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Monday, July 7, 2008 - 4:56pmSanction this postReply
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I just heard this quote for the first time from The Amazing Atheist the other day.



Post 1

Monday, July 7, 2008 - 5:23pmSanction this postReply
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I was trying to submit this quote in this format:

“Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?
Then he is not omnipotent.
Is he able, but not willing?
Then he is malevolent.
Is he both able and willing?
Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able nor willing?
Then why call him God?”

- Epicurus

Which you can't do with quotes. For some reason, it appeared with the line breaks when I previewed it, but not when it was posted.

I actually think that the argument is fallacious, based upon a conflation of suffering and intentional evil. Evil human acts and the suffering caused by disease and natural disaster are considered evil as effects. A bomb and a tornado can cause human suffering in similar ways. But natural disasters are not evil in the sense of malice. The monotheist can argue that since men are immortal, nature [merely] provides man with challenges and that death and suffering are short term and superficial. Human malice is simply the price we pay for having free will. I can't see human choice without the possibility of evil acts.

Of course, one could question why God wants to challenge us, why he wants us to be free, and so forth. There is no argument from evil - especially none that explains why people should flatter God like some Oriental Potentate or fear his wrath like some drunken parent just come home from the saloon.

(Edited by Ted Keer on 7/07, 8:15pm)




Post 2

Monday, July 7, 2008 - 6:56pmSanction this postReply
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How is the argument fallacious? If God is omnipotent, and loves us all, explain the existence of cancer, AIDS, malaria, sleeping sickness, lice, etc.? Mark Twain went off on an amusing rant on this subject, questioning why, if one accepts the biblical story of Noah's Ark as true, would we consider the builder of the ark to be virtuous for making sure all these plagues got loaded onboard?



Post 3

Monday, July 7, 2008 - 7:57pmSanction this postReply
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The Problem of the Existence of Bad?

Did you even read my post, Jim? Assume, for the sake of argument, that there is life after death. If you do, the trials we undergo while we are alive are mere superficial challenges in comparison. Their "evil" is in how we respond to them. Since the "trial" is temporary, in comparison to our eternal reward, the price is well worth paying. Maybe souls have to suffer during life in order to spend eternity in bliss? Of course, I have no reason to believe in eternal life. And whether and why God couldn't have done it another way is still an open question.

In fact, even if you don't accept Abrahamic theistic belief, it is still a mistake to look at physical suffering due to external causes as evil. The Stoics knew this. Only a person's moral choices can be good or evil, i.e., virtuous or vicious. External circumstances may be preferred or not preferred. No one (normally) prefers pain. But pain itself is not evil - it is the way our body reacts to stimulate us to avoid damage.

The problem lies partially in our language. We contrast good and bad - pleasurable or painful and the like. We also contrast good and evil - virtuous and vicious. It would help clarify the matter if we used a different set of terms in everyday speech. A child sees the pain of an injection as self-evidently horrible. If we can spare the child the pain, we do so. Some pains are simply unavoidable. But if the mere existence of pain disproves God's existence then skinned knees and hickeys disprove his existence. There's no need to bring in emotional bogey men like AIDS and cancer. We all die, we all suffer pain. The child has to learn to deal with this. But we are adults, not children.



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Monday, July 7, 2008 - 10:10pmSanction this postReply
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Ted,

If you substitute the phrase "significant suffering" for "evil" and "not caring" for "malevolent" you take out the conflation you pointed out.

Is God willing to prevent serious suffering, but not able?
Then he is not omnipotent.
Is he able, but not willing?
Then he is not caring.
Is he both able and willing?
Then whence cometh serious suffering?
Is he neither able nor willing?
Then why call him God?

That is still fallacious as an argument against an omnipotent and caring God, because you could have an uncaring God.

You said
The problem lies partially in our language. We contrast good and bad - pleasurable or painful and the like. We also contrast good and evil - virtuous and vicious. It would help clarify the matter if we used a different set of terms in everyday speech. A child sees the pain of an injection as self-evidently horrible.
It may be a good thing our language is so - think of it as a natural tether to rational egoism.  The pain of an injection is bad, but like old age, it's just not as bad as the alternative. 

What the child needs to learn is not a new language but the understanding that some pain in the present may be the price for much less pain in the future.




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Monday, July 7, 2008 - 10:52pmSanction this postReply
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"In fact, even if you don't accept Abrahamic theistic belief, it is still a mistake to look at physical suffering due to external causes as evil."

Sure, if you're an atheist.

But, if you believe in a kind, omnipotent God, who could rid the world of mosquitoes in an instant, and chooses not to, causing millions of his allegedly beloved children to die agonizing, preventable deaths -- still not evil by your logic? Because then the external cause is due to deliberate inaction by God, and not just due to a bunch of parasitic species doing what parasites do.

"But if the mere existence of pain disproves God's existence then skinned knees and hickeys disprove his existence. There's no need to bring in emotional bogey men like AIDS and cancer. We all die, we all suffer pain. The child has to learn to deal with this. But we are adults, not children."

Strawman argument. I'm not talking about minor, trivial pain. I'm talking about people dying agonizing deaths that, if a human being were to deliberately inflict upon one of us, we would consider them an inhuman monster and probably lock them up. AIDS and cancer aren't "emotional bogey men", they're an integral part of the point I was making.

"Did you even read my post, Jim?"

I read your post. I just didn't agree with it. Happens.




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Post 6

Sunday, October 19, 2008 - 8:47pmSanction this postReply
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     It is good to see Epicurus is not declaring himself god in his introspection. In reply to his riddle one could ask if the devil is happy in hell and if he is happy in hell  why would it be called hell. Sure is fun just to raise a little hell right here.   



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Monday, November 23, 2009 - 6:35pmSanction this postReply
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This quote by our friend Epicurus is a heartfelt one oozing with beautiful articulation. If he were here i would ask him...Is god able to prevent evil but not willing, for a reason?



Post 8

Sunday, October 2 - 8:31pmSanction this postReply
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Honestly guys, I'm dismayed that you all call yourselves rationally self-interested Objectivists, and then call God malevolent when he doesn't give you a free cure for cancer. 

Does it matter if God is able to cure cancer?  Or that we need cancer cured?  Does our need somehow place a claim on His ability? 

Sheesh.  You all argue that Objectivism is the only moral philosophy and place a high value on the ownership of your own productivness, and your respect for the same in others, yet you badmouth God for doing exactly the same thing. 

If you are so convinced that your view of morality is correct, why do you act surprised that God shares it? 

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

This is the humor forum guys, so please don't flame me too badly for that one.  I just couldn't resist.  :) 

Of course, I can't prove that God exists, but if he does, I'm sure he's an Objectivist! 




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