[FoRK] Re: A bit of religion - Problem of Evil

Kevin Elliott k-elliott
Sun Jan 8 14:54:24 PST 2006

At 09:18 -0600  on  1/6/06, Corinna wrote:
>If God were letting us loose, intercessory prayer would be pointless. So
>then, if God chooses to save one miner and not the other 12, there you see
>the Problem of Evil. If "God was with us" when Houston escaped the
>hurricane, then why was God *not* with Beaumont?

Yes, the concept intercessory as a call for the supernatural to wave 
his magic wand is rather childish.  It implies (IMHO) a simple minded 
view of both God's role in the world and his goals.  God was "with 
them" in both places- he just wasn't terribly interested in the state 
of the weather in either place.

>Christianity, though it
>doesn't like to admit it, logically makes God responsible for everything
>that happens, since he has the power to do something, and often chooses not
>to. Furthermore, He's the one who set the rules -- life didn't *have* to be
>this way.

I don't have a problem with that.  No it didn't "have" to be this 
way.  Again, your assuming that the challenges and sorrows of our 
lives are the same challenges and sorrows that god cares about.  I 
don't see any reason why that should be the case.

>If you saw a child drowning and didn't do anything, wouldn't people think
>you were morally culpable? Why don't we apply the same standards when we
>think about God? After all he's omni*, he isn't incapable of saving all 13
>miners... or giving the CEO a heart attack and letting the next guy in line
>decide to fix the safety violations in the first place.

But the fact that god IS omni* invalidates this sort of reasoning 
with the same breath!  If rescuing the girl would cause a thousand 
other death then, yes, the moral action would be to let her drown. 
Moreover, god's perspective on "bad" will, by definition, be 
completely different than ours!  As I mentioned earlier, defining 
what "bad" is to god is a VERY difficult proposition.  Is dying? 
Why?  If you kid falls and scrapes his knee you may comfort him and 
hold him, but you don't feel like it's the end of the world.  It's a 
temporary pain, of relatively mild character and duration.  Why 
wouldn't god's perspective on us be similar?

The idea that god has a duty to act rests on the conception that the 
physical events of our life are primary purpose of our lives.  The 
whole concept of god rests on the idea that that fact is WRONG.

>Regarding free will...
>If Free Will is the Highest Good (that is, human evil is ok because our free
>will should be preserved), then there is no moral basis for us to judge
>somone else's actions, assuming they were the result of free will. So are we
>then horribly arrogant to punish people for acts of free will (in effect
>usurping God's authority)? Or perhaps there is something higher (in a moral
>sense) than free will? Hence the Problem of Evil.

But part of our free will is also using our mind to evaluate what 
goes on around us.  I'm not obligated to avoid infringing on another 
persons free will.  Why would I?  The highest moral calling is not 
"avoid other people".  Evil is a CONSEQUENCE of our ABUSE of our free 
will.  That seems true to me regardless of god's 
existence/nonexistence.  Evil happens because we choose to do wrong. 
The greatest tragedy of the world is that we'd live in paradise if we 
could just get a clear picture of what the "wrong" things are and 
stop doing them.

Arguing with an engineer is like wrestling with a pig in mud.
After a while, you realize the pig is enjoying it.
Kevin Elliott   <mailto:kelliott at mac.com>
AIM/iChatAV: kelliott at mac.com  (video chat available)

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