Is there evil in this world?

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

Is there evil in this world?

Postby manolo » Wed Sep 30, 2015 9:37 am

Folks,

We often talk about 'evil' in terms of human agency, but philosophers of religion are also concerned with another form of evil, which they call metaphysical evil. Insurance companies call the same phenomena 'Act of God'.

In The Brothers Karamazov, Dostoevsky writes of the suffering of an innocent child, and asks why we should worship a God which allows this to happen. He is referring to the Christian 'Problem of Evil'. Christian apologists respond to this charge with the argument that suffering is an essential part of human life, helping us to distinguish good and bad in our own lives. They argue that such suffering draws us to the good. To some extent, this apologetics does explain the existence of suffering in the contingencies of this world, but does it sufficiently explain metaphysical evil?

It makes some sense to claim that the case of a suffering child has moral power, inspiring our empathy and efforts to alleviate such suffering when we can. It is possible to see this in terms of the apologetics. However, there are some instances which I think fail the Christian apologist. I am thinking of stillbirth and spontaneous miscarriage.

What use is a stillbirth or miscarriage in the Christian story of sanctity of life? If aborting a foetus is such an insult to God's will and love of us, then why does this same thing happen naturally? We are brought back to Karamazov with full force, questioning why we should put all our faith in such a celestial abortionist? It is not an easy answer.

Alex.
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Re: Is there evil in this world?

Postby noddy » Wed Sep 30, 2015 10:02 am

one thing i notice seems to get lost in the analysis of suffering is the fact our brains and judgement systems are relative not absolute- this means things are judged on our perception of the past and against other people, their are very few absolutes involved.

eg: people who are culturally trained to things i find horrid dont blink at that which tears me apart.

another thing is that so much of our suffering can be our own pity for ourselves - the death of loved ones is us missing the pleasure of being with them as much as any empathy at their possible suffering.

yet another thing is that nature throws up enough suffering that their is no good to be found making more of it (death of babies etc)

many things, nothing.
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Re: Is there evil in this world?

Postby Simple Minded » Wed Sep 30, 2015 11:55 am

There is also a huge weighting of evaluation in favor of our own vain (dare one say selfish?) opinions and predilections.

How do we know that being stillborn is not the greatest blessing God could give? Aborting a baby is an insult to God? Really? Doesn't the Good Book (one of the many, good books) admonish those who are so arrogant as to claim they know God's mind?

Lots of labels out there. Pick the ones you fancy.

Much is done in the name of God (both political and religious), that can simply be chalked up to a desire to control others, or a desire to "play god."

"Yer god sucks cause little kids get hit by lightning." "Yer god sucks cause health care, education, and housing isn't "free."

The person who thought up "humans are inherently evil" was brilliant (but probably also evil :shock:). Cause we are evil we need an external (G)god. Unfortunately the big G god is a monopoly marketed by a few select humans, and the little g god gets selected from the pool of flawed human applicants.

Or so the story goes, if you believe either party line.

Fred: "I prayed to the one, and didn't get the answer I wanted, so now I'm prayin to the other one." :?

Typhoon's signature says it well.
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Re: Is there evil in this world?

Postby Typhoon » Wed Sep 30, 2015 7:08 pm

I recently removed that statement from my signature as it was too wordy.

However, I agree with the author's observation. Reproduced below in full:

The most terrifying fact about the universe is not that it is hostile but that it is indifferent;
but if we can come to terms with this indifference and accept the challenges of life within the boundaries of death — however mutable man may be able to make them — our existence as a species can have genuine meaning and fulfillment. However vast the darkness, we must supply our own light.

~ Stanley Kubrick. Interviewed by Eric Nordern, Playboy (September 1968); later published in Stanley Kubrick: Interviews (2001)


Also

If man merely sat back and thought about his impending termination, and his terrifying insignificance and aloneness in the cosmos, he would surely go mad, or succumb to a numbing sense of futility. Why, he might ask himself, should he bother to write a great symphony, or strive to make a living, or even to love another, when he is no more than a momentary microbe on a dust mote whirling through the unimaginable immensity of space? ...

Those of us who are forced by their own sensibilities to view their lives in this perspective — who recognize that there is no purpose they can comprehend and that amidst a countless myriad of stars their existence goes unknown and unchronicled — can fall prey all too easily to the ultimate anomie. … The world's religions, for all their parochialism, did supply a kind of consolation for this great ache … This shattering recognition of our mortality is at the root of far more mental illness than I suspect even psychiatrists are aware.

~ Stanley Kubrick. Interviewed by Eric Nordern, Playboy (September 1968)


A Shakespearean insight on life.
All the world's a stage.
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Re: Is there evil in this world?

Postby Typhoon » Wed Sep 30, 2015 7:28 pm

manolo wrote:. . .

What use is a stillbirth or miscarriage in the Christian story of sanctity of life? If aborting a foetus is such an insult to God's will and love of us, then why does this same thing happen naturally? We are brought back to Karamazov with full force, questioning why we should put all our faith in such a celestial abortionist? It is not an easy answer.

Alex.


Most early stage fetuses are spontaneously aborted due to naturally occurring errors. The woman is often not even aware that such a miscarriage has taken place.
The debate about abortion arises from base ignorance.

As for the question of a "celestial abortionist",
my personal solution is to have decided, in my preteens, that I have no need to concern myself with such a "Josef Stalin of the Universe",
as the Czech - Canadian writer Škvorecký so accurately characterized such a deity, if s/he exists.

Anecdote. I joined an English language [support, so-called] group for people with my rare health condition.

Some members have recently started to receive that same experimental treatment as I receive with similar positive results.

They often write stuff such as "God answered my prayers."

I think to myself,
"Unless you are referring to your prescribing physician in the most honorific terms, it is the R&D of medical researchers that you should be thanking.
Or were you actually praying to develop this very rare, progressive, and eventually fatal systemic disorder."

Bemused and amused.
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Re: Is there evil in this world?

Postby Typhoon » Wed Sep 30, 2015 8:36 pm

As for the title thread,

Is there evil in this world?


I recall that L'Académie française was debating as to whether or not torture existed. This during the Algerian War.
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Re: Is there evil in this world?

Postby Simple Minded » Wed Sep 30, 2015 11:03 pm

Typhoon wrote:
Bemused and amused.


A good perspective to maintain at any stage of life. I hope that you may maintain it for as long as you wish.

I always enjoyed this hyper-simplified perspective.

"The world is a comedy to the person who thinks and a tragedy to the person who feels."
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Re: Is there evil in this world?

Postby Simple Minded » Wed Sep 30, 2015 11:05 pm

The above question is a lot like asking is there hot or cold in the world.

ah..... seems to be.
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Re: Is there evil in this world?

Postby Doc » Thu Oct 01, 2015 12:25 am

Typhoon wrote:
manolo wrote:. . .

What use is a stillbirth or miscarriage in the Christian story of sanctity of life? If aborting a foetus is such an insult to God's will and love of us, then why does this same thing happen naturally? We are brought back to Karamazov with full force, questioning why we should put all our faith in such a celestial abortionist? It is not an easy answer.

Alex.


Most early stage fetuses are spontaneously aborted due to naturally occurring errors. The woman is often not even aware that such a miscarriage has taken place.
The debate about abortion arises from base ignorance.

As for the question of a "celestial abortionist",
my personal solution is to have decided, in my preteens, that I have no need to concern myself with such a "Josef Stalin of the Universe",
as the Czech - Canadian writer Škvorecký so accurately characterized such a deity, if s/he exists.

Anecdote. I joined an English language [support, so-called] group for people with my rare health condition.

Some members have recently started to receive that same experimental treatment as I receive with similar positive results.

They often write stuff such as "God answered my prayers."

I think to myself,
"Unless you are referring to your prescribing physician in the most honorific terms, it is the R&D of medical researchers that you should be thanking.
Or were you actually praying to develop this very rare, progressive, and eventually fatal systemic disorder."

Bemused and amused.


Very glad your treatment worked CS


http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3702092/
Abstract

Publication of medical research is the cornerstone for the propagation and dissemination of medical knowledge, culminating in significant effects on the health of the world's population. However, instances of individuals and institutions subverting the ethos of honesty and integrity on which medical research is built in order to advance personal ambitions have been well documented. Many definitions to describe this unethical behavior have been postulated, although the most descriptive is the “FFP” (fabrication, falsification, and plagiarism) model put forward by the United States’ Office of Research Integrity. Research misconduct has many ramifications of which the world's media are all too keen to demonstrate. Many high-profile cases the world over have demonstrated this lack of ethics when performing medical research. Many esteemed professionals and highly regarded world institutions have succumbed to the ambitions of a few, who for personal gains, have behaved unethically in pursuit of their own ideals. Although institutions have been set up to directly confront these issues, it would appear that a lot more is still required on the part of journals and their editors to combat this behavioral pattern. Individuals starting out at very junior positions in medical research ought to be taught the basics of medical research ethics so that populations are not failed by the very people they are turning to for assistance at times of need. This article provides a review of many of the issues of research misconduct and allows the reader to reflect and think through their own experiences of research. This hopefully will allow individuals to start asking questions on, what is an often, a poorly discussed topic in medical research.
The classes and the races to weak to master the new conditions of life must give way {..} They must perish in the revolutionary holocaust --Karl Marx
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Re: Is there evil in this world?

Postby noddy » Thu Oct 01, 2015 2:57 am

"The world's got everything in it
It's got news right up to the minute
It's got truth and lies
And the dumb and the wise
It's got a hide and you can skin it

The world's got everything in it
It took a lightning bolt to begin it
It's got big backyards,
And the Marquis De Sade
it's got variety without limit.


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Re: Is there evil in this world?

Postby Parodite » Fri Oct 02, 2015 6:34 pm

Alex,

The Christian (metaphysical) problem of evil I think is typical and inescapable when you try to look think and feel through the eyes of a God. Maybe not so much if you think of God as a Charles Manson, but certainly if it is a reasonably good and well intending one. And if "God is love" then he sure isn't awmighty cause then you'd expect him to so something bout it! Indeed...

I don't see any way out of this apart from various crapologies, like the one you mention where it is explained that being confronted with evil and able to distinguish between good and bad, we can choose freely to do what's right. From the God's perspective this is of course perverse; a Father who doesn't stop his kids with force when they start to kill each other just so "that they learn and do good out of free will". That's the worst excuse for a sadist not to intervene and rather transparent. Charles Manson again.

Similar but a bit less problematic is the question if "objective evil" exists. I don't think it exists, but if many people agree on something they don't like being done to them personally, you have a consensus and shared experience. This happens a lot; many things get codified into civil and criminal law. But different cultures produce different laws and moral codes; there are differences and similarities. Nothing objective about it.

Personally I think the binary good/evil tandem is useless from the get go. Real life has shades of grey and many colors. I'm not sure how much of what we dislike/reject and like/accept is the product of culture. Probably a nature+nurture thing, but how much of each is responsible for the end product? Me don't know.
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Re: Is there evil in this world?

Postby manolo » Fri Oct 02, 2015 7:12 pm

Simple Minded wrote: Aborting a baby is an insult to God?


SM,

Your question is handily applicable to Christians, Muslims and whoever else has a set of tablets or holy scriptures to breath fire over. :twisted:

Folks,

A fair helping of moral relativism on this thread, which makes for a gentle read, but it is more fun having a fire breather to duel with. Maybe there will be someone in the other place to oblige?

Alex.
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Re: Is there evil in this world?

Postby Simple Minded » Fri Oct 02, 2015 7:57 pm

Parodite wrote:Alex,

.......I don't see any way out of this apart from various crapologies, like the one you mention where it is explained that being confronted with evil and able to distinguish between good and bad, we can choose freely to do what's right. From the God's perspective this is of course perverse; a Father who doesn't stop his kids with force when they start to kill each other just so "that they learn and do good out of free will". .....


I think that is why the discussion will never end. Who gets to determine evil? In a universe with an omnipotent God, would not everything that happens be the will of God?

Including AGW? Someone needs to tell the Pope, God ain't on his side on this one.

Then of course, there is the text "Vengeance is mine sayeth the Lord."

There's room for so many voices inside one's head..... which one to listen to.....?
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Re: Is there evil in this world?

Postby Simple Minded » Fri Oct 02, 2015 8:01 pm

manolo wrote:
Simple Minded wrote: Aborting a baby is an insult to God?


SM,

Your question is handily applicable to Christians, Muslims and whoever else has a set of tablets or holy scriptures to breath fire over. :twisted:

Folks,

A fair helping of moral relativism on this thread, which makes for a gentle read, but it is more fun having a fire breather to duel with. Maybe there will be someone in the other place to oblige?

Alex.


Pretty sure the good book says that God is keeping score and will give each their due...... eventually.

Weird part is how many ain't interested in cosmic justice. Seems personal vendettas sell better...... :evil:

Plus it avoids all that nasty denomination labeling! :D

Misanthropes seem more open minded than the rest of us! ;)
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Re: Is there evil in this world?

Postby Nonc Hilaire » Fri Oct 02, 2015 9:50 pm

Huge gray area here.

RC believe contraception is anathma balanced against Judaic belief that life does not begin until the child has over 50% emerged from the mother, and that until then the child is only a potential life and the child should be aborted and dismembered if necessary to preserve the physical or financial well-being of the mother. Somewhere in the middle is the Chinese/Indian opinion that a sonogram should be done and only female babies aborted.

I think sensible persons of all religious persuasions find legalistic proscriptions of these extreme positions untenable.
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Re: Is there evil in this world?

Postby manolo » Sat Oct 03, 2015 8:02 am

Simple Minded wrote:
Pretty sure the good book says that God is keeping score and will give each their due...... eventually.



SM,

Yep, that's the kind of thing. Pope Francis has been selling a forgiveness message on abortion, with absolution as an easy prize. Of course the Catholics have always had this 'get out of jail free card'; the evangelicals like a more prostrated repentance, playing on the doubt that their victim may not be bending quite low enough to slip through the gate.

Praise the Lord. :)

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Re: Is there evil in this world?

Postby Nonc Hilaire » Sat Oct 03, 2015 8:20 am

Francis is correct is on focusing on the adults. God has full control of the unborn, and undoubtedly takes care of them even though theology has no detailed explanation. Abortion is a reenactment of the crucifixion of Jesus and proof that the law can still murder the completely innocent.

There is a unholy attitude among many people that God is not in control and they try to build up horror and anger around abortion, which are certainly not Christian attitudes. They feel mankind must establish political control, which is also anti-Christian.

Only unconditional love and acceptance can address this crime. The law is no solution, and Francis recognizes that.

Hearts must be changed, not statutes.
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Re: Is there evil in this world?

Postby manolo » Sat Oct 03, 2015 8:47 am

Nonc Hilaire wrote:Francis is correct is on focusing on the adults. God has full control of the unborn, and undoubtedly takes care of them even though theology has no detailed explanation. Abortion is a reenactment of the crucifixion of Jesus and proof that the law can still murder the completely innocent.

There is a unholy attitude among many people that God is not in control and they try to build up horror and anger around abortion, which are certainly not Christian attitudes. They feel mankind must establish political control, which is also anti-Christian.

Only unconditional love and acceptance can address this crime. The law is no solution, and Francis recognizes that.

Hearts must be changed, not statutes.


Nonc,

This is the crux of the matter IMHO. I agree that Christians believe "God has full control of the unborn". For them, it seems that the influence of Beelzebub begins only when souls come into the fallen world. The precise function of this is unclear; as you say "no detailed explanation". For this reason, sceptics of the Christian message can note stillbirths, miscarriages, mangled and deformed babes, non viable twins and other sadnesses as a possible problem in the Christian story.

Your point on the "horror and anger" is important. Of course Christians accept that "God is not in control" of our actions in this world. We are free to sin and they can accuse anyone of sinning. Many Christians regard aborting a foetus as a sin and so we have the current excitement. However, not everyone is a Christian. For those who are not Christians, the choice to abort a foetus is not a Christian's concern, but a practical matter for the person wanting the procedure. This is where politics comes in. I have no doubt that many people look to the state for protection against religious intrusion into their lives. In this situation, law is a solution.

So the question "Is there evil in this world?" is apposite. It might be restated as "Is this a Christian world?"

One response would be to accept that it is a sin for a Christian to have/perform and abortion but it is not a sin for a non - Christian to have/perform and abortion. I can't see that happening. There is the question of dominion.

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Re: Is there evil in this world?

Postby noddy » Sat Oct 03, 2015 9:09 am

Parodite wrote:a Father who doesn't stop his kids with force when they start to kill each other just so "that they learn and do good out of free will". .....


at some point maybe you are meant to actually be your own adult, most fathers will eventually force themselves to sit back and let the young adult make their own mistakes, you cant smother then forever.

this part of christianity has never confused me, its the man-god-child and anthropomorhic hairy man in the sky with associated human centric concerns that never rang true.

Simple Minded wrote:I think that is why the discussion will never end. Who gets to determine evil? In a universe with an omnipotent God, would not everything that happens be the will of God?

Including AGW? Someone needs to tell the Pope, God ain't on his side on this one.


hah.

its that human centric god again who puts chaos monkeys on an obscure rock above and beyond the infinity(?) of creation that extends in all directions.
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Re: Is there evil in this world?

Postby Simple Minded » Sat Oct 03, 2015 1:16 pm

Nonc Hilaire wrote:Francis is correct is on focusing on the adults. God has full control of the unborn, and undoubtedly takes care of them even though theology has no detailed explanation. Abortion is a reenactment of the crucifixion of Jesus and proof that the law can still murder the completely innocent.

There is a unholy attitude among many people that God is not in control and they try to build up horror and anger around abortion, which are certainly not Christian attitudes. They feel mankind must establish political control, which is also anti-Christian.

Only unconditional love and acceptance can address this crime. The law is no solution, and Francis recognizes that.

Hearts must be changed, not statutes.


Nonc,

Beautifully said. As usual.

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Re: Is there evil in this world?

Postby Nonc Hilaire » Sat Oct 03, 2015 11:44 pm

Where Francis fails is in forbidding contraception and the morning after pill. Those are ways free will can avoid abortion, and I think it is overly concrete thinking which proves counter-productive.
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Re: Is there evil in this world?

Postby kmich » Thu Oct 15, 2015 1:32 pm

As Ivan observed in the Brothers Karamozov, “I think if the devil exists, man has created him in his own image and likeness…” Evil is nothing but our own construct, and, depending on your particular frame, what one considers good another can consider evil and vice verse.

Yes, Alex, there is evil in the world, evil arises from all our efforts to rid the world of it – and ultimately to rid ourselves of our own inner demons that we project onto others.
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Re: Is there evil in this world?

Postby Simple Minded » Fri Oct 16, 2015 1:26 am

kmich wrote:As Ivan observed in the Brothers Karamozov, “I think if the devil exists, man has created him in his own image and likeness…” Evil is nothing but our own construct, and, depending on your particular frame, what one considers good another can consider evil and vice verse.

Yes, Alex, there is evil in the world, evil arises from all our efforts to rid the world of it – and ultimately to rid ourselves of our own inner demons that we project onto others.


Very similar to the quote "Man has never created a god superior to himself. Most gods have the manners and morals of a spoiled child." I don't recall the source.

Also reminds me of this one:

"A man that has no virtue in himself, ever envies virtue in others, for men's minds will either feed upon their own good or upon other's evil, and he who lacks the one will prey upon the other."
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Re: Is there evil in this world?

Postby manolo » Sat Oct 17, 2015 10:49 am

kmich wrote:As Ivan observed in the Brothers Karamozov, “I think if the devil exists, man has created him in his own image and likeness…” Evil is nothing but our own construct, and, depending on your particular frame, what one considers good another can consider evil and vice verse.

Yes, Alex, there is evil in the world, evil arises from all our efforts to rid the world of it – and ultimately to rid ourselves of our own inner demons that we project onto others.


kmich,

I'll agree with you on the projection and the ridding. However, an attempt to overcome 'inner demons' is not wasted, even if it does result in long periods of zen meditation or even some praying. Immanuel Kant thought, wisely, that morality lies in our effort to overcome damaging inclinations.

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Re: Is there evil in this world?

Postby Simple Minded » Sat Oct 17, 2015 4:14 pm

manolo wrote:
kmich wrote:As Ivan observed in the Brothers Karamozov, “I think if the devil exists, man has created him in his own image and likeness…” Evil is nothing but our own construct, and, depending on your particular frame, what one considers good another can consider evil and vice verse.

Yes, Alex, there is evil in the world, evil arises from all our efforts to rid the world of it – and ultimately to rid ourselves of our own inner demons that we project onto others.


kmich,

I'll agree with you on the projection and the ridding. However, an attempt to overcome 'inner demons' is not wasted, even if it does result in long periods of zen meditation or even some praying. Immanuel Kant thought, wisely, that morality lies in our effort to overcome damaging inclinations.

Alex.


Very well said Alex. There are times when I pat myself on the back for refraining to post, thinking that "someone will say what I want to say better than I will say it," so I delay.

Thank you for stepping up to the plate.

Focusing on ridding oneself of one's internal demons, rather than "fixing" others seems a very Buddhist/Randian approach. It is obviously in one's self-interest to do so, and will simultaneously make society a better place for all.

A twofer! What's not to like? :P
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