Theodicies. Have the Christians any answers to the problem of evil?

harpalycus47
harpalycus47: Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is impotent. Is he able but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Whence then is evil? Epicurus.

Written nearly two and a half millennia ago, this has still not seemingly been answered.

I would not use the word evil, which has connotations both of agency and theology, but the more general term suffering.

I have never come across an answer that even approaches credibility, but it is an extremely important question that needs to be explored..
Any offers?
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MadLinguist1
(Post deleted by harpalycus47 1 year ago)
MadLinguist1
MadLinguist1: Three possible Answers:

He's not powerful.

He's not good.

He doesn't exist.

'God's only Excuse it that He doesn't exist.'' -- Stendhal


Maybe a fourth one: He's the Genius of Geniuses. We couldn't possibly understand Him.
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MadLinguist1
MadLinguist1: Beyond the very convincing Illusions of this temporary Life on Earth, there's Eternity.

Then at last we will see the Big Picture.

We will Know.
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harpalycus47
harpalycus47: The fourth excuse is a decent one. The only problem is that how can we say anything about such a god, his nature and purposes? I don't think that answers the problem of evil for Christians - which is the fundamental question.
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Zanjan
Zanjan: There's another option Epicurus didn't account for: Is God willing to subjugate evil to human control?

The answer is YES.

We take our answers from the pure and holy Prophets of God; They're God's Mouthpieces on earth. They, alone, can confirm what we've already come to understand and only THEY are the authorities of that which we don't know.

If you don’t respect THEM, you won’t accept anyone else’s answer.
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Zanjan
Zanjan: " Whence then is evil? "

Evil is confined to humans.

Only humans have a soul (faculty of intellect); God created that soul for the purpose of reflecting His attributes. Therefore, the soul needs to know and worship God if it is to remain healthy.

If the individual achieves this, through education and training, their soul will shine brightly, be splendidly beautiful and genuinely loving. It will endure all things, be selfless, awake to reality, free and alive.

Whatever is not of God is a shadow, dark and not worthy of mention. A soul deprived of its relationship with the Creator is self-centered, crude, worldly, materialistic, undeveloped and wicked. It’s a crippled, defective unit; its life is no better than that of an animal.

Evil dwells in the natural, base self. There’s only one way to overcome that – with the power bestowed by God to rise above it......to our higher nature, our true home.

The choice to turn our faces toward God is entirely our own. That’s what is meant by Free Will. God isn’t willing to compel anyone to do that – we need to come to Him willingly without any pressure. There’s no way to prove love is genuine if we are all puppets.
(Edited by Zanjan)
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JX Amaro
JX Amaro:
Re: Problem of Evil

As far as I know, Christianity doesn't have a one-size-fits-all answer that they hand out as a talking point for those on the chat show scene. Too bad. I have my own homemade (and half-cooked?) answer, but first a couple preliminary points.

1 – Atheism has a MUCH BIGGER problem with the “Problem of Evil” than Christians do.

2 – I'm not sure why this is addressed only to Christians. Is Judaism, Islam, Deism and any/all other forms of theism off the hook? Where did they score this “Get of Jail Free” card? And, again, why do Atheists get a free pass?

3 – You quote from the much beloved Epicurus – honorary God-Emperor of the garden party scene – yet Epicurus believed in the “God of the Philosophers” (aka “The Unknown God of Athens”). The question he asked wasn't a “leading question” meant to lead to Atheism. (The Hellenists thought the Atheist a madman, as the Hebrews thought the Atheist a fool.) The question was meant to lead to... a garden party chit-chat. Pleasant chit-chat among epicurean theists at that.

4 – The post gets off to a very wobbly start beginning with the problem of evil and then changing gear – without much of a clutch – into “suffering.” This just begs the question: What is “Evil”? Needless to say, if doesn't exist, it's not a problem. Oui?

Where to begin then? Eh, it's Wire Club, let's just shoot from the hip and let the bullets fly. Sounds cool to me.

Section 1) Does Evil even exist?
As far as I can tell, equating “evil” with suffering is a pretty sleazy ontological “sleight-of-hand” move – no offense. Roll with me on this. If there is no God (the basic dogma of the Atheist mystery religion), then “evil” can't exist. From an Atheist perspective (at least a legit one), “evil” would exist in the same category as vampires, werewolves, leprechauns and unicorns. (I think you, H47, were trying to get at that.) As such, “evil” doesn't exist and is another bogus claim of religious buffoons (like moi, for example). And from the Atheist perspective, you can take your suffering and shove it up your a##. No evil. Doesn't that end the debate?

While Christians may lack a zippy and winning theological answer to “evil,” they at least admit it's a reality! So did Epicurus. And if “evil” is something real, not just a license of the poetic muse, then God is actual factual. Yes? No? Maybe? Ok, so for the consistent Atheist the answer is: No. No God, No Evil. Just emptiness.

Fine. With this denial of conceptual evil in mind, let's take a look at what Atheist Year Zero might look like. Isn't that what our “very bright” (and no doubt “with it”) Atheists desire? One of the first things to happen will be a re-write of moral theory. After all, “evil” was just an ignorant dogma of the religious dark age. From the Year Zero perspective, genocides won't be evil, but a state policy and often a very wise one – certainly “Me-Wise-Magic” Henry Kissinger would approve. There can only be one winner in the “survival of the fittest,” you know. Kill or be killed, baby. Law of the Jungle. Let's not go soft and run like frightened children back to religious follies and dead messiah's talking about “love” and “justice.” Oh, those rubes! Nope, there's only one winner. So if the Nations in the game are A, B, C, D, E, F and G, then wise policy would be for A to get the ethnic bomb before B and C do (the toughest competition). So exterminate B and C, enslave D and E and just get the fu## rid of F and G as too damn worthless to even to make for good slaves! Seriously, you don't think the “Herren Volk” are expected to do work after Year Zero, do you? And you know the “Herren Volk” deserve top quality sex-slaves to satisfy every desire, no matter how pervy. Masters are born to rule, slaves to serve. The strong do what they want, the weak suffer what they must. Law of the jungle, baby. Fu## the Messiah and his bullsh## about “Love.” Yeah, rock on Team-Atheism. I'm just so glad we have these Atheists like Richard Dawkins (and the even more vile Steven Pinker) holding a candle in the dark and leading us to the light!!! LOL. SMH.

Summary point of Section 1: I think Atheists have a much bigger problem with the DENIAL of “evil” than Christians do with trying to EXPLAIN “evil.”

Section 2) Why does Evil exist?
First, let's try to define some terms. There is a type of “evil” that one might associate with Nature – people victimized by floods, avalanches, sickness and disease. Let's call this “Natural Evil.” Second, there is the type of “evil” we associate with “the evil that men do.” This includes everything from serial killers to genocidal despots. Let's call this “Man-Made Evil.”

As per Natural Evil, my simple (and presumably unsatisfactory) “gonzo theology” answer is this: If you think you can make a better universe, please do! If not, STFU!!! Ok, that's a bit dramatic, but maybe you get the point. Or maybe not. Hey, Epicurus didn't come up with anything better!

As per Man-Made Evil, this is more complex. And it gets us into the cyclopedien depths of metaphysics, ontology, theology etc. Oh yay, fun party ahead! But let's adventure forth: Relative to Christian thought, God made man/woman and gave him/her free will. (Yeah, I know a lot of Atheist gurus deny free will, but that's a bit tangential for the moment. I will only point out that if there is no free will, then why do over-hyped and under-talented zeros like Sam Harris hawk books trying to persuade people that there is no free will? Seems like a logic snafu to me. Anyway...) With free will, the theory goes, one can choose the good or the bad. But what about choosing the evil? This is different. Let's explain.

If Brad is married to Angelina and cheats with Bimbo #1, that's bad. Brad feels bad, apologizes and gives Angelina a box of chocolates. This pattern repeats for bimbos #2 – 10. Then bimbos #11-20. So long as Brad really feels bad and is truly sorry for it, he is defined as having a moral weakness – from the standpoint of Christian Thomism. It's bad, not evil. (Note: The example is mine, not St Thomas's!) But where do you draw the line between bad and evil?

For St Thomas, the answer was this: When a person volitionally violates a moral law, and does so by REJECTING the moral law as a moral law, the person has entered a state of moral perversion. And this perversion is “evil.” For example, if Billybob is a clumsy construction worker and knocks a hammer over the side of a roof, and that hammer kills a person, Billybob is not an evil person. He might be criminally negligent – depending on the circumstances – but he didn't act to kill and took no pleasure in it. This is very different than a serial killer who goes about killing people for kicks and thrills. The serial killer has a perverted mind like a child molester. The evil person knows the wrong, does the wrong and takes pride, pleasure and satisfaction in doing it. Example: During WW2 Himmler made a speech to the SS boasting about how they had to do the “hard things” that would never be recorded in history but would be among Germany's greatest achievements. In the internet ghettos you can still find people who want to “finish the job.” This is perversion. This is evil.

Summary of Section 2: Neither Christians nor Epicureans (nor anyone else as far as I know) have a good answer as to why God would allow Natural Evil to occur. Quite frankly, creating a universe might not be an easy gig. As per Man-Made Evil, it is the “price of the ticket.” If we didn't have free will we would be robots; we wouldn't be Homo Sapiens Sapiens, we would be Homo Slave Sapiens – NPCs.

Don't underestimate this. The post has gone too long, but Christianity is far more profound and deep than the satires of the Atheists would suggest. Adam was given paradise and one law. He ate the apple and lost Eden. Humanity has been given this wonderful planet, but we deny the teaching of the Messiah – in ways both de facto and de jure. The result: the bombs, the bullets and the tears. Love isn't that hard a concept to understand. And it is far more baffling that Atheists would reject Christ and the Law of Love than that Christians can't give a slam dunk answer to the “problem of evil.”

Over and out.
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harpalycus47
harpalycus47: Zangan, welcome. I’m afraid that your new option is not an answer. It merely reframes the question. Why did God create evil in the first place. Putting it under human control seems a pretty bad idea to me, but please feel free to expand upon exactly what this is supposed to achieve.
“If you don’t respect THEM [holy prophets], you won’t accept anyone else’s answer.
How on earth do you arrive at this conclusion? How does opting to deny one answer mean that you won’t accept anybody’s answer?
Evil, if it is defined in theological terms as anything in opposition to God’s will is, indeed, peculiar to humans. But suffering is not confined to humans and that is the fundamental question. Why does a good and loving God allow suffering? The rest of your post sums up your religious belief but provides no explanation for the existence of evil.
But thank you for your input

JX Amaro
Thank you for your post.
It makes a lot of points which I shall have to answer one by one.

“2 – I'm not sure why this is addressed only to Christians. Is Judaism, Islam, Deism and any/all other forms of theism off the hook? Where did they score this “Get of Jail Free” card? And, again, why do Atheists get a free pass?”
A good point. They don’t get a free pass. They are equally faced with the problem. The Moslem answer tends to be the fatalistic Will of Allah. Orthodox Judaism similarly believe that suffering simply cannot be understood by Humans, the Jobian answer that God is the creator and that’s that. Obviously, there is some debate but I don’t think it is as great a problem for them than in Christian theology. I may well be wrong, and I should have added them to the list - though it does not alter the basic question.
Deists, of course, have no requirement to answer the problem. Their God is not a personal nor a ‘good’ God. And atheists do not get a free pass. It isn’t a problem. By definition. They don’t believe in God so how can the problem of the existence of God along with the existence of evil be even meaningful. ‘Evil’ as suffering is just the way the natural world works, and there is no reason for it to be otherwise.

“You quote from the much beloved Epicurus – honorary God-Emperor of the garden party scene – yet Epicurus believed in the “God of the Philosophers” (aka “The Unknown God of Athens”). The question he asked wasn't a “leading question” meant to lead to Atheism. (The Hellenists thought the Atheist a madman, as the Hebrews thought the Atheist a fool.) The question was meant to lead to... a garden party chit-chat. Pleasant chit-chat among epicurean theists at that”

Total irrelevance. The question is the same question however it was framed and for whatever purpose. And, just for interest, how do you know that it was part of a ‘garden-party chit chat’?

“4 – The post gets off to a very wobbly start beginning with the problem of evil and then changing gear – without much of a clutch – into “suffering.” This just begs the question: What is “Evil”? Needless to say, if doesn't exist, it's not a problem. Oui?”

It certainly does not beg the question. Where is there a syllogism in which the conclusion can be found in one of the premises? It is merely a semantic issue. Evil tends to have theological implications, suffering does not. Is the pain and terror of a baby fawn trapped and burnt to death in a natural forest fire evil? I don’t know. Depends upon your definition. But is there suffering? Suffering is the more basal.
I’m not at all sure. but your final two sentences do not seem to make sense. I am not trying to define evil out of existence. It is subsumed in the larger and more general, but wholly relevant, area of suffering. And it would scarcely seem compatible with my position try and ‘prove’ that it doesn’t exist. It’s all rather odd.

“Section 1) Does Evil even exist?”
“As far as I can tell, equating “evil” with suffering is a pretty sleazy ontological “sleight-of-hand” move – no offense. Roll with me on this. If there is no God (the basic dogma of the Atheist mystery religion), then “evil” can't exist. From an Atheist perspective (at least a legit one), “evil” would exist in the same category as vampires, werewolves, leprechauns and unicorns. (I think you, H47, were trying to get at that.) As such, “evil” doesn't exist and is another bogus claim of religious buffoons (like moi, for example). And from the Atheist perspective, you can take your suffering and shove it up your a##. No evil. Doesn't that end the debate?”

This seems muddled to me. You appear to be under the impression I am moving to deny the existence of evil. This is precisely the kind of move I am trying to avoid. There is no evil as evil is merely the absence of goodness. I’ll deal with this one if and when it appears. But I clearly said I would not use the word evil, which has connotations both of agency and theology, but the MORE GENERAL term suffering. This is the direct equivalent of, in the context of a debate on evolution, I will not consider horses, but the more general term mammals. This is not to deny the existence of horses but to include it in a larger group.
Evil, to an atheist means particularly ‘bad’ examples of cruelty or suffering, in which case it certainly exists, or direct opposition to God’s will, in which case it doesn’t, but suffering still does. It doesn’t matter to me whether you accept evil as suffering or not, so your odd assumption is incorrect, I am not at all trying to prove that the theological term is bogus. In terms of its definition, it is certainly consistent but its actual existence is dependent upon the existence of God, so it has no interest to an atheist. Except in so far as it has been used (in the concept of absence of good) to explain away the disjunct of suffering with a loving God. All this is semantics and makes no difference to the point in question – the existence of suffering, call it what you will.

“While Christians may lack a zippy and winning theological answer to “evil,” they at least admit it's a reality! So did Epicurus. And if “evil” is something real, not just a license of the poetic muse, then God is actual factual. Yes? No? Maybe? Ok, so for the consistent Atheist the answer is: No. No God, No Evil. Just emptiness.”

More of the same tilting at non-existent windmills. I am fascinated as to how you actually define evil and how it bears on the existence or non-existence of suffering. I am equally interested in the argument that says ‘“if “evil” is something real, then God is actual factual’”.
What definition of evil entails the existence of God? Only the definition that evil is that which is contrary to the will of God and evil exists; therefore God exists. Now that is a perfect begging the question, petition principii. However, the converse is not true. Evil is that which is contrary to the will of God and evil does not exist; therefore God does not exist. That is the formal fallacy of affirming the consequent. Now, unless you have a different formulation, neither are valid arguments.
So, there is nothing to be ‘gained’ by my ‘proving’ the non-existence of evil. Indeed, it would be a gift to Christian theodicy. To imagine (needless to say without any evidence) that my purpose is to show that evil does not exist is simply bizarre.
Let me make this clear. I used the standard nomenclature. This question is usually referred to as the problem of evil. But I repent me that I used it. So let me reframe it.
How do you explain suffering in a world created by an omnibenevolent and omnipotent God?

“Fine. With this denial of conceptual evil in mind, let's take a look at what Atheist Year Zero might look like.

This paragraph is totally irrelevant. It is a question as to the basis of morality and has nothing to do with (directly at least) the question asked. I am perfectly happy to discuss the moral question, but not in this particular posting as the question to be answered is as given here. But if you can show that this question has some bearing on how a good God can allow suffering, then of course we can discuss it. But that needs to be demonstrated first.

“Summary point of Section 1: I think Atheists have a much bigger problem with the DENIAL of “evil” than Christians do with trying to EXPLAIN “evil.””
This is amazing. Show me where I, or indeed any atheists, (I would certainly be interested in any examples) have specifically denied the existence of ‘evil’, except as a necessary corollary to a denial of God’s existence. I have accepted it as a subset of suffering, and am happy to accept it as a word describing something causing extreme suffering. As a theological definition I find it meaningless, as I would having no reason to believe in theism, but it is not central to the problem of suffering so I wouldn’t even bother to deny it.

Please explain what is the problem of suffering to an atheist? It depends upon what beliefs that atheist has, but any difficulty would be about that belief and not inherent in atheism per se. I am a naturalist. Suffering can be seen very simply as the inevitable result of natural processes. It is not a philosophical problem at all.

“As per Natural Evil, my simple (and presumably unsatisfactory) “gonzo theology” answer is this: If you think you can make a better universe, please do! If not, STFU!!! Ok, that's a bit dramatic, but maybe you get the point. Or maybe not. Hey, Epicurus didn't come up with anything better!”

OK
Firstly I would not have tectonic processes in the world so no tsunamis, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.

Secondly, I would have constant and equable climate so no storms or floods.

Thirdly I would have all living creatures gain their energy (although why I need energy at all is a good question- presumably I am being given omnipotent powers) their energy from the sun – like a cabbage does. No carnivores, no predators or prey.

Fourthly, I would not have parasites or disease-causing pathogens.

Fifthly I would ensure that human beings are always born with perfect (within whatever prescribed limitations I choose) bodies and brains, particularly the latter so all could understand what I might need to tell them.

Sixthly, I would ensure that all would be told the ‘truth’ about their existence as far as I might feel they require to know it. So they would know which actions were ‘right’ and which were wrong.

Seventhly, I would create a solar system without the asteroid belt, Kuiper belt or Oort cloud, so no more Chicxulub events.

Eighthly, I would not design the universe to have stars that are liable to blow up (OK become a supernova) or contain damaging cosmic rays, or are home to monstrous black holes.

Some, perhaps a tad more whimsical than others, but which of those would not be a better universe?
So, I don’t think I need to STFU. Why do so many people have to be unpleasant in any debate such as this?

“As per Man-Made Evil, this is more complex. And it gets us into the cyclopedien depths of metaphysics, ontology, theology etc. Oh yay, fun party ahead! But let's adventure forth: Relative to Christian thought, God made man/woman and gave him/her free will. (Yeah, I know a lot of Atheist gurus deny free will, but that's a bit tangential for the moment. I will only point out that if there is no free will, then why do hawk books trying to persuade people that there is no free will? Seems like a logic snafu to me. Anyway...) With free will, the theory goes, one can choose the good or the bad. But what about choosing the evil? This is different. Let's explain.”

Oh dear. ‘over-hyped and under-talented zeros like Sam Harris’ Do you have to denigrate everyone who disagrees with you? It is argumentum ad hominem and an accepted fallacy.
If and when we come to the question of free will per se I will explain to you how Sam Harris can indeed do that.

“If Brad is married to Angelina and cheats with Bimbo #1, .. So long as Brad really feels bad and is truly sorry for it, he is defined as having a moral weakness – from the standpoint of Christian Thomism. It's bad, not evil. (Note: The example is mine, not St Thomas's!) But where do you draw the line between bad and evil?

I’m not personally happy about the Bimbo language, but it’s your choice. The answer to your question is that you don’t draw the line between bad and evil as it is a subjective decision and will inevitably involve bias (on anyone’s part). But primarily because it is of no interest. The problem is with the existence of suffering.

“For St Thomas, the answer was this” :etc.

Again, irrelevant as it does not change the problem of suffering. If Billybob clumsily upsets a jerrycan of petrol over someone below and they become a human torch, going through agonising pain and, if they survive, ending up hideously scarred for life, the moral question might still be valid (cp the idea of moral luck), but the question of suffering remains unchanged. Whether it was by evil Billybob’s design or by clumsy Billybob’s inadvertence, why does God allow that suffering to exist?

“Summary of Section 2:”
“Quite frankly, creating a universe might not be an easy gig”.

You’ve got to be kidding. What possible constraints might God be working under and where did those constraints come from if God created everything?

“As per Man-Made Evil, it is the “price of the ticket.” If we didn't have free will we would be robots; we wouldn't be Homo Sapiens Sapiens, we would be Homo Slave Sapiens”

How do you know that we do have free will? What possible test can you carry out to show its existence? So, does it matter whether we have free will or merely believe that we have free will. We would feel exactly the same in either case. And exactly why is freewill necessary?

“Love isn't that hard a concept to understand. And it is far more baffling that Atheists would reject Christ and the Law of Love than that Christians can't give a slam dunk answer to the “problem of evil.”

Who says love is a concept that can’t be understood. Are you implying that atheists cannot love, do not accept the existence of love, do not care about love? If not, what are you suggesting?
It is not at all baffling why atheists would reject Christ. There is insufficient evidence and valid argumentation to make me believe in him any more than there is to believe in Shiva or Ahura Mazda.
But you do agree that Christians have no ‘slam dunk’ answer to the problem. Nor a ‘zippy and winning’ one. Just any good and valid answer would have been sufficient
So perhaps you will give us some sort of indication of what might at least partially constitute such an answer.
You have given no answer to the question as to why an omnibenevolent and omnipotent God would allow suffering?
If you think I am wrong in this assertion, then please simply quote the answer you gave.
Thank you for your input.
(Edited by harpalycus47)
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Zanjan
Zanjan: Harpalycus wrote: “I’m afraid that your new option is not an answer”

True – the “option” was a question Epicurus forgot or didn’t know enough to ask.

“Putting it [evil] under human control seems a pretty bad idea to me, but please feel free to expand upon exactly what this is supposed to achieve.”

That part was my answer with an explanation – it’s a brief condensation of Biblical themes. Undoubtedly, some erudite Christians would be more succinct. Meanwhile, I wouldn’t ask those who can barely make a cup of coffee. It’s not realistic to paint all Christians with the same brush.

Evil is a personal decision to knowingly do something that’s wrong. You can’t sin if you don’t know it’s a sin. However, there’s no advantage there - ignorance isn’t a feature of innocence.

Every human is born first as a physical creature; as such, has natural instincts so will initially operate by those ie., the Fight-Flight-Freeze response. We share this with animals for our own protection. However, men must gain control over their impulses and emotions because they’re so cerebral, they can be a serious danger to themselves and others if the incorrect decision is made. They can go quite mad.

The territorial instinct has us protecting our food resources, nests, and breeding rights. Everything revolves around the survival of the individual in any given environment. God didn’t create humans to be animals, which is why we no longer live in caves. We are spiritual beings so our survival depends on our spiritual strengths. These don’t come to us without effort, pain, and persistence.

Unlike the animals, we have power to overcome the obstacles of pressing urges, emotional traps, temptations, and knee-jerk reactions. We have desires that are greater and deeper than animals have (read Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs). Therefore, man is expected to use all the extra brain matter and substance of heart in ways animals can’t.

If one refuses, then whatever the individual does is the source of evil and ultimate failure. Their soul withers, like a dried up raisin. There’s nothing more pathetic than an unlovable person.

““If you don’t respect THEM [holy prophets], you won’t accept anyone else’s answer.
How on earth do you arrive at this conclusion?”

God’s role in all this is parental. He provides education through His infallible Prophets – the divine Mediators between the world of God and the world of man. If you’re not attracted by perfection, then surely imperfection (human responses) wont attract you either.
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harpalycus47
harpalycus47: I’m afraid that there still no defence of suffering here, though thankyou for trying. Several fairly minor points to make.
‘ignorance isn’t a feature of innocence.’ If you mean ignorance is no defence, I would disagree with you. I think genuine ignorance is a perfectly sound defence. That’s one of the objections I have to the Christian God. He expects us to believe in him when we have no reason to. He could provide such evidence but doesn’t, and then blames us for being sceptical. He supposedly provided me with a brain and then expects me not to use it.
I am obliged to disagree with you over whether we are animals or not. What distinguishes us from animals. We might be the most intelligent, but others chimpanzees, dolphins, parrots are intelligent, and we are not as swift as the cheetah or as strong as an elephant or have the eyes of an eagle or the nose of a dog. We think intelligence is the highest attribute but that’s because we are intelligent. The world may have done with the intelligent ape one day and will carry on regardless as if we had never been. I know you will cite our having a soul, but I know of no evidence for something which is immaterial, invisible and is undetectable in every way.
God didn’t create humans to be animals, which is why we no longer live in caves. That’s a slightly odd thing to say. Why did we ever live in caves to begin with, what’s that imply about beavers’ lodges and exactly what’s wrong with living in caves?
I don’t understand what the word spiritual means. Can you give me a clear definition?
‘He provides education through His infallible Prophets’ – wouldn’t he be better providing us with direct evidence himself instead of mediating his word through individuals and the vagaries of copying and interpretation? Why are there so many different sects who have totally different views on the nature of God and Christianity. Wouldn’t you think that an omnipotent being would be able to transmit a clear and comprehensible message?
‘If you’re not attracted by perfection, then surely imperfection (human responses) won’t attract you either.’ Sorry, I still don’t understand this. Why should I not be attracted to imperfection because I am not attracted to perfection. I must be missing something because that seems a non sequitur.
Thanks in any case.
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Zanjan
Zanjan: " I’m afraid that there still no defence of suffering here"

Why should there be? Your topic was "evil" - I spoke to that. Suffering, is a different subject.

One can't frame evil as suffering; pain and tears aren't necessarily symptoms of evil. The wicked aren't usually aware they're suffering - that's a shoe others have tried to make them wear. When one feels pain, they apply a remedy. The difference is in the remedy.

There are "necessary evils", as they're called. Some think the sting of a needle in the arm is the evil one endures to receive a vaccination. That idea is a misconception. An accurate view is that, occasionally, one has to be cruel to be kind. This isn't evil - it's a blessing.

The expense of a few seconds of suffering is most certainly worth it when the benefits outweigh the risk. A teenager might think their parent is a ogre for grounding them; later, they discover why it was a wise decision.

"If you mean ignorance is no defence, I would disagree with you. I think genuine ignorance is a perfectly sound defence."

Only if one is an infant or very young child - they can rightfully plead absence of awareness since they have very little life experience. Children don't read newspapers or watch the nightly news for good reason; but an adult who avoids that does so for different reasons. An adult who's left in the dark can't make wise decisions.

If the parent is unaware why his child is walking down the city street at night, that's indefensible on the parent's part. If that same child is a minor, the child's actions are defensible only IF he can show necessary cause.

Therefore, when a government launches a propaganda campaign of misinformation and censures the news, there's still a way for the people to know something is wrong. If citizens don't investigate the red flags, they become an accessory to that evil, a crime against humanity.

Ignorance is not just an absence of awareness, it's either an inability or refusal to learn. Whereas, innocence is to be free of misconduct and hurtful behaviour. It's up to the individual to decide if this condition is what he wants for himself - it doesn't require debate. If he desires it, he'll pursue it. He knows it's possible because others have achieved it.

Animals don't have brains structured like ours - theirs are all missing critical parts. If a critical part of ours is missing, say through a birth defect or accident, we become a nearly defenseless creature, highly dependent on other humans for assistance.

(Edited by Zanjan)
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Zanjan
Zanjan: Harpalycus, maybe you should only be asking a few questions at a time. Choose an answer you like before moving to the next question. Otherwise, you become distracted and lost in the forest.

"I know of no evidence for something which is immaterial, invisible and is undetectable in every way."

What about thoughts? What about love? Obviously, we can barely manage to keep those to ourselves since we're unable to rope them or trace them with equipment. Sometimes, they unintentionally spill out. Sometimes, others have read them exactly without us speaking or conveying it through body language.

Then there's "presence" - hard to define but are able to inexplicably sense it in a room.

" Why did we ever live in caves to begin with"

Eons were required to develop our species; mental focus on the natural environment and generic skills was needed to physically survive as an individual or small family. Populations were small and distant but as their tribes grew, they came into contact with each other so they could share knowledge and skills.

Eventually, humans built up collective experience then branched out into specialties. Finally, they worked in teams and those teams created a network of fields to work on a single project.

Man has cured deadly infections and walked on the moon. We're all pleased to boast accomplishments that aren't our own. This isn't evil - we're praising the species, in turn, what God made.. Find an animal who does that.

"I don’t understand what the word spiritual means"

I find dictionaries useful to explain words and present their various usages in both archaic and contemporary language.

(Edited by Zanjan)
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Zanjan
Zanjan: “wouldn’t he be better providing us with direct evidence himself instead of mediating his word through individuals”

The direct evidence is His Manefestation in the world of being. This is model of power and beauty is wonderful but isn’t an instruction to tell us how to fix things and where to go next.

“Why are there so many different sects who have totally different views on the nature of God and Christianity.”

Humans tend to be greedy and rebellious – their view of scripture will be obscured by the evil lurking in their hearts. That creates dissatisfaction so people run away, hoping to find a place where everybody believes the same thing or at least permits slightly different perspectives without fighting.

“I must be missing something”

Then follow what your gut is telling you – ponder on it until it sinks in.
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harpalycus47
harpalycus47: Z:There are "necessary evils", as they're called. Some think the sting of a needle in the arm is the evil one endures to receive a vaccination. That idea is a misconception. An accurate view is that, occasionally, one has to be cruel to be kind. This isn't evil - it's a blessing
But why must the needle hurt? That is unnecessary.Just as all suffering seems to be unnecessary with an omnipotent and omnibenevolent God
Only if one is an infant or very young child - they can rightfully plead absence of awareness since they have very little life experience. Children don't read newspapers or watch the nightly news for good reason; but an adult who avoids that does so for different reasons. An adult who's left in the dark can't make wise decisions.
Do all adults have the time to read newspapers, or have access to them, or can trust the contents of them?
Therefore, when a government launches a propaganda campaign of misinformation and censures the news, there's still a way for the people to know something is wrong. If citizens don't investigate the red flags, they become an accessory to that evil, a crime against humanity.
Exactly what way would that be. And even if you have information and recognise it as true and not misinformation from elsewhere, how do you know what to do? To take a current example. Would you set up a no fly zone in Ukraine which could lead Putin to retreat and stop the killing of civilians but might start WWIII? Do you have a definitive answer? I
ignorance is not just an absence of awareness, it's either an inability or refusal to learn.
Oh dear me, by no means. I’ll take a random guess. What do you know of the structure of benzene, Kekule and covalent bonding? If you say, as I expect, nothing (and why should you know anything of them anyway) then are you incapable of learning about it (the answer is almost certainly no) or have you refused to learn about it. In fact, the amount of knowledge is so vast that no one could even begin to learn any more than a tiny sliver of it.
Animals don't have brains structured like ours
Essentially they do, as far as we can see, though the ‘wiring’ is seemingly more complex in humans. But there is nothing to suggest that it is anything other than the extreme of mentation, rather than something unique.Just as the cheetah is the extreme of speed.
"I know of no evidence for something which is immaterial, invisible and is undetectable in every way."

What about thoughts? What about love?
Thoughts and love are the most detectable of all. If you are talking about the thoughts of others then you have plenty of evidence for them, though you can’t ultimately prove they exist. But that’s true for everything Except possibly the cogito.
Then there's "presence" - hard to define but are able to inexplicably sense it in a room.
Well, you may be able to, but I can’t. So it remains unknown to me.
Find an animal that does what? Has created technology to human standards? You won’t but I’m not sure what that is meant to prove.
I find dictionaries useful to explain words and present their various usages in both archaic and contemporary language.
Spiritual -relating to or affecting the human spirit or soul as opposed to material or physical things.
I don’t know what the human spirit or soul is.
relating to religion or religious belief.
Then it’s just a synonym for religion and is an unnecessary term
The direct evidence is His Manefestation in the world of being..
What is this? What direct evidence?
Then follow what your gut is telling you – ponder on it until it sinks in.
No. I digest food with my gut. I think with my brain.
Anyway, again sorry for the delay, but thanks for the thoughts.
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Zanjan
Zanjan: "Would you set up a no fly zone in Ukraine which could lead Putin to retreat and stop the killing of civilians but might start WWIII? Do you have a definitive answer? "

That's not my call - the allies are working on moves and solutions; they're the folks with inside knowledge and make the decisions as a consulting group. They don't want to start another world war.

As for learning, I learn whatever is needed for practical use and to carry on a sensible conversation which helps bring people together. Deep dives are for the specialists.

"I don’t know what the human spirit or soul is.relating to religion or religious belief."

Then, like your comments on brain structure, should you be discussing this topic before you're equipped to do so? Look up "Manifestation" in the dictionary.
(Edited by Zanjan)
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JX Amaro
JX Amaro:
Re: Counter Objections.
Overview: You have many illusions, H47. This one is going to hurt.

1) On Epicurus being a theist, not an atheist. H47: “Total irrelevancy.” It's totally relevant. It demonstrates that the Greeks understood the “problem of evil” and understood that it is NOT dispositive to theism. The “problem of evil” does not pop the balloon of rational theism, it isn't a loaded gun. The real question is: does the “denial of evil” pop the balloon of atheism. Again, the Greeks believed the atheist a madman. Meletus is attempting to railroad Socrates as an atheist to get him put to death. The Apology of Socrates is precisely that he believes in God and merely asks annoying questions to demonstrate that people usually don't know what they are talking about. This becomes an overture to the project of philosophy – Plato, Aristotle, Epicurus, Zeno and even Aristippus of Cyrene. Anyone who reads Greek philosophy and doesn't recognize that the whole thing is an attempt to squash atheism as an evil has missed everything. If you disagree with this statement, feel free to read the dialogue Gorgias. Better, read all of them. It is the “denial of evil” that makes the atheist a “madman” in the classical mind. The Greeks knew, damn well, just where atheism leads. That's what this discussion is really about.

2) H47: “This is amazing. Show me where I or any atheists (I would be certainly interested in examples) have denied the existence of 'evil', except as a necessary corollary to the denial of God's existence.
Response: WTF??? Please re-read your own sentence! That's the WHOLE POINT I am making. The denial of evil IS a “necessary corollary” to the denial of God's existence. No God = No Evil. And, yes, I can offer beaucoup support for this.
A) “Beyond Good and Evil” by Friederich Nietzsche. And, yes, Nietzsche IS the “go-to” philosopher on “the death of God.” The last chapter, “What is Noble?”, delves into the politics of “Master Morality” in the post-God world (and gives a visionary introduction to the Atheist Year Zero issues you so lightly dismissed – I'll get back to that.) “The Will to Power” is an even more brazen descent into the Nihilist Abyss where the concept of “evil” has been dispensed with along with God.
B) “Obscenity, Anarchy, Reality” by Crispin Sartwell. This contemporary American philosopher dealt with the issue straight-on. He didn't take a powder like most “New Atheists.” Ixne, Sartwell attempts to deal with the “obscenity” and “anarchy” of a meaningless, Godless world. No “evil,” just reality.
C) Third time is the charm. Here's a famous quote from the very “Devil's Chaplain” (to use his own phrase) Richard Dawkins. “In a universe of electrons and selfish genes, blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won't find any rhyme or reason in it, or any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no purpose, NO EVIL, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference.” (Emphasis mine.)
It's simple: No God = No Evil.

3) A lot of the disagreement seems to hang on the terms “suffering” and “evil.” A couple points. As stated in my first post, it is a sleazy ontological “sleight of hand” to launder “evil” to “suffering.” Total fraud. If the city you lived in was hit by an A-bomb, like Hiroshima, you wouldn't have any time to even say: “Ouch! That hurts.” You would be burned to a crisp in a nano-second. No suffering. Just evil. A war crime: the A-bombing a civilian target. My Point: For an atheist to talk about “evil” is no different than said atheist to talk about unicorns. Evil has no ontological existence in an atheist worldview. Zilch.
H47: “I am not trying to define evil out of existence. It is subsumed in the larger and more general, but wholly relevant area of suffering.” This I reject. It seems to me that the Dawkins quote above weighs heavily for my position. It seems to me that Sartwell's book, above, also points to my conclusion. Again, Sartwell attempts to deal with the hardships of Life (suffering) within a purely atheist-materialist concept of reality. And it seems to me that Nietzshce's “Beyond Good and Evil” wasn't just an arbitrary slogan or a catchy book title. Evil, simply, doesn't exist within the framework of an atheist worldview. I stand very strongly on this and think that I have backed up my claim. An atheist can NOT speak of “evil” while remaining consistent. If evil is true, atheism is false. Here's an experiment to test the theory: Try going to a synagogue and telling them that Auschwitz wasn't evil and that it's pure poppycock to say such things. I doubt you could do that without feeling like a monster. That might be a CLUE that the whole atheist worldview is based on a false premise. Again, the “problem of evil” is problematic to theism, but the “denial of evil” is disastrous to atheism. Atheism does not survive as a credible, respectable belief system. Total annihilation.

4) You dispense with my section on Atheist Year Zero saying it has no bearing on the subject. Um, no. It does. Perhaps we should start with Atheist Year Sub-Zero: 1917. In that year, the Marxist-Menshevik constitutional-republic of Kerensky was overthrown by the Marxoid-Tsarist Lenin (ie, Wall Street's bought and paid for “Bolshevik Revolution”). We know the horror show and the millions dead from Marxoid-Leninism. For good reason, atheists don't like talking about that subject. This stuff is as evil as Auschwitz. And it IS evil. No free pass on this. Sorry. A century later, things have changed, but not much. A new group of revolutionary atheists are plotting their own Year Zero. You can verify this in their own books. Examples: “The Fourth Industrial Revolution” by Klaus Schwab and “A Brief History of the Future,” by Jacques Attali. Read them. No free pass. You have to deal with this. If there is No God, there is No Evil. If there is No Evil, then it's absurd to say Auschwitz was evil, to say the killing fields were evil, to say anything is/was evil. And that is damn absurd. That is mad. And that, H47, is consistent atheism. Again: The “problem of evil” is problematic to theism, the “denial of evil” is terminal to atheism as anything but madness – moral insanity.

5) Your multi-point outline for a new and improved universe was very impressive. Yes, I was very impressed. You know, maybe you could do that as a moonlighting gig, could be good money in it.

6) On Sam Harris. Oh, I understand his position on free will being an illusion very well. I don't need you to explain it to me. But if you would care to explain why a philosopher who doesn't believe in free will writes books to change minds, that would be cool. If there is no free will, there is no need to advocate anything: all is determined. The Determinist is determined and the Volitionist is determined – both by Destiny. Same with Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot etc. They, too, were just “determined” and hold NO RESPONSIBILITY for their actions. Are you really cool with that? Harris is, or would be if he was intellectually honest. But he's not. Harris is a sophist, not a philosopher. My view: “Determinism” is a delusion and a cheap excuse for moral irresponsibility. Some atheists, who aren't completely insane, actually agree with me on this. Example: watch this short vid from Daniel C Dennet (one of the more famous New Atheists):


7) Almost like clockwork, you dismiss the Angelic Doctor and his analysis of evil. H47: “irrelevant.” Huh? St Thomas offers a lucid explanation of what evil – at least man-made evil – is. The question at issue is evil, not just suffering. I'm not letting you play an ontological switcheroo. Hitler, Stalin, Mao all knew what they were doing was wrong. They did it. And the suffering was immense, indeed. That is why these are names associated with evil. It seems morally and intellectually insane, even by atheist standards, to conflate people like Hitler and Stalin as on the same level as a clumsy construction worker named Billybob. It's pretty obvious why you wanted to table this issue.

8) H47: “Are you implying that atheists cannot love, do not accept the existence of love, do not care about love.” Short answer: Yes, that is exactly what I am saying (relative to serious atheists, not confused – probably well-intentioned – people who haven't thought it through). This is central to the atheist “denial of evil” and the root cause of why atheism is an intellectual obscenity. Let me quote from “The Atheist Manifesto” by Joseph Lewis. “Who are you to say which one is the more favored in this scheme of life – the germs of disease or man – which one is preferred by nature; which one is more important than the other, since the ends accomplished are the same? The life of the disease germ came into existence by the same process as did the life of man... When man comes to the realization that he is not the “favorite” of God; that he was not specially created, that the universe was not made for his benefit, and that he is subject to the same laws of nature as all other forms of life, then, and not until then will he understand that he must rely on himself and himself alone, for whatever benefits he is to enjoy...”
Comment: This denial of the value of human life is quite astonishing. Sadly, it is also consistent to atheism. For a consistent atheist, there is no difference between smashing a rock in two with a sledge-hammer and smashing a living human being with a sledge-hammer. Do I exaggerate? Emma Goldman: “You can't make an omelet without breaking a few eggs.” The omelet is the ideal atheist society. The eggs are human beings. Welcome to Year Zero.
Do I have to say it? This is evil.

9) H47: “It's not at all baffling why atheists would reject Christ. There is insufficient evidence and valid argumentation...”
Response: See above and reflect on it. As per Thomism, the Christian faith rests on the “preambles to faith.” These are the rational, philosophical arguments for the existence of God. Without God, there is no evil. Without God, human life has no value. It's baffling that any sane person could reach the atheist conclusion – that humanity is no different than a disease germ. It's baffling that any sane person would come to any conclusion other than that which the Greeks did: The atheist is a madman. Christianity IS the religion of Reason and Love. That's it's Apology. It needs no other.

Final Statement. From the start of my first post, I conceded that the Christian doesn't have a perfect answer to the “problem of evil.” If atheists want to dance a victory dance over that, they can. But it's a Pyrrhic victory. Atheist theodicy has a much bigger problem with the “denial of evil” and the denial of human value – the “problem of nihilism.” Objectively: Atheism is intellectually obscene and morally insane. That's what this discussion is really about. That's the REAL “problem of evil” here.
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Zanjan
Zanjan: Just a note on the video. It seems the speaker doesn’t know what the term “Free Will” is in the context of religious language. It’s NOT about moral decisions. If it were, one would be repeatedly making errors in judgment since social habits are rooted in the mores of different peoples.

Quite simply, “Free Will” is a one-time single choice. There are only two options available – accept God or reject God. One can’t toggle back and forth. Once this decision is made, they’ve stepped into a world of being. This occurs when one is very young.
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harpalycus47
harpalycus47: JX Re: Counter Objections.

JX Overview: You have many illusions, H47. This one is going to hurt.

H Then I trust that you can demonstrate them. This one is going to hurt?

H I am sorry to have to go back to our original meeting as you brought up a question to which you were given a clear answer. Yet much of this response is repeating the same misunderstanding ad nauseum.

H The misunderstanding was my fault and I accept that.

H The standard formulation of this problem in Christian Theodicy is the ‘Problem of Evil.’
H So, I thoughtlessly used it.
H But this formulation can cause some problems, as there are two overlapping definitions:

1. H Evil as disobedience to God which may not entail suffering. If needed I shall call this theological evil.
H It can of course involve suffering, usually the result of agency. It is thus linked with morality, so I shall call it (theological) moral evil. By definition it is to do with God, but this makes no difference to the suffering.

2. H Evil as any extreme suffering, for whatever cause and with no reference to God. This can be moral evil (if caused in some way by human action) or natural evil if the result of some natural cause such as an earthquake).

H I therefore wrote the following in the original posting:

H I would not use the word evil, which has connotations both of agency and theology, but the more general term suffering.

H This seems to me to be the root of the problem, the existence of suffering and I can see no way that ignoring the word evil can change the argument in any way.

H Two points.
H The statement is clear enough
H I say that I am choosing not to use the word evil. That IS NOT dispensing with evil.

H So. I was a little taken aback to be faced by this in JX Amaro’s post.

JX “As far as I can tell, equating “evil” with suffering is a pretty sleazy ontological “sleight-of-hand” move – no offense. Roll with me on this. If there is no God (the basic dogma of the Atheist mystery religion), then “evil” can't exist. From an Atheist perspective (at least a legit one), “evil” would exist in the same category as vampires, werewolves, leprechauns and unicorns. (I think you, H47, were trying to get at that.) As such, “evil” doesn't exist and is another bogus claim of religious buffoons (like moi, for example). And from the Atheist perspective, you can take your suffering and shove it up your a##. No evil. Doesn't that end the debate?”

H This seems muddled to me. You appear to be under the impression I am moving to deny the existence of evil. I clearly said I would not use the word evil, which has connotations both of agency and theology, but the MORE GENERAL term suffering. Evil, to an atheist means particularly ‘bad’ examples of cruelty or suffering, in which case it certainly exists, or direct opposition to God’s will, in which case it doesn’t, but suffering still does. It doesn’t matter to me whether you accept evil as suffering or not, so your odd assumption is incorrect, I am not at all trying to prove that the theological term is bogus. In terms of its definition, it is certainly consistent, but its actual existence is dependent upon the existence of God, so it has no interest to an atheist. … All this is semantics and makes no difference to the point in question – the existence of suffering, call it what you will.

H So now the situation remains as told the first time, the word evil is not being erased, but the concentration is on suffering for whatever reason, remains. Got it?

JX “The denial of evil IS a “necessary corollary” to the denial of God's existence. No God = No Evil. And, yes, I can offer beaucoup support for this.”

JX “As stated in my first post, it is a sleazy ontological “sleight of hand” to launder “evil” to “suffering.” Total fraud. … For an atheist to talk about “evil” is no different than said atheist to talk about unicorns. Evil has no ontological existence in an atheist worldview. Zilch.”

H The problem seems to be that JX is taking a theological view of evil. He is correct that if one denies the existence of God then theological evil, which does not involve any actual suffering, will indeed have no agreed meaning.

H However, the definitions of natural and moral evil, whether as intense or gratuitous suffering remain. Theological evil that does involve suffering will remain. There will be no agreement as to the theological dimension but the suffering will not be changed thereby.

H In other words, all cases that involve suffering will come under the rubric of evil.

H So, with all that ‘sleazy’ ‘laundering’ of the term out of the way, let us look at the detail


JX On Epicurus being a theist, not an atheist. H47: “Total irrelevancy.” It's totally relevant. It demonstrates that the Greeks understood the “problem of evil” and understood that it is NOT dispositive to theism. The “problem of evil” does not pop the balloon of rational theism, it isn't a loaded gun. The real question is: does the “denial of evil” pop the balloon of atheism. Again, the Greeks believed the atheist a madman. Meletus is attempting to railroad Socrates as an atheist to get him put to death. The Apology of Socrates is precisely that he believes in God and merely asks annoying questions to demonstrate that people usually don't know what they are talking about. This becomes an overture to the project of philosophy – Plato, Aristotle, Epicurus, Zeno and even Aristippus of Cyrene.

H An argument stands on its own, the beliefs, character or purposes of its author are totally irrelevant. Not to do this is the very definition of an ad hominem argument. Besides which Epicurus (as well as his follower Lucretius), though he accepted that gods exist, regarded them as examples for men but having no interest in the world of humanity. Thus, he regarded belief in providence as superstition and religious ritual of no effect (Letter to Menoecus). He also taught that ataraxia (the state of balance and tranquillity sought by Epicureans) was to be gained by the elimination of fear of the gods and fear of death, for which he saw no afterlife. So exactly how his views showed that he understood the problem of evil not to be relevant to the personal God of Christian theism seems somewhat obscure.

JX “Anyone who reads Greek philosophy and doesn't recognize that the whole thing is an attempt to squash atheism as an evil has missed everything.” and, “The Greeks new damn well just where atheism leads.

H The whole of Greek philosophy is an attempt to squash atheism as an evil? Well, that I absolutely challenge. I have found no overarching attempt to squash atheism. Not a trace. I think some appropriate evidence needs to be given, and it will need to be substantial for such a monumental claim. I have read Gorgias, for example, and don’t recall anything about squashing atheism. It begins as a debate about oratory and ends up with the famous it is better to suffer than to cause suffering and it is better to be punished than not to be punished. I have just checked it and find that there is no mention of atheism, belief, disbelief or worship. I know of no great problem with atheism (the charges against Socrates were a cover for a political trial) and can find no trace of the atheist as madman.

H Instead, ‘while some people viewed atheism as mistaken, it was rarely seen as morally wrong. In fact, it was usually tolerated as one of a number of viewpoints that people could adopt on the subject of the gods.’ https://www.cam.ac.uk/research/news/disbelieve-it-or-not-ancient-history-suggests-that-atheism-is-as-natural-to-humans-as-religion.

H And even Plato who considered belief in the gods to be necessary for a just society (But who wasn’t above banning stories of the gods that he felt were bad examples and even creating ‘noble lies’ about them for the people’s edification) wrote:

H ‘For he who does not believe in the Gods, and yet has a righteous nature, hates the wicked and dislikes and refuses to do injustice, and avoids unrighteous men, and loves the righteous.’ (Laws Book X. 908b-c)

H Hardly a madman.

H My understanding of Classical religion, at least the public religion as practised by the state, is that nobody cared what a person thought, only what they did. So long as they made the appropriate sacrifices, that was all the gods demanded. Consider the Christian persecutions. If the accused sacrificed to the emperor, they went free. The number of atheists, if any (don’t forget Christians were termed atheists by the authorities as they denied the official gods) was very small.

H Has JX any evidence at all? I trust he will provide enlightenment.

JX 2) H47: “This is amazing. Show me where I or any atheists (I would be certainly interested in examples) have denied the existence of 'evil', except as a necessary corollary to the denial of God's existence.

JX Response: WTF??? Please re-read your own sentence! That's the WHOLE POINT I am making. The denial of evil IS a “necessary corollary” to the denial of God's existence. No God = No Evil. And, yes, I can offer beaucoup support for this.

H Then we agree. Evil as disobedience to God is a theological concept that obviously will disappear with the rejection of that God.
H But evil can also mean some extreme of suffering caused by human actions, which atheists do NOT deny.

JX “Beyond Good and Evil” by Friederich Nietzsche. And, yes, Nietzsche IS the “go-to” philosopher on “the death of God.” The last chapter, “What is Noble?”, delves into the politics of “Master Morality” in the post-God world (and gives a visionary introduction to the Atheist Year Zero issues you so lightly dismissed – I'll get back to that.) “The Will to Power” is an even more brazen descent into the Nihilist Abyss where the concept of “evil” has been dispensed with along with God.

H Dispensed with evil? Really. Then why are his final words in Beyond Good and Evil, ‘you, my old, beloved—EVIL thoughts!’

H And I’m afraid Nietzsche certainly isn’t my go-to philosopher, and to be honest, I am profoundly uninterested in his ‘visionary introductions’.


JX Crispin Sartwell and Richard Dawkins are cited as saying evil does not exist.
Here's a famous quote from the very “Devil's Chaplain” (to use his own phrase) Richard Dawkins. “In a universe of electrons and selfish genes, blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won't find any rhyme or reason in it, or any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no purpose, NO EVIL, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference.” (Emphasis mine.)
It's simple: No God = No Evil.

H Exactly what I said, if you had bothered to read my sentence instead of telling me to.


JX A lot of the disagreement seems to hang on the terms “suffering” and “evil.” A couple points. As stated in my first post, it is a sleazy ontological “sleight of hand” to launder “evil” to “suffering.” Total fraud. If the city you lived in was hit by an A-bomb, like Hiroshima, you wouldn't have any time to even say: “Ouch! That hurts.” You would be burned to a crisp in a nano-second. No suffering. Just evil. A war crime: the A-bombing a civilian target. My Point: For an atheist to talk about “evil” is no different than said atheist to talk about unicorns. Evil has no ontological existence in an atheist worldview. Zilch.

H You are seriously saying that an atomic bomb does not cause suffering? Seriously? I mean seriously?

H The problem for God is not ‘evil’ as I pointed out, but the brute fact of suffering, pain, terror, grief.

JX H47: “I am not trying to define evil out of existence. It is subsumed in the larger and more general, but wholly relevant area of suffering.”
This I reject. It seems to me that the Dawkins quote above weighs heavily for my position. It seems to me that Sartwell's book, above, also points to my conclusion. Again, Sartwell attempts to deal with the hardships of Life (suffering) within a purely atheist-materialist concept of reality. And it seems to me that Nietzshce's “Beyond Good and Evil” wasn't just an arbitrary slogan or a catchy book title. Evil, simply, doesn't exist within the framework of an atheist worldview. I stand very strongly on this and think that I have backed up my claim.

H Well done. Congratulations. It’s what I said right at the start

H I repeat for your edification:

H Show me where I or any athists have denied the existence of 'evil', EXCEPT as a NECESSARY COROLLORY to the denial of God's existence.


JX An atheist can NOT speak of “evil” while remaining consistent. If evil is true, atheism is false.

H Whether you call it evil or not the suffering of the Holocaust was real. It makes no difference to the victims whether you call it evil, a sin, obscene depravity or an unbelievable degree of suffering.

H Consistent with what?

H Why can’t an atheist speak of evil? I can speak of God, though I don’t believe in him.

H Besides which, you were just complaining that atheists were trying to get rid of the word evil for exceedingly mysterious reasons of their own.

H Shouldn’t it be if evil ‘exists’. Bit pernickety I suppose, but evil, as a concept.

H Finally, how on earth does it follow that if evil is ‘true’, atheism is false. That would only follow if theological was stipulated. And then you would need to solve the little problem of showing that it was ‘true’, as, the way it stands now, it would be begging the question.


JX Here's an experiment to test the theory: Try going to a synagogue and telling them that Auschwitz wasn't evil and that it's pure poppycock to say such things. I doubt you could do that without feeling like a monster. That might be a CLUE that the whole atheist worldview is based on a false premise.

H It might be a clue that it would actually provide no evidence either way as to the existence of theological evil.

H It might be yet another clue that I have not disposed of evil as a term for the worst excesses of suffering, and for that reason would not say it to such an audience, because
H a) in their worldview it would probably constitute theological evil and
H b) it would certainly come within the natural definition of evil, and to say that it did not come under that description would indeed be hurtful and distressing.

H Finally, it would not be a clue that atheism is based on a false premise. That’s a total non sequitur.

JX Again, the “problem of evil” is problematic to theism, but the “denial of evil” is disastrous to atheism. Atheism does not survive as a credible, respectable belief system. Total annihilation.

H You seem incapable of understanding that evil is a word to describe intense suffering, usually with the implications of deliberate intent. That would remain as I have clearly said, subsumed within the larger category of suffering.

H You have given NO explanation as to WHY the “denial of theological evil” (no-one has denied the existence of natural or moral theological evil) would be disastrous to atheism resulting in its TOTAL ANNIHILATION.


JX You dispense with my section on Atheist Year Zero saying it has no bearing on the subject. Um, no. It does.

H Um, no. It doesn’t. That paragraph was totally irrelevant. It was a question as to the basis of morality and has nothing to do with (directly at least) the question asked. I am perfectly happy to discuss the moral question, but not in this particular posting as the question to be answered is as given here. But if you can show that this question has some bearing on how a good God can allow suffering, then of course we can discuss it. But that needs to be demonstrated first.

JX Perhaps we should start with Atheist Year Sub-Zero: 1917. In that year, the Marxist-Menshevik constitutional-republic of Kerensky was overthrown by the Marxoid-Tsarist Lenin (ie, Wall Street's bought and paid for “Bolshevik Revolution”). We know the horror show and the millions dead from Marxoid-Leninism. For good reason, atheists don't like talking about that subject. This stuff is as evil as Auschwitz. And it IS evil. No free pass on this. Sorry. A century later, things have changed, but not much. A new group of revolutionary atheists are plotting their own Year Zero. You can verify this in their own books. Examples: “The Fourth Industrial Revolution” by Klaus Schwab and “A Brief History of the Future,” by Jacques Attali.

H A plot for atheists to bring about some sort of catastrophe. As written in books. Well, that’s just got to be true. Like the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

H None of this is relevant to the question as to how a loving God can allow suffering.

JX Read them. No free pass. You have to deal with this. If there is No God, there is No Evil. If there is No Evil, then it's absurd to say Auschwitz was evil, to say the killing fields were evil, to say anything is/was evil. And that is damn absurd. That is mad. And that, H47, is consistent atheism. Again: The “problem of evil” is problematic to theism,

H How?

JX the “denial of evil” is terminal to atheism.

H Who has denied natural evil? I haven’t. Again, I quote:

H Evil as disobedience to God is a theological concept that obviously will disappear with the rejection of that God.

H But evil also means some extreme of suffering caused by human actions, which atheists do not deny.

JX as anything but madness – moral insanity.
JX You really have not grasped this.”

H I certainly can’t grasp how the denial of evil can be terminal to atheism, when evil has not been denied (don’t forget we have two meanings to the word!). In fact, I’m not sure how the denial of evil would be terminal to atheism anyway. What’s the argument there?

H You respond with unsubstantiated claims about the ‘evil’ nature of Bolshevik Russia (which I will not challenge), I presume, to suggest that this is the direct result of atheism, rather than the direct result of totalitarianism. But consider the Holocaust. After all, the vast majority of Germans were theists. According to the 1933 census, 52 per cent considered themselves Protestant and 33 per cent Catholic). And you don’t think that Matthew’s "His blood be on us and on our children!" and two millenia of subsequent antisemitism might have had something to do with it?

JX Your multi-point outline for a new and improved universe was very impressive. Yes, I was very impressed. You know, maybe you could do that as a moonlighting gig, could be good money in it.

H Considering your precise challenge – “As per Natural Evil, my simple (and presumably unsatisfactory) “gonzo theology” answer is this: If you think you can make a better universe, please do! If not, STFU!!! Ok, that's a bit dramatic, but maybe you get the point. Or maybe not. Hey, Epicurus didn't come up with anything better!” - You asked and were given. I assume that I’m not required to STFU then?

JX On Sam Harris. Oh, I understand his position on free will being an illusion very well. I don't need you to explain it to me. But if you would care to explain why a philosopher who doesn't believe in free will writes books to change minds, that would be cool. If there is no free will, there is no need to advocate anything: all is determined.

H As is Sam Harris’s decision to write his book.

JX The Determinist is determined and the Volitionist is determined – both by Destiny. Same with Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot etc. They, too, were just “determined” and hold NO RESPONSIBILITY for their actions. Are you really cool with that? Harris is, or would be if he was intellectually honest.

H No, as a matter of fact I am not cool with it. It has extraordinarily troubling consequences. However, I do not believe that the belief in free will will disappear. I cannot free myself from it. That’s why I’m writing this. Because I feel I ought to. I can’t do anything other. If I decided not to write it, just to prove I have free will, then that decision would be just as much determined. As Singer said, “We must believe in free will, we have no choice.” It seems hard wired in. As do our feelings of vengeance and justice.

H I suspect that hard determinism will not be generally accepted, and we will go on much as before, perhaps a little more liberal and with more understanding and sympathy if we are lucky. As in the old joke of the criminal saying in the dock, ‘But it was my nature, your Honour, I had to do it,’ And the judge saying, ‘And it is in my nature to sentence you to ten years of hard labour.’ I do not ‘choose’ to think it probably true that free will does not exist, I have to follow where I think the facts and arguments lead.

H The idea is incoherent and the evidence increasingly against it. You will no doubt make some cutting remark about pretentiousness, but I follow the path of honesty, of searching for the truth. Which does not mean that I have been successful, but that is what I try to do. Nor does it redound to my credit. It was all determined.

JX But he's not. Harris is a sophist, not a philosopher.

H But a sophist (one who exercises wisdom or learning) was a philosopher. If you adhere to the Platonic disdain for sophists, then I do not believe Harris is a specious reasoner doing it for profit. Subjective call, but I don’t.

JX My view: “Determinism” is a delusion.

H Based on what arguments or evidence?

H The word is manifestly causal, and we make a decision either because we have a reason (an emotion, an argument, a fact, a consequence foreseen) or we don’t - random choice. As all the evidence is now overwhelmingly that mental processes are supervenient on a deterministic biochemical brain the choice would seem to be necessarily deterministic. Even if you imagined some non-deterministic process then the choice will still either be based on some predictable element or it will be random. If you make a choice randomly can that be regarded as free choice in any meaningful way?

H There seems no coherent alternative. If you can provide one, I will be well impressed.
And neurochemical research is increasingly finding direct evidence of deterministic processes.

JX and a cheap excuse for moral irresponsibility.

H Why should one seek moral irresponsibility? And why should one need a ‘cheap’ excuse. Sociopaths don’t seem to require one.

JX Some atheists, who aren't completely insane

H I presume that this implies that to be an atheist and a determinist means that you must be clinically insane. I think this has to go down as a cheap ad hominem attack.

JX actually agree with me on this. Example: watch this short vid from Daniel C Dennet (one of the more famous New Atheists):
H Actually, he does provide some intriguing evidence. Will follow it up.


JX Almost like clockwork, you dismiss the Angelic Doctor and his analysis of evil. H47: “irrelevant.” Huh? St Thomas offers a lucid explanation of what evil – at least man-made evil – is.

H Aquinas offers a ‘lucid’ explanation of evil? It’s the absence of good? Tell that to the Jewish mother clinging to her crying child as the Zyklon B falls down from the hatch.

JX The question at issue is evil, not just suffering.

H No, it’s suffering. It was suffering from the start. It is still suffering.

JX I'm not letting you play an ontological switcheroo.

H I'm not letting YOU play an ontological switcheroo. You are refusing to accept what was literally the second sentence of the posting. And, as it was my posting, I think I am entitled to know what it’s about.

JX Hitler, Stalin, Mao all knew what they were doing was wrong.

H Did they? I honestly don’t know. If Hitler really believed that the Jews were the existential threat he thought, if he really believed them to be subhuman, then wouldn’t it appear right to him?
H Now read that carefully before you start shouting that I believe the Holocaust was right.
H During the Albigensian Crusade, at the sack of Beziers, it was reported that Abbot Amalric, when asked how to distinguish between the true Catholics and the Cathar heretics, replied ‘Kill them all. God will know his own.’ Might he, from his point of view have been right? The best example I know is Shaw’s Saint Joan where the Inquisitor, with real regret and impeccable argument, shows why it is necessary that she be burnt alive.

JX They did it. And the suffering was immense, indeed. That is why these are names associated with evil. It seems even by atheist standards, to conflate people like Hitler and Stalin as on the same level as a clumsy construction worker named Billybob. It's pretty obvious why you wanted to table this issue.

H Hitler at al were never mentioned.

H Besides which, exactly who introduced the name, Billybob, in a misleading thought experiment? You did! I merely carried it on, in giving you a more meaningful example. So, it’s you that should be described as morally and intellectually insane, by your own words. I won’t say so. I’ll leave it up to you.

JX H47: “Are you implying that atheists cannot love, do not accept the existence of love, do not care about love.” Short answer: Yes, that is exactly what I am saying (relative to serious atheists, not confused – probably well-intentioned – people who haven't thought it through).

H If you honestly believe that atheists cannot love, then that is a degree of malevolent prejudice beyond belief. You seem to be convinced that atheists are monsters, not normal human beings who simply disagree with you. Whatever you think of atheists’ ideas, can you seriously imagine that they are not human beings and will have just the same emotions and thought processes as you? Or do you believe that they are literally devils?

JX This is central to the atheist “denial of evil” and the root cause of why atheism is an intellectual obscenity. Let me quote from “The Atheist Manifesto” by Joseph Lewis. “Who are you to say which one is the more favored in this scheme of life – the germs of disease or man – which one is preferred by nature; which one is more important than the other, since the ends accomplished are the same? The life of the disease germ came into existence by the same process as did the life of man... When man comes to the realization that he is not the “favorite” of God; that he was not specially created, that the universe was not made for his benefit, and that he is subject to the same laws of nature as all other forms of life, then, and not until then will he understand that he must rely on himself and himself alone, for whatever benefits he is to enjoy...”

JX Comment: This denial of the value of human life is quite astonishing.

H I understand Lewis perfectly well. Without a God, then we are merely one more species among billions. What he is NOT saying is there is no value of human life. It has obvious value to us as humans. In fact, it can be regarded as having even greater value, as it is so fragile, easily lost and will never come again. It simply has no special value as far as nature is concerned. As can be seen in the aftereffects of an earthquake.

JX Sadly, it is also consistent to atheism.

JX For a consistent atheist, there is no difference between smashing a rock in two with a sledge-hammer and smashing a living human being with a sledge-hammer.

H Consistent with what? The belief that there is no God? How does that logically lead to your nightmare scenario. Why does it need belief in a God to stop you?

H I wouldn’t dream of smashing somebody’s head. I have empathy. I don’t want to live in a world where somebody can just come along and smash my head. I am rational and understand that a social species can only exist if we act socially. I have an internal drive to altruism. I have mirror neurons. I have mental heuristics that act as controls on actions.
Are you saying that if you lost your faith you would immediately go and brain someone??

H How come the millions of godless Buddhists and Daoists aren’t smashing one another’s heads right now?. How come the Hebrews survived as a group before they received the ‘ten commandments’? How come every known society in the world has rules prohibiting murder? How come that Denmark has a population of 81% who find religion unimportant compared to the USA with only 32.2%. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Importance_of_religion_by_country So which one will have the largest number of smashed heads. Obvious isn’t it. Yes, you saw it coming, didn’t you? Denmark’s murder rate 1.01 per 100 000. USA 5 per 100 000.
https://www.nationmaster.com/country-info/stats/Crime
Doesn’t fit your scenario at all does it.

JX Do I exaggerate? Emma Goldman: “You can't make an omelet without breaking a few eggs.” The omelet is the ideal atheist society. The eggs are human beings. Welcome to Year Zero.

H No, it doesn’t fit my scenario at all. But my scenario has got this awkward pernickety thing called evidence.

JX Do I have to say it? This is evil.

H Do you mean the standard of argumentation?

JX H47: “It's not at all baffling why atheists would reject Christ. There is insufficient evidence and valid argumentation...”
Response: See above and reflect on it. As per Thomism, the Christian faith rests on the “preambles to faith.” These are the rational, philosophical arguments for the existence of God.

H None of which work. Roll them out. I’ll save you the bother. Not one of them, even if they were accepted, which they wouldn’t be, can be made to lead to the Christian God.

JX Without God, there is no evil.

H Sighs dramatically. One more time. There is no theological evil. There remains natural and moral evil, whether theological or not. And suffering. Always suffering. Which will make precisely no difference to the suffering in this world. The suffering remains.

JX Without God, human life has no value.

H Ask any atheist you like. They feel there is value in life. Well, most of them will. They don’t need God.

JX It's baffling that any sane person could reach the atheist conclusion – that humanity is no different than a disease germ.

H That wasn’t the conclusion. It was how relatively important the two species are to Nature. That is not the same as saying that humanity is no different from a disease germ. That is Just remarkably silly.

JX It's baffling that any sane person would come to any conclusion other than that which the Greeks did:

H What conclusion did the Greeks make? Please give me the citation. And note that you said Greeks, so it will need quite a few to just make it feasible.

JX The atheist is a madman.

JX Christianity IS the religion of Reason and Love.

H Well, if the idea of Love is sentencing a person to an ETERNITY of torment then that doesn’t sound like the kind of love I want to get involved in.

H I won’t even start on reason.

H So God makes up these rules that people can’t help but break so he has to send them to Hell, despite him being God and all, but he wants to forgive them for breaking his rules but for some reason he can’t, though he is God and all, so he has this brilliant idea, and he sends down his son (who is him but isn’t – don’t ask) and has him crucified so that will let him forgive those people after all.

JX That's it's Apology. It needs no other.

H Oh, but I think it does.
H So it’s right because it sound like it should be right. No evidence. Just would be nice. Good argument. Really top notch argument. Massive.

JX Final Statement. From the start of my first post, I conceded that the Christian doesn't have a perfect answer to the “problem of evil.”

H Doesn’t have an answer and you certainly haven’t even given a hint of an answer. All you’ve done is inveighed against atheism.

JX If atheists want to dance a victory dance over that, they can. But it's a Pyrrhic victory.
Atheist theodicy

H Oxymoron.

JX has a much bigger problem with the “denial of evil” and the denial of human value – the “problem of nihilism.”

H Instead of launching into a revelation worthy of St John the Divine, perhaps you would like to define the problem and set up the arguments to support it. Though really you shouldn’t as it isn’t the subject of the forum.

H But I’ll have fun knocking them down.

JX Objectively: Atheism is intellectually obscene and morally insane. That's what this discussion is really about. That's the REAL “problem of evil” here.

H You have a nice line in verbal abuse, that I’ll grant you. And you don’t sully it with anything as mundane as an actual argument, you know, with premises and conclusions and evidence and boring things like that. Why bother when you can just say it.

H Well, that didn’t hurt at all.
(Edited by harpalycus47)
2 years ago Report
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JohnnyWalker1
JohnnyWalker1: I think what harp is trying to say is . . .

"You religious folks are all delusional morons and I'm not"

But he hides it beneath a veneer of pompous self-righteousness.

I've heard that song before.

Can't you just sell your soul to his religion (=science) and we we might get some peace.
2 years ago Report
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JohnnyWalker1
JohnnyWalker1: To the skeptics: Why do you think Harp is here?


I'll give you two options:

1. OMG, you religious folks have a good point and I'm gonna convert.

2. You are stupid beyond belief and I am here to mock you.

Need time to think?

But hey, we're all autonomous thinkers now and no one gets burned at the stake.

Burp.


And as a footnote: I'll give you a little advice:

NO MATTER what you present to a man like Harp, it will be swept aside: "That's not evidence, and don't you DARE insult my religion"


2 years ago Report
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harpalycus47
harpalycus47: Won't be here long. Just time for JX to reply.
2 years ago Report
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JX Amaro
JX Amaro:
Jeesh, what a train wreck. Where to begin???

1) We keep on getting stuck on the word “evil.” And H47 keeps moving the goalposts to accord with whatever point he wants to make. In short, H47 plays the “World According to Garp” card on this. Let's analyze:
A) I have defined “evil” in two ways. 1) Natural Evil – tsunamis, hurricanes, diseases sickness etc. 2) Man-made Evil – criminals, tyrants, genocides, mass-murder etc.
B) H47 keeps going back and forth between: 1) There is no evil; 2) There is no theological evil; and 3) there is evil defined (by me and my pals) as “great suffering.”
C) H47's position that evil = great suffering is easy enough to expose as fallacious. What if a weapon is created that murders millions of people, but does so without suffering? That is, the victims just die in their sleep or in a pain free way. No suffering, so... No evil??? (This was the point I was making about the A-bomb that H47 purposefully misrepresented, btw. In the example, the person would be incinerated before being conscious of any pain.) I say that's evil – cold blooded murder – even if no suffering is involved in the death or mega-death event. Needless to say, H47 has walked himself into a corner that he can't get out of – evil doesn't necessitate suffering.
D) When I present objective evidence that serious atheists DO reject “evil” as a concept, H47 airily explains it away. He doesn't like Nietzsche – evidence dismissed. He (self-evidently) hasn't read Sartwell (evidence quietly dismissed). And the Dawkins quote was only about “theological evil” – H47 bumptiously informs us. Really? No. Re-read it. Dawkins clearly states that the natural world is pitiless (natural evil) and bad people win while good people lose (man-made evil). He then states vis-a-vis the universe, “no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference.” Suffering be damned, apparently.
E) Summary: If there is No God, there is No Evil. For atheists to hijack the word “evil” is for atheists to engage in intellectual concept larceny on the grand theft auto scale. The word “evil” is ontologically rooted in the metaphysical-theist worldview. And this is why H47 had to use a metaphysical-theist like Epicurus as a front man for his ill-considered (and disastrously botched) hit-job on Christian theism.

2) When dealing with Epicurus and the Epicureans, we see H47 pulling up to the zen atheist Burger King and turning into the “have Reality your way” drive thru. Zonk! Going on that the epicureans didn't believe in an afterlife or religious rituals and believed in artful living aimed at ataraxia is like the magician saying, “Hey everybody, now look at the birdie or my beautiful assistant in skimpy clothes!” In short, misdirection. The facts: Epicureanism is a theistic philosophy. Epicureans can talk about evil. Atheists can't. Serious atheists admit this. Amateur atheists don't. Sorry H47, I'm not going to let you hide out at Epicurus' swanky garden soiree. Serious atheism is “beyond good and evil.”
2A) Most people who consider themselves “atheists” and who reject the “denial of evil” and the “denial of moral good” and actually do believe in moral decency I suspect are really agnostics and/or philosophical theists who just haven't thought these things through. Real atheism is the abyss of a meaningless universe. Total black. Total nothing. Totally devoid of light.

3) When dealing with Plato's dialogues, H47 shows such a level of ignorance one has to wonder if he really is that dumb or just lying. I'll leave that for others to decide. For now, I will just unpack the dialogues and make a couple points.
A) Before Plato's Academy, there were the pre-socratics. They dispensed with the gods as the cause of all things and looked for natural explanations. Very quickly, this opened Pandora's Box. Many of these thinkers became atheists and tried to mislead the youth of Athens into atheism. And this is the charge Meletus is making (falsely) against Socrates to put him to death. These facts – clear and self-evident and not “between the lines” inferences – can be ascertained simply by reading The Apology. This isn't even disputable.
A1) On the cited article: An article written in contemporary times – no doubt written by people wanting to find their own conclusions – is of zero evidentiary value compared to writings from the times of the event. Also, note the slippery phrase “usually tolerated”!!! “Usually,” by definition, means not always. “Tolerated,” by definition, means allowing for something unpleasant. So yes, Athens “usually tolerated” atheists, but: a) sometimes they didn't; and b) the common people generally despised the atheists. (In the dialogues, you find out why.)
B) Plato's dialogues are – as a whole – essentially derivative to the trial of Socrates. The project of the Academy, as a whole, was to establish a new view of reality that: a) acknowledged the “fabulous stories” of Olympus as untrue; and b) argued the belief in a creator God was true (Aristotle's “unmoved mover”). This is “the God of the Philosophers.” (And according to St Paul, this “Unknown God of Athens” was the “Known God of Israel” – see Acts 17.)
C) When reading Plato, you have to fill out the “dramatis personae”; and, to some to degree, you have to read between the lines. For example, in The Republic, Socrates begins by debating Thrasymachus who makes a typical might-makes-right type of argument. To be fair, I don't believe Plato clearly identifies Thrasymachus as an atheist, but you have to be amazingly dull-witted not to pick up on this. For Thrasymachus, you can just as well read Herbert Spencer, the atheist social-darwinist philosopher. Duhh... This isn't hard to figure out.
D) On Gorgias: Here H47 really flips out and crashes his clown-car. H47 states that the dialogue ends by saying it is better to suffer injustice then do injustice. Fact check: Accurate. But who said it? Fact-check: Socrates. (Jesus would have said it, too.) Is Socrates an atheist? Fact-check: No. Socrates is a theist and the people he is debating are atheists. You might want to re-read the dialogue as it is clear that his opponents – Polus and Callicles – do not agree that it is better to suffer than inflict injustice. That's the damn point! Nietzsche would agree with Polus and Callicles, so would Kissinger.
E) But the clown-car show isn't over. H47 then puts up a deceptive quote from Platos' The Laws. “For he who does not believe in the Gods, but has a righteous nature...” Exactly! The whole project of the Academy was to establish a new monotheistic God of Reason. Don't you get it??? Olympianism leads to religious irrationalism, atheism leads to unrighteous behavior, and the new theism allows for righteous behavior with a delimited belief in a creator God – not Gods. To deny that the Academy was setting up a delimited God of Reason – contra polytheism AND atheism – is to be either grossly dishonest or very ill-informed.

4) H47 still claims the Year Zero issues aren't relevant to this discussion on the problem of evil. OK, let me make it more relevant to you. Stalin: “The death of an individual is a tragedy, the death of a million is a statistic.” Mao: “Power comes from the barrel of a gun.” Pol Pot: “My conscience is clear.” These are your lovely atheists in action. What happens when the whole world overcomes the “God Delusion”? Wait! We don't really have to. We have a historical test-case. At the end of WW2 Churchill was presented with The Morganthau Plan. The idea was to exterminate the Germans. Churchill rejected it saying it was un-Christian. Are you beginning to understand? No God = No Evil = Life has No Value = Genocide as State Policy. The people on your side of the fence have no argument here (see Point 1 above). The people on my side of the fence do. We call it evil. (And the people who do it are MORALLY RESPONSIBLE for their actions – I will return to this in a bit.)

5) H47 then totally loses his mind trying to conflate the writings of “Globalist technocrats” Jacques Attali and Klaus Schwab with the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. OMG! LOL! This is either gross intellectual dishonesty or gross ignorance. Again, I will let the independent reader decide. Needless to say, anyone can fact-check Attali and Schwab: there are no forgeries here, there are no schemes of the Russian secret police. Their books are known and can be bought on Amazon. Their plan is also known. As an example, take Chapter 4 of Attali's book “A Brief History of the Future” entitled, “First Wave of the Future: Planetary Empire.” The Greek economist Yanis Varoufakis refers to their system as an anti-liberal techno-feudalism. For those interested, the book “Empire,” by Marxist thinkers Antonio Negri and Michael Hardt, is well worth reading as an analysis of the Empire.

6) But it gets worse... H47 then tries to lay the Nazi Holocaust at the feet of Christians and St Matthew (who was Jewish, by the way). Yawn. This is too stupid to require a response. But I will give one anyway. First, it was done secretively, without the knowledge and/or approval of the German people. Secondly, relative to the atheist worldview, nothing evil or even criminal happened. Hitler was the legal Chancellor. The “Enabling Act” gave him absolute power. Without some notion that there is a transcendental Law of God that stands above the Law of the State, there is just the Law of the State: The State giveth and the State taketh away. Thus, from an atheist perspective, those dead from Auschwitz are just “statistics,” as Stalin would say. From an atheist perspective, the dead of Auschwitz are neither victims of evil or crime. You might want to think about that! And if there is no free will, as H47 asserts, no one is even responsible for it!! Apparently, there are no villains here at all!!! Do I need to further explain why atheism is not a morally or intellectually respectable worldview??? Total Annihilation.

7) Now we get to Sam Harris and the great debate on volition – free will or determinism.
7A) Currently, Sam Harris' book “Free Will” is on sale at Amazon for $19.95. This for a flimsy (paperback!) book of less than 100 pages!! Wow, every word must be gold!!! Money well spent, deffo. And you know what they say, writing philosophy is a great way to get rich! Oh, whoopsie! They don't say that, do they? How odd.
7B) Read the book. No one who reads academic philosophy will take it seriously. Most of the Harris book is just “My neighbor Fred once told me...” anecdotes. At best, this is a book for the “Oprah Book Club” crowd. Even they would find it lame. Total bubble gum “pop philosophy” – sophistry.
7C) As per volition, please observe that for an argument to be rational, there must be an identified “efficient cause.” Thunder doesn't happen simply because Zeus wills it. This is nonsense. Science attempts to identify the cause of things – causality. That's the basic premise of Reason/Science. And that's the bar at which Determinism fails. The Determinist, like Sam Harris, says free will is an illusion and really your choice is determined by a long chain of events. Of course, like the magician pointing to his birdie, a long digression, with lots of big words from neuro-science and the like will follow. The audience gets dazzled and lost in a baffling regress that goes further and further back. How impressive! But when is the “efficient cause” identified? Never!!! If you follow the chain long enough, it takes you back to the Big Bang! But the Big Bang is just an effect, what caused it? The atheist has no answer. Thus, the causality train goes back until it disappears in a puff cloud of Mysticism! No answer as to the efficient cause is ever given. And if there is no efficient cause, then there is no rational argument! Presto! Atheist Determinism exposed as little more than a parlor trick. For the volitionist, the efficient cause is in the actors will. If I buy Harris' idiotic book, it's because I chose to. If I feel stupid about blowing 20 bucks, then I am responsible for making a dumb decision. I have satisfied the demands of Reason by establishing Cause and Effect. Conversely, all the Determinist can do is identify the Effect and give you a long, filibustering freight-train of jargon that never finds its way to an efficient cause! The burden is on the Determinist to provide the efficient cause. Please do so. Identify the efficient cause or admit total failure and defeat. Either/Or.

8) H47 then makes some totally bizarre statement that somehow St Thomas Aquinas is responsible for Zyklon B and Auschwitz!?!? OK, that is just too stupid to bother with. The issue is that St Thomas identified the efficient CAUSE of manmade evil as the willful doing of what one knows is wrong – like killing millions of people! The fact that H47 says “honestly I don't know” in regard to Stalin, Hitler and Mao all knowingly doing wrong really brings this debate to a complete end. Mic drop. Is it not clear to anyone not living in the atheist group-think cult that this stuff is just insane and moronic? Isn't it just obvious that H47 has swallowed a goofball of poor reasoning? H47 and fellow travelers may not know if Stalin, Hitler and Mao knew what they were doing was wrong, but the rest of us do. SMH. Total Annihilation.

9) Getting towards the end, we see that H47 has gone totally batsh## crazy. Yours truly gets accused of having “malevolent prejudice beyond belief.” Consider the source: This is coming from a person who can not, with confidence, toss Stalin or Mao or even Hitler under the bus. But JX Amaro? Oh, he's completely evil!!! And what's my crime??? Oh, I used solid thinking to shatter the Atheist Illusion. What's the Atheist Illusion? It's that the Atheists are “the brights” and “the good.” It's that a world “cleansed” (I say that like “ethnic cleansing”) of the God Delusion will bring us to the de facto “Promised Land” of goodness and justice and happiness. No it won't. It will bring us to something like the Year Zero scenario I laid out in my first post.
9A1) It's possible that atheism is true, that there really is no God and we are pieces of material living on a rock going around a sun in an empty universe. That is possible, but if it is true, it is a tragic truth. There is no “pot of gold” at the end of this rainbow. What lies at the end of this rainbow is...Nothing. It's an illusion, people. No God = No Evil = No Moral Good = Nothing. That is the problem of Nihilism, the horror of atheist realism. Many atheists – who are good hearted people and in action are often more “Christian” than, at least, the Christians of certain crude, conservative bourgeoisie forms of “Christianity” – are living in an illusion. That's why I am writing this. The idea that I have some “prejudice” against them is patently absurd – an excuse to not wake up from an arrogant, cackling and haughty group-think illusion. I have read their books, I have sympathized with many of their ideas, and I have hope that they will wake up from this dismal and dysfunctional worldview. It's never too late to return to the Light.
9A2) It was the Big Idea of the “old atheists” that religion (Christianity in particular) was an “opiate.” It was the Big Idea that waking up from the Christian Illusion would allow people to use Reason to build a progressive, better world – the international socialist world republic of peace and justice. We know what happened. To even speak the word “communism” today is to be frowned upon and looked upon as a terrible person. The progressive hope of the old atheists led to bloodbaths beyond belief. And now we have the New Atheists. Well, apropos of everything, I am going to quote Karl Marx: “The first time is tragedy, the second time is farce.” Indeed, the New Atheists are a farce, and not even a very funny one. Quite frankly, the only people dumber than those who believe every word in the bible is “literally, inerrantly true” are the cretinous trolls who spend all day debating with such people when their time could be better spent! The bible is a sacred literature, not a scientific tract. Duhh...

10) The rest was just a raving and drooling screed. I think I have made my points, but one bit of minutia remains. H47 says that “atheist theodicy” is an oxymoron. Zonk! This is just another firewall to protect a group-think cult from Reality. Theodicy comes from the Greek: Theo/God + Dykee/Justice. The essential issue with atheist theodicy is this: No God = No Justice (ie, moral truth). Atheists don't get a free pass. Theists must attempt to answer the “problem of evil;” and atheists must attempt to answer the “problem of nihilism.” Atheists don't get some holier-than-thou privilege to play offense all day attacking theists. No, atheists have to play defense, too. But they don't like to and it is obvious why. The problem of nihilism. They will never solve it. It is dispositive to the atheist case. The problem of nihilism ends atheism as anything but madness. Total Annihilation. Total Destruction.

Envoi: Your lengthy response was appreciated, but it was extremely undisciplined – sort of like a free flow jazz improvisation. I have tried to respond to every substantive point. If you think I ducked or skirted any issues, please tell me. The “problem of nihilism” is one of the two hills upon which atheism fails as a serious, credible worldview and I rather enjoy exposing it. Quite frankly, as in the days of Socrates, I think modern day sophists are leading the youth astray with their “New Atheist” fairy tales and toxic moonshine. If the “brights” of the youth are looking for a revolution, they should be fighting the capitalist-imperialist system of “Globalism” (read: international fascism). It's sad that I have had to witness so many smart people of my generation get caught up in debating “fundies” over creationism rather than debating the establishment over issues of economic justice and completely insane military budgets and wars. This is a tragedy. And I blame Hitchens, Dawkins, Dennet, and Harris. Capisce? “Hasta la victoria, siempre” – Che Guevara. “Faith can move mountains” – Christ Jesus. Over and Out.
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MadLinguist1
MadLinguist1: Would be very easy for me to write some Nonsense about the Matter!

Wherefore and therefore, will write nothing whatever!
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MadLinguist1
MadLinguist1: Morgenthau did not advocate the Extermination of the Gemans, tho he was Jewish, and had no Reason to like them.

What he advocated was the total De-Industrialisiing of Germany eg the Ruhr so that it could never again produce Panzers and Machine Guns and Warplanes and Bombs and other Stuff of that Kind -- so they could never again attack their Neighbours with a criminal War of that Kind.

Morgenthau: it has something to be said for it, eg divide Protestant North Germany from Catholic South Germany. That would have lasted, unlike the totally unnatural Division that actually took Place, into East Germany and West Germany.
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MadLinguist1
MadLinguist1: Churchill was a Christian? Don't think he was religious. He was a Freemason!
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