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Re: [socratescafe-114] Can God and Evil both exist?

From: user 2.
Sent on: Tuesday, January 10, 2012 6:08 AM

I don't believe in good and evil.  I believe in wisodm or ignorance.

(knowledge of the truth or ignorance of the truth.


From: "Darren" <[address removed]>
To: [address removed]
Sent: Monday, January 9,[masked]:46:39 AM
Subject: RE: [socratescafe-114] Can God and Evil both exist?

Isiah 45:7 is why evil exists.


From: [address removed]
To: [address removed]
Subject: [socratescafe-114] Can God and Evil both exist?
Date: Wed, 1 Jun[masked]:14:59 -0400

 

Can you believe in a good God with so much evil in the world?

 
Sam:  Socrates, is God good?
 
Socrates:  What do you mean by good?
 
Sam:  Not being evil?
 
Socrates:  What is evil?
 
Sam:  The absence of good?  This is not getting us very far.  Is that because you do not have an answer?
 
Socrates:  Patience, speed can kill good thought.
 
Sam:  So, how can God be good with there being so much evil in the world?
 
Socrates:  Give me examples of there being evil in the world.
 
Sam:  Well, let me see.  There are things like sickness, accidents, famines, droughts, and hurricanes that cause human suffering. 
 
Socrates:  So, part of the ?evil? in the world is that some circumstances of life occur that create pain and death.   So you question is if there is a God that has anywhere near infinite power why would that God allow such painful events to occur if that God is good?   It seems like poor management to you at best or purposeful neglect which is planned to cause pain.  So this would seem to you to mean that God is lacking in competence or in character, if not in both.  
 
Sam:  Yes, that is part of it.
 
Socrates:  Good, now let us call that ?circumstantial pain?.   Is there more to evil than that or is there another part of it?  Give me some more examples. 
 
Sam:  Well in addition, there are things like murder, rape, torture, and stealing.   People commit cruel and horrible crimes.  If God is the ?universal policeman? then it would seem that God should prevent these crimes from being committed and save the innocent victims from harm.
 
Socrates:  So if it is God?s responsibility to stop people from hurting other people then either God is failing in competence or character, if not both. 
 
Sam:  Yes, considering all the ways that human beings suffer during this life how can God who is suppose to have nearly universal power and knowledge be considered a being of competence or character since God allows so much suffering to occur. 
 
Socrates:  So all there is to life is either suffering from physical pain, disasters, death, abuse, and crime? 
 
Sam:  No, that is not true.  Life also has in it moments of pleasure, peace, health, order, harmony, love, and justice.
 
Socrates:  If life did not have these aspects would ?evil? seem ?evil? to you?
 
Sam:  That is interesting.  It would not feel good but if that was all there was it would be hard to imagine something better.  I would most likely be more accepting of it if the pleasurable things and right things did not exist. 
 
Socrates:  If there was no thought or idea of ethical good in you would you be able to define, see, or know ethical evil?
 
Sam:  Fascinating!  No, if I did not have some inward concept of ethical good then I would only know both inwardly and outwardly moral evil and it would simply seem to be the way things were and not seem ?evil? to me since it could not be contrasted with something better.
 
Socrates:  Do you think human beings would continue to survive if all they experienced was circumstantial and ethical evil?
 
Sam:  No, I cannot imagine we would really survive.  If we did it would be at a minimal level at best.
 
Socrates:  So your struggle with circumstantial and ethical ?evil? is experienced only because of the circumstantial and ethical ?good? that you experience.  Is this true?
 
Sam:  Yes, that seems to be the case.
 
Socrates:  Where did the circumstantial and ethical ?good? come from?
 
Sam:  What do you mean?
 
Socrates:  Well as we discussed logic leads us to believe in an intelligent and willful causeless first cause.  This is normally what we mean by ?God?.  So if this causeless first cause is not the source of circumstantial and ethical good where did it come from?  If ?God? is ?evil? how did ?good? arise?
 
Sam:  Well either the normal state intended by the uncaused cause is circumstantial and moral evil and circumstantial and moral good is something that has developed independent of the first cause or the ultimate intelligence in the universe is the source of both good and evil, or the ultimate source of the universe is good and the creation has somehow deviated from the designers original design. 
 
Socrates:  That is very good.  Let me see if I understand what you are saying.  Our options are:
 
1.  The uncaused intelligent cause is evil and the good we find is a deviation of the original evil design of the universe.
 
2.  The uncaused intelligent cause is both good and evil and the universe reflects the original design since it represents both sides of the uncaused cause.
 
3.  The uncaused intelligent cause is good and the universe reflects a deviation of the original good design of the universe. 
 
Is this a good summary of what you were thinking?
 
Sam:  Yes that is it?  Can you think of any other possibilities?
 
Socrates:  Perhaps just one.   Perhaps the uncaused intelligent cause knew that only by permitting circumstantial and ethical evil that a greater good could be reached. 
 
For example, pregnancy is a ?circumstantial evil? in that it has great pain involved and even produces a life threatening situation but it is chosen by many people despite the risk for the greater good of having a child.  
 
Or in the cause of the civil state we do not put all citizens in chains in order to prevent crime.   We would see the imprisonment of all people as complete tyranny because we value freedom more than we fear tyranny.  So we allow ethical evil because we value freedom more than protection against ethical evil.  At least this is true in the societies that are seen as the most just cultures since they operate like this; for we see tyranny itself as an ethical evil.   So the good of allowing freedom can only be experienced if we permit the potential of crime, abuse, and ethical evil. 
 
Sam:  But could not the uncaused intelligent cause if all powerful and all good produce this ?greater good? without allowing circumstantial and ethical evil? 
 
Socrates:  Absolute power and knowledge does not allow one to escape logical necessity.
 
Sam:  What do you mean by that?
 
Socrates:   Assuming that the uncaused intelligent cause is not insane then that means that the uncaused intelligent cause is sane and therefore logical.   Now this is assuming that the uncaused intelligent cause is not evil since insanity would be  the greatest type of evil since it would remove even the knowledge of ethical good and evil.  So assuming that the design we see in creation represents a logical mind it also represents a sane mind.  If this is the case then the uncaused intelligent cause must act in accordance with logic. 
 
Sam:  So the uncaused intelligent cause is logical.  How does that help us?
 
Socrates:  You cannot at the same time allow and not allow freedom to moral beings.  Therefore either the uncaused intelligent cause could be a tyrant and not allow any freedom or the uncaused intelligent cause could allow freedom and therefore have to be permitting ethical evil.   Being all powerful and all knowing does not allow you to escape hard choices. 
 
Sam:  So the uncaused cause had to choose between tyranny or freedom?   Maybe tyranny would have been better.
 
Socrates:  Let us think about that.  Let us say that human were programmed so that they could only do the ethical good and not even think about ethical evil.  Would they have virtue?  Does not virtue to be virtue have to be chosen?
 
Sam:  So if the uncaused intelligent cause had not permitted us to think in ethical terms and feely choose either good or evil, then we would be without ethical virtue or character.
 
Socrates:  Nor would we be able to think logically since as we have seen if one is thinking one must deal with these issues.   So we would also not be able to think as we now think.  The uncaused intelligent cause would have had to give each of us a lobotomy to keep us from thinking about ethical issues. 
 
Sam:  If that was the case we would not be human since those aspects of being able to think and to seek virtue are at the core of our human nature. 
 
Socrates:  So it would seem that if the uncaused intelligent cause wanted there to be human beings as we know them in the universe then the uncaused intelligent cause had to choose the road of freedom instead of tyranny.  Only by not allowing human beings to exist could the uncaused intelligent cause create a world where no potential of ethical evil existed. 
 
Sam:  So you are saying that the uncaused intelligent cause if it wanted human beings to exist had to allow the real potential of ethical evil.  Is that what you are saying?
Socrates:  Yes, I believe that is the road logic has taken us down.  In addition the uncaused intelligent cause had to demonstrate great courage in choosing to give freedom since it would have to cause the uncaused intelligent cause great pain.
 
Sam:  The uncaused intelligent cause would feel pain over ethical evil?  Why is that?
 
Socrates:  Assuming the FIRST CAUSE is a good being that loves order and hates disorder then all disorder would have to cause the FIRST CAUSE pain.   A person of virtue always feels pain in the presence of injustice.  Yet, in allowing human beings freedom and therefore permitting ethical evil the FIRST CAUSE was choosing to feel great pain in order to bring about the greater good of allowing a higher order of beings to exist who could have intellectual and moral freedom. 
 
Sam:  So assuming this to be true the FIRST CAUSE would be a being of virtue for the choice would have been to suffer pain in order to gain a greater good instead of taking the easier road of tyranny in which the FIRST CAUSE would not have felt any pain but the greater good of human beings existing would have been lost. 
 
Socrates:  That is I believe a consistent conclusion based on our current assumptions. 
 
Sam:  So since virtue is choosing the good over evil the uncaused intelligent cause has virtue since the FIRST CAUSE chose freedom for human being instead of tyranny. 
 
Socrates:  Yes, that would seem to be the case.  So at least from this perspective is it possible for there to be ethical evil and for good God who is both infinite in power and knowledge to exist?  The answer would be yes.
 
Sam:  That is interesting.  But what are we to do about finding ultimate justice for the innocent?
 
Socrates:  Well the myths and revelations of most people seem to indicate that the FIRST CAUSE will hold all human beings responsible for their actions and execute a day of judgment.  The myth of Er that I tell which Plato likes so much is one such story.  If the soul of human beings exists after death then it is logical to assume that the FIRST CAUSE who created us free and moral will also judge our performance in this life and  provide justice for victims of injustice.   This is not an illogical viewpoint and one that allows us to see the demands of justice met by the FIRST CAUSE and maker.
 
Sam:  Such an idea would support the idea of the uncaused intelligent cause being good. 
 
Socrates:  Let us go back to the three points you raised since we deviated from that earlier.
 
Sam:  That sounds good to me. 
 
Socrates:   Let me see if I remember.  Oh, yes you had done a good job in summarizing the possible answers to our dilemma. 
 
1.  The uncaused intelligent cause is evil and the good we find is a deviation of the original evil design of the universe.
 
2.  The uncaused intelligent cause is both good and evil and the universe reflects the original design since it represents both sides of the uncaused cause.
 
3.  The uncaused intelligent cause is good and the universe reflects a deviation of the original good design of the universe. 
 
Did I remember that right?  You know how important remembering is to knowledge.
 
Sam:  Yes, that is what we were talking about. 
 
Socrates:   Well let us look at the first option.  If the uncaused intelligent cause is evil we have no explanation for good existing.   Can good come out of evil?
 
Sam:  It would be hard to imagine how.
 
Socrates:  I agree.  Evil is a lack of good.  It has no separate existence apart from being compared to the good. 
 
Sam:  So the uncaused intelligent cause cannot be evil because we then cannot explain the existence of good. 
 
Socrates:  That seems to be right.  An evil uncaused intelligent cause would have chosen tyranny and would never have allowed the freedom for good to arise.  So I do not think this is logically possible. 
 
Sam:  So our first option does not seem very likely.
 
Socrates:  No, so let us move to the next that seems to have a greater hope of being true.
 
Sam:  The uncaused intelligent cause is a mixture of good and evil and therefore the good and evil we see in the universe reflect who the uncaused intelligent cause?s being. 
 
Socrates:  Yes, now the problem is that the uncaused cause is both good and evil could we ever have any hope that good would win out.
 
Sam:  No, since the uncaused intelligent cause would have no reason to change what reflects the uncaused intelligent cause?s nature.
 
Socrates:  Also, when talking about such an infinite being does it seem as though we could have sanity and insanity both dwelling in the same being?
 
Sam:  That would be a paradox. 
 
Socrates:  A true paradox cannot exist.   It is a violation of the most basic rule of logic.  This is the rule of non-contradiction.   It's plain that the same thing won't be willing at the same time to do or suffer opposites with respect to the same part and in relation to the same thing. 
 
Sam:  So the uncaused intelligent cause cannot be the source of both good and evil.
 
Socrates:  That again seems to be the case.
 
Sam:  So then we are left with our last option.
 
Socrates:  Yes, the uncaused intelligent cause is good and the universe reflects a deviation of the original good design of the universe. 
 
Sam:  Does this make sense?
 
Socrates:  Does ethical freedom among human beings allow for the deviation from ethical good to ethical evil?
 
Sam:  We have seen that it does.
 
Socrates:  Was it necessary for an uncaused intelligent cause to grant freedom to be a being of virtue? 
 
Sam:  Yes, it would seem so.
 
Socrates:  So then we can see how the uncaused intelligent cause could be ethically good and yet there exist ethical evil as a deviation from his original design?
 
Sam:  Yes, that would seem consistent with our discussion on tyranny and freedom.
 
Socrates:  But what about the evil of physical pain, circumstantial disasters, and death?  How could we explain that?
 
Sam:  That continues to be hard to figure out. 
 
Socrates:  Let us consider some relationships between ethical and physical evil.  Do human beings think of themselves normally as ethically good or evil?
 
Sam:  Most people think of themselves as good and blame what evil they do on others or society.
 
Socrates:  If there was no pain, suffering, or death would people be inclined to think there was any deviation from the design of the universe even though they did moral evil?
 
Sam:  If we lived in a physical paradise we would be inclined to justify that all was as it should be in the world and be less inclined to ask questions.
 
Socrates:  Do good rulers punish bad behavior or do they simply let bad behavior go unpunished?
 
Sam:  Good rulers punish bad behavior.  Punishment always has with it some pain. 
 
Socrates:  Is all pain bad?
 
Sam:  No, when I walk on hot stones the pain gets me to move so that I do not damage myself.
 
Socrates:  So all physical pain and suffering is not bad.  Some of it has good effect and helps us to survive?
 
Sam:  Yes that seems true. 
 
Socrates:  Does some pain motivate me to seek the ethical good.
 
Sam:  Yes, because of consequences I can see that an unethical action brings suffering to myself and others I care for and therefore I seek to stop this behavior for the common good.
 
Socrates:  So at times some pain and suffering helps us seek virtue?   Would it be better to have less pain and suffering but then more ethical evil?
 
Sam:  No it would be better to have pain and suffering that helps prevent ethical evil.
 
Socrates:  If some evil people poison the well of a village do only the evil people suffer from drinking the polluted water? 
 
Sam:  No all who drink from it suffer. 
 
Socrates:  So my ethical evil can hurt others and cause them harm?  So is it true that innocent people can suffer because of the evil of others.  This is part of what freedom allows?
 
Sam:  Yes that is true. 
 
Socrates:  So while we may not be able to fully explain every aspect of pain and suffering we can see that pain and suffering can be connected to our deviation from the good of the uncaused first cause.   One wise man once said:  ?There is more wisdom in the house of sorrow than in the house of pleasure?.  I think he meant by this that we are more inclined to ask ourselves ultimate questions because there we suffer pain than if we were pain free. 
 
Sam:  So pain helps us to come to be lovers of wisdom.
 
Socrates:  So it would seem.  Pain encourages philosophy.  This is the ultimate virtue of human beings.
 
Sam:  So it would be possible for the uncaused intelligent cause of all things to be good and for there to be evil in the world?
 
Socrates:  That would seem to be the case based on our discussion.  There can be a good and infinite God and evil in the universe speaking from a logical point of view. 




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