Evil and God (Been there, done that)

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Evil and God (Been there, done that)

#1

Post by Forge » Sat Nov 29, 2008 1:05 am

I'm going to make a wild assumption and assume that this discussion has been done to death already. But, whatever.

Anyway, I came across this on a different forum:
1) If a being wants to end evil but is incapable of doing so, then it is not omnipotent.
2) If a being is able to end evil but is unwilling to do so, then it is malevolent.
3) If a being is both willing and able to end evil but evil still exists, then such a being cannot have ever existed.
4) If a being is neither willing nor able, then it does not deserve the title of "god."

While these points alone present a solid argument, there is one premise that I would like to add on.

5) A god is a being that is simultaneously omnipotent (perfectly strong), omniscient (all-knowing), omnipresent (everywhere), and omnibenevolent (perfectly good).
Before I even consider responding to this argument, I draw attention to the fact that the term "evil" is not defined. (My exact quote is: "What is "evil"? How does one define "evil"? Without definition, evil can be murder, or electronic piracy, or eating cookie-dough icecream. Before I can even attempt to rebut the argument, I need a solid definition for what evil is.")

Anyway, I'm waiting for the reply to the initial quote, so I've got a while. Just want to get some more ammo before I get down wid it.
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Re: Evil and God (Been there, done that)

#2

Post by harth1026 » Sat Nov 29, 2008 5:44 am

God did not create evil. He created laws and free will. Evil is the willful intention of breaking the laws of God.

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Re: Evil and God (Been there, done that)

#3

Post by Gman » Sat Nov 29, 2008 10:13 am

Yes, it's a question we get here often..
One of the most common reasons skeptics reject the existence of God is due to the presence of evil in this universe. They reason that a perfect God would not create a universe in which evil exists. Skeptics claim that since God created everything that God must have also created evil. They even cite Bible verses, such as:

* I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things. (Isaiah 45:7, KJV)
* Shall a trumpet be blown in the city, and the people not be afraid? shall there be evil in a city, and the LORD hath not done it? (Amos 3:6, KJV)
* Out of the mouth of the most High proceedeth not evil and good? (Lamentations 3:38)

However, evil is not really a created thing. You can't see, touch, feel, smell or hear evil. It is not one of the fundamental forces of physics, nor does it consist of matter, energy, or the spatial dimensions of the universe. Still, skeptics like to claim that God created evil and cite the Bible to "prove" their point. The Bible is quite clear that God is not the author of evil and insists that He is incapable of doing so.1
Love that King James translation!

Skeptics love the KJV so much, one would think that they were still back in medieval England. Use of this translation is problematic these days, since it uses an archaic version of modern English, which doesn't necessarily mean the same things today as when it was translated over 400 years ago. In addition, the KJV was produced using a limited number of medieval manuscripts that did not represent the earliest Alexandrian set of manuscripts.

What do the modern translations say?

* The One forming light and creating darkness, Causing well-being and creating calamity; I am the LORD who does all these. (Isaiah 45:7, NASB)
* I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, the LORD, do all these things. (Isaiah 45:7, NIV)

Isaiah 45:7 contrasts opposites. Darkness is the opposite of light. However, evil is not the opposite of peace. The Hebrew word translated "peace" is shâlôm,2 which has many meanings, mostly related to the well being of individuals. Râ‛âh,3 the Hebrew word translated "evil" in the KJV often refers to adversity or calamity. There are two forms of the word. Strong's H7451a most often refers to moral evil, whereas Strong's H7451b (the form used here) most often refers to calamity or distress. Obviously, "calamity" is a better antonym of "peace" than "evil."
Amos 3:6

* If a trumpet is blown in a city will not the people tremble? If a calamity occurs in a city has not the LORD done it? (Amos 3:6, NASB)
* When a trumpet sounds in a city, do not the people tremble? When disaster comes to a city, has not the LORD caused it? (Amos 3:6, NIV)

Likewise, Amos 3:6 uses the same word, râ‛âh, referring to calamity or disaster. the context (a disaster happening to a city) does not refer to moral evil.
Lamentations 3:38



* Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that both calamities and good things come? (Lamentations 3:38, NIV)
* Is it not from the mouth of the Most High That both good and ill go forth? (Lamentations 3:38, NASB)

The King James Version of Lamentations 3:38 seems to suggest that God speaks both good and evil. However, if one reads the verse in context, the preceding verses indicate that God does not do or approve of evil.4 The verse following indicates that people should not complain in view of their sins.5 What the verse really is saying that God decrees times of good things and times of judgment. Lamentations was written by Jeremiah during a time of judgment, when Judah had gone off into exile. Jeremiah was chosen by God to be the prophet to tell Judah to reform or be judged. The people did not believe Jeremiah, and, therefore, fell under God's judgment. In Lamentations 3:38, the word translated "good" is ṭôb (Strong's H2896).6 The word usually refers to good things5 as opposed to bad things. Again, râ‛âh3 does not refer to moral evil, but calamities, in this verse. Likewise, the Bible commentaries indicate that the verse refers to God's judgment based upon people's sin.7

Conclusion Top of page

God is not the author of evil.8 However, God does reward and punish on the basis of good and bad behavior. Therefore, God does bring judgment and calamity (either directly or through human authorities) on those who rebel.9 God will ultimately judge all people, since rebels will not be allowed in the new, perfect creation.
Source: http://www.godandscience.org/apologetics/evil.html

These are also good rebuttals to it...

Does the Presence of Natural Evil Argue Against the Existence of God? Why Natural Evil Must Exist
http://www.godandscience.org/apologetic ... icity.html

There is Too Much Evil and Suffering For God to Exist?
http://www.godandscience.org/apologetic ... ering.html
The heart cannot rejoice in what the mind rejects as false - Galileo

We learn from history that we do not learn from history - Georg Friedrich Wilhelm Hegel

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things. -Philippians 4:8

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Re: Evil and God (Been there, done that)

#4

Post by Jac3510 » Sat Nov 29, 2008 8:58 pm

Shortest answer you can give:

The argument assumes that an omnipotent, omnibenevolent, omniscient God's world would have no purpose for evil. Can they prove that? I think it is rather clear that evil serves a rather important purpose in this world.

In short, the argument assumes that the person making the argument is in possession of all the facts that an omniscient God is in possession of. It is, of course, true that such a God would not allow evil if there was no reason for it; but even if I could not provide a reason (even as I believe I can), does that mean that no such reason exists? Does my lack of knowledge translate into absolute fact? More plainly, does the fact that I can't think of a reason mean that there is no reason?

Of course not.

Then, the argument is short circuited, because it could well be that a reason for evil exists that you and I are not aware of. Thus, the argument is flawed, because it is based on an unsound premise (viz., "There is no reason for evil.").

God bless
Proinsias wrote:I don't think you are hearing me. Preference for ice cream is a moral issue
And that, brothers and sisters, is the kind of foolishness you get people who insist on denying biblical theism. A good illustration of any as the length people will go to avoid acknowledging basic truths.

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Re: Evil and God (Been there, done that)

#5

Post by Forge » Sun Nov 30, 2008 1:49 am

I like Jac's argument.

I also noticed that he has a bad definition of good ("perfectly strong", "perfectly knowledge", etc). After all, the word perfect implies some kind of limit. For example, a ten milliliter flask is imperfectly full if it's only 9.90 mL, but perfectly full if it's 10.0 mL. But, as the current definition of God goes, God has no limits. Just a little something that makes me feel clever.

Anyway, he never answered me about defining his terms, but other people replied and got back answers. Some of them are:

(The quotes-in-quotes are people replying to him, and being replied to in turn.)
Atheist wrote:
Christian wrote:That argument doesn't account for free will, though... Evil is almost all created by humans. (except like natural disasters but we could go into that later.) Should God take away their ability to choose whether to do right or wrong? What would that make humans?

God gave us perfection in the beginning, but we messed it up. Then he sent reminders on how to fix it (prophets). We kept messing it up. Then he sent us a savior to make up for all our mess ups (Jesus). We still mess it up. He even gave us a Church to lay down the rules and guide us throughout the centuries...and we still mess it up.

So I think God does everything to stop evil EXCEPT turn us into robots incapable of making mistakes.
But if God is truly a god, He would be perfectly good and He would be compelled to rid the universe of evil by His very nature. If free will is a cause, if not the cause, of evil, He would have to end it and prevent evil from ever happening. If He cannot, then evil is, in a way, a force of nature so powerful not even He could stop it, thus also refuting His claim to godhood.
Athiest wrote:I would say that having a profound sense of justice falls under not only the omniscient category, but also the omnibenevolent category. Now, it would be a very cold person indeed to say that the "correct" way to deal with your mass murderer example is to not pull the trigger and allow it to happen, regardless if killing the man was evil or not. A god is bound to pursue good in every way possible. Since both options would result in evil, the better choice is to do the one that has fewer evil results.
Atheist wrote:Which brings me back to one of my previous points: If a being is able to stop evil but is unwilling to do so, then the being is malevolent. Since malevolence flies in the face of being perfectly good, then by consciously choosing inaction and allowing evil to occur, God is not a god.

I'm pretty sure I can refute his claims all by my lonesome--he does quite a bit of question-begging, assuming unproven premises, and weird definitions--but I want to see what you guys think. Unless you'd like to see my (future) replies and give me pointers.
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Re: Evil and God (Been there, done that)

#6

Post by Kurieuo » Sun Nov 30, 2008 8:02 am

Forge wrote:I'm going to make a wild assumption and assume that this discussion has been done to death already. But, whatever.

Anyway, I came across this on a different forum:
1) If a being wants to end evil but is incapable of doing so, then it is not omnipotent.
2) If a being is able to end evil but is unwilling to do so, then it is malevolent.
3) If a being is both willing and able to end evil but evil still exists, then such a being cannot have ever existed.
4) If a being is neither willing nor able, then it does not deserve the title of "god."
1) Invalid - I believe Christ will trample all evil under his feet, but this is reserved for the end so as to extend grace to those of us who accept such a gift.

2) Invalid - I believe God is able and will ultimately end the evil which exists.

3) Does not soundly follow from 1 & 2 for it assumes something more - namely that evil can never have existed. That evil can not have existed is nowhere found in premise 1 or 2, thus 3 does not follow.

Further comments:

* If evil never existed, than knowing that a being is good would not be possible. Without evil, good can not be realised. It is evil which shows what good is. Thus, God could not be known as good without evil. God may be good, but God could not be known as good. Further, humanity had an option to choose good (God) over evil (against God), and we chose evil. Thank God for His abounding love and graciousness. For if the argument of the atheist you are communicating with was valid, God should have ended humanity the moment we fell. Or does he/she somehow think we are ourselves are all good?

* Jac is right. All there needs to be is a sufficient reason for an all-powerful and loving God to allow evil. I think it can be argued that God's graciousness and love for us, means God strives along side us even though our hearts have evil. Thankfully God does not just obliterate evil wherever it exists, for otherwise what would our chances be? In fact, such a conception of God, seems to me, far from benevolent. This completely destroys premise (2) in the argument presented.

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Re: Evil and God (Been there, done that)

#7

Post by Forge » Mon Dec 01, 2008 8:23 pm

How am I doing?


Atheist wrote:If God is omniscient, He would know of how to end evil. Since he would also be able and willing as his godly status demands, there is no reason to believe why He would not act. Evidently, doing nothing to resolve this issue is His choice and, since doing nothing implies that He's unwilling, He would then be malevolent, etc., etc.
"There would be no reason?"

Can you verify that, please? In order to make that argument you have to have a perspective as God would have it. Can you run through every reason an omnipotent and omniscient being can think of?
If God is omnipotent, then it should be a matter of Him saying, "Evil shall now end," and it ends in that instant. I mean, it was all, "'Let there be light,' and there was light," when dealing with cosmic events before. Why should that not be the case now?
I don't know. I'm not God.

And I'm going to make the assumption that you are not God either. That, again, boils down to the counterargument that we don't know that God hasn't moved against evil in some way, shape, and/or form, which again is an unproven assumption on your part.
At the very least, it is incredibly odd for Him to be biding his time to end evil like this. The only reason I can think of is that He likes to make a big show of everything. He wants million-person armies and the skies to rain fire and brimstone and the earth to open up and swallow the wicked. From my point of view, this is only to further inflate His cosmic ego. Since humility is a trait that is often associated with goodness, it would seem that this sense of vanity flies in the face of a benevolent being.
Again, are those the only reasons that an omniscient and omnipotent mind can come up with?

This mini-argument goes like this.

1. God (as defined) has no good reason for letting evil exist.
2. Evil exists.
3. God is either not God (as we know him) or there is no God.

The syllogism flows logically, and I agree that premise 2 is true and provable. However, premise 1 is unproven, thus bringing the argument crashing down.
If there is another "use for evil" that one can come up with, please state it.
I can't think of very many. But then again, I'm not God.
Only one thing is necessary for evil to end: that some being is both willing and able to stop it. If any one of those conditions aren't there, then evil will continue to perpetuate since a non-omnipotent being obviously cannot and an unwilling being has no reason to end evil. If God was truly worthy of his title, he would already know what action needs to happen. There is no "pursuing" involved; He knows what to do, is compelled to do it, and does it.
I don't think so. I think the only way for evil to end (without stripping sentience from the entire universe) is for the universe to be filled with beings who have both free will and who choose to be in accordance with God's will and nature.

And, again, your argument runs into the problem that God does not have a good reason for evil to exist nd that he has not taken action.

That implies that one without free will would be able to discern if they are being used in this way or not, although I do agree that it is far better to have free will than not. To those without free will and in an environment without evil, I imagine life would be a perpetual state of bliss; no concerns about what may be and everything taken care for them. They would have no reason to be unhappy.
Bliss or not, it does not change the fact that eliminating free will so there would be no disobediance of God's will is transforming people into means-to-an-end. Specifically, will-less people are a means to there being no evil.

Which again is what sounds malevolent.

If evil never existed, we would not know that God is good. He would be good regardless of the existence of evil or not, but we would not be able to discern that. Not really relevant to the argument, but just tossing it out there.
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Re: Evil and God (Been there, done that)

#8

Post by FFC » Tue Dec 02, 2008 6:42 am

Evil is a by-product of free will. Though God hates evil, instead of violating our free will He is more than able to use evil to further His ultimate Will. Whether someone thinks God has a overly huge ego means nothing to Him. They are not able to understand his plan. It would be like someone trying to explain Rocket science to a Mentally challenged person.

It is His pleasure to offer the ultimate gift to us, which is to display His unconditional love through the death of His Son when He was nailed to a cross. This too can be thought to be evil and despicable, but God thought it had to be done.

None of us, in this world anyway, will evil be able to understand or appreciate the way God is able further His will in a world that is more and more resistant to it every day.

Just my thoughts
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And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?

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