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The Absence Theodicy


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Heya,

 

So I was wondering how you all deal with this common explanation that Christians use to explain the presence of evil in the world... "dark is the absence of light, cold is the absence of heat, evil is the absence of God". It just seems really weak to me, and doesn't sit right, but I can't put my finger on WHY. I was hoping you all could help me work through this so I can more eloquently respond to this the next time a Christian throws this at me when I tell them that I don't believe a good and just God could let stuff like genocide and rape happen so frequently down here on his apparently beloved planet.

 

so, yeah... little help? i'm still such a newbie at this unbeliever thing. ;)

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Isaiah 45:7 (KJV)

I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.

 

Most translations do not employ the "peace and evil" dichotomy in this text in which Isaiah passes on to Cyrus a message from God. I've seen "weal and woe," "prosperity and lack" and "harmony and discord."

 

This is not to deny that there is no clear answer in the OT as to the source of evil. Some lay the origin at God's feet; some at an Adversary's feet. It's not clear. Just wanted to point out that this particular verse does have differing translations.

 

-CC

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Heya,

 

So I was wondering how you all deal with this common explanation that Christians use to explain the presence of evil in the world... "dark is the absence of light, cold is the absence of heat, evil is the absence of God". It just seems really weak to me, and doesn't sit right, but I can't put my finger on WHY. I was hoping you all could help me work through this so I can more eloquently respond to this the next time a Christian throws this at me when I tell them that I don't believe a good and just God could let stuff like genocide and rape happen so frequently down here on his apparently beloved planet.

 

so, yeah... little help? i'm still such a newbie at this unbeliever thing. ;)

No problem. There is no such thing in the universe as chaos. There is no such thing in the universe as evil. Everything is on a sliding scale from less ordered to more ordered, less profitable ("evil") to more profitable ("good"). The above is black and white thinking. Absence of heat? All heat? Completely non-existent? Where does that exist? Where does absolute heat exist? Not in the natural universe.

 

"Cold" is a value word that has no meaning outside our very limited range of temperate conditions that our physical body responds to favorable, or disfavorably. Same thing with "good" and "evil". Is nature evil? If it was it wouldn't exist (defining evil as is commonly used in our culture). Is death "bad"? No. Life depends on death. Death is "good" from that perspective. But if I was to keep living as one person, then to me that event is "bad" relative to my perspective of seeing it that way.

 

Everything is "good", and everything is "evil". Nothing is good and nothing is evil. It's much simpler to just say everything "is", and leave the absolutist, black and white value words out of it. Genocide is "bad", because it violates our ideals we choose for the benefits we derive from them. But it's good to those who want that other race of people to be gone from existence. We create God, and fashion him to our image. Depending who is in power, "God" is either good or bad. The majority prefer a "good" God, because it benefits them. Whereas the few and greedy prefer a god that looks evil to the majority, but that ideal of "good" is what serves them. Yep... not a black and white world, is it?

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Well...once again, I can't expand much on what Antlerman said, but I'll put in a little. :)

 

Ummm...nope. Everything I attempt to type just sounds like I am repeating Antlerman. Oh well... ;)

 

Here is a little something. There is no duality of existance, only the perception of duality. Dang-it! He said that didn't he?

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Antlerman, you make excellent points. I've quite enjoyed reading your posts so far in my time here. Thank you!

 

I've been thinking a lot about chaos recently, and have sort of come to the same conclusion... everything is chaos, and nothing is chaos at the same time. It is all ordered on some level, even if it's not a level I can identify with. So, on these levels, to me, things look completely disordered. This is a train of thought that I can get absolutely lost in, the idea of perceptions and subjectivity. It makes my head spin, but in a good way.

 

I suppose that for someone who believes in absolutes, rationalizations like the absence theodicy work within that system of thought. I feel that it's a gross oversimplification of the human experience... but i have to come to terms with the fact that not everyone is going to see it that way, no matter how hard i try to convince them. :Doh:

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Heya,

 

So I was wondering how you all deal with this common explanation that Christians use to explain the presence of evil in the world... "dark is the absence of light, cold is the absence of heat, evil is the absence of God". It just seems really weak to me, and doesn't sit right, but I can't put my finger on WHY. I was hoping you all could help me work through this so I can more eloquently respond to this the next time a Christian throws this at me when I tell them that I don't believe a good and just God could let stuff like genocide and rape happen so frequently down here on his apparently beloved planet.

 

so, yeah... little help? i'm still such a newbie at this unbeliever thing. ;)

 

Sarah,

 

I've pondered this exact problem and you are right in that this is difficult to dispense easily. While I agree with Antlerman, I am left wondering whether his answer gets to the whole matter.

 

He is correct in saying there is no evil and by extension this is a disproof of god too; there is no pure good in this world... god.

 

This response forces us into the moral relativism side of the equasion and I have been resistant to moving there. Perhaps you and I share this view point and have had a harder time abandoning it.

 

I'd love to hear other thoughts on this.

 

Mongo

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But according to christian theology, God is omnipresent; everywhere. Ie: there is nowhere where God is absent.

 

Psalm 139:7-8 7Where can I go from your Spirit?

Where can I flee from your presence?

 

If I go up to the heavens, you are there;

if I make my bed in the depths, you are there

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But according to christian theology, God is omnipresent; everywhere. Ie: there is nowhere where God is absent.

 

Psalm 139:7-8 7Where can I go from your Spirit?

Where can I flee from your presence?

 

If I go up to the heavens, you are there;

if I make my bed in the depths, you are there

 

I think this is praise language, not a good source of dogma. Indeed, God is/can be everywhere, but God also is/can be nowhere. Both, seems to me. I agree with the psalmist that we cannot flea from God's presence, but what does that mean, really mean?

 

-CC

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I suppose that for someone who believes in absolutes, rationalizations like the absence theodicy work within that system of thought. I feel that it's a gross oversimplification of the human experience... but i have to come to terms with the fact that not everyone is going to see it that way, no matter how hard i try to convince them. :Doh:

Personally I feel the harder those who believe in absolutes try to find rationalizations for that way of thinking, the more and more dogmatic and out of touch with the world they become. That thinking may work in very small villages, but in large communities where diversity of thought is too widespread to control, then this system of ethics becomes at odds with the people it seeks to serve within the marketplace of ideas. When one system of absolutes hits another system of absolutes, you have war.

 

We in the West have benefiting tremendously with the freedoms that have allowed Western philosophies to shape our views of "reality". When I look at two opposing systems of absolutes, I try to balance them out by understanding that they are just systems - not objective truths, i.e., "who's got the *real* truth?" I love this statement because of the logic paradox it creates, "The only truth is there is no truth"**.

 

I understand to some extent what Mongo's objection to the term "moral relativism" can be. But relativism is not one thing only. There are many shades to that. Personally, I think it is impossible for anyone to ever know an "absolute" anything, if for no reason more than just the presence of the observer. No two people can agree absolutely, let alone when you get into value judgments of "right" or "wrong" actions. The facts of what plays out in societies across the planet, and throughout history make this pretty clear.

 

I do believe it is proper for us to hold certain things as "truths" when agreed upon by a society, but a global society has no room for systems of absolutes that do not allow for other "truths" that are likewise agreed upon by a different society. Cosmopolitanism leads to the evolution of gods. If the gods can't change, then they will become abandoned and become a forgotten god of an earlier culture of the past.

 

**footnote: To answer in advance the typical objection that to say "there is no truth" is itself stating an absolute, think of it in terms of this: Infinity is incomprehensible. Now one could likewise make the statement that to say it is incomprehensible is in a sense comprehending it. What the problem is, is not in the concept of a lack of absolutes, but in the nature of our spoken language which is based on definitions of opposites. It is in fact that aspect of framing world views through language than lends itself to notions of absolute boundries. It's simply reflective of how our minds have learned to process our world through the use of language. Language changes.

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But according to christian theology, God is omnipresent; everywhere. Ie: there is nowhere where God is absent.

 

Psalm 139:7-8 7Where can I go from your Spirit?

Where can I flee from your presence?

 

If I go up to the heavens, you are there;

if I make my bed in the depths, you are there

 

I think this is praise language, not a good source of dogma. Indeed, God is/can be everywhere, but God also is/can be nowhere. Both, seems to me. I agree with the psalmist that we cannot flea from God's presence, but what does that mean, really mean?

 

-CC

Well, I would have to disagree, but in disagreement lies agreement. Ohhh.... :)

 

I don't agree that God is/can be nowhere. I also agree that we cannot flee from God's presence. But, one can turn away from experiencing this presence. IMO, God never can be away from what It is. God can't withdraw from Itself, but we can choose not to acknowledge that God is us and everything else.

 

It's a state of mind that chooses to see God as being everywhere or nowhere. There is that perceived division again. :)

 

Does it matter? It matters to some, but not to others. Does it absolutely matter? How could it?

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If this is true and if God exists and if God is omnipresent then there can be no evil.

 

There is evil, therefore God cannot be omnipresent.

 

Since Christian God is defined as omnipresent, it cannot exist.

 

This thought need some work, but this theodicy is a counter productive apologetic.

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I think this is praise language, not a good source of dogma.

You better tell your christian friends then.

 

You know as well as I do that the omnipresence of God has been a fundamental doctrine of the Christian Church since the beginning. Indeed, omnipresence is essential to the Christian idea of God, unless you are talking about the Jehovah's Witnesses or some other sect.

 

If God is nowhere, then he doesn't exist.

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If you read the old testament, Satan is the good guy, and god the bad guy. Satan exposed god's lie that the fruit of knowledge of good and evil was instant death (Adam lived another 930 years instead of dying that day). god meanwhile regularly committed mass murder (Flood, 2Kings 19:35, etc.)

 

So christians seem to be praying to the bad guy, and his son who admits to being in charge of hell and threatens people with eternal torture if they dare to use their free will.

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If this is true and if God exists and if God is omnipresent then there can be no evil.

 

There is evil, therefore God cannot be omnipresent.

 

Since Christian God is defined as omnipresent, it cannot exist.

 

This thought need some work, but this theodicy is a counter productive apologetic.

Well chef, I am going to have to defer to Antlerman's post towards the top of this page with this quote of his. Why? Because I am too chicken to question you myself! :)

 

Everything is "good", and everything is "evil". Nothing is good and nothing is evil. It's much simpler to just say everything "is", and leave the absolutist, black and white value words out of it. Genocide is "bad", because it violates our ideals we choose for the benefits we derive from them. But it's good to those who want that other race of people to be gone from existence. We create God, and fashion him to our image. Depending who is in power, "God" is either good or bad. The majority prefer a "good" God, because it benefits them. Whereas the few and greedy prefer a god that looks evil to the majority, but that ideal of "good" is what serves them. Yep... not a black and white world, is it?

 

Although he is an atheist and I'm not in the strictest sense, I agree with this understanding about what is being perceived as good and evil although I think there is something that causes us to feel good when we help others, but then that also begs the question, was what we did really good for whom we did it for?

 

I don't see God as being everywhere, I see God as being everything. The life essence of it all, which would make it being everywhere only as a necessity (I don't know if I said that right) with a perceived separation. (I could be totally crazy too!)

 

Love you Chef! :)

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If this is true and if God exists and if God is omnipresent then there can be no evil.

 

There is evil, therefore God cannot be omnipresent.

 

Since Christian God is defined as omnipresent, it cannot exist.

 

This thought need some work, but this theodicy is a counter productive apologetic.

Well chef, I am going to have to defer to Antlerman's post towards the top of this page with this quote of his. Why? Because I am too chicken to question you myself! :)

Hey, don't pit me against Chef! (I'm scared of him too :grin: ). I think what Chef is saying is that using their own views of God and the existence of evil, they would be contradictory views; they are mutually exclusive. I'm guessing Chef's own views aren't reflected in that argument?

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If this is true and if God exists and if God is omnipresent then there can be no evil.

 

There is evil, therefore God cannot be omnipresent.

 

Since Christian God is defined as omnipresent, it cannot exist.

 

This thought need some work, but this theodicy is a counter productive apologetic.

Well chef, I am going to have to defer to Antlerman's post towards the top of this page with this quote of his. Why? Because I am too chicken to question you myself! :)

Hey, don't pit me against Chef! (I'm scared of him too :grin: ). I think what Chef is saying is that using their own views of God and the existence of evil, they would be contradictory views; they are mutually exclusive. I'm guessing Chef's own views aren't reflected in that argument?

Oh sorry Antlerman, but I'm a weeney (I can't spell weeney)! Yes, I think you are right. I thought that was what he meant, but I didn't see him put, if God is good, in there and I wasn't too sure who he was addressing, and since I thought it may have been me because it was under my post, I thought...too much obviously (or not enough)! But, I'm sure that's what he meant.

 

Oh, he did say Christian God didn't he?? :49:

 

Sorry cheffy...dear, sweet, understanding cheffy! :wub::kiss::beer:

 

 

 

Oh...alright Antlerman. I'm really sorry to you too. :wub::kiss::party: (no beer for you though...only gifts.) ;)

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Oh...alright Antlerman. I'm really sorry to you too. :wub::kiss::party: (no beer for you though...only gifts.) ;)

But I like beer... Some St. Bernardus Abt 12 would do fine: http://ratebeer.com/beer/st-bernardus-abt-...ion/61167/4919/ (the only reason it got any knocks IMO is because they had it from a bottle. On tap, it is divine). You can just fly me over to Belgium to have some there. It's best when drunk in its home country.

 

Do this, and I will accept your apology.

 

 

:drink:

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Oh...alright Antlerman. I'm really sorry to you too. :wub::kiss::party: (no beer for you though...only gifts.) ;)

But I like beer... Some St. Bernardus Abt 12 would do fine: http://ratebeer.com/beer/st-bernardus-abt-...ion/61167/4919/ (the only reason it got any knocks IMO is because they had it from a bottle. On tap, it is divine). You can just fly me over to Belgium to have some there. It's best when drunk in its home country.

 

Do this, and I will accept your apology.

 

 

:drink:

:magic:

 

Now wasn't that fun! (Sorry, they wouldn't let you take a keg on the plane). :)

belguim1.jpg

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Oh...alright Antlerman. I'm really sorry to you too. :wub::kiss::party: (no beer for you though...only gifts.) ;)

But I like beer... Some St. Bernardus Abt 12 would do fine: http://ratebeer.com/beer/st-bernardus-abt-...ion/61167/4919/ (the only reason it got any knocks IMO is because they had it from a bottle. On tap, it is divine). You can just fly me over to Belgium to have some there. It's best when drunk in its home country.

 

Do this, and I will accept your apology.

 

 

:drink:

:magic:

 

Now wasn't that fun! (Sorry, they wouldn't let you take a keg on the plane). :)

 

 

LOL!

 

-CC

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Now wasn't that fun! (Sorry, they wouldn't let you take a keg on the plane). :)

Almost as good as going there... you are forgiven! Except you realize they would make me cut those off before I boarded a plane? I think they might view them as lethal stabbing weapons, wouldn't you? Then I would have to put in for a name change to "Stumps".

 

BTW, that guy doesn't look very much like me. This is my real face:

 

 

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So I was wondering how you all deal with this common explanation that Christians use to explain the presence of evil in the world... "dark is the absence of light, cold is the absence of heat, evil is the absence of God".

 

I'd say that evil is the absence of good, not of god, and I'd explain that one does not need the Xian god to be good or for goodness to exist.

 

I'd back it up with all the standard examples of the Abrahamic god doing evil in the Babble, as well as use the reasoning chef did.

 

If God is omnipresent, then he is everywhere - ie, there is nowhere in the universe he is not present.

 

If God is all-good, then he can do no evil nor tolerate any evil in his midst.

 

Therefore, the Xian god (represented as having both these characteristics) cannot be possible, since if he were in all places all the time, there could not possibly be any evil, since a being that is all-good (and all-powerful to boot) can't possibly tolerate evil and would also have the power to end it.

 

It's daunting when you're new, but enough reasoning will unravel any Xian myth.

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So I was wondering how you all deal with this common explanation that Christians use to explain the presence of evil in the world... "dark is the absence of light, cold is the absence of heat, evil is the absence of God".

I suppose it all depends on your concept of God.

 

I am becoming ever more convinced that God is the name that many give to an imaginary friend/parent. So lets rephrase the thing in that way.

 

Dark is the absence of light, cold is the absence of heat, evil is the absence of our imaginary friend.

 

There you go.

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I'd say that evil is the absence of good, not of god, and I'd explain that one does not need the Xian god to be good or for goodness to exist.

 

I'd back it up with all the standard examples of the Abrahamic god doing evil in the Babble, as well as use the reasoning chef did.

 

If God is omnipresent, then he is everywhere - ie, there is nowhere in the universe he is not present.

 

If God is all-good, then he can do no evil nor tolerate any evil in his midst.

 

Therefore, the Xian god (represented as having both these characteristics) cannot be possible, since if he were in all places all the time, there could not possibly be any evil, since a being that is all-good (and all-powerful to boot) can't possibly tolerate evil and would also have the power to end it.

 

It's daunting when you're new, but enough reasoning will unravel any Xian myth.

 

God can be what God wants to be, but I prefer that God not be omnipresent. I want my privacy. I don't want a god or God or an angel or a spirit or anyone else with me in the bathroom. Period. Who wants a spirit present in the privacy of one's bathroom or bedroom? Or when one is picking one's nose. I don't. So I am more comfortable with a God who is there, yes, but not always really there. I think these human words are hard to use in quantifying omnipresence.

 

In terms of God being all good. Well, I do embrace this view. But this does not mean that God should stomp out every evil. We'd be dropping like flies. Very scarey time that would be. Unfortunately, evil will have to be with us while we're in this boat together.

 

-CC

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