Friday, September 18, 2009

The real problem of evil rather than the PoE

The PoE is, of itself, not of much interest to me. As stated in its logical form it suffers from problems of definition and logical flaws. I am far more interested in the concept of evil.

Evil is not a topic to be trivialised by intellectual debate and I am concerned that the statement of and refuting (and in my opinion it is well refuted) the PoE does just that.So let me pose a few questions regarding evil.

1. Do atheists (forgive the generalisation) acknowledge that evil exists?

2. If you assert that evil exists, tell me please what it is – from an atheist perspective? It is the breaking of the law, which is criminal and not necessarily evil. Certainly there are theist descriptions aplenty … but I am interested to know how atheists see evil.

Hamba kahle – peace


Pete Chown said...

I don't know what it means to be conscious, but the fact that it's unexplained doesn't mean it isn't true. As we are conscious, we can suffer, so I suppose evil happens when a person causes another to suffer needlessly.

That's fine, but there is something about this that is rather uncomfortable for atheists. Atheists say that personal experiences of God are not a satisfactory way of proving His existence. So are personal experiences of consciousness enough to prove that we are conscious?

akakiwibear said...

Hi Peter, thanks for visiting.
The argument that God permits evil draws into question the nature of evil.

If we suffer is it the result of evil? Well clearly not - a natural disaster causes suffering, is nature evil, is a volcano evil - clearly not in the conventioal sense.

But if we decry evil because it causes suffering (why else?) then should we not treat all causes of suffering the same - natural disasters and suffering caused by people?

I think when atheists cite the PoE they imply any and all causes of suffering.

This leads them to the problem of the laws of physics - e.g. if fire burns to heat or cook it is a benefit, when it injures it causes suffering.

Is fire evil? Should God have allowed it? Or should God have made us fireproof?

You say "I suppose evil happens when a person causes another to suffer needlessly" I see the reason for your focus,... but why only "needlessly"?

Hamba kahle - peace

Philip Gilbert said...

We share the same consciousness and can experience each other withinthat shared realm. God 'appearing or talking' to you is a personal thing and I would ask how you know it is god and not your imagination or the devil tricking you. God chooses not to appear to people in groups which would suggest to me, it is a personal imagined thing.

As for good and evil, they are purely human comcepts. Our self-aware state has enabled an additional tier of choices that can help or hinder others. They can promote good or cause suffering. However, one man's good can be another man's bad. Gay people foe example. Shoot them or welcome them?

Yahewah was pretty evil. He liked to kill men. women and children wholesale and had a penchant for first-born children. Do you read the OT? Religion does not have a monopoly on good. Far from it.

Now if god decided to move a mountain, that would convince a fair few people, but he won't because he isn't there. You scrabble around looking for any proof that your god is still alive and well and your minds become more closed to reality, science and logic.

Angie Jackson said...

I fail to see how the PoE has been "refuted". I don't think Evil "exists" in the sense of some malovelant force or some kind of objective moral truth, however, I do recognize things which are bad, bad, bad, and I dislike them. I am bothered by suffering, both caused by "evil" human actions (rape, for instance) as well as suffering caused by accidents of biology, or natural disasters. The fact that my all-loving all-powerful god wasn't as moved to tears by these pains as I was - wasn't doing everything in his power to alleviate suffering, as I try to - bothered me. It wasn't what turned me into an atheist, but it certainly played a substantial role.

Philip Gilbert said...

Maybe I should have asked this sooner but what is PoE?

akakiwibear said...

Hi Philip, welcome - PoE=Problem of Evil - simplistically it argues that the co-existence of God and evil is illogical, hence no God.

Of course one argues as you do with Yahewah was pretty evil then there is no problem of evil ... God is evil.

But, how do you substantiate your point that God is evil ... an interesting if irrational position for an atheist who denies the existence of God.

I look forward to your proof that God is evil and by implication that God exists.

Hamba kahle - peace

akakiwibear said...

Welcome Angie, you make two points:
1) I fail to see how the PoE has been "refuted". and
2) I don't think Evil "exists" and them very neatly tie the two together with my all-loving all-powerful god wasn't as moved to tears by these pains as I was

I too puzzled over this – it is the essence of the PoE in realistic terms rather than the intellectual air of philosophy ... I like that!

Let’s stay with the practical perspective. You are distressed (as are most of us) by suffering of whatever cause. That covers a lot of ground ... lets start with caused by a person – you gave rape as an example.

Situation: A rape is about to occur. What should God do?
If I may, I suggest you might answer stop it ... I leave you to explain how.

Now, imagine a world in which there were things we could not do, or even think of doing them. Would we be more advanced as humanity than we are now?

Would we not be like a wild animal born in captivity, it has never known freedom but wow would it not love it. Sure it may get eaten or die of starvation, but if you were a wild animal which would choose?

Of course God does and has done lots to relieve our suffering ... we need to do our bit, accept responsibility for our actions and stop blaming God.

Hamba kahle - peace