• Gnostic Christian Bishop
    836
    You say "Christians are always trying to absolve God of moral culpability" then claim that "Without us doing some of both [good AND evil], we would likely go extinct.". This is clearly self-refuting isn't it? On one hand God is culpable and on the other hand you say evil is necessary for evolution which is letting god off the hook.TheMadFool

    I do not see anything that self-refutes.
    I will speak to what you might be seeing a bit but you might have to point it out more clearly.

    God is not let off the hook if one believes in such an imaginary entity. He would have created evolution and would be culpable for that formula being good or evil. Most religious blame us while ignoring that we can only be and do what a god would have put into our natures.

    [deleted]

    Regards
    DL
  • ZhouBoTong
    588
    What do you think of my reply to Gnostic Christian Bishop?TheMadFool

    I think I approve. I am going to try to answer Gnostic Christian Bishop for you, and we will see if I have it correct.

    God is not let off the hook if one believes in such an imaginary entity. He would have created evolution and would be culpable for that formula being good or evil. Most religious blame us while ignoring that we can only be and do what a god would have put into our natures.Gnostic Christian Bishop

    I think it is largely your statement that basically said evil is not so bad. I think you mentioned that, without it, we would go extinct (paraphrasing, correct me where wrong). So it is actually NOT evil ("necessary evil" is a commonly used idiom, but upon reflection, it is a contradiction of definitions). Well if evil is NOT evil, then what evils are we blaming (or not) on god (imaginary or not)?

    Most religious blame us while ignoring that we can only be and do what a god would have put into our natures.Gnostic Christian Bishop

    Indeed they do. But again, if evil is not bad, but good, then what is there to "blame" on god? sounds like there is no problem (of evil) at all.

    I hope you see (and are not too upset) that TheMadFool and I are picking on the minutia of your argument. I think overall, our positions are not too distant. But the more time I spend around philosophy, the more I can't help but pick on any minor contradictions that I see (I am not even saying the contradictions definitely exist, but they stand out to me).
  • Gnostic Christian Bishop
    836
    Well if evil is NOT evil, then what evils are we blaming (or not) on god (imaginary or not)?ZhouBoTong

    I did not say that evil was not evil. It is, obviously.
    I said that the evils in our evolution are required if we are to not go extinct.
    Compare the evil in our extinction with the evils we produce to maintain our evolution and you will see why we have to tolerate the evils that our evolution forces upon us in our seeking the fittest.

    then what evils are we blaming (or not) on god (imaginary or not)?ZhouBoTong

    Some people blame god for all evil while others blame anything but god. In the way I think, there is no conflict between god and nature/evolution.

    We are evolving perfection and the best we can all be at any given point in time given entropy. That is why it is true that we live in the best of all possible worlds, given that it is the only possible world.

    I can't help but pick on any minor contradictions that I see (I am not even saying the contradictions definitely exist, but they stand out to me).ZhouBoTong

    Been there and done that. Then I became more of an esoteric ecumenist and boosted my analogical thinking so as to try to keep my knit picking to a minimum.

    Regards
    DL
  • TheMadFool
    4.3k
    I said that the evils in our evolution are required if we are to not go extinct.Gnostic Christian Bishop

    How do you fit global nuclear winter in your belief system? Isn't nuclear war evil and, if the experts are right, it spells certain doom for the whole planet?

    I expect you to say that a certain amount of moderation is necessary. If so then there actually is no problem of evil and God is simply modulating his goodness to make life possible and grow.
  • PhilosophyAttempter
    8


    The gift of freedom is not congruent to the gift of living without consequence. Freedom to act and behave as one wishes goes hand in hand with consequence. Per example, one has the law given right of free speech, but this does not guarantee one consequent-free speech.

    Understandably, eternal Heaven v. Hell is quite a large gift v. consequence making it seem quite plausible that we are pressured to not behave as free individuals based on knowing our possible future at hand. However, I would argue you can be free whilst knowing the consequences of your behavior.

    *I also think it is important to elaborate on the definition of evil and determining the large distinction of Sin v. Evil. God punished us with sin and knows, as humans, we are sinful by nature, thus granting us forgiveness for these sinful actions he knows we will commit as free individuals. However, sin does not constitute evil.

    The Divine definition of evil I do not know, but I still argue that you can be free whilst aware of your action’s consequences.

    1. If you have free will, you can act as you please
    2. If you act as you please, there will be consequences: Heaven or Hell
    3. If you have free will, then there will be consequences: Heaven or Hell
    4. If there will be consequences: Heaven or Hell, then you are aware of the consequences
    5. If you have free will, then you are aware of the consequences
  • LNH
    4
    I do agree with @TheMadFool’s conclusion that we do not have free-will if we have an “omnipotent, omni-benevolent and omniscient God”. If we are to believe that God is omniscient, then we are to believe that he is all knowing by definition. Therefore say tomorrow morning I wake up and choose to drink coffee instead of tea, God will have foreknowledge of me choosing coffee. However, for God to have foreknowledge of an event, the event must be certain to exist. I will drink coffee over tea on October 1st. Therefore, tomorrow I may think when pouring my morning cup that I have control in choosing my breakfast beverage, however, I do not. God has foreknowledge of that event, so If I where tomorrow to choose tea instead, that would mean that God’s foreknowledge was fallacious.
    An argument to this could be that knowing an event is going to occur does not cause the event. God knowing I will drink coffee tomorrow does not mean that he made me drink coffee, but it does mean that no other option will not exist. However to this I would say that for no other option to exist, it assumes that the choice is absolute and if my choices are absolute before I make them, then I do not have free-will.
    Following writing this response, I read further down the thread that @TheMadFool later says that God’s omniscience is causality based, meaning that God has access to each decision in our lives but that he did not “calculate our positions in advance”. @TheMadFool uses the idea that God could flip to a frame as in an old time movie and access the next frame to see what will occur before it does. However, the same issue still persists, that if God has certain knowledge of an event, it must come to exist. Maybe an event in the “frame” before causes me to drink coffee tomorrow morning. Say perhaps, my sister drinks my last packet of tea, so tomorrow morning I drink coffee because I do not have tea, yet I will still drink coffee. The events that led up to me drinking coffee matter not because regardless the certainty exists that I must drink coffee. In order to do this, I would still have had no free will because God created the circumstances in which my decision was generated.
  • Ferzeo
    8
    Hello TheMadFool, it seems that you are countering the idea that free will solves the POE. I think the argument you are countering goes something like this:
    1. If we have free will, then there will be evil (POE).
    2. God gave us free will.
    :. Therefore, there is evil. (1,2 MP)

    Your rebuttal seems to be challenging premise 2 and I think your reasoning goes something like this:

    1. If God greatly punishes the bad with Hell and rewards the good more than adequately with Heaven, then Hell is unacceptable, and Heaven cannot be refused.
    2. God punishes the bad with Hell and rewards the good with Heaven.
    3. :. Therefore, Hell is unacceptable, and Heaven cannot be refused. (1,2 MP)
    4. If Hell is unacceptable, and Heaven cannot be refused, then God has made it mandatory for us to be good.
    5. Hell is unacceptable, and heaven cannot be refused. (4)
    6. :. God has made it mandatory for us to be good. (4,5 MP)
    7. If good is mandatory, then we don’t have free will.
    8. Good is mandatory. (6)
    9. :. We don’t have free will. (7,8 MP)
    10. If we don’t have free will, then it cannot explain the POE.
    11. We don’t have free will. (9)
    :. Freewill cannot explain the POE. (10,11 MP)

    I would like to offer a rejection of this argument based on the first premise. The first premise of this argument is “begging the question”. By stating that Hell is “unacceptable” (i.e. not able to be accepted) and that Heaven “cannot be refused” (i.e. not able to be refused), this argument necessitates, from the beginning, that we assume the conclusion (that we do not have the ability to choose) is true, rather than proving it. I think I understand what you were trying to argue though. I believe you were meaning to demonstrate that Hell is a greatly undesirable or unreasonable option and that Heaven is a desirable or reasonable option, rather than literally “not able to be accepted” or “not able to be refused”.

    With this revised understanding of the argument, I would like to offer a denial of premise 4. Just because one option is undesirable or unreasonable and the other is desirable or reasonable does not mean that the one offering the options has negated the ability to choose. They have simply made two different options. An example of this would be law enforcement giving people the options to either break the law and go to jail or obey the law and stay free. The first option is clearly undesirable and unreasonable and the second is desirable and reasonable, but the presenting of those options clearly does not take away people’s ability to choose the undesirable or unreasonable option.

    I realize that my counter-argument does not prove that free will is the solution to the POE. I was only trying to demonstrate that your argument, as it is, does not show that we do not have free will, which would make our freewill a possible explanation for the POE.

    Finally, I would like to suggest a possible reason why, if the above options are their choices, people choose the undesirable or unreasonable option. Possibly, because people do not believe that these are the choices they are given, they choose to do things that are “evil” and indirectly choose the undesirable option.
  • PoeticUniverse
    782
    problem of evilTheMadFool

    Oh, where is the Loving One, the All-Might?
    Why just the power of what natures does?
    What benevolence makes for living in fright?
    Where’s the Knowing of His Is and ne’er was?
  • ZhouBoTong
    588
    I did not say that evil was not evil. It is, obviously.
    I said that the evils in our evolution are required if we are to not go extinct.
    Gnostic Christian Bishop

    well if we define evil:

    profoundly immoral and wicked. (a quick definition of wicked gives "morally wrong")

    Isn't morality put simply, "how we ought to behave"?

    If what you describe as "evil" is required to prevent extinction, then it IS something that we ought to do. So by definition, it is NOT evil.

    Sorry if I am overly focused on definitions. I get that religious folk use the word "evil" in all sorts of crazy ways.

    Compare the evil in our extinction with the evils we produce to maintain our evolution and you will see why we have to tolerate the evils that our evolution forces upon us in our seeking the fittest.Gnostic Christian Bishop

    You spend too much time with the religious, haha. There are much better words we can use than "evil" to describe what you are referring to above. It brings religious baggage to an issue that can be entirely explained without it. I would not tend to view acts of nature (potentially human extinction) as good or evil.

    In the way I think, there is no conflict between god and nature/evolution.Gnostic Christian Bishop

    Me neither. But that is easy if you don't believe in any of the gods.

    That is why it is true that we live in the best of all possible worlds, given that it is the only possible world.Gnostic Christian Bishop

    This reminds me of, "god is the most perfect conceivable being. a being that exists is more perfect than one that doesn't. Therefor, god exists."

    While I agree that it is the only "world" we know of, what do we know of what is possible?
  • PoeticUniverse
    782
    If what you describe as "evil" is required to prevent extinction, then it IS something that we ought to do. So by definition, it is NOT evil.ZhouBoTong

    Kind of like a natural evil of necessity; thus, we survived not in spite of our evil and. violence but because of it. Even our cooperation was for a better hunt and kill.
  • ZhouBoTong
    588
    Kind of like a natural evil of necessity; thus, we survived not in spite of our evil and. violence but because of it. Even our cooperation was for a better hunt and kill.PoeticUniverse

    I (mostly, haha) understand the colloquial usage of evil. However, once evil is defined, I am not sure it actually exists.

    Isn't your quote saying that our violent and savage sides may serve a useful purpose? Words like "violent" and "savage" have specific meanings with far less connotative baggage than "evil". Evil only seems a useful word in relation to religion and super-villains.
  • god must be atheist
    1.1k
    Occam's Razor.

    The solution that has the least complexity with the smallest number of variables is the right one.

    My proposal to the problem of evil and free will:

    There is no god or gods. There is no evil. There is no hell or heaven. There is no free will. There is no sin.

    Case closed. Now we can all go home and sit down and eat dinner and go to sleep in peace. Not worrying about earning an eternity of suffering in hell via a god's evil nature, due to not having a free will which would necessarily make us sin, since sin is so much more fun than not sinning.

    YOU FOOLS! Can't you see that Sin, and Hell and stuff are a behaviour modification program's motivating forces, designed to curtail those activities in our lives that some ruling classes decided would be detrimental to society's survival?

    Have you not noticed that kings and pharaos could always fornicate unrestricted? They could always take drugs, kill people, and not worry about their future in the afterlife?

    This means something, and what it means is that the entire morality shit is designed to control the behaviour of the masses.

    While you argue about morality and sin and evil and heaven and free will and hell, you miss the only point in religions' moral teaching: do as they, whoever "they" are, want you to behave, and they make it so by making you believe there are gods or a god, who is evil, but you can't say that, and who will punish you if you don't heed to the moral codes that are also reflected in -- imagine that! -- in the laws of our legal systems.
  • joshua
    62
    My proposal to the problem of evil and free will:

    There is no god or gods. There is no evil. There is no hell or heaven. There is no free will. There is no sin.
    god must be atheist

    I agree, but...

    Case closed. Now we can all go home and sit down and eat dinner and go to sleep in peace.god must be atheist

    not quite with this. Because the absurd supernatural stuff was arguably not the essence of religion. People justify violence and greed in terms of secular abstractions just as readily.

    For instance, maybe a few million peasants be starved now for the classless society to come. Maybe race becomes magical.


    Not worrying about earning an eternity of suffering in hell via a god's evil nature,god must be atheist

    I agree with you here. I was raised with the spooky stories of an evil god who burned people for eternity. It was a relief to jettison all that. But that comes with a price. If we were godless apes who had only believed there was a god, what did it all mean? People want a cause. They crave something substantial. These days that gets directed into being on the right side of history.

    Instead of history being cyclical, we still have the Christian structure of time. It's all building toward something. One day everyone will be woke, free not only of theism but also of all the other isms and phobias, even those that haven't been discovered yet.

    There's not only the religion of progress but also a nostalgia religion (and various blends.) We can go back to the old ways that respected Gaia. We can be green-skinned neo-humans who feed on sunlight like the plants.

    what it means is that the entire morality shit is designed to control the behaviour of the masses.god must be atheist

    But surely lots of 'morality shit' is just a way to organize our interactions for just about everybody's benefit. 'Don't steal. Don't murder.' That's just civilization. Of course some of the holy rules haven't aged well at all.

    But mostly the masses want civilization. We will gladly assent to the prohibition of theft and murder. How can we develop our higher faculties without such prohibitions? Such prohibitions express what is higher in us against what is lower. And religion's control of sexuality seems over and done with at this point. To accuse people of yesterday's sins is today's sin.

    A last little point is all the evangelicals who voted Trump. To me that suggests that their religion is just politics was some feel-good imagery tacked on. Give us wealth and fame, O Lord.
  • god must be atheist
    1.1k
    Because the absurd supernatural stuff was arguably not the essence of religion.joshua

    I agree absolutely. Religion is just PART of the behaviour modification program. There are other institutions in society that help the same program: law, and social customs.

    I am not blaming religion. I am only saying there is much too much focus on religion, so much so, that we lose our sight of what it is that is really going on.
  • god must be atheist
    1.1k
    But mostly the masses want civilization.joshua

    True also. Several reasons exist, one is that civilization helps the individual survive easier and more lucratively, second, that the individual can aspire to become king, if not in realistic terms, at least in fantasy.

    Again: it's not that religion or law and order are a problem. The problem is that we focus on the nitty-gritty detail of religion, which is actually negligible from our points of view, or ought to be if it is not.

    In a lot of societies in modern times, namely in Europe, Russia and China, law and social customs have completely replaced the role of religion as a motivating force to act and behave in ways that aid society, live in civilization, and promote the individuals' success at survival.

    The societies that are deeply focussed on religion are somewhat handicapped, because in their efforts to maintain religion, they hinder other social growth. For instance, in the USA the lack of science education for the masses resulted in a political system that has been ignoring fatal possibilities for mankind through political pressures. In Europe, Canada, the population has always been aware of global warming and motivated to stop it or reverse it. In the USA it's just gaining momentum now, and political forces could and did favour short-term gain on the expense of huge long-term losses in ecology.

    This is the problem with religion. It's a blinding force. It saps and taxes the intellectual energy levels of all societies where religion is a prevailing, major social force.
  • joshua
    62
    I agree absolutely. Religion is just PART of the behaviour modification program. There are other institutions in society that help the same program: law, and social customs.god must be atheist

    Excellent. So I think we understand one another better. Basically groups have norms and general ways of experiencing existence, and religion is one crystallization among others of such norms/perspectives.

    I am not blaming religion. I am only saying there is much too much focus on religion, so much so, that we lose our sight of what it is that is really going on.god must be atheist

    Ah, OK. I was projecting too much anti-religion on you, it seems.
  • joshua
    62
    True also. Several reasons exist, one is that civilization helps the individual survive easier and more lucratively, second, that the individual can aspire to become king, if not in realistic terms, at least in fantasy.god must be atheist

    I like that you add the part about the king. Yes, there has to be the organization of people for that to be possible. Seutonius wrote that wild book The Lives of the Twelve Caesers. Those guys proclaimed themselves gods, indulged their nastiest fantasies. The book is probably a mixture of fact and fantasy itself, but I think it gives a good picture of the ego monster.

    This is the problem with religion. It's a blinding force. It saps and taxes the intellectual energy levels of all societies where religion is a prevailing, major social force.god must be atheist

    I think there's some truth in that. But for me there's no big difference between religion and all the other forms of magical thinking. And I can't even demonize magical thinking, because what else are we going to do? Maximize our comfort? I think of Brave New World. But it's important that they had soma and 'the feelies' to fill the void. And then we dream everynight, maybe to escape from the burden of disciplined thought and its tedious reality principle.

    I think of a young person's dreams of their future ( a great writer or musician or scientist or athlete). To be a 'great' artist is to touch some kind of internal divinity. And a great scientist is extending Knowledge. But what does that mean if we're just clever monkeys churning out new clever monkeys in maximum comfort, safety, and rationality? I say look at our entertainment. Our dreams are violent and grandiose. The underground man takes his hammer to the crystal palace.

    My point is that we just are magic monkeys. And even my own investment in science and philosophy is fueled by a kind of elitism and not just curiosity. I want occult knowledge, and science and philosophy are hidden from non-initiate not only by their conceptual complexity but also by the violence they do to more traditional narratives (occult in practice but not in principle.) I've been reading I am a Strange Loop, which is great so far, and I think one of the late 'religions' or replacements for religion is just the continual enrichment of consciousness. There's something greedy in this, a kind of sublimated Caesarism that doesn't need much if its left alone to dream but also doesn't want to be interrupted by the thousand issues of the day. And wouldn't it be hellish if humans were always earnestly absorbed in the bells and whistles of the serious issues of the day? At the same time it's monstrous. 'Don't disturb my circles.'
  • god must be atheist
    1.1k
    Ah, OK. I was projecting too much anti-religion on you, it seems.joshua

    Easily done, what with my username. I admit, I am no friend of religion, but I perfectly see how human societies used it as a very useful tool for social coexistence.

    I am anti-religious because in today's day and age there is no need for religion.
    1. Natural, innate and learned moralities can develop without a fear of god.
    2. For some, law is a good enough deterrent from doing illegal things, which are mostly coinciding with immoral things.
    3. The knowledge gap is narrow enough that we don't need god to fill it.
    4. Social expectations and norms are enforced by peer pressure.
    5. Knowledge of the physical world can curb immoral acts, such as senseless promiscuity or eating from each other's plates, what with our awareness what causes physical diseases.
    6. Psychiatry and psychology has helped much more many mentally ill than the soothing (ha!) effect of trying to rid one of feelings of guilt with pious living.
    7. The introduction of affordable medicare on a grand scale in the US could have proved to be a powerful sociological experiment. In my opinion (I built a theory around it, too), the last vestige of God as a gap-filler is random acts of disaster. People do not leave religion until they feel secure enough in their security of no starvation, no disease, no calamity. In the USA disease has been a randomly occurring threat to the population, with awfully expensive repercussions. You get sick enough and even with a medical insurance you lose your house, your middle-class existence, everything. So this is what you pray for. I believe there are no atheists in the foxholes under attack. It may not be a god you pray for, but you do make offerings, "If I only get out of here alive I will never scream at my kids ever again," etc.

    So with that threat removed, the threat of loss of money, existence and social status, people may have been less reluctant to turn away from god-worship in the USA.

    That's why the powers that be don't want medicare in the USA, and they stopped it from happening efficiently enough.
  • Gnostic Christian Bishop
    836
    God is simply modulating his goodnessTheMadFool

    God is quite good at that, especially when he is doing genocide or infanticide.

    That prick is not fit to modulate his goodness, if he has any.

    As to M.A.D. So far so good, but you will note that that is about our evolution of trying to find the most powerful/fittest nation, with the prayer that a Trump idiot will not go to M.A.D.

    Regards
    DL
  • Gnostic Christian Bishop
    836
    If you have free will,PhilosophyAttempter

    Good post.

    This does not apply to Christians as their bible says that they have no free will.
    God controls their ability to believe or not.

    God harden hearts against his own wish to be believed to be god.
    In 2 Corinthians 3;14 - 15 God hardens Jewish hearts against their believing in Jesus as their messiah.
    John 12;39-40 says about the same. The same applies to Romans 11;25, 2 Corinthians 4;3-4,
  • Gnostic Christian Bishop
    836
    While I agree that it is the only "world" we know of, what do we know of what is possible?ZhouBoTong

    We know that this is the best of all possible worlds because it is the only possible world, given our history and physics.

    As to what is possible, many things, but only to the future.

    Isn't morality put simply, "how we ought to behave"?ZhouBoTong

    Not if one side does not agree. Slavery, many found immoral, yet at the wrong time, if you said so, yuou might be killed. Slavery was quite moral for a long time. It basically still is, depending on how you see your position as compared to our oligarch owners.

    Regards
    DL
  • whatsgoinon
    5
    I think I follow what you mean, and I agree. It makes sense that in order for morality to be “true”, it must come from a place of free choice.

    However, let’s say you are responding to the free will associated with religion. What would be your perspective on this kind of free choice? Would you say that those that are within a religion don’t have free choice because of their adherence to their moral law of their religion? Then aren’t there generally moral expectations of that religion? For example, Christians should give grace to others, that’s one of the important moral grounds it is set upon. Yes it is up to the individual to do what they will with their free will (if it does exist) but wouldn’t that be considered a hindrance on free will if they followed the rules and regulations of what they believed in? Or is it free will that they are following the religion at all?
    I guess it depends on which one you start with first.
    That would mean that if you ascribed to let’s say, Christianity, then you would be ascribing to certain moral ideals that you would need to uphold. Would this be an encroachment on the free will you are describing? Just wondering on your thoughts of this kind of connection.
    When it comes to moral norms of a religion, would this mean that free will doesn’t actually exist at all?

    Correct me if I’m wrong but what you're saying is that following the put in place moral norms doesn’t make you a “moral” or good person, but that what one does with their free will does?
    I think in this context a more in depth definition of what you consider to be free will or free choice would be helpful in understanding your statements.
  • Gnostic Christian Bishop
    836
    When it comes to moral norms of a religion, would this mean that free will doesn’t actually exist at all?whatsgoinon

    I would, as I have read the bible, which says that god annuls all of our free will to think as we choose, by hardening, or not, our hearts.

    I gave a new O.P. on this should you not wish to derail here.

    https://thephilosophyforum.com/discussion/6976/are-non-believers-doomed-by-divine-design

    Regards
    DL
  • James Moore
    9
    Your argument seems to me to take the following form,

    1. If free will succeeds as a defense of POE, then God must allow for free will must exist.
    2. God doesn’t allow for free will.
    3. Therefore, free will doesn’t succeed as a defense of POE.

    I would like to take objection to your second premise. You say that if God allowed for free will, he wouldn’t make the stakes of going to heaven or going to hell so high. Eternal pain and eternal joy are too important, you say, that no one would choose to do otherwise. I think this is clearly not the case. A counterexample: smoking— most smokers understand, deep down to their cores, that smoking will kill them. That is high, eternal stakes for them. Yet they decide to keep smoking.

    As you say, God allows us to choose to do good or do evil, and the consequences of doing either are clear. We know the stakes at the beginning of the game. If we truly had no choice over it, if it were truly an “offer we can’t refuse”, then more believers in God would act strictly in line with his teachings. But this, as we both know, is not the case.

    I think a stronger second premise for this argument would be that of divine determinism. This argument would take this form:

    1. If free will succeeds as a defense of POE, then God must allow for free will to exist.
    2. God doesn’t allow for free will, because he decides what everyone does.
    3. Therefore, free will doesn’t succeed as a defence of POE.

    I think this argument is in line with yours, but it is a stronger statement. Yours says we can’t choose for ourselves because we know the stakes of going to heaven or hell. Mine says we can’t choose for ourselves, because our all-powerful God writes everything that happens in the world. If this is the case, free will can’t exist and therefore the problem of evil can’t be defended because God is directly responsible for the evils in the world.

    Let me know what you think.
  • Jesse
    8
    I think your argument against the POE goes like this; You can't use free will in the problem of evil because it doesn't exist. Free will doesn't exist because how could it? If the consequences of hell and the eternal joy of heaven are so great, then we don't even have an option, we must do good to avoid hell.

    Firstly, I think id question your use of the word mandatory, because in reference to God and this problem it seems like the act of evil would be impossible. The word mandatory in the sense that in not being good you are doing the impossible and acting in an evil way? If that's the case then we could just point to evils in everyday life to see that doing good is not mandatory. Maybe by the word mandatory you mean that one should be good and if someone is bad then there would be a punishment. If this is the case then I think that heaven and hell would actually work in defense of the POE. If someone should be good but acts evil then that person would be sent to hell because they went against what is mandatory. I think that this would make heaven and hell incentives, and I know you said this doesn't work, but I think it is the only thing that makes sense.

    Secondly, I think that if freewill doesn't exist and humans don't have a choice in choosing good or bad because of the magnitude of heaven and hell we could just look and see that humans choose evil quite a bit to prove that even though it might be mandatory to choose good people still choose evil. I think that this proves that freewill exists and can still work for the problem of evil
  • TheMadFool
    4.3k
    I'm not denying consequences. If there's anything worth denying it's the claim that consequences play no part in influencing our decisions. Consequences, our perceptions of it, play a big role in the choices we make which, evidently, places limits on our decisions and this looks/sounds/tastes like an absence of free will.
  • Bridget Eagles
    6
    TheMadFool,

    I have outlined the premises and conclusions of your argument below:

    1. If we truly have free will, then we have the opportunity to freely make decisions that are good or bad.
    2. We do not have the opportunity to freely make decisions that are good or bad because the threat of eternal pain in hell prompts us to do good.
    3. We do not truly have free will. (1, 2 MT)
    4. If we do not truly have free will, then our good deeds are not chosen freely.
    5. Our good deeds are not chosen freely. (3, 4 MP)

    Although I do follow your argument and am intrigued by the argument of free will being applied to the existence of hell and the problem of evil, I do not fully support Premise 2. I believe that the threat of hell does not immediately conclude that people will not sin or make decisions considered to be bad/evil. For example, as a kid, I was well aware of the conception of heaven and hell and the types of actions that can be perceived as sinning. One day at Michael's craft store I decided to take a small metal ruler and leave the store without paying. Although I was aware of the concept of sinning and how my act of stealing could be qualified as a sin and that people who sin go to hell, I still had the free will to make that decision. Now, with that being said, does theft of small ruler at a young age qualify for eternal damnation in Hell? I would hope not. It seems to me that your argument is missing the fact that one can commit acts of sin that may be bad or evil but still not face eternal hell. This would mean that we still have free will to choose between good and bad actions, just that occasional acts of sin do not qualify for eternal damnation. I do believe, though, that this requires some recognition at the immorality of our bad decisions. If I were to be on my deathbed and argued that me stealing the ruler when I had plenty of money to pay and no substantial reason to not pay was still morally correct, then maybe minor acts of sin or evil can reduce the likelihood of our entry to Heaven.

    I also do not believe that it is the case that the threat of eternal hell will always prompt us to do good. For example, Jerry Walls in Eternal Hell and the Christian Concept of God states, “there is a perverse sense of satisfaction that the miserable can experience, a distorted kind of gratification that can motivate the choice to persist in their sin.” Walls cites the example of C.S. Lewis’ The Great Divorce in which a group of sinners travel from hell to heaven. One character, Big Ghost, meets one of his former employees in Heaven who had committed murder and, instead of accepting grace and transformation and entering the Kingdom of Heaven, Big Ghost decides to return to hell. We see a similar case in the real world with serial killers. According to the argument above, we are not free to make decisions that are bad or evil because of the threat of eternal pain in Hell but consider individuals who make evil decisions and then continue to repeat them. Serial killers and the case of Big Ghost both show that we can still have free will and make morally bad or evil decisions and that eternal pain in hell may not be “unacceptable” to some.

    As a result, I believe that the issue of free will can still be used as a defense for the problem of evil. Although the eternal goodness of Heaven should prompt us to do good, that does not mean that we will always do good, whether it be the case of stealing a ruler or continuous homicide.
  • prothero
    228
    The problem of evil (POE) is the question of how to reconcile the existence of evil with an omnipotent, omnibenevolent, and omniscient God (see theism)
    — Wikipedia
    TheMadFool

    The problem of evil (as a religious problem) stems from the assumption that "God" is omnipotent, omniscient and omnibenevolent. I think we should questions the assumptions about God as a starting point for religious philosophy. None of these divine attributes are required in order to have a fundamentally religious outlook or inclination about nature and they give good grounds to doubt the existence of such a god and subsequently of all gods when stated as divine requirements.
  • TheMadFool
    4.3k
    The problem of evil (as a religious problem) stems from the assumption that "God" is omnipotent, omniscient and omnibenevolent. I think we should questions the assumptions about God as a starting point for religious philosophy. None of these divine attributes are required in order to have a fundamentally religious outlook or inclination about nature and they give good grounds to doubt the existence of such a god and subsequently of all gods when stated as divine requirements.prothero

    I agree. There were/are versions of religion where deities are powerful but not omni-powered. There usually is a God-king like Zeus or the like but Zeus can be bested using trickery, etc. Even in such a convenient setup Epicurus managed to see the problem of evil and formulated a pretty good argument. With monotheism wherein omini-powers are fundamental to one god the problem becomes even more pronounced.

    All I want to say is that the free will defense is untenable. The situation we're in as far as the problem of evil is concerned is very similar to a particular strain of moral dilemma I've seen many, including myself, post on forums like this which basically puts the protagonist in a position that restricts his choices to the point that choice is merely an illusion. I find the promise of eternal happiness in paradise and eternal torture in hell to be in the same vein - there really is no choice between happiness and suffering is there?
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