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Old 11-27-2010, 06:03 PM
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Default Re: The problem of Evil

This I think comes from quite a biased mentality and not an open one. Leaving aside the issue of the vast amount of farfetchedness involved in your analogy with lab rats, the question needs to be asked: so what? What if we are indeed lab rats? Just because the Truth is unpleasant to you doesnt mean it should not be given benefit of doubt.
I actually think that we're worse than lab rats: At least lab rats are experimented on to further the human race. People die, people suffer, and quite possibly simply for the amusement of divine entities (so I don't have to limit the number of gods in this discussion to one).

If we are lab rats, then we need to import a discussion about animal rights in experimentation here. I can't say for sure how the sum of human pain and anguish in our world benefits the god(s) since they are omninescient and omnipotent in our eyes and therefore, no matter how you look at it, we cannot 100% determine what their objectives are. But say we really are just like goldfish in a tank, who are being randomly poked with sticks if we're lucky, or pulled out to drown, or be sliced hundreds of times with a knife, or flushed down the toilet and assorted horrible things to do to goldfish for the amusement of humans. Why should we have any sort of respect for such an entity/entities? And knowingly ignoring the pains and sufferings in the world itself is technically a sin: He/She/They know we are suffering due to omninescience but choose to do absolutely nothing about it or possibly even making things worse (natural disasters, terrorists everywhere, global warming, new deadly virii, whathaveyou). This means he/she/they are not that good a yardstick of goodness as we think, so we should take whatever morals they try to lay down for us with a pinch of salt.

And as for your analogy, thats flawed on so many levels. We as human beings experiment with lab rats to gain something i.e. knowledge; God however has nothing to gain: He already knows the end results. It is His plan that the virtuous will be rewarded and the evil be punished. So it is our purpose as human beings to be virtuous, and not that God has any benefit from this. There are a lot more that could said on the inaccuracy of your analogy, but I think most are pretty obvious and people can see it by themselves.
Are you sure God has nothing to gain? How about joy from watching us suffer, among other sorts of joy? How about knowledge about how creatures react given a set of rules to follow and a set of punishments to be meted out if the rules are not followed? God by definition has access to far more knowledge than we do, thus we cannot even begin to fathom the complete spectrum of motives that he could choose from. The lab rat only knows we are sticking painful needles into it every now and then and sometimes it gets pretty itchy, sometimes it get sick, and sometimes it sees its friends die for no apparent reason while it somehow lives. How could it possibly know that we are doing these things to it to advance our knowledge? If we don't know God's goal, it is impossible to say for sure that us doing the right thing pleases God. Maybe it does please him because that means we're fulfilling his hypothesis that X% of creatures do adhere to a given moral standard, then he can show off at the next meeting of the Gods, or maybe he can tack that up on his wall and feel better when he looks at it. Or maybe it's a race between gods to see who can create a universe/planet that has more believers given that these believers have free will. I might sound mad, but we don't know what God is thinking so it's entirely possible.

If I make whatever divine beings out there sound like complete arses, that's because I highly doubt that whatever is out there is a perfectly benevolent being. I think the Greeks got down a pretty accurate hypothesis: A bunch of gods who possess human traits.

Yes, exactly. Evil is subjective. That is why, once you take hereafter i.e. punishment for good and bad into account, you would have to resort to religion, to let God decide what is evil and what is not. There is no subjectivity involved there. Finding out by ourselves what evil actually is, thats pretty nonsensical like you said because there would always be people with differing povs.
This is true except for the part that we must resort to religion and let God decide what is evil or not, since not everyone has the same God (again). All fervently religious people believe that their religion is the one truth. Evil is subjective, so in order to quantitatively define right and wrong we need to draw the line. This line needs to be drawn by something everyone agrees on, or someone everyone agrees to defer to. Anything more I say would lead to a circular argument.

I'm fairly sure Lus is trying to say that God can grant us free will and the ability to recognise our self without having to put us through the tests for evil, not putting us through the test without evil. If evil were not to exist, then what would be tested?
This wasn't really answered in the way that I was looking for. Why does God choose to put us through these tests? Why not give us the easy way out? Why, then, does he choose to limit his powers in this way? You can choose to answer this with "I don't know what God is thinking", I just want to know if you have another explanation.

Nah, it doesnt. The example you have provided has nothing whatsoever to do with logic, but with empirical observation. Saying "the earth is flat" doesnt contradict the three base rules of logic i.e. a=a, a or not a, and not -a and a. As for logic technically being a human construct, that is open to debate. It can be a human construct, it can be objective in all standards, we dont know. However, you are the one bringing the counter argument here, so the burden of proof lies on you. As long as I can show another plausible outlet to explain away the problem, it wouldnt hold true.

Since we are using human logic rules to debate here, our arguments should conform to these laws and not be based on mere supposition i.e. water that isnt wet could exist. Well it cant. It is in contradiction with the laws of logic. Period.
One of the properties of liquids is that it makes things wet wet since the concept of wet is based on liquids itself (assuming this wasn't proven wrong already). If we discover liquids that doesn't make stuff wet then we can come to two conclusions: A, it isn't a liquid or B, the definition/given properties/concepts needs to be changed. The rules that our logic is built on dictate that A is very, very, very probably right, so usually we disregard B. If God creates something that adheres to all the properties of liquids except that it makes stuff wet, this would appear to be that he has done the impossible, but it is likely that B was the correct conclusion all along. Because God's powers exceed our self-imposed structures, that's why we call him omnipotent. I think I expressed myself slightly better this time. If you're not convinced then I guess I'll just drop this for now.

I would also like to point out that doing something for God might also not be altruistic; it could be an act of bootlicking God, or a way of stroking one's own ego, telling oneself that you are more righteous than others who do not do such things and thus are superior. Conversely, if I see my neighbour hungry and I share my bread with him purely because I do not wish him to suffer the pangs of hunger, how is that not altruistic?

EDIT: Since Khajmer brought up the concept of afterlife rewards/punishment, I would like to take a little jab: Embarking on jihad against the Western world and then purposely throwing away your life during the process to immediately reap the rewards of 72 virgins in heaven after you die is clearly altruistic.

Mons are here though

私はグレダーです--I am a Grader

Last edited by Starkipraggy; 11-27-2010 at 06:07 PM.
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