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Old 12-04-2010, 06:46 PM
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Default Re: The problem of Evil

For the omnipotence debate, I'm going to inform you both of this: you're both wrong. Hassan, you're wrong that omnipotence doesn't mean being able to do anything. That is literally what omnipotence means. Meanwhile, Lus, you're wrong that the Abrahamic God, in any of the three major sects (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) should be able to create a world where both free will and goodness exist, because God/Yaweh/Allah is not omnipotent, he is almighty.

Omnipotence is not logically possible. Observe the following statement:

If God is omnipotent, then can He create a stone which He himself cannot lift?

If the answer is yes, then a scenario can exist where God cannot do anything, making Him not omnipotent (where omnipotence implies that no matter what the situation is, God can do anything). However, if the answer is no... well, I don't have to explain that one, now do I? Omnipotence cannot exist, simple as that, because that or any other number of phrasings of the question exist.

However, God is not omnipotent. Note that where the King James Bible denotes God as omnipotent, the original Greek says "almighty.""Almighty" means that no entity can thwart what God decides to do. In other words, no other being can create a stone which God cannot move, and at the same time God can make a stone which no other being can move. This would require a stone whose weight could not be pushed by all the energy in the universe, but such a stone could be created.

God's power does rest within logical constructs. If it could possibly happen, God can make it happen. There can not be a world where free will exists without evil, because free will means that if we are physically capable of doing something, we are able to decide to do it. If we can't make the choice to do evil when the opportunity presents itself, then we do not have free will.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hassan_Descartes_AbdAllah View Post
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.
And here I thought I was cynical about human nature.

When I see someone in trouble and I help them, I don't do it out of a sense of guilt, or a desire for a smile or a thank you. If every time I held the door open for someone they just walked past me without so much as acknowledging me, I'd consider it rude, but I'd continue to do it anyway, because it is the right thing to do. I've been yelled at for helping a person get something from a high shelf at the grocery store, supposedly for mocking their height, but I did it anyway because they needed a hand.

As for my pride, guess what. I don't take pride in doing the right thing. I don't take pride in it because I believe it's the way people should always act, all the time. Now don't get me wrong, there are a lot of things I do take pride in. I'm proud of my gentlemanly demeanor with strangers and women. I'm proud when my girlfriend says I'm odd, because I know it's something she likes about me. I would be proud of myself for doing above-and-beyond good things that I wouldn't expect from everyone, not because it was the right thing but because I had the capability to do it. But general, everyday acts of kindness? Even the kind of good that you isn't everyday, like walking stopping on the side of the road to help someone with their broken down car, or helping some stranger with a bullet in their stomach make it until the ambulance gets there? I expect that from myself. I have nothing to be proud of there, so to claim that I do those things for my pride is an insult, and not one I take lightly.

Quote:
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.
But why do you submit to God? Not out of pride, certainly, but for His sake. But then why do you do it for the sake of God? For no reason? No. No one does anything for no reason, no one does anything without some selfish justification. As far as the Muslim, who submits himself to God, is concerned, I think that one's obvious: you desire God's favor in submitting to him. See the following:

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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.
It's a spiritual expectation, yes, but it is a spiritual expectation that you have for yourself, that you will feel the love of God in person, and have the chance to speak with him one to one. So you follow the rules, and one of those rules is to be altruistic. So you're the Boy Scout who helps the old lady across the street to get his merit badge. Or, better yet, you're the child who does his homework and his chores so he'll get his allowance and maybe if he's lucky an extra helping of ice cream after dinner.

Look, for all my ranting above, I will acknowledge one thing: the things I do, at least in part, are because I want to fulfill my expectations. My expectations exist not for selfish purposes, but I fully admit that I don't want to be hypocritical in them. So yes, maybe there is a bit of selfishness behind that, but at least I can claim that my selfishness doesn't seek a personal rewards, and for that matter, at least I'm being honest about it. No matter how you justify it, at the end of the day you submit yourself to God for your benefit, even if it's nothing more than God's favor. Even someone who does something in self-righteousness at least can claim that it is their personal will that drives them to the act. You're doing what you're told and being rewarded for it while we're making the decision to do good ourselves and receiving nothing, and I just cannot agree that a God who is just and benevolent would let such an obvious injustice to occur.
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