Home > Science and Religion > Again: Does God Exist?

Again: Does God Exist?

January 1, 2015

When you talk to shroudies you discover this topic is never really off topic.
— Happy New Year —
BTW: The last link in this posting is all you need.

imageIt’s that time of year, isn’t it? It’s that time of year for discussions in the press about the existence of God. It’s not that this is a particularly appropriate time to have these discussions, but this seems to be one of the times of year when it happens more often. 

Last week, Eric Metaxas wrote an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal: Science Increasingly Makes the Case for God; The odds of life existing on another planet grow ever longer. Intelligent design, anyone?

Steven T. Corneliussen responded strongly in Physics Today. The links in the next paragraph are to where the arguments most recently re-begin. The link in the previous paragraph to the Wall Street Journal points behind a pay wall (thankfully?)

In this venue, a recent media report about the op-ed "The perils of romanticizing physics" began, "The Wall Street Journal‘s opinion editors have a complicated relationship with physics and physicists." The latest such complication: a WSJ op-ed claiming to invoke new astrophysical understanding to justify recycling old intelligent-design arguments.

[ . . . ]

Metaxas joins intelligent-design advocates from the Discovery Institute in promoting quotations from astronomer Fred Hoyle ("a common-sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a super-intellect has monkeyed with the physics") and theoretical physicist Paul Davies ("the appearance of design is overwhelming").

Notice, that Corneliussen really says nothing useful. He simply uses warmed over responses to Metaxas’ warmed over arguments.

Fortunately, Rabbi Geoffrey A. Mitelman, a founding director of Sinai and Synapses has penned a useful reply in the Huffington Post: Sorry, Science Doesn’t Make a Case for God. But That’s OK. (This is the only link you need).

  1. Louis
    January 1, 2015 at 8:09 am

    Rabbi Geoffrey Mitelman has penned a nice article, however he does not address the topic deeply and that makes his approach defeatist. There are things beyond the purview of the Bible. If that is not true there would be no need for systematic theology, but this is a field that has to advance slowly because scientists keep on changing their theories. Both physics and biology have not tacked the question of initial mechanism. Hawking has been influenced by Einstein who, in turn, was influenced by Spinoza, and that limits the quest. More details on this in the introduction to:
    https://www.academia.edu/4700001/What_do_we_know_about_the_Bible_An_interview_with_Joseph_A._Fitzmyer_SJ
    There is no denying that RD has also raised some important questions and it is not possible to dodge them. What is the solution? Science-Theology dialogue, since he has neglected to delve into both theology and philosophy.
    Science and religion should walk together for the benefit of mankind.
    Happy New Year to everyone!

  2. anoxie
    January 1, 2015 at 9:02 am

    Both problems have a sampling issue.

  3. Louis
    January 1, 2015 at 9:10 am

    Anoxie, what is that supposed to mean?

  4. January 1, 2015 at 9:40 am

    Since things do not naturally combine in complexity but degrade when left to themselves, I think it’s obvious there had to be design and logically, a designer.

    • January 1, 2015 at 10:03 am

      There’s presumably never any snow (pretty six-sided crystals) where you live Andy. If there were, you would have to confront the fallacy of your belief that the natural world forbids self-organization. It doesn’t. It allows local increases in order (like crystallization from the liquid or gaseous state) on condition that the total entropy (“disorder”) increases. It’s a trade-off: a little extra order here, driven by a greater degree of entropy (“disorder”) somewhere else .

      “Somewhere else” is ultimately the surrounding environment extending out from our planet into deep space – the latter a vast heat sink at near absolute zero of temperature.

    • aljones909
      January 2, 2015 at 8:31 am

      “Since things do not naturally combine in complexity but degrade when left to themselves”. That could hardly be more wrong. Islands of complexity form spontaneously. Atoms, galaxies, stars, planets, chemical compounds (amino acids detected have been detected on comets).

      • January 2, 2015 at 8:50 am

        Precisely, as I too was saying earlier. The problem seems to be that stellar nucleosynthesis, a crucial stage in cosmology, is not taught routinely in schools. It should be, seeing as how it provided the electrical potential energy in the atoms of the 90 or so different chemical elements that exist in nature. It’s that energy, distributed between quantized electron energy levels, with electron transitions (“jumps”) between those orbitals, that allows them to form bonds with each other in a vast number of different arrangements (generating the near ‘miraculous’ degree of complexity at the molecular level that might, just might, have finally resulted in spontaneous biogenesis, admittedly against all the odds).

  5. January 1, 2015 at 10:05 am

    I find it both strange and ironic that people who believe God exists at the same time assert we can find no evidence of His existence. I will never understand this point of view. Apply Occum’s Razor to the subject of creation and the answer is quite obvious. If it walks like a duck… But not when it comes to the debate over origins. Apparently common sense has no place in this debate. Any time an evolutionist mentions “design” it must always be preceded with the adjective “apparent” because it is not actual design but only apparent. Try applying this logic to anything else in life and you would be a candidate for psychiatric care.

    The earliest symbol of the Christian faith is the fish because Jesus said “follow me and I will make you fishers of men.” I have determined that the fish in question is a COD. It stands for Complexity, Order and Design. All of life demonstrates these three primary attributes. I will never believe that randomness and chance (even with adding natural selection and time to the equation) can ever produce living structures characterized by COD. This is achieved through plan and purpose which can only be derived from intelligence.

  6. Stan Walker, MD
    January 1, 2015 at 12:15 pm

    What is most amazing to me is that the atheists and atheistic scientists assume that the laws of physics exist just because they do. Is it not a miracle that the universe is understandable (Einstein)? Why is there a universe to begin with? Why are there laws of physics? The theologian John S. Dunne believes that being filled with the awe of the Universe – that there is universe – is the beginning of the realization that there is a God. How we got here is merely the details.

    As Pascal said, “Voila, ce que la foi parfaite, Dieu sensible au coeur..”

    – It is the heart that experiences God and not the reason.

    Once the atheistic scientists get their ego out of the way – and open their minds to the wonder of it all – they too, will experience the miracle of existence. Methinks they will be welcomed into heaven regardless.

    • January 1, 2015 at 2:54 pm

      Is it not a miracle that the universe is understandable (Einstein)?

      Is it (the Universe understandable)?

      Or maybe we just conceive some crude and rough approximations to describe how it works?

      • Louis
        January 1, 2015 at 3:10 pm

        Did Einstein really understand the universe? First, he did not go beyond Spinoza (as the link above demonstrates), then he said the world would become Buddhist in the future.
        Can we go further? Yes, we can. Did Buddha understand the universe? It is doubtful how far he understood it. Nirvana means Nothingness. So what is the meaning of it all?

        • Sampath Fernando
          January 1, 2015 at 5:37 pm

          Nothingness is only Buddha’s (another human being) imagination. No one has really experience the Nothingness.

        • Louis
          January 1, 2015 at 6:06 pm

          The confusion created by scientists in the West, with the consequent decline in religion there has generated a tidal wave against “Abrahamic religions” in India.
          First a big church was set on fire:
          http://www.archdioceseofbombay.org/news/national/press-statement-burning-st-sebastians-church
          Then “reconversions to Hinduism” by force:
          http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/news/2014/12/30/cardinal-protests-against-forced-conversion-of-christians-to-hinduism/
          Next, a book by the University of Chicago Indologist Wendy Doniger has been banned in the country:
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Hindus:_An_Alternative_Historyristians-to-hinduism http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Hindus:_An_Alternative_History
          The agenda:
          The Indian Prime Minister wants to take President Obama to Varanasi.

        • piero
          January 2, 2015 at 10:35 am

          Here what I have found (surfing the Web) about the theoretical physicist (who revolutionized Physics with his theory of general relativity) and the Theosophy:

          >On the 20th Anniversary of Einstein’s death (1975), physicist Richard Feynman was quoted in Time magazine as saying, “I cannot understand how he arrived at the intuition leading to E-mc^2, considering the level of scientific knowledge at the time.”(1905)
          >A niece of Einstein reported that a copy of “The Secret Doctrine” (*) was always on his desk. Another witness, Jack Brown, reports similarly in an article, “I visited Professor Einstein.”
          —- —- —-
          (*) The Secret Doctrine – The Synthesis of Science Religion and Theosophy, H. P. Blavatsky, The Theosophy Company, London, Madras, 1888
          — —
          Einstein met Steiner at Mrs Fanta’s salon and attended several of Steiner’s lectures held in the Café Louvre (**), an Art Nouveau café on Národní třída, and was apparently impressed by Steiner’s views on non-Euclidean geometry …
          (**) Louvre was a preferred café for the Jewish intellectuals of the time, over other cafés such as Café Slavia…
          — —
          Here few words in Portoguese language (about Einstein):

          >A Encyclopaedia Britannica afirma que Einstein é comparável a Isaac Newton porque cada um deles revolucionou a Física do seu tempo. O que a Britannica não diz é que tanto Einstein como Newton foram pensadores místicos e estudantes de filosofia esotérica. …
          >Grande alma, pensador maduro, Einstein escrevia para gente de todas as religiões e filosofias. Falava sempre do essencial e evitava envolver-se desnecessariamente com formas externas. Seu grande tema foi a atitude do homem diante de si mesmo e do cosmo. …
          >A influência de Blavatsky sobre Einstein foi investigada pela biógrafa Sylvia Cranston:

          >“Robert Millikan pode ter sido um dos primeiros cientistas a apresentar ‘A Doutrina Secreta’ para Einstein. De 1921 a 1945 ele foi o diretor do Laboratório Norman Bridges no Instituto de Tecnologia da Califórnia, em Pasadena; ele era também o presidente do comitê executivo do Cal Tech. Nos anos 30, Millikan ajudou a trazer Einstein para os Estados Unidos. Por três verões, Einstein trabalhou em Cal Tech, antes de aceitar um posto em Princeton. Millikan estava profundamente interessado em ‘A Doutrina Secreta’. …
          Link: http://www.filosofiaesoterica.com/ler.php?id=597

          Here a rough translation (Google) :
          The Encyclopaedia Britannica states that Einstein is comparable to Isaac Newton because each revolutionized their time physics. What Britannica does not say is that both Einstein and Newton were mystical thinkers and esoteric philosophy students. …
          Great soul, mature thinker, Einstein wrote to people of all religions and philosophies. Always spoke of the essential and avoided getting involved unnecessarily with external forms. His great theme was the man’s attitude toward himself and the cosmos. …
          The influence of Blavatsky about Einstein was investigated by biographer Sylvia Cranston:
          “Robert Millikan may have been one of the first scientists to present ‘The Secret Doctrine’ for Einstein. From 1921 to 1945 he was the director of the Norman Bridges Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena; he was also the chairman of the executive committee of the Cal Tech. In the 30s, Millikan helped bring Einstein to the United States. For three summers Einstein worked at Cal Tech, before accepting a position at Princeton. Millikan was deeply interested in ‘The Secret Doctrine’. …
          — — —
          Sylvia Cranston demonstrated that Einstein was a long-time student of “The Secret Doctrine”, the masterpiece written by Mrs. Blavatsky. See “HPB – The Extraordinary Life and Influence of Helena Blavatsky, Founder of the Mode rn Theosophical Movement”, by Sylvia Cranston, a Jeremy P. Tarcher/Putnam Book, published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons, New York, 1994, 648 pp.
          See preface, p. XX; pp. 434-435; and note 22 to Part 7 of the book, at pp. 605-606.
          — —
          ‘The Secret Doctrine’ was the crowning achievement for the literary works of HP Blavatsky. The first volume is primarily concerned with the evolution of the Universe. The backbone of this volume consists of seven rooms, translated from the Book of Dzyan, with commentary and explanation of HPB In this volume there is also an extensive elucidation of the fundamental symbols contained in the great religions and mythologies of the world. The second volume contains a further series of rooms from ‘The Book of Dzyan’ which describes the evolution of Humanity…

          — — *** *** — —
          Instead Saint Luke is believed by many scholars to be a Greek physician who lived in the Greek city of Antioch in Ancient Syria, though some other scholars and theologians think Luke was a Hellenic Jew…

          Links (about the Ancient Hellenistic World):

          As Jesus prayed on the mount of Olives, “his sweat became as it were great drops of blood falling down upon the ground” (Lk. 22:44). Did blood actually come from the Lord’s skin, or is the language merely a figure of speech emphasizing the Savior’s agony? The only New Testament writer to mention this phenomenon is Luke, a physician (Col. 4:14).
          Here I should write a few lines on the ancient medical knowledge and the visual examination of the Shroud …
          I believe that the Shroud has nothing to do with Madame Blavatsky, but … See also the possible (or impossible) connections:
          Shroud-Antioch-theory by Markwardt-St Luke and the Shroud…
          The idea of Messiah can also be found in Buddhism, where the bodhisattva Maitreya plays a similar function as a Messiah… It is said that Maitreya’s coming will occur after the teachings of the current Buddha Gautama, the Dharma, are no longer taught and are completely forgotten…

          Now I apologize for the possible (great) confusion (!) occurred with the use of a series of mental associations (perhaps not always entirely consistent) …

          But yesterday I have spent some time rereading a book by prof. P.L. Baima Bollone:
          “L’ identità di Gesù. La vera storia di Gesù Bambino” (= The identity of Jesus. The true story of the Child Jesus.).
          This book breaks away from misconceptions (and in that book there are also reported interesting theosophical and anthroposophic tracks) and try to trace the identity of Jesus and the events of his birth on the basis of biological and natural that can be seen in the sources.

          Theosophy teaches the unity of man and the equality of all races, creeds, color and sex. Blavatsky believed in the world religions, and the coming of the Returned Buddha, the Maitreya, the Ajita Bodhisattva, “that would return to teach the pure Dharma, at a time of darkness on the earth, when the Dharma will have been forgotten.” ( Wikipedia)

          So… Blavatsky believed the Returned Buddha, the Maitreya, is linked to the Return of Jesus and the other ascendant masters. Blavatsky talked of a so-called Christ Principle, which in her view corresponds to the spiritual essence of every human being.
          Maitreya is a bodhisattva who in the Buddhist tradition is to appear on Earth, achieve complete enlightenment, and teach the pure dharma. According to scriptures, Maitreya will be a successor of the historic Śākyamuni Buddha. The prophecy of the arrival of Maitreya references a time when the Dharma will seem to be forgotten on Jambudvipa. …

          In his eulogy to Isaac Newton written in 1927, the bicentenary of the great man’s death, Einstein called him a “shining spirit”. But I do not think there is a real parallel between Einstein (= science, theosophy, politics, etc.) And Newton (= science, alchemy!). However, I think I see a common denominator in their interest to religious researches.
          I just tried to paint a picture (only sketched) of the situation.

          Am I wrong in this vague comparison?

  7. Paul
    January 1, 2015 at 1:06 pm

    the idea of a simple cell is a self contradiction.

  8. Louis
    January 1, 2015 at 2:28 pm

    From the philosophical point of view, if we restrict the debate to the universe there is no possibility of answering the question, Does God Exist? In the link provided above it is clear that Hawking has begun to cling to Einstein, who clung to Spinoza, and was also influenced by Freud. That has only lead to a vicious circle.

  9. daveb of wellington nz
    January 1, 2015 at 2:38 pm

    It seems to me that during the course of human development that there have always been several pathways to God: the primal (commencing with the Lascaux cave art of 30,000 years ago), the need for caring for the natural environment (apparent in the totemism of aboriginal clans), for social order ( the polytheisms of ancient civilisations), the revelatory (Abrahamic monotheism), the philosophical (beginning with Socrates), the Christ event, the mystical (search for a greater union with the ineffable), the miraculous (Fatima 1917, cures at Lourdes and by intercession).

    We do not need to shrink from the scientific path. It is evident in the “Goldilocks zones” phenomenon, the inexplicability of consciousness, the mystery of quantum entanglement, and paradoxically even in the potential for evolution and adaptation of the natural order. As an engineer I could wait forever to see a man-made structure evolve into something more complex, but it only ever degrades following the law of entropy. That is not the case with the natural order which is capable of adaptation to its environment, which to me speaks more loudly of “design” than not! David Attenborough’s series on the evolution at Galapagos, which is currently being repeated on TVNZ is most curious, but leads me to come to rather different conclusions from those of an atheistic evolutionist.

    A benign God does not force himself onto the consciousness of his creation, but invites our belief, challenging us with the clues that he has given as to his reality.

  10. Louis
    January 1, 2015 at 3:12 pm

    Hello David
    Yes, you can repeat the last paragraph, there are clues.

  11. January 2, 2015 at 3:16 am

    The relation between science and God is not a problem. Science works pretty well without the God hypothesis (you know, Laplace). And the believers in God (most of them, at least) have no problem with science. The problem is philosophic: the concept of a god which is good and creates (or tolerates) the evil is an oxymoron. This is the big problem of any conscious believer in God, and I don’t know a coherent solution that not ends in the irrationalism or the scepticism (warning, scepticism as recognition of ignorance), if not by changing field (atheism). To remain both believer and rationalist (in any sense) seems to me impossible in the twenty-first Century as in the first one.

    • Louis
      January 2, 2015 at 6:54 am

      Not even C.G. Jung abandoned his Christian faith because of the problem of evil:
      https://www.academia.edu/7344691/C._G._Jung_Father_Victor_White_and_privatio_boni
      This is a topic that will be addressed more at length in the future. All I can say now is that there can be no intellectually fulfilled atheist, so consequently there also can be no atheist and rationalist.

    • John Green
      January 2, 2015 at 7:10 am

      Yes science may work without a god, but many of the leading physicists wrote that there may be something more to reality than we know.

      We have Sir James Jeans’s favorite phrase, ” God is a mathematician, and the universe begins to look like a great thought than a great machine.” And Ken Wilber put together some of the mystical writings of Heisenberg, Schroedinger, Einstein, de Boglie, Jeans, Planck, Pauli and Eddington is his book, “Quantum Questions-Mystical Writings of the World’s Greatest Physicists.” So there is and was a lot of mystical thinking in Physics.

      Having said that I agree the question of evil is a big problem along with the myths of Adam and Eve, the flood, etc..

      PS Some other really good books along the same lines are “The TAO of Physics-An Exploration of the Parallets between Modern Physics and Eastern Mysticism” by Fritjof Capra and “How the Hippies Saved Physics-Science, Counterculture and Quantum Revival” by David Kaiser.”

      • Louis
        January 2, 2015 at 8:05 am

        I don’t really see how science can work without a deity, given that we are finite. It is another story if they indulge in scientism. That would be going beyond the limits of science, into the realm of philosophy and theology. There should be science-theology dialogue.

    • Thomas
      January 2, 2015 at 5:07 pm

      Impossible…absolutely wrong!

      • Louis
        January 2, 2015 at 5:39 pm

        What is wrong?

    • Thomas
      January 2, 2015 at 5:14 pm

      It depends on what you call a ‘good god’. Our human notion of a good god may be one who doesn’t permit pain and suffering. But that would deny human expression, choice and freedom. And this notion of what a good god should be also ignores the concept that this time we have on earth is but an extremely small speck of eternity. If all we had was this time on earth with no greater scheme then yes we could say such a god who permitted pain and suffering would surely not be good. I certainly know in my life at least that the pain and suffering I have endured has ultimately grown me spiritually and as a person.

      • aljones909
        January 2, 2015 at 6:40 pm

        “the pain and suffering I have endured has ultimately grown me spiritually and as a person”. Wonderful – but what of the suffering of the 90 billion people who either pre-dated christianity or have never heard of it? Then there are the trillions of sentient creatures over a time span of 500 million years. All this suffering and pain to give an elect few spiritual growth?

        • Thomas
          January 3, 2015 at 3:25 am

          It’s a fair response…It’s an eternal mystery. Good enough for me and many others. ..not good enough for many.
          I won’t even pretend to have all the answers to all the hard questions. No one does on either side of the debate. Human arrogance is to the fore if anyone thinks they do!!!

  12. daveb of wellington nz
    January 2, 2015 at 5:31 am

    As David Mo indicates Science seems to work quite well without the God hypothesis, I dare say in much the same way as I seldom needed to have recourse to theology when attempting to resolve a difficult structural analysis problem. But that seldom prevented me praying for enlightenment that I might achieve a solution for the more intractable problems.

    The case of Laplace is curious. He was an avowed determinist, in much the same way as Omar Khayyam’s “And the first Morning of Creation wrote / What the Last Dawn of Reckoning shall read.” His major scientific contribution was in demonstrating the stability of the solar system, notwithstanding its apparent perturbations, Newton previously having concluded that divine intervention was occasionally necessary to restore equilibrium. Laplace was able to announce the invariability of planetary mean motion (average angular velocity). He is noted for his first use of the “potential function” in his gravitational work, and which subsequently found applications in such diverse fields as magnetism, electricity, heat flow, and fluid mechanics (specifically in the equation of continuity). The Laplace partial differential equation is pervasive throughout physics.

    Surprisingly, despite his philosophic determinism, Laplace also made major contributions to the theory of probability, proving the Central Limit Theorem and that the distribution of errors in large data samples approximates to the normal distribution. I am unaware of how Laplace reconciled his determinism with his achievements in probability. I believe Laplace’s determinism was dealt the death blow, by the later discoveries in quantum mechanics, where everything seemed to be entirely probabilistic. No underlying variables determining which specific atom would decay into another were found, only that a definite quantity ever did, leading to Einstein’s expression of frustration “The old one does not play dice with his creation”. I think it may have been Schrodinger who scolded Einstein “Stop telling God what to do with his dice”.

    The problem of evil in a God-given world is perennial, and many great minds have attempted to address this problem, the most ancient being the Book of Job, albeit with a conclusion I consider unsatisfactory, as Job ends up by overcoming all his adversities, hardly the common experience of more general personal suffering. It does attempt an answer to “Why do bad things happen to good people, while sinners may seem to prosper.” Augustine and the ancient Jewish writers thought they found an answer in man’s first act of disobedience to God-given commands and a doctrine of original sin, together with some personified demonology.

    To some extent it depends on how evil is defined. Is it part of God’s plan, for example, that it is the “Selfish gene” that should predominate, and determine the course of evolution by ensuring endurance and hence survival of the fittest? Is this what made Christ’s redemptive act necessary, but yet pointed to a better way in the command to “Love one another” rather than compulsively following the fallacy of exclusive self-interest?

    Apart from the adversities arising from Nature in its act of giving birth and final fulfillment, whatever that might come to, true evil always seems to be a product of man’s freedom to act in a way contrary to what his true nature ought to be. Thus the Nazi holocaust was the product of men free to act in a way contrary to decent human values. The excuse of “acting under orders” was never able to exonerate them. Nor could it be said to be a product of Laplacian determinism, but despicable acts of men acting freely, and certainly under no compulsion from God.

    I appreciate that what I have written may convince no confirmed atheist, who sees the presence of evil as his principle argument against the divine. However, if there is evil, there is also good, and we might well ask whence does good come from. It is significant I think that we are able to discern the distinction between the two, and we should ask “how does that come about?”

  13. January 3, 2015 at 3:48 am

    Millions of children have been tortured and killed in History by: a) serial killers, war criminals and so on; b) Natural disasters as tsunamis, earthquakes, floods and so on. They were innocent victims in the strong sense of the word that died in the middle of awful pains.

    a) If God is omnipotent he knew what these people were going to do. There is not any (understandable) reason why a (understandable) god would allow the freedom to kill children. Freedom to kill innocent victims is the extreme evil. An omnipotent god could maintain the absolute freedom of will without the freedom to kill innocent victims. There are a lot of things we want to do and we cannot do. We are limited creatures. Why we have no limit to killing children? Why God impedes to us a lot of deeds and not the killing of children? If God doesn’t do so is because he wants the absolute evil.
    b) Human freedom has nothing to do with natural disasters. These are caused by laws of Nature created by God and they are so murderous as the men. With what purpose? This is incomprehensible.

    Then, God is not (understandably) good or God cannot stop the Evil. (This is a threatening alternative!)

    We only have to submit to the mystery of a God sometimes awful. (Rudolf Otto). But this alternative doesn’t reassure me by no means.

    • Thomas
      January 3, 2015 at 5:35 am

      What if God created an imperfect world and left us to it? What if imperfection is perfection? What if God is not an omnipotent being but actually is the ground of being?

      • January 3, 2015 at 5:45 am

        One of us finds the appearance of whatiffery a refreshing change from the usual and invariably circular whataboutery. You know, the way that one’s case for this or that aspect of the TS body image is all too often ‘trumped’ with “Yes, but what about the blood?”, or one’s case for this or that aspect of the blood is trumped with “Yes, but what about the body image?”.

    • daveb of wellington nz
      January 3, 2015 at 5:39 am

      I recall having read Rudolf Otto’s “Idea of the Holy” as part of a university course some thirty years ago, was much taken by it notwithstanding he was a Protestant author, seem to recall having to write a Stage III essay on it, I still have the book, and I think my opinion of it would still be one of praise. I think Otto seemed to have a good understanding that God’s ways are not man’s ways, and made it very clear that God is not to be judged in terms of human standards – He is the ineffable! If you do not understand the statement “mystery of a God sometimes awful”, I suggest you do not understand Otto.

      The point is that God has given man the freedom to act how he will, and with it goes the responsibility of man to use that freedom for good, not evil. If man uses his freedom to do evil, then it is man who has to be held accountable, not God! That is the true meaning of sin! It is man who has acted in an evil way. For whatever reason, God does not choose to correct every evil act perpetrated by man. Indeed, to do so, would be to abrogate man’s responsibility in the matter. Otherwise, one might construct a scenario whereby man could do whatever he willed, secure in the knowledge that God would correct any consequent evil arising from such an act, and could then abdicate from the responsibility of his actions. But that is not how our world works.

      When it comes to the consequences of natural disasters, the earth will do what the earth does, whether it is earthquake, flood, storms or tsunami. God has given man the intelligence to deal with such disasters, which are not to be seen as punishments from God as the old superstitions believed. An illustration: I read in the news of some moderate earthquake occurring where there are poor construction standards and which has had devastating effects with great loss of life. However if the same earthquake occurred in New Zealand, California or Japan, then it would only have moderate effects with much less trauma, as engineers there have set construction standards to withstand such forces. There was great loss of life in Japan following a tsunami there a few years ago. The effect has been to create an awareness of the danger, and not have people rushing to the coast to ogle at the wonder of a tsunami. To take an extreme case: If you build your house on a volcano, you are not entitled to be surprised at the consequences.

      • piero
        January 3, 2015 at 10:32 am

        I think that during the debate has been forgotten a professor Lawrence Krauss …
        Krauss is one of the few living physicists described by Scientific American as a “public intellectual”…

        In a story cosmological nailing attention and “at the same time enlightens us”, the pioneer of theoretical physics Lawrence Krauss explains the latest innovative scientific advances that overturn the most fundamental philosophical questions.

        We can read that:
        >Krauss is an atheist activist and self-described antitheist.
        >Krauss has participated in many debates with theologians and apologists, including Hamza Tzortzis and William Lane Craig…
        >Krauss also featured in a full-length documentary entitled The Unbelievers, in which he and Richard Dawkins travel across the globe speaking publicly about the importance of science and reason as opposed to religion and superstition
        >In his book, A Universe from Nothing: Why There is Something Rather than Nothing (2012), Krauss discusses the premise that something cannot come from nothing, which has often been used as an argument for the existence of an uncaused cause, or creator.
        >He has since argued in a debate with John Ellis and Don Cupitt that the laws of physics allow for the universe to be created from nothing. “What would be the characteristics of a universe that was created from nothing, just with the laws of physics and without any supernatural shenanigans? The characteristics of the universe would be precisely those of the ones we live in.”
        >In an interview with The Atlantic, however, he states that he has never claimed that “questions about origins are over.” >According to Krauss, “I don’t ever claim to resolve that infinite regress of why-why-why-why-why; as far as I’m concerned it’s turtles all the way down.”

        Source:
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lawrence_M._Krauss
        — — —
        >The book ends with an afterword by Richard Dawkins in which he compares the potential impact of the book to that of The Origin of Species — a comparison that Krauss himself called “pretentious.” …
        … … …
        >In “New Scientist”, Michael Brooks wrote:
        “Krauss will be preaching only to the converted. That said, we should be happy to be preached to so intelligently. The same can’t be said about the Dawkins afterword, which is both superfluous and silly.”…

        Link:
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Universe_from_Nothing
        — — —
        “Why is there something rather than nothing?” must be understood in the context of a cosmos where the meaning of these words is not what it once was, and the very distinction between something and nothing has begun to disappear, where transitions between the two in different contexts are not only common, but required.

        Without science, everything is a miracle. With science, there remains the possibility that nothing is.

        Links:

        http://www.nobeliefs.com/Krauss.htm

        http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/18/lawrence-krauss-universe-from-nothing_n_1681113.html
        — —
        A universe from nothing? Putting the Krauss-Craig debate into perspective
        by Luke Barnes
        link: http://www.abc.net.au/religion/articles/2013/08/13/3824063.htm

        — — —
        I hope you’ll be able to fill this kind of “loophole” that I have identified with the example of the thought of “one of the few prominent contemporary scientists”: Krauss.

        I hope you’ll excuse me for the “boring form” with which I wrote my message.

        So I hope in your interesting answers.

        • piero
          January 5, 2015 at 5:58 am

          But … I have more words to say …
          …then what should I speak when someone questions the existence of God or speaks to us about the beliefs of some scientists?

          See also the famous case of Laplace …
          …And so what the famous scientist Hawkings thought of the matter:
          >In 1999 Hawking said: “I don’t think that Laplace was claiming that God does not exist. It’s just that he doesn’t intervene, to break the laws of Science.”

          Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pierre-Simon_Laplace

          Have you watched a film or television series lately that left you unsatisfied, confused, or vaguely disgruntled?
          I see that I do not have aroused interest with my previous message about Lawrence Krauss…
          In his book, A Universe from Nothing: Why There is Something Rather than Nothing (2012), Krauss discusses the premise that something cannot come from nothing, which has often been used as an argument for the existence of an uncaused cause, or creator.

          Here what I have found under the address:
          http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/11/09/why-are-millenials-unfriending-organized-religion.html

          >… Krauss says that ending religion is a matter of obligation, but I think our obligations are much different. Instead of eliminating religion—a Sisyphean task if there ever was one—atheists can help to move religion in a more loving, tolerant, and open-minded direction. We can’t make much traction tearing religion down, but maybe we can make the world a kinder and better place.

          So… Krauss announced us something irrational?

          Perhaps someday we will face the fact that the most palpable assumption in physics is also the deepest unknown: Time…

          … And then some good intention can exist also in the field of atheists! But we really have to depend on atheists, we are unable to examine our ideas Krauss?
          — — —
          Remaining in the field of mythology-cosmogony here is what I have found, I have found something about “Abraxas”:
          A vast number of engraved stones are in existence, to which the name “Abrasax-stones” has long been given.
          But it is uncertain what the actual role and function of Abraxas was in the Basilidian system …

          …and Basilides (Greek: Βασιλείδης) was an early Gnostic religious teacher in Alexandria, Egypt who taught from 117 to 138 AD, and claimed to have inherited his teachings from Matthew…

          Is Abraxas the Guardian of the Universe?

          >Abraxas (Gk. ΑΒΡΑΞΑΣ, variant form Abrasax, ΑΒΡΑΣΑΞ) was a word of mystic meaning in the system of the Gnostic Basilides, being there applied to the “Great Archon” (Gk., megas archōn), the princeps of the 365 spheres (Gk., ouranoi).[1] The seven letters spelling its name may represent each of the seven classic planets—Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn …
          >The Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung wrote a short Gnostic treatise in 1916 called The Seven Sermons to the Dead, which called Abraxas a god higher than the Christian God and devil that combines all opposites into one being. (= “There is a God about whom you know nothing, because men have forgotten him. We call him by his name: Abraxas. He is less definite than God or Devil…”)

          >The magic word “Ablanathanalba,” which reads in Greek the same backward as forward, also occurs in the Abrasax-stones as well as in the magic papyri. This word is usually conceded to be derived from the Hebrew (Aramaic), meaning “Thou art our father” (אב לן את), and also occurs in connection with Abrasax…

          Link:
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abraxas
          — — —
          In short, what I mean is that believers in God can not stay too anchored to a given cosmology … that maybe it can also be false.

          In this Scientific American interview with physicist George F.R. Ellis, he discusses Lawrence Krauss’ belief that physics has explained “why there is something rather than nothing.” Krauss’ metaphysical claim is, of course, much loved by New Atheists who believe that science has explained pretty much everything. Ellis, a giant in his field who co-authored The Large Scale Structure of Space-Time (1973) with Stephen Hawking, disagrees…

          [ then, read also: “Physicist George Ellis Knocks Physicists for Knocking Philosophy, Falsification, Free Will” by John Horgan Link: http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/cross-check/2014/07/22/physicist-george-ellis-knocks-physicists-for-knocking-philosophy-free-will/ ]

          >… So at any moment we have a vision of reality that is effective, it’s good, it’s the best we have found so far. It’s the most credible we have found so far; it’s mostly correct. But, at the same time, it’s not taken as certain, and any element of it is a priori open for revision.

          Link: http://genealogyreligion.net/tag/carlo-rovelli

          At this point, I ask again: what do you think?

  14. January 3, 2015 at 4:29 am

    How many here are familiar with Somerset Maugham’s mischievous take on the predicament faced by any well-intentioned deity, due to the conundrum of needing to be all good and all powerful simultaneously?

    I refer to his short story entitled “The Judgement Seat”. It’s available online as a 3 page pdf.

    http://pioneer.chula.ac.th/~pukrit/bba/js.pdf

    Here’s a taster (with no spoiler):

    A moment before there had come up for judgment a philosopher, deceased full of years and honours, who had told the Eternal to his face that he did not believe in him. It was not this that would have disturbed the serenity of the King of Kings, this could only have made him smile; but the philosopher, taking perhaps an unfair advantage of the regrettable happenings just then upon Earth, had asked him how, considering them dispassionately, it was possible to reconcile his All-Power with his All-Goodness.

    “No one can deny the fact of Evil,” said the philosopher, sententiously. “Now, if God cannot prevent Evil he is not all-powerful, and if he can prevent it and will not, he is not all- good.”

    This argument was of course not new to the Omniscient, but he had always refused to consider the matter; for the fact is, though he knew everything, he did not know the answer to this. Even God cannot make two and two five. But the philosopher, pressing his advantage, and, as philosophers often will, drawing from a reasonable premise an unjustifiable inference – the philosopher had finished with a statement that in the circumstances was surely preposterous.

    “I will not believe,” he said, “in a God who is not All-Powerful and All-Good.”

    See the link above to see how the little morality tale ends (and starts). Be prepared for a surprise, indeed sting in the tail, from the master of the short story genre.

  15. January 3, 2015 at 6:36 am

    Once again we see non-believers hypocritical cries that God is not perfect and that they, to their satisfaction, have found an unresolvable contradiction negating existence and/or atributes of God.

    But of course their conviction is as always, totally unfounded, and based on false premises.

    So David Mo, as you seem to know good and evil, may I ask you a few questions?

    You wrote:

    An omnipotent god could maintain the absolute freedom of will without the freedom to kill innocent victims. There are a lot of things we want to do and we cannot do. We are limited creatures. Why we have no limit to killing children? Why God impedes to us a lot of deeds and not the killing of children? If God doesn’t do so is because he wants the absolute evil.

    As you consider yourself wiser than God, having been in His place, you would impose absolute ban on killing children. No one is physically able to kill a child. Fine, you prevented great evil of child murders. But evil does not limit to the murdering of innocent children. You can do other evil deeds against children.

    What about sexual abuses against children? Being in the place of God, would you make them also physically impossible?

    • January 4, 2015 at 3:48 am

      OK:
      Murder of children is the most awful and striking example of Evil. You can add sexual abuse if you want. I consider it a kind of torture. I’m not interested in casuistic.

  16. daveb of wellington nz
    January 3, 2015 at 2:11 pm

    Bottom line: Man cannot abdicate responsibility for the consequences of his actions by laying the blame elsewhere, whether it is the God-given freedom to act, or “the devil made me do it”, or else a stunted upbringing! This responsibility exposes the true horrible meaning of sin!

  17. January 4, 2015 at 3:47 am

    Daveb
    1. “ If man uses his freedom to do evil, then it is man who has to be held accountable, not God!”
    Absolutely no! Dr. Frankestein felt responsible himself of the crimes of his monster. And he didn’t know in advance what kind of murder was creating. God knows!

    1.a. “Indeed, to do so, would be to abrogate man’s responsibility in the matter”.

    1.a.1. God knows that the killer goes to kill. God knows he will be responsible of a crime before the crime was done. Why he needs the “responsibility” of a killer in return of the most unbearable pain of a single child?
    1.a.2. I assure you that I never would try to kill anybody, even thought I knew that something would stop me. Do you like to kill children? I don’t think so. I don’t know how many people wish to kill children. I think it is a minority. But I think the world will be better if the men were incapable to do it. Wolves have inhibitory mechanisms that impede him to kill another wolf. Why not the men?
    1.a.3. “Otherwise, one might construct a scenario whereby man could do whatever he willed, secure in the knowledge that God would correct any consequent evil arising from such an act, and could then abdicate from the responsibility of his actions”. Stopping to kill doesn’t imply “abdicate from the responsibility”. Freedom doesn’t ends with the killing. Freedom can be used of different ways. You could be a big egoist and not to kill any child. And we can construct other scenarios in which serial killers have the illusory idea to have made a crime they have not actually made. God is omnipotent and the possibilities for him are infinite. Why he need the pain of the killed children?

    1.b. “For whatever reason” he choose do not stop this crime. What reason, please? What (comprehensible) reason do you have if you are able to stop an awful crime and you don’t do it? It seems to me that you are implicitly admitting that you don’t understand God. It is my point.

    2. Knowledge, technical resources, economical power and culture are causes that in the First World the natural disasters are less harmful as in the Third World.
    2.a. Knowledge, technical resources, economical power and culture have nothing to do with human individual freedom. These are unintentional circumstances and children are innocent victims of these circumstances.
    2.b. Accidental events also kill children in the First World.

    Yes, it is the way as our world works. And who is the responsible of this awful working? When you blame the Evil in the world you blame the god that creates it (if that god exists). Remember: ‘God’s only excuse is that he does not exist’

    • January 4, 2015 at 3:51 am

      Stendahl.

  18. Charles Freeman
    January 4, 2015 at 4:13 am

    The real mystery is that God created a material world whose atomic structure can be manipulated by human beings so as to destroy it completely.

  19. January 4, 2015 at 6:26 am

    OK:
    Murder of children is the most awful and striking example of Evil. You can add sexual abuse if you want. I consider it a kind of torture. I’m not interested in casuistic.

    So fine, David Mo. Having been in the place of God, wou would make murdering and sexual abusing of children physically imposible. Fine, I understand your motives. But evil doesn’t end here. You can do harm against children also in other ways.

    What about brutal spanking of children? Or psychological intimidation of children? Would youmake them physically impossible too?

    • PHPL
      January 4, 2015 at 10:08 pm

      “I have too often found it an exercise in fruitless frustration “. Why ?

  20. daveb of wellington nz
    January 4, 2015 at 4:30 pm

    This posting began with the need for a dialogue between Science and Religion on the basis of there seeming to be a strong case for intelligent design, which in the history of philosophy and religion has always been generalised as God. Fundamentally the case is made on the existence of observed order in the universe which seems to demand an intelligent origin. I had indicated that some of those indications might be found in what have come to be known as “Goldilocks Zones”, of which there are many, the existence of consciousness which seems otherwise inexplicable, and the enigma of quantum entanglement.

    The existence of evil does not negate any of these arguments, is a separate issue and cannot be used to disprove the existence of intelligent design in any rational way, however repugnant the evil. ‘Evil’ cannot exist as a concept without the concept of ‘Good’, but it is evident that both ‘Good’ and ‘Evil’ also exist as practical realities. What is ‘good’ and what is ‘evil’ has always been a moot point among philosophers and religionists who have considered these matters. A utilitarian for instance would only see as good that which serves self-interest. A Darwinist might only see as good that which enhances natural selection and survival of a species. A Christian theologian would only see as good that which brings a person closer to his concept of God, and that is evil which alienates the person from God. An agnostic humanist might depend on more emotive arguments involving the repugnance or appeal of specific acts.

    It is evident that the existence of God has been an attractive concept for very many philosophers throughout the ages, from the time of the Greek and Jewish philosophers, the Christian scholastics, notably Aquinas, more latterly Immanuel Kant and various others. However there is not unanimity on the matter, so clearly the question of God’s existence cannot be said to be a matter of certain knowledge. It is necessarily a matter of a faith belief based on a personal assessment of evidence, but in view of the intellectual support for it, it may clearly be held as a rational belief.

    I choose to belief in the existence of God because I think it more likely than not, and I believe that Jesus Christ is the human face of that God. I also consider that modern civilisation owes a debt of gratitude to Christianity with its heritage in such fields as music, art, literacy and literature, mainly though monasticism and the founding of the first universities, the doctrinal motivation it provided in a wide assortment of charitable activities and beneficent altruism, together with its missionary activities making civilisation accessible to pagan societies previously held in the thrall of superstition.

    It was Aquinas who pointed to the order in the universe, unifying philosophy and theology, so that no longer were deities to be considered as capricious beings, but that order was to be expected, thus making the underpinning of the scientific revolution possible.

    I also believe that God endowed man with the freedom to choose, a freedom which is not enjoyed by the lower orders which are only subject to natural instinct. Moral choices are unavailable to lower animal life. A sentient being capable of choosing between good and evil, but not capable of choosing evil, is a contradiction, in fact a “Nothing”, and I could respond to David Mo by saying that “Nothing is impossible to God!” With that freedom goes the responsibility of choosing for good, and being held accountable for one’s actions.

    Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” was subtitled ‘A Modern Prometheus’, so that the besetting sin of her mad scientist protagonist was that of ‘Prometheanism’, putting man in the place of God! Thus her Doctor Frankenstein was indeed at fault.

    I had resolved to contribute no longer to the web-site, as I have too often found it an exercise in fruitless frustration, but had relented in the case of this particular off-topic. However I do not see it as my personal vocation to justify my preciously held beliefs to any committed atheist impervious to any rational argument to the contrary. I do have more fruitful avenues I can pursue, without indulging in idle word-play. Consequently, I propose no further comment on the subject.

    • January 4, 2015 at 5:14 pm

      Hello DaveB!

      I had resolved to contribute no longer to the web-site, as I have too often found it an exercise in fruitless frustration, but had relented in the case of this particular off-topic.

      Don’t get discouraged! Your views are always welcome. Discussion with hard minded may always be hard, and bringing some frustrations, yet may bear fruits particularly to others. Sharing your vast experience and life gathered wisdom is always appreciated.

      • Sampath Fernando
        January 4, 2015 at 5:42 pm

        Yes David please don’t get discourage. Remember that there are so many who appreciate your opinions.

    • January 5, 2015 at 2:35 am

      Daveb
      A sentient being capable of choosing between good and evil, but not capable of choosing evil, is a contradiction, in fact a “Nothing”, and I could respond to David Mo by saying that “Nothing is impossible to God!” With that freedom goes the responsibility of choosing for good, and being held accountable for one’s actions”.

      Very pretty comment but it seems you have not read my points 1.a.3, 2.a. and 2.b.
      And you don’t answer my questions.
      I suppose this is a way to resign from the debate.

      • January 5, 2015 at 8:29 am

        Very pretty comment but it seems you have not read my points 1.a.3, 2.a. and 2.b.
        And you don’t answer my questions.
        I suppose this is a way to resign from the debate.

        David Mo, your questions and the whole approach to the problem is extremely naive -like most of the non-believers.

        You think you found contardiction between God attributes -but this contradiction is only in your mind.

        I could explain it, but first I urge you to answer my questions:

        Having been on the place of God would you make doing evil physically impossible?

        • January 6, 2015 at 3:24 am

          O.K.:
          I am not sure. “Evil” is a very extensive concept without precise boundaries. I suppose I wouldn’t be specially worried about malicious hearsay, blasphemies, kicks in some arses and so on. But I would be specially concerned with the extreme evil and the suffering of children. I suppose that a more efficient guardian angel would suffice. But my imagination is limited (men are finite creatures). I would be surprised if an omnipotent and omniscient god wouldn’t be able to find an infinite number of solutions to this problem without doing suffering the kids.

          Perhaps I am too sensitive and not qualified to be a god.

          Now is your turn:
          Why God needs the extreme pain of children?
          Reads the points 1.a.3, 2.a, 2.b in my previous comment before you answer, please.

      • aljones909
        January 6, 2015 at 6:17 am

        Apologists are keen to move suffering on to the philosophical plane. Specific cases are very hard to make consistent with a loving god. Take the Fritzl case. He made a dungeon in the basement of his house. His daughter was imprisoned in the dungeon at the age of 18. During her 24 years of imprisonment she was repeatedly and frequently raped by Fritzl. She had 7 children. Four were kept in captivity with their mother. The others were raised by Fritzl. Most normal humans, if they had knowledge of the situation and they had the power to act, would have intervened in a heartbeat. In the immortal words of Christopher Hitchens “heaven watched on with indifference”.

  21. Paul
    January 4, 2015 at 10:12 pm

    free will that is not free is not free will

  22. January 6, 2015 at 8:31 am

    David Mo, aljones909:

    “Evil” is a very extensive concept without precise boundaries.

    I see you are slowly withdrawing. First you demanded that God should not allow evil at all (“The problem is philosophic: the concept of a god which is good and creates (or tolerates) the evil is an oxymoron.”). And now you claim you cannot say precisely what is evil and what is not -as it has been expected, because you are not omniscient -contrary to God, and cannot predict all consequences of all events, apparently bad or good.

    No matter, let’s go further:

    I suppose I wouldn’t be specially worried about malicious hearsay, blasphemies, kicks in some arses and so on. But I would be specially concerned with the extreme evil and the suffering of children. I suppose that a more efficient guardian angel would suffice.

    So blasphemies, spreading hearsay, some minor violence, yes but suffering of children no. So you are introducing some new ethical standards, new reality, where some bad deeds are allowed (physically), while others not. Are you sure those are certainly “lesser evils” than children sufferings? So children cannot suffer, but adults (and children grow up of course) can. Nice concept of equality and justice. Some people categories must suffer, while others are saved from that. Nice segregation.

    Most normal humans, if they had knowledge of the situation and they had the power to act, would have intervened in a heartbeat. In the immortal words of Christopher Hitchens “heaven watched on with indifference”.

    So what Heaven should have done? Sent a bolt of the blue and some angel police or peaceking forces intervention?

    Now is your turn:
    Why God needs the extreme pain of children?

    The answer would become clear when you realise something. And to help you realise this, one another question, my dear unbelievers. Do you want to compulsory enforce no evil on this world? Making all harm, doing all bad things physically impossible? Would such a world have been better?

    • aljones909
      January 6, 2015 at 12:34 pm

      “So what Heaven should have done? Sent a bolt of the blue and some angel police or peaceking forces intervention?”
      Something far more subtle could easily be achieved. Rer-route a few neurons in Herr Fritzl’s brain? How about a stroke after his first rape conviction in 1967? Was the exercise of free-will by this moral monster sacrosanct?

      “Do you want to compulsory enforce no evil on this world? Making all harm, doing all bad things physically impossible? Would such a world have been better? “.
      If childhood brain cancer did not exist I think the world would be better. I could produce a long list of similarly undesirable features of our world. Do you think a world with childhood brain cancer is better than one without childhood brain cancer?

      • January 6, 2015 at 12:47 pm

        Rer-route a few neurons in Herr Fritzl’s brain? How about a stroke after his first rape conviction in 1967?

        Nice methods you’d like to be applied -in every such case.

        Do you think a world with childhood brain cancer is better than one without childhood brain cancer?

        I would like to abstain from the answer on whether the world with childhood brain cancer is better than the world without it. It is not that simple as some people think.

        Anyway my question was about absolute properties. Do you want God to make all harm (no matter whether human-inflicted or accidental) physically impossible?

        • aljones909
          January 6, 2015 at 6:33 pm

          I’m suggesting that there are an infinite number of ways an all good, all powerful deity could act to prevent egregious evils. Why not make us more bonobo and less chimpanzee? In every culture males are responsible for about 90% of murders and serious violence. Higher testosterone levels seem to reduce empathy and increase reckless and violent behaviour. So why not have a more feminine world? Free-will would still exist (assuming you think women have free will) but the worst excesses would be removed. No holocaust, no wars, no torture, no psychopaths.

          You abstain on the question of childhood brain cancer? I’m as astonished by that as I was by W.L. Craig’s defence of the Israelite slaughter of the Canaanite children.

  23. Paul
    January 6, 2015 at 9:16 pm

    30 million legal abortions proves that people can and do live very easily with evil; or is it not a evil. Somehow I do not think the problem of evil is the existence or non existence of God but the actions of mankind.

  24. Thomas
    January 7, 2015 at 2:15 am

    so here’s a thought, maybe blasphemous. Maybe there is a God who is not ALL powerful??!!
    Maybe God is an incredible force for good and peace, who strives for perfection, but for whatever reason (evil forces, or “interference” between realms: like radio interference) cannot achieve it on our physical earth.
    I’m not saying this is what I believe, but is this not conceivable?
    Why is it any less conceivable than an all powerful God?

    I think I could live with that kind of God.

  25. January 7, 2015 at 4:01 am

    O.K.:

    “I see you are slowly withdrawing”.
    What withdrawal? The concept of God is incompatible with the existence of evil. And I have chosen the case of murder of children as evidence of my statement because is one of the most striking and evident. “Evil” has not precise limits, but some examples of evil are easily recognised by everybody. I am surprised for you seem not to differentiate malicious hearsay and murder. (“Are you sure those are certainly “lesser evils” than children sufferings?”) I don’t understand. I am sure that about 99’9% of normal moral minds in our cultural context can see that difference. Not you? Really? Perhaps you like to add to my example others that are equally monstrous. But this doesn’t refute my argument.

    My “guardian angel” was a slightly ironical metaphor for some inhibitory mechanisms of agression. I had already spoken about this and Aljones speaks of a “re-routed” neurons.

    And I see you believers neatly avoid the cases where no human freedom or will are implied, as natural disasters (as I have mentioned) or mortal illness (Aljones).

    “I would like to abstain from the answer on whether the world with childhood brain cancer is better than the world without it. It is not that simple as some people think”.
    I would like to know in what sense a mortal cancer could be “better” for a child.

    My question still stands: Why God needs the extreme pain of children?

  26. January 7, 2015 at 5:46 am

    ajones909:

    I’m suggesting that there are an infinite number of ways an all good, all powerful deity could act to prevent egregious evils.

    No doubt, but you still miss the issue of the problem. And it is not about making us different monkeys or more feminine.

    What withdrawal? The concept of God is incompatible with the existence of evil.

    No. Only your way of thinking is incompatible with the proper understanding of the problem. It is like explaining quantum mechanics in terms of classical physics. Demagogical arguments about suffering of poor children completely miss the point.

    Thomas:

    Maybe God is an incredible force for good and peace, who strives for perfection, but for whatever reason (evil forces, or “interference” between realms: like radio interference) cannot achieve it on our physical earth.

    You are coming closely to what I want to show, but you still lack one key element.

    Recall yourself Garden of Eden story, as well as temptation of Christ (and maybe Job as well).

    Of course non-believers don’t understand the essence of Christianity.

    And the same fundamental question to all:

    Do you want God to make all harm (no matter whether human-inflicted or “natural”) physically impossible?

    Yes or No?

    Without answering this we cannot go further.

    • aljones909
      January 7, 2015 at 7:38 pm

      “Do you want God to make all harm (no matter whether human-inflicted or “natural”) physically impossible? Yes or No?”

      My opinion is that the christian god does not exist. The question therefore makes no sense. What you seem to be repeatedly evading is the charge that the christian idea of god is utterly incompatible with the amount and varieties of evil we see. You also failed to explain why the christian heaven can be free of evil while (presumably) populated with free-willed entities. All this dancing around without a straight answer leads me to think you are not terribly comfortable with the topic. If you think a world with childhood brain cancer is better than a world without childhood brain cancer then please explain WHY.

  27. January 7, 2015 at 5:23 pm

    Sadly there are folk on this planet who fail to see that their god is neither all good, nor all powerful, when (or if) allowing self-appointed assassins acting allegedly in his name to dispense divine judgement via summary execution of unarmed civilians by AK-47.

    It’s one thing to believe in the existence of God. But believing in God does not automatically give privileged insights into the mind of one’s God. Anti-theists are not always confirmed atheists.Their real beef is with those who presume to know the mind of their God, simply because they have rejected atheism.

    An entity that we humans call God has by definition to be all-powerful, but there is absolutely no logical reason why that entity should be all-good. The latter is mere wishful thinking – albeit human in the finest sense of the word.

    An all-good God does not populate a planet with living creatures on an orbiting sphere with a still molten core, with powerful convection currents in the mantle close to the surface, producing continental drift, tectonic plate collision and subduction. Result: unpredictable earthquakes, volcanoes, tsunamis etc that indiscriminately wipe out thousands of men, women and children, God-fearing and God-worshipping included. That’s without considering the hazard of asteroid impacts that could occur anytime, and indeed have happened in the past, causing major species extinction. Why would an all-good, all-powerful creator populate our planet with a diversity of life-forms, merely to allow later partial or complete annihilation?

    Enjoy life while you can, that’s my motto. Be philosophical about mortality. Philosophy beats religion any day. The only mind one needs to know is one’s own. Then comes the difficult part – of understanding the minds of others.

    • Thomas
      January 7, 2015 at 8:05 pm

      Hi Colin
      Why does God HAVE to be all powerful? (refer my posting above)
      That is certainly conventional doctrine. But if we put that aside, and permit the possibility of the existence of God, then I can’t see any logical problem with the notion that God may not be all powerful.
      I agree that there is nothing stopping the notion of God not being all-good. In my opinion though, I think it more likely that God is not all powerful but IS all-good. Just a belief, but also based on personal experience where I’ve experienced what I think is divine grace.

      I do believe in a ‘force’ (for want of a better word!) that permeates this world – God – that is the source of beauty, peace and goodness. Maybe this notion of God allows for a God that aspires towards the realisation of all these qualities and more but doesn’t always achieve it (ie. not all powerful).

      I don’t believe in a God who only answers some prayers. I do believe in prayer though! – but not in the sense of ‘ask for and be granted/not granted’! more of a meditative sense of prayer.

      This notion is not far removed from that put forward by some Theologians who view God as the ‘Ground of Being’ rather than as an objective interventionalist being.

      I sympathise with the philosophical problems of a God who is all powerful, and am not particularly sympathetic to the standard apologist responses.

      But as noted above there are definite alternatives, beyond only atheism.

      Surely doctrines can only ever be one interpretation of what God might be.

      • January 8, 2015 at 5:23 am

        Thomas, there is an answer to the problem of all-powerful, all-knowledgable, all-good God. But before I will tell you why there MUST be evil on this world, someone must answer my question that unbelievers here try to avoid, that is “Do you want God to make ALL harm (no matter whether human-inflicted or “natural”) physically impossible? Yes or No?”

  28. Louis
    January 7, 2015 at 7:17 pm

    What is created is destroyed and what is destroyed is created. The key to understanding that is in the New Testament. Empirical psychology is more important than philosophy and both fields need to get closer to each other. If empirical psychology discovers something philosophers will make attempts to interpret it.
    But, as Pope John Paul II, also a philosopher, pointed out in his important encyclical “Fides et Ratio” (Faith and Reason) philosophy needs theology. That takes us back to the New Testament since Scripture is the soul of theology. Despite his brilliant philosophy Wittgenstein based his life on Scripture, his Catholic friends buried him at Saint Giles, Cambridge after he told them to pray for him as he lay dying.

    It is doubtful if atheism can be intellectually satisfying. There is no denying that there are still problems that need to be solved, there is more in the box, so more thinking is needed:
    https://www.academia.edu/8424286/Book_Review_The_Future_of_Atheism_Alister_McGrath_and_Daniel_Dennett_in_Dialogue

  29. January 8, 2015 at 5:18 am

    aljones909

    My opinion is that the christian god does not exist. The question therefore makes no sense. What you seem to be repeatedly evading is the charge that the christian idea of god is utterly incompatible with the amount and varieties of evil we see. You also failed to explain why the christian heaven can be free of evil while (presumably) populated with free-willed entities. All this dancing around without a straight answer leads me to think you are not terribly comfortable with the topic. If you think a world with childhood brain cancer is better than a world without childhood brain cancer then please explain WHY.

    The basic question YOU evade:

    Do you want God to make ALL harm (no matter whether human-inflicted or “natural”) physically impossible? Yes or No?

    We cannot go any further until someone gives an answer to that question.

  30. daveb of wellington nz
    January 8, 2015 at 2:13 pm

    At times during the course of my career, I occasionally considered myself particularly privileged as an engineer sharing in what I considered to be the creative work of the Almighty, making the world a better place for humanity. In 1828, Thomas Telford, the first President of the British Institution secured a Royal Charter which defined civil engineering as: “… being the art of directing the great sources of power in nature for the use and convenience of man, …” . Possibly the besetting sin of the engineer is that of Prometheanism, placing himself in the place of God, of which he is sometimes accused by lesser mortals.

    Nevertheless, few of my professional colleagues cannot have had the experience of being subject to idle sidewalk oglers all unqualified to a man beholding their efforts, each one of them utterly convinced that any fool could do a far better job of whatever enterprise was being undertaken at the time. In local government work for instance it seemed a common habit of elected members of the employing authority wanting to make an otherwise undeserved name for themselves to make the engineer the whipping boy for the council’s own failures, as it seemed evident to them that every engineer was an incompetent idiot. Such comments inevitably stemmed from an inability to grasp the inherent problems that the engineer was struggling to master at the time.

    However the engineer is in good company. It is evident from the above thread, that mere mortals consider that they could do a far better job of creation than the Almighty, given the same starting materials and skills. It seems to be a manifestation of the same disease, with an undue focus on anthropocentrism.

    • January 9, 2015 at 3:40 am

      Your comment is the implicit confession that man cannot understand God’s designs. So you propose the classical solution: the submission to these incomprehensible designs.
      I never would discuss about engineering with an engineer and about medicine with a surgeon. But I will discuss if the both sides of a bridge don’t happen to meet or if there is a case of medical negligence. Even more, if we don’t know if the engineer has his qualifications.
      You propose to resign to our reason and I propose to use it because I think to resign to use the critical reason is a dangerous thing. It is the foundation of tyranny (physical or mental tyranny).

      • January 9, 2015 at 4:21 am

        David Mo:

        You propose to resign to our reason and I propose to use it because I think to resign to use the critical reason is a dangerous thing. It is the foundation of tyranny (physical or mental tyranny

        Shut up with this nonsense and insinuations, and instead answer that question:

        Do you want God to make ALL harm (no matter whether human-inflicted or “natural”) physically impossible? Yes or No?

  31. Carlos
    January 9, 2015 at 5:13 am

    “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.”

    Juan 12:24

    Carlos

  32. January 9, 2015 at 7:59 am

    I have refrained from this discussion until now because it has little to do with the Shroud, but in an attempt to save OK from apoplexy I feel someone should respond directly to his question: Do you want God to make all harm impossible?

    I say ‘respond’ to his question rather than ‘answer’ his question because in a discussion with someone who postulates that God does not exist, the question is literally meaningless. If I did not believe in the existence of any kind of God, then I would neither need nor care to ‘want’ the entity I deny to do anything. I do not ‘want’ dragons not to breathe fire, and I do not ‘want’ Father Christmas to go on a diet, and I do not ‘want’ Bigfoot to be a vegetarian; I do not have ‘requirements’ for non-existent entities.

    But I think the thinking behind OK’s argument is this: if I do not believe in God because the world is full of evil, then, if the world was completely free of evil, would I change my mind? The answer, of course, must be, I don’t know. There may be all sorts of other corollaries that would affect my decision. One such, which seems to be implied by OK’s question, is that a world completely free of evil could be a denial of Free Will, which, in some theologies, is an attribute of God’s love. So by making God more “all-loving” by removing all evil, we at the same make him less “all-loving” by his denial of free will, which is a paradox.

    The way out, of course, is to postulate a third scenario. Suppose that God created man in his own image etc., etc. as postulated in the bible, and gave man free will to do good or evil, also as postulated in the bible, and more, that men, from the creation until now, entirely from their own free will, and in spite of numerous temptations, chose not to commit any evil. Suppose further, if you will, that, entirely by chance, men chose not to build their homes in the paths of any natural disasters, so that nobody died of tsunamis or earthquakes or hurricanes either. And now suppose there was a discussion about whether a God who ‘looked after’ his creation existed or not. I submit that there woud be less opposition to belief in his existence than there is now.

    Does that answer OK’s question, do you think?

    • January 9, 2015 at 9:36 am

      Hugh: I have answered the Oskar’s question before. But he only wants an answer as he wishes. If you answer other thing you are a malicious idiot. You know. So, he doesn’t discuss your answer but continues to repeat his question as a Bee Gees’ broken record. ( Imagine: “And we’re stayin’ alive, stayin’ alive. Ah, ha, ha, ha, stayin’ alive, stayin’ alive. Ah, ha, ha, ha, stayin’ alive…” till the infinite. Awful).

      There is a misunderstanding here. Aljones and I don’t postulate the elimination of any evil, but the appalling effects of some extreme forms of evil, that are two different things. In my metaphoric supposition of a “guardian angel” (some inhibitory mechanism against aggression), this one will be able to stop the criminal offender when he has started (but not accomplished) the act. So, the evil exists. It is the criminal intention. And the freedom for evil is preserved. If the problem is preserve both freedom and evil.

      There is other misunderstandings in the OK’s position (and also Daveb), but I suppose it is better to comment one by one.

      • January 9, 2015 at 1:29 pm

        No one gave a simple answer yes, or no. Nevertheless, as I am moderately satisfied with the answer, I can go further.

        David Mo:

        There is a misunderstanding here. Aljones and I don’t postulate the elimination of any evil

        There is no misunderstanding, but your attempts to mislead and distract people from what you HAVE actually said. I remind you:

        January 2, 2015 at 3:16 am

        The relation between science and God is not a problem. Science works pretty well without the God hypothesis (you know, Laplace). And the believers in God (most of them, at least) have no problem with science. The problem is philosophic: the concept of a god which is good and creates (or tolerates) the evil is an oxymoron.

        Here you stated that the all-good, all-powerful God tolerating evil (ANY evil) is a contradiction => such God (esencially the Christian God) doesn’t exist.

        And that’s completely wrong.

        but the appalling effects of some extreme forms of evil, that are two different things.

        You can objectiely state what is “extreme” evil and what is only “moderate” evil. From the God’s all powerful perspective all, even the most terrible evils of this world may be just “moderate” and very easy to fix and amend in the future world.

        That’s the first fallacy you made.

        In my metaphoric supposition of a “guardian angel” (some inhibitory mechanism against aggression), this one will be able to stop the criminal offender when he has started (but not accomplished) the act. So, the evil exists. It is the criminal intention. And the freedom for evil is preserved. If the problem is preserve both freedom and evil.

        A “guardian angel” which would make perpetrating crime impossible…

        Your naivete is extreme… Like all those fools who don’t even consider what they postulate.

        I suppose you haven’t read this book? It came to my mind immediately when you formulated the problem

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Observation_on_the_Spot

        Wizja Lokalna by popular Polish s-f. writer Stanisław Lem. On margin I must say that he declared himself atheist, for similar reasons that you claim (the imperfect world) although actually his relations towards religion were extremely complex and equivocal (for example Catholic priest was present at his funeral).

        Here you have a part of the summary of that book:

        The other state, Luzania, constitutes the most significant treatment of the topic of an “ideal state” in Lem (and many would argue, in all science fiction). Their most prominent accomplishment is the creation of “ethicsphere” (compare “atmosphere”). They have produced huge numbers of molecular sized nanobots called “bystry” (“quickies” in English) that serve to control matter in the ‘quickated’ areas. The primary function of the ‘quickies’ is the enforcement of the laws of ethics as physical laws (hence the word ethicsphere). Hence, it is a physical law in Luzania that it is not possible to hurt an individual physically. If you try to strike your neighbor, your hand will be stopped by the suddenly increased air viscosity, (although you will not be hurt either). If you try to drown, the water will push you out. Doing non-physical harm, such as by pestering, criticizing, and otherwise mentally tormenting people is still possible, although in such a case the ‘quickies’ would probably help the victim to walk away from the attackers. There is a large protest movement in Luzania of people who want to end the ethicsphere, and a major element of their activities is trying to inflict harm on anybody just to prove the possibility of doing so, but they have not succeeded yet.

        Here you have your “ideal state” where evil is apparently eliminated, and making harm to any living entity impossible. Unfortuantely this turns out not to be a paradise but hell instead. A terrific totalitarian state with totalitarian control over its citizens. One of the most terrific prisons you can imagine. That’s your ideal world. That’s ideal world you unbelievers demanded God to create.

        But this does not mean that ideal world is impossible. No. There is one another element Lem missed (or didn’t look at it in a proper way).

        I can say that Hugh is close to answer. He mentioned it in his recent post -but didn’t follow it so far.

        • January 9, 2015 at 1:38 pm

          Of course there should be:

          You cannot objectiely state what is “extreme” evil and what is only “moderate” evil.

        • January 10, 2015 at 4:14 am

          I am a fan of Stanislaw Lem and Ion Tichy. The name of my cat is “Pirx” . Sorry, but in this novel (Regreso a Entia>/i> in Spanish), he is not speaking of God but he is making a parody of the communist system. The same thing is valid for Minority Report, by Steven Spielberg. Both stories deal with failures caused by human limitations. Good ideas with bad means. We are not speaking of finite men and totalitarian systems but about a perfect entity called “God”.
          ”Here you stated that the all-good, all-powerful God tolerating evil (ANY evil) is a contradiction => such God (esencially the Christian God) doesn’t exist”.
          I have said “any evil” nowhere, with or without capital letters. I’m sorry if my sentence confused you. Anyway, I have done some precisions that you ignore. I have asked you some questions that you don’t answer. Please, read my precisions and answer my questions if you really want to continue discussing rationally. The debate cannot work if you function as a broken vinyl and a deaf interlocutor.
          ” You can objectiely state what is “extreme” evil and what is only “moderate” evil. From the God’s all powerful perspective all, even the most terrible evils of this world may be just “moderate” and very easy to fix and amend in the future world.”
          This is the most absurd sentence I have read to you. Every moralist knows that good and evil are gradual attributes. And the pain that a child suffers now is never erased by future events. It is pain. Perhaps only God knows. But then his knowledge is not comprehensible for human beings and you are defending irrationalism. This was my point.

      • aljones909
        January 9, 2015 at 7:37 pm

        “You cannot objectiely state what is “extreme” evil and what is only “moderate” evil.”. Extreme evil is childhood brain cancer. Moderate evil is when I get soap in my eye. There are, of course, an infinity of gradations between the most extreme evil and the mildest evil. This random list I’d put the following at the extreme end: torture, genocide, slavery, inner ear parasites that cause wildebeest to wander in circles until they collapse from exhaustion, motor neuron disease, multiple sclerosis, children dying of starvation, blindness caused by vitamin A deficiency, birth defects that result in the sufferers having short lives filled with suffering, intractable nerve pain, polio, smallpox (now eliminated), malaria, tsunamis, earthquakes.

        • Thomas
          January 9, 2015 at 8:59 pm

          Interesting notion of evil. I would only categorize significantly adverse outcomes generated by human action as evil. Not natural occurences.

        • aljones909
          January 10, 2015 at 5:39 am

          Thomas, evil, as referred to in terms of ‘The Problem of Evil’, usually means all’evils. i.e. natural and moral evils. Suffering would probably be a better term.

          If you want to hear a Swinburne (noted intellectual) giving a defence, listen to his conversation with Bart Ehrman here:

          It’s a truly chilling and nauseating performance. A smug, privileged englishman talking about the ‘opportunities’ to be had by others from the tsunami, child starvation and the holocaust.

          A couple of points:

          1. There is, apparently, no limit on the amount of suffering that a Swinburne or a Plantinga could explain away by finding some ‘good’ in it.

          2. Their explanation in the the Bible is quite clear. Suffering is caused by God meting out punishment (in “page after page after page of the old testament” according to Ehrman).

  33. daveb of wellington nz
    January 9, 2015 at 9:42 pm

    One purpose of my earlier engineering analogy was to demonstrate what a perilous and thankless task it is for anyone going around creating a Universe, more so for all we know, if one is inclined to make a habit of it, say creating multiple universes.

    One fundamentally starts with nothing, endows it with some dimensions, creates a singularity so that it all flies apart into matter and anti-matter, dissipate the antimatter, and give your matter some four or so fundamental forces, so that you get the quarks developing into the right kind of atomic particles which will form useful elements that can combine with one another after they’ve congregated into star systems. After a few of the stars have gone through their life cycle in about 5 billion years, you can get a few super-novae started so that you can get some elements heavier than iron, as these will also be useful.

    You look around for some benign locations that seem fairly stable, and you’ve fixed things so that some of the lighter elements will form organic molecules which will eventually turn into double helixes for DNA and become life forms. You know how useful competition is for ensuring survival and development of the better parts of this mix, so that these life forms will struggle against each other and a few will become dominant.

    After a few star cycles in about 14 billion years, and throwing some rocks around to extinguish the worst of the aggressive animals you begin to see signs of rudimentary intelligence in your mammalian life, particularly the primates. They still compete with each other, but they’ve got to the point where they see advantages in social organisation and mutual cooperation and you’ve got the beginnings of some kind of moral order.

    The competition and selfish gene are eventually successful in producing something called homo sapiens, a sentient being capable of sustaining himself, having a moral conscience, and who is beginning to understand what this is all about, even becoming aware that all of this didn’t get going all by itself.

    However, the quest for dominance and exploitation and primitive rudiments are still there, so that you know you’re going to have to send your divine Son along to sort out the worst of it, and to tell your Creation what it’s all about. You give them due warning of this, by raising up a few prophets, enlightening them so as to prepare the way. You know that some will listen, and that this will be enough for an enduring sense of right for at least a few thousand years. However you also know that the worst of the lot will turn against him, he’ll get himself crucified and he’ll have to come home, but that’s OK.

    Notwithstanding all of the trouble you’ve taken to get this lot on the road to eventual salvation, you also know that like the engineer in the earlier story, you’ll still have idle sidewalk oglers, who’ll be asking “Why didn’t you do it differently?” Some are never satisfied!

    Do you get the point of it all, yet??!! I’m talking about the real world here, not some artificial medieval mental construct of it!

    • January 10, 2015 at 6:20 am

      Dave:

      Do you get the point of it all, yet??!! I’m talking about the real world here, not some artificial medieval mental construct of it!

      Dave, I understand your point, but I think the approach for the problem should have been a little bit different.

      Could God create a perfect world without pain, harm and suffering? Of course he could. He is not a human engineer limited by the laws of nature. Recall yourself first chapters of Genesis. The Paradise described there was exactly such world, and so is expected messianic Kingdom of God.

      The problem lies elsewhere. Once again I would like to refere you to Genesis…

    • daveb of wellington nz
      January 10, 2015 at 2:17 pm

      O.K.: You miss the point utterly. I know a great deal more about Genesis than you give credit for, and I dare say more so than even yourself! The problem of God’s omnipotence, perfection, innate goodness and foreknowledge, versus the problem of man’s free will and the pervasiveness of evil has exercised the greatest of minds since time immemorial. Solutions to it were attempted in the two creation stories of Genesis, in the writing of the book of Job, in Socrates who mistakenly thought it sufficient merely “to know the good”, in Plato’s unrealistic idealism, Plotinus’ neo-Platonism which had a major impact on early Christian theology, in Augustine’s doctrine of original sin, and in Aquinas’ recovery of Aristotle’s philosophy from Averoes. However, the problem only occurs because of the importance they all give to anthropocentrism, I have said that “Nothing is impossible to God” and noted the inference this gives to what is in fact possible and impossible in creating a sentient being with free will capable of both good and evil.

      My rewriting of the Genesis story owes little to such mythologies of imagination, and the mental gymnastics of arm-chair philosophers, and a great deal more to the scientific facts of the case. I am impressed with how life forms adapted remarkably quickly in their migration from South America to the hostile Galapagos in such a relatively short time as a few million years. This could only be possible if the innate property of adaptability was implanted in them. It required a struggle between competing individuals for dominance, and the dissolution of those unable to adapt, in fact a “selfish gene”. This pervades all of Creation, is the product of a wise God, but has consequences for the problem of evil. Man has now reached the stage in his development, where he can now seek solutions to many of these problems. Christianity provides a frame-work, motivation and world-view for so dealing with it.

      The way the world and the entire universe was created is evidently the best solution that is possible to be created. I would liken David Mo and other such commentators to the comforters in Job, or as in my story, to idle uninformed sidewalk oglers who ask “Why didn’t you do it differently?”

      • January 10, 2015 at 5:07 pm

        Dave: I understand your view, yet I don’t consider this picture complete. I sense it misses some crucial element. Once again I recommend going back to Genesis myth. And analyze it in its proper, mythical perspective.

        This could only be possible if the innate property of adaptability was implanted in them. It required a struggle between competing individuals for dominance, and the dissolution of those unable to adapt, in fact a “selfish gene”. This pervades all of Creation, is the product of a wise God, but has consequences for the problem of evil.

        For God made not death: neither hath he pleasure in the destruction of the living. For he created all things, that they might have their being: and the generations of the world were healthful; and there is no poison of destruction in them, nor the kingdom of death upon the earth:

        It’s not a “selfish gene” created by God to boost evolution the principal source of the problem. Or in other words: He didn’t used this application as an optimal solution, knowing all its side effects.

        The way the world and the entire universe was created is evidently the best solution that is possible to be created.

        Had it been true, the afterlife messianic world should be no better, despite God’s promises.

        Perhaps, due to circumstances THIS world has created in the best way it could have been. But what were those circumstances, so even the Almighty decided to engineer the world in this way? What was the source of His difficulties?

        However, the problem only occurs because of the importance they all give to anthropocentrism

        Maybe right…

        I would liken David Mo and other such commentators to the comforters in Job, or as in my story, to idle uninformed sidewalk oglers who ask “Why didn’t you do it differently?”

        Comforters in Job? I sense they deserve different, far worse counterparts…

        • January 10, 2015 at 5:12 pm

          The mythical story of Garden of Eden is present in the Holy Bible not without a reason, and not just only as imaginative, legendary attempt to explain the beginnings of humanity, or merely a moralizing tale…

      • daveb of wellington nz
        January 11, 2015 at 12:17 am

        OK: The mythical story of the Garden of Eden in Gen II is extremely ancient, works at the metaphysical level and is the earlier of the two Creation stories, Gen I postdating the Babylonian captivity. Within the last year I have heard one of the best homilies ever, from a local scholarly priest on the subject of the Eden story, and he gave an excellent and humanly relevant interpretation of it for his congregation.

        However, I see it as essentially a primitive attempt to explain the human situation, which works primarily at the symbolic and psychological levels, and as an attempt to explain the origin of evil. I do not regard it in any way as an historic account of the rise of humankind from the primordial slime. In some ways it looks back nostalgically to a primitive time of the hunter-gatherer-foraging phase from within a more settled agricultural herding community.

        Rather than relying on such mythology, I have offered an entirely different approach based on what Science can tell us about Creation, from its very beginnings, endeavoured to explain the origin of perceived evils in an entirely different way, in some respects almost a necessary stage in an evolutionary account. I think it works, it makes the points I wished to, and I don’t see any need for further comment on it.

  34. January 10, 2015 at 7:21 am

    David Mo:

    Sorry, but in this novel (Regreso a Entia>/i> in Spanish), he is not speaking of God but he is making a parody of the communist system.

    This is not only a parody of the communist system. Although not speaking about God, he discusses the disastrous effects of playing God, an attempts to eliminate evil. This topic in fact appears in many of his stories.

    And “ethicsphere” doesn’t differ at all from your conception of “guardian angels” introducing permament police state against aggression. It is exactly the same.

    Both stories deal with failures caused by human limitations. Good ideas with bad means.

    Yes. And complete elimination of children suffering for example, is also a good idea…

    We are not speaking of finite men and totalitarian systems but about a perfect entity called “God”.

    We are speaking about finite men, I can assure you. About finite men like you who considering themselves wiser than God would like to dictate Him how He should have organize this world. Isn’t it what you and aljones909 are doing?

    I have said “any evil” nowhere, with or without capital letters. I’m sorry if my sentence confused you.

    Don’t try to deceive us! It was obvious what you meant, and your sneaky attempts to persuade us to you meant something different than what you meant won’t help you.

    You stated (January 2, 2015 at 3:16 am): “The problem is philosophic: the concept of a god which is good and creates (or tolerates) the evil is an oxymoron.”

    Of course “the evil” means “any evil”. Later, when you realised your mistake (that’s I suppose why you held back from answering my question ) you tried to mislead us that your position was different:

    Aljones and I don’t postulate the elimination of any evil, but the appalling effects of some extreme forms of evil, that are two different things

    This is the most absurd sentence I have read to you. Every moralist knows that good and evil are gradual attributes.

    aljones909:

    “You cannot objectiely state what is “extreme” evil and what is only “moderate” evil.”. Extreme evil is childhood brain cancer. Moderate evil is when I get soap in my eye.

    It is nice to see that we have such moral authorities knowing better than God from His throne what is good and what is bad, what is “extreme”, and what is “moderate” evil in the cosmic perspective…

    So elimination of only some forms of evil? So some other forms of evil can be tolerated (by God I assume)? Which ones? How can you state then that God tolerates all forms of evil? Maybe from His perspective all forms of evil still present on this world are only “moderate”? Maybe He spared us some much more “extreme” forms of evil that none of us even can imagine (far worse than childhood brain cancer)? Don’t you see that those human cries about “extreme” evil are nonsense from this perspective? Had even childhood brain cancer and other evils you consider exteme would have been eliminated from this world by Allmighty God, there would be still other forms of evil considered “extreme” by entites living in your imaginary “better” world?

    This is nonsense…

    And the pain that a child suffers now is never erased by future events. It is pain. Perhaps only God knows. But then his knowledge is not comprehensible for human beings and you are defending irrationalism.

    There are many things in this world that are not comprehensible for human beings, yet they are real. Do you call them also “irrational”?

    Thanks them, that the first caveman were “irrational”. Had they been “rationalists” we would still live in caves right now.

  35. January 11, 2015 at 3:49 am

    O.K.:
    Irrationalism is not to recognise that there are unknown or incomprehensible things in the Universe. Everyone knows this.

    Irrationalism is to think that there are unknown or incomprehensible things in the Universe and that men can get certainty about them by not-rational means (faith, intuition, magic or similar).

    You have said that “God” is incomprehensible to the human mind.(“ It is nice to see that we have such moral authorities knowing better than God from His throne what is good and what is bad, what is “extreme”, and what is “moderate” evil in the cosmic perspective…”) I agree. It is incomprehensible for moralists, for me and for you. But if you say that you can assert something about “God” (“God exists”, “God is good”, “God is omniscient”, etc.), you are an irrationalist.

    There is not a logical problem with irrationalism, but it is an open door to the wishful thinking and its effects on History have been often disastrous.

    NOTE: It is not only “moral authorities” that think so. Every normal human being thinks that spiting in the neighbour’ soup is a qualitatively different evil to kill a child.

    • January 11, 2015 at 5:49 am

      David Mo:

      It is incomprehensible for moralists, for me and for you. But if you say that you can assert something about “God” (“God exists”, “God is good”, “God is omniscient”, etc.), you are an irrationalist.

      Your attempts to cast calumniest towards me are just… irrrational.

      NOTE: It is not only “moral authorities” that think so. Every normal human being thinks that spiting in the neighbour’ soup is a qualitatively different evil to kill a child.

      Let me answer it in this way.

      Of course from the human, limited perspective spiting in the neighbour’ soup is a different, smaller evil than killing a child. Yet God’s perspective is different. He can for example turn bad deeds into much greater good. Classical example may be the story of Joseph in Egypt, while being sold by his brothers into slavery (definitely extremely bad deed), in the end due to God directing the events, this saved his whole family from hunger.

      We don’t know all consequences of our deeds. It may turn out that apparently small evil would have in the end much greater consequences than great evil. Of course this doesn’t modify moral responsibility, which is greater for greater crimes (like rape or murder) than smaller ones (cursing in public), yet we cannot say that total elimination of some forms evil by external intervention will make that there will be less evil in the Universe. It (evil) will simply change its form, and we will still be as far from Paradise, as we have been.

      If I can give a similar example from another area: Every child knows than there are ten natural numbers in the range of 1 to 10:

      1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10

      There are 5 odd numbers in the range 1 to 10:

      1, 3, 5, 7, 9

      There are also 5 even numbers in the range 1 to 10:

      2, 4, 6, 8, 10

      So it seems that there is fewer (just half of them) odd (or even) natural numbers, than both of them. Yet if we take a range from 1 to infinity, their quantity is the same:

      1, 2, 3, 4, 5….

      1, 3, 5, 7, 9….

      2, 4, 6, 8, 10…

      By analogy, treating unlimited God within limited range of human perspective is simply erroneous.

      • aljones909
        January 11, 2015 at 5:52 pm

        “yet we cannot say that total elimination of some forms evil by external intervention will make that there will be less evil in the Universe. ” The implication of this is that it would be foolish to try and lessen the effects of any kind of evil. A psychopath is abducting, torturing and killing people. Don’t despair – it’s all for the best. Are you serious?

        • January 12, 2015 at 2:50 am

          Aljones909, you still don’t understand.

          By “external intervention” -that means by some kind of Higher Power, or essencially divine intervention. There still will be evil in the world as a whole, but in different forms, and its total amount in the Universe won’t change. What we can do is to lessen the effects of evil in our limited, human scale. Giving aid to poor, hungry people is a good thing, but turning stones to bread, and thus total elimination of hunger is a diabolical temptation.

      • January 12, 2015 at 9:14 am

        Your theological mathematics is absurd.

        If you eliminate the prime numbers, the total of numbers remains infinite, but there is not any prime number.
        If you eliminate the extreme evil perhaps the amount of evil continues to be infinite (sic) but without any extreme evil.

        Do you catch the difference? Your mistake is not mathematical but a semantic mistake.

        • January 12, 2015 at 2:49 pm

          If you eliminate the extreme evil perhaps the amount of evil continues to be infinite (sic) but without any extreme evil.

          How many times should I repeat that you cannot objectively state what is “extreme” evil and what is only “moderate” evil (especially from the cosmic perspective)?

          For Paris Hilton a broken nail tip may be extreme evil. Had there been no childhood brain cancer, no starvation and no earthquakes, the equivalents of David Mo would cry in such Universe that God is bad , because he didn’t prevent such extreme evils like broken nail tips and kids dying from overeating. On the other hand, you cannot be certain whether God has not spared you potentially much more terrible (in human sense) evils than human brain cancer, as humanity doesn’t experience them.

          Total elimination of some forms of “extreme” evil imposed by Higher Forces won’t make this world any better. It is impossible, in this world. And costs could easily outweight the apparent benefits. Simply other forms of evil would become “extreme” then. In Lem’s novel, which I gave as an example, the introduction of “ethicsphere” didn’t change Luzania for better. The lowest criminal statistics are usually in totalitarian states. And so on. You cannot fix the world in this way.

        • aljones909
          January 12, 2015 at 6:14 pm

          O.K. At last you seem to be getting around to the thrust of your argument. I paraphrase:
          “If egregious suffering did not exist non-believers would just complain about stubbed toes”.
          It’s a feeble argument. The ‘problem of evil’ addresses the world as it is. To claim “you’d just complain about something else” does not answer it.

          Your response to millennia of terminal cancer sufferers, screaming in agony during their final days (or weeks), is what? It’s all for the best? Childhood brain cancer is no different to a broken fingernail?

          “you cannot be certain whether God has not spared you potentially much more terrible (in human sense) evils than human brain cancer”
          A moral being could not justify torturing someone by saying “I could be torturing you in a much worse manner. We would class a human acting in this way as “monster”.
          If your claim is that childhood brain cancer PREVENTS greater suffering then let us know how this would work.

        • January 13, 2015 at 4:02 am

          It is funny! All these comments and you finally agree with me!

          You are right: we don’t know if God has mysterious designs and an omniscient knowledge that matches the slight pain in Paris Hilton’s finger and the brain cancer of a child.
          We don’t know if God is a cruel deity as Moloch.
          We don’t know if God is indifferent to suffering of men (“absent deity”).
          We don’t know if the Devil is stronger than God
          We don’t know if God exists…

          My conclusion: Why have we to worry about a contradictory god that we don’t understand? How can we state anything about an entity that we don’t understand?

          Humanity is speaking of this contradictory entity for millenniums and all it is said is about men themselves. If men had donkey heads their god would be “dunkeyform”.

  36. January 11, 2015 at 6:33 am

    DaveB:

    You are Catholic, just as me, right?

    However, I see it as essentially a primitive attempt to explain the human situation, which works primarily at the symbolic and psychological levels, and as an attempt to explain the origin of evil.

    As I said, the story is present in the Holy Bible not without reason. And it is not just a primitive reflection of clumsy efforts of primitive society to explain orignin of evil…

    It is not primitive. And it is much deeper than most people think.

    I do not regard it in any way as an historic account of the rise of humankind from the primordial slime.

    And you shouldn’t have. The basic error, committed by both Biblical-literary creationists, as well as their evolutionary-materialist, Dawkins-style opponents, is to assume that the Creation and Garden of Eden stories can be put in historical perspective, as certain, concrete events with space-time coordinates. While it is obvious (even from the Bible itself!) that this perspective is wrong, and looking for any localisation of the Garden of Eden on this planet is futile..

    I wrote: analyze it in its proper, mythical perspective.

    As far as I recall C.S. Lewis wrote some very interesting essay on relation between myth and Christian faith…

    Rather than relying on such mythology, I have offered an entirely different approach based on what Science can tell us about Creation,

    Science, science, science, it endangers us with going into scientism, or even scientology…

    I think we should look beyond human-pracised Science. And beware from committing positivist fallacy…

    A little change of perspective may be beneficial, really…

    • daveb of wellington nz
      January 12, 2015 at 3:00 pm

      OK: I need no-one on this web-site to tell me how to write my stories. People may either accept them or reject them and I don’t mind either way. If they speak to anyone with a more scientific bent than mythological, that’s good! If they don’t, that’s also fine.

      I have already indicated that Creation in Gen II is an extremely ancient story, it was probably based on some kind of oral tradition. In Gen II, God is anthropomorphic, He makes a woman from out of Adam’s rib indicating that they are of the same kind, He “walks in the garden”, He can’t find Adam there and tries to search for him, He asks questions, “Where are you, Adam?”, there is a talking snake, and so on. Nevertheless, like all primal mythologies, it has its own particular truth which mainly operates at the symbolic and psychological levels, and which spoke to the people then and can speak to us now.

      During the 6th century BC, the Jewish people by their exile were exposed to the influence of Babylonian science, and one result of this was their writing down of the more cosmic Creation story of Gen I. Nevertheless they did not abandon the older story, but placed it second in their setting down of the book of Genesis. The setting down of Genesis I more accurately records the sequential order of the actual Creation process. The “days of Creation” are of course not actual days of 24 hours, as reportedly explained by Pope John XXIII to Nikita Krushchev when they first met. Or as another biblical text has it, a day in God’s eyes can be a thousand years, and a thousand years can be but a day.

      The perception of evils experienced by mankind, and promoted as an argument against God’s existence by David Mo and others, is based on the false premise that man is the supreme good. There is a higher good, which may be found in necessity. Man has been endowed with reason and intelligence, which enables him to progressively deal with the evils which trouble his species. All it requires is sufficient motivation, proper direction, and the allocation of the proper resources, including that of science and I dare say some engineering!

  37. Louis
    January 12, 2015 at 7:37 pm

    Hello David and O.K.
    This is a nice discussion both of you are having, but where a solution is not that easy. Rewriting Genesis will not help because it is a mixed bag, there is Mesopotamian influence. The book contains a deep mystery and that is the original thread. I think O.K. understands that.
    C.G. Jung tried his best to reach a solution with his closest friend, the Oxford-based American Dominican monk Father Victor White:
    https://www.academia.edu/7344691/C._G._Jung_Father_Victor_White_and_privatio_boni
    The differences led to a big division between them and it was only a spiritual bond that made them keep contact with each other. The situation was painful to both of them.
    We must remember something important: all of us are immersed in evil in many things we do, it is simply that we are not aware of it or sweep the problem under the rug. Perhaps because it is a question of survival. David understands that.
    Jung thought about these things, he felt it in his skin. That is evident in what he told the nun who helped him, in the last line in the above link.

  38. January 13, 2015 at 1:51 pm

    aljones909, David Mo:

    It is funny! All these comments and you finally agree with me!

    No, I don’t agree with you. You simply misses my point, which I haven’t fully voiced yet. You still don’t understand what I mean -and this (inability to make this world perfect) is just a part of explanation.

    My conclusion: Why have we to worry about a contradictory god that we don’t understand? How can we state anything about an entity that we don’t understand?

    God is not contradictory -simply your perspective is limited, and focused on the worng aspect. And we don’t need to understand fully some entity to state something about it. We don’t fully understand star evolution, or functioning of living cells, yet we can state something about those matters.

    “If egregious suffering did not exist non-believers would just complain about stubbed toes”.

    Exactly! For such entities, who would not know “more serious” (from our perspective) pains (like cancer), this would be “extreme evil.” Their suffering, apparently insignificant (from our perspective) would nevertheless be the same.

    The ‘problem of evil’ addresses the world as it is

    Not only, because we need to consier also alternatives, other worlds that could have been instead of ours.

    Childhood brain cancer is no different to a broken fingernail?

    This is evil, and this is evil. Of course one seems to be much more serious -but only from our perspective. Not from the unlimited perspective of all-infinite-good God.

    Imagine yourself that they stole you 10 $. That’s bad. Then imagine yourself that they stole you 1000 $. That’s worse (100 times), isn’t it? Yet assume you are very rich, you own say 100 000 000 000 =100 billion $. What’s then the difference between stealing 1000 $ and 10 $ (respectively 0.00000001 and 0.0000000001 of your total money)? Little. The main problem is not whether they stole from you 1000 $ or 10 $, but the fact of stealing.

    Similarly with infinite good God. The main problem is the presence of evil, its scale is irrelevant. Of course, in limited human perspective there are greater and lesser evils, yet this can only be callibrated versus human scale. What’s the difference between 0.1, 10, 100, 1000 versus infinity?

    Belief that Evil can be eliminated (or even reduced as a whole) via God’s magical intervention, and elimination of physical ability to kill, rape, steal, as well as natural disasters and diseases, is just extremely naive. Turning stones into bread is no solution. This is no way.

    But still there is another way. To know which, you must know what actually is the source of evil.

    If men had donkey heads their god would be “dunkeyform”.

    You pagans, didn’t change since Antiquity.

    • aljones909
      January 13, 2015 at 6:45 pm

      “The main problem is not whether they stole from you 1000 $ or 10 $, but the fact of stealing.”. I disagree with your analogy. You can’t admit there is a qualitative difference between millions of cancer sufferers screaming in agony and a broken fingernail? Your god, his mind filled with infinities, thinks it’s much of a muchness. Is that where rationalising theism leads you?
      “you must know what actually is the source of evil.”. I have a vague idea (given my rudimentary knowledge of biology) why cancers can arise and cause enormous suffering. What (or who) do you think is the source of this evil?

    • January 14, 2015 at 4:01 am

      O.K.:

      “God is not contradictory -simply your perspective is limited, and focused on the worng aspect.”
      My “limited perspective”? You cannot explain the contradiction of God and evil. You only repeat that it could be different for the divine wisdom but you have not any evidence nor comprehension of how this alleged “infinite wisdom” can work. You cannot give a single evidence or indication about the five alternatives I put above. This is not my ignorance, but human “ignorance” that cannot solve the problem.

      ”And we don’t need to understand fully some entity to state something about it. We don’t fully understand star evolution, or functioning of living cells, yet we can state something about those matters.”
      I have explained you this fallacy. I will do it again: Men can know that there is a problem and to know also that they can solve it or not. Human beings do not know “fully” a lot of things. But it is impossible to do any assert about the exact subject that they ignore. If you ignore a particular circumstance of the living cells you cannot assert anything on this particular circumstance. A scientist never will do any assert about the previous second to the Big Bang. When we are in front of a factual problem we can do a hypothesis and search a way of contrast it with facts. But the problem of contradiction between God and evil is different because it implies facts and logic. Facts: the existence of sufferings. Logic: contradiction between good and evil. We have no means to test any hypothetical solution. Suppositions are all the theologists can do. “May be”, “is possible that”, “perhaps”…

      I repeat you: I have put here five possible solutions to the problem of evil and God. Do you have any evidence in favour of one of them? No. If you are not be able to answer to this you have not an understanding of God. You only have suppositions, imagination, blind faith.

  39. January 13, 2015 at 2:16 pm

    DaveB:

    OK: I need no-one on this web-site to tell me how to write my stories. People may either accept them or reject them and I don’t mind either way.

    Fine, I understand, nevertheless I would like to show that there may be another approach to the problem. And I prefer to gradually introduce it, so to give people chance to understand it themselves.

    I have already indicated that Creation in Gen II is an extremely ancient story, it was probably based on some kind of oral tradition.[…] Nevertheless, like all primal mythologies, it has its own particular truth which mainly operates at the symbolic and psychological levels, and which spoke to the people then and can speak to us now.

    However, I see it as essentially a primitive attempt to explain the human situation, which works primarily at the symbolic and psychological levels, and as an attempt to explain the origin of evil.

    As far as I know, from your own words, you are a Catholic, right? If I may ask you a question: do you believe it? Do you believe that it explain the origin of evil?

    I do not demand from you belief in the story taken literally, like Biblical fundamentalists do. Nevertheless, the main question is, do you believe it? Historical and scientific accuracy is actually irrelevant here – I wrote that this story shouldt be analysed in neither scientific, nor historical, but mythical perspective.

    One remark: the fact that this story is a myth, doesn’t make it just moralistic fiction.

  40. Louis
    January 13, 2015 at 9:02 pm

    Father Jonathan Morris (Fox News) has something to say:
    http://finance.yahoo.com/video/christianity-under-attack-government-182302397.html

  41. January 14, 2015 at 9:58 am

    You can’t admit there is a qualitative difference between millions of cancer sufferers screaming in agony and a broken fingernail? Your god, his mind filled with infinities, thinks it’s much of a muchness. Is that where rationalising theism leads you?

    It is something different. I don’t say that in our world broken fingernail is as much great evil as cancer (because obviously it isn’t) but it is evil anyway.

    Another analogy. Suppose we can give weights to different kinds of evil (which is not true in general, yet allows us to discriminate between “greater” and “lesser” evils). Let’s assume also that God is infinitely good -by definition (so we can assign God +∞ symbol). Let’s assign number 0 for those things that are morally neutral, that they contain no evil at all.

    Then let’s assume that the most terrible evil in this world is childhood brain cancer. Let’s assign to it a number -10.

    In this scale we can assign -1 for broken fingernail.

    So we live in the world with “the range of evils” from -10 (the most terrible evils) to 0 (no evil).

    Yet in theory there could have been another world where there happens Evils More Terrible than Childhood Brain Cancer (EMTCBC). Let’s assign for EMTCBC -100. So in this world relation between EMTBC and childhood cancer is like relation between childhood cancer and broken fingernail.

    Then let’s consider another hypothetical world, where there is no childhood cancer, and the greatest evil is a broken fingernail.

    So we have 3 potential worlds for God to create:

    a)World with EMTBC as the most terrible evil. Scale of evil: -100 to 0

    b)World with childhood cancer as the most terrible evil. Scale of evil: -10 to 0

    c) World with a broken fingernail as the most terrible evil. Scale of evil -1 to 0.

    At first glance seems that the world a) is more terrible than b) which is also more terrible than c). Yet there is no difference between -100, -10 and -1 in comparison to God’s +∞ ! And each of this worlds can be rescaled so the relative scale between the most terrible evil in each of them will be always from -1 (the most terrible evil) to 0 (no evil at all). As the residents of each of these worlds do not know the alternatives, their perception of evil is actually the same.

    Thus elimination of some forms of evil (or we can say forms in which the evil manifests) won’t make the world any better.

    David Mo:

    I repeat you: I have put here five possible solutions to the problem of evil and God. Do you have any evidence in favour of one of them? No.

    Neither of those 5 “solutions” may be true, as they are not the only ones possible. There is at least a sixth solution.

    My “limited perspective”? You cannot explain the contradiction of God and evil.[…] But the problem of contradiction between God and evil is different because it implies facts and logic. Facts: the existence of sufferings. Logic: contradiction between good and evil. We have no means to test any hypothetical solution

    Neither your facts, nor your “logic” are complete. And as they are incomplete, you cannot say there is a contradiction between omniscient, omnipotent, omnibenevolent God and existence of evil.

    aljones909:

    What (or who) do you think is the source of this evil?

    That’s the question! We can say: definitely not God. Then seek for an answer: who?

    • aljones909
      January 14, 2015 at 4:57 pm

      Again, it’s astonishing the contortions theists will engage in to deny ‘the problem of evil’. If any theists are still following this I’d ask one question: Do you find any of O,K.’s explanations credible? Please study them. Infinities, broken fingernails and all.

      “As the residents of each of these worlds do not know the alternatives, their perception of evil is actually the same. Thus elimination of some forms of evil (or we can say forms in which the evil manifests) won’t make the world any better.”
      This is the most ludicrous nonsense – and it’s easily testable. A simple comparison: Cambodia 1975-1979 versus Denmark 2010-2014. The residents of these 2 godless worlds had very different experiences. The suggestion that godly infinities equalised their experiences is clearly nonsensical. If your ‘infinitely good’ deity sees it that way then you’re welcome to him.

      • January 15, 2015 at 3:01 am

        Any rational objection can be overcome if we consider that maybe in Wonderland…
        (About the existence of Mad Hatter).

  42. PHPL
    January 15, 2015 at 1:05 am

    What I notice concerning this debate is that believers , either willingly or not, are in a position that they have to speak on behalf of God. Does God approve of what they say concerning him ? Do they get it right or is it an endless irrelevancy ?

  43. January 15, 2015 at 2:58 pm

    PHPL:

    What I notice concerning this debate is that believers , either willingly or not, are in a position that they have to speak on behalf of God. Does God approve of what they say concerning him ? Do they get it right or is it an endless irrelevancy ?

    There is still the Bible and Catechism to confront with. God is not silent in this debate, and has a Word to say.

    aljones909:

    Again, it’s astonishing the contortions theists will engage in to deny ‘the problem of evil’. If any theists are still following this I’d ask one question: Do you find any of O,K.’s explanations credible? Please study them. Infinities, broken fingernails and all.

    It’s astonishing how much atheists horizons and imagination are limited. Aljones are you afraid of infinities?

    Besides, this is not the explanation of “the problem of evil” yet. It is just an auxiliary argument that total elimination of evil in this world is pointless and futile. That you cannot make this world perfect.

    “As the residents of each of these worlds do not know the alternatives, their perception of evil is actually the same. Thus elimination of some forms of evil (or we can say forms in which the evil manifests) won’t make the world any better.”
    This is the most ludicrous nonsense – and it’s easily testable. A simple comparison: Cambodia 1975-1979 versus Denmark 2010-2014.

    Bringing such examples shows you still don’t understand anything -Cambodia and Denmark are within the same world.

    So anyway, different direction.

    Assume that you want to eliminate evil from this world, and you have divine powers to do so.
    So you have eliminated childhood brain cancer and other evils. You have eliminated earthquakes, diseases, ability to murder, ability to rape, ability to take bribes, to steal candies, and even broken fingernails. No ability to make any physical harm, nor any crimes. You can do that.

    Fine. But I would like to hear your answer on those two questions.

    Have you eliminated all evil? Do men feel happy in your ‘perfect’ world?

    • aljones909
      January 15, 2015 at 7:18 pm

      I do realise Cambodia and Denmark are both on planet Earth. I was ridiculing your ‘broken fingernail’ argument. Your suggestion that the amount of suffering we experience on earth is is of little consequence (I think you resorted to algebra – measuring it against the infinite goodness of the christian god or something).
      “Have you eliminated all evil? ”
      I’ll leave magic wands and ‘perfect worlds’ to the theists. The real world will always be much messier. Less evil is what most folk want.
      “Do men feel happy in your ‘perfect’ world?” There is a sad fact about this horrible, interim world that theists should note. Most people are happy. Many people that aren’t happy can be made happier by effective treatments for brain cancer, multiple sclerosis, motor neuron disease muscular dystrophy, depression etc, etc.

    • January 16, 2015 at 3:53 am

      OK:

      “Have you eliminated all evil? Do men feel happy in your ‘perfect’ world?”

      You persist in doing incorrect questions.

      1. Neither Aljones nor I are “perfects” and we don’t intend to imagine a “perfect” world. The problem implied as far as I am concerned is the incompatibility between a perfect God and the existence of the extreme evil and suffering.
      2. You can ask to the parents of a child unexpectedly healed of a cancer of brain if they are happier. They will look at you as if you were mad.
      3. I don’t know if men would feel happy in a “perfect” world without any evil, but if you are a Christian, you ought to believe that. Jesus of Galilee had promised a Kingdom of eternal bliss and the Christian churches promise the Heaven for the good men and women at least. Serial killers and brain cancer will not exist in this world… I suppose. What I (and you) don’t understand is why this perfect god don’t gives us this perfect world directly without doing suffer innocent children. This is the absurd thing with God.

      PS: You berate us when you think that we haven’t answered your questions, but you don’t answer any question that troubles you. This is not fair play, my friend.

      • January 17, 2015 at 5:58 am

        aljones909:

        There is a sad fact about this horrible, interim world that theists should note. Most people are happy.

        Yes. So you see this world is not as bad, as terrible that some guys complaining about the problem of evil would cry.

        But this does not mean that people would be happy in the “perfect” world -I suppose rather opposite -that had we lived in such a “perfect” world no man (nor woman) would be happy.

        David Mo:

        You persist in doing incorrect questions.

        Incorrect? Or maybe contrary, correct, but just inconvenient for you?

        Neither Aljones nor I are “perfects” and we don’t intend to imagine a “perfect” world. The problem implied as far as I am concerned is the incompatibility between a perfect God and the existence of the extreme evil and suffering.

        So if you don’t insist on creating perfect world, you should not insist on the “problem of evil”. Because this (apparent) paradox would be still present if there is ANY evil and suffering in this world.

        As I am trying to show, you cannot objectively state what is “extreme” and “moderate” or “minor” evils. The terms “extreme”, “moderate”, “minor” does not describe absolute, but relative properties. You can of course describe evils as “greater” and “lesser” and set them in order, but to state that some of them are “extreme” or “moderate” you need reference scale. You and aljones do not understand that and thus fall in another fallacy. Had some now “extreme” evils been eliminated by magical intervention, other, lesser evils would become “extreme”.

        If one likes to play with such “rationalists'” sophisms, he needs to know precise meanings of what he states.

        You can ask to the parents of a child unexpectedly healed of a cancer of brain if they are happier. They will look at you as if you were mad.

        Yes. However the point is that if you heal a child from brain cancer you will make the world better. But not necessarily if you magically eliminate brain cancer from this world.

        Catholics believe that God does intervene in this world, performing miracles -curing diseases for example. There are hundreds of such instances verified by Vatican -and many more unverifed. I suppose you don’t believe that, but assume those reports are true. Can you then state that God does not interest about the sufferings of His poor children on Earth?

        What I (and you) don’t understand is why this perfect god don’t gives us this perfect world directly without doing suffer innocent children.

        No David Mo, I understand why. It is you that don’t understand -and thus don’t understand the Christianity at all.

        I don’t know if men would feel happy in a “perfect” world without any evil, but if you are a Christian, you ought to believe that. Jesus of Galilee had promised a Kingdom of eternal bliss and the Christian churches promise the Heaven for the good men and women at least. Serial killers and brain cancer will not exist in this world… I suppose.

        Yes. Could perfect God create a perfect world? Of course. Both Paradise described in the Book of Genesis and future promised Kingdom of God are such worlds. But why our current world is not such one? Because there is one minor problem…

        To help you realise what the problem is I want to ask you another question. With divine powers you can eliminate brain cancer easily -but how would you eliminate serial killers (and other criminals)?

        • aljones909
          January 17, 2015 at 5:47 pm

          “to state that some of them are “extreme” or “moderate” you need reference scale.”.
          The reference scale is our own conscious experiences. I challenge any theist to tell me they can’t distinguish between an agonising toothache and the discomfort of too tight underwear. I don’t need to ask a deity which is the most uncomfortable.
          Do you really need a godly scale to distinguish between broken finger nail and childhood brain cancer?

          “Could perfect God create a perfect world? Of course…..
          but how would you eliminate serial killers (and other criminals)?”
          If you’re suggesting that an omnipotent and omniscient god can’t create beings that are free of moral defects then one thing is certain – he’s not omnipotent and he’s not omniscient.

  44. January 17, 2015 at 6:03 pm

    aljones909:

    The reference scale is our own conscious experiences.

    The problem is that this is only your subjective scale. You don’t have any objective scale. You simply have no comparison with other worlds that could have been potentially created by God -in some of which there could be evils in comparison with childhood brain cancer would be minor discomfort, while in others too tight underwear might be the most “extreme”evil. Yet, from there would be still “terrible suffering” from the perspective of entities living in such world.

    I challenge any theist to tell me they can’t distinguish between an agonising toothache and the discomfort of too tight underwear.

    This is something entirely different -which I described many times. It is not about greater and lesser evils, it is about “extreme”, “moderate” and “minor” evils within the same created world.

    If you’re suggesting that an omnipotent and omniscient god can’t create beings that are free of moral defects then one thing is certain

    Yes he can – robots without free will programmed to be “good”.Perfect world according to some atheist thinkers -realised in 20-21st century in Soviet Union, Maoist China, North Korea and so on.

  45. aljones909
    January 18, 2015 at 11:56 am

    “The problem is that this is only your subjective scale…”
    Yes, my subjective scale informs me that agonising pain is much worse than too tight underwear.

    You go on: “too tight underwear might be the most ‘extreme’ evil. Yet, from there would be still ‘terrible suffering’ from the perspective of entities living in such world.”

    The idea you’ve presented above is plainly nonsensical. See Denmark/North Korea.

    “Yes he can – robots without free will programmed to be “good”.”
    The christian heaven will be populated by robots?

    • January 18, 2015 at 12:28 pm

      You go on: “too tight underwear might be the most ‘extreme’ evil. Yet, from there would be still ‘terrible suffering’ from the perspective of entities living in such world.”

      The idea you’ve presented above is plainly nonsensical. See Denmark/North Korea.

      Nonsensical? Give them a world where the most terrible suffering is too tight underwear + long enough lifespan, so that they can feel it. You will see, that from their perspective, the suffering would be no smaller then in concentration camp in (unknown for them) North Korea. They will be complaining the same melody, about terrible and inhumane conditions due to the too tight underwear.

      On the contrary people living in North Korea can be extremely happy -if their Supreme Leader orders them to be so. But you don’t claim that this is perfect world,don’t you.

      “Yes he can – robots without free will programmed to be “good”.”
      The christian heaven will be populated by robots?

      No -by perfect entities with their own free will. Angels (those who remained faithul to God) are perfect entities, not robots and have their own free will, humans can be also such like them.

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