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How Do I Explain Evil And Absolute Cruelty To A Religious Person?


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This is a fairly complex issue, so I'm sorry if the title wasn't terribly descriptive.

 

When talking to some members of my family about how illogical and cruel some people are, such as the Taliban or Hitler, or while talking about how messed up every government out there is and how absurd and cruel the world is, they tend to credit it to a simple lack of Jesus, and if they allowed Jesus and truth in, everything would get better.

 

I obviously know that's not true, but of the many area's I've debated, I have a hard time researching and explaining where such illogical cruelty came from. I can certainly argue how the Bible is not a suitable cure to all of this cruelty, as much of the Bible in fact reflects cruelty on Talibanic levels, but I cannot come up with a good argument why such overwhelming cruelty and stupidity exist. They're convinced that it's the devil playing with people's minds and that Christianity is the only thing that can help it, and I cannot seem to make a good counter argument regarding that.

 

Does anyone have any thoughts on this issue?

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I can relate.  I think it's almost impossible to break through the "bubble" they live in.  My family is the same. I've tried to discuss the cruelty and evil that i think is obviously displayed in the old testament, and they can just gloss over and justify things like what happened to the Amalekites as if they weren't even human.  I remember asking my mom about how she could be so pro-life and have no feeling at all about the Amalekite fetuses, babies, and toddlers.  In regards to evil and cruelty today, they as well go with the influence Satan, or people have turned away from Jesus, which seems to remove them from having to think too much on such icky topics or analyze the true reasons behind human behavior.

 

I think the two biggest reasons for cruelty or evil (if you will) are:

 

1. Mental illness (i.e. the kid who takes his machine gun and walks into a school)

 

2. The dynamics of FEAR promoted in a group or culture.  A fear-based ideology will always create an enemy which can be dehumanized and righteously attacked.  A fear-based ideology unites people on a primal level of commonness (race, religion, etc) and the need to survive against the "other" who is different and therefore a threat.  By dehumanizing the enemy, almost any level of violence or cruelty can be acceptable.  This seems to be an almost inevitable trend throughout human history.  Perhaps it goes back to a natural imperative to survive in nature unified against animal predators.  I'm not sure.

 

What is amazing to me is that the question of the origin of evil doesn't seem to disturb most christians at all.  After all, either Satan and evil were created by god, or he indirectly allowed evil to be present in the world.  Either way it seems he MUST take some responsibility for it!  But this philosophical question isn't even worth the time of day for chrstians.

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What is amazing to me is that the question of the origin of evil doesn't seem to disturb most christians at all.  After all, either Satan and evil were created by god, or he indirectly allowed evil to be present in the world.  Either way it seems he MUST take some responsibility for it!  But this philosophical question isn't even worth the time of day for chrstians.

 

I eventually came to the conclusion that God was incapable of making good without evil, as one must allow the other, otherwise neither could be defined. To call God good, thus worship him because of it, evil had to exist. I do not see a scenario where God had any option other than to create evil as well if he wanted to create good. That took a massive blow to my faith when I came to that realization.

 

I think those two points you made are very powerful, though. They both make a lot more sense than "Satan did it." But in the case that the Christian goes with "Satan did it," I would need to bring up the origin of evil altogether.

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I cannot come up with a good argument why such overwhelming cruelty and stupidity exist.

 

Because humanity isn't inherently good? We're not inherently evil either, though. We're just social animals with all sorts of conflicts between our need for companionship, our living in large groups, and looking out for our own interests.

 

Instead of trying to explain evil to religious people, I'd ask them about the good, as well. There's plenty of good non-christians. How can that happen, if jesus is required for people to be good? What about people who think they're doing good but are starting from such wrong ideas that they're actually causing a lot of harm - even today, there's a huge fight in missionary organizations to fix all the damage they've done in so many 3rd world countries, and ask why god didn't clear up that confusion decades ago. Or what about all the grey areas of personal conflict, where neither side is Absolutely Right?

 

Missionary issues, that you'd think god would have prevented if he were real:

http://www.cobourgatheist.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=220:christian...

http://www.christianitytoday.com/gleanings/2013/february/missionary-group-fires-sex-abuse-investigator.html

http://www.arch.cam.ac.uk/~pah1003/quechua/Eng/Main/i_MISS.HTM

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I think the question is , "Why does god allow evil to exist and at the same time blame humans" ?

 

If god is all powerful, perfect and prescient, etc., evil is under his control. He cannot need to have evil for him to exist or receive the adoration that he selfishly  craves and at the same time be omnipotent or perfect because he is in control. Let me put it this way:

 

If god is  omnipotent there is nothing he can't do. That being the case, he is responsible for all evil because he has the power to eradicate it or he purposefully allows evil to exist and do its thing. Therefore, evil is his responsibility and it makes no sense to blame the devil or humans. It would be like starting a fire, making no effort to extinguish it (even though he could)and then blaming all the victims for not coming to him for protection. How cruel can he be?.

 

On the other hand, if god must have evil in order to exist, or to have people worship him, there is no justification for faith in him by Xtians (or anyone else). He cannot ensure that those who place their faith in him will go to heaven or otherwise be protected.

If he doesn't have complete power over evil. Of what use is heaven in these circumstances?  In fact, if the apocrypha that reports that one third of the angels rebelled with Satan is true, we have proof that god does not have power over evil or he willingly allows it to occur. In either case he isn't the god Christians claim he is. If he allows evil to occur just for his own adoration by the terrified creatures he created, that is as malicious as it can get. Evil is entirely his responsibility or it's beyond his control.  bill   

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