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Wertbag

Duality of good and evil

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I've heard it said that you can't have good without evil, the very binary thought that is often said is required for comparison (light/dark, good/evil, truth/lie).  Some Christians will use this as an explanation of why evil exists (for a good god to exist there must be evil to compare against) but that just leaves me thinking what about heaven?  If you are going to claim you can't have good without evil, and then in the next breath say heaven is perfectly good, then there is an obvious contradiction. 

 

It also shows our natural inclination to use binary thinking for all situations.  It used to be fight or flight, now it has changed to fight, flight or freeze when it became obvious the binary option didn't fit many situations.  I think this is a major gap that we fall into, the lack of understanding of either a third state or even a range of possibilities.  Even good and evil, when looked at from a high level, should have a third neutral state.  Imagine I'm sitting on a chair, its peaceful and quiet but nothing is happening.  In this state I'm neither good nor evil.  Then my wife walks in and gives me a hug.  With no knowledge of evil I can see say that action was good, in that it has a positive effect on my life and my happiness.  Likewise if she walked in and slapped me, I can say that hurt, made me sad/angry, and was a negative event.  I don't need to comprehend the other extreme in order for a single event to not be obviously positive or negative.

 

Of course you can take that a step further in saying what are the degrees of good and evil?  Murder is evil, so multiple murder is really evil?  Genocide is massively evil?  You have to expand the very terms used because they are so limited in their own meaning that it becomes unclear.  The binary terms are used to cover such a huge range of events that they become meaningless.  God is all-good, and yet he is willing to kill and commit genocide, so does that mean the action is now good because He did it?  Our justice system is built around the variety of crimes and making the punishment fit the crime.  We understand that crimes come in a vast array of evil, from littering to mass murder, so understand it is morally right to have a equally wide range of punishments.  In opposition to this God has a single punishment, hell, which is used for all crimes.  A purely binary answer to the variety of crimes, all evil in hell and all pure good in heaven, the very idea of which is horrific, impossible and immoral.

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That undifferentiated center is the Tao, Nirvana, the neoplatonists’ One.  Heraclitus used the analogy of a bow and bowstring to illustrate it; you have to pull both ways (one interpretation).

 

Not to say that everything has to be both good and bad.  Of human behavior, I think it is more like, the capacity for good implies the capacity for evil.  If we were robots mindlessly carrying out preprogrammed instructions, there would be neither good nor evil.  Our capacity to think, “I am going to choose this action because it is for the common good, even though I personally could do better,” it implies that we could have thought, “I am going to get mine even if it means ruining everybody else.”

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Any discussion of reality, The Way Things Are, is muddied with the introduction of religious and god concepts.

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15 hours ago, Wertbag said:

God is all-good, and yet he is willing to kill and commit genocide, so does that mean the action is now good because He did it?

 

Ooooooooooops!

 

Watch the fundies squirm when you pose THAT argument! :close:

 

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Every theology and philosophy has grappled with the Problem of Evil. In the case of Christianity, the approach seemes to have been colored by the 1st-century Judaism from which it sprang, still under a lot of influence dating back to the Jews' liberation from Babylon by the Persians. I have often thought that Christianity could reasonably be thought of as Judeo-Zoroastrianism.

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On ‎9‎/‎9‎/‎2019 at 4:48 PM, Wertbag said:

God is all-good, and yet he is willing to kill and commit genocide, so does that mean the action is now good because He did it?

 

I've heard Christians justify this using divine command theory - that something is good because God commands it, because God is good and cannot be evil. The logical contradictions seems to escape the likes of WL Craig who espouse this view. Thus in his view killing pregnant women and raping teen girls (Numbers 31) is good because God commanded it and God is God.... someone may want to look up circular reasoning.

 

I've always held that for something to be truly classed as good it has to against some standard that doesn't include the one making the rules (I.e. God.) It must be independent of God otherwise you simply have a it's good cause I say so situation. I'm not even sure it this is possible (To have an ultimate standard of good).

 

One of the other things that bugs me with this topic is often the religious (And sometimes non religious) will treat evil as an entity. How does evil exist? goes the question. Evil isn't a thing, it's actions taken that are so horrific that we have made a descriptive word for them - evil. An earthquake buries a group of children in a Church - is that evil? Well only if you hold that there is an all good god who doesn't permit evil. You might have a god who does permit evil - in which case fuck that god!

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On 9/9/2019 at 12:48 AM, Wertbag said:

I've heard it said that you can't have good without evil, the very binary thought that is often said is required for comparison (light/dark, good/evil, truth/lie).  Some Christians will use this as an explanation of why evil exists (for a good god to exist there must be evil to compare against) but that just leaves me thinking what about heaven?  If you are going to claim you can't have good without evil, and then in the next breath say heaven is perfectly good, then there is an obvious contradiction. 

 

 

Wait a minute. How long did their "good god" exist prior to Lucifer's rebellion and the introduction into existence of evil? I'd pin them to the ropes there first. The god has no beginning so the mythology suggests that good existed independent of evil. Until evil arose. Evil had a beginning, god did not. 

 

Then at the end of the mythology, following the new jerusalem event in revelation, evil, death, the grave and such are all cast into a lake of fire and will no longer exist going forward - just like prior to Lucifer's rebellion in the past before the beginning of evil. They don't seem to have a leg to stand on if they claim that "for a good god to exist there must be evil to compare against." Not according to the bible. 

 

On 9/9/2019 at 12:48 AM, Wertbag said:

It also shows our natural inclination to use binary thinking for all situations.  It used to be fight or flight, now it has changed to fight, flight or freeze when it became obvious the binary option didn't fit many situations.  I think this is a major gap that we fall into, the lack of understanding of either a third state or even a range of possibilities. 

 

There are very good lectures from Joseph Campbell and Alan Watts on the issue of this being a natural inclination, which, comes out through human mythology and religion. 

 

20 hours ago, Moonobserver said:

Every theology and philosophy has grappled with the Problem of Evil. In the case of Christianity, the approach seemes to have been colored by the 1st-century Judaism from which it sprang, still under a lot of influence dating back to the Jews' liberation from Babylon by the Persians. I have often thought that Christianity could reasonably be thought of as Judeo-Zoroastrianism.

 

This is also covered in great detail. The idea of a good god and evil entity in zoroastrianism seems to have specifically informed judaism after the Persians released the Jews from captivity in Babylon and they relocated to ancient Israel. Many zoroastrian beliefs were worked in. This binary thinking of a war between light and darkness is one of them. 

 

Meanwhile, more sophisticated mythologizing moved past such binary thinking in the east and led to Zen and similar philosophies that readily recognize the problems with binary thinking. Moving to non duality. These mythological and religious beliefs of the west look like cave man mythology in comparison. And that's what informed christianity. Cave man mythology. 

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On 9/8/2019 at 9:48 PM, Wertbag said:

I've heard it said that you can't have good without evil, the very binary thought that is often said is required for comparison (light/dark, good/evil, truth/lie).  Some Christians will use this as an explanation of why evil exists (for a good god to exist there must be evil to compare against) but that just leaves me thinking what about heaven?  If you are going to claim you can't have good without evil, and then in the next breath say heaven is perfectly good, then there is an obvious contradiction. 

A related dilemma faced by those in a "perfect" heaven, I think, would be how every tear could be wiped from their eyes without every memory of their lost loved ones being wiped from their minds. Who could stand on the shores of paradise with the sure and certain prospect of eternal peace ahead of them and not shed tears of sorrow at the memory of those they cherished on earth who were not with them there? If heaven is supposed to be pure joy, I don't see how that could be heaven.

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It is past my bedtime, and I may be missing the point here, but good and evil are also relative to places, times and prevailing beliefs.  Christians killing pagans and heretics in the middle ages, and Muslims flying planes into the twin towers.  Both proclaiming to do God's will, which they saw as a good thing overall.

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9 hours ago, Weezer said:

and Muslims flying planes into the twin towers.  

To be fair, the vast majority of Muslims condemned---and still condemn---this act as heretical. Let's avoid making the kinds of blanket statements we don't want made about us.

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2 hours ago, Moonobserver said:

To be fair, the vast majority of Muslims condemned---and still condemn---this act as heretical. Let's avoid making the kinds of blanket statements we don't want made about us.

 

I agree that they didn't represent the religion as a whole, but they claimed to be Muslim.  One of the problems with religion is that there are so many factions of the same "faith", that it becomes absurd.    My point is that what is considered good, or evil depends on your point of view.

 

And I could care less what they say about "us".  Whoever "us" is.

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46 minutes ago, Weezer said:

And I could care less what they say about "us".  Whoever "us" is.

You may not care what they *say*, but remember---words can become actions.

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8 hours ago, Moonobserver said:

---words can become actions.

 

About that, you are correct.

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Well divine command theory, if it is true, then there is no evil, whatsoever. St Isaac the Syrian, wink wink the EAST , said that he thinks all of it, the fall, etc, is an elaborate plan of God to do good. So actually there is no evil. It is just a surface description of certain events. But it is clear that an omnipotent omniscient omnibenevolent supreme being means that everything is actually good.

Free will defense is just...such a contradictory and implausible that only heavy bias and unconscious needs makes one keep it up in my mind.

By the way Orthodox mystics gave great weight to the idea that there is no good vs evil actually, because only good can exist and evik is just misuse of good thing. So it has only process existence whereas good as in God has ontological existence.

      I would argue that christian mysticism is at least on par with any other mystical system. East or west. I stayed for over an year in Mount Athos so I had some direct contact with it. :) - maybe that is why I feel the shaven and balded monks of catholicism look so weird because eastern orthodox monks leave their hair and beard long.

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So Eve ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and was punished for it and yet prior to taking that action had no understanding of right and wrong. How is it just to punish those ignorant of what wrong is? 

She then decides to wear clothes, so either wearing clothes is good or being naked is evil. Either way god put her in a negative position that He didn't have a problem with due to her ignorance of its meaning. 

 

God can't reveal Himself because then we wouldn't believe based on faith alone, and for some nebulous reason faith is extra special. This raises the question, that if knowing god makes you less, then were Noah, Adam, the prophets and the dozens of others that met god worse off because of it? 

Does it really remove free will when Lucifer rebelled knowing full well who he rebelled against? 

 

Christians will often use free will as the counter to the problem of evil, which is why the expanded version, the problem of suffering is better. Why give babies cancer? Why invent deadly parasites, tectonic plates, crippling diseases and a sun that will give us skin cancer? There is no choice being made, no application of free will, just suffering for which an all-powerful, all-loving being would be able to remove. 

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Free will defense is actually flawed from the getgo. It took me years to really see it. They say, mostly, that free will is the ability to choose between several options. Ok. Of this is the case than animals and plants have free will as it is abundantly clear that animals and plants make choices of actions. 

       Then they might say yes but animals could not make another choice, he is bound by its instincts aka matural programming. Ok, do humans have natural programming? Abundantly clear for a three year old yes. Then? 

      This is because the problem of suffering is easily explained by the fall of Adam. I for one had only small issues with that. As in we live in the time of the FALL so bad things happen to everyone, without discrmination. The problem then resides, as you said, in the fall of Lucifer. The origin of suffering not the quantity. This was the thing I could not take.A being chose to renounce eternal bliss for eternal suffering. This being is obviously pathological, so it was created like that. If a perfect God creates perfect beings, those beings cannot, by default, make WRONG choices. Wrong is not in their ability. Endowing a being with the ability of evil is making it flawed from the getgo. Saying that a created being has uncreated and uncaused will is making the deadliest sin in all christianity. Thiking you are the same as God.

       Free will is philosophically, theologically and maybe even scientifically untenable. To hold requires ignorance,  denial or extreme mental gymnastics from my perspective. 

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Actually, I should add that suffering was and is a major issue, emotionally and logically. What I said about a minor issue is only about explanation for why babies have cancer etc in the context of some brands of christian orthodox thinking. Its source and way of dealing by God I still find too troublesome to wholly accept anymore if I truly ever did. 

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