Author Topic: Problem of Evil: The What If Question  (Read 1378 times)

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Offline SevenPatch

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Problem of Evil: The What If Question
« on: December 05, 2013, 05:29:43 PM »
I would guess that most everyone is familiar and knowledgeable of the “Problem of Evil”.  If not, I found the rationalwiki page on the “Problem of Evil” informative http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Problem_of_evil which might be a good starting point for anyone not familiar with this concept.  I would not be surprised if most here on these forums are familiar with rationalwiki and perhaps even contributed to it.  I actually found these forums through the rationalwiki article on “Why won’t god heal amputees”.

From my point of view, I think the “Problem of Hell” and subsequently my version of the “Problem of Heaven” have more impact than the “Problem of Evil” but I digress and will save that for my introduction post.  Here I’m going to ask the ‘what if’ question regarding the “Problem of Evil”.

What if god solved the problem of evil?

Imagine if there was no holocaust or genocide in human history.  From my perspective these acts are obviously evil but for sake of argument I’ll just call it perceived evil from a matter of perspective as what I would say is an evil person or being would view this evil as good.  Since god prevented the holocaust or any genocide from happening, we humans would have no knowledge or reference to this type of perceived evil.  I would guess that in this scenario we might be capable of imagining such perceived evil.  Murder would still occur and making the leap from killing one person to imagining killing many people might not be too big of a leap.  Although going from one or perhaps a dozen people to millions of people might require a large and perhaps perverse imagination. 

Now imagine if there was no murder at all.  Again since god prevented the killing of any human being, we would have no knowledge or reference to this type of perceived evil.  I think we would still be able to imagine such perceived evil because we would still be killing animals and be capable of striking each other or harming each other without killing.  I think at this point however the idea of genocide becomes unimaginable unless you consider what humans do to livestock like cows, pigs, chickens, goats, turkeys and other animals.

What if there was no murder or killing at all of humans and other animals.  Some people view the killing of cows and other animals as evil.  What if god made humans to not have any desire to eat animals as well as not be able to murder other humans.  Now certainly, genocide would be unimaginable in this scenario.  Even if it was, it would be so incomprehensible to be deemed nearly impossible if not the ravings of a lunatic.  In this world where no genocide or murder occurs, the greatest perceived evil would be inflicting harm without killing.

I personally consider rape to be as bad as murder but for the purpose of this discussion I’m not going to get into that, let’s just say in this scenario god prevented all rape at the same time that all murder was prevented.

Lets now imagine if god prevented any and all harm from being inflicted by any one person onto any other person.  What would the worst perceived evil be then?  I might say stealing, as that might be a big reason to harm or murder someone in the first place.  Perhaps god would have to prevent stealing before other perceived evils could be prevented.  Verbal abuse or lying might be the next worst perceived evils.

I can’t even if imagine what such a world would be like if murder had never occurred in the history of the human race.  I could imagine what life would be like in this world if we as human beings somehow stopped murdering each other, but not if murder had never happened. 

What if god prevented all of what we in this world commonly perceive as evil?

Eventually, perceived evil might become what we in this world perceive as good.  Perhaps only helping one person instead of two would be perceived as evil.  I’m guessing here as it is difficult to imagine such a world.  I find this to be an interesting rabbit hole.

Of course none of this suggests that the “Problem of Evil” doesn’t defeat the idea of god.  It is just a what if scenario which I as a mere mortal am simply curious about.  If god were indeed all knowing, all powerful and all loving then god would be capable of figuring out a way to solve the problem of evil.  If god were not all knowing, all powerful or all loving then god is not worth worshiping nor would be capable of creating the universe and does not exist.

Anyway, I was also curious if any philosophers in history discuss or write about the “What if” question in regards to the “Problem of Evil”.
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Offline SevenPatch

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Re: Problem of Evil: The What If Question
« Reply #1 on: December 05, 2013, 05:37:57 PM »
A follow up:

What if god has already prevented evil worse than the worst perceived evil today?  Acts so evil that we can’t imagine or comprehend.  Would that be hell?  Did god create hell or just allow hell to exist?  What if god prevented evil worse than hell and Satan and we don’t even know it?

I haven’t thought much yet about those perspectives.  Again, they don’t suggest that the “Problem of Evil” doesn’t defeat the idea of god.  I would much rather live in a world where murder is the worst perceived evil and no genocide or rape occurred.
"Shut him up! We have a lot invested in this ride - SHUT HIM UP! Look at my furrows of worry! Look at my big bank account, and my family! This just HAS to be real!" - Bill Hicks

Offline Ron Jeremy

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Re: Problem of Evil: The What If Question
« Reply #2 on: December 05, 2013, 05:45:29 PM »
From what I understand of 'the problem of evil', theists explain bad things happening to people as either a result of free will or it apparently builds character. What theists cannot explain is gratuitous evil; an animal burned in a forest fire taking days to die with no witnesses. No one's free will affected and no character built. If an all loving god existed, why would he allow this? Plenty of threads on here about it.

I used to wrestle with that problem, now I just look at the lack of any evidence for any gods and come to the obvious conclusion.
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 SevenPatch

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Re: Problem of Evil: The What If Question
« Reply #3 on: December 05, 2013, 06:00:37 PM »
From what I understand of 'the problem of evil', theists explain bad things happening to people as either a result of free will or it apparently builds character. What theists cannot explain is gratuitous evil; an animal burned in a forest fire taking days to die with no witnesses. No one's free will affected and no character built. If an all loving god existed, why would he allow this? Plenty of threads on here about it.

I used to wrestle with that problem, now I just look at the lack of any evidence for any gods and come to the obvious conclusion.

Rationalwiki has a section on the free will and builds character aspect.  I was trying to avoid topics that have likely been discussed.

I was looking at it as a what would happen if god did prevent evil.  Interesting consequences occur.
"Shut him up! We have a lot invested in this ride - SHUT HIM UP! Look at my furrows of worry! Look at my big bank account, and my family! This just HAS to be real!" - Bill Hicks

Offline dloubet

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Re: Problem of Evil: The What If Question
« Reply #4 on: December 05, 2013, 06:45:47 PM »
It would matter how, wouldn't it? What if the god character simply decreed that karma would be delivered instantly and unambiguously? The pain you would feel would be an unavoidable consequence of hurting someone else. And free will, such as it is, is maintained. You could choose to harm yourself by harming others.

And the god won't be fooled by facile exploits like being a masochist. You would get whatever you didn't like in equal measure, by hurting someone.

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Offline magicmiles

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Re: Problem of Evil: The What If Question
« Reply #5 on: December 05, 2013, 06:51:45 PM »
It would matter how, wouldn't it? What if the god character simply decreed that karma would be delivered instantly and unambiguously? The pain you would feel would be an unavoidable consequence of hurting someone else. And free will, such as it is, is maintained. You could choose to harm yourself by harming others.

And the god won't be fooled by facile exploits like being a masochist. You would get whatever you didn't like in equal measure, by hurting someone.

An inteersting idea. How much pain and discomfort would you be in right now if it was implemented?

Anyone else?

I'd be in significant discomfort.
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Offline Add Homonym

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Re: Problem of Evil: The What If Question
« Reply #6 on: December 05, 2013, 08:16:07 PM »
At least it would be directed at achieving something. The problem of Karma, is that we supposedly get reincarnated to "work out" minor issues in our personality, that are often inherited, or forced on us by environment. We are supposed to progress without knowing what we are doing. It seems a bit inane that we should spend time as a cockroach as penance for some sin, when cockroaches don't even feel. Just to be on the safe side, Buddhists have a great big grizzly hell, anyway, where you spend 10^100 years in acid and snot, and then 10^60 years in dry desert, while puking.

If you believe that consciousness can occur in a soul, independent of the human body, then places such as hell might be hypothetically part of the substrate of consciousness, and this life could be a respite from it. No matter how bad this life is, it would still be a break.

Anything we can imagine in this arena is not part of the Christian theology. The Buddhist thinking is just more unfalsifiable, but still has problems.

It's seeming more and more like consciousness is supported by our brains, rather than a soul. The soul was invented, because people couldn't conceive of a way that a human could think without it, or be alive without some god-breath. Some people pretend they still can't see. Christians had resurrection, to get around this problem.

I still can't say for sure, if some madman, in the future, with a quantum computer could resurrect me, and then throw me into some arbitrary punishment. Unfortunately, anything like that is possible.
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Offline wright

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Re: Problem of Evil: The What If Question
« Reply #7 on: December 05, 2013, 09:05:01 PM »
At least it would be directed at achieving something. The problem of Karma, is that we supposedly get reincarnated to "work out" minor issues in our personality, that are often inherited, or forced on us by environment. We are supposed to progress without knowing what we are doing. It seems a bit inane that we should spend time as a cockroach as penance for some sin, when cockroaches don't even feel.

That part never made sense to me, either. The doctrine of reincarnation seems one that could become an excuse to not exert any effort at making yourself or the world better: why bother doctoring refugees in Somalia when it's their karmic debt from a past life that got them raped, shot and chased off their land? Though perhaps I don't understand Buddhist doctrine correctly.

I still can't say for sure, if some madman, in the future, with a quantum computer could resurrect me, and then throw me into some arbitrary punishment. Unfortunately, anything like that is possible.

Barring the future sadist having access to time travel, it would presumably be a copy of you, not the persona who had lived and died sometime before. Not that that would make it any easier on the copy, who would (presumably) see no difference between themselves and the original you.

The Omega Point in the hands of a sadist http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Omega_Point#Tipler... unpleasant concept.
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Offline 12 Monkeys

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Re: Problem of Evil: The What If Question
« Reply #8 on: December 05, 2013, 09:12:26 PM »
It would matter how, wouldn't it? What if the god character simply decreed that karma would be delivered instantly and unambiguously? The pain you would feel would be an unavoidable consequence of hurting someone else. And free will, such as it is, is maintained. You could choose to harm yourself by harming others.

And the god won't be fooled by facile exploits like being a masochist. You would get whatever you didn't like in equal measure, by hurting someone.

An inteersting idea. How much pain and discomfort would you be in right now if it was implemented?

Anyone else?

I'd be in significant discomfort.
In what way (significant discomfort)?
There's no right there's no wrong,there's just popular opinion (Brad Pitt as Jeffery Goines in 12 monkeys)

Offline magicmiles

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Re: Problem of Evil: The What If Question
« Reply #9 on: December 05, 2013, 09:18:50 PM »
It would matter how, wouldn't it? What if the god character simply decreed that karma would be delivered instantly and unambiguously? The pain you would feel would be an unavoidable consequence of hurting someone else. And free will, such as it is, is maintained. You could choose to harm yourself by harming others.

And the god won't be fooled by facile exploits like being a masochist. You would get whatever you didn't like in equal measure, by hurting someone.

An inteersting idea. How much pain and discomfort would you be in right now if it was implemented?

Anyone else?

I'd be in significant discomfort.
In what way (significant discomfort)?

 Every time I said something bad to somebody I would feel the same emotions as them. That's on top of the bad things said to me anyway.
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Offline 12 Monkeys

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Re: Problem of Evil: The What If Question
« Reply #10 on: December 05, 2013, 09:27:31 PM »
MM having a bad feeling or thought and expressing it to somebody,it's hardy evil. I think it bodes well that you think BEFORE you say something discomforting to others. This is,of course unless you are trying to educate a person,sometimes you have to be condescending or derogatory to clearly express a point
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Offline jaimehlers

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Re: Problem of Evil: The What If Question
« Reply #11 on: December 05, 2013, 09:54:57 PM »
This is,of course unless you are trying to educate a person,sometimes you have to be condescending or derogatory to clearly express a point
I don't agree.  I don't think there's ever a time where it's better to be condescending or derogatory when you're trying to educate someone.  In fact, most of the time those run counter to the purpose of trying to teach.

Offline Add Homonym

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Re: Problem of Evil: The What If Question
« Reply #12 on: December 05, 2013, 10:29:39 PM »
The Omega Point in the hands of a sadist http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Omega_Point#Tipler... unpleasant concept.

Yes. The only way out of that, is to understand/hope that the essence of pain, is to stop us from doing something that would kill us. Typically, if something suffers pain for too long, it dies. Therefore any evolved organism must have pain for a reason, which is self-limiting. You can only hope that in the simulations of everything that is possible, it only simulates things that can evolve, and have pain for a reason. If things can have pain for no reason, then there is a world of pain out there, already.

« Last Edit: December 05, 2013, 10:33:44 PM by Add Homonym »
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Offline skeptic54768

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Re: Problem of Evil: The What If Question
« Reply #13 on: December 06, 2013, 12:24:18 AM »
The problem of evil was never a problem for theists. It seems to be more of a problem for the atheists considering they think it's a good reason to doubt God.

To theists, we must remain tough in the face of adversity, like Job. We shouldn't give up and demand babying. In the same way a father has the power to lock his kid in a cage so the kid never gets hurt a day in his life. But the father knows that's no life for the son. The father would rather have the kid go out and live life, even if it means a risk of getting hurt and having severe accidents.

Not to mention the simple fact that there can be no such thing as "good" without "evil." You need both for comparison.

Problem of evil has been dead and buried. Anyone who tells you otherwise is taking you for a fool.
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." - Jesus (said 2,000 years ago and still true today.)

Offline 12 Monkeys

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Re: Problem of Evil: The What If Question
« Reply #14 on: December 06, 2013, 01:53:04 AM »
This is,of course unless you are trying to educate a person,sometimes you have to be condescending or derogatory to clearly express a point
I don't agree.  I don't think there's ever a time where it's better to be condescending or derogatory when you're trying to educate someone.  In fact, most of the time those run counter to the purpose of trying to teach.
We are condescending and derogatory all the time when we are dealing with the stubborn and the ignorant,you can disagree if you wish
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Offline 12 Monkeys

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Re: Problem of Evil: The What If Question
« Reply #15 on: December 06, 2013, 01:54:44 AM »
The problem of evil was never a problem for theists. It seems to be more of a problem for the atheists considering they think it's a good reason to doubt God.

To theists, we must remain tough in the face of adversity, like Job. We shouldn't give up and demand babying. In the same way a father has the power to lock his kid in a cage so the kid never gets hurt a day in his life. But the father knows that's no life for the son. The father would rather have the kid go out and live life, even if it means a risk of getting hurt and having severe accidents.

Not to mention the simple fact that there can be no such thing as "good" without "evil." You need both for comparison.

Problem of evil has been dead and buried. Anyone who tells you otherwise is taking you for a fool.
Comparing yourself to a fictional character who has a story made up about his life.....If you are like Job why are you here? What about the Demons skep?
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Offline Add Homonym

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Re: Problem of Evil: The What If Question
« Reply #16 on: December 06, 2013, 01:58:48 AM »
The problem of evil was never a problem for theists.

Bold assertion without evidence.

Quote
It seems to be more of a problem for the atheists considering they think it's a good reason to doubt God.

Opinion.

Quote
To theists, we must remain tough in the face of adversity, like Job.

Job didn't believe in an afterlife, and saw God, directly.

Quote
We shouldn't give up and demand babying.

You do, constantly., That's why you pray.

Quote
In the same way a father has the power to lock his kid in a cage so the kid never gets hurt a day in his life. But the father knows that's no life for the son. The father would rather have the kid go out and live life, even if it means a risk of getting hurt and having severe accidents.

Blah blah. More dad metaphors. Speak in gibberish so we will understand it.

Quote
Not to mention the simple fact that there can be no such thing as "good" without "evil."

Not to mention there is no such thing as good or evil, anyway. They are a theist invented construct, that can't be measured.

Quote
You need both for comparison.

You don't need either. Universe works without them.

Quote
Problem of evil has been dead and buried. Anyone who tells you otherwise is taking you for a fool.

Correct. They are non-existent abstractions.
Humans, in general, don't waste any opportunity to be unfathomably stupid - Dr Cynical.

Offline skeptic54768

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Re: Problem of Evil: The What If Question
« Reply #17 on: December 06, 2013, 02:07:07 AM »
Not to mention there is no such thing as good or evil, anyway. They are a theist invented construct, that can't be measured.

You really believe this?

So you would not object to somebody wanting to amputate your leg with a chainsaw, because it's not evil?

Is that your 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." - Jesus (said 2,000 years ago and still true today.)

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Re: Problem of Evil: The What If Question
« Reply #18 on: December 06, 2013, 02:13:36 AM »
Not to mention there is no such thing as good or evil, anyway. They are a theist invented construct, that can't be measured.

You really believe this?

So you would not object to somebody wanting to amputate your leg with a chainsaw, because it's not evil?

Is that your position?

That's not what he even meant. Yet another post where you lack understanding and prove my point.

-Nam
This thread is about lab-grown dicks, not some mincy, old, British poof of an actor. 

Let's get back on topic, please.


Offline skeptic54768

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Re: Problem of Evil: The What If Question
« Reply #19 on: December 06, 2013, 02:14:42 AM »
That's not what he even meant. Yet another post where you lack understanding and prove my point.

-Nam

If there is no evil, then it's not evil to do that.

Simple basic logic.
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." - Jesus (said 2,000 years ago and still true today.)

Offline Add Homonym

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Re: Problem of Evil: The What If Question
« Reply #20 on: December 06, 2013, 02:16:47 AM »
Not to mention there is no such thing as good or evil, anyway. They are a theist invented construct, that can't be measured.

You really believe this?

So you would not object to somebody wanting to amputate your leg with a chainsaw, because it's not evil?

Is that your position?

I can't believe you've responded this way. What is this game?

My position is that life has evolved to not like having it's legs chopped off with a chainsaw, because it's painful, and causes the organism to fail shortly afterwards. No abstract notions of good and evil are required. I'm certain that my pet wallaby would think the same, although it is clueless about the notions of good and evil.

Do you have any other failed arguments to present?
Humans, in general, don't waste any opportunity to be unfathomably stupid - Dr Cynical.

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Re: Problem of Evil: The What If Question
« Reply #21 on: December 06, 2013, 02:18:35 AM »
That's not what he even meant. Yet another post where you lack understanding and prove my point.

-Nam

If there is no evil, then it's not evil to do that.

Simple basic logic.

Errr. Wrong. You lose. Thanks for playing.

-Nam
This thread is about lab-grown dicks, not some mincy, old, British poof of an actor. 

Let's get back on topic, please.


Offline skeptic54768

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Re: Problem of Evil: The What If Question
« Reply #22 on: December 06, 2013, 02:19:36 AM »
Not to mention there is no such thing as good or evil, anyway. They are a theist invented construct, that can't be measured.

You really believe this?

So you would not object to somebody wanting to amputate your leg with a chainsaw, because it's not evil?

Is that your position?

I can't believe you've responded this way. What is this game?

My position is that life has evolved to not like having it's legs chopped off with a chainsaw, because it's painful, and causes the organism to fail shortly afterwards. No abstract notions of good and evil are required. I'm certain that my pet wallaby would think the same, although it is clueless about the notions of good and evil.

Do you have any other failed arguments to present?

Is it your position that serial killers are not evil?
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." - Jesus (said 2,000 years ago and still true today.)

Offline skeptic54768

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Re: Problem of Evil: The What If Question
« Reply #23 on: December 06, 2013, 02:21:46 AM »
That's not what he even meant. Yet another post where you lack understanding and prove my point.

-Nam

If there is no evil, then it's not evil to do that.

Simple basic logic.

Errr. Wrong. You lose. Thanks for playing.

-Nam

This is the first time I'm hearing an atheist deny the existence of evil. Usually, they love saying that evil exists and they can even define it without 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." - Jesus (said 2,000 years ago and still true today.)

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Re: Problem of Evil: The What If Question
« Reply #24 on: December 06, 2013, 02:22:41 AM »
Not to mention there is no such thing as good or evil, anyway. They are a theist invented construct, that can't be measured.

You really believe this?

So you would not object to somebody wanting to amputate your leg with a chainsaw, because it's not evil?

Is that your position?

I can't believe you've responded this way. What is this game?

My position is that life has evolved to not like having it's legs chopped off with a chainsaw, because it's painful, and causes the organism to fail shortly afterwards. No abstract notions of good and evil are required. I'm certain that my pet wallaby would think the same, although it is clueless about the notions of good and evil.

Do you have any other failed arguments to present?

Is it your position that serial killers are not evil?

See, people: he doesn't understand. Proving my point. And, you can't explain it to him because he won't understand the explanation because it doesn't fall into his own warped viewpoint.

-Nam
This thread is about lab-grown dicks, not some mincy, old, British poof of an actor. 

Let's get back on topic, please.


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Re: Problem of Evil: The What If Question
« Reply #25 on: December 06, 2013, 02:23:46 AM »
That's not what he even meant. Yet another post where you lack understanding and prove my point.

-Nam

If there is no evil, then it's not evil to do that.

Simple basic logic.

Errr. Wrong. You lose. Thanks for playing.

-Nam

This is the first time I'm hearing an atheist deny the existence of evil. Usually, they love saying that evil exists and they can even define it without God.



Errr. Wrong. You lose. Thanks for playing.

-Nam
This thread is about lab-grown dicks, not some mincy, old, British poof of an actor. 

Let's get back on topic, please.


Online Nam

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Re: Problem of Evil: The What If Question
« Reply #26 on: December 06, 2013, 02:31:47 AM »
Skeptic,

Your smite for the comment above: still proving my point.

-Nam
This thread is about lab-grown dicks, not some mincy, old, British poof of an actor. 

Let's get back on topic, please.


Offline Ataraxia

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Re: Problem of Evil: The What If Question
« Reply #27 on: December 06, 2013, 02:32:06 AM »
It's not so much that evil doesn't exist, but more that there is no evidence that value judgements exist outside the mind. They're just easy use labels to convey where we put actions on our moral scale - nothing more.
"God is a comedian playing to an audience too afraid to laugh." - Voltaire

Online Nam

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Re: Problem of Evil: The What If Question
« Reply #28 on: December 06, 2013, 02:37:09 AM »
It's not so much that evil doesn't exist, but more that there is no evidence that value judgements exist outside the mind. They're just easy use labels to convey where we put actions on our moral scale - nothing more.

It's all a construct. Placing a type of value where there is no value. There isn't "good/bad/evil", there just is and is not. It's just vague placement of labels like black or white, yellow or brown. There's just "you" and "I": humans. No in between.

Now when "we" use the labels, in a way we are propagating them but usually it's just a generalization. Easier terminology for discussion, and debate.

-Nam
This thread is about lab-grown dicks, not some mincy, old, British poof of an actor. 

Let's get back on topic, please.