Author Topic: The Evil Problem  (Read 4545 times)

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Online Ron Jeremy

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The Evil Problem
« on: July 04, 2013, 03:11:53 PM »
Hi folks. A good few years ago I started to really look into the idea of Christian Bible god as maybe something I should get into (social life seemed quite full, free wine and I'm really interested how everything came to be). Although I read the bible and talked with Christians, I also read Dawkins and Hitchens, plus sites like this, and rather quickly agreed fully with the atheist point of view.

My question to you is about evil and the responses to theists as to why it exists. As I understand it, Moral Evil (murder, etc) is allowed by god because of free will (I realise this theist argument only gives free will to the murderer, not the murdered), natural evil (earth quakes, etc) and gratuitous evil (child falls down a well, body not found for a year, obviously the child suffered terribly before death). A common defence of natural and gratuitous evil by theists is that god allows it because it 'builds character'.

Am I correct in thinking that Christians are split into those that believe the bible literally, that therefore if you believe in Genesis all evil in the world resulted from Adam and Eve's fall from grace and it does not build character? God built humans perfectly with our character inbuilt? Therefore evil does not have to exist?
And on the other hand, theists that accept the universe is 15 odd billion years old, evolution did happen, Adam and Eve are just stories and that evil has to exist to give us character because god was unable to include this in our make up?
Matthew 10:22 "and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved." - An example of a clearly demonstrably false biblical 'prophesy'.

The biblical myth of a 6000 year old Earth is proven false by the Gaia satellite directly measuring star age.

Offline The Gawd

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Re: The Evil Problem
« Reply #1 on: July 04, 2013, 03:57:00 PM »
I think a infinitely small number of people actually believe.You can tell by what happens when "belief" crosses paths with practicality. For example, even people that tell you they believe in Jesus' power to heal have medical insurance, which makes no sense if you are a believer; either Jesus wants you healed or sick, medicine undermines either Jesus' power or wants. Now the true believers are the ones that allow their children to die, refusing healthcare.... or theyre sadistic.

Offline One Above All

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Re: The Evil Problem
« Reply #2 on: July 04, 2013, 03:59:32 PM »
<snip>
Now the true believers are the ones that allow their children to die, refusing healthcare.... or theyre sadistic.

Why not both? At least one study[1] has found that fundies tend to be less empathetic than non-fundies. More than that; theists in general are less empathetic than atheists.
 1. http://newscenter.berkeley.edu/2012/04/30/religionandgenerosity/
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Online Ron Jeremy

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Re: The Evil Problem
« Reply #3 on: July 04, 2013, 04:21:21 PM »
I end up debating a lot with some family friends that are Christian fundamentalists (young earth, talking in tongues, that sort of stuff) and am constantly looking for angles to help them out of their (in my opinion) delusions. I admit also that I've become a bit of a ferocious atheist now.

Religious folks seem to have divine knowledge about god's existence, how he has always existed, how he is outside of time and space, how his nature prevents him from doing bad things, how to interpret his word in the bible etc, (How can they possibly know this stuff??), but when it comes to gratuitous evil, suddenly 'we are not privvy to god's plan.'

It would seem to me that believers are making this stuff up as they go along?
Matthew 10:22 "and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved." - An example of a clearly demonstrably false biblical 'prophesy'.

The biblical myth of a 6000 year old Earth is proven false by the Gaia satellite directly measuring star age.

Offline ParkingPlaces

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Re: The Evil Problem
« Reply #4 on: July 04, 2013, 04:23:14 PM »
Foisting the reasons for "evil" off on ones religious past, and neer-do-well garden dwellers, is a great way to avoid personal responsibility and other actual causes.

That which we label as evil is a range of human behaviors that are inevitable via biological, cultural, social, mental, genetic and other actual causes. But religion permits a generic condemnation of anything seemingly bad, without having to go to the trouble of figuring out if there might be other reasons than some chickie disobeyed their god. Toss in the ensuing existence of death, and you've got 90% of the crap on this earth covered without having to conjure up a single thought.

Earthquakes and tornados and such take a minor amount of rationalizing to fit into such a world view. Probably two or three seconds worth. Then it is all covered.

How they manage to both simplify and complicate life with one silly concept is beyond me. I, for one, would think they would have put a little work into it just to make it sound more, you know, realistic. But I guess I'm not surprised that people who accept that there was a talking snake will also accept a lot of other BS as well.
Not everyone is entitled to their opinion. They're all entitled to mine though.

Offline Quesi

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Re: The Evil Problem
« Reply #5 on: July 04, 2013, 04:53:29 PM »
Well I think that the two kinds of "evil" that you describe are just completely unrelated. 

We know how hurricanes form, and we know why earthquakes happen and we know (or learn) how deadly diseases spread.  The victims are not victims of evil.  They were just at the wrong place at the wrong time. 

Accidents?  The kid who fell down the well, the tween who swam was on a beach vacation with her family for the 4th of July who got swept out to sea and died, the family in the SUV who got sideswiped by a sleep deprived truck driver and all perished, these are harder to accept.  We all wish we had DONE SOMETHING to prevent the events.  We relive the events in our minds, and rehearse changing one little thing, and erasing the event from history.  But we can't. 

Human "evil?"  Well.  There is certainly mental illness.  Those who have no respect for the value of life, or those who derive joy from causing pain in others.  There is greed.  (Waving at Junebug).  There is ambivalence.  Sometimes I think that is the worst.  The bankers who focus on the bottom line rather than the families who are losing their homes.  The consumers who are vaguely aware of the fact that child labor is responsible for many of the items in their home,  but who convince themselves that the children who are putting in 14 hour days in garment factories are not like OUR children.  And then there are the damaged people, whose pain is so huge that they don't even realize that causing pain in others is not the way thing should be.  The solution?  For just about everything but the most serious mental illness is empathy.  We need to really put ourselves in the position of others to understand that harm that we cause.  And we all cause harm. 

Sometimes "evil" is subjective.  There are "evils" committed by one faction against another faction.  .  That "evil" clan is stealing our water and our hunting grounds and if they keep doing it the people I love are going to die, so I have no choice but to kill them.  And the survivors of the massacre can attest to the evil committed by the murderers.  The loved ones of the Iraqis who died when the US went in to liberate them find little comfort in ideology that brought the foreign troops.   

Again, the solution, in my humble opinion, is empathy.   Not religion.  Not a god who is going to make everything ok.  Just empathy.   

Oh!  And welcome to the forums.  We look forward to hearing more about your beliefs and life experiences and sharing banter with you. 

Offline Nick

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Re: The Evil Problem
« Reply #6 on: July 04, 2013, 04:58:57 PM »
<snip>
Now the true believers are the ones that allow their children to die, refusing healthcare.... or theyre sadistic.

Why not both? At least one study[1] has found that fundies tend to be less empathetic than non-fundies. More than that; theists in general are less empathetic than atheists.
 1. http://newscenter.berkeley.edu/2012/04/30/religionandgenerosity/
As evident by the ones we get here from time to time telling us how they will be smiling looking down on us in hell at the end...but they do love us or Jesus does or both.
Yo, put that in your pipe and smoke it.  Quit ragging on my Lord.

Tide goes in, tide goes out !!!

Offline Nick

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Re: The Evil Problem
« Reply #7 on: July 04, 2013, 05:00:44 PM »
I end up debating a lot with some family friends that are Christian fundamentalists (young earth, talking in tongues, that sort of stuff) and am constantly looking for angles to help them out of their (in my opinion) delusions. I admit also that I've become a bit of a ferocious atheist now.

Religious folks seem to have divine knowledge about god's existence, how he has always existed, how he is outside of time and space, how his nature prevents him from doing bad things, how to interpret his word in the bible etc, (How can they possibly know this stuff??), but when it comes to gratuitous evil, suddenly 'we are not privvy to god's plan.'

It would seem to me that believers are making this stuff up as they go along?
You mean they have not tried to save you with a  ridding of the demon possession ritual?
Yo, put that in your pipe and smoke it.  Quit ragging on my Lord.

Tide goes in, tide goes out !!!

Online Ron Jeremy

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Re: The Evil Problem
« Reply #8 on: July 04, 2013, 05:18:48 PM »
Sorry old boy, these fundamentalists are from dear old England, don't think even they go in for demonic possession! ;)

Quesi, thanks for replying. The type of evil I think is indefensible by theists is gratuitous evil. The kid in the well? God could snuff out her life as soon as she fell. But the finger scrapes on the well wall show she was alive. She will be found dead either in a day or a decade. How can any plan demand this? How can anyone benefit from this?

Matthew 10:22 "and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved." - An example of a clearly demonstrably false biblical 'prophesy'.

The biblical myth of a 6000 year old Earth is proven false by the Gaia satellite directly measuring star age.

Offline Nick

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Re: The Evil Problem
« Reply #9 on: July 04, 2013, 09:03:01 PM »
Sorry old boy, these fundamentalists are from dear old England, don't think even they go in for demonic possession! ;)

Quesi, thanks for replying. The type of evil I think is indefensible by theists is gratuitous evil. The kid in the well? God could snuff out her life as soon as she fell. But the finger scrapes on the well wall show she was alive. She will be found dead either in a day or a decade. How can any plan demand this? How can anyone benefit from this?
Most of us here know the answer to that.
Yo, put that in your pipe and smoke it.  Quit ragging on my Lord.

Tide goes in, tide goes out !!!

Online Ron Jeremy

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Re: The Evil Problem
« Reply #10 on: July 05, 2013, 03:50:49 AM »
Yep, I know the answer to it as well. I'm interested in how theists reconcile this with a loving god. The theists I debate with simply don't answer the question or reply with the lame 'we can't know god's plan', whilst in the same breath telling me all the things that they absolutely know about god.
Matthew 10:22 "and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved." - An example of a clearly demonstrably false biblical 'prophesy'.

The biblical myth of a 6000 year old Earth is proven false by the Gaia satellite directly measuring star age.

Online jaimehlers

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Re: The Evil Problem
« Reply #11 on: July 05, 2013, 06:09:30 AM »
Actually, I don't think it's quite that cut and dried for 'gratuitous' evil.  Take the example of the girl falling in the well.  If her life were snuffed out as soon as she fell down, then it would eliminate any chance of her being rescued.  I think that would be the theist reasoning, anyway.

To elaborate on ParkingPlaces's point, I once reviewed every one of the "seven deadly sins", and came to the conclusion that they were simply describing behaviors that needed to exist for humans to survive, but that are excessive.  For example, lust is necessary so that there will be children to carry on the population, but the 'sin' is being excessive about it.  Same with greed, sloth, and so on - all of them represent excesses of behaviors that are absolutely necessary.  The greedy person isn't just normally greedy, they're greedy to the point where it hurts others; the slothful person isn't just normally lazy, they're slothful to the point where they don't take part in work or other human activities; etc.

Online Ron Jeremy

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Re: The Evil Problem
« Reply #12 on: July 05, 2013, 08:13:52 AM »
Hi Jamie, nope sorry can't agree with you on that one. An all knowing god already knows she will not be rescued. He's the only one that knows where she is, he watches her suffer and die.
Matthew 10:22 "and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved." - An example of a clearly demonstrably false biblical 'prophesy'.

The biblical myth of a 6000 year old Earth is proven false by the Gaia satellite directly measuring star age.

Offline ParkingPlaces

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Re: The Evil Problem
« Reply #13 on: July 05, 2013, 08:34:43 AM »
Gotta point out, Ron, that every aspect of any "god" we envision is entirely made up, given that there aren't any. The little girl in the well question, one with which nearly all humans can empathize with and wonder about, is reality getting in the way of religion, and given that all religion is made up, then all answers with a religious bent have to be as well.

So as you and jaimehlers try to make up various rationals for why a god would leave a kid in a well to die a horrible death, it is you as humans, trying to imagine the deity version, coming up with different very human justifications. It is not a discussion about actual gods and their morality. So like most other human questions, differences as to what a god would do will arise, because there is nothing real about the inquiry at hand.

Even people who believe that there is a god disagree about the specifics, hence multiple (in the tens of thousands) denominations and individual variations. Don't be surprised that those of us who don't believe can't therefore improve the answer quality, even when we know better.
Not everyone is entitled to their opinion. They're all entitled to mine though.

Online Ron Jeremy

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Re: The Evil Problem
« Reply #14 on: July 05, 2013, 09:18:35 AM »
Hi ParkingPlaces, I have no belief in any god, fairy or pixie. In a real situation of the little girl in the well, I know its just a tragic accident, no gods exist to watch her. I was just interested in how believers justify their god(s) allowance of this type of obscenity. It's also a scenario I'm going to put to my religiously deluded family members, I'd just like to hear how other theists explain this. I'm hoping of course that there are theists reading this!
Matthew 10:22 "and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved." - An example of a clearly demonstrably false biblical 'prophesy'.

The biblical myth of a 6000 year old Earth is proven false by the Gaia satellite directly measuring star age.

Offline Jstwebbrowsing

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Re: The Evil Problem
« Reply #15 on: July 05, 2013, 09:45:47 AM »
Hi ParkingPlaces, I have no belief in any god, fairy or pixie. In a real situation of the little girl in the well, I know its just a tragic accident, no gods exist to watch her. I was just interested in how believers justify their god(s) allowance of this type of obscenity. It's also a scenario I'm going to put to my religiously deluded family members, I'd just like to hear how other theists explain this. I'm hoping of course that there are theists reading this!

While it is true that certain types of suffering can build character, that is not why God allows evil.  God allows evil because mankind chooses not to obey him and he is allowing it to be demonstrated that mankind has need of him.
Ye are my witnesses, saith Jehovah, and my servant whom I have chosen; that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me.

Isaiah 43:10

Offline Quesi

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Re: The Evil Problem
« Reply #16 on: July 05, 2013, 10:22:12 AM »
Hi ParkingPlaces, I have no belief in any god, fairy or pixie. In a real situation of the little girl in the well, I know its just a tragic accident, no gods exist to watch her. I was just interested in how believers justify their god(s) allowance of this type of obscenity. It's also a scenario I'm going to put to my religiously deluded family members, I'd just like to hear how other theists explain this. I'm hoping of course that there are theists reading this!

While it is true that certain types of suffering can build character, that is not why God allows evil.  God allows evil because mankind chooses not to obey him and he is allowing it to be demonstrated that mankind has need of him.

May I ask for a point of clarification here Jstwebbrowsing?  You are saying that your god allowed this child to fall in the well because "mankind chooses not to obey him?"  And to build upon Ron's example, the fact that the child lived and suffered a long time before dying is just god emphasizing his point about how pissed off he is because "mankind chooses not to obey him?"

Offline Jstwebbrowsing

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Re: The Evil Problem
« Reply #17 on: July 05, 2013, 10:34:12 AM »
Hi ParkingPlaces, I have no belief in any god, fairy or pixie. In a real situation of the little girl in the well, I know its just a tragic accident, no gods exist to watch her. I was just interested in how believers justify their god(s) allowance of this type of obscenity. It's also a scenario I'm going to put to my religiously deluded family members, I'd just like to hear how other theists explain this. I'm hoping of course that there are theists reading this!

While it is true that certain types of suffering can build character, that is not why God allows evil.  God allows evil because mankind chooses not to obey him and he is allowing it to be demonstrated that mankind has need of him.

May I ask for a point of clarification here Jstwebbrowsing?  You are saying that your god allowed this child to fall in the well because "mankind chooses not to obey him?"  And to build upon Ron's example, the fact that the child lived and suffered a long time before dying is just god emphasizing his point about how pissed off he is because "mankind chooses not to obey him?"

No not at all.  I think to understand it one must consider the story of the Prodigal Son.  Once he left the protection of his father the son suffered many things.  The father was not responsible for his suffering nor was he espected to prevent it.  The father's protection was always available as the son was free to return at any time.  Mankind is like that Prodigal Son.
Ye are my witnesses, saith Jehovah, and my servant whom I have chosen; that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me.

Isaiah 43:10

Online Ron Jeremy

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Re: The Evil Problem
« Reply #18 on: July 05, 2013, 10:43:03 AM »
But how does that apply to a three year old girl trapped at the bottom of a well, suffering a long painful death over many days, no witnesses, no one to have their character built by witnessing it?
Matthew 10:22 "and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved." - An example of a clearly demonstrably false biblical 'prophesy'.

The biblical myth of a 6000 year old Earth is proven false by the Gaia satellite directly measuring star age.

Online Ron Jeremy

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Re: The Evil Problem
« Reply #19 on: July 05, 2013, 10:46:17 AM »
To use the father analogy; yes I can understand letting an adult child make a mistake and learn from it; but an infant?
Matthew 10:22 "and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved." - An example of a clearly demonstrably false biblical 'prophesy'.

The biblical myth of a 6000 year old Earth is proven false by the Gaia satellite directly measuring star age.

Online Ron Jeremy

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Re: The Evil Problem
« Reply #20 on: July 05, 2013, 11:00:50 AM »
I think I get what you're trying to say JWB; as a father you let your adult child make their mistakes and live by them; fair enough. But you also allow your three year old granddaughter to suffer without limit because your feckless son has become, say, a heroin addict. As a non-believer, I genuinely cannot understand how or why theists would try to defend their god when the god takes this position.
Matthew 10:22 "and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved." - An example of a clearly demonstrably false biblical 'prophesy'.

The biblical myth of a 6000 year old Earth is proven false by the Gaia satellite directly measuring star age.

Online jaimehlers

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Re: The Evil Problem
« Reply #21 on: July 05, 2013, 11:22:59 AM »
Hi Jamie, nope sorry can't agree with you on that one. An all knowing god already knows she will not be rescued. He's the only one that knows where she is, he watches her suffer and die.
I'd say until we figure out what qualities a god-like being would actually have, rather than the ones that humans believe it must have, there's no way we could really figure out how such a being would react to the "girl in a well" problem.

Take the all-knowing property you just mentioned.  I don't think that's possible on a universal scale, or even on a galaxy-wide scale.  It might be feasible on a planetary scale, but it would have to have sufficient sensory capacity to cover the entire surface of a planet (including all the various nooks and crannies on it), as well as be able to collate all that data into useful information rather than noise.  It would take something on the level of a quantum supercomputer to be able to manage that level of information, and then you have the question of whether it has the ability to affect matters - to let people know that a child just fell into a well, or to take matters into its own hand and either rescue or kill the child itself.  And then you have the question of morality.

This isn't really relevant to the question you're asking theists, but I thought it might be interesting to read.

Offline Star Stuff

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Re: The Evil Problem
« Reply #22 on: July 05, 2013, 11:37:08 AM »
I must say that I wince every time I hear words like "evil" or "sin" or "spiritual".  They are inherently religious/supernatural terms, and I feel that they increase the level of fog.

If one accepts that there is no god, no afterlife, no spirits, no devil, then there's no such thing as "evil".  We humans simply have a rather massive graduated range of behaviour, from highly productive, positive, loving, compassionate etc, to destructive, negative, hateful and deleterious.  That is all.  All fully explained in natural terms.
God is an Imaginary Friend for Grown-ups

Online jaimehlers

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Re: The Evil Problem
« Reply #23 on: July 05, 2013, 12:11:03 PM »
All fully explained in natural terms.
Not just fully, but simply.

Offline ParkingPlaces

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Re: The Evil Problem
« Reply #24 on: July 05, 2013, 12:36:16 PM »
Hi ParkingPlaces, I have no belief in any god, fairy or pixie. In a real situation of the little girl in the well, I know its just a tragic accident, no gods exist to watch her. I was just interested in how believers justify their god(s) allowance of this type of obscenity. It's also a scenario I'm going to put to my religiously deluded family members, I'd just like to hear how other theists explain this. I'm hoping of course that there are theists reading this!

While it is true that certain types of suffering can build character, that is not why God allows evil.  God allows evil because mankind chooses not to obey him and he is allowing it to be demonstrated that mankind has need of him.

This is cute and all, but it explains nothing. I am 62 (almost). I have not suffered. Not diddly. I have not been seriously injured, seriously ill, seriously lost in the wilderness with bears on my ass, I have not been robbed, raped, run over, rankled or ruined. I've been an atheist for 50 of those years, and if there were a god big on suffering, I would think he would have tweaked reality a bit and given me cancer, gotten me paralyzed in a car wreck, had my leg cut off, or something, so that I too could suffer in a way similar to the raped little girl or the child paralyzed when drunk daddy gets in a wreck, or someone shot by a jealous husband, or something. But nooooooo, he's left me alone.

And suffering in others. Why is it that one of the baddest people I ever met died instantly when shot by police in a standoff situation, while my aunt, who is quite honestly the sweetest, gentlest person on the planet, who I am sure has never even said the word "darn" or thought one bad thought about another human being, has suffered from Parkinsons Disease for over 25 years. It should have killed her long ago, but she just keeps on ticking. (My aunt is religious, by the way).

So if suffering is so good for us, why is it distributed so unevenly by your god? Why did my friend Judy, very very religious, loose one son via a bee sting and anaphylactic shock, her daughter in a car wreck, have her brother shoot her parents to death over a girlfriend issue (a girl that she introduced her brother to). And she is one of the most religious people I know, and was religious before any of this happened. While little old me, denier of any god whatsoever, with my healthy kids and my non-trauma filled life, have had none of that.

If you can explain, using the "god wants us to suffer" thing, why there are such huge discrepancies in the level of suffering, I would appreciated it. If suffering is for our benefit, and the luck of the draw can keep one from suffering, or plunge on into incredible physical and emotional pain, at random, then is that fair? By fair, I mean my NOT suffering. I'm not getting the full benefit of your god's love and empathy because I've never even had broken a wrist. I'm not getting to learn anything about forsaking him, because I'm not suffering as a consequence. I'm just putting along while 19 young firefighters are dying in the southwest, girls are getting critically inured in hang gliding accidents, people are dying on their tractor in a 4th of July parade, others lost limbs to firecrackers. And certainly, during the last few days, some soldiers in Afghanistan have been killed or injured, etc.

Now if you look at it as a "law of averages" thing, it all makes sense. Without a heavenly force behind the good and the bad in this world, the disparity falls into line with reality quite quickly. Without a god, the various degrees of suffering available to us humans will, because shit happens at various levels, be unequally distributed. There will be good people who suffer hardly at all, and others who have to spend a couple years in rehab after being burned over 80% of their body. There will be bad people who die of old age, in their sleep, never having been sick or injured or otherwise inconvenienced a single day of their life.

Suffering distributed unfairly and without regard to anything but happenstance is a crap-ass lesson, because nothing is learned from it. Suffering that just happens because life contains some, and living beings experience some, well, that makes more sense. About a trillion times more sense.

Suffering and other woes happen. If you want to foist it off on a loving god and his lax oversight in such things, go right ahead. Just make sure you never ask "why" when someone you know or hear about either suffers when they shouldn't or doesn't' suffer when they should. Because otherwise you might start suffering doubts, and we all know how that might turn out.
Not everyone is entitled to their opinion. They're all entitled to mine though.

Online Ron Jeremy

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Re: The Evil Problem
« Reply #25 on: July 05, 2013, 12:37:05 PM »
I use the term 'evil' as an all encompassing word describing bad things that happen. It also appears to be the chosen word when philosophers debate 'bad things that happen'. I know there is no 'evil' force in the world. I know in this case the girl has simply fallen down the well, a tragic accident. Her molecules will never again assemble to make her 'her'. I'm not angry at any god; I lack belief in them.

The reason I ask the question is to find out how theists square this quite simple answer (that bad things unfortunately just happen, that's life) with their belief in an all loving god. Does this scenario not make them question their beliefs?
Matthew 10:22 "and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved." - An example of a clearly demonstrably false biblical 'prophesy'.

The biblical myth of a 6000 year old Earth is proven false by the Gaia satellite directly measuring star age.

Offline Star Stuff

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Re: The Evil Problem
« Reply #26 on: July 05, 2013, 12:47:18 PM »
The reason I ask the question is to find out how theists square this quite simple answer (that bad things unfortunately just happen, that's life) with their belief in an all loving god. Does this scenario not make them question their beliefs?

See here:

http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forums/index.php/topic,25142.0.html
God is an Imaginary Friend for Grown-ups

Offline ParkingPlaces

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Re: The Evil Problem
« Reply #27 on: July 05, 2013, 10:47:39 PM »
Giving the generic label "evil" to all bad things that happen puts a face on the events, because evil requires intent (if one is to believe dictionaries and such) whereas "shit happens" or some other colloquialism puts the disaster in a more useful light.

Of course, when a bad guy does bad guy things and other humans suffer, one can properly label the causing party evil, I guess. It is still generic as hell, and the word itself does not differentiate between a mentally imbalanced bad guy and a really really mean one. Still, at least evil is somewhat appropriate as a generalization. But when an earthquake/tsunami wipes of a quarter million people, nothing evil happened. Terrible? Yes. Such natural events are horrible, scary, destructive, shocking, and at times, too much to bear. But they are not evil.

So as long as the religious can get away with branding all bad things as evil, they get to pretend there was some conscious mechanism behind it, whether there was or not, and they get to continue pretending nefarious causes are behind all events, be they natural or human, local or country-wide. And as long as believers get to control the vocabulary, they will have every reason to think that they have a useful and accurate view of bad things and why they happen.

If we can keep them from making up words to go along with their made up interpretation of what happened, then we have a chance of reaching them. Otherwise, they get to create their own positive-feedback loop and tell themselves that they told themselves. Which makes 'em all giddy.
Not everyone is entitled to their opinion. They're all entitled to mine though.

Online Ron Jeremy

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Re: The Evil Problem
« Reply #28 on: July 06, 2013, 04:21:49 AM »
A fair point PP. Just to reiterate, I used the term 'evil' as simply a word to describe bad things that happen in life, it had been used here which is where I picked up on its use;

http://www.iep.utm.edu/evil-evi/

There is no demonic entity causing earthquakes or bad things. As far as the original question, where I've said 'evil' please substitute 'events that inflict harm or suffering on living creatures'. Just that 'evil' was a lot shorter!
Matthew 10:22 "and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved." - An example of a clearly demonstrably false biblical 'prophesy'.

The biblical myth of a 6000 year old Earth is proven false by the Gaia satellite directly measuring star age.