Originally posted by ngeisler88
~ From the Christian perspective, imagine this diagram:
A dirt road, which represents the journey of humanity. At the
very beginning of the road there is a line that represents
Creation, while slightly farther there is a line in the dirt that
represents the Fall (as told in the Bible). Then it s atures to freely choose Him and His sinless home, while promising
- This denies premise 1 & 2: since there is no God, there is no
problem of evil.(The problem of evil is reconciling evil with God.)
To state that there is no “problem of evil,” as per Euthyphro’s dilemma may be correct. That is not to say that there remains no question of evil—whys, wherefores, causes, etc. Your whole set-up seems to presume (a) that there must
be a satisfactory (universally recognized?) answer to those questions; and (b) that such an answer must be accessible to us. Both “I don’t know” (e.g., why there are earthquakes and rattlesnakes) and situational answers (e.g., “The reasons that so many went along with Hitler’s ‘final solution’ seem to be....” ) are thrown out of court, so to speak, at the beginning.
In other words, we would like there to be an ultimate metaphysical answer to the questions of evil, therefore there must be one.
- It doesn't take the evidence for God seriously.
One doesn’t need to be non-serious about rejecting what may be presented as evidence for a particular conceptualization of “God” in order to, in fact, reject such evidence if it does not seem convincing. Since the “classic” problem of evil is, as you say, one of reconciling evil with the existence of a particular conception of God, that “problem” in fact counts as evidence against. Therefore, there needs to be countervailing evidence on the other side of the ledger. Your schema does not seem to provide that—it simply argues that the existence of such a God can be explained in spite the “problem of evil,” and the “problem of evil” explained within that framework.
Quite frankly, if one does not count “divine revelation”—and a particular body of such revelation to boot—as evidence, then I don’t see it.
- It doesn't take my personal problem (of evil) seriously. It leaves me with no answer or hope.
It’s quite possible that the truth—or at least the body of evidence—may not provide you with either. If you insist that it must, you are assuming part of what you are trying to argue for at the get-go. That is, the whole thrust of your argument seems to rest on the presumption that the “answer” must satisfy you personally, and give you hope, or it will be rejected out-of-hand. That is a decision that you personally have to make, but it can’t be a test of “the facts.”
- Evil is an illusion of unenlightened human consciousness: This has bad implications, in that rape and murder are equal with love, life is equal to death, praise to cursing, cruelty to noncruelty.
First, as I tried to say above, if the truth has “bad implications,” that doesn’t necessarily make it less true.
More to the point of your presentation here, I think this is a mischaracterization—as a monist, I would be more likely to say (assuming, again, that there is
an answer) that people commit evil acts ultimately because they perceive reality in an illusive manner. As a priest friend of mine put it, Christianity tends to treat sin as the result of rebellion against God’s laws, monists tend to treat it as the result of illusion in how we perceive the reality in which we live. This basic premise seems to be subject to more than one treatment, as is the Christian viewpoint.
I have come across no monist who says that “rape and murder are equal with love.” No Sufi would say that; just as no Buddhist would say that rape and murder are equal with compassion. This, too, would be illusion—and a most pernicious illusion at that.
I do not think you understand the term “illusion” (maya
) as it is used (sometimes somewhat differently) in the monistic systems.
- In short, pantheism doesn't take evil, my problem, seriously.
Pantheism is a broad term. I am speaking of the monist viewpoint as, say, in Zen or Advaita Vedanta. Those systems of thought do take the question of evil seriously. As you note, the classical “problem of evil” does not arise, because of the absence of the concept of an omnipotent and omni-benevolent being. Just because you do not find their answer satisfactory, does mean the question is not treated seriously.
The whole rest of your argument (well-presented as it is) is an attempt to address the problem of evil after
assuming the points that I noted above, namely—
(1) That there is a being such as described by the God of supernatural theism (namely, here, Christianity);
(2) That there is an ultimate, universal answer to the problem of evil (and that it is accessible to us, at least in part);
(3) That any answer to the question
of evil must be in accord with those assumptions in order to be (personally ) satisfactory.
I have no problem with your seeking an answer that is personally satisfying—that is part of the basic aesthetics of our existence. I have no problem with your decision of faith to live your life in the light of such an answer. But I would offer that, we can test our faith by the facts (as we find them); we really cannot do it the other way ‘round, without confusing perhaps both faith and facts.
BTW, I think you are entangled in illusion...