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The Problem of Evil


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And an Omnipotent God can erase all memory of suffering and bring the dead back to life... or give them life everlasting in his glory. So again, with your claim of Omnipotence you are invalidating your own limited interpretation of the occurances in surrounding the story of Job.

But is that Biblically supported? Nowhere in the epilogue does God prevent Job from remembering his suffering. God could also bring Job to heaven, but at the time of writing it's hard to see that the concept of heaven was around -- Job seems to think that if he dies, he will simply rest, and cease to exist.

 

But certainly it's possible that there is a heaven, and Job (and others will suffer) will receive everlasting life. But does that outweigh the suffering he receives on Earth? Do good things just sort of "drown out" bad things?

 

His suffering is still bad, whether or not the outcome is not. The ending being good does not make the suffering good.

 

God explains to Job that no man can understand God well enough to even question him properly (Job 38). Which of course is true if you presume omnipotence. Isn't it illogical to assume the omnipotence of God for sake of your argument then ignore the cousel of said omnipotent being in the very same text you want to disect? You can't claim that He's omniptent yet acted in clearly definable finite and non-omnipotent terms.

It's not clear that we need any additional information to solve this contradiction. We can't just add additional propositions. Say we add:

 

5. God has a plan for the universe.

 

Propositions 1-4 still have a contradiction. Necessarily, one of them must be false. We can at least speculate which it is.

 

 

Yes he was, but that wasn't what you were proposing. Weren't you also proposing that Job must has suffered even after the visit by God? I am saying that there is nothing to show that Job suffered following the affirmation and blessings by God so your claim of prolonged suffering is an invention on your part.

Okay, suppose the suffering ends. Job still suffers greatly until the suffering ends. To someone who is "blameless" and good, such suffering (which is great, as evidenced by Job's speeches) is probably disproportionate. It does not matter that the suffering eventually ends.


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The various questions all pretty much devolve into tautological reasoning. "God" is defined as "omnibenevolent," so you can't demonstrate it otherwise. If you look at God's actions and see maliciousness, then that just means what you consider malicious is actually supremely benevolent, by definition. So sure, it is right for God to needlessly torment Job, because that's what God did.

Could we not simply define God as "the creator of the universe" and then attempt to determine if He exhibits omnibenevolence?

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If you do not believe in God as Job did then you can not hope to surmise Job's emotional state upon the loss of his children. We however have Job's response in the very same book to judge Job's response by... so why not just go with that since you are already creating a laundry list of givens including an omniscient being in this exercise of evaluating God based on the book of Job?

 

Yes, I did once upon a time believe in God, and used him to define what was good (this incidentally means that there is no unchanging definition of good, or that God has no free will). So yeah, all that God did was good by definition. Another point of view is that God gave us everything, and really it all belongs to him so he can do whatever the hell he likes with everything, including us humans.

 

Yes, I understand that Job did not consider this a malicious act by God. However, that still does not mean we cannot judge his actions to be immoral. Consider, for example, a case where a child gives a pedophile sex favors, in exchange for candy. Even if the child does not complain, we can still judge what the adult here is doing as immoral.

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Perhaps we can put God above morality.

 

Suppose we ask whether God's actions are just or unjust. First, we must define "just," and there are really two ways of doing so:

  1. Giving what is owed. If I owe anyone anything, whether by contract or moral obligation, and give it to them, I am being just.
  2. Fairly interpreting a higher set of rules. For example, a judge is just if he fairly interprets the law to make his decision.

 

Now, in the case of God, a transcendent omnipotent God likely does not owe anyone anything. He is not indebted to us, we are indebted to Him. So God cannot be just or unjust in that regard.

 

A transcendent God also makes the rules. There is no higher set of rules than God, there's only God. So He cannot be considered just or unjust on the basis of how He interprets rules.

 

Thus, God is not unjust in causing suffering, nor is He just in stopping it. But we have to give up the "omnibenevolent" label, since God is really neither omnibenevolent nor omnimalevolent.

 

Is that an acceptable cost to solve the problem? Does it even solve the problem?

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The bible never claims that God is omnipotent. In fact it says that he cannot deny his own nature. Hence the need for blood sacrifice to atone for sin.

 

Hmm, so perhaps the second proposition is the false one. Do you happen to know where in the Bible this is stated, or should I start searching? I'm interested to see how this is expressed.

 

But why, if God is not all-powerful, is sacrifice required? I don't quite see the jump there.

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The bible never claims that God is omnipotent. In fact it says that he cannot deny his own nature. Hence the need for blood sacrifice to atone for sin.

Can you bring the reference to that in the bible? I remember studying that, in the OT at least, God is never said to be omnibenevolent, but I do believe he's presented as omnipotent...

 

God by the bible is vengeful and changes his mind, but he is still considered omnipotent. I remember that distinctly because I remember having problems reconciling the two in class...

 

I'll have to dig up my old notes..... :rolleyes:

 

~moo

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The bible never claims that God is omnipotent. In fact it says that he cannot deny his own nature. Hence the need for blood sacrifice to atone for sin.
I'll also be interested in seeing that scripture. If the Bible never claims God is omnipotent, that would come as a shock to many people I've talked to.
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I found some of my notes. It seems like God is indeed described as omnipotent. Here are some key passages:

 

Isaiah 40:25-26

To whom then will ye liken Me, that I should be equal? saith the Holy One. Lift up your eyes on high, and see: who hath created these? He that bringeth out their host by number, He calleth them all by name; by the greatness of His might, and for that He is strong in power, not one faileth.

 

Genesis 18:14

Is any thing too hard for the LORD. At the set time I will return unto thee, when the season cometh round, and Sarah shall have a son.'

 

 

There are a few more, but it seems God is described as a being that can do anything. And even more, when someone doubts the power of God, he is punished.

 

~moo

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Yes, I did once upon a time believe in God, and used him to define what was good (this incidentally means that there is no unchanging definition of good, or that God has no free will). So yeah, all that God did was good by definition. Another point of view is that God gave us everything, and really it all belongs to him so he can do whatever the hell he likes with everything, including us humans.

 

Yes, I understand that Job did not consider this a malicious act by God. However, that still does not mean we cannot judge his actions to be immoral. Consider, for example, a case where a child gives a pedophile sex favors, in exchange for candy. Even if the child does not complain, we can still judge what the adult here is doing as immoral.

 

 

Actually it does mean you can't judge the actions as immoral, based on the qualifications of this question and the tenets of the faith in question. Death in a reality with an after life is different than death in a reality without an afterlife.

 

And the example of the pedophile is not realy appropriate because we establish such things as immoral due to the inability of the child to consent. Job was not under the same limitation and he consented to his lot in life by refusing to curse God.

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Actually it does mean you can't judge the actions as immoral, based on the qualifications of this question and the tenets of the faith in question. Death in a reality with an after life is different than death in a reality without an afterlife.

 

And the example of the pedophile is not realy appropriate because we establish such things as immoral due to the inability of the child to consent. Job was not under the same limitation and he consented to his lot in life by refusing to curse God.

 

Before I respond completely, let me make sure I understand your position. Are you saying that God can allow suffering in the world, because there exists an afterlife in which the good are rewarded?

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And the example of the pedophile is not realy appropriate because we establish such things as immoral due to the inability of the child to consent. Job was not under the same limitation and he consented to his lot in life by refusing to curse God.

Actually, a child can consent, he just can't understand the meaning of the consequences. In fact, the main concern in child abuse is the ability of adults to manipulate the child psychologically to cooperate, while not understanding the ramifications on his innocence, psyche, and his physical wellbeing.

 

In that aspect, the same goes to Job.

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Actually, a child can consent, he just can't understand the meaning of the consequences. In fact, the main concern in child abuse is the ability of adults to manipulate the child psychologically to cooperate, while not understanding the ramifications on his innocence, psyche, and his physical wellbeing.

 

In that aspect, the same goes to Job.

 

 

The fact that children are easily manipulated is precisely why a child can not consent to anything.

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The fact that children are easily manipulated is precisely why a child can not consent to anything.

Consent means agreeing to. A child is able to agree to, he just lacks the capacity to fully understand the consequences of his actions.

 

One of the most difficult thing to deal with when dealing with abused children is their anguish over blaming themselves. They usually don't say no, usually cooperate, and many times agree to participate. They are able to technically consent, we just *take away that ability* when we try the molester because we say the child cannot be responsible for consenting knowing what he's getting himself into.

 

Again, Job isn't different in this case.

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Consent means agreeing to. A child is able to agree to, he just lacks the capacity to fully understand the consequences of his actions.

 

One of the most difficult thing to deal with when dealing with abused children is their anguish over blaming themselves. They usually don't say no, usually cooperate, and many times agree to participate. They are able to technically consent, we just *take away that ability* when we try the molester because we say the child cannot be responsible for consenting knowing what he's getting himself into.

 

Again, Job isn't different in this case.

 

 

A child can't agree to terms they don't understand. It's the founding principle for age of consent laws. Hell, it's the founding principle for the entire legal system. It is why legalese is so meticulous and exacting... because for someone to consent they need to understand the full extent to what they are agreeing to.

 

Job demonstrated that he fully understood the life he had been dealt and he chose to continue living it. In fact he demonstrated that he understood the will of God better than anyone else in the story.

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There are a few more, but it seems God is described as a being that can do anything. And even more, when someone doubts the power of God, he is punished.

 

A better quote is Jeremiah 32:17 or Luke 1:37

 

But this (or the others you quote) is not saying he is omnipotent in the sense that people here mean. It very clearly states in various parts of the bible that God is constrained by his own character. (This is what I meant by the blood sacrifice statement - he made a covenant which says that blood must pay for sin, so Christ had to die on the cross.)

 

Indeed, saying that God is omnipotent and benevolent is a contradiction. Benevolence is a constraint, so contradicts omnipotence. But of course, that doesn't stop him being 'almighty' because the things he cannot do are self-constraints - things he doesn't want to do.

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It very clearly states in various parts of the bible that God is constrained by his own character. (This is what I meant by the blood sacrifice statement - he made a covenant which says that blood must pay for sin, so Christ had to die on the cross.)

I think this is the part I'm most interested in reading more about. I'm going to see if I can find anything on my own, but if you happen to have references I'd like to read them. It could certainly play a role in the resolution of this problem, and in any case I'm interested in learning more about different religions.

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But of course, that doesn't stop him being 'almighty' because the things he cannot do are self-constraints - things he doesn't want to do.
Is that where part of the problem lies, in the interpretation of the word "almighty" to mean "omnipotent"? Does almighty mean "unlimited power" or simply "most powerful"?
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Anyhow, from reading various passages, things like "all" and "forever" are actually rather limited.

 

More on this in this link: http://www.creation-science-prophecy.com/special1.htm

 

This only talks about the "forever" aspect. I can't recall which passages, but I do think that things that we might translate as omnipotence didn't necessarily mean that, rather just extreme power.

 

The omnipotence and such are Catholic dogma, by the way.

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That's a good point. In Judaism, btw, things are a bit different. Judaism in general encourages more philosophy than many other religions. Obviously there are extremists who take the bible literally, but they are few - the general religion supports questioning the acts of God, up to a point.

 

So it's true that they *stop* asking at some point, allowing for God's work to be "mysterious" and, by that, in my opinion, lacking to take the final step, but still, the questioning itself is a big part of the equation.

 

Also, God is not viewed as what it seems Christianity describes him. God is vengeful, powerful (not necessarily *all* powerful, but as far as men go, can do anything), God changes his mind and God apologizes.

 

So while doubting God is not acceptable, you can make your case to him and it is possible to change his mind (I need to look up the examples but there are a few in the bible). Half of the books that are supposed to "accompany" the bible are philosophizing about the stories, the laws and God's decisions.

 

I like that in Judaism; I disagree with the final conclusion of many religious Jews about the existence of God, but all-in-all, I find that in general, I am having a much more interesting debates with religious Jews (again, I'm not talking about extremes) than with religious Christians (not extremists either).

 

I asked a friend of mine - a preservant Jew - about the problem of evil, and he was totally unphased. It's not quite a problem for him (and his Rabbi, apparently, I asked him to check what he says). It seems they're not thinking of it as an issue much because God is not considered to be "all good". God's plan, eventually, is *for* the good of people, but that's not to say God's all good. Actually, he told me Cap'n should've added another 'issue' to his "example" list, namely the holocaust. That is a BIG BIG issue for Judaism, seeing as the biggest group to be suffering (among other groups) are the jewish people - men, women, children, elderly, pious jews and jews who converted to other religions - all were equally suffering.

 

That's a big problem theologically for Judaism, but as far as I understand it, it's not because of the problem of evil. There is no problem of evil, really, in mainstream judaism, because unlike many christian streams, Judaism doesn't consider God to be *all good*. The plan, eventually, is striving towards goodness, and things might have some reasons we don't understand, but the reasons don't necessarily have to be good.

 

And god is vengeful. And not very pleasant for the enemies.

 

~moo

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So while doubting God is not acceptable, you can make your case to him and it is possible to change his mind (I need to look up the examples but there are a few in the bible). Half of the books that are supposed to "accompany" the bible are philosophizing about the stories, the laws and God's decisions.

 

Abraham in Genesis. "Would you destroy the city if there were fifty good men in it?" "No, I would not destroy fifty good men." "How about forty-five?" "Well..."

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If God created everything, including morality, and morality is objective in nature, then God can simply define anything he does as good.

 

The problem of course is arguing that morality is objective. It is subjective by it's very nature, and the only way that God wins is by a might-makes-right approach.

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