,’ which is tantamount to a process of abolishing evil. Yes or no?”
    Me: “No. I plan to one day visit Paris. Is that tantamount to a process of visiting Paris? No”
    You: This is laughable: “I plan to one day visit Paris. Is that tantamount to a process of visiting Paris?” Of course not Philly don’t belittle yourself or me. My original assertion was that allowing evil to exist for a while is reasonably perceived as indicative of process.”
    Me: “Allowing something to sit untouched until you eventually touch it is not a process for touching it, likewise, planning to go to Paris is not the same as going to Paris.”

    Ring a bell?

    4.

    I won’t respond to #4 because I feel it doesn’t apply to me, and I addressed those claims ad nauseum

    Did you? I don’t know, my eyes tend to glaze over scrolling past paragraph after paragraph of obfuscation and nonsense. No matter, I’ll suspend this one unless I see it come up again.

    Do you pay your bills off completely at the end of the month? I do. Maybe that’s old fashioned these days where it’s fashionable to be in debt. Anyway, I ask because I simply can’t fathom taking on new things when old things are left unfinished. Perhaps leaving them there for that future day when you will address them is your idea of being tantamount to a process of addressing them? That would explain #3 I guess. So let’s finish #3 first and then maybe we can move on.

    ————————–

    My fundamental belief rests in the person of Jesus Christ and who He is. I will not change this just for your comfort level. Everything I say is based on this premise. So, will you hear me again on this matter?

    Only if you can give rational arguments for your beliefs or for why you hold them. If all you’re going to do is pontificate, you can go jump in a lake for all I care. Once again, no one here is expecting you nor demanding you to abandon your beliefs, only to argue and defend them, which is not the same as repeating them ad nauseum like a drawstring doll.

    And cl, why didn’t you sign your name to the comment on Mel’s blog?

  115. I said:

    A omni-benevolent, omnipotent creator of the world cannot, and would not, create a universe with evil in it.

    Do you agree with that cl?

    OK, cl, I thought you wouldn’t give me a short answer, and that you would continue to disagree. Here’s where we are diverging:

    I said god wouldn’t create a world with evil in it. You said:

    if god was to abolish evil he would have to first allow it.

    Do you see the distinction I’m making? The difference between creating evil and abolishing it? There’s nothing to abolish if it wasn’t created in the first place. And since god is the creator, he would be the one doing the creating. And since he’s 2^O, he is incapable of creating evil, because that would be a contradiction of his omni-benevolence. Hence Epicurus.

    But you disagree. OK. The only reasons you disagree are contained in the so-called flawed exceptions, which brings me to the next point:

    If you accept any of those exceptions, you have taken god out of the realm of Omni into the realm of semi-omni, or better yet, not omni.

    By example, your exceptions all talk about God abolishing evil, which presupposes that evil already exists. If that’s the case, then, either god:

    1. Did not create evil, some other supernatural entity did, in which case god is not alone, or
    2. He did create evil, in which case he is no longer 2^O

    Now, these are your exceptions, so it is you that is redefining god for purposes of this discussion. When you say:

    you keep crying “redefining” – i know what the fuck i’m talking about man! we disagree. that’s different. so quit saying that please, it’s wrong.

    you’re denying that you’re redefining god. See, if god created evil, he’s not 2^O, or 4^O for that matter, he less that ^O in some respect, and hence, he’s been redefined. By you.

    You keep saying that you disagree with that, but you have not said why.

    So, Why?

  116. Mel said:

    I have been asked back by an anonymous poster to my blog. I should like to know if this is desirable in general; and specifically if SI would be in favor of my return. I don’t like to drown on if the bulk of participants tire with the absolutes replete in my missives.

    My fundamental belief rests in the person of Jesus Christ and who He is. I will not change this just for your comfort level. Everything I say is based on this premise. So, will you hear me again on this matter?

    Was that cl who asked you to come back? Just curious.

    Frankly, this is an open blog. The only comments I delete are those of obvious trolls, and spam. All others are welcome. So if you have something you feel adds to the discussion, by all means, have at it, Mel.

    However, as a rule, generally I’m looking for discussions in the logical, rational realm. If all you’re going to do is tell me that Jesus has all the answers, it won’t add anything to the discussion, in my opinion. I don’t even believe Jesus ever walked the earth, so what his sycophants have written in his name means next to, if not less than, nothing to me.

    Please don’t take that as me rolling out the Unwelcome mat, but merely as a notice of how your comments might be received.

  117. cl said;

    sorry for cusses above that was one continuous type out. gone in 60 seconds style

    If you think a few fuckin’ cuss words bothers us here, you haven’t been here long enough.

  118. @ Philly,

    #1: Okay makes sense now..when I said “You say the four premises don’t stand, but you provide no support,” I was referring to your rejection of my “flawed suppositions” or whatever Ex called them. What I meant was, I understand your arguments, and why you think them, but I still don’t have any support, ie, an argument from you that explicitly explains why an omnibenevolent God can’t allow evil, under any circumstances. I’m not trying to nitpick, I just don’t think that’s an explanation. It’s more like just saying over and over again, “All-lovingness can never allow evil..” Why?

    #3: Getting clearer…let me point out I totally fucked up here. At one point in this thread I said yes and no to this. So let me try to get it together, and please don’t look for a previous statement to contradict this one, because I’ve just conceded I contradicted myself on this point. For the record: I think planning to visit Paris one day is the beginning of a process, and as such tantamount. However, when you say,

    “Allowing something to sit untouched until you eventually touch it is not a process for touching it, likewise, planning to go to Paris is not the same as going to Paris.”

    Tons of red flags go up for me here. Basically, there is no affirmative or proactive decision in allowance or passivity, so I feel the analogy is flawed. You know what I mean? When I say, “Damnit honey let’s go to Paris” a process has begun. I’ve made a decision to effect change. Allowance or passivity don’t effect change. Now, we can micromanage the word process to only include travel; that’s different..

    As for #4, I lay out a decent case that it was you who paraphrased my words in a way to change them. Check it out later though, when all this heat has dissipated. It’s still kinda warm in here, and I’m as at fault as anyone I criticize. Either way, we need cold logic.

  119. @ SI,

    Thanks for pointing out that distinction. I’m not sure it helps either one of us though.

    You said, “There’s nothing to abolish if it wasn’t created in the first place.” We’re back at Euthyphro now. Remember my moral plane concept everyone laughed at? I think you’re on the way to it here, where you posit that an omnibenevolent God “…is incapable of creating evil.” For now I’ll accept that as the terms of the rest of our discussion.

    The only reason my exceptions all talk about abolishing evil is because that’s the entire context of the Epicurean thing. I am presupposing that evil already existed, as evidenced by my repeat of ‘existence is precursor to abolition.’ So you are right again.

    This I disagree to:

    “If you accept any of those exceptions, you have taken god out of the realm of Omni into the realm of semi-omni, or better yet, not omni.”

    But I think you’re reasoning for this is, as you say, an omnibenevolent God can’t create evil, a point at which I’ve agreed.

    Now I see the basis of your incorrect redefinition charge – you presume I ever accepted the premise that God created evil. Above I just clarified that. Before, I explicitly told Ex that was not my argument, many comments back.

    So, now that I’m being very clear that for the purposes of this debate, God did not create evil, please, no more redef claims!!

  120. And SI,

    Not trying to be a nanny-nanny-boo-boo, but you yourself indulge an Epicurean either-or fallacy here:

    “If that’s the case, then, either god did not create evil, some other supernatural entity did, in which case god is not alone; or
    He did create evil, in which case he is no longer 2^O”

    Evil could have always existed as well, no? Why does evil have to have been created by some being if not God??

  121. You know there’s so much digression I could embark on here, cl.

    So, now that I’m being very clear that for the purposes of this debate, God did not create evil, please, no more redef claims!!

    OK. Then where did evil come from? I thought, in the Christian world, god created everything. If god didn’t create evil. from where did it come?

    Evil could have always existed as well, no? Why does evil have to have been created by some being if not God??

    That’s really interesting. So then, if I say, when we are discussing the origins of the universe, that “it always existed”, you’d accept that? You don’t buy into the first cause argument?

  122. When you assert god is in the process of getting rid of evil, and the guy is all omni-everything, then the process should have been long since done and over with, and yet it’s not. That doesn’t make sense unless:
    • He’s incapable of getting rid of it or incapable of doing it effortlessly – not omnipotent
    • He feels like taking his time with it – not omni-benevolent
    • It’s part of some plan of his to allow it for awhile – makes your third supposition redundant, not to mention flawed imo as I showed way back when above

    So if you look at it your way, the supposition is flawed. You look at it my way and it’s not even a sensible supposition, which of the two choices I think i better for you, and why I said way back when you ought to drop this one and just try and argue the other 3.

  123. These are not child’s questions!

    “OK. Then where did evil come from? I thought, in the Christian world, god created everything. If god didn’t create evil. from where did it come?

    I’m familiar with scriptures that say God created the universe, or that Jesus upholds the universe, etc. To me, there are clearly two classes of thing: Temporary and infinite. Boggles my mind. I couldn’t tell you where evil came from. If, as they say, God is love, then I could see evil being not even a ‘thing’ at all, but the purest absence of love. I suppose they are best perceived as fields, and that’s why I keep coming back to a plane in my mind.

    “That’s really interesting. So then, if I say, when we are discussing the origins of the universe, that “it always existed”, you’d accept that?”

    No I wouldn’t accept that at all. Cosmologists of previous centuries understandably supposed that the universe was static or self-sustaining, and these were valid hypotheses considering the evidence of the times. Prior to twentieth-century astronomy, another theory was that the universe itself was uncaused and had simply always been here. With the advance of science in that century came observable, testable data from esteemed professionals like Albert Einstein, Edwin Hubble and others indicating just the opposite: that the universe itself had once been in a state of non-existence, that it had something comparable to a beginning.Bertrand Russell seems to have made a similar claim the very same year Hubble demonstrated otherwise, however. I accept the scientific consensus of a beginning or some sort of omega point, to rip de Chardin. Redshifts are redshifts. From a religious standpoint, there is nothing in scripture which contradicts the idea that all the matter in the universe was once at an ultra-dense, ultra-hot singularity that defies the laws the physics. In fact, I’d say the first three words of the Bible say it rather well, if I might even be a little controversial.

    “You don’t buy into the first cause argument?”

    I, myself, am not sure whether a truly successful ontological argument exists. The whole First Cause debate..well, I will say the idea is in accord with common sense, but not in any way a scientific ‘proof’ of God, if that makes sense. Since whatever begins to exist seemingly demands a cause, it is a scientifically tenable assumption that something or some process caused the universe to begin, or that the beginning of the universe might be part of some process. However, let nobody forget that per the laws of physics we have no prospect of attaining observable data for anything that exists before Planck time. As such, stating whether the cause of the universe was natural or divine is simply outside the jurisdiction of observable data and our approximations ought to reflect that fact.

  124. Philly:

    “When you assert god is in the process of getting rid of evil..”

    To clarify, I only asserted ‘the process of getting rid of evil’ as a potentially valid alternative to the Epicurus thing. I still think it’s valid, but let’s not attack that; attack the strongest point –

    “..then the process should have been long since done and over with, and yet it’s not.”

    This sounds familiar:

    “It should be instantaneous..” – Philly

    Same reply for me still. I don’t accept just-so stories. You’ve posed no convincing argument that the process should have long since been done. And besides, if you want to attack what I feel is the most reasonable alternative to Epicurus wager, I think the strongest alternative is one I’ve already stated, that, STILL remains completely unaddressed in its original context:

    “May I ask your personal objections to the potentiality of “God already abolished evil” as a valid alternative Epicurus missed? I completely understand how counter-intuitive the question is, as well. I do own a television and occasionally watch the news.”

    (see comment 3 June 2008 at 7:08 pm

  125. You’ve posed no convincing argument that the process should have long since been done

    Yes I have. What would be the reasons for an all powerful god taking so long to accomplish a goal?
    • He’s incapable of getting rid of it or incapable of doing it effortlessly – not omnipotent
    • He feels like taking his time with it – not omni-benevolent
    • It’s part of some plan of his to allow it for awhile – makes your third supposition redundant, not to mention flawed imo as I showed way back when above

    I think you have this supposition fused with your third, essentially arguing that he’s in the process of abolishing evil and that process involves allowing it to exist for awhile for some divine reason.

    Does everyone acknowledge the existence of evil?

    As a thing in and of itself? No. As a label we apply to things and actions? Yes.

  126. Well, shit, everyone. SI’s so close to a nice, round 150 comments, can’t we all pitch in here and carry him there?

  127. There goes Trinity stealing my identity again. I do agree with her sentiment, but I’m surprised to see her say “shit.”

    Ex, you and your heathen friends have obviously started corrupting the poor girl. Now she’s stealing and swearing. Shame on you! 🙂

  128. Trinity, I’ve been monitoring your blog, and I see you haven’t written anything for a few months, so it’s good to see you back.

    And as I said to cl, cussing is welcome here.

  129. Well, probably thread- and/or intellecticide, but..

    Trinity – I see your typing and diction has approved immensely! How did you manage to lose that dumb, southern-fundamentalist accent in just a few months? Now I’ve got cousins from the Midwest out here 20 years still sayin’ things like ‘pop’ and ‘ma’ and mis-spelling basic conjunctions, girl! By the way, whose pet troll are you anyways? Did the thought-police feel the need to sick your vicious absurdities on those of us less accepting of a reasonably fallacious argument? And how, might I ask, is that in line with intellectualism? Or do those who bring real trolls into threads operate only under the pretense of the latter?

    Philly – That’s a fair argument, and I would agree with your first two supporting arguments. The third is unclear. For example, you don’t show which quality you feel is violated as you do in the first two. Care to clarify? In the context of conditions that would contradict one of the qualities we discuss, you wrote,

    “It’s part of some plan of his to allow it for awhile – makes your third supposition redundant, not to mention flawed imo as I showed way back when above..”

    Which quality would it violate if this God we’re questioning gives rational beings the chance to make their choice regarding this problem of evil? Say God decided to make X amount of rational beings. Well, X amount of rational beings each deserves a chance to make their choice, ie, manifest their heart, right? I also realize classes of rational beings exist that do not appear to have the ability to make such a choice, ie, kids that die young, people with severe disabilities..

    And this question has yet to be answered. Ex dismissed it just as I thought, SI paraphrased it in a way that changed the context and then responded to it out of context, but I have yet to hear a valid objection to “God already abolished evil” as an alternative Epicurus missed? What could very well have been an instantaneous decision to abolish evil might reasonably have had effects and repercussions involving other rational beings – anyone?

    SI – thanks, it’s been good. Depending on everyone’s behavior, I may or may not be back. I see vultures swirling. If we can be mean to each other in good fun, while still actually have some semblance of a progressive dialog, then that might be worth continuing. But I think the intellectual value of this argument is about to take a deep nosedive. (great lead-in for a dis against me, btw)

  130. Going for 150

    cl asked:

    …but I have yet to hear a valid objection to “God already abolished evil” as an alternative Epicurus missed?

    I think you’ve already heard a valid objection, but you keep ignoring it.

    If god already abolished evil, then that means there is no evil in the world.

    Even you don’t believe that.

  131. hi every body,

    i made the 150h comment here so i guess i am smarter than LC. but i have no ide what he was saing to me DO YOU???????? i think he mihgt be SATIN in disgust becuase he keeps trying to tell poeple that there is no evil when there is clearly evil all you have to do is watch a terribul three stogges with Shemp AND YOU WILL KNOW HOW BAD THINGS CAN BE!!!!!!!!

    im unbarased to think that Shemp is in Gods image. aslo LC who probally likes Shemp althouhg even Shemp is funnyer than him.

    i dout if LC can argue against this. 1) there IS a Shemp 2) Shemp is not funny 3) if a comic is not funny he is bad 4( Shemp is bad 6) bad exists.

  132. Cl,

    Damn dude, how many times do I have to address the same thing? I had to reach back the last time to an earlier comment and now I have to again. Very well, from 3 June 2008 at 4:03 am:

    All good, all powerful, all knowing god would have to get rid of evil and be quite capable of doing it, but evil exists. Problem.
    – Remove omnibenevolence and he’s not obligated to remove evil
    – Remove omnipotence and he’s simply incapable of removing evil
    – Remove omniscience and, well, he’s simply fallible and failing to remove evil is just a big oops on his part. Also, the tough love excuse fails since if he’s omniscient, he can think of a nicer way to instruct

    So if you don’t want to remove any of those three, then what’s left? You remove evil itself, which is what your ideas try to do. So when you say he’s postponing getting rid of evil, and you’re keeping the above three premises, then he must have some reason to do so and yes, that begs for an answer, but of course we can’t have an answer because we can’t know his mind, but we know he’s good so leaving evil in place must be good, therefore evil is good. There ya go, evil off the list.

    So now you’re shifting into the free will argument. I see. Well that’s yet another way to remove evil from the list. From what I said before, it doesn’t matter if we know what the reason is for god to allow evil since an omni-benevolent god’s reasons must be good, so you can insert anything as a reason. So you’re choosing free will. So what? The reason is immaterial to us.

  133. Holy moley, how did you manage to draw in so many critics?!

    I’ve never seen theodicy work out, here or anywhere, from the worst apologetics to the professionals. All of the excuses and arguments are paper-thin evasions, and the “free will” gambit is the worst of the lot. As I noted a while back, David Ramsay’s book has a good listing of the many, many reasons why the gambit fails EVEN if you ignore the problem with the core concept.

    And that’s, frankly, even still a pretty difficult fault to ignore for long. The more I see people fail to explain what Free Will is or how it works or does anything at all, the more I’m convinced that it’s nothing more than an incantation whose sole purpose is to try, without any coherent justification, to evade moral responsibility.

    Seriously: the only function I can find for the concept is to excuse the actions or choices of some sentient agent whenever another sentient agent comes into the picture. Free Will doesn’t do a lick of work in explaining how we choose, but it does basically seem to exist to allow people to insist that they shouldn’t be blamed for inciting a riot, or any actions that lead predictably to bad consequences through influences on other people.

  134. I lost my original comment somehow, grr

    Anyway, I’m endlessly amazed at just how paper-thin and feeble theodicy turns out to be. Even if you ignore the core problem of Free Will being an incoherent, undefined concept, there are countless reasons why it still doesn’t answer the dilemma in any serious way. I recently noted that David Ramsay’s latest book on atheism lists many of the many fatal problems with the free will defense.

    And on top of it all, it’s still really, really hard to ignore the problem with the concept of Free Will in the first place. The more I see failed attempts at defining or explaining what Free Will is, the more I’m convinced that it’s nothing more than a voodoo incantation whose sole purpose is to erode moral responsibility.

    Think about it: what else does “Free Will” do, as a philosophical concept. It doesn’t, in any sense, explain or illuminate the mystery of how we make the choices we do. In fact, even the idea of explaining “how” we make choices appears to be fatal to the very idea of Free Will. But the one role it does seem to play is to let people (and gods) off the hook for their actions or failures to act as long as other people are involved, or further down on the causal chain. Free Will is nothing more than the assertion that there’s nothing at all wrong with inciting a riot, or doing anything that would predictably affect the actions or choices of other people.

  135. Sorry Bad. They both got stuck in the moderation queue, though I have no idea why. It’s set up to moderate those with two or more URL links embedded, on the assumption that it’s spam, but you only had one. Grrr, is right.

    On free will, yes, I agree.

    It’s much like sin. A mental construct used to explain and rationalize behavior. But it doesn’t exist anywhere than in our tiny little minds. And what constitutes sin, and what doesn’t, is a constantly changing process.

  136. @ Philly,

    You wrote,

    “So if you don’t want to remove any of those three, then what’s left? You remove evil itself, which is what your ideas try to do. So when you say he’s postponing getting rid of evil, and you’re keeping the above three premises, then he must have some reason to do so and yes, that begs for an answer, but of course we can’t have an answer because we can’t know his mind, but we know he’s good so leaving evil in place must be good, therefore evil is good. There ya go, evil off the list. So now you’re shifting into the free will argument.”

    To clarify:

    1) My ideas don’t remove evil. They acknowledge it. Again, I’ve asserted this whole time that for our discussion, we all agree something we call ‘evil’ exists.

    2) I’ve never said that God is “postponing getting rid of evil.” I listed it as a valid possibility under the original objections to Epicurus. It’s not the only option I argue, and I don’t feel it’s the strongest. In fact, all of your objections here, along with everybody else’s, have confirmed my doubts about it being a valid option at all. I do feel that one or more valid options to Epicurus’ dilemma exist, however. I’ve said before that I tend to agree with you, Philly, that the way in which God would best abolish evil would probably be with an irrevocable, instantaneous decision.

    3) The thought process you paraphrase beginning “…but of course” is preposterous and I hope nobody would argue it. I don’t.

    4) “So now you’re shifting into the free will argument.” Please don’t put words in my mouth. What particular free will argument would you like to accuse me of making? At least if I knew my perceived offense, I could respond in context. I tend to agree with some of Bad’s definitions of and problems with the concept of free will.

    @ anyone,

    I’ll go so far as to say that the only point of disagreement between me and anyone here is this: From a purely logical standpoint, I say Epicurus missed potentially valid options. The strongest of these options, the one I feel is valid, is the idea that God already abolished evil in an instant, long ago. This is the counter-intuitive idea everybody has failed to respond appropriately to. For example, SI told me that if this idea was true, evil wouldn’t exist. That is not the argument. Others have said if this idea were true, we would have to redefine evil into good. I believe we don’t.

    I’m saying the observation of undeniable ‘evil’ in our world does not inherently contradict or nullify the premise that God made an instantaneous decision to abolish evil long ago. If anyone feels it does, explain.

  137. For the record – I actually enjoy Trinity’s charm, and thought it was funny when her owner first sicked her on me.

  138. hi LC,

    you siad i have an owner but I DONT!!!!!!!! oxcept Jesus who owns me body and sole. like the song says hes got the hole world in his hands. but wer’e like mnms WE DONT MELT!!!!!!!!!!!!

    so does He own you two??? or do THE ATHIESTS????????

    and aslo in case you were wandering im NOT SICK. no body made me sick and i was definatly NOT SICK ON YOU!!!!!!!!! thats just a lie to make me look like some body who throes up all the time.

  139. What followed “of course” IS the logical conclusion based on the triple-omni premises cl, whether you want to accept that or not. Furthermore, your suppositions, even if not knowingly so on your part, do work to remove evil from the 4 premises, and I showed how.

    Please don’t put words in my mouth. What particular free will argument would you like to accuse me of making?

    “Which quality would it violate if this God we’re questioning gives rational beings the chance to make their choice regarding this problem of evil? Say God decided to make X amount of rational beings. Well, X amount of rational beings each deserves a chance to make their choice…” – cl, 8 June 2008 at 9:35 am

    Seriously dude, I’m tired of having to go fetch my words and yours to jog your memory.

    I’m saying the observation of undeniable ‘evil’ in our world does not inherently contradict or nullify the premise that God made an instantaneous decision to abolish evil long ago. If anyone feels it does, explain.

    That’s simply absurd. Evil exists, whether you want to call it Evil, a thing in and of itself, or the label “evil” we apply to things like suffering. You explain.

  140. @ SI,

    thanks for having me. We’ve continued over at Ex’s neck of the net. You should know that a Google search with the criteria “Epicurus abolish evil” currently returns this thread as the fifth most popular hit.

  141. Hey, SI:

    Nestle dropped the same exact comment at my blog – one of my Friday Fotos. Not sayin’ it’s spam or anything. 😉

  142. Hey SI,

    Somewhere in this mess, didn’t you give some scriptural support for this Omni4 idea? I thought in particular, somewhere you said something like, “The idea could be a paraphrase of…” some verse in Hebrews. I’m still churning, and trying to find the biblical basis for this Omni4 God..

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