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http://www.newropeans-magazine.org/index.p...5&Itemid=90

 

Natural Philosophy and Bush World Theodicy: Eliminating "Evil" From the World of Ideas

Written by Dr. Gerry Lower

Tuesday, 05 September 2006

 

The notion of 'theodicy' comes from the time of the Newtonian deductive revolution and from the title of a book by Leibniz. It is a combination of the Greek word 'theos' for "god" and 'diké' for "justice" (1,2). In discussion of the Justice of God, theodicy revolves around the western mystery of why there is "evil" in a world created ostensibly by an omniscient, omnipotent and perfectly benevolent God.

 

Much of theodicy is a defense of the Abrahamic (JudeoRomanIslamic) concept of god in the face of the existence of "evil" (2) - albeit never a very convincing defense (3). Why did this all-knowing god fail to create a world free of "evil?" Or is it belief in this god that creates the notion of "evil" in the western world? To be certain, the entire argument only makes "sense" within the Abrahamic context of a supernatural god of law - nevermind human rights.

 

Theodicy hangs, of course, on the notion of "evil" itself, a very broad term referring to acts that are "profoundly immoral and malevolent ... wicked, sinful, foul, vile, nefarious, malicious, sinister, demonic, and devilish" (1). In other words, the term "evil" brings with it notions of the supernatural and the devil's "evil" doings, "supernatural" being a term semantically-indistinguishable from the term "magical" (3).

 

In secular terms, we can more accurately ask why there are thefts, beatings, murders, wars, hurricanes and droughts. In other words, we can ask why "shit happens" in a world created ostensibly by an omniscient, omnipotent and omnibeneficient God. The notion of "evil" as the work of the devil is a bit of supernatural overkill that distracts from meaningful and intelligent discourse, and it adds nothing to efforts to reduce human suffering. Better to stick with contemplation of the fact that "shit happens" - and leave it at that, at least until we do something about the fact.

 

How is it that we allow the existence of "evil" to justify the notions of "divine goodness" and God? Or, is it the other way around? How is it that we allow the notion of "divine goodness" and God to justify the existence of "evil?" Was the world created by an omniscient, omnipotent and perfectly benevolent God or by an ignorant, frightened, perfectly vengeful and potentially belligerent god? We define our God, of course, with our actions.

 

In the case of the Bush administration, god is the Abrahamic Roman god (Jehovah), engaged in both vengeance (Afghanistan) and preemptive belligerence (Iraq). In the case of the Olmert administration, god is the Abrahamic god (Yahweh), engaged in both vengeance (Palestine) and preemptive belligerence (Lebanon). In the case of the Islamic tribal administrations, god is the Abrahamic god (Allah), engaged in both vengeance and preemptive belligerence, internally between warring tribal factions and externally toward Judaism and Old Testament Roman capitalism.

 

Everything in the world has earth-bound causes, to be sure, and there is no need to invoke the notion of "evil" (or supernaturalism) at all. The causes of infectious diseases are pathogenic microorganisms, e.g., bacteria, viruses - nothing to do with the western god (and largely preventable to boot). The causes of neoplastic diseases are pathogenic mutagens, e.g., chemicals, viruses, and radiations - nothing to do with the western god (and largely preventable to boot).

 

The causes of social "evil" in the world (e.g., crime at the bottom and corruption at the top) are to be found in the inherent unfairness and inequality of the ancient cultural despotisms, e.g., Hinduism and Confucianism in the east, Judaism, Old Testament Romanism (aka "christianity") and Islamism in the west. The ancient cultural despotisms are uniformly based in rule by the rich and powerful, in their own interests and at the expense of the people, east and west.

 

In other words, the causes of social "evil" in the world are largely preventable by eliminating despotism on a global basis. Conversely, the causes of "evil" are an absence of honesty, integrity, fairness and equality, an absence of nascent Christian human rights and democracy. In other words, the causes of "evil" in the world are largely preventable by implementing human rights and democracy on a global basis.

 

The causes of natural disasters in the world, e.g., hurricanes and earthquakes, are natural but the resulting human misfortunes are largely preventable with foresight, monitoring technologies, and a pre-determined action plan. The devastation of New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina was due more to the inadequacies of existing levees and the ineptness of the Bush administration than to anything Abraham's god might have had in mind.

 

(continued on site)

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Guest dualaces123

This is a very interesting thread. For part of it I strongly agree and another part I strongly disagree.

 

There seem to be two issues in play here. First, a theodicy is a defense of God (against the Problem of Evil, in thise case). A Theocracy is rule/government by God as is seen in pre-exilic Israel (assuming a liberal, higher critical dating, this concept goes back at least to the 9th century B.C.). My disagreement deals with your rebuttal of the theodicy of God and my agreement comes when you argue that Bush is somewhat implementing a theocracy. I strongly hold to the separation of church and state (classically understood), and where that is brokem it should be fixed.

 

However, let us focus on my disagreement.

 

Your response, in general, deals with that philosophers have called the Problem of Evil.

 

Assume these Premises:

 

If God is benevolent, He would not want evil.

If God is omnipotent, He is able to stop evil.

If God is omniscient, He knows how to stop evil.

Therefore, if God exist, Evil will not.

 

Stated in the opposite: If Evil exists, God does not.

 

Since the argument is formally valid, the job of a theodicy is to show the error of one (or more of the premises). If a premise can be shown to be false, than the conclusion is invalidated and God is then justified.

 

In this matter, most philosophers (even secular) have come to agree that point 1 is not <i> necessarily </i> true. The will of a benevolent God does not have to be that He wills no evil, but rather than he wills the greatest good. Some may argue that the greatest good is to have no evil at all. However, many have come to agree that it may be possible that the greatest good is only accomplished if evil exists.

 

For example, if there was no suffering, compassion would not exist. Etc. From the Christian perspective, if there was no Sin then there would be no Christ-event. In this event, Christians will say, we have Jesus, God himself existing in pre-incarnate glory, deciding to condescent to become a human, live a perfect life (and thus not deserve death and condemnation like all men), and yet freely choosing to die and incur the wrath of God on behalf of sinful men. In this regard, Christians can easily say that the Greater good (namely the Christ-event) is accomplished only in light of a world with sin.

 

Regardless of whether the Christ event is a satisfactory "better good" for you (i suspect it will not), the only thing that is required is an allowance of the Possibility that there Could be a greater good that is accomplished only in light of evil. If this is the case then the premise no longer is valid. That being the case, the conclusion is invalid.

 

 

Hopefully that explains my point of view. I'd love to dialogue with you.

 

-mike

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Very interesting points Mike, only problem is that the argument fits better for a non-interfering Deity, rather than the Christian God. If God created the world, and the greater good is to let it all run by itself, then God is not the God that answer prayers and hence not the God of the Bible. Considering that at least 4-5 Billion people will go to Hell (actually probably a lot more according to the "True Christian" arguments), I find it hard to see a "greater good" in the scheme of things. A greater good would be if the end result is better than the beginning. The way Christianity present it, the huge majority of humans will be punished for eternity for having the wrong religion or believing the wrong things or doing the wrong things. I can understand your philosophical argument for good/evil, and it fits well into Deism, but how do you make that into Christian faith? The Bible say that God will take care of the believer. He even counts the hair on our heads. But while he's counting the hair, he lets kids get molested in Churches, and kids starve to death, women getting raped in Africa and contracting AIDS, etc. Maybe the Christian God should be so preoccupied with the Christians hair, and get down and do something, or maybe the whole things is just an experiment and there is no salvation?

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My disagreement deals with your rebuttal of...

 

I didn't write it. I just posted it. They're not my points, they're his. He's a theist. I'm an Atheist. I just found the article interesting, just like you did, and felt the need to share it.

 

Here is a very relevant essay I wrote concerning the nature of any alleged creator gods or goddesses man has imagined to be real:

 

http://www.reverendatheistar.com/malevolent_design.htm

 

Malevolent Design

 

February 14, 2006

 

By now I'm sure you've heard of Intelligent Design, which focuses on alleged irreducible complexity, and perhaps even Incompetent Design, which focuses on the mysterious designer's shoddy handiwork, but have you heard of Malevolent Design? This takes ID and turns it on it's head. The Intelligent Design Creationists always love to focus on the benevolent to be found in nature such as a flagellum or an eye. But why stop there? Why, unless you are intentionally avoiding the negative in order to preserve an image of deity that loves everyone? Why not take things a bit further and look at the flip side of the equation? Seeing as I lack belief in all gods and goddesses and have no such agenda to preserve anything about their alleged personalities, I shall delve full into this fascinating mythological concept.

 

Malevolent Design (hereafter MD), simply put, is the secondary negative quality that one should see if one first sees intelligence. If there be a master designer then one should be able to gauge how he feels about his creations by the interaction between them. There various body parts should spell out he/she/them/it's intentions. Are we the darlings of a deity or merely part of an experiment led by a pantheon of gods on Lab Earth? Are we no more than white mice to be toyed with in order to test out new MDs and their effectiveness?

 

Mosquitoes have a special facial appendage known as a proboscis. This appendage has six parts, two pairs of cutters for opening up the skin of the victim and two fine tubes. One is for sucking up blood and the other is for dripping in anticoagulant, which keeps the blood from clotting. Why would a benevolent designer create such a little monster? And why, for their traveling companion would said designer create special pathogens to go along with it?

 

Mosquitoes carry many diseases. They include Malaria, West Nile virus, Dengue Fever, Encephalitis and Yellow Fever. All of these diseases kill indiscriminately, cutting swaths through the young and old, especially in third world countries. Death from these is neither quick nor pleasant. They kill regardless of religion, race or social status. The believer and Atheist can die just the same without medical treatment. Why would the mysterious designer create these tiny beings? To watch us die slow, torturous deaths? To see if he/she/them/it could overcome the immune system that he/she/them/it designed previously, kind of like a hacker breaking into his own program?

 

Carnivores have sharp teeth, perfect for cutting flesh, a strong digestive system perfect for digesting meat and various other body parts that aid them in acquiring their victims. A great white shark, for example, has rows upon rows of very sharp, serrated teeth that, when lost, turn to replace the old ones. They can smell minute traces of blood in the water from miles away. It would appear to show excellent signs of MD! Is it too far off to assume the designer wants his other creations, upon entering the water, to be eaten by this beast if given a chance?

 

There are countless other examples I could cite to show the prevalence of the neglected obvious but these few examples prove my point: if you believe you see intelligence, there is malevolence right along with it!

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Guest dualaces123

Two posts mildly directed at me; allow me to respond:

 

"if God created the world, and the greater good is to let it all run by itself, then God is not the God that answer prayers and hence not the God of the Bible"

 

Except there was no point where I stated that the greater good was to let the world run all by itself. Rather, I used compassion and the Christ-event (the ultimate interference in history) as illustrations.

 

"But while he's counting the hair, he lets kids get molested in Churches, and kids starve to death, women getting raped in Africa and contracting AIDS, etc."

 

Indeed. Are these not examples of the "evil" that we were discussing. I fully agree that God allows these things to happen. My point was that all that is necessary for a benevolent God is that he let these happen with a greater good in mind.

 

Allow a personal example:

 

My father was an alcoholic for many years (also into drugs). He almost ruined our family, and was near leaving my mother with a child (me, age two) all by herself. This was a terrible tragedy. However, through God's intervening work (that is his view, anyway, i understand you may disagree), he has now been sober for 20 years. Not only has he been sober but he has been able to assist many people in very similar circumstances. Added to that, my mom now has personal experience annd has been able to comfort some women in similar situations. What the evil that happened a terrible thing? Yes. However, did God bring a greater good out of it? I believe so.

 

 

"Maybe the Christian God should be so preoccupied with the Christians hair, and get down and do something,"

 

Ahh and that is where so many people miss the central theme of Christianity. It is not about a check list: I went to church this week, prayed 14 times, etc. The central theme of Christianity is that we have all rebelled against God and have sinned. In doing so, we have wronged a perfect creator and are not able to redeem himself. God, graciously, sent his son to be brutally murdered so that us rebels might be saved. That is the central claim of Christianity. You may reject the truthfulness of it, but let us not pretend that the Bible teaches that God if off counting hairs and not doing something. If you want to use a particular bible verse to fit into your argument, you have to make sure that it squares with the central theme and thrust of that same bible.

 

 

 

Reverend Atheistar (witty name),

 

I realized you did not write it after I sent it but could not figure out how to edit the post. My apologies for the error. If you'd like me to respond to the notion of MD then I will be happy to. I don't see the immediate connection to the thread so I will leave it be for a while. However, if it really is a pressing point you would like me to consider, I will make sure to get back to it.

 

Hopefully that is satisfactory.

 

-mike

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Reverend Atheistar (witty name),

 

I realized you did not write it after I sent it but could not figure out how to edit the post. My apologies for the error. If you'd like me to respond to the notion of MD then I will be happy to. I don't see the immediate connection to the thread so I will leave it be for a while. However, if it really is a pressing point you would like me to consider, I will make sure to get back to it.

 

Hopefully that is satisfactory.

 

-mike

 

How is there not an immediate connection when the topic of the article is evil? Malevolent Design is all about divinley designed evil. In the above essay I was only speaking of what can be found in biology in this respect. But I'm going to expand it as just about everything in the universe can be looked at in this light. From the hurricane to the damage inflicted on our bodies from solar radiation to killer asteroids hurtling through space waiting to wipe out the present dominant life form -- if you believe in a deity or deities, there is plenty of MD to be found!

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Mike, I think I wasn't really clear in my post. The view that the balance between good and evil is equated with some form of Ultimate Good, leads to only one conclusion: the solution God have made for every humans eternal life, by providing a Heaven and Hell, must also be considered Ultimately Good. This also leads to that the idea of the Ultimately Good includes 99.9% of Humanity will go to an Eternal Torture. Do you agree with this?

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Guest dualaces123

HanSolo,

 

I thought your first post was more clear than this last one. Let me respond to what I think you are saying, but if I am completely off topic then feel free to redirect me to the discussion you had in mind.

 

If you are asking if I believe that ultimate good is still accomplished with a majority of people going to hell (I have no adequate way to specify exact percentages), then I agree.

 

"the solution God have made for every humans eternal life, by providing a Heaven and Hell, must also be considered Ultimately Good."

 

I had a bit of trouble understanding what you were saying there. If you could rephrase that, then I would be happy to respond.

 

-mike

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