• TheMadFool
    7.2k
    Personally, I think the key here is potential. Humans evolved with the mental capacity to be aware of abstract concepts such as ‘value’ and ‘life’ - but no initial understanding or knowledge of them, and certainly no words for them (ie. ignorance). We needed to gradually develop an awareness and understanding of this ‘value of life’ in relation to observing others first, before we could apply it to our own behaviour, recognising a potential to interact in a way that values life. But you can’t just tell someone to ‘value life’ when they have no way to relate those concepts to observable behaviour. You have to build these concepts of ‘good’ behaviour out of randomness - show people their potential.

    We do what we recognise as effective behaviour in others - that’s how we learn without language. The ‘morality’ of a person who is mentally challenged becomes the responsibility of those who model for them and demonstrate the value of ‘good’ behaviour, as with a child. As for those with a sound knowledge of ethics, it is their capacity to blatantly ignore, isolate or exclude information that they personally don’t value (such as predicting the potential pain of a fellow human being) that enables them to violate moral principles. These are, for me, the three ‘gates’ of the will that determine its freedom. Ignorance/awareness is just the start.
    Possibility

    Thanks for your valuable comments. Like you said, ignorance is a very important player in the field. Just think, if evolution is true then we began as ignorants, unaware of the concept of morality and lacking the capacity to process such abstractions in any meaningful way. Slowly, we began to understand, in step with our growing cerebral capabilities and having thus dispelled our ignorance to the best of our abilities, we gained an appreciation of the notion of morality. This seems to be an ongoing process as we have yet to completely comprehend what the nature of the good or the bad is, as amply demonstrated by many mutually inconsistent theories on the subject.
  • A Seagull
    621
    If there is no god there is no problem, at least not a philosophical one.
  • Possibility
    1.5k
    Thanks for your valuable comments. Like you said, ignorance is a very important player in the field. Just think, if evolution is true then we began as ignorants, unaware of the concept of morality and lacking the capacity to process such abstractions in any meaningful way. Slowly, we began to understand, in step with our growing cerebral capabilities and having thus dispelled our ignorance to the best of our abilities, we gained an appreciation of the notion of morality. This seems to be an ongoing process as we have yet to completely comprehend what the nature of the good or the bad is, as amply demonstrated by many mutually inconsistent theories on the subject.TheMadFool

    Agreed. I thought A Seagull’s statement is apt here, too:

    If there is no god there is no problem, at least not a philosophical one.A Seagull

    The concept of ‘God’ has been another key player here, providing a relational scope to this ignorance as we strive to overcome our fear of what we don’t yet understand. If there is no ‘God’ then we can still relate to the ‘unknown’ and strive to understand it - we’re just more likely to convince ourselves that any uncertain or ill-conceived relations with the universe don’t matter.

    If there IS a ‘God’ (however we understand it), then we’re inspired to relate to these uncertain relations with confidence - but our ignorance comes from those who have attempted to ‘define’ or reduce this notion of ‘God’ to something they can share, and then lost sight of the irreducible relation to a more inclusive potential of humanity (and ultimately all possibility) that it points to.

    The omni-benevolence of ‘God’, for me, is not so much that anything ‘evil’ is something other than ‘God’, but that our perception of something as ‘evil’ suggests a limited understanding of ‘God’. So ignorance lies not only with those who do ‘evil’, but with those who call it ‘evil’. That’s the challenge to our understanding of ‘God’, I think.
  • TheMadFool
    7.2k
    The concept of ‘God’ has been another key player here, providing a relational scope to this ignorance as we strive to overcome our fear of what we don’t yet understand. If there is no ‘God’ then we can still relate to the ‘unknown’ and strive to understand it - we’re just more likely to convince ourselves that any uncertain or ill-conceived relations with the universe don’t matter.

    If there IS a ‘God’ (however we understand it), then we’re inspired to relate to these uncertain relations with confidence - but our ignorance comes from those who have attempted to ‘define’ or reduce this notion of ‘God’ to something they can share, and then lost sight of the irreducible relation to a more inclusive potential of humanity (and ultimately all possibility) that it points to.

    The omni-benevolence of ‘God’, for me, is not so much that anything ‘evil’ is something other than ‘God’, but that our perception of something as ‘evil’ suggests a limited understanding of ‘God’. So ignorance lies not only with those who do ‘evil’, but with those who call it ‘evil’. That’s the challenge to our understanding of ‘God’, I think.
    Possibility

    :ok: Indeed, even if religions claim that the notion of good and evil are derived from the supernatural, a case can be made that these are man-made concepts, ergo could be mistaken. However, realize that god is supposed to be a being who's concerned about our welfare and one of our concerns is good and evil. Granted that we may be ignorant of what good and evil actually are, but surely we have a satisfactory handle on its basic form which is seeking pleasure and avoiding pain. I believe you mentioned happiness somewhere.
  • Possibility
    1.5k
    However, realize that god is supposed to be a being who's concerned about our welfare and one of our concerns is good and evil. Granted that we may be ignorant of what good and evil actually are, but surely we have a satisfactory handle on its basic form which is seeking pleasure and avoiding pain. I believe you mentioned happiness somewhere.TheMadFool

    Not ‘supposed’ to be, but perceived to be. The idea here is that ‘God’ is personal: that is, “knows, loves and relates to us all”. We commonly interpret this as ‘a being who’s concerned about our welfare’, but there are two points to be made here.

    The first is that this is not the only way to interpret this attribute in relation to ‘God’, although it’s probably the easiest to relate to in return. The more we understand what it means to ‘know’, to ‘love’ and to ‘relate’ beyond the limits of an observable, measurable universe, the less necessary this notion of ‘God’ as a being becomes.

    The second point is that being ‘concerned about our welfare’ doesn’t necessarily mean ‘God’ is concerned with what we’re concerned with - that is, the distinction between ‘good’ and ‘evil’.

    I’m not sure where I mentioned happiness - it may have been another thread. I think that seeking ‘happiness’ or pleasure and striving to avoid pain, as well as this distinction between ‘good’ and ‘evil’, all point to a limited understanding of ‘God’ - to ignorance. When we can fully grasp the concept of ‘God’, I think we then understand all of these limited value concepts as relative to anthropic experience at best. That doesn’t mean we don’t strive to alleviate pain and suffering or choose what is ‘good’ rather than settle for ‘evil’ in how we determine and initiate action. But when we’re inclined to ignore, isolate or exclude something as ‘evil’, then I think we need to stop and ask ourselves not why an ‘all-good God’ allows such ‘evil’, but why we call it ‘evil’ when, from ‘God’’s perspective, all is ‘good’?
  • TheMadFool
    7.2k
    But when we’re inclined to ignore, isolate or exclude something as ‘evil’, then I think we need to stop and ask ourselves not why an ‘all-good God’ allows such ‘evil’, but why we call it ‘evil’ when, from ‘God’’s perspective, all is ‘good’?Possibility

    Interesting point of view but you said 'good' instead of just good. Why? Is your, god's 'good' different from good as we recognize it?

    The more we understand what it means to ‘know’, to ‘love’ and to ‘relate’ beyond the limits of an observable, measurable universe, the less necessary this notion of ‘God’ as a being becomes.
    Possibility

    Less necessary for what? In what way does god become unnecessary?
  • Possibility
    1.5k
    Interesting point of view but you said 'good' instead of just good. Why? Is your, god's 'good' different from good as we recognize it?TheMadFool

    Most likely, yes - considering I don’t think ‘evil’ is even a concept in an omniscient perspective, but only an indication of ignorance in our own. As value concepts, both ‘good’ and ‘evil’ are always relative to the subjective experiences of the language user. I don’t think there is such a distinction in the perspective of ‘God’. The statement ‘God saw that it was good’ is how one might express this inclusiveness that transcends our own limited experience of the universe.

    You’ll notice that I use quotes for the notion of ‘God’ as well. The way I see it, these are all placeholders for relative concepts - I won’t presume that my conceptualisation of ‘God’ is exactly the same yours. I often feel the need to make this clear with certain words in a discussion, to avoid assumptions.

    The more we understand what it means to ‘know’, to ‘love’ and to ‘relate’ beyond the limits of an observable, measurable universe, the less necessary this notion of ‘God’ as a being becomes.
    — Possibility

    Less necessary for what? In what way does god become unnecessary?
    TheMadFool

    Sorry - this is my lack of clarity. It is the notion of being that becomes unnecessary, not the notion of ‘God’. Recognising that we are known, loved and related to by ‘God’ is not contingent upon the property of being.
  • TheMadFool
    7.2k
    God works in mysterious ways...I've always wondered on that for it's evident to me from personal experience that it's very, if not impossibly, difficult to comprehend people who're, well, smarter than yourself.

    And while I consider myself less than average in terms of intellectual capacity, I've heard people who're patently more intelligent refer to less endowed people as "stupid" or "moronic", ignorant by your reckoning.

    What I do want to mention though is that people sometimes say that there's a thin line between genius and madness. Could you intepret that for me in re god? God, being omniscient, has to be a genius par excellence. My question is how do we know he isn't mad/insane?
  • Possibility
    1.5k
    And while I consider myself less than average in terms of intellectual capacity, I've heard people who're patently more intelligent refer to less endowed people as "stupid" or "moronic", ignorant by your reckoning.TheMadFool

    Ignorance is not related to intellectual capacity, but to awareness and information. The informal use of the term is derogatory, which does confuse the issue. When I say that those who we think are ‘evil’ are ignorant, I’m certainly NOT saying that those we think are ignorant are therefore also ‘evil’. Ignorance is simply a lack of awareness or information - there is no judgement implied by my use of the term at all. This is a point I have clearly failed to make: I don’t find moral or value judgements such as ‘good’ or ‘evil’ to be at all helpful in understanding ‘God’ - which for me is a relational concept, not a being. In relation to the notion of ‘God’ we are each lacking in awareness, but in relation to each other that lack of awareness shows our diversity, the maximum possible awareness, connection and collaboration of which IS ‘God’.

    What I do want to mention though is that people sometimes say that there's a thin line between genius and madness. Could you intepret that for me in re god? God, being omniscient, has to be a genius par excellence. My question is how do we know he isn't mad/insane?TheMadFool

    If we think of ‘God’ as an intelligent being, then this saying is quite apt to describe how we relate to omniscience. When we reduce our understanding of ‘God’ to this potentiality, he is simply a mind of infinite capacity, which is subject to our positive/negative judgement just like any other potential we relate to. To answer your question in this context: it’s relative. Genius refers to perceived intellectual and creative potential; madness refers to potential perceived as unexpected or abnormal. So it’s always going to be relative to subjective experience.

    If we relate to ‘God’ as a concept of absolute possibility, then it’s neither - and both. It doesn’t really matter. This may seem like a way to avoid the argument altogether, and no doubt would frustrate atheists out there who prefer a Being to argue against. But aren’t we more than just an intelligent being, too? If I’m considered a mad/insane genius, isn’t this only one way to relate to my potential as a fellow human being? Am I not still capable of giving and receiving love? Of sharing my unique knowledge and perspective of life, my diversity, and connecting and collaborating with others? The genius/madness potential shouldn’t be ignored, of course, when you interact. But just like with quantum particles, if you treat my potential as unexpected and abnormal, then that’s what you’ll get.
  • TheMadFool
    7.2k
    Ignorance is not related to intellectual capacity, but to awareness and information.Possibility

    A good observation in my humble opinion. I've never heard people call animals or those mentally handicapped (is this terminology still acceptable?) ignorant. However, you seem to attribute evil to ignorance, even going so far as to say that there is no such thing as evil and all is 'good' in god's eyes. I naturally concluded then that the relationship between god and us is essentially based on intelligence/knowledge - god being the superior, perhaps infinitely so, intelligence-wise. This point of view basically endorses a view that evil, in all its forms, is nothing more than a misunderstanding of god's omnibenevolence and that evil is simply good in disguise in a manner of speaking.

    If so, can you explain how and in what way the holocaust, in which roughly 6 million jews, men, women and children, perished, was good? There are an innumerable number of atrocities, cold-blooded murder to genocide at a grand scale, that beg for an explanation as to how they are good.
  • Possibility
    1.5k
    you seem to attribute evil to ignorance, even going so far as to say that there is no such thing as evil and all is 'good' in god's eyes. I naturally concluded then that the relationship between god and us is essentially based on intelligence/knowledge - god being the superior, perhaps infinitely so, intelligence-wise. This point of view basically endorses a view that evil, in all its forms, is nothing more than a misunderstanding of god's omnibenevolence and that evil is simply good in disguise in a manner of speaking.TheMadFool

    Okay, let me clarify. In god’s eyes, there is no such thing as evil, but that also means there is no such thing as good - there is no such distinction between good and evil in god’s eyes. When I say ‘from god’s perspective, all is good’, I’m referring not to a judgement (because I don’t believe he makes such a distinction), but to his capacity to relate to and love all as we would relate to and love what is good, ie. beyond moral judgement.

    I attribute acts of evil to ignorance, isolation and/or exclusion at the time. But god doesn’t judge acts in time, because in his omniscience he sees the potential of all. I’m not saying that ‘evil is good in disguise’ at all. More like it’s at a point where its potential is unrealised.

    If so, can you explain how and in what way the holocaust, in which roughly 6 million jews, men, women and children, perished, was good? There are an innumerable number of atrocities, cold-blooded murder to genocide at a grand scale, that beg for an explanation as to how they are good.TheMadFool

    You’re isolating a collection of events in time and focusing on the death of innocent human beings - of course that isn’t good. If you think that god looks at each atrocity in this way and judges it as ‘good’, then you’re failing to understand the concept of ‘God’ entirely.

    The holocaust was a manifestation of how Europe tended to conceptualise the world at the time, just as Trump’s presidency is a manifestation of how America has been conceptualising reality (particularly their concept of presidential leadership) up to the moment he was elected. Unfortunately we have often needed to see our capacity for ignorance, isolation and exclusion actualised before our horrified eyes before we will take steps to critically evaluate and change how we conceptualise the world.

    The problem is that we won’t fully learn from our mistakes as long as we continue to ignore or exclude this capacity as isolated incidents of ‘evil’. Hitler was an ordinary human being who managed extraordinary things, but he didn’t manage it alone or in isolation. It was many little acts of ignorance, isolation and exclusion by other international leaders and ordinary human beings that contributed to his rise to power, his attitude towards Jews, his political ideology, his popularity, and his capacity to orchestrate atrocities against innocent people. Such is the potential of humanity.

    We can learn a lot about ourselves and our potential from the holocaust, if we include the ‘evil’ as well as the ‘good’ without judgement either way. This is what I mean when I say that ‘God’ is a concept that points to the inclusive potential of humanity, and ultimately all possibility.
  • TheMadFool
    7.2k
    Okay, let me clarify. In god’s eyes, there is no such thing as evil, but that also means there is no such thing as goodPossibility

    You’re isolating a collection of events in time and focusing on the death of innocent human beings - of course that isn’t good.Possibility

    :chin:

    I’m not saying that ‘evil is good in disguise’ at all. More like it’s at a point where its potential is unrealised.Possibility

    What is this potential you frequently mention?
  • Possibility
    1.5k
    God does not isolate events or actions in time - for him, everything is always interrelated and cannot be reduced to separate events, actions, objects, etc without deliberately ignoring, isolating or excluding information. The moment you isolate an event from its relation to the unfolding universe beyond time, you are ceasing to view the world as god would perceive it.

    What is this potential you frequently mention?TheMadFool

    Potential refers to how one relates to existence beyond what is actual. Value, knowledge, significance, quality, morality, logic, emotion, memory, language, ideology and many other abstract concepts describe this relation of perceived potential, usually within a limited structure. It ties in with quantum potential, and is always limited to the perception or experiences of the interacting subject. Except in relation to the concept of ‘God’ as absolute possibility, in which all potential is infinite.

    But ‘God’ is not a being - it’s a relational concept that enables us to aspire to maximal awareness of, connection to and collaboration with existence, and to check this progress. So our relationship to ‘God’ is always a manifestation of the difference between this absolute possibility and our perceived potential.
  • TheMadFool
    7.2k
    The moment you isolate an event from its relation to the unfolding universe beyond time, you are ceasing to view the world as god would perceive it.Possibility

    How would god perceive this universe?


    So our relationship to ‘God’ is always a manifestation of the difference between this absolute possibility and our perceived potential.Possibility

    What is absolute possibility and perceived potential?
  • Possibility
    1.5k
    How would god perceive this universe?TheMadFool

    I would think that god perceives the universe as an interrelation of all infinite potential. That’s my understanding of it, anyway.

    What is absolute possibility and perceived potential?TheMadFool

    Absolute possibility refers to the meaning of ‘God’: this all-encompassing concept of the All, the One, the Infinite.

    Perceived potential refers to what we believe we are capable of.
  • TheMadFool
    7.2k
    You're basically saying that god is beyond our understanding - our perceived potential implied to be insufficient to grasp god's absolute possibility. That's why our relationship with god is based on, as you claimed, the difference between the two. It all boils down to ignorance which is probably the defining characteristic of our perceived potential. I agree that indeed, if a being, here god, can create the universe then it would be highly unlikely that the difference between our perceived potential and god's absolute possibility can ever be bridged successfully. The gap in our understanding of god, so conceived, may never be crossed by humans and this brings us to the main issue - the problem of evil.

    If what you say is true then there's no evil and you even went as far as saying there's no such thing as good. Good and evil are illusions created by the limitations of our perceived potential which prevents a full appreciation of god's absolute possibility. Here I'd like to provide you with an analogy. A chimpanzee may not understand a human just like we can't understand god but we humans understand full well that chimpanzees are essentially hedonists and refrain from causing them harm to the extent that we're fully aware of that fact. Why is it then that god, infinitely knowledgeable as he is, allows evil, the primary cause of much suffering? Basically, god should not allow evil to exist to the extent that free will is irrelevant just as we either avoid causing, or are reluctant to cause, pain to beings (animals) that have less perceived potential than us.
  • Possibility
    1.5k
    You're basically saying that god is beyond our understanding - our perceived potential implied to be insufficient to grasp god's absolute possibility. That's why our relationship with god is based on, as you claimed, the difference between the two. It all boils down to ignorance which is probably the defining characteristic of our perceived potential. I agree that indeed, if a being, here god, can create the universe then it would be highly unlikely that the difference between our perceived potential and god's absolute possibility can ever be bridged successfully. The gap in our understanding of god, so conceived, may never be crossed by humans and this brings us to the main issue - the problem of evil.TheMadFool

    This is how everything relates: as a difference between two systems. I agree it is highly unlikely for the difference to be bridged, but I wouldn’t say never - I have reasons to believe in an obscure collective potential to manifest improbable possibilities. We are, after all, existing at a number of levels in our current capacity on the slimmest of odds.

    Here I'd like to provide you with an analogy. A chimpanzee may not understand a human just like we can't understand god but we humans understand full well that chimpanzees are essentially hedonists and refrain from causing them harm to the extent that we're fully aware of that fact. Why is it then that god, infinitely knowledgeable as he is, allows evil, the primary cause of much suffering? Basically, god should not allow evil to exist to the extent that free will is irrelevant just as we either avoid, or are reluctant to, cause pain to beings (animals) that have less perceived potential than us.TheMadFool

    First let me ask you: Do we refrain while chimpanzees cause harm to each other, or do we need to step in and prevent every instance of pain, simply because we can? You seem to be equating ‘allowing evil to exist’ with directly ‘causing them harm’ or pain, but I think there is a world of difference here.

    Should we not allow chimpanzees to cause each other harm to the extent that their will as chimpanzees is irrelevant? Would that be more benevolent of us? Should we impose our own moral standards on the actions of chimpanzees, and if so, how would we even enforce it, and how would those actions then affect our apparent benevolence?

    On the other hand, is it responsible if we neglect the concerns of the wider ecosystem to always provide for and ensure those chimpanzees who abide by our standards are perfectly happy and content? Aren’t we then perceived as ‘benevolent’ only from these ‘good’ chimpanzees’ perspective?

    A chimpanzee’s relationship with us is not the same as our relationship with god, though. God is not a being, so we cannot interact with god at this level of being. God is not in a position to simply disallow the existence of ‘evil’ because only we perceive it and we create it - although we have certainly attempted to achieve this on ‘his’ behalf, with often disastrous results. The problem of evil, therefore, is our problem, not god’s.

    Our perception of a chimpanzee’s potential would be greater than his perception of his own. As such, we have the capacity to interact with chimpanzees in such a way that they realise a potential they would never have been aware of without this relationship, so long as we meet them where they’re at in their own limited perception, recognising that we also have the capacity to limit their perceived potential in order to benefit ourselves.

    God, on the other hand, wants nothing from us, because it isn’t a being, but an absolute concept.
  • TheMadFool
    7.2k
    Your views on the issue of evil and even good itself is basically a version of "god works in mysterious ways" which effectively puts god beyond our comprehension and demotes our intelligence to a level that renders our understanding of the world in general and good and evil in particular to an illusion caused by our ignorance.

    My question is simple: how intelligent do we have to be or how much of our perceived potential must we overcome to gain insight into god's absolute possibility and come to the realization that there is no such thing as good and evil? What kind of rationale could render the putrefying corpses in the ovens of Nazi concentration camps into something neither good not bad, as amoral as playfully kicking a stone down the road?

    Come to think of it, it seems to me that it's exactly the opposite of what you've been claiming all along. Non-human animals don't have the concept of good and evil and their behavior shows that's true and surely you won't deny that animals have less perceived potential than humans? Ergo, our greater perceived potential should get us closer to the truth than theirs: morality is knowledge, not ignorance as you seem to be suggesting, knowledge of a shared heritage, one of the universal desire to promote happiness (good) and prevent suffering (evil). God's absolute possibility would then necessarily reinforce this truth and not contradict it.
  • Possibility
    1.5k
    Your views on the issue of evil and even good itself is basically a version of "god works in mysterious ways" which effectively puts god beyond our comprehension and demotes our intelligence to a level that renders our understanding of the world in general and good and evil in particular to an illusion caused by our ignorance.TheMadFool

    Well, I think that’s an oversimplification which effectively encourages ignorance, so no, that’s not really my view. But I do believe we are generally missing information that enables us to conceptualise the world accurately, and I think a large proportion of that ignorance has to do with the distinction we make between good and evil.

    My question is simple: how intelligent do we have to be or how much of our perceived potential must we overcome to gain insight into god's absolute possibility and come to the realization that there is no such thing as good and evil? What kind of rationale could render the putrefying corpses in the ovens of Nazi concentration camps into something neither good not bad, as amoral as playfully kicking a stone down the road?TheMadFool

    It’s interesting that you offer ‘playfully kicking a stone down the road’ as an example of ‘neither good nor bad’ - I understand that this is rhetoric. I’m certainly not suggesting that the holocaust wasn’t significant. The profound significance of the holocaust was and continues to be immense. What we have learned and are still learning now, and certainly what we will continue to learn from interacting with the many and varied experiences of that event - especially about our potential as human beings - is precious and irreplaceable, whether we see that information or those experiences as ‘good’ or ‘bad’. Because of that, we simply cannot afford to ignore, isolate or exclude any of it as ‘evil’. To do that is to risk not learning from the lesson.

    So I don’t think it’s about intelligence, but about awareness. And I don’t think it’s about ‘overcoming’ perceived potential, but about increasing it.

    Come to think of it, it seems to me that it's exactly the opposite of what you've been claiming all along. Non-human animals don't have the concept of good and evil and their behavior shows that's true and surely you won't deny that animals have less perceived potential than humans? Ergo, our greater perceived potential should get us closer to the truth than theirs: morality is knowledge, not ignorance as you seem to be suggesting, knowledge of a shared heritage, one of the universal desire to promote happiness (good) and prevent suffering (evil). God's absolute possibility would then necessarily reinforce this truth and not contradict it.TheMadFool

    It always brings a smile to my face when people make this observation. Here’s the loophole that lets us back into the illusion that ‘human morality is the highest pinnacle of knowledge’. Phew! That was close, wasn’t it? Morality is knowledge in relation to animals, but it’s ignorance in relation to god.

    Non-human animals lack the capacity for awareness that enables them to distinguish between different value systems. To most of them, there is only one value hierarchy, which corresponds to a positive or negative affect in the organism. Most cannot distinguish between ‘good for you’ and ‘good for me’, or between ‘good for me now’ and ‘good for me in ten years’ - let alone between ‘good for me now’ and ‘good for the ecosystem in a hundred years time’. So yes, our capacity for awareness is closer to the ‘truth’ than theirs.

    But you refer to ‘happiness’ and ‘suffering’ as if we all know precisely what you mean by those terms, even though there is no clear distinction here, let alone some one-dimensional linear progression from one concept to the other. What you’re talking about is often an assumption of shared heritage, masquerading as ‘knowledge’ that is both eternal and somehow defined. The relativity of morality is more pronounced and complex than that of time, and yet we seem to think that the words suffice to accurately define a concept at this level of awareness.
  • TheMadFool
    7.2k
    Well, I think that’s an oversimplification which effectively encourages ignorance, so no, that’s not really my viewPossibility

    What would be interpretation that would do full justice to your position? Read God moves in mysterious ways; the relevant abstract is presented for your consideration below:

    The first line of the hymn has become an adage or saying, encouraging a person to trust God's greater wisdom in the face of trouble or inexplicable events, and is referenced in many literary works — Wikipedia

    So yes, our capacity for awareness is closer to the ‘truth’ than theirs.Possibility

    Ok. Here's the thing. For animals, morality is a non-issue but for us, humans, morality is an important aspect of our lives; at least we make a show of it. This is explicable with your theory of perceived potential and infinite potential - humans have greater perceived potential than animals. My contentions was that since god has a greater potential s/he would arrive at a greater/better understanding of morality that includes our beliefs on morality and not come to a conclusion that contradicts our discoveries in the moral sphere, if we can call it that.

    You seem to disagree with this and are of the view that we, humans, could b are wrong and good and bad are merely illusions caused by our limited perceived potential. If that's so then one thing strikes me as odd: animals have no notion of morality and by your reckoning god too knows neither good nor evil and so doesn't that mean animals, since they too don't recognize good or evil, are actually god? This is clearly a contradiction since animals have less perceived potential than us and yet their understanding of nature is equal to that of god who in your theory is of infinite potential.



    But you refer to ‘happiness’ and ‘suffering’ as if we all know precisely what you mean by those termsPossibility

    Indeed we don't have a precise definition of what happiness or suffering means but what I appeal to here is the basics - pleasure and pain. Surely there can't be confusion at that level. I've never heard of people being confused about the pleasure of love fulfilled or the pain of breaking a bone.
  • Possibility
    1.5k
    What would be interpretation that would do full justice to your position? Read God moves in mysterious ways; the relevant abstract is presented for your consideration below:

    The first line of the hymn has become an adage or saying, encouraging a person to trust God's greater wisdom in the face of trouble or inexplicable events, and is referenced in many literary works
    — Wikipedia
    TheMadFool

    First of all, and I thought this might be clear to you by now, I don’t believe it is god who ‘moves’. Secondly, I have not suggested that we simply ‘trust God’s greater wisdom’, but that we consider the possibility that a greater wisdom may enable us to resolve such a ‘problem of evil’ in relation to ‘free will’. The idea is that we increase awareness of the universe without closing our minds to the possibility that ‘good’ and ‘evil’ are of our own making, and therefore NOT founded on some eternal or absolute distinction/dualism that extends beyond the human experience. It takes courage to test the theory - keeping in mind that it isn’t a matter of ignoring information that leads us towards a negative judgement, but of reserving our judgement and instead remaining open to awareness, connection and collaboration anyway.

    For animals, morality is a non-issue but for us, humans, morality is an important aspect of our lives; at least we make a show of it. This is explicable with your theory of perceived potential and infinite potential - humans have greater perceived potential than animals. My contentions was that since god has a greater potential s/he would arrive at a greater/better understanding of morality that includes our beliefs on morality and not come to a conclusion that contradicts our discoveries in the moral sphere, if we can call it that.

    You seem to disagree with this and are of the view that we, humans, could b are wrong and good and bad are merely illusions caused by our limited perceived potential. If that's so then one thing strikes me as odd: animals have no notion of morality and by your reckoning god too knows neither good nor evil and so doesn't that mean animals, since they too don't recognize good or evil, are actually god? This is clearly a contradiction since animals have less perceived potential than us and yet their understanding of nature is equal to that of god who in your theory is of infinite potential.
    TheMadFool

    You appear to assume here that morality exists not just beyond humanity, but beyond god, who I imagine you still consider to be a being. For me, god as an absolute concept also doesn’t have potential as such, but I think I basically follow your contention, here. My response would be that god does have a better understanding of our sense of morality, including our beliefs about this morality, and also understands how limited we are in this perspective - in much the same way as a ‘sphere’ can see the limited nature of a ‘Flatlander’’s perspective, for instance.

    Animals having no notion of morality is a lack of information. God has all the information we use to determine morality, but he also has all the other information we’re not aware of - such as unperceived potential. When we label an event or person as ‘evil’, we close the door on opportunities to increase awareness, connection and collaboration with that event or person, and instead contribute to more ignorance, isolation and exclusion, such as hatred, oppression, violence and despair.
  • TheMadFool
    7.2k
    To begin with I'd like to thank you for the conversation. I too had a view similar to what your espousing here for the possibility remains that either we don't understand or we misunderstand. The denial of these two possibilities implies what is equally improbable -that we actually understand/know reality for what it truly is.

    One big obstacle to such a point of view is it fails to satisfactorily explain "evil" in the conventional sense of the term: for instance it would be extremely insensitive to tell Jews that the holocaust wasn't evil and the same applies to other cases "understood" to be evil. Nevertheless, it's not clear, in the context of your theory, whether this "understanding" is simply gut feelings or is there a good reason to call such things evil at all. Good too becomes a doubtful category of reality.

    Consider the science of ecology and the idea of the food-web. I'm sure you know how evil has been closely associated with predation and good with prey; for instance we call criminals "predators" and we say things like "as innocent as a lamb". These maybe poor examples but hopefully sufficient to convey a "primitive" grasp of ecology and, in line with your thoughts, morality too. In modern times, we've come to recognize that predation is natural and a part of ecology, necessary for harmony and we've managed, only partially in my opinion, to delink predation from evil and maybe we also see the absence of a necessary connection between a lamb and good. Doesn't this square well with your theory?

    Having said I'd like to bring to your attention the fact that morality is basically a dissatisfaction with what is as evidenced by consisting of mainly what ought to be. For simplicity and hopefully without failing to make my point I'd like to refer you to the reality of pleasure and pain. These two feelings/sensations are undeniable truths of our world. Combine these with the another fact, we like pleasure and we dislike pain and we have the seed for any and all morality.

    It maybe possible to say that pleasure and pain have no moral import for god but it surely isn't possible to deny they exist and we like one and not the other. This, the existence of pain-pleasure and our preference as pertains to them, forms the foundation of, let's say, human morality. I guess I'm saying that even if the truth, as knowable by god, is that there's neither good nor evil, we are justified in believing that good and evil exist for the simple reason that we feel pleasure and pain, liking the former and disliking the latter. It makes sense doesn't it then that a defining element for god is omnibenevolence, rejecting as it were your conception of god as a being with infinite potential - we want god to be benevolent rather than capable of everything/anything.
  • Possibility
    1.5k
    To begin with I'd like to thank you for the conversation. I too had a view similar to what your espousing here for the possibility remains that either we don't understand or we misunderstand. The denial of these two possibilities implies what is equally improbable -that we actually understand/know reality for what it truly is.TheMadFool

    You’ve been challenging and questioning my theory thoroughly and respectfully, so I thank you for this rare opportunity. Personally, I think it’s both lack and error in understanding that contribute to our perception of unnecessary ‘evil’, which is our best indication that reality doesn’t quite relate the way we’ve conceptualised it at this level of awareness.

    One big obstacle to such a point of view is it fails to satisfactorily explain "evil" in the conventional sense of the term: for instance it would be extremely insensitive to tell Jews that the holocaust wasn't evil and the same applies to other cases "understood" to be evil. Nevertheless, it's not clear, in the context of your theory, whether this "understanding" is simply gut feelings or is there a good reason to call such things evil at all. Good too becomes a doubtful category of reality.TheMadFool

    I agree. One needs to tread carefully when questioning whether ‘evil’ is a necessary concept.

    Consider the science of ecology and the idea of the food-web. I'm sure you know how evil has been closely associated with predation and good with prey; for instance we call criminals "predators" and we say things like "as innocent as a lamb". These maybe poor examples but hopefully sufficient to convey a "primitive" grasp of ecology and, in line with your thoughts, morality too. In modern times, we've come to recognize that predation is natural and a part of ecology, necessary for harmony and we've managed, only partially in my opinion, to delink predation from evil and maybe we also see the absence of a necessary connection between a lamb and good. Doesn't this square well with your theory?TheMadFool

    It does. It seems the further we are removed from suffering, the easier it is to put aside these notions of ‘good’ and ‘evil’ and consider the value/potential of an event from different perspectives. This is why god as an absolute concept (not a being) can be useful in increasing our understanding of reality. As a being, particularly one who supposedly acts in the world, god’s omnibenevolence is questionable - he must be seen to ‘allow evil’ by doing nothing to prevent or respond to it. It is this inaction that appears most unconscionable. As an absolute concept, however, god relates to us the possibilities and invites us to perceive the potential, but it is us as beings who determine and initiate any action in relation to god or this perspective of absolute benevolence.
  • Congau
    224

    The free will explanation of the problem of evil imagines that alternatively God could have created human beings so that it was impossible for us to do evil. Whether evil was natural for us or not, it could have been impossible for us to carry out evil acts (the sword would instantly turn into a flower or something like that).

    Another alternative could be that God could have created people so that evil was unnatural for us.

    It is assumed that God doesn’t want evil, and the only way it can be explained that God doesn’t get what He wants is to say that He rather wants people to be able to act the way they want – that is, they are given a free will.

    What God wants and what humans want are different, but God lets us have it our way in some cases. So, assuming you are right that evil comes naturally to us and that we are evil by nature, that doesn’t contradict the explanation. In that case, God lets us act according to our evil nature although He could have stopped us if He had wanted to – that is, if He had not given us a free will.
  • TheMadFool
    7.2k
    So, assuming you are right that evil comes naturally to us and that we are evil by nature, that doesn’t contradict the explanationCongau

    Imagine you build a robot and program it to like green objects. If you were then to claim you gave the robot free will in order that it may "choose" to like green it wouldn't make sense right? Replace robot with humans and green with evil.
  • Qwex
    366


    Good is not technically one thing which is the point of your analogy.

    Programming a robot to only like good, is not simply targetting one thing.

    The word good deludes you.

    To only like evil would be like, inter alia, spinning endlessly, to only like good would be picking up, wisdom, running, etc.

    If you're good for the world then you maximize your potential?

    It's to do with numbers AND concepts.

    What's the stupidest I can be bar belief in 1 or 1ism?
  • IvoryBlackBishop
    290
    I think such a problem is almost beyond human comprehension, hence why it's been a problem of debate for centuries or millennia, and still is.

    I believe I've solved it, at least for myself, but I prefer not to get cocky in that assertion.
  • Congau
    224
    Imagine you build a robot and program it to like green objects. If you were then to claim you gave the robot free will in order that it may "choose" to like green it wouldn't make sense right? Replace robot with humans and green with evil.TheMadFool
    The free will is not about what you choose to like but what you choose to do. In the case of robots that distinction would be blurred since a machine doesn’t have feelings and consequently it cannot “like” anything. We may perhaps say that a robot that moves towards green likes green, but that would be a figure of speech.

    The robot couldn’t act contrary to its liking since for it the same thing is meant by action and affection, but for humans that is quite imaginable. They could have been made to like evil, but also so constructed that it was impossible to do evil. However hard the person tried to do the evil it loved so much he would be drawn away from it if he didn’t have a free will. Let’s say it was physically impossible to do evil or however you would imagine it. If that is the alternative, it makes sense to say that free will makes it possible for us to do evil, even if you think that it is our greatest desire anyway.

    Free will makes it possible to do both evil and good and for that to happen it’s quite irrelevant what our natural inclinations might be.
  • TheMadFool
    7.2k
    The free will is not about what you choose to like but what you choose to do.Congau

    What do you mean? There is a sense in which doing is different from liking but does one ever find onself doing without some form of thinking beforehand? Doing traces its origins to a thought does it not? What constitutes this thought but a like and if you say sometimes we do what we don't like then you forget or are ignoring this too has a reason which, as far as I can tell, must be based on what one likes/dislikes. There is no escaping the necessity that whatever one does it ultimately tracks back to our likes/dislikes.

    So, sorry, the basis of your claim, viz. that doing is free even if liking jsn't, isn't convincing as I'd like it to be.
  • Congau
    224
    There is no escaping the necessity that whatever one does it ultimately tracks back to our likes/dislikes.TheMadFool
    Sure, this extreme behaviorist assumption that we only do what we ultimately like doing, does have some truth to it. (Students like taking exams, since they like getting a degree, a job, money etc.) But if the liking is to be traced back to the ultimate goal of the action, how could you prove that we like evil more than anything? People do a lot of evil, but their final goal is rarely that bad, is it? A murderer kills to achieve something else, to get money for example, and that in itself is not evil. People use evil means to reach good or neutral ends.
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