Some Ultimate questions of the religious kind

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Reply Fri 10 Jul, 2009 03:57 am
Why is there evil?


God created all that

17.8%
http://squidcdn.s3.amazonaws.com/images/poll-bar0.gif

Humans treat each other badly

22.2%
http://squidcdn.s3.amazonaws.com/images/poll-bar1.gif

Life just isn't fair

6.7%
http://squidcdn.s3.amazonaws.com/images/poll-bar2.gif

Each person deserves what they get because of previous lifetimes (Karma)

8.9%
http://squidcdn.s3.amazonaws.com/images/poll-bar3.gif

Each person is placed where they need to learn their lessons (karma)

4.4%
http://squidcdn.s3.amazonaws.com/images/poll-bar4.gif

So that people can learn compassion (karma)

20%
http://squidcdn.s3.amazonaws.com/images/poll-bar0.gif

Some other reason (mention in the comments please)
 
jgweed
 
Reply Fri 10 Jul, 2009 09:09 am
@Alan McDougall,
I presume this is some kind of poll results. If so, it might be interesting and important to know who gave the poll and who was polled. Perhaps you could provide a link/citation to the original.
Regards,
John
 
William
 
Reply Fri 10 Jul, 2009 09:27 am
@Alan McDougall,
I think, Alan, the answer is in the word "evil" itself in that it is the mirror image of "live". In that context evil is that which compromises and inhibits that life. Just a thought.

William
 
de budding
 
Reply Fri 10 Jul, 2009 09:28 am
@Alan McDougall,
Are we not beyond good and evil yet? >.>

Edit: Evil is a matter of selfishness. If something inhibits, upsets or hurts you it is undoubtedly going to feel evil to you. I think we see this psychology manifest when we get upset with inanimate objects.
 
dharma bum
 
Reply Fri 10 Jul, 2009 03:21 pm
@Alan McDougall,
I believe that there is evil because there without evil there cannot be good. Yin and Yang, if you will.

There is no happiness without sadness, no pleasure without pain. If there was no evil in the world, we would have no idea what good is because we'd have nothing to compare it to.
 
validity
 
Reply Fri 10 Jul, 2009 04:26 pm
@Alan McDougall,
Evil is an unfortunate result of free will
 
Alan McDougall
 
Reply Sat 11 Jul, 2009 10:46 am
@jgweed,
jgweed;76333 wrote:
I presume this is some kind of poll results. If so, it might be interesting and important to know who gave the poll and who was polled. Perhaps you could provide a link/citation to the original.
Regards,
John


Hi John

It comes from a group of which I am a member as it is not exhaustive giving the link is meaningless.

I just put the percentages as an indicator with the hope that our forum could improve on it

Nevertheless here is the link

The Ultimate Questions - religion and spirituality
 
de budding
 
Reply Sun 12 Jul, 2009 08:32 am
@dharma bum,
dharma_bum;76420 wrote:
I believe that there is evil because there without evil there cannot be good. Yin and Yang, if you will.

There is no happiness without sadness, no pleasure without pain. If there was no evil in the world, we would have no idea what good is because we'd have nothing to compare it to.


I think I agree, those things which benefit us cause a release of hormone X, which makes us feel good. And those things which hinder or hurt us cause a release of hormone Y, which makes us feel bad. We then use morals to condemn the things which release hormone Y and make us feel bad by calling them evil. Hell, we may even go as far as to tell everyone that they will suffer for eternity after death if they dare do those things which we worry will hurt us or the propagation of our seed. For example: Don't sleep with my wife... or you will suffer for eternity after death. Or, don't stab me with a knife, or help yourself to my food... or you will suffer for eternity after death.

In the words of a CG meercat: 'Simples'

Regards,
Dan.
 
Ares phil
 
Reply Wed 15 Jul, 2009 11:43 am
@validity,
validity;76431 wrote:
Evil is an unfortunate result of free will

Perhaps it is more an unfortunate result of opinion. While one person may see a certain thing as evil another may not, it is as morals are, subjective. However, in order to consider our 'will' to be free you must first assume there is something that can restrict it i.e. gods and in order to assume that evil is an unfortunate result of free will you must do so under the assumption that these gods, or whatever forces there may be that can restrict our will, are not evil.
 
validity
 
Reply Wed 15 Jul, 2009 03:18 pm
@Ares phil,
Ares;77436 wrote:
Perhaps it is more an unfortunate result of opinion. While one person may see a certain thing as evil another may not, it is as morals are, subjective.
I agree that morals are subjective. I understand what you are saying i.e. that the opinion of evil lies within the mind of the viewer and not specifically in the actions of another, but it is free will that allows the mind to decide wether others actions are evil or not.

Ares;77436 wrote:
However, in order to consider our 'will' to be free you must first assume there is something that can restrict it i.e. gods and in order to assume that evil is an unfortunate result of free will you must do so under the assumption that these gods, or whatever forces there may be that can restrict our will, are not evil.
I would not make use of the idea of 'god' in such an assumption. Forces do not have moral behaviour so I could not label them as evil or good.
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Thu 16 Jul, 2009 02:59 am
@validity,
There is calamity, disease, misfortune and so on. Tens of thousands may die in a natural disaster. I wonder if this is 'evil'. I don't really think it is. It is tragic of course, and we need to do everything we can to ameliorate suffering, but there is no malevolent intent behind it in my view. It is an inevitable result of material existence. The earth shrugs, and thousands perish. The same goes for predators and diseases. Cancer sure seems evi; it has claimed some of my loved ones, and seeing someone go through that is unbearably sorrowful. But evil? I don't know if I would use that word.

Perhaps the only real evil arises from human beings, and only because they are ignorant of, or rather wilfully ignore, what is true and good. I suppose the classical case in point is Auschwitz. But then, Viktor Frankl survived the concentration camps and wrote Mankind's Search for Meaning. Even there, the human spirit could come through.

Basically the whole of life and the universe is continually evolving towards The Good. If that makes me an optimist, so be it. So the only real evil is the privation of the good, our unawareness of this underlying benevolence and hence inability to 'get with the program'. Plus I also believe existence is voluntary. I volunteered to be here, and it is up to me to make the best of it.

Peace.
 
Ares phil
 
Reply Thu 16 Jul, 2009 08:52 am
@validity,
validity;77467 wrote:
I agree that morals are subjective. I understand what you are saying i.e. that the opinion of evil lies within the mind of the viewer and not specifically in the actions of another, but it is free will that allows the mind to decide wether others actions are evil or not.

I would not make use of the idea of 'god' in such an assumption. Forces do not have moral behaviour so I could not label them as evil or good.

Well in order for it to be considered free will there has to be something that can restrict it but chooses not to. Call it nature call it the universe call it Bob but there has to be something with the capability to restrict our will if you want to call it free. If there isn't then its just will. Thats the way I see it at least.

Also you say "it is free will that allows the mind to decide wether others actions are evil or not" so is there an ultimate evil and an ultimate good? By this I mean is there an actual definition of what is good and what is evil? Some line between the two? Anything?
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Thu 16 Jul, 2009 06:01 pm
@Alan McDougall,
I find this idea that 'morality is subjective' very interesting. I think this is very characteristic of modernism and post-modernism. The reason I say that is that, in traditional societies, Western society included, morality was anything but subjective. It was given by 'God's law'. Everyone agreed on it (or thought they did, although if you analyse from the contemporary viewpoint there was actually a lot of conflict between various interpretations. But I will leave that aside for the purposes of this discussion.)

So as part of the rise of modern philosophy (starting with Hume, Locke, Descartes, and so on) the idea of 'the source of morality' has undergone a complete transformation. In a notionally religious society, such as European society was prior to the Enlightenment, morality was understood in terms of public statutes which had developed in accordance with 'God's law'. (Many of the vestiges of this understanding remain in common law and civil society today, although if secular activism has its way, its days are surely numbered.)

But with the separation of Church and State, the translation of the Bible into the vernacular language, and the rise of Protestantism, the basis of morality shifted from insitutional authority to individual conscience. Accordingly, religious consciousness - and notions of moral truths - have become a private matter, almost, one might say, a matter of opinion. Hence the idea that 'morality is subjective'.

Now there is a conflict here. A very early, and important, distinction in Western philosophy was Plato's distinction between 'mere opinion' and 'true knowledge'. The secular outlook has implicitly rejected, or at least overlooked, this distinction by declaring that issues of moral truth are subjective. As secular society has, on the whole, rejected religious, spiritual or philosophical notions of morality in favour of science, then 'truth' also is now practically limited to statements which can be verified 'objectively', or within specialised languages such as mathematics or various realms of expert discourse. So the notion of there being a 'higher truth' - 'truth with a capital T' - or some kind of moral truth that has been either 'revealed' or can be discovered through 'philosophical enquiry' is generally, although often quite unconsciously, rejected.

The upshot is that we moderns, generally without even being aware of it, have actually rejected the traditional philosophical enterprise of 'arriving at wisdom about the true nature of things by rigourous and disciplined self-enquiry'. This has been displaced into so-called 'natural philosophy' which to all intents and purposes is in the domain of scientific specialists, the boffins at CERN and NASA. Implicitly, we assume that the world of the senses is reality, and our sole means of learning about it, science. Which, in my view, actually leaves a gap, a vacuum, in the centre of our being. And a great deal of contemporary 'culture' is aimed at filling it, but as we are not really aware of what is is, or how it got there, we are never satisfied.
 
validity
 
Reply Thu 16 Jul, 2009 07:30 pm
@Ares phil,
Ares;77651 wrote:
Well in order for it to be considered free will there has to be something that can restrict it but chooses not to. Call it nature call it the universe call it Bob but there has to be something with the capability to restrict our will if you want to call it free. If there isn't then its just will. Thats the way I see it at least.
Okay, when discussing this topic with you I shall use the word will.

Ares;77651 wrote:
Also you say "it is free will that allows the mind to decide wether others actions are evil or not" so is there an ultimate evil and an ultimate good? By this I mean is there an actual definition of what is good and what is evil? Some line between the two? Anything?
I do not think there is an ultimate evil or ultimate good. Defining something as ultimate means in some way that all possible cases have been demonstrated so that they can be ranked. As for an actual definition of good or evil, there are many. I suspect that my definition of good and evil is very differnet to, for example, Tharcisse Renzaho.
 
prothero
 
Reply Fri 24 Jul, 2009 12:45 am
@Alan McDougall,
IMHO
Omnipotence is a theological mistake.
God and the universe are co creative.
Creation ex nihilo is a mistake.
God imposes order on the formless void and brings forth order, life, mind, etc.
God is very powerful but not all powerful. Everything that happens is not part of Gods plan or an expression of divine will.
God struggles and suffers on behalf of his creation but relationship requires that there is some power and some creativity given to the creatures.
See process theology or Charles Hartshorne's Omnipotence and other theological mistakes.
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Fri 24 Jul, 2009 02:37 am
@Alan McDougall,
Nothing H about that O!
 
prothero
 
Reply Fri 24 Jul, 2009 02:15 pm
@Alan McDougall,
Well it is the problem of evil or theodicy.
I have looked at all the other proposed solutions.
Taking into account the slow process of cosmic and biological evolution, the mass extinctions, natural evil (disease, plagues, floods) and moral evil (murder, genocide) either god does not exist or the orthodox model of god is wrong.
The god of process theology working persistenly, patiently, tenderly and lovingly through nature and natural process is the only model that works for me. IMHO
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Sat 25 Jul, 2009 03:38 am
@Alan McDougall,
I am more reticent about attribution of evil to g*d. Hence my comment.

I sometimes think it is impudent on the part of humans to conjecture how things could be different, or better, if g*d or the world were more like we would imagine them to be. Take genocide. Should g*d have stepped in and prevented the Nazi party from forming, or Pol Pot from taking power? I don't see how g*d has anything to do with it, nor with the evolution of species, or of the cause of cancer. Species evolve and then die out - actually everything dies out eventually, planets, stars and solar systems likewise. Diseases co-evolve with organisms. Why does this make g*d evil? Isn't this just the way it is? One of the more preposterous arguments of antireligion is the fact that anything bad happens at all means that God can't be real. (But then antireligion will say, well if g*d has no say in any of this, isn't g*d impotent? To which the answer might be, g*d is the basis of anything existing whatever, good bad or indifferent, like it or not.)

I can understand that if you practise 'propitiary prayer' and believe in a God that responds to those prayers, the Holocaust must have been an awful confrontation to your sense of righteousness. So to that extent I perhaps can agree that the orthodox understanding seems very difficult to sustain. But then, I left the Christian church at age 12, and subsequently my ideas about God were mainly shaped by Vedanta and other alternative sources. (I do intend to study Whitehead in a lot more detail, everything I have heard so far about him is very interesting indeed.)

My understanding of Deity is mainly apophatic. Most of what we conjecture about the reality of whatever we term 'God' is a combination of projection and tradition.
 
prothero
 
Reply Sat 25 Jul, 2009 02:46 pm
@jeeprs,
I tend to think of evil as the absence of good. Much like I think of darkness as the abscence of light, and chaos as the absence of order. The personification of evil in the form of Lucifer is misleading in my view and is not really a monotheistic notion. I tend to associate the divine with the true, the good, and the beautiful as Plato would have it.

I have a very Western notion about values and aesthetics and can not quite sucumb to the Eastern notion of its all oneness and all part of the divine. I tend to view the process as slowly linear and progressive and not as an eternal recurrence. Some outcomes are more desirable than other outcomes. Some art, music and literature has more aesthetic value than other works.

I tend to see the divine as working through the processes of nature towards order, complexity, life, mind and ethical and aesthetic ideals. It is an effort to reconcile my scientific education and worldview with my intuitive ethics and values. This I regard as the central task of philosophy to understand the world of experience (subjective and objective) and provide guidance for living well.

Evil is inevitable in a world where creativity and freedom are present. A world without creativity and freedom would be a world without meaning. I strongly object to both materialistic mechanistic determinism and to divine predestination. They have the same effect of robbing man of his freedom and of his moral responsibility.

The god concept of Whitehead in his process philosophy preserves for me both freedom and creativity and Western values and aesthetics.
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Sat 25 Jul, 2009 05:37 pm
@prothero,
prothero;79386 wrote:
Well it is the problem of evil or theodicy.
I have looked at all the other proposed solutions.
Taking into account the slow process of cosmic and biological evolution, the mass extinctions, natural evil (disease, plagues, floods) and moral evil (murder, genocide) either god does not exist or the orthodox model of god is wrong.


How did you reach this conclusion?

The orthodox model of God does not take descriptors of God to be literally true. If God was literally omnipotent, then the problem of evil would be a real problem in theology. The orthodox model fails when we expect the language of God to be capable of perfectly describing God. And fundamentalism is far from orthodox theology.
 
 

 
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