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Why did God Cause Suffering and Evil in the World?

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posted on Feb, 2 2008 @ 01:31 PM
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Originally posted by melatonin

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.


I would never deny that the stage has been set for evil and genocide. However, here we have to enter into the complex world of human social relations and the development of the human into an extended Benthamite state. you don't need a socio-political lecture from me. But what are the reasons for genocide apart from the perceived benefit of a few from the genocide of many. Yes the stage was set, but the choice, or perception of choice, was always there. Hence there is no giant hand from the sky to pluck babies from the hands of their murderers. There is a perception of choice for an individual.

Why do you expect God to be interventionist. Can't he just create the conditions and then leave men to cope with the Universal Laws that He has created along with the the Law of Requital, which could be a metaphysical Law offering good for good deeds and bad for bad deeds? With the organisation of people into groups with evil or genocidal intent, the system then collapses under this Law. The innocent, cut down in their prime are granted a Heavenly state of mind, whilst the evil are given a state in which they live in the prison of their own thoughts and emotions (Hell).


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

Yes but the idea of personal freedom is paramount and pivotal to the existence of man.


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.


A loving parent lets his children make their own mistakes. The society we live in will create a certain type of human depending on the intentions of the society. If we look at the level of our society, capitalism, greed and the interests of the individual are protected. You are legally allowed to drink or drug yourself to death, providing you don't steal to maintain your habits. You are allowed to make money by any means necessary and to ride roughshod over the rights of others provided you use your money in the correct way.

A faith -based society would reward virtue, practise egalitarianism and maintain a state of cleanliness that does not allow your worm to enter into the eyeball of children. The social habitat in a faith -based society should ensure that is disease-free and evil-free. You could then create a society where each individual can live to his or her God-given potential. It is obvious that no such state exists therefore we have much of the human evil that we see in excess around us.


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.


I'll hold fire on this for the moment until I read some more. However, about the article, they measured:
a) the visual response - which visual stimuli, were they extreme images?
Because an encounter with a homeless person involves audial stimulus as well as other senses.
b) We encounter these people in different social settings from a comfortable lab and these complex encounters may elicit a different response. Your field mate, I just don't know if I agree with the conclusions of the scientists.


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.


I just wondered if emotions gave an evolutionary advantage and you have answered some of this but I suppose this is the wrong forum for this debate.




posted on Feb, 2 2008 @ 03:10 PM
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Originally posted by Heronumber0
I would never deny that the stage has been set for evil and genocide. However, here we have to enter into the complex world of human social relations and the development of the human into an extended Benthamite state. you don't need a socio-political lecture from me. But what are the reasons for genocide apart from the perceived benefit of a few from the genocide of many. Yes the stage was set, but the choice, or perception of choice, was always there. Hence there is no giant hand from the sky to pluck babies from the hands of their murderers. There is a perception of choice for an individual.


I agree with the bolded part entirely. As I said, this stuff isn't an issue for me really, I don't see the universe as having intrinsic morality, good and evil. There is no giant hand to pluck babies from murderers or bring plagues of locusts on Egyptians.

We depend on each other.


Why do you expect God to be interventionist. Can't he just create the conditions and then leave men to cope with the Universal Laws that He has created along with the the Law of Requital, which could be a metaphysical Law offering good for good deeds and bad for bad deeds? With the organisation of people into groups with evil or genocidal intent, the system then collapses under this Law. The innocent, cut down in their prime are granted a Heavenly state of mind, whilst the evil are given a state in which they live in the prison of their own thoughts and emotions (Hell).


Well, if you want me to choose one form of deity I could see as more credible than the other, it would be a deist 'create and go' type.

The issue I see is that if people want to posit an god who is omnibenevolent to the extent of listening to our prayers, watching bedroom habits, and also possesses omnipotence and omniscience. Then to not act in certain situations suggests he is a monster. Thus, this form of personal god is a fantasy in my mind.

Failing to act in these extreme cases is not a sign of goodness. It's not a case of one scared person watching the gang-rape of some woman, it's an all powerful dude who could stop mass murder with a snap of his omnipotent fingers. Morals should compel us to act in certain situations, this guy is meant to be the model for morality. Alternatively, he just can't act, so what's the use? He is more impotent than the united nations. He isn't god as many people like to view him.

But, again, this is still sort of like discussing 'if radiohead were dogs' to me.


Yes but the idea of personal freedom is paramount and pivotal to the existence of man.


And so is the moral imperative. We already restrict people's freedoms to harm others. Even we can do better than this god fella.


A loving parent lets his children make their own mistakes.


Maybe, but this should only lead to consequences to that child. I wouldn't let my child strangle a cat because I wanted him to make the mistake and me to then make a moral point for future reference.

But even this has limits, I wouldn't allow a child to make the mistake of sticking a knife in a plug socket.


The society we live in will create a certain type of human depending on the intentions of the society. If we look at the level of our society, capitalism, greed and the interests of the individual are protected. You are legally allowed to drink or drug yourself to death, providing you don't steal to maintain your habits. You are allowed to make money by any means necessary and to ride roughshod over the rights of others provided you use your money in the correct way.


I get what you mean here, but we must remember that much of this greed issue has been permitted by christian leaders. Indeed, I do think we should be able to drink ourselves to death if the harm is ours alone.

I do see this jesus character as an early socialist, so that's fine by me. But this unhindered dehumanising free-market capitalism is actually quite acceptable to many of your fellow christians.


A faith -based society would reward virtue, practise egalitarianism and maintain a state of cleanliness that does not allow your worm to enter into the eyeball of children. The social habitat in a faith -based society should ensure that is disease-free and evil-free. You could then create a society where each individual can live to his or her God-given potential. It is obvious that no such state exists therefore we have much of the human evil that we see in excess around us.


I actually think the history of the world shows otherwise. But I'm sure you will use the 'true' faith-based society issue. Indeed, a bit like communism, which is also great on paper, these ideas tend to be readily corrupted by greed and a thirst for power.


I'll hold fire on this for the moment until I read some more. However, about the article, they measured:
a) the visual response - which visual stimuli, were they extreme images?
Because an encounter with a homeless person involves audial stimulus as well as other senses.
b) We encounter these people in different social settings from a comfortable lab and these complex encounters may elicit a different response. Your field mate, I just don't know if I agree with the conclusions of the scientists.


They were just pictures of different social groups. The Wheeler & Fiske study actually found the same effect for Black faces for White participants. I know the ecological validity is not perfect, but it's hard to get the real-world in a scanner. What they do show is that the initial perceptions can be readily dehumanising. The interesting thing is that in many cases, we will use frontal lobe activity to regulate these negative and dehumanising perceptions. Otherwise people would break social norms in social interactions (although, it does depend on the social norms, heh).

Thus, if I was a raving racist, although I might have a negative dehumanising response to a Black person when I shake their hands, I will probably act endearing. Indeed, studies show that Black people actually prefer to interact with people who do have such automatic prejudicial responses, as they overegg their controlled responses (and come across as really really nice), whereas a person with no implicit bias will just treat a Black person like any other. Which is a concern.


I just wondered if emotions gave an evolutionary advantage and you have answered some of this but I suppose this is the wrong forum for this debate.


I suppose it is, but we can place it in the moral category, as morality is infused with emotion. Emotions are just physiological mechanisms that lead to adaptive behaviour. Punishment says 'don't do that again', reward says 'repeat please'. It leads to the most optimal behaviours, thus we approach reward, and withdraw from punishment. This is why emotional events lead to very robust memories (underpin PTSD etc), and also why there is a negativity bias in emotional learning. Avoiding punishment is more important to our reproductive success in many ways than reward (i.e. being dead should be avoided above the incentive gains of a chocolate bar).

When we see food and are hungry, we feel positive emotions and a motivation to eat. The funny thing is that if we feed people to satiety, we see the neural responses start to wane (i.e., the food loses its rewarding properties - we have actually seen this at the single neuron level). Thus, emotion and motivation are linked. Emotions drive much of our behaviour, ppeople with lesions of core emotional areas have been an important area of study for the last few decades.

[edit on 2-2-2008 by melatonin]



posted on Feb, 3 2008 @ 01:40 AM
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Originally posted by Heronumber0
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?

I don't know too many mass murderers but I'm pretty sure that they are not in an "emotional Hell." There must be a reason that they are mass murderers, if they found the act to be an "emotional Hell" then they wouldn't start mass murdering, would they? Besides, the common Christian perception of Hell is a literal place where human beings go to suffer and burn for all eternity.



Originally posted by Heronumber0
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?

And what if a good God actually did good things like looking out for his people and showing himself every once in a while so that more people would believe in him. We can play the "What If" game all day long if you want to, but it just means you are dodging a argument you cannot answer. Hell is not a state of mind, hell is not a psychopath's mentality, hell is a literal place that was created solely to inflict unimaginable tortures and cruelty upon human beings (According to Christian doctrine and the Bible). Now answer me, why would a good God purposely create such a place KNOWING that many of his children would end up there?



Originally posted by Heronumber0
Yes evil must be allowed to happen.

Why Why Why? If God created everything, why did God create the Cancer virus? Why did God create AIDS? Why did God form a hurricane in his hands and unleash it in Southern Asia to kill tens of thousands of people? Why does God see his children torturing and killing each other and not lift a finger to help? Forgive me for playing Devil's Advocate, but I must ask the hard questions. I cannot simply twiddle my thumbs and be a slave to a God who isn't there.



Originally posted by Heronumber0
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?

Oh thank you God for allowing me to survive. Nevermind the disease that crippled my father, or the cancer that took my uncle, or the car accident that took my good friend, thank you for allowing ME to survive. I must be so special for God to have allowed me to live while so many others have died unnecessary deaths. God is truly great for giving me health while he confines my father to a wheelchair. No, "hero"number0, I am not so arrogant as to think this way, and I truly hope you stop your delusion.



Originally posted by Heronumber0
You cannot say that God designed evil when he also designed EVERYTHING.

Sure I can, and say it with me heronumber0. Repeat after me, "God... Designed... Evil." Very nice. Now, to be serious, you just defeated your own argument in the very same sentence. That's quite an accomplishment. According to you, God designed "EVERYTHING", is Evil not a part of "EVERYTHING" or are we talking about different everythings?



posted on Feb, 9 2008 @ 03:54 PM
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Originally posted by TheB1ueSoldier

I don't know too many mass murderers but I'm pretty sure that they are not in an "emotional Hell." There must be a reason that they are mass murderers, if they found the act to be an "emotional Hell" then they wouldn't start mass murdering, would they? Besides, the common Christian perception of Hell is a literal place where human beings go to suffer and burn for all eternity.


I don't know about mass murderers either but for people who are 'evil' or 'sinful' generally, I am pretty sure that there is an emotional unhappiness that they live in which I could term as a living Hell. It would make logical sense that sinners would be confined to this confused state after death. I'm sure I read about Western societies being unhappy places to live in whilst the societies that have happiness tend to have little, or no, material possessions.



And what if a good God actually did good things like looking out for his people and showing himself every once in a while so that more people would believe in him. We can play the "What If" game all day long if you want to, but it just means you are dodging a argument you cannot answer. Hell is not a state of mind, hell is not a psychopath's mentality, hell is a literal place that was created solely to inflict unimaginable tortures and cruelty upon human beings (According to Christian doctrine and the Bible). Now answer me, why would a good God purposely create such a place KNOWING that many of his children would end up there?


I don't play 'What if?' games. This underlies the particular form of faith I have which is partially trying to reason with our presence on Earth as humans, our actions, our reason for existence and what happens to us following death. I have just rationalised to myself a story that satisfies me intellectually and emotionally. the rest is down to faith and everyone is at different stages. Why should the idea of a physical place make any sense to a soul? It doesn't to me. A soul is another category of existence outside of my comprehension and in the comprehension of my Christian and atheist friends.




Why Why Why? If God created everything, why did God create the Cancer virus? Why did God create AIDS? Why did God form a hurricane in his hands and unleash it in Southern Asia to kill tens of thousands of people? Why does God see his children torturing and killing each other and not lift a finger to help? Forgive me for playing Devil's Advocate, but I must ask the hard questions. I cannot simply twiddle my thumbs and be a slave to a God who isn't there.


These are hard questions, and I understand your feelings here. But it has been mentioned before in previous discussions. Good must have evil before it can be recognised or appreciated. The society we live in decides the fate of individuals just in the same way as God does. If you lived in a society that was in a sensitive zone for a tsunami or earthquake and you used your God-given intellect, would you not raise your island defences to avoid the possibility of a huge tsunami or shore up your buildings to avoid earthquake damage? Human societies seem to have chosen the worst of all options for themselves and we see the Devil of Materialism on the rise instead of self sacrifice and moderation. In short, you reap as you sow.



Oh thank you God for allowing me to survive. Nevermind the disease that crippled my father, or the cancer that took my uncle, or the car accident that took my good friend, thank you for allowing ME to survive. I must be so special for God to have allowed me to live while so many others have died unnecessary deaths. God is truly great for giving me health while he confines my father to a wheelchair. No, "hero"number0, I am not so arrogant as to think this way, and I truly hope you stop your delusion.


I am sorry you feel that way. Do you feel that nothing good has ever happened to you in your own life? No insult intended here TBS. Don't the small happy moments mean anything? I thank God for giving our souls the gift of sensory experience. This is pretty miraculous if you look at it from that perspective. The problems we all have - and I certainly have my share - are to be overcome as learning experiences. as we learn, we gain wisdom until it becomes transcendant and eternal. Now that is the ultimate Divine gift - everlasting life! Compare our 72 years of problems to an eternity to put it into perspective.



Sure I can, and say it with me heronumber0. Repeat after me, "God... Designed... Evil." Very nice. Now, to be serious, you just defeated your own argument in the very same sentence. That's quite an accomplishment. According to you, God designed "EVERYTHING", is Evil not a part of "EVERYTHING" or are we talking about different everythings?

It depends on the evil. I am not trying to minimise your deduction just to place it in a logical framework. However, I believe I have addressed this before.



posted on Feb, 9 2008 @ 04:05 PM
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I don’t think it’s so much why God cause suffering and evil in the world. It’s really why we pissed off God so much that the manifestation of his anger and hate is unleashed unto this world. I think it’s rather backwards to assume that an invisible, almighty entity would be so harsh to his/her/its own creation and not care or tend for it like its own children or garden. ‘God’ would truly be hurt and alone knowing that happiness cannot be made possible for every sentient being, IMO. That’s all and good day.



posted on Feb, 10 2008 @ 03:45 AM
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To HeroNumber0,

You remind me of myself shortly before I converted to Atheism. I looked at all the evidence, read all the books, listened to all the pastors and priests, and yet there was some nagging voice in the back of my mind that kept saying "this is all bull and you know it."

And you know why I hung on to that last strand of Christianity? Do you know why I spent years on ATS as a Christian Apologist? One word, hope. Hope for eternal life, hope for salvation from hellfire, hope for a God who loved me and cherished me. But you know what I've learned? Hope is a denial of Reality, and I became too old for an imaginary friend.



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