Re: Creationists
Wed, 24 Jun 1998 23:30:57 EDT

In a message dated 98-06-24 16:47:47 EDT, Brent Allsop

> > 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.

You blame God, who may or may not be there, for the act of a man who admits he
hears voices. Seems to me you just made the mistake he did.

> > 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.

Evil exists whether or not free will exists. Free will allows us to make the
choice, for ourselves, between the two. Some people, for whatever reason,
will choose differently from others. What you want might not be the same
thing. Is it therefore evil? Jerry Falwell says yes. In any case, the only
people who don't believe in free will are the Calvinists and the Astrology
nuts. A good chunk of the remainder believes that man is essentially good at
heart. Admittedly, not many of them happen to be Southern Baptists, but the
point is that evil has absolutely nothing to do with the basis of free will.
It exists as a choice. God cannot force that us to choose Good, because to do
so would destroy that which makes us seperate from God.

> > 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!?

Let's say God has his own personal version of the Heisenberg Uncertainty
principle. He cannot reach down and make us any different from what we are
because to do so would destroy that which makes us seperate from him.
Besides, who the hell would want that? Whether or not we succeed or fail is
so far entirely up to us. Whats the point of attaining a goal if you cannot
do it on your own? The only people who want God to "help us achieve this
freedom now" are the fundamentalists with the bumper stickers that say "In
case of Rapture, this car will be unmanned". I would spit in the eye of such
a God.

> > 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.

Sorry for the upcoming cliche, but I hate to be told what true love is. "If
you love something, set it free..."

> > 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.

Once again, you're blaming God for what man says and does. Just because Oral
Roberts claims that he speaks for God doesn't mean you judge God by what he
says. Of course, the people that believe him deserve whatever is coming to

>> 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.

If God is Good, then things that make "more evil, hate, and despair" don't
come from him. They come from us, because we happen to be imperfect beings at
the moment. If we are striving to better ourselves, thru Transhumanist
thought, or Christianity or Wicca or Chess, then we will becfome less
imperfect, which will supposedly lead to a general condition of more "good".
I kind of doubt it, but I'll admit the possibility is there.

> > 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
> such!

Brent Allsop


If you eliminate evil, how do you judge what good is?

Nature's id