Epistemology…again

What does it mean to know a thing?  The tripartite theory of knowledge claims knowledge to be a true, justified, belief.  Let us set aside for a moment that this definition pertains primarily to knowledge as understood in proposition form only.  What are the implications of a true, justified, belief?  What is the procedure leading towards the acquisition of knowledge?  It seems to me, an inherently paradoxical process.  The end result is ultimately to add to an ever growing pool of knowledge, however, to know a thing is only to make it distinct from everything else.  Any true, justified, belief is but an infinitesimally lesser part of an overall sum of experience from which it is (often times, artificially) isolated.  In simpler terms, you cannot know a thing without implicitly assuming everything it is not.  The more precisely you come to know a thing, the further removed it becomes from the whole.  The lines of identity often blur with the more abstract concepts.  I believe it is the way we come to know that leads to the problem of subjective knowledge.  The means to knowledge is not objective, nor uniform, so the end result could never be the same between any two parties.

Harlow’s Monkeys and Ethics in Animal Testing

Where are ethical practices needed most?  It’s a bit of an absurd question on the surface.  The immediate answer might choose to undermine the implicit partitioning of ethical behavior posed by said question.  It could be suggested that “one should be ethical all the times, in all situations.  There is no one situation that necessitates greater attention to ethics than another.”  What I ask however, is not a reflection of the ideal, but a reflection of the world as it is.  Obviously one should behave properly in all situations, but where do we find people neglecting to do so the most?  Not too long ago in my Developmental Psychology class we covered an experiment conducted by Harry Harlow involving the use of Rhesus macaques.  Harlow sought to investigate the nature of attachment between child and caregiver.  The popular consensus among his peers at the time (that being the 1950s U.S.) was that the source of a child’s attachment was purely founded upon the satisfaction of biological needs, namely, feeding.  Harlow posited that there was something more…substantial to the relationship.  He thus set out to illustrate his suspicions with an experimental study.  Now, using actual human subjects was considered largely immoral, even for the 1950s, so Harlow settled on using Rhesus monkeys in his studies.  He separated them from their mothers at birth and placed them in cages with two “artificial” mothers in place.  One was no more than a crude mesh form with a bottle attached, the other, wrapped in cloth with no bottle.  Harlow found that the monkeys almost consistently spent more time with the cloth mother than the wire mother, thus strengthening his position that child-caregiver attachment was much deeper than basic biological demands.  The baby monkeys required some measure of comfort.  But what ended up becoming of Harlow’s monkeys?  He used them to study the effects of social deprivation.  Needless to say, the detriments to the monkey’s mental health were severe and irreparable.  Harlow found that the monkeys involved in the social deprivation experiments could not integrate into other groups and suffered from a variety of other problems which plagued functions not related to social activities.

Now, I’d like to tell you that that was the 1950s and we’ve come a long way in the decades since.  Unfortunately, while there has been many improvements to the way human subjects are treated, animal subjects are still largely getting the short end of the stick, so to speak.  Rodents are still largely exploited to advance knowledge in the field of neuroscience.  In cosmetic testing, animal subjects run the gambit from rabbits to guinea pigs, back to the rats.  Medical testing on primates is by far the most prominent example that comes to mind for most people.  Every form of animal testing is, of course, involuntary - though the abuse sometimes far exceeds simply stripping the animal of a free life.  I think we need to step back and ask ourselves just what the advent of scientific and medical knowledge is worth?  If you wouldn’t do it to a person, why would you do it to any other animal?  A more important question, how much of what you learn about these animals even translates over to humans?  Some of the criticism lobbed at Harlow was that the validity of his conclusions didn’t cross over properly to humans.

So I ask you again.  Where are ethical practices needed most?  I’d say they are needed most in the people who didn’t even know they needed them.  They are needed for the people to whom egregious behavior has become common place.

Reconciling Change and Identity

Who are you?  Who are you right now?  Would you agree that you have an identity to call your own?  Or that you are a distinct individual from your peers?  Most people would answer yes.  However, in citing examples of what makes them unique, they would only be describing a present snapshot of who they are right now.  Are you the same person you were a year ago?  Or five years ago?  Is the present you any more you than the you of five years ago?  That would be equating the self to being no more than the summation of ones experiences.  Yet it doesn’t seem quite right to quantify identity in terms of experience, as then I could claim that you are not as much yourself as you could be a year down the line.  Your identity in the present would be forever incomplete so long as the opportunity for change exists.  The only point in time in which we can safely say you no longer carry the potential to change is upon your expiration; at which point you would cease to be you anyways.  If you carry your identity in physical terms, you should know that your biological state changes just as much as your mental state.  Hair and nails grow, teeth may become stained, even your cells are constantly replacing themselves.  So it appears as though change is intricately bound with ones identity.  But then who, or rather what, are you?  If both your notion of the self as well as your corporeal vessel is in a constant state of flux, neither of which staying the same between any two instances, then what can be said of your identity?  Consider that for change to occur, there must be a present state from which the successive state emerges.  Across all states of being there is a linked commonality.  There is a thing, something, that remains across all changes.  I posit that you are the volitional entity upon which is imposed a constant state of flux.  Identity for such agents consist primarily in the act of recognizing change upon oneself, and not the results of the actual change itself.

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If God exists why does He allow there to be evil and suffering? A number of philosophical reasons have been offered in order to show as to why the following question cannot be answered coherently, thus demonstrating an explicit lack of genuine love and omnipotence in the character of God. These objections can stem from suggesting that if God exists, that He would be ‘essentially’ good; God would/should/could destroy all evil but doesnt; and even that logically speaking, evil contradicts the character of God.  Could it be that if God is all-powerful, he “could” get rid of evil, or that if God were all-loving, he “would” get rid of evil? It seems we have a logical dilemma on our hands since universally we can all agree that evil in fact exists. Is it the case then that God is not all-loving, not all-powerful, thus not perfect, thus ceasing to be God? A relatively new resurgence of public [and to a degree pop-phenomenon] arena of contentious atheists have risen called the ‘New Atheists’. A large central message to their movement persists toward the goal of establishing religion as poisonous, and God as a moral monster (see C. Hitchens, “God Is Not Great”; R. Dawkins, “The God Delusion”, chp. 3; S. Harris, “Letter to A Christian Nation”)
Before I answer the questions above, I would like you to consider the following statement by George McLeod regarding the crucifixion of Jesus, “The cross must be raised again at the center of the marketplace as well as on the steeple of the church. I am claiming that Jesus was not crucified in a cathedral between two candles, but on a cross between two thieves; on the town garbage heap, at a crossroads so cosmopolitan they had to write His title in Hebrew, Latin, and Greek. At the kind of place where cynics talk smut, and thieves curse, and soldiers gamble, because that is where He died and that is what he died about and that is where churchmen ought to be and what churchmen should be about” (‘Only One Way Left’; The Iona Community, pg. 38). In regards to the “what” question of suffering, it is easily settled from the philosophical appeasement offered to us by 4th century philosopher St. Augustine (354-430 AD). Both of his arguments ran as the following: 1) All things that God created are good  2) Evil is not good 3) Therefore, evil was not created by God. 
1a) God created every thing2a) God did not create evil3a) Therefore, evil is not a thing. Augustine writes, “Where is evil then, and whence, and how crept it in hither? What is its root, and what its seed? Or hath it no being?” On this note, Augustine replied, “Evil has no positive nature; but the loss of good has received the name ‘evil.’” (‘Confessions’, VII: [V] 7)Friends, there is no logical inconsistency with the existence of God and the existence of evil. The “why” question of evil ultimately points us to Christ; particularly we should ask, “If Jesus is God and the Son of God, then what is God doing on a Cross?” It comes to this by which we understand God is not outside our understanding of evil but became directly apart of it. He has not lost sovereignty.







Augustine’s argument; that evil is “the loss of good” merely re-names the problem, and leaves us wondering why an O3 God would allow the “loss of good.” It’s also a useless definition of evil.
“Are evil deeds an absence of some corresponding good? Is rape an absence of unrape? Is murder an absence of unmurder? (How many people have you unraped or unmurdered today? We’re committing unsins constantly!) Conversely, if baking your neighbor cookies [or name any random act of kindness] is a good deed, what is the absence of that good deed? Is it evil not to bake your neighbour cookies?” - Iron Chariots.
Most Christian apologists accept the claim “evil exits.” The point of contention here is why, not if.
Bringing in the crucifixion as part of a divine plan doesn’t really resolve anything either, since we’re still left with a world full of evil, and an all-powerful being who should be able to bring about whatever good the crucifixion brought about, without allowing evil.
“The holocaust is part of God’s divine plan? Young girls being raped and murdered is part of God’s plan? If such things are part of God’s plan, even without seeing the big picture one must conclude that it’s a really bad plan. Furthermore, what is the point of a plan if one is all powerful? There are no steps needed; simply create the end results.” -Iron Chariots.







I think you are confused and have not read Augustine. Evil as a privation of the good is not the same as a loss of good, but a failure to do the good. When Augustine and later Aquinas referred to privation it was not a reference to a failure to have some corresponding good. So, in summary, this is a straw man. Privation of the good is failure to do the perfect or right and doing something (to varying degrees) less than what was perfect or right. The responsibility lies with the person who missed the mark; evil exists but only in a negative sense.
If we were all to do the best or right act, evil in human action would not exist. The work of Christ on the cross levels the playing field for us and provides us the opportunity to start again and as N.T. Wright puts it “and put the world to rights.” Great evil like the holocaust is not part of God’s divine plan but is the act of free people failing to choose the good for something much less. That God allows us freedom is a good. The historic consequences of our failure to do the good is our poor choices playing themselves out. God shows us and calls us to a better way and provides us with the possibility of doing so if we choose to follow Him.




I still think he touches on a pretty good point near the beginning of his rebuttal.  Why would an all powerful, all loving God create a world in which people fail to do good?  You often mention that we have free will, but are simply compelled to sin due to our nature.  Would it not make sense to create us so that we are instead compelled to maintain the good?  For that matter, even if God had not created evil, and it truly does not exist in positive terms, why would he allow for it to continue to happen?  Just curious.




Your question (“Why would an all powerful, all loving God create a world in which people fail to do good?”) is a form of the red herring fallacy. God did not make a world in which we fail to do good, God made a world in which we are free to chose. It is logically necessary for free people to be able to choose based on their own volition. For God to create a person that only or mostly choose the good, God would be making a non-free agent. 
God allows a world where evil is chosen to exist as God sees a free agent as a real good and to stop all evil done by free agents would only produce a randomly chaotic world in which consequences for poor choices would not exist and therefore learning from mistakes as well as learning in general would be impossible.




What I proposed was an inverse of Augustine’s take on compatibilism, whereby man was created with free will, but a natural disposition towards the good, and can therefore never be faulted by intent; as opposed to a world in which man has free will, but a propensity to sin.  But let’s scale things back a bit, if God were truly omniscient, he would have known Adam would succumb to sin.  If He were truly loving, he could have prevented this in a number of ways (e.g. why make a tree of knowledge in the first place)?  Eden would then be, for all intents and purposes, what we know to be Heaven today.  What happens now seems to be a round about way of getting to the state man was originally, and should always have been.  If the end goal for God is just the praise of His name, learning things the hard way seems grossly unnecessary.




Your argument seems to keep turning the issue into a red herring. You trail the debate off into a direction that was never intended in Augustine’s position (privation of evil). God sees freedom as a good, to have freedom you have to have authentic choice. To have authentic choice, there has to be an option that exists that’s real. God, because he doesn’t violate principles of logic, cannot make a free being that will only choose the good (as that being would not be free in any authentic sense).
God calls us to the good on a regular basis and points us in that direction, and we fail to choose it. Our failure is not God’s fault, it is our choice. Not even God could make us free and only choosing-good-agents. That is why your argument is a red herring as it seems to try to make the case that the fault lies with God for allowing us to have free choice. In the sense that, our free choice should only be good choice.




The crux of my illustration, and what you seem to be maintaining, is that God, in allowing us free will, has knowingly (due to omniscience) created conditions which allow for the privation of the good. So in a sense, yes, He has created evil, and we’ve just renamed the problem. What I’m addressing is the inconsistency between a maximally good being, and one which must allow the privation of the good. They cannot be one and the same. Claiming He has morally sufficient reasons to allow the privation of good and the suffering of His subjects would be equating him to a utilitarian. In this sense, I also posit that the same God cannot be morally flexible and supremely just at the same time, as this does not allow for objective morality.




When a parent allows an adult child (daughter) to suffer the consequences of her flawed choice (having a baby due to a foolish one night stand), that parent is not being morally flexible. That the parent could have rightly anticipated the behavior and chose not to stop the event does not make the parent the cause of the poor choice or its consequences either. God can be a Maximally Great Being (MGB) and an omniscient being while still allowing evil action and not be responsible for it in the same way the parent is not responsible.
I would argue that you, In calling God utilitarian, are assuming you know God’s thoughts and motives. Making a person with the potential to make choices on his own does not make God responsible for those choices. In fact, God calls people to go in the direction of the good but allows them to make their own decisions, good, degrees of good, flawed or evil. Then, so as to not produce a chaotic world, God allows the consequences to play out. To do otherwise would be to make a joke of the idea of freedom.

This post is starting to get crazy long, so this will be the last time I reblog it.  If you choose to reblog after this I’ll send my successive responses via the message system (to be answered privately or publicly, as you see fit).  But back to the issue at hand.  To allow for evil in the name of the greater good is clear cut utilitarianism.  I don’t need to know His motives, thought processes, or end goal to determine that He has allowed for the privation of the good.  I need only open my eyes.  From this observation, I can surmise that He either doesn’t endorse the good, or allows for the privation of the good for an even greater good (utilitarianism).  If you maintain that He endorses the good, it must be the latter.  Now this directly contradicts with the notion that objective morality flows from His character.  For morality to be objective, it must be consistent with itself (e.g. if it is wrong to cause suffering, it will always be wrong).  This means God’s actions must be morally consistent with itself, which it cannot be if His actions (or inaction) allows for suffering.  And I maintain the point that knowingly acting in such a manner that allows for suffering is immoral and equatable to causing the suffering; though that might be a point of contention in and of itself.  To return to your example, however, if the mother knew indefinitely that her daughter would become pregnant, and that she would suffer because of it, yet still does not act to prevent it, she would be immoral.  Anyways, that’s about all I have to say on the matter.  Thanks for another great discussion Steven.

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If God exists why does He allow there to be evil and suffering? A number of philosophical reasons have been offered in order to show as to why the following question cannot be answered coherently, thus demonstrating an explicit lack of genuine love and omnipotence in the character of God. These objections can stem from suggesting that if God exists, that He would be ‘essentially’ good; God would/should/could destroy all evil but doesnt; and even that logically speaking, evil contradicts the character of God.

Could it be that if God is all-powerful, he “could” get rid of evil, or that if God were all-loving, he “would” get rid of evil? It seems we have a logical dilemma on our hands since universally we can all agree that evil in fact exists. Is it the case then that God is not all-loving, not all-powerful, thus not perfect, thus ceasing to be God? A relatively new resurgence of public [and to a degree pop-phenomenon] arena of contentious atheists have risen called the ‘New Atheists’. A large central message to their movement persists toward the goal of establishing religion as poisonous, and God as a moral monster (see C. Hitchens, “God Is Not Great”; R. Dawkins, “The God Delusion”, chp. 3; S. Harris, “Letter to A Christian Nation”)

Before I answer the questions above, I would like you to consider the following statement by George McLeod regarding the crucifixion of Jesus, “The cross must be raised again at the center of the marketplace as well as on the steeple of the church. I am claiming that Jesus was not crucified in a cathedral between two candles, but on a cross between two thieves; on the town garbage heap, at a crossroads so cosmopolitan they had to write His title in Hebrew, Latin, and Greek. At the kind of place where cynics talk smut, and thieves curse, and soldiers gamble, because that is where He died and that is what he died about and that is where churchmen ought to be and what churchmen should be about” (‘Only One Way Left’; The Iona Community, pg. 38).

In regards to the “what” question of suffering, it is easily settled from the philosophical appeasement offered to us by 4th century philosopher St. Augustine (354-430 AD). Both of his arguments ran as the following:

1) All things that God created are good
2) Evil is not good
3) Therefore, evil was not created by God.

1a) God created every thing
2a) God did not create evil
3a) Therefore, evil is not a thing.

Augustine writes, “Where is evil then, and whence, and how crept it in hither? What is its root, and what its seed? Or hath it no being?” On this note, Augustine replied, “Evil has no positive nature; but the loss of good has received the name ‘evil.’” (‘Confessions’, VII: [V] 7)

Friends, there is no logical inconsistency with the existence of God and the existence of evil. The “why” question of evil ultimately points us to Christ; particularly we should ask, “If Jesus is God and the Son of God, then what is God doing on a Cross?” It comes to this by which we understand God is not outside our understanding of evil but became directly apart of it. He has not lost sovereignty.

Augustine’s argument; that evil is “the loss of good” merely re-names the problem, and leaves us wondering why an O3 God would allow the “loss of good.” It’s also a useless definition of evil.

Are evil deeds an absence of some corresponding good? Is rape an absence of unrape? Is murder an absence of unmurder? (How many people have you unraped or unmurdered today? We’re committing unsins constantly!) Conversely, if baking your neighbor cookies [or name any random act of kindness] is a good deed, what is the absence of that good deed? Is it evil not to bake your neighbour cookies?” - Iron Chariots.

Most Christian apologists accept the claim “evil exits.” The point of contention here is why, not if.

Bringing in the crucifixion as part of a divine plan doesn’t really resolve anything either, since we’re still left with a world full of evil, and an all-powerful being who should be able to bring about whatever good the crucifixion brought about, without allowing evil.

The holocaust is part of God’s divine plan? Young girls being raped and murdered is part of God’s plan? If such things are part of God’s plan, even without seeing the big picture one must conclude that it’s a really bad plan. Furthermore, what is the point of a plan if one is all powerful? There are no steps needed; simply create the end results.” -Iron Chariots.

I think you are confused and have not read Augustine. Evil as a privation of the good is not the same as a loss of good, but a failure to do the good. When Augustine and later Aquinas referred to privation it was not a reference to a failure to have some corresponding good. So, in summary, this is a straw man. Privation of the good is failure to do the perfect or right and doing something (to varying degrees) less than what was perfect or right. The responsibility lies with the person who missed the mark; evil exists but only in a negative sense.

If we were all to do the best or right act, evil in human action would not exist. The work of Christ on the cross levels the playing field for us and provides us the opportunity to start again and as N.T. Wright puts it “and put the world to rights.” Great evil like the holocaust is not part of God’s divine plan but is the act of free people failing to choose the good for something much less. That God allows us freedom is a good. The historic consequences of our failure to do the good is our poor choices playing themselves out. God shows us and calls us to a better way and provides us with the possibility of doing so if we choose to follow Him.

I still think he touches on a pretty good point near the beginning of his rebuttal.  Why would an all powerful, all loving God create a world in which people fail to do good?  You often mention that we have free will, but are simply compelled to sin due to our nature.  Would it not make sense to create us so that we are instead compelled to maintain the good?  For that matter, even if God had not created evil, and it truly does not exist in positive terms, why would he allow for it to continue to happen?  Just curious.

Your question (“Why would an all powerful, all loving God create a world in which people fail to do good?”) is a form of the red herring fallacy. God did not make a world in which we fail to do good, God made a world in which we are free to chose. It is logically necessary for free people to be able to choose based on their own volition. For God to create a person that only or mostly choose the good, God would be making a non-free agent.

God allows a world where evil is chosen to exist as God sees a free agent as a real good and to stop all evil done by free agents would only produce a randomly chaotic world in which consequences for poor choices would not exist and therefore learning from mistakes as well as learning in general would be impossible.

What I proposed was an inverse of Augustine’s take on compatibilism, whereby man was created with free will, but a natural disposition towards the good, and can therefore never be faulted by intent; as opposed to a world in which man has free will, but a propensity to sin.  But let’s scale things back a bit, if God were truly omniscient, he would have known Adam would succumb to sin.  If He were truly loving, he could have prevented this in a number of ways (e.g. why make a tree of knowledge in the first place)?  Eden would then be, for all intents and purposes, what we know to be Heaven today.  What happens now seems to be a round about way of getting to the state man was originally, and should always have been.  If the end goal for God is just the praise of His name, learning things the hard way seems grossly unnecessary.

Your argument seems to keep turning the issue into a red herring. You trail the debate off into a direction that was never intended in Augustine’s position (privation of evil). God sees freedom as a good, to have freedom you have to have authentic choice. To have authentic choice, there has to be an option that exists that’s real. God, because he doesn’t violate principles of logic, cannot make a free being that will only choose the good (as that being would not be free in any authentic sense).

God calls us to the good on a regular basis and points us in that direction, and we fail to choose it. Our failure is not God’s fault, it is our choice. Not even God could make us free and only choosing-good-agents. That is why your argument is a red herring as it seems to try to make the case that the fault lies with God for allowing us to have free choice. In the sense that, our free choice should only be good choice.

The crux of my illustration, and what you seem to be maintaining, is that God, in allowing us free will, has knowingly (due to omniscience) created conditions which allow for the privation of the good. So in a sense, yes, He has created evil, and we’ve just renamed the problem. What I’m addressing is the inconsistency between a maximally good being, and one which must allow the privation of the good. They cannot be one and the same. Claiming He has morally sufficient reasons to allow the privation of good and the suffering of His subjects would be equating him to a utilitarian. In this sense, I also posit that the same God cannot be morally flexible and supremely just at the same time, as this does not allow for objective morality.

When a parent allows an adult child (daughter) to suffer the consequences of her flawed choice (having a baby due to a foolish one night stand), that parent is not being morally flexible. That the parent could have rightly anticipated the behavior and chose not to stop the event does not make the parent the cause of the poor choice or its consequences either. God can be a Maximally Great Being (MGB) and an omniscient being while still allowing evil action and not be responsible for it in the same way the parent is not responsible.

I would argue that you, In calling God utilitarian, are assuming you know God’s thoughts and motives. Making a person with the potential to make choices on his own does not make God responsible for those choices. In fact, God calls people to go in the direction of the good but allows them to make their own decisions, good, degrees of good, flawed or evil. Then, so as to not produce a chaotic world, God allows the consequences to play out. To do otherwise would be to make a joke of the idea of freedom.

This post is starting to get crazy long, so this will be the last time I reblog it.  If you choose to reblog after this I’ll send my successive responses via the message system (to be answered privately or publicly, as you see fit).  But back to the issue at hand.  To allow for evil in the name of the greater good is clear cut utilitarianism.  I don’t need to know His motives, thought processes, or end goal to determine that He has allowed for the privation of the good.  I need only open my eyes.  From this observation, I can surmise that He either doesn’t endorse the good, or allows for the privation of the good for an even greater good (utilitarianism).  If you maintain that He endorses the good, it must be the latter.  Now this directly contradicts with the notion that objective morality flows from His character.  For morality to be objective, it must be consistent with itself (e.g. if it is wrong to cause suffering, it will always be wrong).  This means God’s actions must be morally consistent with itself, which it cannot be if His actions (or inaction) allows for suffering.  And I maintain the point that knowingly acting in such a manner that allows for suffering is immoral and equatable to causing the suffering; though that might be a point of contention in and of itself.  To return to your example, however, if the mother knew indefinitely that her daughter would become pregnant, and that she would suffer because of it, yet still does not act to prevent it, she would be immoral.  Anyways, that’s about all I have to say on the matter.  Thanks for another great discussion Steven.

(via stevenchristus17-deactivated201)

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If God exists why does He allow there to be evil and suffering? A number of philosophical reasons have been offered in order to show as to why the following question cannot be answered coherently, thus demonstrating an explicit lack of genuine love and omnipotence in the character of God. These objections can stem from suggesting that if God exists, that He would be ‘essentially’ good; God would/should/could destroy all evil but doesnt; and even that logically speaking, evil contradicts the character of God.  Could it be that if God is all-powerful, he “could” get rid of evil, or that if God were all-loving, he “would” get rid of evil? It seems we have a logical dilemma on our hands since universally we can all agree that evil in fact exists. Is it the case then that God is not all-loving, not all-powerful, thus not perfect, thus ceasing to be God? A relatively new resurgence of public [and to a degree pop-phenomenon] arena of contentious atheists have risen called the ‘New Atheists’. A large central message to their movement persists toward the goal of establishing religion as poisonous, and God as a moral monster (see C. Hitchens, “God Is Not Great”; R. Dawkins, “The God Delusion”, chp. 3; S. Harris, “Letter to A Christian Nation”)
Before I answer the questions above, I would like you to consider the following statement by George McLeod regarding the crucifixion of Jesus, “The cross must be raised again at the center of the marketplace as well as on the steeple of the church. I am claiming that Jesus was not crucified in a cathedral between two candles, but on a cross between two thieves; on the town garbage heap, at a crossroads so cosmopolitan they had to write His title in Hebrew, Latin, and Greek. At the kind of place where cynics talk smut, and thieves curse, and soldiers gamble, because that is where He died and that is what he died about and that is where churchmen ought to be and what churchmen should be about” (‘Only One Way Left’; The Iona Community, pg. 38). In regards to the “what” question of suffering, it is easily settled from the philosophical appeasement offered to us by 4th century philosopher St. Augustine (354-430 AD). Both of his arguments ran as the following: 1) All things that God created are good  2) Evil is not good 3) Therefore, evil was not created by God. 
1a) God created every thing2a) God did not create evil3a) Therefore, evil is not a thing. Augustine writes, “Where is evil then, and whence, and how crept it in hither? What is its root, and what its seed? Or hath it no being?” On this note, Augustine replied, “Evil has no positive nature; but the loss of good has received the name ‘evil.’” (‘Confessions’, VII: [V] 7)Friends, there is no logical inconsistency with the existence of God and the existence of evil. The “why” question of evil ultimately points us to Christ; particularly we should ask, “If Jesus is God and the Son of God, then what is God doing on a Cross?” It comes to this by which we understand God is not outside our understanding of evil but became directly apart of it. He has not lost sovereignty.




Augustine’s argument; that evil is “the loss of good” merely re-names the problem, and leaves us wondering why an O3 God would allow the “loss of good.” It’s also a useless definition of evil.
“Are evil deeds an absence of some corresponding good? Is rape an absence of unrape? Is murder an absence of unmurder? (How many people have you unraped or unmurdered today? We’re committing unsins constantly!) Conversely, if baking your neighbor cookies [or name any random act of kindness] is a good deed, what is the absence of that good deed? Is it evil not to bake your neighbour cookies?” - Iron Chariots.
Most Christian apologists accept the claim “evil exits.” The point of contention here is why, not if.
Bringing in the crucifixion as part of a divine plan doesn’t really resolve anything either, since we’re still left with a world full of evil, and an all-powerful being who should be able to bring about whatever good the crucifixion brought about, without allowing evil.
“The holocaust is part of God’s divine plan? Young girls being raped and murdered is part of God’s plan? If such things are part of God’s plan, even without seeing the big picture one must conclude that it’s a really bad plan. Furthermore, what is the point of a plan if one is all powerful? There are no steps needed; simply create the end results.” -Iron Chariots.




I think you are confused and have not read Augustine. Evil as a privation of the good is not the same as a loss of good, but a failure to do the good. When Augustine and later Aquinas referred to privation it was not a reference to a failure to have some corresponding good. So, in summary, this is a straw man. Privation of the good is failure to do the perfect or right and doing something (to varying degrees) less than what was perfect or right. The responsibility lies with the person who missed the mark; evil exists but only in a negative sense.
If we were all to do the best or right act, evil in human action would not exist. The work of Christ on the cross levels the playing field for us and provides us the opportunity to start again and as N.T. Wright puts it “and put the world to rights.” Great evil like the holocaust is not part of God’s divine plan but is the act of free people failing to choose the good for something much less. That God allows us freedom is a good. The historic consequences of our failure to do the good is our poor choices playing themselves out. God shows us and calls us to a better way and provides us with the possibility of doing so if we choose to follow Him.

I still think he touches on a pretty good point near the beginning of his rebuttal.  Why would an all powerful, all loving God create a world in which people fail to do good?  You often mention that we have free will, but are simply compelled to sin due to our nature.  Would it not make sense to create us so that we are instead compelled to maintain the good?  For that matter, even if God had not created evil, and it truly does not exist in positive terms, why would he allow for it to continue to happen?  Just curious.

Your question (“Why would an all powerful, all loving God create a world in which people fail to do good?”) is a form of the red herring fallacy. God did not make a world in which we fail to do good, God made a world in which we are free to chose. It is logically necessary for free people to be able to choose based on their own volition. For God to create a person that only or mostly choose the good, God would be making a non-free agent. 
God allows a world where evil is chosen to exist as God sees a free agent as a real good and to stop all evil done by free agents would only produce a randomly chaotic world in which consequences for poor choices would not exist and therefore learning from mistakes as well as learning in general would be impossible.

What I proposed was an inverse of Augustine’s take on compatibilism, whereby man was created with free will, but a natural disposition towards the good, and can therefore never be faulted by intent; as opposed to a world in which man has free will, but a propensity to sin.  But let’s scale things back a bit, if God were truly omniscient, he would have known Adam would succumb to sin.  If He were truly loving, he could have prevented this in a number of ways (e.g. why make a tree of knowledge in the first place)?  Eden would then be, for all intents and purposes, what we know to be Heaven today.  What happens now seems to be a round about way of getting to the state man was originally, and should always have been.  If the end goal for God is just the praise of His name, learning things the hard way seems grossly unnecessary.

Your argument seems to keep turning the issue into a red herring. You trail the debate off into a direction that was never intended in Augustine’s position (privation of evil). God sees freedom as a good, to have freedom you have to have authentic choice. To have authentic choice, there has to be an option that exists that’s real. God, because he doesn’t violate principles of logic, cannot make a free being that will only choose the good (as that being would not be free in any authentic sense).
God calls us to the good on a regular basis and points us in that direction, and we fail to choose it. Our failure is not God’s fault, it is our choice. Not even God could make us free and only choosing-good-agents. That is why your argument is a red herring as it seems to try to make the case that the fault lies with God for allowing us to have free choice. In the sense that, our free choice should only be good choice.

The crux of my illustration, and what you seem to be maintaining, is that God, in allowing us free will, has knowingly (due to omniscience) created conditions which allow for the privation of the good.  So in a sense, yes, He has created evil, and we’ve just renamed the problem.  What I’m addressing is the inconsistency between a maximally good being, and one which must allow the privation of the good.  They cannot be one and the same.  Claiming He has morally sufficient reasons to allow the privation of good and the suffering of His subjects would be equating him to a utilitarian.  In this sense, I also posit that the same God cannot be morally flexible and supremely just at the same time, as this does not allow for objective morality.

christusexemplar:

thoughtswholesale:

christusexemplar:

thoughtswholesale:

christusexemplar:

returntothestars:

christusexemplar:

If God exists why does He allow there to be evil and suffering? A number of philosophical reasons have been offered in order to show as to why the following question cannot be answered coherently, thus demonstrating an explicit lack of genuine love and omnipotence in the character of God. These objections can stem from suggesting that if God exists, that He would be ‘essentially’ good; God would/should/could destroy all evil but doesnt; and even that logically speaking, evil contradicts the character of God.

Could it be that if God is all-powerful, he “could” get rid of evil, or that if God were all-loving, he “would” get rid of evil? It seems we have a logical dilemma on our hands since universally we can all agree that evil in fact exists. Is it the case then that God is not all-loving, not all-powerful, thus not perfect, thus ceasing to be God? A relatively new resurgence of public [and to a degree pop-phenomenon] arena of contentious atheists have risen called the ‘New Atheists’. A large central message to their movement persists toward the goal of establishing religion as poisonous, and God as a moral monster (see C. Hitchens, “God Is Not Great”; R. Dawkins, “The God Delusion”, chp. 3; S. Harris, “Letter to A Christian Nation”)

Before I answer the questions above, I would like you to consider the following statement by George McLeod regarding the crucifixion of Jesus, “The cross must be raised again at the center of the marketplace as well as on the steeple of the church. I am claiming that Jesus was not crucified in a cathedral between two candles, but on a cross between two thieves; on the town garbage heap, at a crossroads so cosmopolitan they had to write His title in Hebrew, Latin, and Greek. At the kind of place where cynics talk smut, and thieves curse, and soldiers gamble, because that is where He died and that is what he died about and that is where churchmen ought to be and what churchmen should be about” (‘Only One Way Left’; The Iona Community, pg. 38).

In regards to the “what” question of suffering, it is easily settled from the philosophical appeasement offered to us by 4th century philosopher St. Augustine (354-430 AD). Both of his arguments ran as the following:

1) All things that God created are good
2) Evil is not good
3) Therefore, evil was not created by God.

1a) God created every thing
2a) God did not create evil
3a) Therefore, evil is not a thing.

Augustine writes, “Where is evil then, and whence, and how crept it in hither? What is its root, and what its seed? Or hath it no being?” On this note, Augustine replied, “Evil has no positive nature; but the loss of good has received the name ‘evil.’” (‘Confessions’, VII: [V] 7)

Friends, there is no logical inconsistency with the existence of God and the existence of evil. The “why” question of evil ultimately points us to Christ; particularly we should ask, “If Jesus is God and the Son of God, then what is God doing on a Cross?” It comes to this by which we understand God is not outside our understanding of evil but became directly apart of it. He has not lost sovereignty.

Augustine’s argument; that evil is “the loss of good” merely re-names the problem, and leaves us wondering why an O3 God would allow the “loss of good.” It’s also a useless definition of evil.

Are evil deeds an absence of some corresponding good? Is rape an absence of unrape? Is murder an absence of unmurder? (How many people have you unraped or unmurdered today? We’re committing unsins constantly!) Conversely, if baking your neighbor cookies [or name any random act of kindness] is a good deed, what is the absence of that good deed? Is it evil not to bake your neighbour cookies?” - Iron Chariots.

Most Christian apologists accept the claim “evil exits.” The point of contention here is why, not if.

Bringing in the crucifixion as part of a divine plan doesn’t really resolve anything either, since we’re still left with a world full of evil, and an all-powerful being who should be able to bring about whatever good the crucifixion brought about, without allowing evil.

The holocaust is part of God’s divine plan? Young girls being raped and murdered is part of God’s plan? If such things are part of God’s plan, even without seeing the big picture one must conclude that it’s a really bad plan. Furthermore, what is the point of a plan if one is all powerful? There are no steps needed; simply create the end results.” -Iron Chariots.

I think you are confused and have not read Augustine. Evil as a privation of the good is not the same as a loss of good, but a failure to do the good. When Augustine and later Aquinas referred to privation it was not a reference to a failure to have some corresponding good. So, in summary, this is a straw man. Privation of the good is failure to do the perfect or right and doing something (to varying degrees) less than what was perfect or right. The responsibility lies with the person who missed the mark; evil exists but only in a negative sense.

If we were all to do the best or right act, evil in human action would not exist. The work of Christ on the cross levels the playing field for us and provides us the opportunity to start again and as N.T. Wright puts it “and put the world to rights.” Great evil like the holocaust is not part of God’s divine plan but is the act of free people failing to choose the good for something much less. That God allows us freedom is a good. The historic consequences of our failure to do the good is our poor choices playing themselves out. God shows us and calls us to a better way and provides us with the possibility of doing so if we choose to follow Him.

I still think he touches on a pretty good point near the beginning of his rebuttal.  Why would an all powerful, all loving God create a world in which people fail to do good?  You often mention that we have free will, but are simply compelled to sin due to our nature.  Would it not make sense to create us so that we are instead compelled to maintain the good?  For that matter, even if God had not created evil, and it truly does not exist in positive terms, why would he allow for it to continue to happen?  Just curious.

Your question (“Why would an all powerful, all loving God create a world in which people fail to do good?”) is a form of the red herring fallacy. God did not make a world in which we fail to do good, God made a world in which we are free to chose. It is logically necessary for free people to be able to choose based on their own volition. For God to create a person that only or mostly choose the good, God would be making a non-free agent.

God allows a world where evil is chosen to exist as God sees a free agent as a real good and to stop all evil done by free agents would only produce a randomly chaotic world in which consequences for poor choices would not exist and therefore learning from mistakes as well as learning in general would be impossible.

What I proposed was an inverse of Augustine’s take on compatibilism, whereby man was created with free will, but a natural disposition towards the good, and can therefore never be faulted by intent; as opposed to a world in which man has free will, but a propensity to sin.  But let’s scale things back a bit, if God were truly omniscient, he would have known Adam would succumb to sin.  If He were truly loving, he could have prevented this in a number of ways (e.g. why make a tree of knowledge in the first place)?  Eden would then be, for all intents and purposes, what we know to be Heaven today.  What happens now seems to be a round about way of getting to the state man was originally, and should always have been.  If the end goal for God is just the praise of His name, learning things the hard way seems grossly unnecessary.

Your argument seems to keep turning the issue into a red herring. You trail the debate off into a direction that was never intended in Augustine’s position (privation of evil). God sees freedom as a good, to have freedom you have to have authentic choice. To have authentic choice, there has to be an option that exists that’s real. God, because he doesn’t violate principles of logic, cannot make a free being that will only choose the good (as that being would not be free in any authentic sense).

God calls us to the good on a regular basis and points us in that direction, and we fail to choose it. Our failure is not God’s fault, it is our choice. Not even God could make us free and only choosing-good-agents. That is why your argument is a red herring as it seems to try to make the case that the fault lies with God for allowing us to have free choice. In the sense that, our free choice should only be good choice.

The crux of my illustration, and what you seem to be maintaining, is that God, in allowing us free will, has knowingly (due to omniscience) created conditions which allow for the privation of the good. So in a sense, yes, He has created evil, and we’ve just renamed the problem. What I’m addressing is the inconsistency between a maximally good being, and one which must allow the privation of the good. They cannot be one and the same. Claiming He has morally sufficient reasons to allow the privation of good and the suffering of His subjects would be equating him to a utilitarian. In this sense, I also posit that the same God cannot be morally flexible and supremely just at the same time, as this does not allow for objective morality.

(via stevenchristus17-deactivated201)

christusexemplar:

thoughtswholesale:

christusexemplar:

returntothestars:




christusexemplar:




If God exists why does He allow there to be evil and suffering? A number of philosophical reasons have been offered in order to show as to why the following question cannot be answered coherently, thus demonstrating an explicit lack of genuine love and omnipotence in the character of God. These objections can stem from suggesting that if God exists, that He would be ‘essentially’ good; God would/should/could destroy all evil but doesnt; and even that logically speaking, evil contradicts the character of God.  Could it be that if God is all-powerful, he “could” get rid of evil, or that if God were all-loving, he “would” get rid of evil? It seems we have a logical dilemma on our hands since universally we can all agree that evil in fact exists. Is it the case then that God is not all-loving, not all-powerful, thus not perfect, thus ceasing to be God? A relatively new resurgence of public [and to a degree pop-phenomenon] arena of contentious atheists have risen called the ‘New Atheists’. A large central message to their movement persists toward the goal of establishing religion as poisonous, and God as a moral monster (see C. Hitchens, “God Is Not Great”; R. Dawkins, “The God Delusion”, chp. 3; S. Harris, “Letter to A Christian Nation”)
Before I answer the questions above, I would like you to consider the following statement by George McLeod regarding the crucifixion of Jesus, “The cross must be raised again at the center of the marketplace as well as on the steeple of the church. I am claiming that Jesus was not crucified in a cathedral between two candles, but on a cross between two thieves; on the town garbage heap, at a crossroads so cosmopolitan they had to write His title in Hebrew, Latin, and Greek. At the kind of place where cynics talk smut, and thieves curse, and soldiers gamble, because that is where He died and that is what he died about and that is where churchmen ought to be and what churchmen should be about” (‘Only One Way Left’; The Iona Community, pg. 38). In regards to the “what” question of suffering, it is easily settled from the philosophical appeasement offered to us by 4th century philosopher St. Augustine (354-430 AD). Both of his arguments ran as the following: 1) All things that God created are good  2) Evil is not good 3) Therefore, evil was not created by God. 
1a) God created every thing2a) God did not create evil3a) Therefore, evil is not a thing. Augustine writes, “Where is evil then, and whence, and how crept it in hither? What is its root, and what its seed? Or hath it no being?” On this note, Augustine replied, “Evil has no positive nature; but the loss of good has received the name ‘evil.’” (‘Confessions’, VII: [V] 7)Friends, there is no logical inconsistency with the existence of God and the existence of evil. The “why” question of evil ultimately points us to Christ; particularly we should ask, “If Jesus is God and the Son of God, then what is God doing on a Cross?” It comes to this by which we understand God is not outside our understanding of evil but became directly apart of it. He has not lost sovereignty.




Augustine’s argument; that evil is “the loss of good” merely re-names the problem, and leaves us wondering why an O3 God would allow the “loss of good.” It’s also a useless definition of evil.
“Are evil deeds an absence of some corresponding good? Is rape an absence of unrape? Is murder an absence of unmurder? (How many people have you unraped or unmurdered today? We’re committing unsins constantly!) Conversely, if baking your neighbor cookies [or name any random act of kindness] is a good deed, what is the absence of that good deed? Is it evil not to bake your neighbour cookies?” - Iron Chariots.
Most Christian apologists accept the claim “evil exits.” The point of contention here is why, not if.
Bringing in the crucifixion as part of a divine plan doesn’t really resolve anything either, since we’re still left with a world full of evil, and an all-powerful being who should be able to bring about whatever good the crucifixion brought about, without allowing evil.
“The holocaust is part of God’s divine plan? Young girls being raped and murdered is part of God’s plan? If such things are part of God’s plan, even without seeing the big picture one must conclude that it’s a really bad plan. Furthermore, what is the point of a plan if one is all powerful? There are no steps needed; simply create the end results.” -Iron Chariots.




I think you are confused and have not read Augustine. Evil as a privation of the good is not the same as a loss of good, but a failure to do the good. When Augustine and later Aquinas referred to privation it was not a reference to a failure to have some corresponding good. So, in summary, this is a straw man. Privation of the good is failure to do the perfect or right and doing something (to varying degrees) less than what was perfect or right. The responsibility lies with the person who missed the mark; evil exists but only in a negative sense.
If we were all to do the best or right act, evil in human action would not exist. The work of Christ on the cross levels the playing field for us and provides us the opportunity to start again and as N.T. Wright puts it “and put the world to rights.” Great evil like the holocaust is not part of God’s divine plan but is the act of free people failing to choose the good for something much less. That God allows us freedom is a good. The historic consequences of our failure to do the good is our poor choices playing themselves out. God shows us and calls us to a better way and provides us with the possibility of doing so if we choose to follow Him.

I still think he touches on a pretty good point near the beginning of his rebuttal.  Why would an all powerful, all loving God create a world in which people fail to do good?  You often mention that we have free will, but are simply compelled to sin due to our nature.  Would it not make sense to create us so that we are instead compelled to maintain the good?  For that matter, even if God had not created evil, and it truly does not exist in positive terms, why would he allow for it to continue to happen?  Just curious.

Your question (“Why would an all powerful, all loving God create a world in which people fail to do good?”) is a form of the red herring fallacy. God did not make a world in which we fail to do good, God made a world in which we are free to chose. It is logically necessary for free people to be able to choose based on their own volition. For God to create a person that only or mostly choose the good, God would be making a non-free agent. 
God allows a world where evil is chosen to exist as God sees a free agent as a real good and to stop all evil done by free agents would only produce a randomly chaotic world in which consequences for poor choices would not exist and therefore learning from mistakes as well as learning in general would be impossible.

What I proposed was an inverse of Augustine’s take on compatibilism, whereby man was created with free will, but a natural disposition towards the good, and can therefore never be faulted by intent; as opposed to a world in which man has free will, but a propensity to sin.  But let’s scale things back a bit, if God were truly omniscient, he would have known Adam would succumb to sin.  If He were truly loving, he could have prevented this in a number of ways (e.g. why make a tree of knowledge in the first place)?  Eden would then be, for all intents and purposes, what we know to be Heaven today.  What happens now seems to be a round about way of getting to the state man was originally, and should always have been.  If the end goal for God is just the praise of His name, learning things the hard way seems grossly unnecessary.

christusexemplar:

thoughtswholesale:

christusexemplar:

returntothestars:

christusexemplar:

If God exists why does He allow there to be evil and suffering? A number of philosophical reasons have been offered in order to show as to why the following question cannot be answered coherently, thus demonstrating an explicit lack of genuine love and omnipotence in the character of God. These objections can stem from suggesting that if God exists, that He would be ‘essentially’ good; God would/should/could destroy all evil but doesnt; and even that logically speaking, evil contradicts the character of God.

Could it be that if God is all-powerful, he “could” get rid of evil, or that if God were all-loving, he “would” get rid of evil? It seems we have a logical dilemma on our hands since universally we can all agree that evil in fact exists. Is it the case then that God is not all-loving, not all-powerful, thus not perfect, thus ceasing to be God? A relatively new resurgence of public [and to a degree pop-phenomenon] arena of contentious atheists have risen called the ‘New Atheists’. A large central message to their movement persists toward the goal of establishing religion as poisonous, and God as a moral monster (see C. Hitchens, “God Is Not Great”; R. Dawkins, “The God Delusion”, chp. 3; S. Harris, “Letter to A Christian Nation”)

Before I answer the questions above, I would like you to consider the following statement by George McLeod regarding the crucifixion of Jesus, “The cross must be raised again at the center of the marketplace as well as on the steeple of the church. I am claiming that Jesus was not crucified in a cathedral between two candles, but on a cross between two thieves; on the town garbage heap, at a crossroads so cosmopolitan they had to write His title in Hebrew, Latin, and Greek. At the kind of place where cynics talk smut, and thieves curse, and soldiers gamble, because that is where He died and that is what he died about and that is where churchmen ought to be and what churchmen should be about” (‘Only One Way Left’; The Iona Community, pg. 38).

In regards to the “what” question of suffering, it is easily settled from the philosophical appeasement offered to us by 4th century philosopher St. Augustine (354-430 AD). Both of his arguments ran as the following:

1) All things that God created are good
2) Evil is not good
3) Therefore, evil was not created by God.

1a) God created every thing
2a) God did not create evil
3a) Therefore, evil is not a thing.

Augustine writes, “Where is evil then, and whence, and how crept it in hither? What is its root, and what its seed? Or hath it no being?” On this note, Augustine replied, “Evil has no positive nature; but the loss of good has received the name ‘evil.’” (‘Confessions’, VII: [V] 7)

Friends, there is no logical inconsistency with the existence of God and the existence of evil. The “why” question of evil ultimately points us to Christ; particularly we should ask, “If Jesus is God and the Son of God, then what is God doing on a Cross?” It comes to this by which we understand God is not outside our understanding of evil but became directly apart of it. He has not lost sovereignty.

Augustine’s argument; that evil is “the loss of good” merely re-names the problem, and leaves us wondering why an O3 God would allow the “loss of good.” It’s also a useless definition of evil.

Are evil deeds an absence of some corresponding good? Is rape an absence of unrape? Is murder an absence of unmurder? (How many people have you unraped or unmurdered today? We’re committing unsins constantly!) Conversely, if baking your neighbor cookies [or name any random act of kindness] is a good deed, what is the absence of that good deed? Is it evil not to bake your neighbour cookies?” - Iron Chariots.

Most Christian apologists accept the claim “evil exits.” The point of contention here is why, not if.

Bringing in the crucifixion as part of a divine plan doesn’t really resolve anything either, since we’re still left with a world full of evil, and an all-powerful being who should be able to bring about whatever good the crucifixion brought about, without allowing evil.

The holocaust is part of God’s divine plan? Young girls being raped and murdered is part of God’s plan? If such things are part of God’s plan, even without seeing the big picture one must conclude that it’s a really bad plan. Furthermore, what is the point of a plan if one is all powerful? There are no steps needed; simply create the end results.” -Iron Chariots.

I think you are confused and have not read Augustine. Evil as a privation of the good is not the same as a loss of good, but a failure to do the good. When Augustine and later Aquinas referred to privation it was not a reference to a failure to have some corresponding good. So, in summary, this is a straw man. Privation of the good is failure to do the perfect or right and doing something (to varying degrees) less than what was perfect or right. The responsibility lies with the person who missed the mark; evil exists but only in a negative sense.

If we were all to do the best or right act, evil in human action would not exist. The work of Christ on the cross levels the playing field for us and provides us the opportunity to start again and as N.T. Wright puts it “and put the world to rights.” Great evil like the holocaust is not part of God’s divine plan but is the act of free people failing to choose the good for something much less. That God allows us freedom is a good. The historic consequences of our failure to do the good is our poor choices playing themselves out. God shows us and calls us to a better way and provides us with the possibility of doing so if we choose to follow Him.

I still think he touches on a pretty good point near the beginning of his rebuttal.  Why would an all powerful, all loving God create a world in which people fail to do good?  You often mention that we have free will, but are simply compelled to sin due to our nature.  Would it not make sense to create us so that we are instead compelled to maintain the good?  For that matter, even if God had not created evil, and it truly does not exist in positive terms, why would he allow for it to continue to happen?  Just curious.

Your question (“Why would an all powerful, all loving God create a world in which people fail to do good?”) is a form of the red herring fallacy. God did not make a world in which we fail to do good, God made a world in which we are free to chose. It is logically necessary for free people to be able to choose based on their own volition. For God to create a person that only or mostly choose the good, God would be making a non-free agent.

God allows a world where evil is chosen to exist as God sees a free agent as a real good and to stop all evil done by free agents would only produce a randomly chaotic world in which consequences for poor choices would not exist and therefore learning from mistakes as well as learning in general would be impossible.

What I proposed was an inverse of Augustine’s take on compatibilism, whereby man was created with free will, but a natural disposition towards the good, and can therefore never be faulted by intent; as opposed to a world in which man has free will, but a propensity to sin.  But let’s scale things back a bit, if God were truly omniscient, he would have known Adam would succumb to sin.  If He were truly loving, he could have prevented this in a number of ways (e.g. why make a tree of knowledge in the first place)?  Eden would then be, for all intents and purposes, what we know to be Heaven today.  What happens now seems to be a round about way of getting to the state man was originally, and should always have been.  If the end goal for God is just the praise of His name, learning things the hard way seems grossly unnecessary.

(via stevenchristus17-deactivated201)

christusexemplar:

returntothestars:




christusexemplar:




If God exists why does He allow there to be evil and suffering? A number of philosophical reasons have been offered in order to show as to why the following question cannot be answered coherently, thus demonstrating an explicit lack of genuine love and omnipotence in the character of God. These objections can stem from suggesting that if God exists, that He would be ‘essentially’ good; God would/should/could destroy all evil but doesnt; and even that logically speaking, evil contradicts the character of God.  Could it be that if God is all-powerful, he “could” get rid of evil, or that if God were all-loving, he “would” get rid of evil? It seems we have a logical dilemma on our hands since universally we can all agree that evil in fact exists. Is it the case then that God is not all-loving, not all-powerful, thus not perfect, thus ceasing to be God? A relatively new resurgence of public [and to a degree pop-phenomenon] arena of contentious atheists have risen called the ‘New Atheists’. A large central message to their movement persists toward the goal of establishing religion as poisonous, and God as a moral monster (see C. Hitchens, “God Is Not Great”; R. Dawkins, “The God Delusion”, chp. 3; S. Harris, “Letter to A Christian Nation”)
Before I answer the questions above, I would like you to consider the following statement by George McLeod regarding the crucifixion of Jesus, “The cross must be raised again at the center of the marketplace as well as on the steeple of the church. I am claiming that Jesus was not crucified in a cathedral between two candles, but on a cross between two thieves; on the town garbage heap, at a crossroads so cosmopolitan they had to write His title in Hebrew, Latin, and Greek. At the kind of place where cynics talk smut, and thieves curse, and soldiers gamble, because that is where He died and that is what he died about and that is where churchmen ought to be and what churchmen should be about” (‘Only One Way Left’; The Iona Community, pg. 38). In regards to the “what” question of suffering, it is easily settled from the philosophical appeasement offered to us by 4th century philosopher St. Augustine (354-430 AD). Both of his arguments ran as the following: 1) All things that God created are good  2) Evil is not good 3) Therefore, evil was not created by God. 
1a) God created every thing2a) God did not create evil3a) Therefore, evil is not a thing. Augustine writes, “Where is evil then, and whence, and how crept it in hither? What is its root, and what its seed? Or hath it no being?” On this note, Augustine replied, “Evil has no positive nature; but the loss of good has received the name ‘evil.’” (‘Confessions’, VII: [V] 7)Friends, there is no logical inconsistency with the existence of God and the existence of evil. The “why” question of evil ultimately points us to Christ; particularly we should ask, “If Jesus is God and the Son of God, then what is God doing on a Cross?” It comes to this by which we understand God is not outside our understanding of evil but became directly apart of it. He has not lost sovereignty.




Augustine’s argument; that evil is “the loss of good” merely re-names the problem, and leaves us wondering why an O3 God would allow the “loss of good.” It’s also a useless definition of evil.
“Are evil deeds an absence of some corresponding good? Is rape an absence of unrape? Is murder an absence of unmurder? (How many people have you unraped or unmurdered today? We’re committing unsins constantly!) Conversely, if baking your neighbor cookies [or name any random act of kindness] is a good deed, what is the absence of that good deed? Is it evil not to bake your neighbour cookies?” - Iron Chariots.
Most Christian apologists accept the claim “evil exits.” The point of contention here is why, not if.
Bringing in the crucifixion as part of a divine plan doesn’t really resolve anything either, since we’re still left with a world full of evil, and an all-powerful being who should be able to bring about whatever good the crucifixion brought about, without allowing evil.
“The holocaust is part of God’s divine plan? Young girls being raped and murdered is part of God’s plan? If such things are part of God’s plan, even without seeing the big picture one must conclude that it’s a really bad plan. Furthermore, what is the point of a plan if one is all powerful? There are no steps needed; simply create the end results.” -Iron Chariots.




I think you are confused and have not read Augustine. Evil as a privation of the good is not the same as a loss of good, but a failure to do the good. When Augustine and later Aquinas referred to privation it was not a reference to a failure to have some corresponding good. So, in summary, this is a straw man. Privation of the good is failure to do the perfect or right and doing something (to varying degrees) less than what was perfect or right. The responsibility lies with the person who missed the mark; evil exists but only in a negative sense.
If we were all to do the best or right act, evil in human action would not exist. The work of Christ on the cross levels the playing field for us and provides us the opportunity to start again and as N.T. Wright puts it “and put the world to rights.” Great evil like the holocaust is not part of God’s divine plan but is the act of free people failing to choose the good for something much less. That God allows us freedom is a good. The historic consequences of our failure to do the good is our poor choices playing themselves out. God shows us and calls us to a better way and provides us with the possibility of doing so if we choose to follow Him.

I still think he touches on a pretty good point near the beginning of his rebuttal.  Why would an all powerful, all loving God create a world in which people fail to do good?  You often mention that we have free will, but are simply compelled to sin due to our nature.  Would it not make sense to create us so that we are instead compelled to maintain the good?  For that matter, even if God had not created evil, and it truly does not exist in positive terms, why would he allow for it to continue to happen?  Just curious.

christusexemplar:

returntothestars:

christusexemplar:

If God exists why does He allow there to be evil and suffering? A number of philosophical reasons have been offered in order to show as to why the following question cannot be answered coherently, thus demonstrating an explicit lack of genuine love and omnipotence in the character of God. These objections can stem from suggesting that if God exists, that He would be ‘essentially’ good; God would/should/could destroy all evil but doesnt; and even that logically speaking, evil contradicts the character of God.

Could it be that if God is all-powerful, he “could” get rid of evil, or that if God were all-loving, he “would” get rid of evil? It seems we have a logical dilemma on our hands since universally we can all agree that evil in fact exists. Is it the case then that God is not all-loving, not all-powerful, thus not perfect, thus ceasing to be God? A relatively new resurgence of public [and to a degree pop-phenomenon] arena of contentious atheists have risen called the ‘New Atheists’. A large central message to their movement persists toward the goal of establishing religion as poisonous, and God as a moral monster (see C. Hitchens, “God Is Not Great”; R. Dawkins, “The God Delusion”, chp. 3; S. Harris, “Letter to A Christian Nation”)

Before I answer the questions above, I would like you to consider the following statement by George McLeod regarding the crucifixion of Jesus, “The cross must be raised again at the center of the marketplace as well as on the steeple of the church. I am claiming that Jesus was not crucified in a cathedral between two candles, but on a cross between two thieves; on the town garbage heap, at a crossroads so cosmopolitan they had to write His title in Hebrew, Latin, and Greek. At the kind of place where cynics talk smut, and thieves curse, and soldiers gamble, because that is where He died and that is what he died about and that is where churchmen ought to be and what churchmen should be about” (‘Only One Way Left’; The Iona Community, pg. 38).

In regards to the “what” question of suffering, it is easily settled from the philosophical appeasement offered to us by 4th century philosopher St. Augustine (354-430 AD). Both of his arguments ran as the following:

1) All things that God created are good
2) Evil is not good
3) Therefore, evil was not created by God.

1a) God created every thing
2a) God did not create evil
3a) Therefore, evil is not a thing.

Augustine writes, “Where is evil then, and whence, and how crept it in hither? What is its root, and what its seed? Or hath it no being?” On this note, Augustine replied, “Evil has no positive nature; but the loss of good has received the name ‘evil.’” (‘Confessions’, VII: [V] 7)

Friends, there is no logical inconsistency with the existence of God and the existence of evil. The “why” question of evil ultimately points us to Christ; particularly we should ask, “If Jesus is God and the Son of God, then what is God doing on a Cross?” It comes to this by which we understand God is not outside our understanding of evil but became directly apart of it. He has not lost sovereignty.

Augustine’s argument; that evil is “the loss of good” merely re-names the problem, and leaves us wondering why an O3 God would allow the “loss of good.” It’s also a useless definition of evil.

Are evil deeds an absence of some corresponding good? Is rape an absence of unrape? Is murder an absence of unmurder? (How many people have you unraped or unmurdered today? We’re committing unsins constantly!) Conversely, if baking your neighbor cookies [or name any random act of kindness] is a good deed, what is the absence of that good deed? Is it evil not to bake your neighbour cookies?” - Iron Chariots.

Most Christian apologists accept the claim “evil exits.” The point of contention here is why, not if.

Bringing in the crucifixion as part of a divine plan doesn’t really resolve anything either, since we’re still left with a world full of evil, and an all-powerful being who should be able to bring about whatever good the crucifixion brought about, without allowing evil.

The holocaust is part of God’s divine plan? Young girls being raped and murdered is part of God’s plan? If such things are part of God’s plan, even without seeing the big picture one must conclude that it’s a really bad plan. Furthermore, what is the point of a plan if one is all powerful? There are no steps needed; simply create the end results.” -Iron Chariots.

I think you are confused and have not read Augustine. Evil as a privation of the good is not the same as a loss of good, but a failure to do the good. When Augustine and later Aquinas referred to privation it was not a reference to a failure to have some corresponding good. So, in summary, this is a straw man. Privation of the good is failure to do the perfect or right and doing something (to varying degrees) less than what was perfect or right. The responsibility lies with the person who missed the mark; evil exists but only in a negative sense.

If we were all to do the best or right act, evil in human action would not exist. The work of Christ on the cross levels the playing field for us and provides us the opportunity to start again and as N.T. Wright puts it “and put the world to rights.” Great evil like the holocaust is not part of God’s divine plan but is the act of free people failing to choose the good for something much less. That God allows us freedom is a good. The historic consequences of our failure to do the good is our poor choices playing themselves out. God shows us and calls us to a better way and provides us with the possibility of doing so if we choose to follow Him.

I still think he touches on a pretty good point near the beginning of his rebuttal.  Why would an all powerful, all loving God create a world in which people fail to do good?  You often mention that we have free will, but are simply compelled to sin due to our nature.  Would it not make sense to create us so that we are instead compelled to maintain the good?  For that matter, even if God had not created evil, and it truly does not exist in positive terms, why would he allow for it to continue to happen?  Just curious.

(via stevenchristus17-deactivated201)

Ethics in the pursuit of longevity

As contemporary medicine becomes more and more advanced, the average lifespan of  those with access to it stretches ever onward.  Infant mortality rates decline, while the number of centenarians only grows.  The world population is estimated to be around roughly 7 billion people or so.  Meanwhile, the humanitarian crusade continues its noble goal of maintaining suitable living conditions in those areas that desperately need help.  Efforts by researchers to eliminate various diseases and preserve one’s health are yielding promising results.  The quality of life is undeniably approaching its zenith.  And yet…

Resources remain finite.  If one were only concerned with the basic necessities however, fresh drinking water is the most pressing. Of all the water on Earth, only about less than one percent of it is both drinkable and available.  The rest is either frozen, or unfit for consumption in its present state.  The demand for this precious resource is directly, and positively correlated with the rise in global population.  As one goes up, so does the other.  And this is just considering water.  Now think of agriculture and industry, and how they will be strained to meet a larger population. As it stands, innovations in providing these services can only check the inevitable for so long.  Excess and luxury is unsustainable.  The human condition itself, is unsustainable.  Controlling for catastrophe and conflict, if things continue to progress as they are currently, the human population will reach a very uncomfortable plateau, and then dip quite dramatically.  Barring the miraculous colonization of other worlds, it is inescapable.  A matter of if, and not when.

So now we arrive at the crux of this post.  Would research into negligible senescence (biological immortality) be irresponsible?  Unethical?  If, hypothetically, a pill were to be released in the very near future which promised you eternal youth, would you take it?

Value-Pluralism

I have more detailed entries regarding epistemology on the way, but just for fun I thought I’d write up a quick code of ethics.  That, and I feel rather bad for not posting anything in some time.  Anyways, this is my first attempt at an all encompassing ethical code.  Expect it to grow and undergo multiple revisions in future posts.  Critiques are, as always, most welcome.

1. Destroy no knowledge - As is the case with book burnings or censorship.  Knowledge is intrinsically good, and should not be conflated with the misuse of knowledge.

2. Think before you speak - Serious matters require serious attention

3. Speak before you act - There is power in the spoken word.  Physical action as a means of resolving conflict should be a last resort.

4. Take not without consent - i.e. no murder, rape, or theft.  This pertains to the property and self of others capable of volition (including animals); though it allows for euthanasia

5. Strive to benefit the whole - Give back to humanity in some way, be it through the sciences or humanities.  If everyone contributes, we all grow.

6. Take care of your home - Sustainability and all that jazz.  Also, literally take care of your actual home, ‘cause that’s just a good idea.

7. Don’t be an asshat - Seriously, don’t be an asshat.  And don’t tell me I’m being too vague here either, cause this transcends time and culture.  Everyone knows exactly what it means to act like an asshate relative to wherever and whenever they are.  It’s common sense.  Just don’t do it.  Don’t be an asshat. (to be revised).

Making Time

Zeno once famously posited several paradoxes about the apparent illusion of motion.  I got to thinking (not too hard, mind you), if he believed motion to be an illusion, then could there be a case for time merely being a construct of the mind as well?  So I put on my special idealist thinking cap and got to work.  Half-way through making a procrastination sandwich, it struck me.  The nature of thoughts can tell us a bit about the nature of time.  Right now, try to think of your next thought.  It’s okay, I’ll wait.  Done?  Now, is it that you were thinking on your next thought, or merely your current one?  Step two.  Think on your current thought.  Now ask yourself - is it that you’re thinking on your current thought or a past one?  Thoughts are pretty slippery devils aren’t they?  They never come when you want them to, and can never be while having been.  If your interpretation of time is rooted in your thoughts, how can you be so sure of the validity of a linear abstraction?  What is, and what is interpreted are two very distinct thing.