Re: Creationists

Brent Allsop (
Wed, 24 Jun 1998 14:45:55 -0600

Andrew <>

This is getting long, deep, and involved. That is why I Cc:ed
you directly. Most people on the list will probably not be this
interested in this thread and will likely hit delete. I didn't want
to take the chance of missing any other great and helpful comments you
might have.

Thanks for your continued dialogue and your comment:

> In any event, I do respect the degree of passion you have in
> opposition to evil and in devotion to optimism.

I appreciate your input and your kind of playing the "devil's
advocate" as it helps me improve my thinking.

> << ... 1) evil will never be overcome or 2) we should not overcome
> evil.

> Reasons for thinking that 1 is not entailed by some reason R that
> reconciles God with evil:

> 1) Evil will be overcome, but God has not chosen to do so yet, for
> reasons that are beyond us but that we should think exist because
> the existence of a benevolent God entails that they do.

"For reasons that are beyond us"? My God commanded me to kill
and/or hate this person! Don't ask me why because the reasons are
beyond us! What a lame justification for all the evil done by the
many religions! Any such reason for why God is waiting is entirely
incomprehensible to me. I just can't imagine this. Why is this?
Must/should this be? I don't think so. My point is that whenever we
engage in such theodicyzing, evil or hate and despair of some kind is
often the result.

> 2) Evil will be overcome once all human beings finish living out
> their lives and making choices on earth (you could probably imagine
> all sorts of theologies to support such an idea). Evil is currently
> necessary because the possibility of it must exist for free will to
> exist.

Ah, the old perverted blame evil on free will theodicy. Yeah,
free will makes a great scapegoat for God right!?? First off, placing
the blame on free will (free will in this view must be bad or
malevolent since it is the cause of evil), to me, is far worse than
thinking that God is actually malevolent or the cause of evil. To me,
free will is something good and glorious and when perfectly achieved
by all will finally eliminate all evil. Since evil is, by definition,
that which we don't want.

The fundamental premise behind such agency theodicies is that
in order to be free we must be allowed to choose that which we don't
really want (what evil or bad, by definition, is.) But this is
logically absurd. You can't choose that which you don't really want
to choose if one is really free. Anything that causes us to deviate
from making the best possible (i.e. non evil) choices, whether it be
ignorance, lack of proper upbringing, inadequate brain wiring/mental
illness/chemical imbalance... or improper training, or even due to
randomness in nature destroys our agency or ability to get what we
really want. Only when we can overcome all such causes and finally
deterministically always make the best possible (i.e. non evil)
choices will we finally have true free will. Surely any true God
would always deterministically make the right choices or he would not
be God right? Such a being would be the only being with true free
will or ability to make all the right choices.

True, it would be evil for God to do something like put us in
chains and force us to always do what He (but not us) knows is right.
But instead of this, I have faith that a real God could adequately
educate us and help us achieve the strength and knowledge and so on
required to always make the right choices on our own. Non of us are
truly free yet, we achieve more and more freedom or ability to get
what we really want every day via technology and progress. I have
faith that some day we will all achieve perfect freedom. All evil
will finally be removed (or simply not chosen) after such a day. What
possible reason could there be for God not giving us more of a helping
hand with overcoming all this lack of freedom and evil now if he is
really out there!? Should we really try to accept that there is such
a reason no matter how "beyond is" and incomprehensible such a reason
must be?

And finally, the biggest reason this free will theodicy is so
perverse is because of the hate and intolerance that must go along
with it. Some people freely choose good. We are to love these
people. Some people freely choose evil. We are to hate and be
intolerant of these people (rather than try to be sympathetic of why
the particular evil choices might have been made and having a hope
that we might help). We should work to destroy, or at best cast them
all out of our presence because nothing God can do, and especially
nothing we, who are much less than God, can do can help their evil
free will. It seems to me that 99% of the hate and intolerance in
the world is directly due to this very popular, yet hideously
misguided notion of this kind of malevolent "free will".
Unconditional love is incompatible with any religion that holds such
as a doctrine, for the Devil (and any followers) must be hated and if
not destroyed, cast out and eternally punished.

To me, free will is not malevolent and is exactly compatible
with the non existence of evil. As long as there is evil, no one is
yet truly free. I will eternally have faith that such perfection is
possible and will eternally strive for such with unconditional love
for all.

> 3) Evil will be overcome once those who are evil see the error of
> their ways. Given that to be evil an agent must be capable of
> rational thought (ignoring for a moment the problem of how a
> rational agent can do evil), it seems plausible that over time all
> evil agents will see the irrational path they follow and become
> good, thus overcoming evil.

Exactly! And only then will they be free. Again, why could a
real God not help us achieve this freedom now!?

> Reasons for thinking that 2 is not entailed by some reason R that
> reconciles God with evil:

> 1) God does not overcome evil because he has voluntarily undertaken
> to somehow remove himself from this universe, in order to give the
> beings here, say, greater responsibility. However, since we are
> here, and somehow can, we should overcome evil.

The idea that God for some reason must "voluntarily undertake
to somehow remove himself" from us is about the most depressing idea I
can imagine. True love means being with someone, helping someone...
Love is not dieing, going away, or isolating one's self from those
they love! True, mortal parents can sometimes be overbearing and it
is sometimes good to get out from "under their wing" but must I accept
that an all powerful God suffers from such mortal foibles as our
mortal parents sometimes do? Such ideas just seem absurd and/or
hateful to me. I would hope that I can always be with a true God and
that I would never have to be isolated or separated from him.

> 2) God is the creator and source of ethical law, and above ethical
> law. Therefore the fact that we should overcome evil according to
> this ethical law does not mean that God should also overcome evil.

OK! My God is the Devil. Whatever evil he commands should be
done. Anyone that deviates from all such absolute decrees will burn
in hell for eternity! This is such a lame and devilish reason! Good
is good and bad is bad. Anything that is Good is Godly and anything
that is Bad is devilish. That is the only possible way to know the
difference. If this is not true, then there is nothing rational at
all and no way to know the difference.

> Now I certainly find many of those reasons as repugnant and
> implausible as you do.

Undoubtedly for some of the same reasons I've described.

> But they show that a reconciliation of God with evil does not
> NECESSARILY lead to either 1 or 2. And that was my point.

So, then, you think it is OK to hate devils and all their
worshipers, as long as we can still have faith in our God!? This is
only one of many many reasons why I just can't see how anyone can make
such points. Thinking like this just makes more evil, hate, and
despair. If we have true faith that all might be possible one way or
another we need not accept any of this evil and despair.

> I'd say that that's a particularly argumentative way of describing
> what a theodicy is. If the presence of evil is truly justified,
> then it hasn't "twisted" anything in showing it to be justified.

Yes, I can see your point. But accepting any such evil, for
whatever justification, is the lessor theory. The theory that a way
can be found to eliminate all such evil is the greater theory.
Hopping for the greater theory is having faith, accepting the lessor
is giving up in despair. We should never give up hope that something
better might be possible. I always hope that there might be some way
or another found to eliminate all evil and will eternally seek after

Brent Allsop