1 of 19
1
The Problem of Evil for Unbelievers
Posted: 25 June 2008 05:02 PM   [ Ignore ]  
Member
Avatar
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  777
Joined  2007-09-16

I thought that since the problem of evil is being continuously brought up in other threads that I might start a new thread devoted to this discussion.  More specifically, I want to point out that the problem of evil is really not a problem for the believer, but for the unbeliever.  This topic has been covered many times, I know, but I still think it’s important for us to revisit it regularly. 

What is the problem of evil?  I will define with a quote from David Hume:

“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?”

I think this generally describes the classical discussion on the problem of evil.  If God is omnipotent (all-powerful) and omnibenevolent (all-good), then why does evil exist? 

My posit is simply this:  the veracity with which the unbeliever speaks against evil does not logically comport with a naturalistic/relativistic worldview.  There is no doubt in my mind that the atheists who populate this forum take evil seriously.  And I will affirm that I take evil extremely seriously as well.  But what exactly makes the atheist so repulsed by evil deeds?  More directly, what are the presuppositions in the atheistic worldview by which a person makes any moral judgments at all? 

The unbeliever consistently speaks of acts and behaviors as intrinsically good or evil, but lacks a philosophy to support their claim.  Some may say that “good” is whatever has public approval…the “we just rationally know that it’s good” argument.  But, as unbelievers are so quick to point out to Christians who use the argument, the fact that something is even unanimously agreed upon by a group or culture does not make it right.  Can morality and ethics boil down to statistics?  Should it?  Is something good because we all think it is good, or do we think it is good because it has a certain quality about it irrespective of what we think about it?  The atheist often times acts as though something is inherently good or evil, but appeals to social convention when explaining their code of ethic. 

Others may appeal to a utilitarian or pragmatic point of view – something like the greatest good for the greatest amount of people.  This has its problems as well.  One that first comes to mind is simply that people cannot possibly measure or know all the outcomes of an action…even with the help of computers, we could not calculate the possible good or ill that comes from any one action or behavior.  And from personal experience, we know that something intended for good could cause great evil, or something intended for evil could result in great good. 

Considering naturalism, there are even more problems.  How exactly does an impersonal, chaotic universe consisting of pure matter in motion lend itself to the creation of thinking, interacting, feeling, moral beings that have a conscience of themselves and of their surroundings?  Taken further, how can there be anything known as evil or good within the framework of the genes’ efforts to ensure survival?  We would think nothing of a predator forced to desecrate a colony of prey due to lack of other food resources in a natural environment, and yet we are appalled at an expanding civilization that has no qualms with mass genocide of a neighboring country.  There is something completely natural in the former, and utterly evil and horrifying about the second.  Why?  From the naturalist perspective, are they not the natural outgrowth of natural processes?  Many on the forum here would say they separate moral and ethical conviction from evolutionary science but I think that’s drastically inconsistent…1) Because the unbeliever will often use evolutionary arguments against religious claims and 2) Because the study of evolution says a lot about human dignity, morality and origin.

So essentially what I’m looking for is an anti-theist to somehow give a consistent, logical reason for saying that something is evil in nature (or good).  If people determine ethical and moral values for themselves (either collectively or individually), then peope do not actually commit evil deeds, they simply have different values or morals.  I think it is inconsistent on the anti-theists part to truly have moral outrage with these presuppositions.  Therefore, I think that the problem of evil is really a problem for the atheist, not the theist.  Any comments?

 Signature 

“If you desire to be good, begin by believing that you are wicked.” -Epictetus

Profile
 
 
Posted: 26 June 2008 08:27 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]  
Member
Avatar
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  777
Joined  2007-09-16

I guess not

 Signature 

“If you desire to be good, begin by believing that you are wicked.” -Epictetus

Profile
 
 
Posted: 26 June 2008 08:33 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]  
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2492
Joined  2008-04-05

Again, read ‘The Science of Good and Evil’ by Michael Shermer. Well worth your time. Explains ‘evil’ and morality without God.
It is really not that complicated.

 Signature 

‘Every reflecting mind must acknowledge that there is no proof of the existence of a Deity’

‘If ignorance of nature gave birth to gods, knowledge of nature destroys them’

Percy Bysshe Shelley

Profile
 
 
Posted: 26 June 2008 09:01 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]  
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  3208
Joined  2007-04-26

What definition are you using for evil? Simple suffering? The infliction of suffering? Or the intention to inflict suffering?

Others may appeal to a utilitarian or pragmatic point of view – something like the greatest good for the greatest amount of people.  This has its problems as well.  One that first comes to mind is simply that people cannot possibly measure or know all the outcomes of an action…

Of course we cannot know all those outcomes. That’s no excuse for not making a decision about a contemplated action. We can only work from the knowledge we have, using that to develop our expectations and assess the possible risk. That is part of daily life - why deem it as a problem?

How exactly does an impersonal, chaotic universe consisting of pure matter in motion lend itself to the creation of thinking, interacting, feeling, moral beings that have a conscience of themselves and of their surroundings?

While we don’t have all the answers to that question, we cannot assume that such beings can only come into existence through the actions of a supernatural being or intelligence.

Taken further, how can there be anything known as evil or good within the framework of the genes’ efforts to ensure survival?

Our behavior is not dictated solely by the goal of propagating our genes. We sense that the survival of other individuals and of the community as a whole benefits everyone. We are capable of balancing our own interests with the interests of others and of the community.

Many on the forum here would say they separate moral and ethical conviction from evolutionary science but I think that’s drastically inconsistent…the study of evolution says a lot about human dignity, morality and origin.

No, that is only how you interpret evolutionary science. Scientific theories are not intended to impart meaning or purpose. Dignity is a human creation separate from our origin. Relying on a certain origin to give us dignity is a mistake. Think about it this way - if it turned out that, say, aliens seeded intelligent life on Earth, would that change anything about your daily life and how you feel about yourself?

If people determine ethical and moral values for themselves (either collectively or individually), then peope do not actually commit evil deeds, they simply have different values or morals.

That falsely implies that either morality is completely absolute and determined from a source outside humanity, or completely subjective with people doing whatever the hell they want with no regard for others. It’s more accurate to say that morality has some objectivity and some subjectivity because of the existence of the human moral sense. The human race will never be in complete agreement as to what exactly constitutes good or evil. That is simply part of life.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 26 June 2008 11:30 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]  
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1183
Joined  2007-08-07
clayforHim648 - 25 June 2008 09:02 PM

My posit is simply this:  the veracity with which the unbeliever speaks against evil does not logically comport with a naturalistic/relativistic worldview.  There is no doubt in my mind that the atheists who populate this forum take evil seriously.  And I will affirm that I take evil extremely seriously as well.  But what exactly makes the atheist so repulsed by evil deeds?  More directly, what are the presuppositions in the atheistic worldview by which a person makes any moral judgments at all?

Good topic, although you’re a little impatient onthe requirement for replies. wink

I’m going to take a crack at it, and it’s actually very simple:  Life is not strictly competitive, it is both competitive and cooperative.  Given this paradigm, which is demonstrably evident and thus provable, shifts back and forth between these two points will result in what we define as “good” and “evil”.

Let’s lay down some groundwork first:

For our purposes, let’s define good as an act or a context that is beneficial without being inherently costly to others.  And evil is an act or behavior of utter selfishness despite its cost to others.  Acts of nature are non-sentient and are not “good” nor “evil” in any sense of the word, despite the inclination to attach an emoitonal context to such acts, but that is a human affliction, not a reality of existence.

Suffering too is not necessarily “evil”—I recently had surgery and I suffered during it, but there was no intent to make me suffer, it was just the cost of the procedure.  Of course, intentionally subjecting someone to suffer is an act of evil, and this is ascribed to the torturer, not suffeirng in and of itselg—suffeiorng is a consequence of being a physical being, but how one is made to suffer is what defines it as an evil.  If I am crushed in an earthquake and suffer slowly for hours, the earthquake isn’t “evil”—there was no intent behind it.  If I am crushed by a mob who bleieve I should die painfully, then that’s evil.

Almost every living being is born with the instinct to survive.  This survival instinct is inherent in all successful species.  Some have the inastinct only to the point of reproduction, and once reproduction has been effected, the instinct to survive is moot (Praying mantis males, numerous spiders, salmon, etc.).  Generally, higher evolved creatures have a far ranging instinct to survive, brain size and capacity seems to be a correlation for the desire to conitnue to exist.  Humans are quantitatively higher up this tree, since we are not only inclined to survive, but we are consciously aware of the consequences of not being alive (a price we pay for sentience).

This survival instinct is not some simplistic knee-jerk reaction that has no nuances in human nature.  For instance, we can choose to not survive if our death’s play a part in serving some greater good.  A fun example is Bruce Willis in “Armageddon”.  In order to save humanity from being wiped out, he explodes a nuke on a coment hurtling to a collision with Earth.  He decides his life is not worth the deaths of everyone else, and opts to override the survival instinct.

Furthermore, the survival instinct is more complex in how it translates to social situations, whether these be in the lower animal kingdom, or in the higher and more complex human systems.  Social survival requires cooperation—like a herd of animals staying in a herd to confuse and thwart a predator, or a tribe of humans adhering to rules to ensure that life can proceed with a minimum of chaos.

All of these are physical and demonstrable examples that have ensured the survival of countless species, and that we live today in a world where laws stand, and evolve, proves that morality is relativistic.

The unbeliever consistently speaks of acts and behaviors as intrinsically good or evil, but lacks a philosophy to support their claim.

This is not true, generally speaking—it is believers in theism that invariably have an absolutist viewpoint in that acts are “intrinsically” good or evil.  Reasonists generally have a relativistic viewpoint in good and evil acts—and we can cite examples fairly easily; examples that were steadfastly believed in by theists for a very long time, despite their obvious absurdity.  For example, for many hundreds of years, the simple act of eating meat on Friday was considered a sin—an act of actual evil—by the Catholic Church.  This absurd injunction is neither good nor evil intrinsically, it’s simply eating. 

Some may say that “good” is whatever has public approval…the “we just rationally know that it’s good” argument.  But, as unbelievers are so quick to point out to Christians who use the argument, the fact that something is even unanimously agreed upon by a group or culture does not make it right.

This is a strawman argument that isn’t being made by reasonists.  “Whatever has public approval” is not de facto the good, and countless examples can be cited as to how this is not true:

Child labor
Enslavement
Unjustified War
Oppression of women
Political oppression
Might Makes Right-ism

all stand as things that may have (and have had) public approval but do not fit the definition of “good”—that which is most beneficial without being too costly.  Many of these are specifically supported by Yahweh in the bible, by the way.

Can morality and ethics boil down to statistics?  Should it?  Is something good because we all think it is good, or do we think it is good because it has a certain quality about it irrespective of what we think about it?  The atheist often times acts as though something is inherently good or evil, but appeals to social convention when explaining their code of ethic.

This is another strawman claim.  What defines good is acts that balance competition and cooperation.  My business thrives, and I am fairly in competition, but I’m not a monopoly that destroys all other businesses.  I’m a good business.  I’m Target, rather than Wal-Mart.  I could be Wal-Mart, and act as a destroyer of all competitors to my own good, and to their demise—but I’m then only embracing one side of the successful formula—the survival side, not the altruistic side.  Comes the day when I might need compatriots if I’m ever under siege, and I cannot expect to find any (I’ve either killed them all, and they no longer are there to assist me, or I’m shunned because I’m not playing fairly.

Others may appeal to a utilitarian or pragmatic point of view – something like the greatest good for the greatest amount of people.  This has its problems as well.  One that first comes to mind is simply that people cannot possibly measure or know all the outcomes of an action…even with the help of computers, we could not calculate the possible good or ill that comes from any one action or behavior.

This is a better argument and it has its answer (and it’s the same answer).  Let’s use that old bugaboo Hitler as our example.

Hitler gained the dictatorship by leveraging three primary issues:

1. Economic disaster
2. Self-aggrandizment as a “superior race”
3. Blaming 1 and 2 on an “alien race” that could pay a price

I wrote those out in order of their adherence to philosophical good or evil.  #1 is devoid of the context of “good” or “evil” because it was a world-wide financial collapse that Germany felt particularly badly because of reparations stemming from the Versailles Treaty (A war they started, so in some ways justified).  #2 is a fence sitter issue, depsite the lack of political correctness.  Some nations are superior to others—they have better systems, better morals, and are more successful.  But the evil inherent in #2 is the idea that races are either superior or inferior.  And finally, #3 is a case of vilifying others for ojne’s ones, and is strictly self-serving with no thought to the cost to others.

It’s #3 that obviously defines the entire Nazi social model as “evil”.  It is competition without a hint of cooperation, and it led to three things:

1. The enslavement of whomever was decreed “non-Aryan” (particularly but not exclusively Jews)
2. The mechanized deaths of millions of innocent people particularly but not exclusively Jews)
3. The alliance of a huge number of people who recognized Hitler’s model was a threat to EVERYONE into a force that destroyed him.

This is analogous to a disease and the way the body repsonds to it.  The invader is attacked because the invaders represent a threat to the entire organism.  Much the same way, a utterly selfish dictator like Hitler represented a threat to everyone on the globe—along with Italy and Japan—and the rest of the “organism” responded to destroy the evil and neutralize it.

Hitler, Hirohito, and Mussolini all thought the “greatest amount of good to the greatest amount of people” only included their people, to the suffering of akl others.  The rest of the world recognized otherwise.  That’s because the reality is not just “The greatest amount of good to the greatest amount of people”—it’s “the greatest amount of good to the greatest amount of people with the smallest amount of cost to others”—or, competition balanced with cooperation.

And from personal experience, we know that something intended for good could cause great evil, or something intended for evil could result in great good.

This is true, but you have to differentiate between an act that is intented as good versus an act that is intended for evil.  For instance, creating a chemical like Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) was intended for a good, but the damn stuff chewed a hole in the ozone and resulted in an evil.  It’s not evil to have created the stuff, deaspite the unintended outcome.  However, purposely using CFCs knowing their consequences—is an evil act.

There are countless exmaples of this as well.  You drive a car and accidently hit someone and they die.  This is different from swerving out of your way to clobber a pedestrian who is innocently walking down the street, despite the fact that in both instances, an innocent dies.

End of Reply 1.

 Signature 

Faith-free since 1985

Profile
 
 
Posted: 26 June 2008 12:04 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]  
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1183
Joined  2007-08-07

Reply 2:

Considering naturalism, there are even more problems.  How exactly does an impersonal, chaotic universe consisting of pure matter in motion lend itself to the creation of thinking, interacting, feeling, moral beings that have a conscience of themselves and of their surroundings?

This is a discussion about the start of the universe, which is a huge topic in and of itself—I already had to split this up into two posts because I ran out of characrters, so if you want to debate this, start a different thread.  For now, it’s not relevant to our present scenario or topic.

Taken further, how can there be anything known as evil or good within the framework of the genes’ efforts to ensure survival?  We would think nothing of a predator forced to desecrate a colony of prey due to lack of other food resources in a natural environment, and yet we are appalled at an expanding civilization that has no qualms with mass genocide of a neighboring country.

Strawman argument.  Yes we do have qualms about it, and history shows that we repsond precisely as we should to mi9nimize such threats and ensure our survival against them.  I’ve illustrated this in detail above.  Remember, when you think in terms of survival, you have to include both sides of the formula:  competition AND cooperation, since both are intrinsically involved in survival tactics.

There is something completely natural in the former, and utterly evil and horrifying about the second.  Why?  From the naturalist perspective, are they not the natural outgrowth of natural processes?

No, they are not.  Predators kill to eat, and when they are sated they don’t go out and kill just for the “fun” of it.  By far—billions and billions in fact—most humans are exactly the same.  We don’t kill or even try to hurt one another most of the time.  Of course, the times we do—that gets all the media.  But it’s precisely because it’s relatively rare per capita that is sparks our interest.

Look around in life.  How many people do you see being murdered or abused or enslaved? Most people, despite the theism they were raised in, are moral and ethical becuase they have evolved to exist most successfully in the competitive-cooperative paradigm.

Many on the forum here would say they separate moral and ethical conviction from evolutionary science but I think that’s drastically inconsistent…1) Because the unbeliever will often use evolutionary arguments against religious claims and 2) Because the study of evolution says a lot about human dignity, morality and origin.

Morality and ethics are clearly derived from evolutionary sources.  Else how would we have survived before religion was invented?

I see no inconsistency at all; morals and ethics are founded upon evolutionary patterns of behavior, and analogous behaviors in non-theistic animals proves one does not need to have a god in order to be altruistic.

So essentially what I’m looking for is an anti-theist to somehow give a consistent, logical reason for saying that something is evil in nature (or good).  If people determine ethical and moral values for themselves (either collectively or individually), then peope do not actually commit evil deeds, they simply have different values or morals.

Morality and ethics are both individual and collective; and they evolve.  For instance, peppered throughout history are people who have considered the prevalent morality and have seen a different way.  Socrates, Plato, Jesus, Augustine, Hobbes, Luther, Jefferson, Madison, Douglass, etc.—these are but a few people who presented a new way of looking at social morals, and they affected changes.  If the morality has substance and provides a greater good for the greatest number at the least possible cost, then the majority tends to adopt the morality. 

For instance, it would be pretty unthinkable for anyone to actively advocate the enslaving of and entire race of people ever again; we have learned that this is immoral, and unless there is complete anarchy and choas in a world broken down, it’s unlikely to ever occur again.

I think it is inconsistent on the anti-theists part to truly have moral outrage with these presuppositions.  Therefore, I think that the problem of evil is really a problem for the atheist, not the theist.  Any comments?

There is no problem for the reasonist with good vs. evil and no inconsistency with outrage at any evils being perpetrated.  The foundation for such is grounded in a physical, demonstrable reality that is even testable (societies test moral and ethical imperatives all the time, whereas religions dictate “commandments” that must be obeyed under threat of punishment).  The theist, however, reaches outside the natural realm, asserts something is there that acts as a standard, and fails utterly to demonstrate the veracoity of the claim.  The best the theist can hope to do is convince people that it’s true and frighten them into behaving in certain ways for their own self-interests (going to heaven instaed of hell).  In this it cannot be doubted that the theists have been very successful, although to the maladjustment of countless billions of people (hence the valid charge that religion is indeed evil because it does not deliver the greatest good to the greatest number of poeple with the least amount of cost.  The cost is massive.)

The reasonist recognizes that physical manifestations of evil will result in a disastrous world for everyone, including the perpetrator of the evil itself, and his or her self-interests.

Theists rely on a being outside the reach of humanity to level justice (though they rarely act according to this mechanism of their belief systems, particularly Christians, who are specifically told not to judge and to leave vengeance to god).

Thanks for a good topic.

[ Edited: 26 June 2008 01:16 PM by Keep The Reason]
 Signature 

Faith-free since 1985

Profile
 
 
Posted: 26 June 2008 12:34 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]  
Member
Avatar
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  462
Joined  2006-11-23

Clay, did you check out my response to you on that other thread? it took me a whule to get back to you.

Anyway, I think it’s questionable whether absolutes of good and evil actually exist—even WITH God. How do we even know what God has declared evil? Scripture is no help, because we all know about how badly the OT God behaved. The NT God seems much better, but Harris has pointed out the Christ appeared to aprove of the OT law of stoning disobediant children. This makes a mockery of those Chrsitian moarlists attempting to restore Chrsitian vlaues to our country. The Bible can’t be trusted. So what does this mean, anyway? We don’t know at all, unless (hopefully) or moral compass has indeed been implanted by Him. As Harris has explained, the human moral compass is really what we’r going by when we condemn such things as slavery.


One of the things that started me considering this years ago was the mere fact that villains who consider them selves evil are notoriously non-existent outside of comic books. There are exceptions to this, including Satanists and Ivan the Terrible (who turned to acts of evil becasue he was angry with God), but the extrmely rare. The name of Adolf Hitler has become virtually symonymous with evil today, and yet the man himself fully beleived he was on the side of good. The best explaination here is perhaps that most who commit evil acts are really after power, and lie to themselves about the nature of their actions.

Considering naturalism, there are even more problems.  How exactly does an impersonal, chaotic universe consisting of pure matter in motion lend itself to the creation of thinking, interacting, feeling, moral beings that have a conscience of themselves and of their surroundings?  Taken further, how can there be anything known as evil or good within the framework of the genes’ efforts to ensure survival?  We would think nothing of a predator forced to desecrate a colony of prey due to lack of other food resources in a natural environment, and yet we are appalled at an expanding civilization that has no qualms with mass genocide of a neighboring country.  There is something completely natural in the former, and utterly evil and horrifying about the second.  Why?  From the naturalist perspective, are they not the natural outgrowth of natural processes?  Many on the forum here would say they separate moral and ethical conviction from evolutionary science but I think that’s drastically inconsistent…1) Because the unbeliever will often use evolutionary arguments against religious claims and 2) Because the study of evolution says a lot about human dignity, morality and origin.

Evolution may explain why human beings care for the wellfare of other humans within their own group. Humans are a gregarious species, and this contributed to group survival. However, I don’t buy the argument that this is responsible for moral reasoning. What possible survival adavantage could the be in caring for humans outside one’s one group? What about caring for the chronically ill, and the disabled? What about the whole of medical science? Why don’t we just abandon the disabled? This runs directly counter to survival of the fittest, so something else must be going on here. finally why do humans, out of all species care for the well-being of other species? Caring for other animals species has absolutly nothing to do with the survival of one’s own—just watch Animal Planet.If anyone can explain to me how the good things I mentioned are purely survival instincts left over from the Plesticene, please do. One the other hand, bullying, prsecution of the weak, mass genocide of enemy—THESE are the pure group-survival instincts, and have been repeatedly observed in other species.

I’ll add that since I have virtually ALWAYS beleived in thiestic evolution (Christian or otherwise), when I nearly died of juvenile disbetes as a child, I feared that God wanted me dead, beacuse accidents and disease were His way of restoring balance to nature. But now I know better.

As for the question of why God allows bad things to happen, maybe it is because the world just wouldn’t work if God were simply disrupting his natural laws all the time. How would gravity or inertia function if God were constantly stopping cars about to cause an accident, or stopping people from falling to their deaths, for example? Did any of the atheists stop to wonder what the world would be like with this “superhero” version of God running the universe?

I have no idea if prayer works, but I was once told that prayer establishes a psychic connection between oneself and God. Therefore one can connect and influence the world trough God, even though God otherwise stays out of earthly affairs. Does this make sense?

[ Edited: 26 June 2008 12:37 PM by Tad Trenton's Ghost]
 Signature 

...it has to put into the equation: the possibility that there is no God and nothing works for the best. I don’t necessarily subscribe to that view, but I don’t know what I do subscribe to. Why do I have to have a world view? I mean, when I wrote Cujo, I wasn’t even old enough to be president. Maybe when I’m frty or forty-five, but I don’t now. I’m just trying on all these hats.
-Stephen King

Profile
 
 
Posted: 26 June 2008 01:23 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]  
Member
Avatar
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  892
Joined  2007-12-04

The problem of evil is not a problem to unbelievers. Because as much as I twist and turn the arguments. I can’t see that good and evil exists without god.

I do challenge anyone to come up with actual evidence of there being such a thing as evil in the first place.

If you got a universe with a god then it makes sense to invent those words, and they do carry some meaning to a theist. In a problematic way, since you need to explain away evil. Once god is gone though, the two words mean absolutely nothing.

Maybe I am riding semantics again but as far as I can tell, good and evil are religiously connected placeholder words. Their meaning is subjective, and their usage is such that they are used as catch alls for things people fail to explain better.

Just like with morality, as I argued in another thread. I think that good and evil are words that you only need to invent if you believe in god. Hence, there is no problem of evil for atheists.

 Signature 

What can be asserted without evidence can also be dismissed without evidence.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 26 June 2008 01:24 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]  
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1183
Joined  2007-08-07

I don’t buy the argument that this is responsible for moral reasoning. What possible survival adavantage could the be in caring for humans outside one’s one group?

There are plenty of reasons.  They may have access to resources you need and you may have access to resource they need; hence, trade rather than conquest.  They may stand betwen you and a source of water or food, and outnumber you so only by diplomacy can you get what you need to survive.  They may ally with you against a third party.  Competition and cooperaiton is the mechanism by which living things operate.  You’ve misunderstood the evolutionary paradigm.

What about caring for the chronically ill, and the disabled? What about the whole of medical science? Why don’t we just abandon the disabled?

The ill or the disabled may have much-needed information and experience.  They may be considered extremely important to the tribe.  However, in our most primitive state, oftentimes such individuals were left behind.  But with higher sentience and the ability to convey information via verbalization, and greater levels of altruism such as a higher developed sense of love and committment (also reciprocal in nature), these characteristics of abandoning have virtually disappeared.

As for medical science, reciprocal altruism is also motivaiton enough.  A man who learns to cure a disease in another can save himself and those important to him from those diseases as well.

This runs directly counter to survival of the fittest, so something else must be going on here.

Unfortunately, what’s going on is a misunderstanding of the word “fit”.  “Fit” doesn’t mean meanest and nastiest, it means best suited to its environment.  A bird is “fit” in its niche as a high area dweller, not in that it’s tougher than a mouse which it might eat.

finally why do humans, out of all species care for the well-being of other species? Caring for other animals species has absolutly nothing to do with the survival of one’s own—just watch Animal Planet. If anyone can explain to me how the good things I mentioned are purely survival instincts left over from the Plesticene, please do. One the other hand, bullying, prsecution of the weak, mass genocide of enemy—THESE are the pure group-survival instincts, and have been repeatedly observed in other species.

Altrusim in animals is very much in evidence.  Apes for instance express grief at death and attmept to sheild other from harm.  Dolphins protect one another, and their young.  Lots of animals protect their young in fact.

Again, the answer to your confusion is to understand that life is successful only when it balances competition with cooperation.  Like others; you only are seeing the competition, and you’re forgetting the cooperation.

As for the question of why God allows bad things to happen, maybe it is because the world just wouldn’t work if God were simply disrupting his natural laws all the time.

The problem with this argument is that god could have created any kind of existence he wanted, with any kinds of rules he wanted.  According to the model, the god is the author of the very rules of existence.  So, if the model is true, this is the way he purposely wants it, and now we can quesiton the morality of why he would want it this way.

You’re being predisposed to this existence (which is quite natural of course) but you’re not leaivng room for god’s ability to make any kind of existence he cares to.  We can ask “why?” for any existence as well, but if we lived in one without a component of evil we would not be having this debate over why god allows something like evil in the first place.

How would gravity or inertia function if God were constantly stopping cars about to cause an accident, or stopping people from falling to their deaths, for example?

It would function perfectly fine.  As it is, in the theistic model god did interfere with floods and water parting and columns of fire and ressurections, etc.  The gravity and inertia seems to have worked fine with those interruptions, so it’s a non sequitor quesiton you’re raising.  And of course, the first point stands apart.  god could just as easily have created an existence with both gravity and inertia and all the other laws of physics but without evil.  That evil was created tells us that within the paradigm of this particular theistic worldview, god wants evil.

And in response, now we can ask, “But why?”

Did any of the atheists stop to wonder what the world would be like with this “superhero” version of God running the universe?

Seems like it would be a good one, but without this one we actually inhabit to compare it to, we wouldn’t know the difference.  On balance, this world and the universe’s physical laws work fine for beings like ourselves, since we were formed within those parameters.

[ Edited: 26 June 2008 01:52 PM by Keep The Reason]
 Signature 

Faith-free since 1985

Profile
 
 
Posted: 26 June 2008 01:42 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]  
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  3208
Joined  2007-04-26
Tad Trenton’s Ghost - 26 June 2008 04:34 PM

As for the question of why God allows bad things to happen, maybe it is because the world just wouldn’t work if God were simply disrupting his natural laws all the time. How would gravity or inertia function if God were constantly stopping cars about to cause an accident, or stopping people from falling to their deaths, for example? Did any of the atheists stop to wonder what the world would be like with this “superhero” version of God running the universe?

Absolutely - there’s even a Superman comic that addresses the issue allegorically: Red Son

The issue is that in a universe controlled by a god who is both omnipotent and omnibenevolent, there would be no reason for the god to cause suffering in the first place. Such a god would not face the tradeoffs that humans face, such as causing some suffering to prevent much greater suffering. So in that universe, all suffering would be needless.

Your example would work if the god was omnibenevolent but less than omnipotent, lacking the ability to disrupt physical laws without disrupting the world. Or if the god was omnipotent but less than omnibenevolent. That latter wouldn’t rule out the god being just, but I’m not exactly sure how.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 26 June 2008 02:42 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]  
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  3765
Joined  2007-03-11
Unbeliever - 26 June 2008 05:23 PM

The problem of evil is not a problem to unbelievers. Because as much as I twist and turn the arguments. I can’t see that good and evil exists without god.

I think you are absolutely correct. There is no good or evil without God; there’s just stuff that happens. With respect to morality, you can come up with a moral system based upon an agreed standard, but the term “moral” is not required. It’s just what people have agreed upon as a standard of acceptability, whether socially or legally. If there is a God, then good and evil have meaning, but without God, you are correct.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 26 June 2008 02:46 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]  
Member
Avatar
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  777
Joined  2007-09-16

Unbeliever said:

Just like with morality, as I argued in another thread. I think that good and evil are words that you only need to invent if you believe in god. Hence, there is no problem of evil for atheists.

There is no problem of evil for atheists that don’t use the problem of evil as an argument against theism.  My post really is directed towards those anti-theists who say that theodicy is a problem for the believer…but they could only say that if they really took evil seriously and had a logical definition for evil.  If you don’t think evil exists than you’re talking about a different discussion altogether.  But overall, I find the denial of “evil” and “good” to be unrealistic in the world we live in.

 Signature 

“If you desire to be good, begin by believing that you are wicked.” -Epictetus

Profile
 
 
Posted: 26 June 2008 03:02 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]  
Member
Avatar
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  777
Joined  2007-09-16

I’m going to take a crack at it, and it’s actually very simple:  Life is not strictly competitive, it is both competitive and cooperative.  Given this paradigm, which is demonstrably evident and thus provable, shifts back and forth between these two points will result in what we define as “good” and “evil”.

I wish I had time now Reasonist to give a more full response.  But for a brief response, I think the competitive and cooperative argument is TOO simple.  We can certainly look back at events (like Hitler’s escapades) and support a broad competitive and cooperative morality.  What I think this argument fails to do, though, is give an explanation for the individual making moral choices.  We don’t consciously think, “Well I’m leaning more towards the competitive side, rather than the cooperative side with this decision.”  I think people really assign a value to decisions and the people involved in those decisions…its not just a mixture of competition and cooperation.

 Signature 

“If you desire to be good, begin by believing that you are wicked.” -Epictetus

Profile
 
 
Posted: 26 June 2008 03:23 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]  
Member
Avatar
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  892
Joined  2007-12-04
clayforHim648 - 26 June 2008 06:46 PM

There is no problem of evil for atheists that don’t use the problem of evil as an argument against theism.  My post really is directed towards those anti-theists who say that theodicy is a problem for the believer…

No, “evil” is not a problem for atheists, but atheists are very much able to use the arguments around evil to put theists in place. A universe with a god, especially a god that actually declares the existance of “good” and “evil” will have to face the issue arising from that. A universe without god does not as far as I can tell need those concepts and thus have nothing to answer for.
Maybe you don’t think thats fair. But thats how reality works. You can’t cry foul just cause one side got an argument against you that you can’t use back on them.

clayforHim648 - 26 June 2008 06:46 PM

If you don’t think evil exists than you’re talking about a different discussion altogether.  But overall, I find the denial of “evil” and “good” to be unrealistic in the world we live in.

Right, so then. What is evil if I may ask? Be specific please. If its so obviously there, you must be able to explain exactly what it is.

 Signature 

What can be asserted without evidence can also be dismissed without evidence.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 26 June 2008 03:27 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]  
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  5404
Joined  2006-09-27
Unbeliever - 26 June 2008 07:23 PM

What is evil if I may ask? Be specific please.

Evil is what you have a problem with.

I don’t have a problem with it. Should I have a problem with it? Evil? What’s not to like? It’s invisible, inaudible, and usually tasteless, rather like a Richard Simmons exercise video with the sound turned off and nothing but blown pixels on your LCD.

It’s the sense that something horrible is going on, only you cannot quite describe it. It’s mushroom jello.

(Full credit to Sander for the Richard Simmons hook).

[ Edited: 26 June 2008 03:41 PM by Traces Elk]
 Signature 

INVEST in cynicism!

Profile
 
 
Posted: 26 June 2008 03:52 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]  
Member
Avatar
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  892
Joined  2007-12-04
Salt Creek - 26 June 2008 07:27 PM

It’s the sense that something horrible is going on, only you cannot quite describe it.

Ooh, thats a good one. Just summed up my thoughts on the topic.

 Signature 

What can be asserted without evidence can also be dismissed without evidence.

Profile
 
 
   
1 of 19
1
 
RSS 2.0     Atom Feed
newrelic.loglevel = "verbosedebug" newrelic.daemon.loglevel = "verbosedebug"