Case For Rational Atheism

“Negative atheism in the broad sense is then the absence of belief in any god or Gods, not just the absence of belief in a personal theistic God,” contended Michael Martin in The Cambridge Companion to Atheism,  “and negative atheism in the narrow sense is the absence of belief in a theistic God.” He went on:

Positive atheism in the broad sense is, in turn, disbelief in all gods, with positive atheism in the narrow sense being the disbelief in a theistic God. For positive atheism in the narrow sense to be successfully defended, two tasks must be accomplished. First, the reasons for believing in a theistic God must be refuted; in other words, negative atheism in the narrow sense must be established. Second, reasons for disbelieving in the theistic God must be given.(Martin 2007: 1)

I found the idea of negative atheism, namely absence of belief in a person theistic God (as I narrow to Christian theism in this article) wanting. In this first part of outlined case for rational atheism, I do not take to account negative atheism since if a person p lacks a belief in x, then this by itself expresse the psychological state of person p which does not necessarily align with outside reality. For example, I lack a belief in the existence of gold in Pluto. My lack of belief shows my psychological state, which does not necessarily aligns with whether it is true or false that there is gold in Pluto.

Outlined Possible Case For Atheism: Evidential Arguments from Evil

The existence of “seemly” gratuitous evil, evil without a justifying reason, is, I believe, the only rock-solid argument for the truthfulness of atheism so far. William Rowe inductively argued:

R1.     There exist instances of intense suffering which an omnipotent, omniscient being could have prevented without thereby losing some greater good or permitting some evil equally bad or worse.

R2.     An omniscient, wholly good being would prevent the occurrence of any intense suffering it could, unless it could not do so without thereby losing some greater good or permitting some evil equally bad or worse.

R3.     [Therefore] there does not exist an omnipotent, omniscient, wholly good being. (Rowe 1979: 335)

Notable Case: Jane Mary Trau’s

It seems that unless it can be shown that all cases of apparently gratuitous suffering[any suffering the purpose of which seems to exceed necessity, and any suffering which seems to serve no purpose at all] are in fact not purposeless, it is most reasonable to believe that they are as they appear to be; and since it cannot be show that they are in fact not purposeless, it is reasonable to believe that they are as they appear to be; since there appear to be such cases it is more reasonable to believe that God does not exist.(Trau 1986: 486-8)

A deductive argument can also be formulated as follows:

E1.     If God exist, then all evil has a justifying reason

E2.     Not all evil has a justifying reason

E3.     Therefore, God does not exist.

Possible Christian Theist’s Case Response

Due to the limitation of human knowledge, atheologist is not in a position to  claim that an omnipotent, omniscient, wholly good being lacks good reasons for permitting the suffering in the world. Atheist bears an unbearable burden of proof, namely removing apparently or seemly in front of gratuitous evil by showing that there are evil that has no justifying reason.

Outlined Possible Christian Theist’s Counter Case Response

Theist can counter argue by showing that all evil has a justifying reason without necessarily knowing what that reason is:

E1.     If God exist, then all evil has a justifying reason

E2′.     God exist

2.1.  Kalam Cosmological Argument

P1: Ɐx: BeginsToExist(x) → CausedToExist(x)

P2: BeginsToExist(Universe)

C: CausedToExist(Universe)

Notable Case: Muhammad Al-Ghazali (ca.1058–1111)

“Every being which begins has a cause for its beginning; now the world is a being which begins; therefore, it possesses a cause for its beginning.” (Bulletin de l’Institut Francais d’Archaeologie Orientale 46 1947: 203).

Evidence From Contemporary Cosmologist: Alexander Vilenkin

“All the evidence we have says that the universe had a beginning.”(Vilenkin 2012: Hawkin’s 70th Birthday Conference)

“It is said that an argument is what convinces reasonable men and a proof is what it takes to convince even an unreasonable man. With the proof now in place, cosmologists can no longer hide behind the possibility of a past-eternal universe. There is no escape, they have to face the problem of a cosmic beginning”  (Vilenkin 2006: 176)

Leading Defender:  William Lane Craig & James D. Sinclair

2.2.   Leibnizian Cosmological Argument

L1: Everything that exists has an explanation of its existence either in the necessity of its own nature or in an external cause.

L2: If the universe has an explanation of its existence, that explanation is in an external cause.

L3. The universe exists.

C1: The universe has an explanation of its existence.(from L1&L2)

C2: Therefore, the explanation is in an external cause.(from L2 & C1)

Leading Defender: Alexander R. Pruss

2.3.  Moral Arguments

2.4.  Teleological Arguments

2.5.  Ontological Arguments

2.6.  Resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth

E3′.     Therefore, all evil has a justifying reason.

Possible Attempt To Refute Reasons Offered By Theists

1. Who Design The Designer?

2. Euthyphro dilemma

3. Evolution of Morality

4. Universe out of Hawking’s and Krauss’ “nothing”

In the next article I will expand the moral argument, teleological argument, ontological arguments and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth as possible reasons theists can offer for the support of the premise (2.) God exist, which would then follow, if succeeded, to the conclusion that, all evil has a justifying reason. I will also offer positive atheists possible rebuttal of six reasons and theists counter rebuttal of atheists’ rebuttal.

Question: What is the most persuasive case for positive atheism?

Bibliography

Trau, Jane Mary (1986) “Fallacies in the Argument from Gratuitous Suffering, “ The New Scholasticism 60.

Martin, Michael (2007), “The Cambridge Companion to Atheism”. Cambridge University Press

Rowe, William L. (1979) “The Problem of Evil and Some Varieties of Atheism,” in American Philosophical Quarterly 16

Vilenkin, Alexander (2006) Many Worlds in One: The Search for Other Universes. New York: Hill and Wang.

Further Reading on  Evidential Arguments from Evil from Atheists

Notable & Challenging Contemporary Atheists & Agnostics

 Michael Tooley, Michael Ruse, Michael Martin, Paul Draper, Bradley Monton & Thomas Nagel.

Notable Works

God, Freedom & Evil – Alvin Plantinga

The Cambridge Companion to Atheism – ed. Michael Martin

The Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology – ed. William Lane Craig & J. P. Moreland

About Prayson Daniel

Prayson Daniel is a Tanzanian, married to Lea and a father to Eloise. Reformed theology, philosophy of religion, apologetics and church history are areas he enjoy reading, pondering and sharing with a motto "when love comes first, disagreement follows at its right and proper place".

70 comments

  1. Stacey:

    A couple of things:

    First, I’m going to reformat our discussion in my reply. I won’t change any of the content of the discussion, but the way we’re going it’s gonna be impossible to keep track of each other’s points (it’s already getting a little ponderous– I agree 100% that this is not the best forum for a discussion of this depth).

    Second: I’m going to be seriously tied up with personal and business commitments over the next several days, at least, so I’ll have to write my response piecemeal. I didn’t want you thinking that I had ignored your response, but it WILL be delayed.

    Have a great week!

  2. Roy

    Ha yes, I see now…a quote. :) I did check your site before I posted. Very nice.

    Peace

  3. Roy

    Where art thou dear P.D.? Doing well I hope?

    Hello Bethel, I’m confused by your post. First you say, “There remains no compelling evidence to suggest there is in any way a mind(soul) – body separation.”, then go on to explain why ‘God allows evil’…just seems strange to denies the soul and defend Gods existence. Do you not believe you are a triune being comprised of spirit, soul, and body?

    • Roy:

      The use of quotations around the statement in question indicates that I am quoting someone else (Stacey, in this case).

      A quick glance at our blog should clear you up on my theology.

      Have a blessed weekend, brother.

  4. Wow, this is a circuitous discussion! I hope nobody minds terribly if I jump in. There are a whole lot of points I’d like to address.

    ‘There remains no compelling evidence to suggest there is in any way a mind – body separation. All the evidence suggests that our bodies (more specifically our brains) are our minds, and that consciousness is an emergent property of a physical brain. In other words…completely contingent upon the body.’

    This is a bold statement. In point of fact, there is no compelling physical evidence that there is, in fact, a complete identity between the mind (or “soul,” in this case, since that is really what is under discussion) and body, without making an a priori argument that there is no soul in the first place. Science has neither proved, nor disproved, the existence of the human soul. Philosophically, there is ample evidence to argue against the soul as a single, inseparable identity; extremely strong arguments have been laid against both anthropological materialism and anthropological epiphenomenolism.

    ‘If God can create a creature and know with absolute certainty the exact future of this creature (omniscient)…can it be true that this creature has free will?’

    God exists in eternity (outside of time), and in His omniscience is sees everything not as a series of events (as measured in our world linearly) but as a single, unending “now.” So what God knows does not contradict human free will; from His vantage point in eternity, God knows infallibly what each of us will/will not choose to do in accordance to our own willful decisions (based on His omniscience), without having to influence those decisions from eternity.

    I believe that the majority of other objections (at least, objections to the premise of the original topic) can be answered by the following responses. Since Stacey is so hot on citations, much of this is paraphrased from Norman Giesler’s “Systematic Theology,” Chapter 58.

    To outline the objections to the existence of an all-good God:

    1. God could have chosen an alternative to this world of free creatures who sin by:
    a. not creating at all
    b. not creating a free world
    c. creating a free world that would not sin
    d. creating a free world that could not sin
    e. creating a world that sinned, but all would be saved in the end
    2. God created a free world of creatures who could and would sin, and not all would be saved in the end
    3. Since He did not create any of these “preferable” worlds, He did not do His best.
    4. To do less than one’s best is evil.
    5. Therefore, no perfect God exists.

    The response to these objections is shown as:

    1. God chose the plan that would achieve the greatest good.
    2. God deemed that to achieve the greatest good, He would allow evil to exist in order to defeat it without destroying free will in the process.
    3. As the greatest possible Good, God willed the greatest possible good for free creatures.
    4. God uses the greatest possible means to achieve the greatest possible good.

    The response to objection (a) is that “no world” is not better than “a world.” This is a category mistake; in order for a comparison to be possible, there must be something to compare. One cannot compare “something” to “nothing.”

    The response to objection (b) is that a non-free world cannot be more moral than a free world; free will is a necessary condition for morality. A non-free world is a non-moral world; in the same way that one cannot compare “something” to “nothing,” one cannot argue that a non-moral world is better than the world God created, since there is no moral basis for the comparison.

    In response to objection (c): this makes the assumption that what is “logically possible” is “actually achievable.” In other words, in His omniscience God may have seen that in any group of truly free creatures He created, some would choose to sin. However, in order to achieve the greatest good, He chose to create free creatures, anyway. What follows is that God allows first-order evils to occur, in order to achieve second-order (higher) goods; without tribulation, there would be no patience, without sin there would be no forgiveness, without fear there would be no courage. Also, if sin is not allowed into the world, it cannot be defeated. In this event, the greater good cannot be achieved without allowing some evil into the world. Therefore God (who is perfect Good) allows evil (even if it were “actually” possible to create a free world in which evil does not exist) in order to achieve the greatest possible good for His free creatures.

    Objection (d): since we are free creatures, it is contradictory to have a free world in which nobody is free to choose to sin. Even an omnipotent Being cannot contradict Himself; it is a contradiction to say that one is free to sin, and yet forced not to sin. It is antithetical to say that one is “free to sin” and yet “not free to sin.”

    Objection (e): If God chooses to create a moral world, then He must either achieve the greatest possible good in it, or else it is not necessary for Him to achieve the greatest possible good in it. If it is not necessary for Him to achieve the greatest possible good, then this world fits the description and the objection that the world could have been better if He had created an alternative fails. If it is necessary to achieve the greatest possible good, then allowing evil in this world is a precondition for achieving the best possible world (one in which evil not only does not exist, but has been defeated). The world has not yet achieved the greatest possible good, but this present evil world is the best means of accomplishing the greatest possible good. Since an all-good God must accomplish the best possible end, and an omnisapient (all-wise) God must choose the best means to the best end, an omnipotent God can achieve an end that does not involve contradiction. A world in which all are saved (forced salvation, in which some are saved against their will) is a contradiction. It then follows that God, in his omniscience, knows that this world (in which evil is permitted) is the best possible means of obtaining the best of all possible and achievable worlds, namely, one in which some are saved and some are lost, and sin and evil are defeated and a greater good is achieved.

    In short, God chose to create a perfect world (Eden) that would be made imperfect (The Fall) through the free choices of His Creation (Man), in order to achieve the best of all possible worlds (one where everyone freely chooses his/her own destiny, sin is forever defeated, and righteousness reigns eternally) by the best means possible.

    • Stacey

      BethelBaptistChurch, I will be responding to both of your posts to me. Here is the first.

      Bethel – “You are making a category mistake, here. The “free will” of the rapist is not being obstructed in your example; only the accomplishment of the rapist’s goals are being hindered. The “will” to rape the victim remains unchanged; in other words, the rapist has volition, but not ability, due to the interference of the third party. Obviously, the well-being of the victim is more important than the “free will” of the rapist, but the two have no direct effect on each other. The “actual cause” of the victim’s pain is the act of being raped, not the rapist’s desire to commit rape.”

      If you read my post, it is intended to respond to Roy and the implicit understanding of “free will” within Roy’s response. I’m simply using the logic of his response to show that preventing or stopping a rape would be obstructing the rapists free will if we define “free will” in the manner that Roy’s response indicates. I’m not saying it makes any sense. In fact, I agree with you that the rapists free will is not being obstructed. But for Roy to remain consistent within the response I am addressing, he would have to hold the position that the rapists free will IS being obstructed in such a scenario.

      Bethel – “According to Scripture, there is no difference between desiring to do the act and accomplishing the act, except in the degree of the offense.”

      The scripture you cite is only in reference to judgement of actions and thoughts. It essentially goes the Orwellian / North Korea tyrannical route of legislating thought crimes.

      Me and Roy, however, were not discussing judgement. Roy was saying that actions are the same as thoughts in an attempt to argue that in order to prevent evil, God would have to stop one from thinking certain thoughts. It is patently false that thoughts and actions are the same (thinking of punching me isn’t actually the act of punching me).

      But if there truly is no difference between thoughts and actions, then wouldn’t this mean that you are defining “free will” as both the thought of doing something, as well as the action of doing something?

      Bethel – “I would, however, ask that you refrain from future comparisons similar to any that characterize God and guano as equal in stature; I assume you meant to be facetious, but the comment was offensive nonetheless.”

      I did not compare god and guano as equal in stature. I communicated that the poster was defining god as an event, thus questioning its god status as most people use the word god. It would be like calling the event of a bird crapping “god” because it caused something else. You can take any event that causes another, though, and my point stands. Hopefully we’re mature enough to see beyond that example, and if god has issue with it he can address me directly.

      Now to your second post -

      Bethel- “This is a bold statement. In point of fact, there is no compelling physical evidence that there is, in fact, a complete identity between the mind (or “soul,” in this case, since that is really what is under discussion) and body, without making an a priori argument that there is no soul in the first place. Science has neither proved, nor disproved, the existence of the human soul. Philosophically, there is ample evidence to argue against the soul as a single, inseparable identity; extremely strong arguments have been laid against both anthropological materialism and anthropological epiphenomenolism. ”

      The middle part is the most important part of this, in my opinion. “Science has neither proved nor disproved the existence of the human soul.”. I might have issue with the wording, and might even think of challenging you on the specifics of your statement, but I’d rather just point out that you seem to agree with me, for the most part. So why believe the soul exists?

      “God exists in eternity (outside of time), and in His omniscience is sees everything not as a series of events (as measured in our world linearly) but as a single, unending “now.” So what God knows does not contradict human free will; from His vantage point in eternity, God knows infallibly what each of us will/will not choose to do in accordance to our own willful decisions (based on His omniscience), without having to influence those decisions from eternity.”

      You haven’t addressed my question. I didn’t specifically ask if GOD impacts our free will, I asked if his knowledge of our future actions is compatible with an understanding of free will. I hold the position that it is not. This doesn’t necessarily mean god determines our actions (although that would be one explanation), but his infallible knowledge of our future actions does mean that our future actions are already determined (it doesn’t matter whether it’s by god or not). This argues against free will.

      I’m also unclear as to why anyone should accept the assertions you’ve laid out. That god exists outside of time, and that his omniscience observes everything as a single unending “now”, or what that even means.

      As to the argument you presented, I do believe that the introduction of heaven would suggest that the problem of evil is still not solved. I’ve posted that at least twice here before…so I won’t do it again.

      • Just to be sure I knew what we were talking about, I’ve gone back and re-read every response you made that applies to my comments, IN CONTEXT, (which I’m pretty sure I did the first time, but I wanted you to have the benefit of the doubt).

        “If you read my post, it is intended to respond to Roy and the implicit understanding of “free will” within Roy’s response. I’m simply using the logic of his response to show that preventing or stopping a rape would be obstructing the rapists free will if we define “free will” in the manner that Roy’s response indicates. I’m not saying it makes any sense. In fact, I agree with you that the rapists free will is not being obstructed. But for Roy to remain consistent within the response I am addressing, he would have to hold the position that the rapists free will IS being obstructed in such a scenario.”

        First of all, I’m not defending Roy’s arguments; they’re not well-made, which is often the consequence of cut-and-paste debating. His heart is assuredly in the right place, but I think that debate may not be his spiritual gift. Whether or not it is my spiritual gift, remains to be seen.

        That said, after seriously examining everything said in the context of that discussion, while you and I may in fact agree on the idea of “free will” as it applies in my example, I can’t find anything in Roy’s response (and I scrolled through several paragraphs searching) that implies that God is responsible in some way for obstructing the “free will” of a rapist. To keep the discussion simple, I’ll just leave “free will” as defined by the Encyclopedia Brittanica: “the power or capacity to choose among alternatives or to act in certain situations independently of natural, social, or divine restraints.” I think that definition should be agreeable?

        “The scripture you cite is only in reference to judgement of actions and thoughts. It essentially goes the Orwellian / North Korea tyrannical route of legislating thought crimes.”

        Actually, you are mistaken on this point. In the Sermon on the Mount (which is where this teaching
        originated), Jesus is not warning people of the judgment for the sins of anger; He is teaching that the sin of anger is not limited to acts of violence against others, but to what is present in the heart. If you read the entire scripture in context (which most atheists seem reluctant to do), you should easily make out that Jesus is teaching about the desires of men’s hearts, not the punishment for sin. The audience to which He was speaking was already aware of the penalties for sin, and would not have needed to be taught a lesson in that regard; However, pharisaical teachings at the time taught that it was action that constituted sin; Christ, as the fulfillment of Mosaic Law, taught instead that it is man’s nature that constitutes sin and that the act was a result of the desire; and that the only way to control man’s nature is with the help of Divine Grace. In other words, the Pharisees taught that men can “be” good without the help of God; Jesus taught that man is incapable of “being” good without the help of the Holy Spirit. This entire teaching sets up the doctrine of salvation by Grace, as opposed to salvation by works.

        “Me and Roy, however, were not discussing judgement. Roy was saying that actions are the same as thoughts in an attempt to argue that in order to prevent evil, God would have to stop one from thinking certain thoughts. It is patently false that thoughts and actions are the same (thinking of punching me isn’t actually the act of punching me).”

        Roy is actually on the right track, there. Biblically, thoughts (the “desires of the flesh”) are the same as actions, as I showed above. As to your assertion that, “It is patently false that thoughts and actions are the same (thinking of punching me isn’t actually the act of punching me),” it is actually false that they are NOT the same; they are merely two stages of a single, conscious act. Psychiatrists have amply demonstrated that anyone who thinks about an act often enough, given the opportunity, will act out that thought at some point. If I obsess about punching you in the face, and I have a chance to do so, I eventually will punch you in the face (without the preventative action of the Holy Spirit to restrain my human impulse to harm you).

        “But if there truly is no difference between thoughts and actions, then wouldn’t this mean that you are defining “free will” as both the thought of doing something, as well as the action of doing something?”

        This should be a point of agreement between us. Going back to the definition of “free will,” the ability to “choose” an action presupposes a “thought” of performing that action.

        “Bethel- ‘This is a bold statement Science has neither proved, nor disproved, the existence of the human soul.’ The middle part is the most important part of this, in my opinion. “Science has neither proved nor disproved the existence of the human soul.”. I might have issue with the wording, and might even think of challenging you on the specifics of your statement, but I’d rather just point out that you seem to agree with me, for the most part. So why believe the soul exists?”

        You cherry-picked part of my response, and ignored the next statement: “Philosophically, there is ample evidence to argue against the soul as a single, inseparable identity; extremely strong arguments have been laid against both anthropological materialism and anthropological epiphenomenolism.” In the face of a lack of physical evidence, it is necessary to use reason to establish the likely facts; this is the nature and purpose of philosophy. In fact, you yourself seem more than ready to resort to the philosophical when it supports your arguments, so I’m surprised by your willingness here to ignore reason and accept a priori that a lack of evidence constitutes sufficient evidence to make an assumption. We are far from being in agreement; you are suggesting that the soul and mind are somehow interchangeable entities, dependent on the existence and functioning of the brain (your argument implies that you hold an epiphenomenalist view, which, as I stated earlier, has been soundly defeated both philosophically, and scripturally). I assert that humans are one in nature (with a unified soul and body), two in dimension (“inner” and “outer”), and three in “direction” (having self-consciousness, world-consciousness, and God-consciousness). In death, we lose our world-consciousness and our “outer” dimension; both will be replaced at the Resurrection.
        Finally, on this point: why NOT believe in a soul?

        “God exists in eternity (outside of time), and in His omniscience sees everything not as a series of events (as measured in our world linearly) but as a single, unending “now.” So what God knows does not contradict human free will; from His vantage point in eternity, God knows infallibly what each of us will/will not choose to do in accordance to our own willful decisions (based on His omniscience), without having to influence those decisions from eternity.”

        “You haven’t addressed my question. I didn’t specifically ask if GOD impacts our free will, I asked if his knowledge of our future actions is compatible with an understanding of free will. I hold the position that it is not. This doesn’t necessarily mean god determines our actions (although that would be one explanation), but his infallible knowledge of our future actions does mean that our future actions are already determined (it doesn’t matter whether it’s by god or not). This argues against free will.”

        Actually I thought it addressed your specific question rather well, but I’ll explain further. As we established above, “free will” is “the power or capacity to choose among alternatives or to act in certain situations independently of natural, social, or divine restraints.” Since people are capable of making free, un-coerced decisions based on their own independent wills (a point with which you tacitly agreed in your earlier explanation of remarks to Roy), it stands that free will does in fact exist, independent of God’s foreknowledge or lack thereof. There is no contradiction that implies that free will does not exist. Instead, God knows from eternity what each of us will freely choose in time.

        “I’m also unclear as to why anyone should accept the assertions you’ve laid out. That god exists outside of time, and that his omniscience observes everything as a single unending “now”, or what that even means.”

        I’m not particularly concerned about whether anyone accepts my assertions; I know them to be true (until PROVEN otherwise, which—so far—even the most eloquent of atheists and agnostics have been unable to accomplish); you either accept them, or don’t. I’m unclear as to how anyone can exist in this world, seeing the proof of the divine every day, having no sound philosophical, metaphysical or scientific foundation NOT to believe in God, and yet still not believe. I spent 20 years of my life as a practicing pagan, so I understand the self-deception involved when left to our own devices, but I never had conversations like this one, either, in which someone is pointing me in clear directions to look for answers that may refute a flawed worldview. Once I actually did the research, it was impossible NOT to come to the conclusions I have embraced.

        In order for me to explain how God exists “outside of time,” I’d have to engage you in a pretty heavy philosophical and astrophysical discussion, and frankly, there isn’t room for that here. Suffice it to say that eternity (which is an uncreated and infinite dimension) exists separate from time (which is, as “time,” necessarily created) and that since God exists IN eternity and OUTSIDE of time, He is able to observe all of time as a single picture, rather than as a series of pictures. Our view of time is a movie reel; God’s view of time is a snapshot that encompasses the entire movie.
        For more in-depth discussion about the nature of time and eternity, I suggest you read Stephen Hawking; although there are several other good authors who have addressed the issue I suggest Hawking because he is an atheist, which should give you the comfort of feeling that his views are “objective.”

        “As to the argument you presented, I do believe that the introduction of heaven would suggest that the problem of evil is still not solved. I’ve posted that at least twice here before…so I won’t do it again.”

        Finally, as to this statement, you are doing here what you accused Roy of earlier: arguing a point without making the effort to comprehend the statements you are arguing against. I’ll re-post it, so you don’t have to scroll back up:

        “If God chooses to create a moral world, then He must either achieve the greatest possible good in it, or else it is not necessary for Him to achieve the greatest possible good in it.
        “If it is not necessary for Him to achieve the greatest possible good, then this world fits the description and the objection that the world could have been better if He had created an alternative fails.
        “If it is necessary to achieve the greatest possible good, then allowing evil in this world is a precondition for achieving the best possible world (one in which evil not only does not exist, but has been defeated). The world has not yet achieved the greatest possible good, but this present evil world is the best means of accomplishing the greatest possible good.
        “Since an all-good God must accomplish the best possible end, and an omnisapient (all-wise) God must choose the best means to the best end, an omnipotent God can achieve an end that does not involve contradiction. A world in which all are saved (forced salvation, in which some are saved against their will) is a contradiction.
        “It then follows that God, in his omniscience, knows that this world (in which evil is permitted) is the best possible means of obtaining the best of all possible and achievable worlds, namely, one in which some are saved and some are lost, and sin and evil are defeated and a greater good is achieved.

        “In short, God chose to create a perfect world (Eden) that would be made imperfect (The Fall) through the free choices of His Creation (Man), in order to achieve the best of all possible worlds (one where everyone freely chooses his/her own destiny, sin is forever defeated, and righteousness reigns eternally) by the best means possible.”

        The problem of evil HAS been solved; Christ defeated evil PRACTICALLY by His death on the cross; the defeat of evil will be ACTUAL at the Second Advent, and COMPLETED at the end of the Millennial Kingdom. God doesn’t operate on our time, He operates on His own time (and for reasons I have already laid out, either here or in my blog). To assume otherwise—that we know better than God how to defeat evil and achieve the most good possible—is the height of arrogance, and the reason (pride) for being in our fallen state in the first place.

        How the “introduction of Heaven” has anything to do with why the problem of evil is unsolved, remains unclear to me. If Heaven is the home of the righteous, and Hell is the place to which the unsaved are consigned to exist in eternity; if Christ, by His sacrifice, provided the necessary means for the unsaved to become saved; and if the defeat and destruction of evil has been orchestrated and is in the process of being fulfilled; it seems impossible to me to hold that the existence of Heaven (which is, in actuality, a place COMPLETELY FREE of evil) can indicate that the problem of evil has not been solved.

        Whether you choose to believe in God is, at the end of the day, entirely your choice to make. Faith is a CHOICE, not something we are born with. However, if you are attempting to justify your lack of faith on the basis of your arguments here, it stands that your scientific arguments have been unfounded and incomplete, and your philosophical arguments are either self-defeating, special pleadings or fallacious on their face. You seemed to indicate that you are unwilling to continue the discussion, so I’ll leave you with this and a promise to offer a prayer for you.

        All the best.

      • Stacey

        Stacey- I will preface each section with the individual that wrote it, in order to make things clear (this forum isn’t very conducive for debate, but I think we can make do). I will cut out parts that are irrelevant to my response or not needed for context in order to save space.

        Bethel- That said, after seriously examining everything said in the context of that discussion, while you and I may in fact agree on the idea of “free will” as it applies in my example, I can’t find anything in Roy’s response (and I scrolled through several paragraphs searching) that implies that God is responsible in some way for obstructing the “free will” of a rapist. To keep the discussion simple, I’ll just leave “free will” as defined by the Encyclopedia Brittanica: “the power or capacity to choose among alternatives or to act in certain situations independently of natural, social, or divine restraints.” I think that definition should be agreeable?

        Stacey quoting Roy- “A fifth possible reason that God is letting evil occur is so that on the day of judgment, the condemned will have no right to say that their sentence is unjust. God is not stopping people from exercising their free will. Think about this: If someone said that God should stop evil and suffering, then should God then stop all evil and suffering? If God only stopped some of it, then we would still be asking the same question of why it exists.

        “So, if we want God to stop evil and suffering, then He must stop all of it. We have no problem with this when it means stopping a catastrophe, or a murder, or a rape. But what about when someone thinks of something evil? Evil is destructive whether it is acted out or not. Hatred and bigotry in someone’s heart is wrong. If it is wrong, and if God is to stop all evil, then He must stop that person from thinking his own thoughts. To do that, God must remove his freedom of thought. Furthermore, which person on the earth has not thought something evil? God would be required, then, to stop all people from exercising their free will. This is something God has chosen not to do. Therefore, we could say that one of the reasons that God permits evil and suffering is because of man’s free will.”

        Stacey- Roy is stating here that God does not prevent evil (like rape) because God is not, and I quote, “stopping people from exercising their free will”. He argues that God must stop thoughts as well as actions, because as far as evil and free will are concerned, they are the same thing.

        I’m willing to accept the premise that preventing action infringes free will for the sake of argument and instead argue that the free will of the rapist is less important than the well being of the victim and thus god ought to prevent the rape from occurring (and this doesn’t necessitate that God must prevent thoughts). In order to remain consistent in such a postiion you’d then have to agree that we should allow rape, murder, theft to happen and shouldn’t prosecute rapists, murderers, thieves, etc. because we’d be infringing upon their free will.

        3 final things on this specific issue;

        I reiterate, that my argument involving heaven isn’t refuted by the introduction of free will (and I’ll address your response on this below).

        I contend that an all powerful all knowing god logically negates any free will.

        Finally, any introduction of free will works as a refutation to the problem of evil ONLY if you value free will over the well being of humans, and then this still doesn’t address natural disasters that cause pain and suffering or the problem of heaven OR the omniscience of God. So, really, by introducing free will as a refutation of the problem of evil all you’re really saying is “hey…you know…people do bad things to other people and we shouldn’t try to prevent or stop that”.

        Bethel quoting Stacey- “The scripture you cite is only in reference to judgement of actions and thoughts. It essentially goes the Orwellian / North Korea tyrannical route of legislating thought crimes.”

        Bethel- Actually, you are mistaken on this point. In the Sermon on the Mount (which is where this teaching
        originated), Jesus is not warning people of the judgment for the sins of anger; He is teaching that the sin of anger is not limited to acts of violence against others, but to what is present in the heart. If you read the entire scripture in context (which most atheists seem reluctant to do), you should easily make out that Jesus is teaching about the desires of men’s hearts, not the punishment for sin. The audience to which He was speaking was already aware of the penalties for sin, and would not have needed to be taught a lesson in that regard; However, pharisaical teachings at the time taught that it was action that constituted sin; Christ, as the fulfillment of Mosaic Law, taught instead that it is man’s nature that constitutes sin and that the act was a result of the desire; and that the only way to control man’s nature is with the help of Divine Grace. In other words, the Pharisees taught that men can “be” good without the help of God; Jesus taught that man is incapable of “being” good without the help of the Holy Spirit. This entire teaching sets up the doctrine of salvation by Grace, as opposed to salvation by works.

        Stacey- Is this why the passages just before the portion you quote say, “Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.”, because that sounds like judgement to me. Or how about the portion you actually quoted. Nah, it doesn’t say anything about being “liable to the court” or “guilty” or being cast into “the fiery hell”.

        Bethel- Roy is actually on the right track, there. Biblically, thoughts (the “desires of the flesh”) are the same as actions, as I showed above. As to your assertion that, “It is patently false that thoughts and actions are the same (thinking of punching me isn’t actually the act of punching me),” it is actually false that they are NOT the same; they are merely two stages of a single, conscious act. Psychiatrists have amply demonstrated that anyone who thinks about an act often enough, given the opportunity, will act out that thought at some point. If I obsess about punching you in the face, and I have a chance to do so, I eventually will punch you in the face (without the preventative action of the Holy Spirit to restrain my human impulse to harm you).

        Stacey- This does not refute my point that actions are not the same as thoughts. The fact that you can think of punching me and yet not punch me demonstrates perfectly that they are not “two parts of one act”. Yet, here you go again arguing yourself in circles. Now you’re saying actions ARE the same as thoughts, whereas before you very eloquently pointed out the difference between thought and action.
        Bethel quoting Stacey- “But if there truly is no difference between thoughts and actions, then wouldn’t this mean that you are defining “free will” as both the thought of doing something, as well as the action of doing something?”

        Bethel- This should be a point of agreement between us. Going back to the definition of “free will,” the ability to “choose” an action presupposes a “thought” of performing that action.

        Stacey- That doesn’t mean free will extends to the ability to perform an action. Otherwise you would agree with Roy that preventing a rape from happening infringes on the free will of the rapist, which is exactly what you argued AGAINST. How can we have a discussion if you can’t remain consistent in your position?
        However, like I said before, I’m willing to accept the premise that preventing a rape = infringing on the rapists free will for sake of argument. So is the free will of the rapist more important than the well being of the victim?

        Bethel quoting Stacey“[…]The middle part is the most important part of this, in my opinion. […] I might have issue with the wording, and might even think of challenging you on the specifics of your statement, but I’d rather just point out that you seem to agree with me, for the most part. So why believe the soul exists?”

        Bethel-You cherry-picked part of my response, and ignored the next statement: “Philosophically, there is ample evidence to argue against the soul as a single, inseparable identity; extremely strong arguments have been laid against both anthropological materialism and anthropological epiphenomenolism.”

        Stacey- The statement was ignored because it assumes the existence of the soul. If I am to say “there is no ample evidence to argue against the soul as a single, inseparable identity…” I’d be accepting the premise that the soul even exists, which I don’t. Also, please clearly define the word “soul” as you are using it.

        Bethel- In the face of a lack of physical evidence, it is necessary to use reason to establish the likely facts; this is the nature and purpose of philosophy. In fact, you yourself seem more than ready to resort to the philosophical when it supports your arguments, so I’m surprised by your willingness here to ignore reason and accept a priori that a lack of evidence constitutes sufficient evidence to make an assumption. We are far from being in agreement; you are suggesting that the soul and mind are somehow interchangeable entities, dependent on the existence and functioning of the brain (your argument implies that you hold an epiphenomenalist view, which, as I stated earlier, has been soundly defeated both philosophically, and scripturally). I assert that humans are one in nature (with a unified soul and body), two in dimension (“inner” and “outer”), and three in “direction” (having self-consciousness, world-consciousness, and God-consciousness). In death, we lose our world-consciousness and our “outer” dimension; both will be replaced at the Resurrection. Finally, on this point: why NOT believe in a soul?

        Stacey- Strawman. I have not implied or stated that I have a “willingness here to ignore reason and accept a priori that a lack of evidence constitutes sufficient evidence to make an assumption.“. Nor have I suggested that “the soul and mind are somehow interchangeable entities, dependent on the existence and functioning of the brain.” This too, then, can be ignored.

        Bethel- Actually I thought it addressed your specific question rather well, but I’ll explain further. As we established above, “free will” is “the power or capacity to choose among alternatives or to act in certain situations independently of natural, social, or divine restraints.” Since people are capable of making free, un-coerced decisions based on their own independent wills (a point with which you tacitly agreed in your earlier explanation of remarks to Roy), it stands that free will does in fact exist, independent of God’s foreknowledge or lack thereof. There is no contradiction that implies that free will does not exist. Instead, God knows from eternity what each of us will freely choose in time.

        Stacey- How are you determining that our actions are “independent of natural, social, or divine restraints.”? How can you know that your choice of beverage tonight was not predetermined by some force outside of your will?

        Furthermore, you still fail to address my question. Even if you define free will as you do so, this does not solve the problem of an omniscient God knowing, without fallibility, our future actions thus demonstrating that our actions are predetermined (by God or otherwise).

        Bethel quoting Stacey- “I’m also unclear as to why anyone should accept the assertions you’ve laid out. That god exists outside of time, and that his omniscience observes everything as a single unending “now”, or what that even means.”

        Bethel- I’m not particularly concerned about whether anyone accepts my assertions;

        Stacey- Then why are you stating them in your argument?

        Bethel- I know them to be true (until PROVEN otherwise, which—so far—even the most eloquent of atheists and agnostics have been unable to accomplish);…

        Stacey- Look up the burden of proof, please.

        Bethel- …you either accept them, or don’t. I’m unclear as to how anyone can exist in this world, seeing the proof of the divine every day, having no sound philosophical, metaphysical or scientific foundation NOT to believe in God, and yet still not believe. I spent 20 years of my life as a practicing pagan, so I understand the self-deception involved when left to our own devices, but I never had conversations like this one, either, in which someone is pointing me in clear directions to look for answers that may refute a flawed worldview. Once I actually did the research, it was impossible NOT to come to the conclusions I have embraced.

        Stacey- Which leaves me to wonder why, if it’s so darn obvious, you’re so insistent on not furthering this discussion regarding assertions that you brought up to support an argument that you are making. And I, too, understand the deception involved when determining the truth of statements. This is why evidence based reasoning is a worthwhile pursuit.

        Bethel- In order for me to explain how God exists “outside of time,” I’d have to engage you in a pretty heavy philosophical and astrophysical discussion, and frankly, there isn’t room for that here.

        Stacey- Then consider the argument you were making (that god’s knowledge does not conflict with human free will) from these assertions as currently unfounded.

        Bethel quoting Stacey- “As to the argument you presented, I do believe that the introduction of heaven would suggest that the problem of evil is still not solved. I’ve posted that at least twice here before…so I won’t do it again.”

        Bethel- Finally, as to this statement, you are doing here what you accused Roy of earlier: arguing a point without making the effort to comprehend the statements you are arguing against. I’ll re-post it, so you don’t have to scroll back up: [cut]

        The problem of evil HAS been solved; Christ defeated evil PRACTICALLY by His death on the cross; the defeat of evil will be ACTUAL at the Second Advent, and COMPLETED at the end of the Millennial Kingdom. God doesn’t operate on our time, He operates on His own time (and for reasons I have already laid out, either here or in my blog). To assume otherwise—that we know better than God how to defeat evil and achieve the most good possible—is the height of arrogance, and the reason (pride) for being in our fallen state in the first place.

        Stacey- I suppose it has been solved, if you accept that the end result is/will be the “best of all possible worlds” through “the best means possible”. I ask again…why not simply create the end result (the best possible world)? Having no introduction of evil into this world whilst still preserving the free will of his creation would seem to be “the best possible world”, or at least better than a world in which evil has been introduced. And we once again come up against the omniscience of said God. He creates humans with full knowledge of their actions and desires, and this effectively determines whether they are saved or not in their creation.

        Bethel- How the “introduction of Heaven” has anything to do with why the problem of evil is unsolved, remains unclear to me. If Heaven is the home of the righteous, and Hell is the place to which the unsaved are consigned to exist in eternity; if Christ, by His sacrifice, provided the necessary means for the unsaved to become saved; and if the defeat and destruction of evil has been orchestrated and is in the process of being fulfilled; it seems impossible to me to hold that the existence of Heaven (which is, in actuality, a place COMPLETELY FREE of evil) can indicate that the problem of evil has not been solved.

        Stacey- The existence of heaven indicates that the problem of evil has not been solved exactly because heaven is “completely free of evil”. That is why the problem of evil still exists in your belief. There exists a place that is completely free of evil. This place was created by this God. Why not just create that for everyone from the start? Why have a world in which evil exists at all?

        If there is free will in heaven then clearly every being in heaven is choosing the course of action that never results in evil. This is a place in which evil does not exist whilst free will is preserved. Why not create that from the start?

        If there is not free will in heaven, then this would suggest that God values a place void of evil over the free will of its inhabitants. Again, why not create this from the start?

        Bethel- Whether you choose to believe in God is, at the end of the day, entirely your choice to make. Faith is a CHOICE, not something we are born with. However, if you are attempting to justify your lack of faith on the basis of your arguments here, it stands that your scientific arguments have been unfounded and incomplete, and your philosophical arguments are either self-defeating, special pleadings or fallacious on their face. You seemed to indicate that you are unwilling to continue the discussion, so I’ll leave you with this and a promise to offer a prayer for you.

        Stacey- You imply here that we can choose belief. I disagree. In fact, if an omniscient and omnipotent God exists, this God would know EXACTLY what would convince me to believe in this God’s existence, and would be able to cause these events to happen. And if he is loving and desires that I be saved and believe in his existence, then he would convince me. It’s very telling that this has yet to happen. Your prayer has fallen upon a God that is not very godly, not very loving, or simply non-existent.

        And I’m not sure where I’ve indicated that I am unwilling to continue this discussion. I’m still happy to continue it even after this long post.

        Bethel- All the best.

        Stacey- Same to you.

      • Stacey

        Also, after review I think I can reword a portion of my post to make it more understandable (and this may be a source of confusion). When I say that thoughts are not actions what I am saying is that a thought is not its action. Meaning, thinking of punching someone is not the act of punching someone. They are two separate things (or actions).

        However, the thought of punching someone itself IS an act of thinking, it just isn’t the actual act of punching someone. This is why it was so weird to me that anyone would say or argue otherwise. Thinking of punching me is an act of thought, but it is not the act of punching me, nor does it necessitate the act of punching me.

  5. Roy

    There is no definitive answer to that at this time. It’s seems to me it is the same sort of question Stacey and I have been debating. It depends on who you ask what answer you get.

    Atheists and scientist who are atheists, will tell you it formed over millions of years but that has been shown to be highly improbable. The theory has a difficult time explaining where the millions of metric tons of material went.

    Search the web and you’ll find new evidence..

    According to LiveScience.com. The finding of a large anomalous structure beneath the Colorado Plateau suggests that at one point it rose up about 1.2 miles, was invaded by magma, and then eroded away into deep valleys, producing the canyon we know today.

    Another….Professor Alan Levander, of Rice University, has discovered a giant structure deep beneath the Colorado Plateau which could explain how the dramatic landscape above was created.

    He said magma in a layer of the earth’s crust is forcing the top layer down and surging up to take its place, pushing up the land around the valley which forms the canyon.

    Read more: dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1381686/Scientist-claims-hes-finally-discovered-caused-Grand-Canyon.html#ixzz26ls6b1rY

    Another …. creationwiki.org/Grand_Canyon … geologist Dr Steven Austin

    Personally I think if you are of the mindset that that there is no Creator then you are stuck with…
    we evolved by chance from primordial soup 3 billion years ago. Even though the full theory of evolution cannot be demonstrated in the laboratory it HAS to be true because there is no Creator. Even though the theory of an old Earth can not be proven it HAS to be billions of years old because that’s how long it would take us to evolve from dirty water.

  6. Roy

    Actually, I have 17 solutions to the evil problem but only listed 6.

    If you look above at some of your answers notice how many times you counter with “Why” and “If”. God doesn’t answer to you or any one else and just because things are not the way you like to have them does not make them wrong or that He doesn’t exist.

    Many skeptics are in that same condition, since they have already decided on the implausibility of God’s existence, no evidence can surmount their prior assumptions. Any evidence can be explained away, any proof can be rationalized away, and any logical argument can be dismissed as flawed…somehow, because, well, IT MUST BE.

    What if one of NASA’s rovers on the surface of Mars found perfect arrowheads in the Martian soil? Every newspaper across the globe would herald the find on their front pages:

    PROOF OF LIFE ON MARS, or, WE ARE DEFINITELY NOT ALONE, or, MAN ISN’T THE ONLY INTELLIGENCE IN THE UNIVERSE

    But let me ask you, what is an arrowhead? It is a rock that has been shaped by an intelligence to have form and function. So, if the finding of an arrowhead on Mars would PROVE that there is/was intelligent life on Mars that had to make the arrowheads, then how do you explain things infinitely more complex than arrowheads here on earth, like DNA, the human brain, cellular mitosis, protein complexes, molecular machines, symbiotic relationships, genetic transcription, photosynthesis, autoimmune systems, migration patterns, multi-cellular organization, etc?

    Look at your hand. So, it requires an intelligence to make an arrowhead, but no intelligence is required to design the HAND that makes the arrowhead? The smallest cell in your hand is infinitely more complex than the most intricate and elaborate of arrowheads, but the simpler one (the arrowhead) is intelligently designed, and the complex one (the hand) is the process of millions of years of random chemical events?

    The leap of faith and the denial of logic required to accept this is staggering, almost to the point of being funny if it weren’t so sad, and so prevalent.

    May you have a good and happy life,
    Roy

    • Roy, do you believe erosion occurs? If so, what part do you think erosion played in the creation of the Grand Canyon?

    • Stacey

      Roy said- “Many skeptics are in that same condition, since they have already decided on the implausibility of God’s existence, no evidence can surmount their prior assumptions. Any evidence can be explained away, any proof can be rationalized away, and any logical argument can be dismissed as flawed…somehow, because, well, IT MUST BE.”

      Roy, please show some respect. I’ve replied to your previous copy paste snow job with good points. All you give me in reply is an assertion that I’m “explaining away” the evidence? It looks to me like you’re just explaining away my criticisms of the arguments and points that you’ve presented.

  7. Roy

    I do not assume to be able to definitively answer the question, but I can offer some solutions.

    Could God have created a world without evil? Absolutely speaking, that is possible. God could have created a world where evil didn’t exist. But for at least six reasons, God desired that evil should exist. First, so that all possible good might exist, and second, that we might know Him.

    The good of perseverance and fortitude cannot exist without the evil of pain and suffering. Without evil, we would lack the good of martyrs. It was God’s desire that the good of perseverance, etc. would exist.

    The second reason why God created a world with evil is so that we might know Him. Quoting Aquinas, “We can speak of simple things only as though they were like the composite things from which we derive our knowledge.” Now in God there is no evil, nor is there a hierarchy of diversity, one thing more perfect than another. God is simple, but we can only know the simple through complex things. Therefore, in order for us to know God, it was necessary to create a complex universe organized into a hierarchy of diversity.

    This hierarchy of diversity, which God created, is intended to show us what He is like by analogy. The Scriptures teach us that God is like a king, for example. This is meaningful to us because a king is the highest office; in that particular respect, God is like a king. Of course, we cannot compare God to a human king in any direct sense because whatever can be said of God, in truth cannot be said of anyone or anything else. Our kingship is only like God’s “kingship.” Even the goodness and beauty of the world is only like God who is truly good and truly beautiful. God the Son, is also compared to a lion. This is meaningful for us because lions hold a place of honor among the beasts. They are mightier and fiercer than the other beasts. In this regard, God the Son is like a lion. Rather, a lion is like God the Son.

    To simplify this thought, imagine that all beasts were exactly the same. God could not be referred to as a beast because He would not be like a beast. He is only referred to as a lion because lions are greater than other beasts. Imagine if there were no government. God could not be likened unto any human office because no man would be above any other man. But God is above us, and in that way is likened unto a king. This is only a simple way to conceptualize the point I’m trying to make. Imagine (the absurd proposition) that God created a world without this hierarchy of diversity or distinction. If all things were equal, we could in no way relate to God because in our finite capacity, we cannot comprehend God. We only know Him by knowing things which He has revealed to us via the material world. We understand His greatness only by understanding the greatness of kings and lions, etc. and by amplifying that greatness to the best of our ability.

    Evil is not a thing that God created. As St. Augustine taught, evil is simply a privation of good as a shadow is a privation of light. But the good of a king cannot be grasped without the privation of that kingly goodness which exists in his subjects. The goodness of the lion cannot be known to us without the privation of that same goodness in his prey or in the lesser beasts. That is: If privation of good didn’t exist in this world, we would have no way to understand God’s goodness.

    God could have instantly given us the capacity to see Him directly (which is the Beatific Vision or Heaven), but He chose not to for reasons given above (that the good of fortitude, perseverance, etc. should exist). Thus, in order for us to know Him at all, without the Beatific Vision, it was necessary to create a world wherein privation of good existed so that there would be a hierarchy of diversity whereby we might know what God is like. Our participation in evil, which is by no means necessary, consists in turning away from the Creator and choosing a created good. Jesus Christ, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, overcame the world by never choosing a created good over God the Creator.

    Thirdly, it is possible that God has reasons for allowing evil to exist that we simply cannot understand. In this the Christian can have confidence in God knowing that His ways are above our ways (Isaiah 55:8-9). As the Bible says, the just shall live by faith (Hab. 2:4).

    Forth, God may be letting evil run its course in order to prove that evil is malignant and that suffering, which is the unfortunate product of evil, is further proof that anything contrary to God’s will is bad, harmful, painful, and leads to death.

    A fifth possible reason that God is letting evil occur is so that on the day of judgment, the condemned will have no right to say that their sentence is unjust. God is not stopping people from exercising their free will. Think about this: If someone said that God should stop evil and suffering, then should God then stop all evil and suffering? If God only stopped some of it, then we would still be asking the same question of why it exists.

    So, if we want God to stop evil and suffering, then He must stop all of it. We have no problem with this when it means stopping a catastrophe, or a murder, or a rape. But what about when someone thinks of something evil? Evil is destructive whether it is acted out or not. Hatred and bigotry in someone’s heart is wrong. If it is wrong, and if God is to stop all evil, then He must stop that person from thinking his own thoughts. To do that, God must remove his freedom of thought. Furthermore, which person on the earth has not thought something evil? God would be required, then, to stop all people from exercising their free will. This is something God has chosen not to do. Therefore, we could say that one of the reasons that God permits evil and suffering is because of man’s free will.

    Finally, it is quite possible that God uses the suffering to do good. In other words, He produces patience through tribulation (Rom. 5:3). Or He may desire to save someone through it. Take for example, the account of Joseph who was sold into slavery by His brothers. What they did was wrong and Joseph suffered greatly for it. But, later, God raised up Joseph in Egypt to make provisions for the people of that land during the coming drought of seven years. Not only was Egypt saved, but also his family and brothers who originally sold him into slavery. Joseph finally says to them, “You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good” (Gen. 50:15-21). Of course, the greatest example of God using evil for good is the death of Christ. Evil people brought him to the cross, but God used that cross as the means to save the world.

    God is in the world using the world and its failures for His glory and the benefit of those who listen to Him.

    But then, what about those who seem to suffer innocently with no benefit resulting? What about the woman who is raped, or the innocent bystander who is killed by a stray bullet. In both cases, the victims and families suffer nothing but pain and loss. What good can this possibly be?

    I think that the answer is two-fold. One, ultimately, no one is innocent. All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23) and are by nature children of wrath (Eph. 2:3). There is none innocent. Though this is biblically accurate, it does not satisfy the question emotionally. Why do little babies suffer for things they have not done? I must acknowledge that I do not know. Ultimately, we must trust God who knows the beginning from the end and sees the grand picture. He will have the final word and He will be vindicated.

    If evil is so prevalent, why is there righteousness in the world? Since righteousness exists, should we conclude that there is a God? Surly if there was no God there would not be so many righteous, giving people. When major natural disasters occur, like the recent earthquake in Hatti, surely there would not be thousands upon thousands of good people willing to help. Are we to assume there is a God because there are so many people who will cry with you when your grieving, give you a hand up when your downtrodden,

    In Love, Power and Justice: the Dynamics of Authentic Morality, as well as in several earlier works, Dr. William S. Hatcher outlines a simple logical proof for the existence of God.

    By applying the logic of relations, Dr. Hatcher has been able to update Avicenna’s proof, which is in some ways itself based on Aristole’s “first cause” argument. The updated proof, Dr. Hatcher says, is now something a modern logician would find incontrovertibly true, given its three assumptions, which are:

    1) Everything in the universe is either preceded by a cause or else contains within itself a sufficient reason for its existence.

    2) For every system or composite phenomenon, any cause for the system is also a cause for every part of the system. (Every material thing, except possibly the elementary particles of quantum physics, is composite.)

    3) The existence of a whole system cannot precede the existence of its components (or, he writes, “the constitution of a whole obviously supposes and depends upon the prior or simultaneous existence of its components.”)

    The proof applies modern rules of logic to these three assumptions, which Dr. Hatcher says are nothing more than obvious formulations of the scientific method. The reasoning can be summarized as follows: First, no composite phenomenon can be self-caused, because of the second and third assumptions. Second, since the entire universe is composite, it cannot be self-caused. It must be caused by something else, according to the first assumption.

    Further reasoning proves that this something else “is a unique, non-composite, uncaused universal cause and thus the cause of everything that exists – and that is God,” Dr. Hatcher said. “Moreover, granted the three premises, the denial of which would lead in each case to a highly unreasonable proposition, the entire proof is as incontrovertible as one plus one equals two.”

    • Stacey

      Roy said – “I do not assume to be able to definitively answer the question, but I can offer some solutions.”

      Stacey- Just FYI. When you blatantly copy and paste vast swaths of work from other people, usually you cite them. I’ll try my best to respond to these points others have made to better elucidate those reading as to the problem of evil, but if you’re just going to continue copying and pasting without a care as to what I say, then maybe the discussion has run its course.

      Roy said — “Could God have created a world without evil? Absolutely speaking, that is possible. God could have created a world where evil didn’t exist. But for at least six reasons, God desired that evil should exist. First, so that all possible good might exist, and second, that we might know Him.

      The good of perseverance and fortitude cannot exist without the evil of pain and suffering. Without evil, we would lack the good of martyrs. It was God’s desire that the good of perseverance, etc. would exist.”

      Stacey- Why didn’t God create us with the good of perseverance and fortitude already? If evil doesn’t exist in heaven does this mean the good of perseverance and fortitude also do not exist in heaven?

      Would you, then, conclude that raping someone is better than not raping them because this evil will cause them to have “the good of perseverance and fortitude”? I mean..really this argument is just redefining what good is. That it’s good to have evil. It makes little sense to me.

      Roy- “The second reason why God created a world with evil is so that we might know Him. Quoting Aquinas, “We can speak of simple things only as though they were like the composite things from which we derive our knowledge.” Now in God there is no evil, nor is there a hierarchy of diversity, one thing more perfect than another. God is simple, but we can only know the simple through complex things. Therefore, in order for us to know God, it was necessary to create a complex universe organized into a hierarchy of diversity.”

      Stacey- Why would evil be required to know God? Why is knowing God more important than the removal of evil from this world? There is equivocation here with the words “simple” implied to mean “good” and “complex” implied to mean “evil”, but it still doesn’t tell us why we should accept these premises “Evil is required to know God” “the complex is required to know the simple” “God is simple” “there is no evil in God”.

      Furthermore, this argument is incompatible with the notion of an omnipresent and good God. If there is no evil in God and God is omnipresent then there is no evil. There is evil, therefore this God does not exist as defined (one or more of the premises are not sound).

      Roy– “This hierarchy of diversity, which God created, is intended to show us what He is like by analogy. The Scriptures teach us that God is like a king, for example. This is meaningful to us because a king is the highest office; in that particular respect, God is like a king. Of course, we cannot compare God to a human king in any direct sense because whatever can be said of God, in truth cannot be said of anyone or anything else. Our kingship is only like God’s “kingship.” Even the goodness and beauty of the world is only like God who is truly good and truly beautiful. God the Son, is also compared to a lion. This is meaningful for us because lions hold a place of honor among the beasts. They are mightier and fiercer than the other beasts. In this regard, God the Son is like a lion. Rather, a lion is like God the Son.
      To simplify this thought, imagine that all beasts were exactly the same. God could not be referred to as a beast because He would not be like a beast. He is only referred to as a lion because lions are greater than other beasts. Imagine if there were no government. God could not be likened unto any human office because no man would be above any other man. But God is above us, and in that way is likened unto a king. This is only a simple way to conceptualize the point I’m trying to make. Imagine (the absurd proposition) that God created a world without this hierarchy of diversity or distinction. If all things were equal, we could in no way relate to God because in our finite capacity, we cannot comprehend God. We only know Him by knowing things which He has revealed to us via the material world. We understand His greatness only by understanding the greatness of kings and lions, etc. and by amplifying that greatness to the best of our ability.
      Roy- Evil is not a thing that God created. As St. Augustine taught, evil is simply a privation of good as a shadow is a privation of light. But the good of a king cannot be grasped without the privation of that kingly goodness which exists in his subjects. The goodness of the lion cannot be known to us without the privation of that same goodness in his prey or in the lesser beasts. That is: If privation of good didn’t exist in this world, we would have no way to understand God’s goodness.

      Stacey- Why didn’t God create us with this understanding to begin with? Once again, this is incompatible with an omnipresent and good God.

      Roy- God could have instantly given us the capacity to see Him directly (which is the Beatific Vision or Heaven), but He chose not to for reasons given above (that the good of fortitude, perseverance, etc. should exist).

      Stacey- This makes little sense to me with regards to a good God. “I could create you with these attributes, but I’d rather you suffer so maybe you can develop these attributes through suffering.”

      Roy- Thus, in order for us to know Him at all, without the Beatific Vision, it was necessary to create a world wherein privation of good existed so that there would be a hierarchy of diversity whereby we might know what God is like. Our participation in evil, which is by no means necessary, consists in turning away from the Creator and choosing a created good. Jesus Christ, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, overcame the world by never choosing a created good over God the Creator.

      Stacey- So basically the argument is saying “God could have been good and not allowed evil to exist, but instead God made evil necessary.” This isn’t doing a whole lot to convince me that this God is good. Sounds rather sociopathic.

      Roy- Thirdly, it is possible that God has reasons for allowing evil to exist that we simply cannot understand. In this the Christian can have confidence in God knowing that His ways are above our ways (Isaiah 55:8-9). As the Bible says, the just shall live by faith (Hab. 2:4).

      Stacey- If we do not or cannot understand God’s moral nature, then we can’t say whether or not he is good or bad based upon his level of understanding. We can only come to these conclusions based upon our own level of understanding of what it means to be good, and that means you need to formulate an argument that doesn’t include God, but still justifies any and all evil in the world today. Simply saying “well it’s god’s way and we can’t understand god”, still leaves the question of whether god is good or evil unanswered and doesn’t justify the evil that exists in the world because it ASSUMES that god is good, even though we cannot know that.

      Roy- Forth, God may be letting evil run its course in order to prove that evil is malignant and that suffering, which is the unfortunate product of evil, is further proof that anything contrary to God’s will is bad, harmful, painful, and leads to death.

      Stacey- If God is “letting evil run its course” then God willed evil to run its course, which seems to imply that anything and everything God wills is good, even if it isn’t good. It’s a redefinition of evil and good to the point of meaninglessness. And once again, the same question can be asked as above. Why not create use with this knowledge?

      Roy- A fifth possible reason that God is letting evil occur is so that on the day of judgment, the condemned will have no right to say that their sentence is unjust. God is not stopping people from exercising their free will. Think about this: If someone said that God should stop evil and suffering, then should God then stop all evil and suffering? If God only stopped some of it, then we would still be asking the same question of why it exists.

      Stacey- This depends on your definition of free will. If you prevent someone from raping another person, did you end the perpetrators free will? Basically, it’s defining free will as non-existent in our current world (I’m only as free as the person next to me allows me to be, or as the God that created us allows us to be). It’s more of a practical notion of free will, I guess. But this brings us to the question of which is more important; The free will of the rapist, or the well being of the victim? I vote that the well being of the victim is far more important than the free will of the rapist. Do you?

      Roy- So, if we want God to stop evil and suffering, then He must stop all of it. We have no problem with this when it means stopping a catastrophe, or a murder, or a rape. But what about when someone thinks of something evil? Evil is destructive whether it is acted out or not.

      Stacey- It is? Try thinking of punching me. Did you punch me? If God can and does stop all actions of evil, then any thought of evil cannot come to fruition and will not result in evil behavior.

      Roy- Finally, it is quite possible that God uses the suffering to do good. In other words, He produces patience through tribulation (Rom. 5:3). Or He may desire to save someone through it. Take for example, the account of Joseph who was sold into slavery by His brothers. What they did was wrong and Joseph suffered greatly for it. But, later, God raised up Joseph in Egypt to make provisions for the people of that land during the coming drought of seven years. Not only was Egypt saved, but also his family and brothers who originally sold him into slavery. Joseph finally says to them, “You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good” (Gen. 50:15-21). Of course, the greatest example of God using evil for good is the death of Christ. Evil people brought him to the cross, but God used that cross as the means to save the world.
      Stacey- None of the examples of “saving” requires evil. God could have saved the world from sin without the sacrifice of human life. God could have saved Egypt without Joseph suffering. This is almost like someone saying, “I punched my wife so that I could dial 911 and save her from continued abuse.”. How about not perpetrate the abuse to begin with?

      Roy- God is in the world using the world and its failures for His glory and the benefit of those who listen to Him.

      Stacey- Which makes him an evil god, not worthy of anyone’s worship.

      Roy- I think that the answer is two-fold. One, ultimately, no one is innocent. All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23) and are by nature children of wrath (Eph. 2:3). There is none innocent. Though this is biblically accurate, it does not satisfy the question emotionally. Why do little babies suffer for things they have not done? I must acknowledge that I do not know. Ultimately, we must trust God who knows the beginning from the end and sees the grand picture. He will have the final word and He will be vindicated.

      Stacey- Why should you trust a god to do good if all evidence points towards this god as being either incredibly inept (thus questioning his god status), or incredibly evil and vindictive (thus questioning his good status)?

      Roy- If evil is so prevalent, why is there righteousness in the world? Since righteousness exists, should we conclude that there is a God? Surly if there was no God there would not be so many righteous, giving people. When major natural disasters occur, like the recent earthquake in Hatti, surely there would not be thousands upon thousands of good people willing to help. Are we to assume there is a God because there are so many people who will cry with you when your grieving, give you a hand up when your downtrodden,
      Stacey- This means that if God exists and created us then god is not omnievil. I guess that’s a start, lol.
      Roy- In Love, Power and Justice: the Dynamics of Authentic Morality, as well as in several earlier works, Dr. William S. Hatcher outlines a simple logical proof for the existence of God.

      By applying the logic of relations, Dr. Hatcher has been able to update Avicenna’s proof, which is in some ways itself based on Aristole’s “first cause” argument. The updated proof, Dr. Hatcher says, is now something a modern logician would find incontrovertibly true, given its three assumptions, which are:
      1) Everything in the universe is either preceded by a cause or else contains within itself a sufficient reason for its existence.
      2) For every system or composite phenomenon, any cause for the system is also a cause for every part of the system. (Every material thing, except possibly the elementary particles of quantum physics, is composite.)
      3) The existence of a whole system cannot precede the existence of its components (or, he writes, “the constitution of a whole obviously supposes and depends upon the prior or simultaneous existence of its components.”)

      The proof applies modern rules of logic to these three assumptions, which Dr. Hatcher says are nothing more than obvious formulations of the scientific method. The reasoning can be summarized as follows: First, no composite phenomenon can be self-caused, because of the second and third assumptions. Second, since the entire universe is composite, it cannot be self-caused. It must be caused by something else, according to the first assumption.

      Further reasoning proves that this something else “is a unique, non-composite, uncaused universal cause and thus the cause of everything that exists – and that is God,” Dr. Hatcher said. “Moreover, granted the three premises, the denial of which would lead in each case to a highly unreasonable proposition, the entire proof is as incontrovertible as one plus one equals two.”

      Stacey- Roy, if you’re using this argument as logical proof for the god you believe in and worship, then the god you believe in and worship is nothing more than an event. This argument reduces “god” to an event, not a transcendent mind, an omnibeing, a good being, a conscious entity. You should be no more religious than an atheist if this is what you call god. It’s like calling a bird crap “god” because it caused an avalanche.

      But that’s without addressing the argument, which I find issue with. I’ve read parts of Hatcher’s argument in the PDF format, which is a little more in depth. The first problem I see is that theorem 1 is not compatible. T.1 states – “we have A1->A1. Thus, by P.1, A1 is uncaused and thus cannot be other caused.” But D.1 states that B->B must hold for something to be other-caused. By extension this means that A1->A1 must hold for something to be other-caused. D.2 then states that B->B must hold for something to be self-caused. So T.1 is incorrect because, as per D.1 and D.2, both “other caused” and “self caused” require A1->A1.

      It also renders the word “cause” useless because the word “cause” refers to things/events outside of the caused event/thing. So to say “self-caused” is rather meaningless. The argument is also incomplete because it ignores the possibility of spontaneous events without any cause.

      It basically suffers from the same flimsiness that the more mainstream “first cause” arguments suffer from. It assumes the universe must have a cause, therefore uncaused X.

      I posted this without time to edit so sorry if there are any mistakes.

      • Stacey:

        I was reading through your comments, and this one jumped out at me, largely because “free will” seems to causing a lot of confusion in this thread:

        “Stacey- This depends on your definition of free will. If you prevent someone from raping another person, did you end the perpetrators free will? Basically, it’s defining free will as non-existent in our current world (I’m only as free as the person next to me allows me to be, or as the God that created us allows us to be). It’s more of a practical notion of free will, I guess. But this brings us to the question of which is more important; The free will of the rapist, or the well being of the victim? I vote that the well being of the victim is far more important than the free will of the rapist. Do you?”

        You are making a category mistake, here. The “free will” of the rapist is not being obstructed in your example; only the accomplishment of the rapist’s goals are being hindered. The “will” to rape the victim remains unchanged; in other words, the rapist has volition, but not ability, due to the interference of the third party. Obviously, the well-being of the victim is more important than the “free will” of the rapist, but the two have no direct effect on each other. The “actual cause” of the victim’s pain is the act of being raped, not the rapist’s desire to commit rape.

        Here’s another, which also seems to cause a lot of confusion:

        “Stacey- It is? Try thinking of punching me. Did you punch me? If God can and does stop all actions of evil, then any thought of evil cannot come to fruition and will not result in evil behavior.”

        “You have heard that the ancients were told, ‘YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT MURDER’ and ‘Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever shall say to his brother, ‘Raca,’ shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever shall say, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell.” (Matthew 5:21,22 NASB)

        According to Scripture, there is no difference between desiring to do the act and accomplishing the act, except in the degree of the offense.

        I posted a more complete response to this thread, earlier (it was meant to address more contributors than yourself) which should more satisfactorily answer some of the objections you raised in your argument with Roy. I’d also be happy to address your objections to God being an “uncaused Cause;” there is ample philosophical and theological support for the idea, and science does, in fact, support it as well. Roy has good points; he just argues them poorly.

        I would, however, ask that you refrain from future comparisons similar to any that characterize God and guano as equal in stature; I assume you meant to be facetious, but the comment was offensive nonetheless.

  8. Roy

    It seems by your response you probably haven’t read, or studied, the Bible. There is a major difference between me now (flesh) and me in Heaven (spirit). Now I am influenced, to a degree, by worldly pleasures, whereas in Heaven this will not be the case.

    The Bible describes Heaven in great detail in Revelation chapters 21-22. Nowhere in those chapters is the possibility of sin mentioned. There will be no more death, sorrow, crying, or pain (Revelation 21:4). The sinful are not in Heaven, but the lake of fire (Revelation 21:8). Nothing impure will ever enter Heaven (Revelation 21:27). Outside of Heaven are those who sin (Revelation 22:15). So, you are correct, the answer is no, there will be no sin in Heaven.

    If there is no possibility of sin/evil that does not mean I will no longer have a free will. It seems that in Heaven, our ability to choose will be similar to that of the angels. The angels had a one-time choice to obey God or follow Satan. There is no possibility of further angels sinning and joining Satan in his rebellion. The holy angels are “elect angels” (1 Timothy 5:21). Similar, the elect in Heaven will be “sealed” in their decision to forsake sin and trust in Christ. We will not even have the choice to sin. At the same time, having been delivered from sin and evil, and viewing the wonderful glories of Heaven, we would not choose sin even if we had the choice.

    You say, “Pascal “….God perceived by the heart, not by the reason.” Which is why there remains no good reason to believe in God.”

    Do you know what perceived means?

    1. to become aware of, know, or identify by means of the senses:
    2. to recognize, discern, envision, or understand:

    Until you let go of the hurt and anger you have and fall on your knees, and say the words, “Jesus I need you” your heart will never perceive God. You will never feel the awesome comfort of the Holy Spirit. You will never become aware of the amazing feeling of Gods amazing grace. I know He’s waiting for you, all you have to do is knock and ask.

    Peace

    • Stacey

      Roy,

      I appreciate your response but it doesn’t solve the dilemma it just chooses one outcome, thus implicitly admitting that the problem remains. Heaven is better than earth, yet free will still exists in both areas for those who reside in them. So clearly God can make a place devoid of evil that is still compatible with the free will of those who reside in it. He chose not to do that with us here on earth (as evil exists) and so cannot be said to be a good God.

      Roy said -”Until you let go of the hurt and anger you have and fall on your knees, and say the words, “Jesus I need you” your heart will never perceive God. You will never feel the awesome comfort of the Holy Spirit. You will never become aware of the amazing feeling of Gods amazing grace. I know He’s waiting for you, all you have to do is knock and ask.”

      You assume I haven’t done this, or that many thousands of atheists and non-christians alike have not done this. By all means, I’m waiting for the evidence by which I can perceive God through any of my 5 senses. Until this can be substantiated, there remains no good reason to believe. The platitude of “knowing through the heart” sounds nice, but that’s about all it offers to the discussion.

  9. Roy

    I was taught that for us (mankind) to work right we had to have been given free-will. True love always requires free choice. You can see free-will in the Garden of Eden where Adam and Eve where instructed to not to partake of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Even though they may have been talked into disobeying, they choose to disobey.

    So, in my mind, it isn’t a valid question to ask why God allows evil because evil is a result of evil man.

    I would suggest reading Ephesians 6, specifically versus 10-20.

    You make a very good point Stacey and many of us struggle to understand, especially after a heart-breaking tragedy. But I know personally that tragedy brought me to a closer understanding of Gods love. The Holy Spirit comforted me and I was told that it is not time to know the why of EVERYTHING just yet.

    “It is the heart which perceives God and not the reason. That is what faith is: God perceived by the heart, not by the reason.” Blaise Pascal

    • Stacey

      Roy said -”So, in my mind, it isn’t a valid question to ask why God allows evil because evil is a result of evil man.”

      It’s a valid question if the God in question is one who is asserted to have created everything and is the omni-god. I think it was J.L. Mackie that pondered something along the lines of why couldn’t God make everyone so that we all freely choose good?

      But I find that the free will argument is more robustly refuted with the inclusion of the Christian notion of heaven, which I presented above. I’ll copy and paste it here-

      Here we have a place that exists for God’s creatures to reside in. It is a place that is explained as one that does not contain evil (correct me if that assumption about heaven is incorrect). So the same question is posed to life in heaven. Does free will exist for those who reside in heaven? Is evil possible in heaven?

      If it is true that heaven cannot have evil- and -If free will does indeed exist for those who reside in heaven- then -God did not create the best possible outcome for his creatures on earth but did so for his creatures in heaven whilst still respecting the free will of his creatures in heaven, thus bringing into question God’s goodness.

      However, if it is true that heaven cannot have evil- and -Free will does NOT exist for those who reside in heaven- then -God has created a place that reflects a valuation by God that free will is less valuable than a place that does NOT allow evil to exist, thus refuting alvin plantinga’s premise that “free will is more valuable than a world containing no free creatures at all.”. Thus the problem of evil on earth would still exist, negating the goodness of this God.

      Pascal “….God perceived by the heart, not by the reason.”

      Which is why there remains no good reason to believe in God.

  10. Roy

    I don’t follow your syllogism. What evil (E2) does not have a justifying reason?

    • Stacey

      Doesn’t the other form of that argument suffer from the same thing? You’d need to justify any and all evil. Otherwise why should one accept the assumption that God’s existence alone justifies any evil? But I don’t know how that’s possible with an all powerful God because an all powerful God could create us in the exact situation he desires us to be in without any evil at all thus rendering any and all evil unnecessary.

  11. I actually really like this syllogism, I never considered it before…

    A deductive argument can also be formulated as follows:

    E1. If God exist, then all evil has a justifying reason

    E2. Not all evil has a justifying reason

    E3. Therefore, God does not exist.

  12. Roy

    HaHa, your a pontificating prince of perissology. Love you!

  13. Roy

    I was reading your discussion, Prayson and Archange, last night and thought…oh ok.

    I said a prayer of thanks and asked one simple question, “WHY?”

    After sleeping I woke up with the word OPPOSITE in my head. :)

    Good exists, evil exists, and they are opposites. Whether God created, or allowed it, is irrelevant. Whether there is, or is not a God, because there is evil is irrelevant.
    Good exists, evil exists, and they are opposites.

    GOOD (seeking well-being for oneself and others) is the opposite of EVIL (non well-being, hurting oneself and others).

    For example ‘upward’ cannot exist unless there is a ‘downward’, they are opposites but they co-substantiate one another, their unity is that either one exists because the opposite is necessary for the existence of the other, one manifests immediately with the other. Hot would not be hot without cold, due to there being no contrast by which to define it as ‘hot’ relative to any other condition.

    Chinese Taoists have a symbol for paired opposites called Yin and Yang. One is white, the other is black. Together they form a circle. One represents light, goodness, positiveness, the other represents dark,evil, negativism. Between yin and yang there is a bridge, which means these qualities are bound together. The philosopher’s stone of the Middle Ages was a symbolic expression of this same balance of personality at the center of one’s being.

    Love is the opposite of hate. To the degree a person loves is his ability to hate. He chooses to set guards and balances and uses psychological energy to maintain them. Marriage was devised to protect love and stave off the opposite by vows to love and protect.

    Night and day, black and white, up and down, hot and cold, past and future, the lists of opposites are endless. Proverbs take opposites into consideration. “Here today, gone tomorrow” “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” Such proverbs were meant to get man in the frame of mind to accept opposites and reconcile to them so that he may might make the best choice.

    Life and death is a symbol for opposites. Christ expressed it in endless ideas. The idea of being born again referred to that detachment and a new introspective attitude.

    Both of you men are the SAME. You both tend to strive to the GOOD.

    The tendency of Christians and Atheists to seek well-being joins us in the common goal of seeking GOOD, and opposing EVIL.

    It’s a wonderful thing to be free. When we see EVIL we must stand together against it. Evil will forever be here and we will forever have to create more GOOD than EVIL or all of us good people will suffer. We must help the widows and orphans, the homeless and starving, the oppressed, and the stricken, the poor and uneducated, for it’s the vulnerable who are most susceptible to mans evil.

    The difference between us will never go away, being Christian or Atheist, and who is right, but that should be the least of our concerns. I feel we face a greater threat to our well-being.

    Peace

    • Héhé

      Good and evil depend on conscious beings…if we do not exist, good and evil don’t either (what are things good and evil about?…How can something be good or evil if there are no conscious creatures to experience them?)…Good and evil can be defined according to our needs as conscious beings, in that sense alone do objective moral values exist…

  14. Héhé

    Héhé…I might be leaving for a little bit…gonna check if you answered anything one last time and come back later or something…

    • It is 22:40 here in Copenhagen, Denmark. I will join my wife on bed. Hehe, what is your real name? I got know you alot, but I do not know your name.

      Thank you for wonderful chat. Good night, my dear friend.

      • Héhé

        Héhé…I corresponded with Roy and told him my name was “Archange”, I’m pretty sure you read those comments in detail…that’s my real name…oh, ok, haha, see you another time…I think I used to come later and still see you on here, though…the time on this page (for your comment) is 21:41 actually, where I”m at (Florida) it’s 18:29…I didn’t know you were in Denmark?…the times on this page always confuse me…

      • It is because I have +1 GMT and not + 2 GMT.

  15. Héhé

    It’s like if you make the claim that the reason a house is crumbling (we all agree it is crumbling) is because there’s a dragon underneath it destroying it from under…I say that it wouldn’t be so cold inside the house when courageously ventures in, and you say that there’s a cooling system…I then say that I’m not convinced that there is one, that therefore I’m not convinced that there’s a fire releasing dragon underneath the house, that perhaps it’s crumbling due to natural causes…would you then explain to me how I have to prove that there is no cooler underneath the house to prevent it from heating?!??!!..You realize that would be ridiculous, haha, right?…

    • Héhé

      I don’t know what the different versions are, probably some fancy sounding names, héhé…I suspect you see what I’m talking about already…the idea I’m familiar with is: “How can an All Powerful and Loving God exist while there’s so much evil in the world?”…What I think you claim in the above article is that in order to not be convinced by the existence of such a God, one has to establish that there is indeed no reason for the evil in the world, establish that without any doubt…I compared that demand to the above scenario about the dragon…I’m asking you what’s the difference ’cause I don’t see any essential one…

      • They are two versions Hehe. The logical problem, which claim it is impossible for omni-God and evil co-exist while evidential problem claims its improbable for omni-God and evil to co-exist.

        Hehe, I do not see any reasons why you are an atheist, should I conclude, therefore, it is right for me to assume you are not an atheist? I do think so, since even though I see no reason, you still can be an atheist, no?

      • Héhé

        Haha…are you serious, Prayson?…”I do not see any reasons why you are an atheist, should I conclude, therefore, it is right for me to assume you are not an atheist?”, haha…I’m trying to figure out if you really think that’s a valid analogy…first off, there are flat-Earthers out there, the human mind can believe quite a few things and we have enormous evidence for that…the fact that some position doesn’t seem to make sense to someone (héhé, though I seriously doubt you have that much trouble understanding the need we have for more evidence…I mean, you in particular, I know many Christians must genuinely have an issue, but they’re probably more sincere) isn’t enough reason for them to assume no one will hold that position, though I know there are some folks who can’t conceive of people not having the same views as them (again, I don’t think you’re among them)…and, secondly, your analogy is false anyway because you’re talking about another kind of cause…instead of evidence that a claim is true (like my words, statements, my positions might be evidence that I am really a nonbeliever), you’re talking about evidence that would CONVINCE ME to be a nonbeliever…as if that’s not enough, héhé, there are other problems with your analogy, Prayson…as you were doing throughout the page, you said: “you still can be an atheist, no?”…as if I’m making a claim, héhé, which would exclude conflicting suppositions…are you sure you’re just playing me or being yourself?…

      • Héhé

        Wow, haha…the concept of “not claiming”, “not believing” seems to be a difficult one for you…what I did was argue that there was no good reason to believe x, therefore I don’t believe x…it’s pretty simple…I was a little busy these last few days, finally came back to this page, probably won’t be long…

  16. Héhé

    “Atheist bears an unbearable burden of proof, namely removing apparently or seemly in front of gratuitous evil by showing that there are evil that has no justifying reason.”…I think you should say: “atheists who make that illogical deduction” instead of just “atheist” as you said, Prayson…I don’t agree with that deduction up there…in my case (and in the case of many other nonbelievers, I think) I’d say that since there is evil in the world (a certainty) and we don’t see a good reason for God to allow them (which is claimed by the religious), we need not assume that there is one (since there’s 0 evidence that such good reasons exist), and that therefore we don’t feel compelled to believe in a simultaneously Good and All Powerful God…I don’t have to prove that there is no good reason for evil because I’m not claiming that there is no good reason for evil, I’m just failing to accept that there is one because there’s no evidence that there is, if you’re able to wrap your head around what I’m saying, haha…it’s not too complicated…

    • Hehe I believe you could hold that position. But simply because we don’t see a good reason for God to allow them does not mean there is no good reason.

      It is what I argued, since we have limited knowledge, we not in position to claim that there is no good reason :)

    • Héhé

      Haha…look Prayson, first you say: “Hehe I believe you could hold that position”, which I’m guessing means you think I can “fail to make a claim”…then you follow that sentence with: “we not in position to claim that there is no good reason”…look at the 6th word…”CLAIM”…am I really allowed that position or not, héhé, Prayson?…

      • We can claim anything Hehe. I can claim I am a dragon with gold eyes. Claiming is one thing, giving proof, reasons for my claim is another.

      • Héhé

        Héhé…I agree, Prayson, we can claim anything, and we can fail to claim anything too…that’s the right I’m asking you if I enjoy…is it possible to fail to claim there is no good reason for evil in the world while simultaneously not believing there is a good reason for evil in the world?…

      • Héhé

        I’d agree, Prayson…that’s why I’m saying “fail to claim”, that’s why I’ve said that maybe 5 times now, héhé, without you understanding…

      • Héhé

        Haha…I’d say that’s more like you, though…

    • Héhé

      No, haha, Prayson…you again fail to understand the concept of “not believing”…you fail to see good reasons that it is more of you than me, therefore you don’t accept that it is more of you than me…it’s not that complicated, think about it for a little while before answering…

  17. Héhé

    “First, the reasons for believing in a theistic God must be refuted; in other words, negative atheism in the narrow sense must be established. Second, reasons for disbelieving in the theistic God must be given.”…I actually completely agree with that…in my case, the various arguments provided to show God exists aren’t convincing enough, and I’m always able to explain why…

  18. Stacey

    I do not see how the problem of evil is solved by the ambiguity of the term “suffering” and whether or not this suffering can be justified. Essentially, if there exists an omnipotent God, this necessitates that ALL suffering, no matter how insignificant it may be deemed, is completely unnecessary. Why? Because an omnipotent God would be able to create the end situation without any suffering.

    Let me explain. It is often argued by theists that some suffering is required for a certain positive outcome. So you need an experience of suffering in order to get the outcome of finding God (as just an example).

    But an omnipotent God, because of his omnipotence, could bypass the suffering portion of the equation and simply go straight for the desired result, sans suffering. If we assume that an omnipotent God exists then we must accept that this God needlessly designed suffering into the experience of material life, thus rendering this entity evil.

    • Stacey, I believe you are correct in many ways. I find many theodicies weak and other false.

      But I find no problem adding a premise that does not necessary have to be true nor believed but simply logically possible that would show that it is possible that an omni-God co-exist with evil.

      Alvin Plantinga came up with a premise, omni-God created the world containing evil and has good reason for it.

      If you agree that that is possible, not necessary true, then there is no problem between co-existence of omni-God and evil in the world.

      Tell me what you think Stacey?

      Prayson

      • Stacey

        Prayson,

        There are important questions to this discussion. What is free will? Does free will exist? Is it true that it is intrinsically better to be logically free regardless of what suffering results from this than to be logically determined? These are deeper questions with regards to Plantinga’s argument, and the free will one seems to run into issues of which definition of free will you adhere to. For example: If God can create a creature and know with absolute certainty the exact future of this creature (omniscient)…can it be true that this creature has free will?

        However, for the sake of my reply I’ll accept that 1) free will exists 2) it is better to have free will than to be logically determined, even if said free will results in suffering.

        I’m not much of a fan of the free will defense with regards to the problem of evil. It’s easily countered with the introduction of the Christian view of heaven. Here we have a place that exists for God’s creatures to reside in. It is a place that is explained as one that does not contain evil (correct me if that assumption about heaven is incorrect). So the same question is posed to life in heaven. Does free will exist for those who reside in heaven? Is evil possible in heaven?

        If it is true that heaven cannot have evil- and -If free will does indeed exist for those who reside in heaven- then -God did not create the best possible outcome for his creatures on earth but did so for his creatures in heaven whilst still respecting the free will of his creatures in heaven, thus bringing into question God’s goodness.

        However, if it is true that heaven cannot have evil- and -Free will does NOT exist for those who reside in heaven- then -God has created a place that reflects a valuation by God that free will is less valuable than a place that allows evil to exist, thus refuting alvin plantinga’s premise that “free will is more valuable than a world containing no free creatures at all.”. Thus the problem of evil on earth would still exist, negating the goodness of this God.

      • Stacey

        I would like to make one correction from my previous post.

        In the last paragraph I said, “… then -God has created a place that reflects a valuation by God that free will is less valuable than a place that allows evil to exist, thus refuting alvin plantinga’s premise that “free will is more valuable than a world containing no free creatures at all.”. Thus the problem of evil on earth would still exist, negating the goodness of this God.”

        This paragraph should be corrected to say “… then -God has created a place that reflects a valuation by God that free will is less valuable than a place that does NOT allow evil to exist, thus refuting alvin plantinga’s premise that “free will is more valuable than a world containing no free creatures at all.”. Thus the problem of evil on earth would still exist, negating the goodness of this God.”

        I think that’s OK now.

  19. Prayson your engagement with your theme is always interesting and educational. This time, I find that there is a distinction between negative and positive atheism. It is obvious that such a distinction should be made, though it had not previously occurred to me.

    Sadly, I can’t join in the discussion and add my answer your question about a persuasive case of positive atheism, because, if I understand it correctly, I am a negative atheist (but a happily positive person! ha ha!). I simply cannot find a way to believe in a god, or gods. I find the questions you raise interesting on an intellectual level, and important on a theistic level, but irrelevant to my belief system. It never occurs to me to think of something like, “Would a caring god let so many good people suffer?” It seems a question with no purpose. My father accused me once of being angry at God and trying to prove a point to Him by professing my non-belief. Again, I see no purpose in that. Like being angry at the moon.

    This post does something for me that helps immensely, however. Something that has been driving me crazy: why can’t believers understand why I don’t believe? It is so very simple to me, like A, B, C. Perhaps I told you once about my girlfriend who explained that some of her faith was due to her gratitude at being so unconditionally loved by God. And it had never occurred to me that someone would take it so deeply to heart as to feel actual gratitude – real, honest, emotion – toward a god. And it was a landmark moment for me to me to have her explain it to me in such a way that I finally got it. She and I understand the world differently…so of course I can’t understand religious faith. You have just given me a similar gift with your post. Someone who does take the time to try earnestly to understand atheism from a perspective of positive atheism, thinks of things in a different way than I do. And it is only natural that the person could not interpret the world in the ways that I do. Of course a believer wouldn’t understand atheism.

    It’s a happy thought for me: the rationale to finally let go of this frustration and annoyance. It’s simply that we experience and understand the world differently. We think differently. Nothing worth being frustrated about.

    • You are very correct Crystal.

      I respect and understand your choice of not believe in God because I too was in the same position. I have learn to love, respect, challenge and be challenged in my worldview.

      Thank you for letting me know more about you and thank you for your input.

  20. Constance V. Walden

    I could never understand how a person with a soul can deny the existence of the Creator of his soul. An atheist has to deny the existence of his own soul daily. Thanks for sharing. Connie
    http://7thandvine.wordpress.com/

    • Stacey

      It’s actually not that difficult. You make it seem like it’s a struggle every day to be an atheist when it’s as simple as not believing in godzilla. You don’t need to wake up every day and affirm that godzilla doesn’t exist, you can just simply lack belief.

      There remains no compelling evidence to suggest there is in any way a mind – body separation. All the evidence suggests that our bodies (more specifically our brains) are our minds, and that consciousness is an emergent property of a physical brain. In other words…completely contingent upon the body.

      • There is no problem, Stacey. I totally agree with you since lack of belief reflect our psychology and not necessarily the reality of the world around us.

        Example a mental ill person lacks many beliefs, i.e. when he jumps of a roof, because he lacks belief in gravity.

        Funny I lack the belief in “lacking of belief in God”. :) But this by itself does not mean lack of belief in God is true or false. It simply shows my psychology :)

        Prayson

      • Héhé

        Haha…Prayson, “I lack the belief in “lacking of belief in God”. But this by itself does not mean lack of belief in God is true or false.”, that’s meaningless…a state of mind isn’t a proposition that is either true or false…so that’s what you posted about, haha…the subject we were debating earlier…

      • Héhé

        Héhé…I already did, Prayson…re-read the comment…here’s the essential bit: “a state of mind isn’t a proposition that is either true or false”…

      • Héhé

        I saw that, Prayson…that’s why I was surprised you said that “this by itself does not mean lack of belief in God is true or false”…

      • Stacey

        Prayson,

        I agree that lacking a belief or professing a belief does not necessarily accurately reflect reality. However, I can’t believe in the existence of something that has not been demonstrated. Either a claim meets my epistemological criteria for what constitutes a justified true belief and as a result I believe, or it doesn’t and as a result I do not believe.

        (hopefully I replied to the correct comment)

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