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    08 Sep '06 18:37
    This is outline I have come up with on my own. It is not something I cut and pasted from some great philosopher or anything. I know it is long, but I am posting this for those who wish to see a complete, alternative answer to the problem(s) of evil from the Christian perspective.


    THE PROBLEM(S) OF EVIL

    I. Introduction
    A. This problem is unique and important.
    - It is emotional, personal, and immediate.
    - Because it actually, if true, necessitates that God does not exist,
    according to point B.
    B. The Classic Syllogism:
    Premise 1) If God is all good, He would destroy evil.
    Premise 2) If God is all powerful, He could destroy evil.
    Premise 3) Evil exists.
    Conclusion) An all good, all powerful God doesn't exist.

    II. Options
    A. Atheism
    - 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.)
    - It doesn't take the evidence for God seriously.
    - It doesn't take my personal problem (of evil) seriously. It
    leaves me with no answer or hope.
    B. Pantheism
    - This denies premise 1 & 3: God is beyond good and evil; there
    is no such thing as evil; it is an illusion.
    - 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.
    - In short, pantheism doesn't take evil, my problem, seriously.
    C. Polytheism
    - This denies premise 1 and 2: whether there is no supreme,
    reigning, omnipotent, all-good God above other gods, or that
    there is no God near that level of perfection at all.
    - This can't even attempt to answer, because the conclusion
    clearly states a singular God.
    D. Theism
    - This falsifies the premises, but lets see how it fairs, because
    this is the only logical option to be dealt with.

    III. Theism
    - Forms of the problem.
    A) Any evil.
    B) Any amount of evil.
    C) Unjust distribution of evil.
    B) Any amount of evil
    - Logical standpoint: This is a gratuitous problem.
    Premise 1) If God exists, then evil has a justifiable reason.
    Premise 2) But not all evil has a justifyable reason.
    Conclusion) God does not exist.
    - Practical standpoint: There is too much pointless evil.
    ~ Answer: How much evil is too much?
    ~ We (as Christians) can't explain all the instances of evil, but
    we can explain why we can't explain them: The finite can't
    comprehend the infinite.
    ~ In other words, "We don't know why, but we know why we
    don't know why, and we know the One who knows why, and
    that's better than just not knowing why!" (further explained)
    C) Unjust distribution of evil
    - The actions of some often undeservedly affect another.
    - But the question is not why do bad things happen to good
    people, because there are no good people.
    ~ Ex. Compare a sheep's white wool to the grass it stands next
    to. Wow! it sure looks white! Then compare its white wool to
    white snow. Hmm, doesn't look so nice and white anymore:
    It's all who you compare yourself as being "good" to. There
    are too many varying standards of goodness, without
    putting God into the equation (discussed later).
    - The better question is why good things happen to bad people.
    - We have to remember that throughout all of this, that just
    because we don't see the end result, doesn't mean it isn't
    resolved justly: Justice delayed isn't justice denied.
    A) Any evil: this is the only logical option to be dealt with.

    IV. The Problem of Evil.
    - Let's look at the 3 premise's points: evil, omnipotence, and
    goodness.
    - The Classic Syllogism:
    Premise 1) If God is all good, He would destroy evil.
    Premise 2) If God is all powerful, He could destroy evil.
    Premise 3) Evil exists.
    Conclusion) An all good, all powerful God doesn't exist.
    - However what is the assumption in this objection? It is noteworthy
    that the problem of evil assumes that God exists! How do we know
    what evil is unless we know what good is? And how do we know what
    good is unless there is an objective standard beyond ourselves?

    V. Is Evil a Problem?
    A) What is evil?
    - The problem of evil's origin:
    Premise 1) God is the author of everything.
    Premise 2) Evil is something.
    Conclusion) God is the author of evil.
    - If evil is a thing, then God made it, or worse he didn't: resulting
    in dualism. But to deny the reality of evil is the incompetent
    pantheistic attempt.
    B) Did God create evil?
    - The nature of evil:
    ~ Evil is not a thing; rather it is the privation of a good thing.
    ~ Evil is a corruption - the worst things are the best things
    corrupted.
    ~ Ex. Blindness or a moth-eaten garment: Sight is an amazing
    wonder, but it being damaged results in blindness. A new
    shirt can be worn in pride, but a moth-eaten shirt is thrown
    away in disgust because of its corruption.
    C) Is the existence of suffering from nature a problem?
    - There's a psychosomatic unity of man’s evil with nature’s evil.
    ~ From the Christian standpoint, at the point of the Fall (as
    told in the Bible) the curse of sin, pain, and death not only
    fell on humanity, but all of nature as well.
    - It can be described in the following diagram: Imagine a circle
    with a slightly larger one around it, and a third circle slightly
    larger around the second and first. The inner circle is the
    spirit of man, the second is the body of man, the third is the
    realm of nature. When the first circle is disconnected from
    God and cursed with sin, pain, and death, it is a chain
    reaction to the rest, because the spirit is the innermost. The
    spirit of a man affects his whole being, and the corrupted
    humanity affects the realm of nature.
    D) Why is there evil, suffering, and pain?
    - The answer is free will.
    ~ Objection to that Christian standpoint:
    Premise 1) Every creature God made is perfect.
    Premise 2) Perfect creatures can't do what is imperfect.
    Conclusion) Every creature God made can't do what is
    imperfect.
    ~ Answer to that objection:
    Premise 1) God made everything perfect.
    Premise 2) One of those things God made was free
    creatures.
    Premise 3) Free will can cause evil.
    Conclusion) Imperfection can arise from perfection.
    E) Summary
    - God is not responsible for evil. He made it possible, but we
    make it actual.
    - Ex. We do not blame Henry Ford for the accidents that happen
    today, do we? Just because by building cars, Ford made it
    possible for car accidents to happen, doesn't mean that he is
    responsible for the actual car accidents that happen today.

    VI. Is God's Omnipotence a Problem?
    A) Why can't God destroy evil?
    - He can't destroy evil without destroying freedom.
    - Think of the implications: He wouldn't destroy freedom
    without destroying man, because that is the core of our being,
    which can't be taken away without extremely altering us. So
    what if He starts this destruction of evil by destroying you? I
    don’t think that's what we want as humans - death - especially
    since many of us aren't ready to face it.
    B) If God can do anything possible, did He do His best?
    - Did God create the best world? What other worlds could He
    have created?
    - He could have:
    ~ 1. Not created at all.
    ~ 2. Created a world without freedom.
    ~ 3. Created a world with free creatures that wouldn’t sin.
    ~ 4. Created a world with free creatures that would sin, but
    could not all be saved.
    ~ 5. Created a world with free creatures that would sin, but
    could all be saved.
    - Since God could have avoided evil or hell or both, did He do His
    best?
    - Well, here’s the answers to the other possibilities:
    ~ 1. Nothing is not better than something.
    ~ 2. A nonmoral world cannot be morally better than a moral
    world.
    ~ 3. This is a contradiction; it's conceivable but not achievable.
    ~ 4. This would automatically condemn some, while saving
    saving others, which would contradict His just, merciful, and
    gracious nature.
    ~ 5. God would respect our choices, but compromise His
    immediate justice, by allowing all the possibility of being
    saved.
    - So is this the best possible world in number 5?
    ~ Answer: This world is not the best, but it is the best way to
    the best possible world.
    ~ 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 ...
  2. Joined
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    08 Sep '06 18:38
    ~ 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 seems like
    an endless walk before you reach another line, right before
    a fork in the road. The seemingly endless walk represents
    the Age of Choice, which we live in right now. The line
    represents the Confirmation of Choice, where in most
    people's lives is there death, standing at the judgment seat,
    where they will face the consequences of their choices;
    while in some, that line will come in the unexpected return
    of Jesus, as Christians believe. The fork in the road
    represents the two short paths to the eternal destinations -
    Heaven or Hell. Heaven, obviously being the best world,
    and our life on earth the best possible way to that perfect
    world. I just want to stress that although the details may
    differ on how people think they will get to heaven,
    depending on their beliefs, it can't be denied that choice
    number 5, this life we live, is the best possible way to the
    best world, Heaven.

    VII. Is God's goodness a problem?
    A) Is God good to allow evil to remain? Well, first we must
    differentiate between 2 things: goodness and kindness, and His
    goodness outweighs His kindness.
    - God is more concerned about us being good, than us feeling
    good.
    - God is more concerned with our character, than He is with our
    comfort, with our holiness, than our happiness.
    - God lets us suffer not because He lacks love, but because He is
    love.
    ~ (Ex. Doing my kids homework for them is kind, but not loving
    or good for them.)
    ~ (Ex. A boy must sometime thread a needle himself, so he will
    know the pain of the prick, and not always have his mom
    sew for him.)
    B) God, although He didn't create evil, can use it for good in this
    world or in the next: He permits it but doesn't promote it.
    - This world
    ~ Pain keeps us from destruction. (Ex. If we didn’t experience
    pain, we wouldn’t know when we are getting hurt, causing
    severe damage due to the lack of feeling.)
    ~ God uses evil to warn us of a greater evil. (Ex. A boy who
    burns himself at the stove learns not to touch extremely hot
    stuff, such as more dangerous things like fire.)
    ~ He uses evil to bring about a greater good. (Ex. From the
    Bible, the story of Joseph’s slavery and Job’s desolation.)
    ~ Evil can help defeat evil. (Ex. The role the cross plays in
    salvation.)
    - The next world
    ~ Suffering can lead us to repentance. Pain is God's
    megaphone. It motivates us to seek the cure of Christ.
    ~ The struggles of this world prepare us for the next.

    VIII. The Problem answered.
    A) The Classic Syllogism still remains.
    Premise 1) If God is all good, He would destroy evil.
    Premise 2) If God is all powerful, He could destroy evil.
    Premise 3) Evil exists.
    Conclusion) An all good, all powerful God doesn't exist.
    B) Here's the answer, and how it should be presented instead.
    Premise 1) If God is all good, He will defeat evil.
    Premise 2) If God is all powerful, He will be able to defeat evil.
    Premise 3) Evil is not yet defeated.
    Conclusion) God will one day defeat evil.
    C) What seems to be the problem is the very answer! Because God
    is all good and all powerful, we know as Christians He will one day
    defeat evil (in Christ's return)! Don't read the book and criticize
    the author half way through for not resolving the plot!

    IX. Summary
    A) Only the Theist leaves us with the answer.
    B) We know that God didn't create evil, but only the potential for it.
    C) This was done to ensure freedom and our greatest good of love.
    D) God can't destroy evil without destroying freedom.
    E) Although there is possible and actual evil, God still created the
    best world.
    F) God's goodness is not compromised by allowing evil to continue.
    - By allowing it: Lets men freely choose Him; bring good out of it;
    we can better enjoy eternity.
    G) The problem will one day be fully answered and evil fully
    defeated.

    God's plan is ingenious! He created a world without a guarantee of
    perfection, knowing that it would fall. He permitted evil, allowing his
    creatures to freely choose Him and His sinless home, while promising
    evil's defeat.
  3. Joined
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    08 Sep '06 18:41
    I also want to apologize for the unclear formatting. It doesn't exactly match what I typed regarding spacing. Please delve into it regardless and reap what you can. Thank you for taking the time to read it all thoroughly.
  4. Territories Unknown
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    08 Sep '06 18:49
    Originally posted by ngeisler88
    I also want to apologize for the unclear formatting. It doesn't exactly match what I typed regarding spacing. Please delve into it regardless and reap what you can. Thank you for taking the time to read it all thoroughly.
    Good outline. I'll go through it again and see if I'm in complete agreement, but it looks good thus far.
  5. DonationPawnokeyhole
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    08 Sep '06 19:30
    Originally posted by FreakyKBH
    Good outline. I'll go through it again and see if I'm in complete agreement, but it looks good thus far.
    "God is not responsible for evil. He made it possible, but we
    make it actual."

    Which human made eatherquakes actual?
  6. Standard memberdj2becker
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    08 Sep '06 19:48
    Originally posted by Pawnokeyhole
    "God is not responsible for evil. He made it possible, but we
    make it actual."

    Which human made eatherquakes actual?
    The Garden of Eden had no natural disasters or death until after the sin of Adam and Eve. (see Genesis 1-3). There will be no natural disasters or death in the new heavens and earth when God puts an end to evil once and for all. (see Revelation 21:4).
  7. Standard memberNemesio
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    08 Sep '06 21:00
    Originally posted by dj2becker
    The Garden of Eden had no natural disasters or death until after the sin of Adam and Eve. (see Genesis 1-3). There will be no natural disasters or death in the new heavens and earth when God puts an end to evil once and for all. (see Revelation 21:4).
    So it is your contention that the Fall of Adam is responsible for
    earthquakes and that this is in concord with a just and loving God?

    Nemesio
  8. Standard membertelerion
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    08 Sep '06 21:03
    "God is not responsible for evil. He made it possible, but we
    make it actual."


    If I were still X Xian and wrote in this manner, I would point out that if this "God" fellow has omniscience, then he knows the entire stream of consequences resulting from the concatenation of every possible action including his own. Therefore God is at least ultimately responsible for evil because from his perspective making evil possible and making evil exist are equivalent. This is an odd consequence of God's omniscience.

    Now if a human, who is not omniscient, willfully makes possible some disaster, that person may in the some cases be held negligent. This is because the outcome is uncertain from the human's perspective. One cannot expect a human to know the entire stream of outcomes arising from their decision. We can however expect God to know this about his own actions. If making evil "possible" somehow lets God off the hook then we are limiting his knowledge in the same way that a human's is. But this is unacceptable because certainly we do not want to reduce "God" to a simple anthropomorphism.


    Butt prays JESUS, Im no a satanust no mor GOD bliss you dj2becker. You are so brite. You two bruther jaywill
  9. Joined
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    08 Sep '06 21:451 edit
    Originally posted by telerion
    [b]"God is not responsible for evil. He made it possible, but we
    make it actual."


    If I were still X Xian and wrote in this manner, I would point out that if this "God" fellow has omniscience, then he knows the entire stream of consequences resulting from the concatenation of every possible action including his own. Therefore God is at least ult satanust no mor GOD bliss you dj2becker. You are so brite. You two bruther jaywill[/b]
    "God writes straight with crooked lines."

    How can we know that God's apparent "evil" is not actually the source of some greater good?
  10. Joined
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    08 Sep '06 21:56
    Originally posted by telerion
    [b]"God is not responsible for evil. He made it possible, but we
    make it actual."


    If I were still X Xian and wrote in this manner, I would point out that if this "God" fellow has omniscience, then he knows the entire stream of consequences resulting from the concatenation of every possible action including his own. Therefore God is at least [i]ult ...[text shortened]... satanust no mor GOD bliss you dj2becker. You are so brite. You two bruther jaywill[/b]
    Let's look at my outline again for clarification. Because He is omniscient, His plan is ingenious as stated below.

    "God's plan is ingenious! He created a world without a guarantee of
    perfection, knowing that it would fall. He permitted evil, allowing his
    creatures to freely choose Him and His sinless home, while promising
    evil's defeat."

    What was the purpose for Him creating mankind? The answer is simply free worship and free fellowship. In order to not be loved by robots, freedom had to be inserted into the equation, which then further allowed for imperfection to arise.

    I will offer no further clarification on this until you reread section V and VI, which answers your dillema.

    To conclude, you reference even though God might not be responsible, He is at least ultimately responsible. There is no such thing. Evil could have come about some other way maybe. God's plan was a sufficient condition, but not a necessary condition. Nevertheless, there is no such thing as ultimately responsible. To follow your logic then Henry Ford is responsible for the car accidents of today. To follow your logic, the parents of a murder, and even the grandparents of a murderer, should bear the same penalty of the murder, because why not? If the grandparents didn't have sex to have the parents who didn't have sex to have the murderous child, then that child would have never had the opportunity to murder, because it wouldn't have existed. Your logic is ludicrously flawed in trying to hold things in this chain-reaction accountable. Another type of this flawed, would be how people term genuine, born-again believers as different that born-again believers. It's repetitive and unnecessary.

    So either in some cases "ultimately responsible" and "responsible" are in fact the same or "ultimately responsible" just doesn't exist at all. Either way, God's omniscience is not a valid contention against the problem of evil.
  11. DonationPawnokeyhole
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    08 Sep '06 22:00
    Originally posted by dj2becker
    The Garden of Eden had no natural disasters or death until after the sin of Adam and Eve. (see Genesis 1-3). There will be no natural disasters or death in the new heavens and earth when God puts an end to evil once and for all. (see Revelation 21:4).
    Why is a free choice for good or evil such a good thing?
  12. Territories Unknown
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    09 Sep '06 02:10
    Originally posted by Pawnokeyhole
    Why is a free choice for good or evil such a good thing?
    Because it is God-like.
  13. Hmmm . . .
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    09 Sep '06 03:261 edit
    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
    evil's defeat.
    A. Atheism
    - 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... 😉
  14. Joined
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    09 Sep '06 11:512 edits
    Originally posted by Nemesio
    So it is your contention that the Fall of Adam is responsible for
    earthquakes and that this is in concord with a just and loving God?

    Nemesio
    Is it earthquakes that kill people or is it the bulidings and structures they insist on building and living in that kill them during the earthquakes? Would we need buildings and such to live in if no one had sinned and the earth was still a paradise like state as was the Garden of Eden?
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    09 Sep '06 12:00
    Originally posted by telerion
    [b]"God is not responsible for evil. He made it possible, but we
    make it actual."


    If I were still X Xian and wrote in this manner, I would point out that if this "God" fellow has omniscience, then he knows the entire stream of consequences resulting from the concatenation of every possible action including his own. Therefore God is at least [i]ult ...[text shortened]... satanust no mor GOD bliss you dj2becker. You are so brite. You two bruther jaywill[/b]
    Through this line of reasoning God is more responsible for this post of yours that I am responding to than you are. Likewise, my response was ordained by God as well and is his rebutal to himself.
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