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Featured Questioning theodicy. Suffering and God. What say you?

Discussion in 'Religious Debates' started by firedragon, Jan 9, 2021.

  1. firedragon

    firedragon Well-Known Member

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    Oh yes. Its a valid question. How would a theist answer this question? How would an atheist ask this question?

    Theodicy arose not purely from atheists asking the question of suffering form theists but theists themselves making a whole subject out of it. I am no expert in the Jewish faith mostly due to its width of material. Yet, them as an example have been discussing theodicy extensively and lengthily. At least as I know from around the third century BC. Material shows that from the Maccabees to the Bar Kokhba which spans around four centuries the jews became more interested in this subject. Some of the explanations have been divine retribution, peoples unfaithfulness etc. Eschatological responses say that the ones who suffer in vain actually dont. Its not in vain. Because the righteous will be brought back to life and rewarded. I think they have just too vast a vault of ideas so there is no way to do justice to the theories. Maybe some of our members could assist. Ben Sira says "Good to the good he distributed from the beginning thus to the wicked good and bad" yet there does exist a dispute in the Greek translation where "good" was turned into "determinism".

    Philo came with his Hellenistic twist where God is "absolute goodness". This led to the idea that punishment was dispensed by subordinates of God, not by God himself. Philo’s retribution theodicy emphasises on the inner life of the soul, which means alienation from God is the greatest punishment humans can ever receive. Suffering in the body is not important if a human being’s soul is free.

    In the Christian world, someone like Augustine would speak of Gods perfection in a different manner. God is all perfect, his creation is also perfect, but the perfection of his creation is not equal to the perfection of God himself. He seems to speak of an "overall good" which means it is a creation of equity, not equality. Ultimately, everything fits, and that is perfection. He says "The cause of evil is the defection of the will of a being who is mutably good from the Good that is immutable. This happened first in the case of the angels and, afterwards, that of man".

    In the Islamic world there are some people like Ibn Thaimiyya who expounded on theodicy rejecting the freewill theodicy where humans having freewill do nasty things, and as retribution God does nasty things, is a concept he rejected saying its "anthropomorphism" of God. Basically he was speaking against the Muatazili theodicy of "free-will". Yet, he also argues that if God was to force someone to not do anything wrong to someone else which causes suffering, then there is no room for value of doing good. That is one of the reasons he says that God has allowed a naturalistic world in order to allow humans freewill and naturalism, not in faith or philosophy, but in life.

    I understand that its a very vast subject. But what are the real questions that atheists have against this God concept with the equation of theodicy and suffering? What are the theistic responses?

    What is your take?
     
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  2. stvdv

    stvdv Veteran Member

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    Questioning theodicy. Suffering and God. What say you?
    Humans love to consider themselves the center of the world, very important
    IF I develop humility, open my eyes to the vastness of this earth/universe
    Such a question, implying EGO centered, seems really futile to me
     
    #2 stvdv, Jan 9, 2021
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2021
  3. sun rise

    sun rise "This is the Hour of God"
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    At one point in my journey, the issue of theodicity was part of my thought process. My studies led me to the conclusion that this is an issue in the West not in the East where the concepts of karma and reincarnation hold sway.

    Trying to apply this to a single person is hard and fraught with errors from my perspective so blaming a person for their own suffering is not only wrong but will itself lead to karmic rebalancing.

    Let's say I murder someone. In a future life, does that person murder me to balance the karma? Do I save that person's life at the cost of my own to balance the karma? I can go wild with other possibilities.​

    Add to this a perspective present in a children's song "life is but a dream". From that perspective, when we 'wake up', we realize that all apparent suffering and joy was only a dream so what is apparent to us now is truly not real.
     
  4. Heyo

    Heyo Well-Known Member

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    [​IMG]

    Epicurus lived 341–270 BC.

    From the atheist and even more so from the Agnostic point of view it is a test question. "What are the attributes of your god?" and "Are you willing to accept logic as a valid tool to find the truth?"
    Depending on how the believers tries to wind out of the trilemma, I know where his priorities lie. The True Believer™ doesn't question omnipotence or omnibenevolence and instead questions reality. With him no further discussion can be fruitful.
     
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  5. danieldemol

    danieldemol Well-Known Member
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    There is no resolution to the problem of evil that involves an omnipotent omniscient deity that i know of.
     
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  6. Tony Bristow-Stagg

    Tony Bristow-Stagg One Planet One People Please
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    Cause and Effect may sum up.

    A cause that allows a myriad of choices.

    Regards Tony
     
  7. dybmh

    dybmh Terminal Optimist
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    I mentioned this in the past... it seems to me that this logic fails at the condition "If God can prevent evil but chooses not to, God is malevolent". This ignores the possible condition: "If God can prevent evil, but, chooses not to; God is only malevolent IF there is more evil than good."

    If there is more good in the world than evil, if there is more joy in the world than suffering, then God is still benevolent eventhough evil exists and suffering exists. Doesn't this defeat the epicurean paradox?
     
  8. Tony Bristow-Stagg

    Tony Bristow-Stagg One Planet One People Please
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    Would that also depend on what we understand is evil?

    What if evil exists only in human choices?

    Regards Tony
     
  9. Onoma

    Onoma Active Member

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    The line " Have I [eaten] a very evil forbidden fruit ? " from the second strophe of the Old Babylonian text known as " Dialogue between a man and his god " is a good indication this question of why evil / suffering is allowed, predates the Bible by quite some time, so obviously theodicy is something many have wrestled with and probably was a partial source for the narrative in Genesis

    Dialogue between a Man and His God - Wikipedia
     
  10. Evangelicalhumanist

    Evangelicalhumanist "Truth" isn't a thing...
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    And of course, the flip side of that argument is that acceptance of reality must lead directly to questioning "god."
     
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  11. dybmh

    dybmh Terminal Optimist
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    I'd appreciate your feedback on my comments in post#7, if you don't mind. Am I missing something about the epicurean paradox? Isn't it easily defeated?

    However, I grant that even if there's more good/joy than evil/suffering, the fact the evil and suffering exists means that God cannot be both omnibenevolent and omnipotent.
     
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  12. dybmh

    dybmh Terminal Optimist
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    The important detail is that God cannot be malevolent IF there is more good/joy than evil/suffering. This condition is missing from the epicurean paradox. The nature of evil doesn't really matter. God is still malvolent if the evil from people's choices causes more suffering than the good choices people make resulting in joy.

    The end result is, if a person is honest, they cannot judge God negatively simply based on the existence of evil and suffering. One would need to measure how much good/joy exists and compare it to the evil/suffering that exists and try to sort out which one is greater. It's an impossible task. That's how the paradox is defeated. It's defeated because of skepticism. A realistic/optimistic view of evil doesn't really matter, imo.
     
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  13. Heyo

    Heyo Well-Known Member

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    Only for that specific translation (that I don't like). I see a continuum between omnibenevolent and malevolent. (There is a middle third.) So god may not be malevolent but also not omnibenevolent. And the later is the claim.
    So: "If god can prevent unnecessary suffering and chooses not to, he is not omnibenevolent."
    Even when there is more good than evil, there is no excuse - except impotence.
     
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  14. Heyo

    Heyo Well-Known Member

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    That's what it's all about. The trilemma doesn't prove that god doesn't exist, only that an omnipotent, omnibenevolent god isn't compatible with a world in which (unnecessary) suffering exists.
     
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  15. Quintessence

    Quintessence Tale Weaver
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    Really? I'm not seeing the problem with simply an omnipotent and omniscient god-concept. It's only adding omnibenevolence into the mix that causes some issues, and even then that is easily resolved by understanding that an omnimax entity's understanding of "good" is unlikely to be the same as that of a human's.

    That aside, the "problem of evil" basically doesn't exist in polytheist theology so it's not something I have to concern myself with in my traditions. The gods aren't assumed to revolve around humans or human best interests and their domains also routinely conflict with each other as well as with humanity. These things aren't typically moralized in a dualistic "good versus evil" framework either - it's simply accepted as the way things are.
     
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  16. danieldemol

    danieldemol Well-Known Member
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    I forgot to add omni-benevolent deity to the list.
    But I fail to see why an omnipotent etc etc deity is likely to have an understanding of evil that is so radically different than our own.

    Do you think when maggots eat at the brains of a live sheep an omniscient deity does not see it as evil just because it is more intelligent than we are?

    There are some things which only take a certain amount of intelligence to be aware of, all adding more intelligence does is increase how acutely aware one is of the problem.
     
  17. Evangelicalhumanist

    Evangelicalhumanist "Truth" isn't a thing...
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    Then I've nothing to answer. But how would we decide whether there was more good than evil anyway? One hundred percent of every living thing will die. For sentient beings (animals), it will pretty much normally be scary and unpleasant. I can't help but notice that even the most religious people, those who sincerely expect to be in glory and bliss in heaven with their loved ones forever, would actually prefer not to die. You'd think when the outcome is so wonderful, we'd lean into it with happy anticipation. We don't.

    Thank goodness that you've abandoned the idea of both omnibenevolent and omnipotent (you left out omniscient, by the way). The plain fact of the matter is, if you know everything, and can do anything, and want the best outcome for all beings, then it's hard to see how you can miss that target. Even we mere humans are learning from our errors -- all the waste we've produced that is polluting our world, we are slowly (but steadily) learning to turn into valuable products. Organic waste into fuel, for example. It's imperfect still, but it's getting better. We made atomic bombs, then learned to use the technology to create energy, and have never used it in anger since. If we, with our limited knowledge and benevolent wishes, can learn to do that, it's inconceivable that a triple-omniscient deity couldn't manage it.
     
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  18. Trailblazer

    Trailblazer Veteran Member

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    I think God knows it is evil and that there is suffering as a result but He just does not care.
    God created the world this way and animals cannot be held responsible for their actions because they do not have free will.
    What does that say about God's omnibenevolence?
     
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  19. alypius

    alypius Member

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    Where does Augustine make this claim?
     
  20. Trailblazer

    Trailblazer Veteran Member

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    My take is that there is too much needless suffering in this world which is not caused by bad free will choices of humans for God to be considered omnibenevolent. I think people believe that because their scriptures say it and because they want to believe it, kind of like a battered wife wants to believe her husband is all good. But the evidence is to the contrary.

    I am willing to admit that I certainly don't know everything and that I might find out I was wrong after I die, but till then I have to go with what I actually see, rather than with what men wrote in scriptures.
     
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