• Isabel Hu
    8
    Recently, I have learned about Plantinga’s free-will defense which targets to show that the logical problem of evil was invalid. His main idea is that despite God is omnipotent, omniscient and has the desire to eliminate evil, he could not create beings with free will that would never choose evil; in other words, God cannot create square circles or take self-contradictory actions. Thus, it possibly means that free will is a kind of offset which can be a credible reason for God permitting the existence of evil. There is objection to his argument, saying that it is possible for an omnipotent God to create a world, which contains free creatures who will always do the right thing. Replying to this objection, Plantinga claims that there are worlds that even an omnipotent God cannot create, such as the one described in the objection. This possibly means that God cannot intentionally change part of Adam’s and Eve’s souls in order to make them drop the apple, since that may be counted as an action which violates his original intention of creating free will. Based on his reply, it seems like that whether evil exists or not cannot be decided by God, since evil is likely to be a by-product of free will and it is self-contradictory for God to interfere in the soul-making process of every being. What also can be implied here is that whether evil exists or not depends on whether human is inherently good or evil. If human is inherently good, then the possible world which free creatures will always do the right thing will exist, vice versa. Given the condition that God creates humans of free will and he cannot interfere in their free will, the argument can be laid out as follows:
    1. If human is inherently good, then evil won’t exist.
    2. Evil does exist.
    3. Therefore, it is not the case that human is inherently good. (1, 2 MT)
    To elaborate more on my argument, I would like to show it in the example of Adam and Eve. If Adam and Eve are inherently good, then given that they have free will and God won’t interfere in their free will, Adam and Eve will not choose to eat the apple. However, it is true that Adam and Eve did choose to eat the apple instead of dropping it, so it seems that Adam and Eve are not inherently good. Furthermore, if human is inherently good, then it is possible for God to create a world which all free creatures will always choose to do the right thing. Generally speaking, this is just an argument that I come up with, but I personally keep skeptical about the question whether human is inherently good or evil.
  • schopenhauer1
    4.8k

    What is the definition of good and evil here?
  • deletedmemberdp
    88
    Isabel Hu :
    St.Augustine suggested that evil is the absence of good and that once good returns the evil disappears. It doesn't go elsewhere, it just stops being. Just like a cure for a disease transforms unhealthy to healthy and the bad just disappears.
    Adam and Eve was a great story that highlighted the problem of allowing good to disappear thus allowing bad to appear. This then shows us that good is better than bad. If you believe in Darwin's theory of evolution then that throws a darkness over whether the Adam and Eve story really happened.
  • TheMadFool
    7.9k
    My issue is with inherency for it implies the existence of proclivities, tendencies, inclinations and the like, things that, well, determine our actions. In effect, if we are inherently anything, we're, for certain, not free.

    The only way for god to grant us free will, given the dualistic nature of reality, the interplay of opposites, is to make us both as likely to be bad as good. The attraction felt toward all opposing pairs of the dualistic paradigm must be equal. Randomness? Reminds me of Buridan's ass.
  • Hippyhead
    899
    God cannot create square circles or take self-contradictory actionsIsabel Hu

    God is bound by logic rules invented by human beings? If there is a God, he created a vast universe out of nothing or something very close to it.

    Trying to apply logic calculations to issues the scale of gods seems rather a bit of folly to me honestly.
  • KerimF
    162
    His main idea is that despite God is omnipotent, omniscient and has the desire to eliminate evil, he could not create beings with free will that would never choose evil; in other words, God cannot create square circles or take self-contradictory actions.Isabel Hu

    In reality, the absolute evil doesn't exist in the first place to be eliminated. Evil is just one of the many notions created by man; as the notion of 'brainwashing' for example.

    Yes, I didn't meet, during my rather long life, even one person who sees himself brainwashed (but what I will say will be totally wrong if you tell me here that you see yourself brainwashed :) ). At the same time, I met many people, from all around the world, who believe, for certain, in the existence of brainwashed people.

    This also applies on 'evil'.
    In movies and series only (not in the real world), I heard some actors confessing they are real evil persons (after all, they had to follow their script :) )
    But again, and sorry to say it, if you see yourself (please note we talk philosophy) an evil person really then I apologize for being totally wrong because in this case, evil (a live example, you :( ) is real and not just a notion which is used to describe some others only.
  • Joaquin
    10


    Hey :) just a thought: I used to think we discovered logic, not that we invented it. Perhaps we came out with the name "logic" but logic itself was there even before we found out about it. Same with math right? Like, even when our species didn't exist, there were still a certain number of cows wondering around in the field. Again, we appeared, counted the cows, and called the subject counting, then math, etc. But mathematics were already there. Let me know what you think!

    In the same way, I believe Isabel is not claiming God is constrained by the laws of logic but rather that He operates within the laws of logic. To be honest, He still might be constrained by them as well. I don't suppose God could make 2+2=5 right? However, I do not know whether this necessarily means He is constrained by this law. What if He made it so that that is the only way that equation could go? Personally, I find it hard to believe that 2+2=anything other than 4. In other words, could it not be that logic laws, physics laws, etc. are laws by which God operates in our world? As if they were part of His nature in a way? Let me know what you think! :)

    Moreover, I am not sure applying these questions about whether logic rules apply to God are folly. Because just as we wonder whether God could create a square-circle, we can wonder whether He can create a rock so heave even He could not lift. And I believe these questions are not folly since they lead to question God's omnipotence for example.
  • freewhirl
    7
    My issue is with inherency for it implies the existence of proclivities, tendencies, inclinations and the like, things that, well, determine our actions. In effect, if we are inherently anything, we're, for certain, not free.TheMadFool

    Can you unpack how humans are inherently “not free?”

    I don’t think God has anything to do with the creation or the inclusion of evil in the world today. God created good and through it, allows free will to be available for all humans. Any practice of evil is an individual’s response against what is good. It is their right, as a person of free will, to be able to rebel against goodness and create evil.
    Although there are certainly issues in the world that truly evil and above our understanding, I believe blaming God for all evil is wrong.
    It is through free will that an individual can choose to perform evil. For an example, if a person get into a car wreck and ends up using the car as tool for killing another person, the blame of evil should not be placed on the creator of the car. Manufacturing the car itself is not evil, but the individual who chose to perform an evil deed is responsible for the blame. The purpose of the car was subverted into a tool for evil; so evil is twisting the use of a good thing into something harmful. Evil then, should not be placed on a divine being even though it is though a god that man was created. Instead it is the use of the man’s free will to manifest evil.
    I feel as if this subject is very complicated but a start to understanding evil lies in selfishness. When looking at more difficult subjects such as poverty, it’s not simply because of the evil in the world that people in poverty suffer; maybe it’s because other individuals who have the means to help less fortunate communities chose to use their money on themselves.
    Just because we have a lack of understanding the root of subjects such as murder and other acts of evil does not mean we can simply place the blame on God. God did not create evil, but it is through the ignorance of man and selfishness of their own lives that enable individuals to rebel against God by committing these sins.
  • Hippyhead
    899
    In other words, could it not be that logic laws, physics laws, etc. are laws by which God operates in our world?Joaquin

    It could be of course. Not being God myself I don't claim to know. This might interest you...

    About a month ago I heard a story on NPR where they interviewed an astrophysicist who said that quantum mechanics suggests that the laws of physics can change. According to her, a random quantum event in one part of the universe could create a bubble within which different laws would exist. According to the theory, the bubble would expand at the speed of light, destroying everything it swallowed. I'm surely not qualified to comment on this, but it was interesting to hear a scientist claim that the laws of physics are not fixed, but could be fluid like pretty much everything else.

    And here's a thought experiment...

    When will science end? When will the scientists hold a press conference to announce they've learned everything and thus are closing up shop? If you answer, a very long time or never, it logically follows that we currently know very very little in comparison to what can be known.

    If true, we can reason further that even if it is so that there is a God who follows the laws of nature, we have only the slightest compression of those laws, thus all the fancy logic dancing being done based on such ignorance is most likely folly. Entertaining perhaps, but not to be taken seriously.
  • Hippyhead
    899
    If you believe in Darwin's theory of evolution then that throws a darkness over whether the Adam and Eve story really happened.david plumb

    Imho, it happened, but not literally. That is, in my view, the story represents in fable form the emergence of thought (ie. knowledge) in human beings. It's reasonable for we moderns to reject the fable form of communication, but the message of the Adam and Eve story is worth considering.

    Adam and Eve ate the apple of knowledge and were thus evicted from the Garden of Eden.

    We modern humans have embraced the knowledge explosion in a largely blind child like manner, and the products of that knowledge explosion appear poised to evict us from the Garden of Eden of modern civilization, perhaps from the Earth itself.

    Thousands of massive hydrogen bombs stand by on hair trigger alert ready to destroy many or most major population centers all over the world in just minutes. What is not destroyed by the bombs will likely be destroyed by the resulting mass starvation, social and political chaos etc. Climate change may be the trigger that destabilizes the global order and set things off.

    Point being, yes, the Adam and Eve tale reads like a children's fable, but the connection between knowledge and eviction from the "Garden of Eden" is very real.

    The original author of the story knew nothing of the industrial revolution, nuclear weapons, climate change etc of course. But my guess is that the original author had a deep understanding of the human condition, and based on that understanding could credibly predict where our journey was headed.
  • deletedmemberdp
    88
    Hippyhead:The original author of the story knew nothing of the industrial revolution, nuclear weapons, climate change etc of course. But my guess is that the original author had a deep understanding of the human condition, and based on that understanding could credibly predict where our journey was headed.

    We speak about existentialism as though it were a modern conception but the bible seems to focus quite a bit on how existential life is and Jesus is respected by non believers for his radical approach to everything , his understanding of existentialism. I like the point you make about "the story represents in fable form the emergence of thought (ie. knowledge) in human beings".
  • TheMadFool
    7.9k
    Can you unpack how humans are inherently “not free?”freewhirl

    Simply put, inherency of qualities such as good and bad imply that these qualities are hardwired, so to speak, into us - they become the so-called preference list we had no hand in adopting as ours that determine our actions. Inherency of qualities, because we didn't, don't, choose them entail determinism.
  • Gus Lamarch
    517
    whether human is inherently good or evil.Isabel Hu

    Good and Egoism. - If you accept that humans are not "bad" but in fact "egoistic", you may realize that, in fact, "good" is just a reflection of someone's egoistic nature. So, in conclusion, good is unnecessary, but to exist as an option in life, egoism is bound to exist.
  • 180 Proof
    2.1k
    ... skeptical about the question whether human is inherently good or evil.Isabel Hu
    No doubt we humans are a congenitally selfish (i.e. phobic) and weak (i.e. akratic) species.
  • Banno
    9.9k
    I'm not convinced. I'm not buying into that neoliberal description - nor should you. It's that lie that has brought us to these "interesting times..."
  • 180 Proof
    2.1k
    Name another ideology that as insideously and efficiently exploits 'selfishness & weakness' as Neoliberalism has - and globally - during the last half century. They are congenital defects (i.e. descriptive), not an "inherent" telos (i.e. prescriptive).
  • 180 Proof
    2.1k
    Really? :sweat:
  • KerimF
    162


    Actually, life is not about good and evil which are man-made notions.
    The main difference among humans is that:
    Humans may have a living flesh only to take care of.
    Or they are given a living soul too. But if one doesn't know how to feed his soul properly, it just dies and lets him join the former ones.
    While any flesh (human or not) will end up returning to the state of void (state before its birth), a soul can survive for eternity (not in hell or paradise as in the fairy tales made for adults). How? Those who perceive in them a living soul and discover how to feed it properly (though feeding it is not easy at all)... know the answer.
  • Isaac242
    13
    1. If human is inherently good, then evil won’t exist.Isabel Hu

    Free will permits mistakes, and mistakes have the possibility to create evil, but then again depends on the definition of evil you describe in your argument. I feel as though The Trolley Problem, an ethical and psychological thought experiment, has a lot of ground here. If unfamiliar with The Trolley Problem, follow the link here.

    The Trolley Problem suggests a situation, which could be caused by many different mistakes, in which a person has to choose between two different options. For arguments sake we'll use a more basic setup. On track 1, the track you're currently on, there are two people. On track two, there is only one person. The person controlling the lever on the trolley to switch tracks is inherently good, but is forced to kill at least one person. Almost everyone put into this situation would switch tracks and only kill one person as it is the most moral thing to do. That person, being inherently good, would always choose to switch tracks.

    If we define evil as being immoral, then we can see that the person switching tracks didn't commit an evil act, they simply made the most moral decision. If they were to not switch tracks, given an unlimited amount of time to choose, then the choice they made is immoral and would be considered evil in most cases. Being inherently good makes all the difference here.

    The way I suggested The Trolley Problem is in one of its most basic forms, but The Trolley Problem can be used in an unlimited amount of scenarios, probably every scenario that you could think of. If this is true, then there is always a choice that is more morally good than any of the others. This permits free will to exist with mistakes while evil is still not present.
  • Emma
    8
    From what I’ve read, it seems that your conclusion is that humans are not inherently good. I don’t necessarily disagree with that conclusion, however I believe that there is a counterexample to the first premise that you laid out in your argument above. Could it not be the case that evil could still exist even if humans were inherently good? This is a bit of a dark example, but consider a grizzly bear eating an innocent child while that child is playing outside. I would consider that to be evidence of evil that is not from humans and I think evil still exists in this world outside of just plain human control. There are also natural evils like hurricanes, tornadoes, and wildfires that would not be accounted for by this argument either. Basically, my point is that even if humans were inherently good, evil would still exist (which negates the consequent of premise 1). Therefore, I believe premise 1 of the argument is false. I think you could still say that humans definitely increase evil in the world because they aren’t inherently good, but I don’t think you can say that they are the only root of evil.
    Also, regarding your Adam and Eve reference, I think it is important to remember that Eve was tempted by Satan and coerced into eating the apple. Not to say that she didn’t do anything wrong, but I think it is important to note that Eve’s free will was already being tampered with because Satan was coercing her into believing and doing something. Also, because Satan existed, evil was already present prior to Eve’s sin anyway which goes back to what I said previously about evil being present regardless of whether humans are inherently good or not. This doesn’t necessarily take away from the truth of anything, but I think it is an important detail that people often disregard.
  • Vivian
    3
    @Isabel Hu It seems like your argument would actually be as follows:
    1. God created humans with free will
    2. If free will is inherently good, then evil cannot exist
    3. Evil does exist
    4. Therefore, humans and/or free will aren’t inherently good

    In this argument, free will is defined as the lack of God’s intervention. If humans are inherently good, then they wouldn’t need God to direct them to do God. Since Adam and Eve were given free will and chose to eat the apple, it follows that free will is not inherently good.

    My argument is based on the fact that God is inherently good and that Evil exists. When God gave humans free will, He gave humans the ability to make decisions free of God’s direction. When God stepped back, Evil stepped in.

    St.Augustine suggested that evil is the absence of good and that once good returns the evil disappearsdavid plumb
    If what St. Augustine suggested was true, then the opposite must be true as well. Good is the absence of good and that once evil returns the evil disappears. It seems like it is one or the other. Thus, once humans were free from God’s goodness, evil was allowed to enter. However, I don’t believe that any one human can be entirely good or evil. When Jesus came to Earth, He was both fully God and fully human. As a human, Jesus was born on Earth with his own free will but he denies that free will for the will of God (Luke 22:42)
    Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done. — Luke 22:42

    But also, like @”TheMadFool” said, if humans are inherently good or bad then it is already determined. Humans then aren’t free to be good or bad. So, free will can’t be inherently good or bad. I suggest that free will has no inherent good or bad but rather the choice of good or bad. I would argue that God gave humans the choice of good or bad, and there was no inherency of either.

    And so, to this argument I say, God did create humans with free will but free will is not inherently good or bad. And since Evil does exist, free will is definitely not inherently good. But no human can be fully good or evil because of free will.
  • Outlander
    769
    I'm reminded of a blank slate. It can be inscribed with words or pictography of either stunning beauty or resounding degeneracy. Because something can be turned into a weapon or tool for evil is it so intrinsically?

    "... like a brick. You can build a house or you can sink a dead body."
    - Lady Gaga
  • 8livesleft
    61
    I'm a little confused by the Adam and Eve story to be honest.

    First, this god creates this place and everything in it. Then, this god forbids the two initially innocent people from eating the big bright red forbidden fruit, which, I'm assuming this god put there in the first place. To add insult to injury, this god either forgot about or permitted another being to trick or convince the couple to eat the fruit.

    In my simplistic analysis, it seems like this god is not an omni-god but in my opinion should share most or at least part of the blame for what happened. So, it's not fair to call the couple evil - inherent or otherwise.

    "Free-will" does not apply in this case since we're dealing with a couple, fresh out of the mud, who were easily tricked into doing something they otherwise would not have done. They were ill equipped to recognize the subterfuge.

    Any parent worth their salt would've at least said: "and hey, watch out for that shady guy."
  • Possibility
    1.6k
    There is an assumption here that evil exists independent of human perspective. The way I see it, the dichotomy of good vs evil is an entirely human construction. What the serpent did, even what Adam and Eve did or didn’t do - none of this is perceived by God to be evil. The story implies that God judges them, but we are the ones passing judgement - we are the ones distinguishing between good and evil.

    There are two specified trees in the garden: one offering ‘knowledge of good and evil’, and the other offering eternal life. God instructs Adam not to eat from the ‘knowledge of good and evil’, with the consequence being death. A broader view of this situation would suggest that this consequence is not so much a punishment as an exclusive choice between two ‘gifts’ - a choice that cannot be offered as such to someone with no ‘knowledge of good and evil’.

    The choice from Adam’s perspective was between information from God or from the world (whether Eve, the serpent, or from his own observations), but it was not an exclusive one. So what he chose (without any knowledge of a distinction between good and evil) was to ignore information from God.

    What if he had chosen instead NOT to eat that fruit - what if he’d taken the option to heed the instruction from God (without necessarily ignoring information from the world), and eventually enjoy the fruit of eternal life?

    What if there was no distinction between ‘good’ and ‘evil’ to speak of - just a choice between ignorance/awareness, isolation/connection and exclusion/collaboration?
  • 8livesleft
    61
    There is an assumption here that evil exists independent of human perspective. The way I see it, the dichotomy of good vs evil is an entirely human construction. What the serpent did, even what Adam and Eve did or didn’t do - none of this is perceived by God to be evil. The story implies that God judges them, but we are the ones passing judgement - we are the ones distinguishing between good and evil.Possibility

    I completely agree. It is a human construct and we are constantly changing these values.

    What if he had chosen instead NOT to eat that fruit - what if he’d taken the option to heed the instruction from God (without necessarily ignoring information from the world), and eventually enjoy the fruit of eternal life?

    What if there was no distinction between ‘good’ and ‘evil’ to speak of - just a choice between ignorance/awareness, isolation/connection and exclusion/collaboration?
    Possibility

    Another interpretation is that their eating the fruit resulted in the loss of their innocence.

    Is it fair to expect humans to retain this innocence for an eternity?

    It seems to me, god was hoping to delay the inevitable.
  • Possibility
    1.6k
    Another interpretation is that their eating the fruit resulted in the loss of their innocence.

    Is it fair to expect humans to retain this innocence for an eternity?

    It seems to me, god was hoping to delay the inevitable.
    8livesleft

    What is innocence? If it’s a lack of experience or knowledge of the world and how everything relates to each other, then humans would gain this over time, regardless of any distinction between ‘good’ and ‘evil’. It would certainly be much easier to develop this with the benefit of eternal life and information from God - our own distinction between ‘good’ and ‘evil’ seems more of a hindrance than a help in this respect.

    I disagree that God made any attempt to delay experience or knowledge of the world in this story. People have a tendency to read a lot more into this story than is in the text. I was raised Catholic, and was actually quite shocked to read it after many years away from the church, and realise how much I had been ‘primed’ to interpret the text in a certain way. Developing introspective awareness of our tendency to judge the characters ‘good’ or ‘evil’ by eisegesis I think is part of the purpose of the story.
  • 8livesleft
    61
    What is innocence? If it’s a lack of experience or knowledge of the world and how everything relates to each other, then humans would gain this over time, regardless of any distinction between ‘good’ and ‘evil’. It would certainly be much easier to develop this with the benefit of eternal life and information from God - our own distinction between ‘good’ and ‘evil’ seems more of a hindrance than a help in this respect.Possibility

    Yes indeed. The text does not explain exactly what "evil" is. They only show the after effect - for instance, how adam and eve suddenly discovered they were naked. So, now we're putting a value on the realization of nakedness or of nakedness itself being "evil." What about it is evil exactly?

    It's also not clear what information from god they would have gained in their eternity. It could be just a static existence. Forever wandering around doing and seeing the same things.

    I disagree that God made any attempt to delay experience or knowledge of the world in this story. People have a tendency to read a lot more into this story than is in the text. I was raised Catholic, and was actually quite shocked to read it after many years away from the church, and realise how much I had been ‘primed’ to interpret the text in a certain way. Developing introspective awareness of our tendency to judge the characters ‘good’ or ‘evil’ by eisegesis I think is part of the purpose of the story.Possibility

    Yes, I was raised Catholic as well and the "innocence lost" interpretation is what I could recall from that. But, I've since changed my perspective and don't really like the term "evil," to be honest. I find it to be such a loaded and possibly misused term.
  • Possibility
    1.6k
    Yes indeed. The text does not explain exactly what "evil" is. They only show the after effect - for instance, how adam and eve suddenly discovered they were naked. So, now we're putting a value on the realization of nakedness or of nakedness itself being "evil." What about it is evil exactly?8livesleft

    Nothing - the conversation is very carefully free of judgement:

    “Where are you?”
    “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked, so I hid.”
    “Who told you that you were naked?”

    What is deemed ‘evil’ about nakedness is the fear of ‘evil’ to which such a state draws our attention: vulnerability, humility, judgement by others, etc. But initially, ‘evil’ is an arbitrary distinction which Adam derives from relating his state to God’s presence, and recognising a difference.

    It's also not clear what information from god they would have gained in their eternity. It could be just a static existence. Forever wandering around doing and seeing the same things.8livesleft

    Given that God appears to have created everything at this stage, and given Adam ‘dominion’ over all of it with only one instruction, it seems unlikely to have been a static or limited existence by comparison.
  • 8livesleft
    61
    Nothing - the conversation is very carefully free of judgement:

    “Where are you?”
    “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked, so I hid.”
    “Who told you that you were naked?”

    What is deemed ‘evil’ about nakedness is the fear of ‘evil’ to which such a state draws our attention: vulnerability, humility, judgement by others, etc. But initially, ‘evil’ is an arbitrary distinction which Adam derives from relating his state to God’s presence, and recognising a difference.
    Possibility

    Interesting how they used the awareness of nakedness to show the effect of this knowledge of evil. I'm curious to know the cultural significance of nakedness in those days.

    At any rate, isn't this state of humility/inadequacy in the face of god something Christians are taught that we should have? Why is this being put in a bad light in this case?

    Given that God appears to have created everything at this stage, and given Adam ‘dominion’ over all of it with only one instruction, it seems unlikely to have been a static or limited existence by comparison.Possibility

    Eden (barring the serpent) strikes me as a place where everything is seemingly perfect. No calamities or situations that cause some sort of scarcity and even competition. In effect the opposite of what we experience and what they experienced upon their banishment.
  • Possibility
    1.6k
    At any rate, isn't this state of humility/inadequacy in the face of god something Christians are taught that we should have? Why is this being put in a bad light in this case?8livesleft

    It isn’t so much that we should have it - that’s the reality of our situation - it’s more that it’s not something we should be trying to avoid or deny. The amount of times in the Bible that God says ‘do not be afraid’ points to the significance of this message. So the ‘bad light’ you’re referring to is again a judgement that you’ve brought to the story. Adam decides to isolate himself for fear of his relative humility, rather than seeing that same state of humility as an opportunity to increase his own potential in connection and collaboration with God.

    Eden (barring the serpent) strikes me as a place where everything is seemingly perfect. No calamities or situations that cause some sort of scarcity and even competition. In effect the opposite of what we experience and what they experienced upon their banishment.8livesleft

    Again, you’re bringing your own judgement to the story. The serpent has done nothing to suggest imperfection, except from humanity’s perspective. You can’t blame the serpent for the choice Adam made to ignore information from God. It was merely offering it’s own limited opinion - and without judgement.

    Calamities, scarcity and competition are all a result of the arbitrary distinctions humanity makes between ‘good’ and ‘evil’. But all of the same activity was likely still occurring in Eden, and no-one made any judgements about them, because there was nothing wrong with it. Until Adam and Eve ate that fruit. This is made clearer in Cain’s later run-in with Abel.
bold
italic
underline
strike
code
quote
ulist
image
url
mention
reveal
youtube
tweet
Add a Comment