The theodicy

Discussion in 'THREAD ARCHIVES' started by Freyja, Jun 23, 2015.

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  1. Inspired by Brovo's thread about religion, I would like to ask all believers on Iwaku about the theodicy.

    theodicy: (from Greek theos, “god”; dikē, “justice”), explanation of why a perfectly good, almighty, and all-knowing God permits evil. The term literally means “justifying God.”
  2. Morality is subjective. Why should you hope to understand a deity's morals?
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  3. This is where the Gnostic Demiurge comes in

    The Demiurge is something that the Gnostics believed was created by God to watch over Earth, and make decisions about Earth for God. The Demiurge is insane, so one day, it could be "EVERYONE GETS HATS!" and the next it could be "Alright, everyone is now missing their left big toe." It can be good and evil, because the Demiurge is insane.

    Now, Who knows if this is true or not, because the Gnostics are crazy, but whatever.
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  4. 3 basic arguments I would make:

    1. If there was no evil, there could be no good. Morality is contrast.

    2. Also, God only permits evil to occur for a short time on Earth. The good lasts forever in heaven, the evil is destroyed in hell. In the grand scheme of eternity, this is an eye-blink.

    3. God probably wonders why we permit evil, too.
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  5. Kinda like the Demiurge thing; but I think God Himself is fallible. He's got the best of intentions - He just fucks up now and then, or doesn't listen to people, or misunderstands, or is missing pieces of Himself.

    He is the Meta Protagonist of the Meta Story.

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  6. Mackies inconsistent triad:
    God exists
    God is omnibelovent (all loving)
    God is omnipotent (all powerful)

    "Whilst suffering exists, only two of the three premises can be true."

    I kind of get where that is coming from but we need to consider the nature of suffering (Is it real, do we understand it properly, does it serve a purpose etc) to get the triad to disprove God.

    This also takes into account Augustines Theodicy - "There is no good and evil, only good and the absense of good"
    Which I think is viable, and it would also justify a God...

    Ireanaus also had a theodicy which talked about soul making, and the idea that we couldn't understand good with out evil.

    SO YEAH Idk I love the Theodicies so I like talking about it lmao.
    FYI I'm a really questioning agnostic, so this goes on in my head a lot ksh.
  7. God is a dumb dummy.

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  8. For there to be free will, there must be the possibility of a wrong choice. There must be evil, otherwise, there is no free will. Note, however, that out of a whole heavenly garden, there was only one evil tree, and He specifically said not to eat of it, or they would die. It's Adam and Eve's fault for being dumb and listening to a talking snake.

    I also believe Angels have free will, and demons are simply angels who choose to be agents of malice. If you saw these two next to each other, you couldn't SEE a difference, but the demon would feel "off", and off putting, and yet they have a magnetic pull on humanity. The angel would simply be terrifying, because they show humans how far gone he is.

    My brainstorming, anyway. Take with a grain of salt, but this makes most sense to me.
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  9. I have two thoughts on this.

    1) God exists in a way that we cannot even begin to comprehend. He sees things in a way that we cannot comprehend. Who knows why He allows things to be the way they are? That's difficult for us to question. I like to believe that there's a purpose behind the bad things that happen, it's just not one that's easy for us to understand. You know what they say -- God works in mysterious ways.

    2) As Salsacookies said, free will is a thing. God gave us the ability to act on our free will. He gave us the ability to choose to be good or evil, to live out our own lives and make our own choices. If He were to remove all evil from the world, He would have to remove free will, as well -- prevent people from committing murder and other atrocities, you know. And while living in such an ideal world sounds nice, what's the point of living in it if all our good deeds are just coming from direct divine intervention, rather than the goodness of people's own hearts? Doesn't that just make it all seem sort of... hollow?

    Besides, Earth is not meant to be the ideal world. Heaven is. And if you've reached that point -- congrats, you've earned it. And I think the idea of choosing to live your life well and make it to Heaven that way sounds far more fulfilling than the thought of God simply removing all evil from Earth without a struggle -- not giving us the chance to see what evil is and choose to combat it with goodness.
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  10. Preface: I'm not a believer (I'm an atheist and a skeptic), but I'd like to provide my own input if you don't mind. Keep in mind my point of view is more examining God in the context of a fictional character than a real entity.

    In a polytheistic religion, the answer is fairly simple: You have "good" Gods (order, fertility, et cetera) and "evil" Gods (war, death, et cetera). In a monotheistic religion, you have the unique issue that the creator of everything must have also created--at the very least--the capacity for evil. For an all benevolent entity, this is a hypocritical break of character. So, I'll respond to the more common reasons given in this thread. They're not new, and I'll point out what's usually wrong with them. Please keep in mind that I'm arguing strictly against the argument, not against the person making it. Believe what you like, it's your actions that matter. :ferret:

    One final point: I'm arguing from the perspective of the Christian deity. If we're speaking strictly of "a deity of any sort", then most of these answers could work. However, the Christian deity has a very large book that goes into extreme detail about his actions, and those of his followers. So we do have a canonical work from which to base the personality and track record of the character.
    It depends on the deity in question. If we're speaking of the Christian deity, then no, this answer doesn't work. He firmly and adamantly sets down multiple, specific, objective sets of laws for Abraham and his descendents to follow. (The most famous of which is the Ten Commandments. Canonically, God orders his people to break almost every single one of them at least once, often multiple times.) Even Jesus sets laws for people to follow. (Such as to "give the taxman his due and God his due", or to "love thy neighbour as one would love thyself.") If you're a Deist, this is your go-to bread and butter retcon and it normally works, since Deists often don't make any claims about their God other than his existence.
    This answers literally nothing. God still knowingly created a thing that creates evil. Just because an evil overlord orders his henchmen to do the murder instead, doesn't make him any less evil. The mind is still responsible for the actions of the hand.
    Before we begin: Hello again Protagonist! Nice to see you.

    This only works if you assume that opposites must exist. Ignoring morality, there is no reason for the existence of suffering or death, especially when applied to children, from an all benevolent, all loving entity. It's merely an irrational, random circumstance that results in the premature termination of a life. This is like a computer programmer who loves computers, designing a computer program to cause the computer to spontaneously combust at random: That's not a rational design philosophy, there has to be a reason for it. Besides, an all loving, all powerful, all knowing God, also created the knowledge of morality to begin with. It could easily program people to inherently understand it without needing suffering, instead of requiring them to bite from a fruit of knowledge that then results in the consequence of suffering and death.

    In essence: You can understand the concept of evil without having to perpetuate the existence of evil, and thus the existence of evil from an all benevolent God is still illogical.
    Evil still exists, no matter how long or short the duration. This still contrasts an all benevolent God. The inclusion of hell makes it doubly baffling: God created the person, created the circumstances that led to their descent into evil, and then punishes them for making the choice he programmed them to make in the first place. For eternity. It sounds more like a novelist creating antagonists, than a deity creating people with free will. :ferret:
    God created everything and knows everything, so I'd wager he knows exactly why. How he feels about it, however, is entirely outside of my purview to even wager a guess. Either way, I wonder why too, sometimes.
    This is a valid response, though it does require abandoning the idea of God being perfect, likely the omniscience bit moreso than anything else. So from a Christian aspect, this violates a core aspect of the character. At least, canonically. Still, abandoning the idea of the Christian God and making it potentially any God, yeah, this works.
    I don't think the triad attempts to disprove God, I think it more tries to disprove the idea of an all powerful, all knowing, all loving God. Disproving God is like disproving the tea pot that floats between Earth and Mars: No matter how unlikely it may be, there is technically a chance that it could be correct. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence and all that jazz.
    From a Biblical perspective, this is veritably false. God repeatedly and demonstrably punishes people for committing evil acts. (Noah's Flood comes to mind, but the story of Samson is also a good one to reach for as an example.) Hell was also explicitly created to punish those who do more than simply "lack good", but who perfidiously spread malevolence according to the Biblical text's definitions of malevolence. In other words: God punishes evil.
    I won't attempt to convert you or anything else like that. My entire objective is merely the spreading of knowledge. The best answer the Christians have for this is "God acts in mysterious ways", and the best answer the Atheists have for this is "God cannot be both all knowing and all loving." In brutal, honest truth? Nobody has the answer. Unanun was right, in an abstract sort of way: We're just tiny, insignificant atoms living on a spec of dust floating through space, in orbit of a tiny spark of life-giving energy. There is no way for us to know whether God is or isn't real, who that God may or may not be, what that God may or may not be, and what that God's morals are. Unless someone finds God's number in a phone book and calls him up to ask a few questions, nobody will ever know for certain, either.

    I can, however, say that the Bible--regardless of the existence of the Christian God--has been edited a sufficient number of times as to warrant raising an eyebrow at some of its more egregious plot holes. As a text, it's better to read as a series of short stories with aesops, than as a running narrative. It has some good ones, and I can appreciate the historical significance of the text, regardless of its accuracy.
    God created the universe, which includes the procession of time and personality traits. God is omniscient: He knows everything, therefore he knows what characteristics create evil people, and willingly allows those characteristics to exist independent of a person's choices. This is "free will" in the same sense as programming an NPC in a video game to shoot guns at innocent people and then being surprised when it does so, so this argument doesn't function unless one either removes God's all benevolent nature, or God's all knowing nature. He either has to be ignorant of the consequences of his actions in creating inevitable evil, or not care about it in the first place. He can't be both in the same way that for someone to commit a murder against their moral conscience, they either have to have not understood the consequences of their actions, or not care about the consequences in the first place.
    The Garden test was impossible for a variety of reasons. Firstly, the "evil tree" in question was called the tree of knowledge. Prior to this, Adam & Eve didn't even understand the idea of wearing clothing, much less what the malevolent nature of a perfidious snake would be like. Secondly, they were immortal: They lived for hundreds of years (canonically) and apparently lacked the capacity to learn anything in that time. They were still naked, and still had no children, so they failed at performing even the most basic of functions that most humans learn how to do naturally. As a bonus, this means that given a hundred years, or a hundred millennia, their inability to learn would invariably lead to them eventually eating from the tree of knowledge. Thirdly, when they learned about what they had done and attempted to plead for mercy, God showed them none. God punished his children who knew nothing of consequences, then punished their children and the entire human race to an eternity of suffering and violence that they had no hand in. This directly contrasts his nature as an all loving entity.

    As a story, it's pretty decent. I like it. As a character test, it proves only one thing about God: That he set up a rat trap which was doomed to fail from the start, then became surprised when it happened and punished the hapless people who committed the sole crime of being oblivious and deceived. God is also omniscient, so this is technically a plot hole too: God can't be "surprised" by things. :ferret:
    Canonically correct, at least so far as humans have it. Ashatan Lucifer fell from grace of his own free will, though God still created him as an immortal with an envy complex, so this is another example of God creating an inevitable failure. Still a good story though, "pride cometh before the fall" and all that.

    Oh, and it should be noted that early versions of the Bible put less emphasis on Lucifer than later versions. This guy goes into detail about the evolution of Satan as a character, from an atheistic perspective. :ferret:
    For brainstorming, it's not bad. They aren't new claims, but it's good that you're thinking about it and formulating hypothesis about it. Keep thinking. :ferret:
    The "God works in mysterious ways" works as a faith argument. The issue with a faith argument, however, is when it's pushed as evidence of anything other than the degree to which someone is willing to believe in something. So, in essence, if we're talking about this as a character study of the God of the Bible: No, it doesn't work as an answer. If "the serial killer works in mysterious ways" doesn't work as a defense in a court of law, neither does it work for why an all loving God who would drown the entire planet for not loving him enough.

    The only way this works is if someone combos it with "God is above the laws of mortal men". Then, you can start to create a pretty solid faith-defense. I'll let someone else make that argument though.
    Unfortunate that Free Will doesn't function in a predetermined universe created by an all knowing God. You can't have "randomness" if God both programmed the dice and inherently knows the manner in which the dice will roll, to their precise results, every time. This actually extends into another critical issue that has been debated for centuries: If God knows everything, and created everything, how can there be free will in a predetermined universe? This, however, is very heavy shit to get into, so I'll just leave this here and move on.
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  11. The Demiurge is insane, so God probably didn't intend for anything evil to happen, the Demiurge just caused it to. He created the Demiurge as a benevolent guardian, and it just went mad.

    Disclaimer: I believe the Demiurge is a load of crap, it's just really interesting.
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  12. This is all I have to contribute.
  13. I just wanted to highlight the amount of content here. Well done, sir.
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  14. What choice to be good is there if it results into burning for eternity? One option is clearly broadcast as superior to another. What purpose then is there to free will? You can choose to obey and be allowed into the kingdom of god, or you can run from your master providing you a limited time of freedom, but you will be hunted down and you will burn. You don't even have to commit a crime to do so. You don't even have to be a bad person to do so. Truth to be told, in this analogy I feel we're giving credit to humankind to be nothing more than slaves. You can choose to challenge your chains, but your master has sworn to get back at you and happens to be omnipotent. When the outcome of your choices are so guaranteed to be drastically different from another, can you really speak of free will?

    Here's another thing to consider. Let's ignore the paragraph above for a second. If our logic is supposed to be inferior, are we not like children? Forgive them father for they know not what they do? If you had a child, would you allow them to play with pointy sticks? If you knew other kids were playing with pointy sticks, would you allow your children to play with them?

    As for the way I see it, here's a classic I'm surprised has not been quoted yet;

    Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent.
    Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent.
    Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil?
    Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?
  15. On your Disclaimer: Oh yeah, it's all good, no worries. I've studied this stuff on a personal level for a long time, I find it very interesting, even if I don't believe in it. Mainly from the literary aspect: A lot of modern western literature pulls references, aesops, ideas, symbolism, and more, from Christian works like the Bible, and the Divine Comedy. So when debating this, I don't go into it hoping to "disprove" or tell you that "yur wrong hurrrrr~", it's more an exploration of the concepts. Whether you believed in the Demiurge idea or not is irrelevant to me: I'm more interested in exploring the idea. I have an insatiable curiosity.

    Though, in this case, if God created an actor to protect, and it went mad, this does present a quandry. Either...
    A. God is unable to stop his guardian. (He isn't all powerful.)
    B. God doesn't care to stop his guardian. (He doesn't care.)

    In either result, it does punch a hole in omniscience: If he knows everything, then he must have known it would go mad, regardless of his intentions... :ferret:
    Thank you, I appreciate it.
  16. I still believe that God is a an old man with a beard on a cloud, and that we are his children! I'm sure you can remember a time when you were an actual child and thought your parents were mean and evil because they didn't let you do something, forced you to clean your room, or allowed you to be hurt and cry in order to learn something. That is perceived evil, but in the end good for you, because your parents love you!
  17. One day Brovo will forget to quote someone, and be found in his bedroom, hanging from the ceiling fan.

    On that day, we will know that God is with us, and that He is just.
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  18. seconded

    Blue and Orange Morality, yo

    TV Tropes datte ba yo!
  19. Hello again, it's great to see you!
    I'm having trouble getting this whole formatting thing down, I'm afraid, so I have a wall of text threatening to squish my poor little reply below it. Eek!

    Anyways, to respond: You assume that omniscience and free will are mutually exclusive, which isn't necessarily the case. What I would argue is "God has chosen to give us freedom". He may choose not to know what we're always going to do in certain situations. We have as much free will as he allows.

    As for the topic of the Tree. I think CS. Lewis provided a fairly good explanation: Because it is morally imperative that humans loved God, there had to be one rule that was basically arbitrary yet extraordinarily easy to avoid breaking. By obeying this completely arbitrary rule, we proved our love of God. The statement that they were not knowledgeable enough isn't necessarily true, either: the Bible states they had one rule, and they knew about it, and they knew the consequences of it, but they broke it anyway.
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  20. If God chooses not to know something, then he's willfully not omniscient. Still, an interesting answer and possible development on the character. I don't think it says that in the canon text though, so this is supposition.

    It is true though, I generally view omniscience & free will as generally being mutually exclusive states. Kind of like how NPC's in a game don't have free will: I can program them to emulate it, but I ultimately know exactly what they will do in any situation they encounter given that I programmed them, and the situations they get involved in. In order for me to create something with free will it has to be able to do things I can't expect, independent of my will. Since I'm human, I can fulfill both the part of ignorance and creator: I don't know everything, and I could sincerely bumble my way into creating Data or Skynet. If I knew everything, though, I couldn't "bumble" my way into a Data or a Skynet: I'd have to have chosen to create them that way, complete with Data's inquisitive nature and Skynet's destructive nature each respectively.

    I'm rambling now. :ferret:
    They knew of the fact that God didn't want them to eat of the tree, they were actually unaware of the severe consequences of such an act. They were also essentially infants: They couldn't understand concepts like "pain" or "death." They lacked the knowledge to understand. It's a good story though, the folly of human ignorance and curiosity which can backfire. Sometimes when an authority figure tells you "don't touch that" they really do mean it out of a sense of care.

    I'll also grant that CS Lewis' answer is a good one, regardless of my doubts. It's a valid way to interpret the text, same as mine. They're equal options: Neither superior to the other.
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