Up@dawn 2.0

Saturday, January 28, 2012

The Problem of evil

In my Intro classes we introduced the problem of evil (suffering) the other day. Baggini thinks the argument against theism based on suffering is impressive, as do I. But Intro students typically put up a force field the minute the subject is raised, and after so many years it does get tiresome repeating the same old rejoinders.

So I thought I'd ask if any of you has a fresh thought on the subject I might borrow.

Mr. Deity pretty much knocks it out of the park, doesn't he? Bart Ehrman, too.

What else would you say to someone who says things like this?

Romans 6:23

the wages of sin are death...

so sin is the cause of evil...

but if someone dies is it because of sin or evil.

So maybe this evil thing is suspect unless you believe in the word of GOD like I do then it makes sense.

ohh, did you ask why it made sense... Glad you asked.

ok Jesus came to the earth born of a virgin... blah blah blah.. you know the story...

he died but rose on the 3rd day so we can have the right to grace... He was sacrificed for our sins & transgressions...  

So now we (Christians) are saved by grace which means that we can be forgiven of our sins, if we express them to him. 

 Or this:
Do we sin because we are evil, or are we evil because we sin? If you read the story of Eve in the Garden of Eden, from the book of Genesis, it appears that humans were created without sin but with free will. If this is the case- that Eve had no sin, then why did she disobey God and eat the fruit? Did she eat because she was created as a sinner or did she become a sinner because she disobeyed God? If she had not sinned, would she have lived forever? Was death created because of her sin or was it inevitable for all humans? If God is all-knowing as scripture indicates, why would he create humans and then set them up for failure? Is it possible that God created the framework of the world and then instituted "natural laws" and then allowed man to decide how he would live?
Or this:
I feel like all of those above points can be true without contradicting one another. I think God is Good and wants us all to be faithful and good on our own, but bad things do happen because its the laws of physics and the universe. God allows them to happen because its part of life, but sometimes he will step in if he see's fit. If the world was absolutely perfect we wouldn't appreciated it and we would still find something to complain about. When parents have kids, they don't step in and fix every little thing for them even if they can, instead they let them experience a certain amount of life's sour milk! That's how we learn and in the end, it makes us stronger! I wish life was all rainbows and sunshine, but then again if It was, would I be the same person I am now? Would I understand the importance of love and goodness or would I take it for granted? Maybe God wants us to see the silver lining on the grey cloud. That way in the end when He detroys all things evil, we'll all understand how blessed we are. 


  1. In regards to understanding evil, it reminds me of the Book of Job, in which god allowed a multitude of evils to befall Job to test his faith, such as the death of his family, loss of his home and business, etc.

    In the end, Job still praised god, and he gave him a new family, home etc. but the fact would remain, that all of this was done simply to prove a point, and human beings were treated like collateral for the sake of a petty argument.

    An all powerful, all knowing being should be able to help us reach an understanding of good and evil without allowing things like... the holocaust.

    1. "An all powerful, all knowing being should be able to help us reach an understanding of good and evil without allowing things like... the holocaust."

      What would you suggest?

    2. Yes, what *would* a created entity suggest to its all-powerful and all-knowing creator?

    3. Divine literary fiction, maybe? A good holocaust novel? Moby Dick?

    4. Ah, but if we can conceive of a holocaust, then we can also conceive of a greater holocaust: one that actually occurred. There, the ontological argument for evil.

  2. "What else would you say to someone who says things like this?"

    This is exactly what happens when one starts debating the intricacies, wishes, moral attributes, and capricious nature of someone's invisible bronze-age friend that doesn't exist. Once you've taken that bait, you're argument is dragged off into the transcendent abyss by a presuppositional nightmare reinforced by emotional bluster and dogmatic rhetoric that is innately immune to proof, facts, reason and logic by its very nature and left standing on the very same slippery (i.e., nonexistent) metaphysical footing as the theist. Some call this faith.

    When someone starts in with the above type of rhetoric, the first response should be: "Wait, back up. Did you say something about a "god? What exactly are you talking about?"

    This is a much better place to start the conversation.

    1. It's funny how many things come back around to defining terms.

    2. Exactly!

      During the proselytizing pitch, the theist's god is all-everything-all-the-time but he's especially omnipotent--right there by his side as a personal friend and savior with an army of angels protecting his every move; fighting the devil in an unseen spiritual warfare right here on earth. Then, after a few more minutes of this personal god-talk, you get the deal closer: "and you can have this too if you just believe." There's no talk of a transcendent god during the sales pitch because he's like your left thumb: always there with you. Then, a few weeks later when the shit hits the fan, you start asking hard questions like where is this god or why do children starve to death every 5 seconds or why do tornados and tsunamis destroy entire cities. Then the all-powerful god becomes, like, all mysterious and stuff and retreats to the far corners of the universe--beyond space and time--until the hard questions cease.

      Definitions are contingent upon purpose.

      What's the use in having a goal post, e.g., definition of God if the opposing team can move it when you get too close.

    3. I agree, Dean. Sooner or later, empirical facts about the world have to be squared with whatever god you define. In the case of a theistic god, these attempts can be by turns both painful and hilarious.

    4. The whole question of purpose, in my mind, brings up the ridiculousness of the Rapture and Revelations and the like. This is what Xtians believe the teleos is?! A holy war between heaven and earth where God and Jesus play Risk with the forsaken souls of purgatory? This was most likely written by a guy who lived very close to a leaking methane supply, but it made the cut, too. If there is a grander purpose to life that we don't determine ourselves, I think it would have to be more than a Led Zeppelin album cover.

    5. I have to thank Philosophy for training me to question the concept of Truth (with a capital 'T.' Now I have to thank S.A for introducing 'Risk' (with a capital 'R' courtesy of Parker Brothers) into the religious conversation.

      So, yes S.A., there does seem to be more than a hint of gaming aspect to the concept of religious teleos and eternal risk (Risk) in the search for truth (Truth).

      As if we're part of a divine board game and winner takes all. Theists only have to worry of they've chosen the correct open territory but, then agin, that's determined by a roll of the dice.