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Old 12-04-2010, 10:53 AM
Hassan_Descartes_AbdAllah's Avatar
Hassan_Descartes_AbdAllah Offline
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Default Re: The problem of Evil

Quote:
The judge would be evil if there was an easy and benevolent way to deal with the problem. Say if there is a 100% reliable way to reform criminals into honest, benevolent citizens that involves no punishment of any kind and no one has any moral objections to it, and the judge in question sends them to the electric chair anyways, then he is evil.
It depends on what "problem" you are talking about. The "problem" God has with evil human beings and the "problem" a judge might have are different. The problem that a judge would have is how to fix these criminals into being honest citizens, because the judge doesnt know whether there is a possibility of doing so, and he takes his chances. However in the case of an Omniscient and Just being, when he punishes people, He knows it for a fact that they really do deserve it, and that the sinful people are not willing to make sincere amends for their sin i.e. repent, or in the case of a thief, give back the money, etc. Of course, you could say the judgment of God is questionale. However that is not the topic of the debate here. Assuming that the punishment that God inflicts is for Just reasons, would this evil as punishment be "evil"? Thats the question we are dealing with. And the answer is no, since God is Just and his punishment must also be for just Causes. So this brings us back to my earlier premise, which is God allows evil not for the sake of Evil but for the sake of justice.

Quote:
No, they are concepts, merely self-contradictory concepts. They cannot exist in the universe as we know it. However, omnipotence by definition can do ANYTHING, even things that are impossible and self-contradictory. Omnipotence is the power to answer any question that begins with "Can you..." with "yes", regardless of what the question ends in. Anything else is not omnipotence. By definition, everything, meaning quite literally EVERYTHING, every concept possible impossible paradoxical or not, falls under the banner of omnipotence. Again, this is a simple matter of definition, not something to be argued. Omnipotence is literally unlimited power, and thus you cannot put any sort of limit on it. If you can think of it, then an omnipotent being can do it. Thus if you ask an omnipotent being for a married bachelor, then he will create one. If he cannot, then he is not omnipotent because, once again, by definition, there are no things that an omnipotent being cannot do.
Alright, for the time being Im going to assume that what you say is right, that an omnipotent being can do what is undoable. I do not agree with this, I still hold on to my claim is what is contradictory is not a "thing", because by definition it cannot exist. However, for the sake of argument let me accept your assertion, and on this basis give a new reasoning. See if you buy this.

Now first off, we have to realize that the burden of proof would fall on you if you are willing to prove the validity of the problem of evil. You have to show without any doubt and exhausting all alternatives that God is either evil or not omnipotent. As long as I on the other hand, is able to "show a way out" of the problem, i.e. a plausible alternative, the problem would no longer be valid, because there can be another explanation to this.

With this introduction, let me accept your assertion that God can even do what is pardoxical or contradictory. God can even create a married bachelor or dry water. In other words, the limits that rationalism set on human thought would not apply to God. What is "logically impossible" for us, would mean nothing to God, he can do it anyways.

Now on to the main topic: since I have accepted your assertion, consequently I accept that there is a way for God to test/punish people in a way that is not evil, yet he chose this evil way to punish and test us (again, I dont agree with this, as pointed out above, but Im saying this for the sake of argument).

Your claim on the assertion is: since God, in spite of having good ways to serve the purpose, chose an evil way, it logically follows that God is evil.

However, we have accepted that the logical/rational limits that apply to human thought need not necessarily apply to God. So what "logically follows" for the human being, it can very well be that it doesnt "logically follow" for God. On this premise, I argue that since God is not bound by rational laws, God does allow evil, YET he is not Evil.

You may appeal to rational consequences: the ramification of the fact that I say God allows evil in spite of an existing good option is the fact that God is Evil. However I disagree, this conclusion has been reached by laws of human rationalism. God is not bound by Human rationalism as the assertion we agreed upon shows. So even though God allows evil, it is plausible that He is not evil.

If you say this is an assertion: well I agree. This is an assertion. But an assertion is all I have to show: you are the ones who have to "prove". Me being the defendant, I would retain the validity of my claim as long as I can show a way out of the problem and not necessarily prove it.

Let me put it in traditional logical format for you to reply:

Your argument:

Premise 1. God can do what is rationally impossible.
Premise 2. Even though producing the same effects as evil is logically impossible by means of good, God couldve done it based on premise 1.
Premise 3. God allowed an evil option when there was a virtuous option as well.
Conclusion. God is therefore Evil.

My counter:

Premise 1. God can do what is rationally impossible.
Premise 2. The conclusion dragged from premise 3 is based on the rules of rationalism.
Conclusion. It is possible for God to evade that conclusion based on Premise 1. i.e. It is possible for God to not be Evil yet do and will Evil. Since He is notbound or limited by rationalism.

//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.//

Let me take a second to point out that replying to your post is not as pleasant an experience as in the case of other posters: I say this because the there are a lot of emotional appeals involved in your post. These are hurdles for a debater when he wills to reply to this (not intellectual hurdles, emotional ones). As a matter of fact, I think the main focus on your post is emotional appeals rather than a rational case.

Leaving that aside: I think you are forgetting that the burden of proof falls upon you, and I am the defendant, when we are discussing the problem of evil. You are the one who have to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that God is Evil. I on the other hand have to only show a way out of this problem. So whatever “assumptions” you make of God would be considered no more than intellectual garbage. You gotta prove your case, I gotta show a way out. Burden of proof is on your court.

And like I said, your post has a lot of emotional appeal, I as a debater do not welcome that at all. What you have written about evil, I have given two ethical reasons for God to allow evil on earth. You have to prove my case wrong if you want to go anywhere with it.

//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.//

Again, you are forgetting your position in this debate. You do not make assertions: you prove your case. Burden of Proof is on you. Thats basic logic. I have to show a way out, so I make assertions. You cannot say “such and such things can happen cause its entirely possible”, you have to say “such and such things do happen because its proven based on this or that premise”, etc.

//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.//

Your personal thoughts on the matter carry zero weight in this discussion.

//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.//

This is based on the premise that none of the religions are true, or that religion is solely based on faith and faith alone so it is impossible for us to determine what is the right religion. That is of course assumption: Religions, especially modern ones, or to be even more precise, my religion for one, does claim that it has intellectual basis. And this is not something we have came up with the last ten years, this has been the claim of Islaam for the past 1400 years, since it was preached. Whether Islaam is the truth or not, that is not the point of discussion here. But the fact that it claims proof for itself, dictates that you have to give it benefit of doubt, which you havent.

//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.//

My explanation, as pointed out before, to this is it is logically impossible to go through with the purpose of God i.e. to test the human beings to show them whether they are righteous or not, and to punish who is deserving of justice, except by means of Evil. If you say that “logically impossible” means nothing to God, echoing Lus, then I have given another answer to this in this post.

//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 think you are looking to literally into the analogy to disregard the logical ramifications it was meant to produce. When I said water that isnt wet is rationally impossible, I assumed that “wetness” is the attribute that defines water, so if something isnt wet, it cannot be water. So when you say “dry water”, you are constructing an oxymoron, on one hand you are saying “water”, establishing the existence of something which is wet, on the other hand is you are saying “dry”, establishing the existence of something which is not wet. This is a logical contradiction and therefore cannot exist. This is what I was trying to say.

As regards the comment of Khajmer and Pink on whether the theistic values are altruistic or not.

Psychologists would tell you that human beings are capable of altruism, but this would only be possible under either of the two following scenarios.

a) When a seemingly altruistic act has a hidden alternative agenda which is selfish.
b) When an altruist would think low of himself and thinks someone else would deserve his doing good deeds for that someone’s sake; in other words, one submits to someone and does good deeds out of this sense of submission.

As for (a), the alternative agendas could be an expected reciprocity, seeking praise, status, soothing conscience etc. If we were to judge the act based on intention it would be selfish after all. Now I argue this is where the godless is coming from. People say that Good is done for the sake of Good, but this is hard to swallow. When one says that helping an old lady cross the street is good, he is appealing to the fact that this is what his conscience decides for himself. When one sees someone suffering, his conscience is troubled, and the act is done to soothe this troubled conscience, which is commonly referred to as doing good for the sake of good. The ramifications of this does not stop here, doing good for the sake of good would almost always come with other expectations, like reciprocity. Even a smile or a word of thanks can come under this banner. This actually builds up one’s pride and arrogance; one becomes self-righteous by doing good deeds. So the seemingly altruistic act of doing good for the sake of good is not really altruistic, once we dissect the intentions behind it.

As for the second option, I would say this is where the Muslim is coming from. Of course, we all have conscience, and yes the Muslim conscience would also itch when we see evil happening. But the underlying motive of the Muslim is accompanied by the motive of submission. In other words, he acknowledges the fact that God is worthy of doing virtuous deeds for, so coming from this pov he submits to God and does deeds for the sake of God. In this case, there is no scope of arrogance or pride. There is not even any scope of self-righteousness as some people might make it seem: since the Muslim is worried about the sincerity of his intention and not its outcome: if he gets self-righteous and arrogance then his intention would be spoilt, and this deed would not be counted at all. The humanist on the other hand worries about the execution of his deeds, and he knows it for a fact that he has done something good. This awareness would result in self-righteousness, pride and ego if not pomp.

With all these in mind, I would argue that the Muslim is virtuous and altruistic in his actions, while the humanist is not; so the Muslim is deserving of rewards for this virtue and the humanist is not. I just cannot agree that a God who is just and benevolent would let deeds done with selfish intentions with egoistic connotations go unaccounted for.

As for the comments on Khajmer, later echoed by Pink on the issue of theists doing what they do only to avert punishment and win the reward. I think this is simplifying an issue which in reality is much more complex. The theist, or in specific, the Muslim, would have a lot going on his mind and not just heaven and hell. For example, Submission to God is something that is present in every Muslim’s mind. This submission is not created merely by heaven or hell, but because of his or her emotions towards God. The Islaamic Scholarship emphasizes some major emotions a Muslim needs to have based on Islaamic Scriptures, but the scholars are in agreement of the fact that all these emotions stem from the central most important one, namely Love. This is not merely the love of rewards in paradise, but love for God Himself. Also there are other concepts of Hope and Fear. Fear may be misconstrued to mean fear of punishment, but there is a lot more to it. First off, a Muslim does not interpret the punishment to be torture and an evil nature of God etc, but it to be Justice implemented on man because of his own deeds. That aside, Scholars write that fear actually stems from Love (yes, you always have a connotation of fear with those whom you love. Dont you ever fear that your girlfriend would be angry with you or distanced from you? This stems from Love). Point being, Heaven and Hell are not the only, in fact not even the main concerns that a Muslim has. His main concern is Submission to God and the other emotions that come along with it, i.e. Love, Hope, Fear, Trust and so on.

Now let us consider the motivation that a theist has which stems from his hoping for Paradise and his fearing of punishment. Unfortunately a lot of ugly connotations exist in the minds of the masses concerning this: people assume that when a theist hopes his reward for paradise, he is being like the little child who stays away from the rose bed so that his mother would give him candy. This is absolutely not the case. The central thing that comes into the mind of a Muslim when he thinks about Paradise is God. The Islaamic Scriptures enthusiastically emphasize this: the greatest “reward” for those who entire paradise is the company of God, the fact that the Muslims is going to see his eternal Love and converse with him individually. So the promise of Heavenly rewards is more of a spiritualistic nature than it is material. Of course material rewards are there, but the spiritual expectations far outweigh these.
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All human evil comes from a single cause, man's inability to sit still in a room. - Blaise Pascal
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