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Hello God: Three Cheers For Evil?

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Posted

Many thanks for your helpful posts, everyone! I am trying to put something together concerning Ecclesiastes, and the problem of evil which is the topic of this thread. An update on my health can be posted elsewhere!

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It is interesting that we have three threads at the top of our Explore Forum which are all hot topics, and all connected! With my emphasis on the Christian response to the problem of evil, I hope I do not put others off contributing to this thread, "Hello God: Three Cheers for Evil", for it was this title by DeadCanDance that first attracted me to it.

My first encounter with a philosophical approach to the problem of evil came when I found a book in our local library a few years ago: it was "The Problem of Evil", by Peter van Inwagen. Now according to Wiki, Inwagen "introduces the term incompatibilism about free will and determinism, to stand in contrast to compatibilism - the view that free will is compatible with determinism." My memory of that reading is very sketchy, but I am sure I remember him talking about the indeterminancy of quantum mechanics and how it might account for the existence of free will, how he cites the James Bulger case in England in 1993 (my wife and myself sometimes watch "Killer Kids" on LMN!), and refers to the work of Melanie Klein.

By reading the other two hot topic threads here I am getting a small purchase on these things ( I am not impressed with anti-natalism!) but still far from being able to contribute to them. My modest efforts will be confined to this thread. If I can purchase an e-reader I will be able to read "The Brothers Karamazov" on-line, but for the time being I will focus on Ecclesiastes.

Interestingly, Ecclesiastes was the first complete book I ever read from the Bible, when I was in my twenties. Being impressed by his message to live life to the full, I feel I have done that - not always in moderation, which only comes with age and maturity - but holding no regrets and appealing to God to forgive my sins. Perhaps for anyone not familiar with this book, I will quote from its introduction in "The Good News Bible".

" - the Philosopher (Ecclesiastes) ... reflected deeply on how short and contradictory human life is, with its mysterious injustices and frustrations, and concluded that 'life is useless'. ... Yet, in spite of this, he advised people to work hard, and to enjoy the gifts of God as much and as long as they could."

I cannot myself express in words more clearly the philosophy for my life which I have held throughout it! In my work and play I always hoped that things would get better - forever the optimist! - through my own efforts, and through the efforts of others who appeared to possess no propensities for evil. Regrettably, it appears things are not getting any better, and a cynicism has manifested itself in my thinking to the point where I am saying that I have no further interest in trying to make things better. I return therefore to Ecclesiastes, I will try to continue to live life to the full (in moderation!), rest easy in the sight of God, sharing my faith and contentment with my wife, not fearing death, not blaming Him for the evil in the world, and knowing that all human endeavours, including philosophy, will ultimately solve nothing!

But I will keep visiting this site and occasionally contributing to it, because I have always been made to feel very welcome, even if I am so often sadly out of my depth! Also I find visiting TGL an excellent way to develop my own philosophical (and religious!) leanings. However, is there nothing new under the sun? Have we really progressed in our philosophical understandings, in attempting to answer those ultimate questions regarding the purpose of life and where did we come from? Mostly, now, I support philosophy at school levels because it encourages children to discuss rationally, coherently and good-humouredly. I wonder if PeculiarPhilosopher experienced philosophy when he was a child? He should try:

http://p4c.com/

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Posted

Arthur Schopenhauer:

Brahma is said to have produced the world by a kind of fall or mistake; and in order to atone for his folly, he is bound to remain in it himself until he works out his redemption. As an account of the origin of things, that is admirable! According to the doctrines of Buddhism, the world came into being as the result of some inexplicable disturbance in the heavenly calm of Nirvana, that blessed state obtained by expiation, which had endured so long a time — the change taking place by a kind of fatality. This explanation must be understood as having at bottom some moral bearing; although it is illustrated by an exactly parallel theory in the domain of physical science, which places the origin of the sun in a primitive streak of mist, formed one knows not how. Subsequently, by a series of moral errors, the world became gradually worse and worse — true of the physical orders as well — until it assumed the dismal aspect it wears to-day. Excellent! The Greeks looked upon the world and the gods as the work of an inscrutable necessity. A passable explanation: we may be content with it until we can get a better. Again, Ormuzd and Ahrimanare rival powers, continually at war. That is not bad. But that a God like Jehovah should have created this world of misery and woe, out of pure caprice, and because he enjoyed doing it, and should then have clapped his hands in praise of his own work, and declared everything to be very good — that will not do at all!
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Posted

Hello Mathsteach2: please excuse my absence. I'm sorry to hear of your recent tribulations.

I am a god haunted entity Mr. Math- have been for as long as I can remember. As Bataille said, whenever I find myself seemingly post-god, and all the nauseating atheistic (theological) parasitism intrinsic to what passes for 'atheism' these days, there he is "looming large on the stake used for impalement."

God, in other words and in my experience, is the primal ground of spectrality, like a shadow that has come to exceed the very body on which it is contingent.

The world troubles me- I've never been entirely home, unable with Camus, to have my 'feet planted squarely' on the earth- rebellion was supposed be the new 'cogito,' but I've grown weary- a kind of perpetual insomnia of the will.

There is, it seems to me, far more wisdom in the Christian doctrine of the Fall than the grotesque, feeble, paralyzingly inane humanism running rampant these days. Horror, true horror, is not in its lexicon it seems.

I will say this- theodicy, as Wittgenstein said, in 'Lecture on Ethics' of ethics, is, on my life, never something I would ridicule, but it has failed. I will not externalize this, to qualify, I've found that, like some immortal and unmovable mountain, the problem of evil stands over any possible ascent to god.

The only possible avenue, it seems to me, is to say that God may have his 'reasons' that, given our limited cognitive prowess, we cannot understand. Imagine a young child getting her immunization shots. To the child, it's just pain. That's all the child understands. We may be like the child- if God has his reasons, why should we suppose we would know their nature?

But the heart rebels, at least when it can muster the energy.

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Posted (edited)

This is not an original or even especially profound observation, but it seems the world is exactly what we would expect -- a meaningless mess -- on the assumption of a thoroughgoing naturalism, and precisely what we should not expect on the assumption of an all-powerful, all-knowing, all-benevoent God.

Edited by davidm

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Posted (edited)

I think a great many theologian, and especially the 'mystics,' for whom the absence of God is a steady thread through the various manifestations of mysticism, would grant that contention davidm.

To story goes, it seems, something like this:

Push the bounds of nihilism far enough, through 'man,' always bearing the 'indelible stamp of our lowly origins' (Darwin) spinning in the void on some giant rock in an indifferent universe, past all the duplicitous, hollow ringing humanism, through the supplanting of 'Man' in the post -human, in the depths of a pervading sense of the futility of life, in the darkest darkness, there God is to be found.

Where Absence, hiddenness implodes and itself becomes Presence.

:doh:

I share with ole Nietzsche a certain affinity for the Old Testament- I think the talk of "God beyond God" (Tillich) or the radically non-empirical 'otherness' of God, and 'nihilism as an almost divine way of thinking' (Nietzsche) was captured in Isaiah 9:2-

"The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined."

Edited by DeadCanDance
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Posted

Regrettably, I have only managed to read an abridged version of "The Brothers Karamazov" by Somerset Mougham, therefore I have missed a lot. Barbados does not have copies in their public libraries, nor in the West Indies University Library at Cave Hill, as far as I understand. However, it was enough for me to identify myself with Dmitri!

The problem of evil is profoundly addressed, I need to read a full version. My reading has certainly helped me through my physical disability. I think my next novel will be Huckleberry Finn!

To return to philosophy, there are so many relevent threads here I am at a loss at the moment to contribute to this one! Give me time (along with my sore ankle!) and at 73 years old I might still put something in on this site which is interesting!

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