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Why did God Cause Suffering and Evil in the World?

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posted on Jan, 27 2008 @ 04:21 PM
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This is an eternal question from atheists and agnostics - many of whom have first hand knowledge of suffering. In fact, on ATS, a theistic, deistic belief of Creation and Evolution was knocked down because God must have allowed parasites and other bugs to evolve with us and use people as hosts.

The way I see it so far, if God created the parasite that attacks a child's eye (Toxocara canis) then he also allowed distinguished schools of Parasitology to be set up. If people are attacked and debilitated by disease, then we have distinguished hospitals, doctors and nurses to treat them. In short, every suffering has a cure.

But how do others rationalise or oppose this belief?




posted on Jan, 27 2008 @ 05:02 PM
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reply to post by Heronumber0
 


I don't think God so much causes evil and suffering, as he allows it to happen.

That being said, the only thing I have thought of is this: It seems that when real tragedies happen, people tend to pull together. Yes, there are opportunists who take advantage of a bad situation to advance their own agenda, but by and large the good comes out.

People might never have their own kids, let alone have an unhealthy one. Yet, those same people might be very passionate about donating or volunteering at St. Jude's or at another children's hospital or charity, for example. People will donate blood, bone marrow and organs to strangers. People often gather food and clothing for natural disaster victims.

I think that even when bad things happen, there is some good that can result. It might not always be obvious, but it usually happens.

[edit on 27-1-2008 by TheHypnoToad]



posted on Jan, 27 2008 @ 05:06 PM
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I'm not sure how it'd be possible to create one feeling without having the other feeling exist. We couldn't experience love without hate, pleasure without pain, and so on.. So we go through this world to learn of these things. Then we can appreciate a heaven or hell, and we would prove which one we deserved while we were here.

This world is God's way of letting his creations decide what exists, and what/who will inherit God's kingdom.



posted on Jan, 27 2008 @ 05:43 PM
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I rationalize it as an infinite God creating an universe with infinite possibilities has to explore every aspect of evil possible so that no one can claim that God is not omniscience. That is the world we live in now and is called the creation, which figuratively takes 7 days to complete.

Given eternity, evil must exist at some point, so the only solution is to allow it to destroy itself quickly, once and for all so that it can be separated from the rest of forever.

Evil seems like pointless suffering from a mortal point of view, but eternal paradise cannot exist without experiencing and going through that trial.

When we come to earth, there is nothing more true than the words, "it is appointed that man die once, then the judgment"

The trick is to bring about the judgment within you before the death, then the death has no power over you - immortality.



posted on Jan, 27 2008 @ 06:22 PM
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Here's a bigger question. If you know there's suffering and evil in the world why do you bring souls to this world?


Evil lives in the flesh.

[edit on 27-1-2008 by Shawn B.]



posted on Jan, 27 2008 @ 07:27 PM
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Originally posted by Heronumber0
In fact, on ATS, a theistic, deistic belief of Creation and Evolution was knocked down because God must have allowed parasites and other bugs to evolve with us and use people as hosts.


Heh, I know I like to bring this up, so I guess this might be mine? I actually first heard it from David Attenborough. I only really use it to challenge people who use the argument from 'it's all so bleedin' beautiful, therefore god'.

I'm not so sure it does in itself negate theism or deism. It just casts a light on what sort of deity you might want to envisage.


Is [God] willing to prevent evil, but not able? then is he impotent. Is he able, but not willing? then is he malevolent. Is he both able and willing? whence then is evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?

David Hume

It's certainly not an issue for many fundamentalists who do invoke some type of malevolent psychopathic deity.


The way I see it so far, if God created the parasite that attacks a child's eye (Toxocara canis) then he also allowed distinguished schools of Parasitology to be set up


He might have actually asked and ensured this in his 'holy' books then, could have improved the lives of quite a few people over the last few thousands of years. I guess he thought not eating shellfish was more important...

It is by our endeavours we have these institutions, housing people who work their butts off to improve the lives of others. Don't take away from their efforts.



posted on Jan, 27 2008 @ 07:53 PM
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The fact is God didn't bring suffering into the world, Adam and Eve did.
It is still perpetuated by humans.

"The way I see it so far, if God created the parasite that attacks a child's eye (Toxocara canis) then he also allowed distinguished schools of Parasitology to be set up. If people are attacked and debilitated by disease, then we have distinguished hospitals, doctors and nurses to treat them. In short, every suffering has a cure."

God ALSO created herbs and plants that can kill parasites and protect people.

[edit on 27-1-2008 by Clearskies]



posted on Jan, 28 2008 @ 12:43 PM
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reply to post by ben91069
 


I agree with most of your points. I think evil is a human phenomenon personally. Animals have instinct whilst humans have an element of intellectual choice which represents real evil. A parasite feeding on a human is doing so by design and instinct. A human that chooses to degrade and bring suffering to his fellow human is making a calculated choice for a calculated benefit.

The figurative 7 days, IMHO is based on the word 'yaum' which can also mean 'phases' or 'eras' but I respect the wishes of those who take it literally.



posted on Jan, 28 2008 @ 12:51 PM
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Does God favor one living organism over another? Parasites are organisms that need to feed just like humans are. Do they have less of a right to thrive than we do? I don't neccesarily feel that parasitic organisms are evil, to me they are just another biological creature of God just like the rest of us, trying to survive.



posted on Jan, 28 2008 @ 01:05 PM
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Originally posted by Heronumber0
In fact, on ATS, a theistic, deistic belief of Creation and Evolution was knocked down because God must have allowed parasites and other bugs to evolve with us and use people as hosts.



Originally posted by melatonin
Heh, I know I like to bring this up, so I guess this might be mine? I actually first heard it from David Attenborough. I only really use it to challenge people who use the argument from 'it's all so bleedin' beautiful, therefore god'.


OK, OK. I should have cited it properly and it was you in a debate with a YEC-er. However, we are in danger of talking across each other because you would have to appreciate a different type of reasoning from someone who believes that God-given intellect is the real gift to man. It has allowed our problem-solving brains colectively to categorise, characterise and then cure many illnesses. For example, Diethylcarbamazide seems to metabolically poison many nematode parasites. Man overcomes again. And how many times have you felt fulfilment and motivation from solving a problem that seemed insuperable?





Is [God] willing to prevent evil, but not able? then is he impotent. Is he able, but not willing? then is he malevolent. Is he both able and willing? whence then is evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?

David Hume



It's certainly not an issue for many fundamentalists who do invoke some type of malevolent psychopathic deity.


I think you would have to define the parameters of evil here. I cannot see evil occurring outside of the human race. So perhaps it is there to contrast with good, otherwise how would we know the feeling of overcoming it? I remember reading a book from Samuel Johnson about a prince who was protected from the evils of the outside world and had to venture out of his estates to examine the true fragile nature of human experience - warts and all! He then recognised the nature of good and evil.


He might have actually asked and ensured this in his 'holy' books then, could have improved the lives of quite a few people over the last few thousands of years. I guess he thought not eating shellfish was more important...


Melatonin, the Bible is a book of ethics - not a de facto book of Science. It is to encourage people to choose good actions for an invisible Deity and for eternal reward.


It is by our endeavours we have these institutions, housing people who work their butts off to improve the lives of others. Don't take away from their efforts.


I hope I don't diminish the role of so many - atheists and otherwise- who have strived to improve the fate of humanity. I respect their efforts. I am only saying that God gave them an intelligence that resembles a quantum computer for a reason. It is to recognise patterns and trends and then to use metacognition to understand purpose. Of course you will disagree...



posted on Jan, 28 2008 @ 01:53 PM
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Originally posted by Heronumber0
OK, OK. I should have cited it properly and it was you in a debate with a YEC-er.


No worries, I wasn't bothered at all. I think it's good of you to bring it to a proper discussion. This sort of discussion is ancient, but like much of philosophy will never be adequately put to bed. As I said, I mainly use it to make a simple point, I suppose monty python make it better really:


All things dull and ug-ly
All creatures, short and squat
All things rude and na-sty
The Lord God made the lot
Each little snake that poisons
Each little wasp that stings
He made their prudish venom
He made their horrid wings
All things sick and cancerous
All evil great and small
All things foul and dangerous
The Lord God made them all
Each nasty little hornet
Each beastly little squid
Who made the spiky urchin
Who made the sharks, he did
All things scant and ulcerous
All pox both great and small
Putrid, foul and gangrenous
The Lord God made them all
Amen



And how many times have you felt fulfilment and motivation from solving a problem that seemed insuperable?


Too many to mention. The most recent one was a set of data that took me about 6 months to think my way out of, heh.


I think you would have to define the parameters of evil here. I cannot see evil occurring outside of the human race. So perhaps it is there to contrast with good, otherwise how would we know the feeling of overcoming it? I remember reading a book from Samuel Johnson about a prince who was protected from the evils of the outside world and had to venture out of his estates to examine the true fragile nature of human experience - warts and all! He then recognised the nature of good and evil.


I suppose the worm eating an child's eyeball can be boxed as suffering, rather than evil. But the question here is ultimately the problem of evil and suffering. If this god of yours is omnipotent and also all good, he could easily curtail the suffering of innocent babies and children (and I won't buy the original sin stuff). He could do it now, he could have done it 100,000 years ago, he could do it tomorrow. But he chose not to. Indeed, if we are to take teleological creation to heart, he actually designed them to eat eyeballs of children (which is most relevant to my own use of this issue).

I think Hume's overall analysis suggested the problem of evil just illustrates that people are kidding themselves if they think they could know the mind or character of such a thing.

And I agree that we need both the rough and the smooth of emotions to fully appreciate each:


It is right it should be so;
Man was made for joy and woe;
And when this we rightly know,
Thro' the world we safely go.

Joy and woe are woven fine,
A clothing for the soul divine.
Under every grief and pine
Runs a joy with silken twine.

William Blake
Auguries of Innocence



Melatonin, the Bible is a book of ethics - not a de facto book of Science. It is to encourage people to choose good actions for an invisible Deity and for eternal reward.

I hope I don't diminish the role of so many - atheists and otherwise- who have strived to improve the fate of humanity. I respect their efforts. I am only saying that God gave them an intelligence that resembles a quantum computer for a reason. It is to recognise patterns and trends and then to use metacognition to understand purpose. Of course you will disagree...


I agree, but the point is that if your god really wanted man to end suffering in these ways, he could have ensured this rather than worry about clothes of two fabrics, which isn't some great ethical issue. It is solely through our endeavours that we have reduced suffering for many people. I think to suggest some phantom 'allows' us to do these things is an affront to the effort people put in to improve human well-being. And lest we forget, from this point of view he also 'allows' other people to crash planes into buildings, rape little children, and perform acts of genocide.

And, yes, I do disagree with god giving us intelligence. But I know you're not surprised.

But the problem of evil and suffering is something for you theists to worry about, it has little salience for me. Anyway, as I said, it's not an argument against theism, just what sort of deity you might want to imagine.

[edit on 28-1-2008 by melatonin]



posted on Feb, 1 2008 @ 08:23 PM
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Originally posted by melatonin

I suppose the worm eating an child's eyeball can be boxed as suffering, rather than evil. But the question here is ultimately the problem of evil and suffering. If this god of yours is omnipotent and also all good, he could easily curtail the suffering of innocent babies and children (and I won't buy the original sin stuff). He could do it now, he could have done it 100,000 years ago, he could do it tomorrow. But he chose not to. Indeed, if we are to take teleological creation to heart, he actually designed them to eat eyeballs of children (which is most relevant to my own use of this issue).


Yes but my God also engendered the conditions in which many scientists have performed research to cure many of the diseases that plague humanity. Why is it that you acknowledge the bad but not the good that God does? I think that these disagreements are a matter of perspective. God, from my perspective, was so good that He allowed people to be born that would oppose him and not believe in Him. He let them succeed in life and, indeed, sustained them, alowed them to flourish and live their lives freely. He could have chosen to wipe out all opposition - like Stalin but did not do so. this is good and kindness from my perspective.




And I agree that we need both the rough and the smooth of emotions to fully appreciate each:


It is right it should be so;
Man was made for joy and woe;
And when this we rightly know,
Thro' the world we safely go.

Joy and woe are woven fine,
A clothing for the soul divine.
Under every grief and pine
Runs a joy with silken twine.

William Blake
Auguries of Innocence


This is so superb that I had to include it in my reply. Well quoted!



I agree, but the point is that if your god really wanted man to end suffering in these ways, he could have ensured this rather than worry about clothes of two fabrics, which isn't some great ethical issue. It is solely through our endeavours that we have reduced suffering for many people. I think to suggest some phantom 'allows' us to do these things is an affront to the effort people put in to improve human well-being. And lest we forget, from this point of view he also 'allows' other people to crash planes into buildings, rape little children, and perform acts of genocide.


Of course He allows these things melatonin. Would you want it otherwise? Again we have the difference of perspective. What would happen if you had an evil thought or performed an evil action and it was prevented or punished straight away. You would feel limited and complain of lack of freedom - you can have either complete freedom or a complete virtual 'prison' that stops the development of a character that considers itself with a free choice, or an illusion of free choice.


And, yes, I do disagree with god giving us intelligence. But I know you're not surprised.

But the problem of evil and suffering is something for you theists to worry about, it has little salience for me. Anyway, as I said, it's not an argument against theism, just what sort of deity you might want to imagine.


I don't entirely agree. you would have to come up with an evolutionary mechanism for something like sadism. Why is it that a segment of the population enjoy inflicting suffering on others and, indeed, enjoy the experience? What would be the evolutionary advantage of sadism, happiness and so on...?



posted on Feb, 1 2008 @ 09:08 PM
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You're all forgetting the ultimate evil and the ultimate suffering that exists. A place that has the most horrendous tortures and evil abominations specifically designed to make humans suffer. I'm talking about HELL.


Christians say that God simply allows evil to happen, which in itself is horrible. If you have the power to prevent 5 innocent little Amish schoolchildren from being shot execution style, and you don't, you are either incredibly stoic or inhumane. If you allow cancer or Parkinson's to take fathers from families, husbands from wives, and mothers from children, you are sadistic. Yeah okay, create a disease that murders millions of family members per year and then say "Hey I'm not evil! I'm just allowing possibilites!" If you believe in such a God and call him good at the same time, delusion has taken you over.


Back to my "Hell" point, now Christians cannot simply say God allows evil. Hell is a place God supposedly invented specifically for EVIL. That's right, God intentionally created an EVIL place made solely for human SUFFERING. I'm sure someone will say that Hell is not evil because only sinners go there. Sinners are people too, sinners are your father, your sister, your next door neighbour, your high school friend, and sinners deserve the same human rights as so called non-sinners. Your religion condemns Atheists to burn in hell simply because we do not believe in a God who does not show himself, and you call us arrogant?


By the way, 10% of Americans are Atheist, but only .02% of Prisoners in Jail are Atheist.



posted on Feb, 2 2008 @ 07:18 AM
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Originally posted by TheB1ueSoldier
You're all forgetting the ultimate evil and the ultimate suffering that exists. A place that has the most horrendous tortures and evil abominations specifically designed to make humans suffer. I'm talking about HELL.


What if Hell is not a place but a state of mind? What about mass murderers or evil people - are they not in an emotional Hell already?
What if a good God just wanted to warn people off from committing evil by mentioning Hell when Hell is a creation of any tortured mind in the world? Seems different from this perspective doesn't it?



Christians say that God simply allows evil to happen, which in itself is horrible. If you have the power to prevent 5 innocent little Amish schoolchildren from being shot execution style, and you don't, you are either incredibly stoic or inhumane. If you allow cancer or Parkinson's to take fathers from families, husbands from wives, and mothers from children, you are sadistic. Yeah okay, create a disease that murders millions of family members per year and then say "Hey I'm not evil! I'm just allowing possibilites!" If you believe in such a God and call him good at the same time, delusion has taken you over.


Yes evil must be allowed to happen. It is because of the practices of humans in this 'worst of all worlds' scenario that we live in. The God that did not protect 5 innocent children from being shot also created the Police Force that stopped any further slaughter. The God that allows diseases to kill millions also allowed distinguished scientists to come up with cures - and allowed atheists to live long enough to find the cure. That is pretty generous to my point of view. God is so good that He allowed millions of atheists to survive knowing that they would oppose Him. Can you see where I am going with this?

You cannot say that God designed evil when he also designed EVERYTHING. At least acknowledge the good that He does. If thousands die every day in circumstances created by greedy Capitalist then He also gives life to many more each day, allowing the miraculous process of development from a fertilised egg to a fully developed human being. If you want miracles in your life, heck, the babies born in front of your eyes are miracles - every one!



By the way, 10% of Americans are Atheist, but only .02% of Prisoners in Jail are Atheist.


I will take these figures on trust. But what is your point TBS?



posted on Feb, 2 2008 @ 08:05 AM
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Originally posted by Heronumber0
Yes but my God also engendered the conditions in which many scientists have performed research to cure many of the diseases that plague humanity. Why is it that you acknowledge the bad but not the good that God does?


Because it would negate the hard work and ingenuity of the people involved. Indeed, Ockham's razor entirely removes such issues for me. What you are doing is playing confirmation bias, we can put the good in the world down to god - he creates the conditions for man to work hard and solve negative issues. Equally, he set the conditions for man to work hard and commit genocide.

You only focus on the good. And essentially absolve the same thing you place the good at, the responsibility for the bad - this is due to evil men, or even the devil. But as much as he set the stage for people curing small pox, he set the stage for people to commit acts of genocide. Indeed, he actually liked a bit of genocide himself, if we take stuff at face value.


Of course He allows these things melatonin.


And like any person who would allow such things as genocide, but has the ability to stop it, he is almost as much a monster as the people who perform the acts. I'm sorry, but a good person would act if they had the ability to stop an act of great evil in one move. I know I would. I wouldn't give a fig about free-will. If he is able to save one child in a tsunami, he could have saved them all. Indeed, he could have stopped it without people even knowing.


The idea of a personal God, like one of us writ large, is fraught with difficulty. If this God is omnipotent, he could have prevented the Holocaust. If he was unable to stop it, he is impotent and useless; if he could have stopped it and chose not to, he is a monster. Jews are not the only people who believe that the Holocaust put an end to conventional theology.

Karen Armstrong, A history of god

I would expect a child owner of a fish-tank to remove a genocidal fish. But maybe I'm 'gooder' than god himself, I know I wouldn't 'design' a worm that eats the eyeballs of the innocent children which I apparently created the whole world for and love them dearly.

As for kids falling over and grazing their knees. That would be OK by me.


I don't entirely agree. you would have to come up with an evolutionary mechanism for something like sadism. Why is it that a segment of the population enjoy inflicting suffering on others and, indeed, enjoy the experience? What would be the evolutionary advantage of sadism, happiness and so on...?


I would tend to look at their neural wiring (but of course I would, heh). Psychopaths appear to have emotional deficits than enables them to act without empathy or sympathy. Similar to some people with lesions of the frontal lobe. I would think sadists fall into this category. There is actually a type of evolutionary explanation for this - suckers, cheats, and grudgers. I would think the psychopaths and sadists can be seen as extreme cheaters, with most people being grudgers (you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours), and few being suckers.

Indeed, we all have the tendency to turn off our ability to 'humanise' people. There's a good neuro study on this issue (involves Wheeler & Fiske, 2006, IIRC). I would assume some just can't turn it on.

ABE: Harris & Fiske, 2006; Wheeler & Fiske, 2005). And I agree with the point in the article from Haslam about top-down regulation of more automatic responses - my own research shows this
But the point remains that we can readily process outgroup members in a comparable way to an inanimate object.

Maybe masochists have wiring for pain and sex being linked (kind of like synaesthesia). Indeed, much of behaviour and emotional associations are actually learned. So, perhaps these people learn to associate pain with sexual arousal, much like some learn to associate red high-heeled shoes with the same.

So, we have two processes - one will be due to some innate individual variation, another a learned process. Both could account for this sort of thing.

I think happiness is a bit different, and is more a core emotion, based around positive reward. And I think the reasons for brain mechanisms underpinning reward and punishment are pretty transparent.

[edit on 2-2-2008 by melatonin]



posted on Feb, 2 2008 @ 10:44 AM
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I see that there isn't a Wiccan perspective on this, and I don't know if you wanted one but here goes:
There has to be a balance in the world, of good and evil. Without the evil, there would be no good.
It also goes along with philosophy of things happen for a reason. Things are meant to happen in a persons life, good or bad. It's what makes the world go round.



posted on Feb, 2 2008 @ 10:56 AM
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Originally posted by missa_wiccan_chick
I see that there isn't a Wiccan perspective on this, and I don't know if you wanted one but here goes:
There has to be a balance in the world, of good and evil. Without the evil, there would be no good.
It also goes along with philosophy of things happen for a reason. Things are meant to happen in a persons life, good or bad. It's what makes the world go round.


Thank you for that perspective. I respect your point of view, and, in this case I agree with it. I think your faith is probably the fastest growing in the world so how do you feel about Mother Earth giving rise to genocide and slaughter as well as people who will sacrifice themselves for the greater good?



posted on Feb, 2 2008 @ 11:05 AM
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People are generally evil. It's not the person, it's the intent.
Mother earth hasn't got anything to do with that, it's free will that is the problem. But without free will, we all would be lost.
So we have Karma.
en.wikipedia.org...



posted on Feb, 2 2008 @ 11:20 AM
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Originally posted by missa_wiccan_chick
People are generally evil. It's not the person, it's the intent.
Mother earth hasn't got anything to do with that, it's free will that is the problem. But without free will, we all would be lost.
So we have Karma.
en.wikipedia.org...


Hmm - that point about Karma Niyama seemed quite interesting. This means that someone, or something has set this Universe to be a self adjusting system to keep a balance of right and wrong. So, following this logic, who set these metaphysical Laws? Humans can't do it right?



posted on Feb, 2 2008 @ 11:37 AM
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I believe in a god and goddess. They give us guidelines to follow, but free will gives us the opportunity to choose wither or not to follow them.
Retribution in life too, meaning instead of being punished or rewarded in the afterlife, it happens during life.
Lessons are taught for a reason, that is why we are here.



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