Re: Creationists
Wed, 24 Jun 1998 13:46:10 EDT

In a message dated 6/23/98 10:39:35 PM Eastern Daylight Time, writes:

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

No reason? I sure can't see any reason why you can think this
way. How would we as sentient beings be any different from God? If
God doesn't now overcome Evil, how/why should we ever be able to? Why
could God be different than us? If God doesn't have to overcome evil,
why should we now try to overcome evil?>>

Keep in mind that I don't necessarily believe any of the following reasons.
I'm just showing how the reconciliation of God with evil does not necessarily
lead to the above two conclusions.

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.
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.
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.

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.
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.

Now I certainly find many of those reasons as repugnant and implausible as you
do. But they show that a reconciliation of God with evil does not NECESSARILY
lead to either 1 or 2. And that was my point.

<< A theodicy is an
attempt to twist evil or bad into good or into something that is
rationalized or justified.>>

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.

<< Such an idea is the ultimate of devilishness to me. How can
we find some way to twist bad into really being good so we can justify
it's existence or our (or God's) tolerance of it? Again, I prefer to
hope that such would never be required, that we can find some way to
eliminate ALL evil. Once we achieve such, as any God must already
have done, how could we be justified in not eliminating it?>>

Evil cannot of course be twisted into being good and still remain evil.
That's simply incoherent. But it seems plausible to me that there are moral
restraints on actions that allow for the possibility and instantiation of

<< Good is good and bad is bad in my book. There can be no
twisting of one into the other. I seek after and hope for perfect
goodness and make no attempts to justify any evil. Any belief or
acceptance of any idea or words like "we must allow some evil" is
faithlessly giving up in despair to me. My hope and desire is to
never give up until all evil is overcome. It is not consistent to
have such a hope and to believe in a God.>>

For reasons already mentioned, such a hope and desire is entirely compatible
with belief in God. Furthermore, if we have good reasons for accepting the
notion that "we must allow some evil" then we would be irrational (perhaps
evil?) not to accept it.

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