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Talk:Evil is the absence of God

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Come on, community, help us communicate[edit]

So, I long ago realized I am probably borderline and a lot of things go over my head; it is very easy to gaslight me. I think I have accurately realized that Anna Livia is just playing with me by always saying I haven't given an answer every time I give an answer, but I could be wrong and s/he might be serious. I would love anybody else's perspective. Am I misguided? Does everybody else think I am avoiding questions?

To me, this feels as akin to a situation where somebody asks me "What is 2 + 3" and then them not liking my answer of "5". I might rephrase with "one more than 4"; if that doesn't work, I'll keep going with "one less than 6", "half of 10", "The square root of 25". I would go on for a long while, every time the person says "You are not answering the question; you are just repeating your earlier response". Part of me will always wonder if the person is serious. Perhaps the two of us need a third perspective who can tell me "They want to know what kind of number results, not the number, itself." At which point, I might finally move on to "It's a prime number"; "it results in an integer"; "that sum is a positive number". Sure, I might make that jump on my own, eventually, but you guys could speed it up. --Bertrc (talk) 16:36, 30 January 2021 (UTC)

I mean, you kind of are dodging the questions. ☭Comrade GC☭Ministry of Praise 16:49, 30 January 2021 (UTC)
GrammarCommie, Thank you! But could you let me know an example of a question you think I am dodging? I would love to work out where my answers are lacking so that I can get better at it. --Bertrc (talk) 17:28, 30 January 2021 (UTC)


GC - to whom are you responding?
Bertrc seems to have a different definition of 'evil' ('Deity-vacuum' or possibly 'specific-Deity-vacuum') to the rest of RW-iams (doing actions that are bad/failing 'to do the right thing'/being unethical etc).
I was referring to this hole.
This discussion could go on as long as this war - but I wish to spread my fragments of knowledge more widely than this page. Anna Livia (talk) 17:03, 30 January 2021 (UTC)
@Anna Livia I was responding to the person who asked the original question in this section. I would think that would be obvious. As to the discussion, I find both of you less than compelling when it comes to making a case. ☭Comrade GC☭Ministry of Praise 17:09, 30 January 2021 (UTC)
I just wished to make it clear for the discussion - and it is difficult to find a compelling argument against candyfloss/cotton candy. Anna Livia (talk) 18:02, 30 January 2021 (UTC)
Anna Livia, It sounds as though you simply disagree with my definitions of evil (possibly because you think other RW'ians have a different definition) That is not the same as me not answering you. My trouble with what I infer to be your latest definition of evil is that that definition seems circular, with no concrete anchors where you can gain traction. You define one metaphysical concept with a bunch of other metaphysical concepts. --Bertrc (talk) 17:28, 30 January 2021 (UTC)
1) "[Evil is] doing actions that are bad." So what makes an action bad? --Bertrc (talk) 17:28, 30 January 2021 (UTC)
2) "[Evil is] failing to do the right thing." So what is the right thing? --Bertrc (talk) 17:28, 30 January 2021 (UTC)
3) "[Evil is] being unethical." So what does it mean to be unethical? --Bertrc (talk) 17:28, 30 January 2021 (UTC)
(Your earlier definition had concrete anchors, but seemed much too limitted, imho)) --Bertrc (talk) 17:28, 30 January 2021 (UTC)
Bertrc - it is up to you to define what you mean by evil - which differs from the dictionary definition - and to provide something with more coverage than Bramble Bank (which you can look up). Anna Livia (talk) 18:02, 30 January 2021 (UTC)
I really think I have given a definition of evil . . . in fact, more than once. Seriously, @other people, am I just completely blind to being trolled here? Should I stop editing in and assuming good faith? Or am I really being blind to the fact that what I have given are not definitions? How are they lacking? --Bertrc (talk) 03:52, 6 February 2021 (UTC)


You may disagree with those definitions, but they are definitions. What I would love would be comments on those definitions, rather than pretending I haven't given an answer. Personally, I think that both Anna Livia's latest definition of "evil", and the dictionary definition (which are largely the same) are circular and sorely lacking (his/her earlier definition is also lacking, imho, but for other reasons). --Bertrc (talk) 03:52, 6 February 2021 (UTC)


As I say above - I have more interesting things to pursue (until you come up with a better counter argument). Anna Livia (talk) 18:02, 30 January 2021 (UTC)
C'mon, this is Rationalwiki. Discourse! Please let me know what is missing from my definition of evil and/or defend the dictionary definition. Maybe you can sway me closer to your view or cause me to expand on my own view. The reason I come to rational wiki is to expand my ideas. --Bertrc (talk) 03:52, 6 February 2021 (UTC)
'But I thought this was RW' - drink.
Try finding new views to discuss. Anna Livia (talk) 10:49, 6 February 2021 (UTC)
To be fair @Bertrc, you are kind of repeating the same arguments ad infinitum and then refusing to back them up. Maybe try discussing something else, or taking it to the Debate space. --Goatspeed. Stalk meCircularREmail2.gifasoningSee my latest prototypes 03:09, 11 February 2021 (UTC)
. . . @CircularReasoning  :_( I'm not sure that is entirely fair. Yes, when somebody asks the exact same thing, I do usually give a different phrasing of my previous response, but I feel (perhaps unwarrantedly) that I have given several different thoughts that people could sink their claws into and tear at, if they wished to. --Bertrc (talk) 00:59, 17 February 2021 (UTC)
1) I've described my issues with the typical definition of evil, which people could feel free to counteract. I've also pointed out limitations of another definition. --Bertrc (talk) 00:55, 17 February 2021 (UTC)
2) True, I haven't backed up the idea of evil coming from worshipping things other than God with a proof, but that is because I do not think it can be proven or falsified until after we die. However, I have expounded on what it means to worship something (I can add links, if you want) and I have drawn connections of how worshipping something other than God can lead to both evil actions and to evil situations; people could certainly debate those assertions. --Bertrc (talk) 00:59, 17 February 2021 (UTC)
3) I have given specific examples of things I think are evil, which people can disagree with. --Bertrc (talk) 00:55, 17 February 2021 (UTC)
Albeit, just because I feel you are not being entirely fair, doesn't mean I think you are being entriely unfair!!  :-D I will try to bring more examples and be a bit more declarative. Thanks! --Bertrc (talk) 00:55, 17 February 2021 (UTC)


Yay! Time for snark![edit]

Heh, okay. I think I can finally accept that I am just being trolled.  :-D Fortunately, that frees me up to post for fun! --Bertrc (talk) 23:37, 10 February 2021 (UTC)

Y'know, all I seem to be hearing is:
"In that definition, I don't like your description of 'evil'.  Your description of 'evil' is not my description of evil; therefore, I refuse to admit that it is a real definition.  I know you want me to give an explanation or evidence of what I disagree with, but, since I can't come up with anything, I'm just gonna pout and say it is not a real definition."  
That gives me a feeling of deja vu . . . what is it from? . . . Oh yeah! That sounds a lot like:
"In that election, I don't like the candidate who won. The candidate who won is not my candidate; therefore, I refuse to admit that it is an real election.  I know you want me to give an explanation or evidence of what I disagree with, but, since I can't come up with anything, I'm just gonna pout and say it is not a real election.  RAAAAAAHHHHH!!!! LET'S GO STORM THE CAPITOL!!!!!"    
 :-P~  ;-)  :-D (Okay, I admit: The last two sentences are an embellishment. You have not taken up arms . . . yet  ;-) ) --Bertrc (talk) 23:37, 10 February 2021 (UTC)
Bertrc - you wish to argue with a dictionary definition of the term evil - so don't be surprised if people side with the dictionaries. Anna Livia (talk) 00:07, 11 February 2021 (UTC)
Sure, people are free to side with dictionaries. Do you side with the dictionary definition? I infer that you do, given your latest definition, but you know what happens when you infer. I just wish anybody who does side with that definition would defend it against my dissatisfactions with it. --Bertrc (talk) 23:44, 16 February 2021 (UTC)


Your second point is veering towards 'invoking the usual suspects' so be #very# careful how you proceed. Anna Livia (talk) 00:07, 11 February 2021 (UTC)
. . . I'm afraid I have no idea what this means; I'm not even sure what you consider to be my first and second points! Could you explain with something other than vague innuendo? Is this some inside knowledge or in-joke? The trouble with in-jokes is that those of us outside have trouble contributing (and, as you may have noticed, I am very out of it) --Bertrc (talk) 23:44, 16 February 2021 (UTC)


God/the Gods is/are likely to concentrate [relevant pronoun] on those places where sentients are, rather than 'those places where nothing happens': evil (doing bad things, being unethical etc etc) is most likely to be found where sentients are, and make choices, therefore your syllogism is invalid. Anna Livia (talk) 00:07, 11 February 2021 (UTC)
Awesome declaration from authority! However, I do not agree. Did you mean concentrate their presence or concentrate their focus/attention? (My disagreement differs depending on what you mean by "concentrate") Separately, could you let me know what syllogism you see? --Bertrc (talk) 23:44, 16 February 2021 (UTC)


I have things of higher priority than responding to your non-comments - likewise those who wish to troll (I just go for obscure references and puns). Anna Livia (talk) 00:07, 11 February 2021 (UTC)
 :-D Yes, I have noticed the obscure references! --Bertrc (talk) 23:44, 16 February 2021 (UTC)

Thoughts on Voltaire's Quote: "If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him?"[edit]

A few preliminaries:[edit]

  • As a sceptic, I consider any positions (i.e. 'isms') to be a necessary evil (no pun intended) i.e. they are convenient labels.
  • I consider myself in principle to be an atheist and an antitheist.
  • My question is directed mainly to @Anna Livia and any other RWicians, with the hope of opening up discussion.
  • For the sake of brevity, my questions are highly general.
  • Voltaire's argument is in response to an atheistic essay called "The Three Imposters".
  • Voltaire intended his argument, to be one in favour of God's existence; despite, some interpreting his argument literally, as being in favour of atheism viz "God being invented".
  • I believe that 'God' was originally a scientific posit. However, my question is more focussed on the non-scientific aspects of the concept 'God' i.e. its social significance.
  • Note: When I use ' ' this means that I am mentioning i.e. we can't actually invent the object God, but we can invent the concept God. So, henceforth, 'God' = the concept of God, and conversely 'religion' = the concept of religion.
  • If this discussion opens up, I will include some of the practical benefits of 'God' (I hope others, by engaging in the discussion, can help out here, with their own additions)
  • I believe that this is relevant to the article "Evil is the absence of God", since the term 'evil' is an ethical term, and religion and 'God' as they are understood, make ethical claims.

My Proposition[edit]

Voltaire's argument, is that the existence of God - and/or belief - in God (through religion) are necessary for civilised society to function; and that, if God didn't exist, we would have to invent him. The reason 'God': has existed (as a concept) for so long, has played such a significant role in human history, and still plays a significant role - for a great many humans; the reason is: because 'God' is a very useful concept. 'God' probably wouldn't have survived for as long as it has, if it wasn't useful. Obviously, 'God' is not useful for science, my proposition regards 'its' usefulness for society...that is, regardless of whether we like the concept of 'God', it may be very useful for society.

If we are to be realistic, we should accept that 'God' and 'religion' are deeply entrenched in not just social factors, but also human biology. Furthermore, there will probably always be people who believe in God or need God i.e., humanity's religiosity and tendency to believe in - and/or need God - is not going away anytime soon...in fact, quite plausibly...never! Therefore, the utopian notion of an "atheist state": a state which prohibits the concept of a 'God' and the practice of religion, is clearly untenable (amongst many other reasons).

As I mentioned in my preliminaries, I am neither religious nor do I believe in God, but I think that 'God' may be a pragmatic entity: one that is very useful socially. Part of maturing intellectually is becoming: more cognitively flexible, and being able to respond more adaptively to complex issues, such as the concept of 'God'; the childish, and dogmatic - attitude of refusing to compromise, when it comes to matters of 'God' or 'religion', stunts one's intellectual growth. Thus my question is this: Assuming God doesn't exist, do we need to invent 'him'? - that is - Do we need to invent 'God' for the practical benefits 'God' brings to society? Leucippus 19:38, 11 February 2021 (UTC)

'God or gods of various genders and kinds, and saints, bodhavistas and other special humans' are a recognised phenomenon across the world and history (even if the nature of 'God' changes over time), therefore 'the divine spark' is part of human nature and the human mind. There appears to be a need for 'a creative spirit existing outside the individual/society' and some sort of feedback loop.
However - on this talk page we should concentrate on analysing (whether or not refuting) the proposition of the article. Anna Livia (talk) 10:37, 12 February 2021 (UTC)


If God does not exist, then I think we are stuck with purely cause and effect (possibly using probabilities as you bring in quantum physics). "Societies" could be viewed the way we view organisms; they evolve (effect) based on selective pressures (the cause). Bad traits/mutations lead to societies failing and dying out; successful traits/mutations lead to societies flourishing and dominating. [Note 1] If God does not exist, I do not know if we would need to invent Him in order to have functional societies, but evidence seems to indicate that that the concept is certainly beneficial to a society's continuation. Have there been any long term societies without a belief in God or in gods? --Bertrc (talk) 01:29, 17 February 2021 (UTC)


  1. We even have cross breeding between societies!!! :-D

The problem with the argument[edit]

Almost any word can be substituted for 'God' - Alien Space Bats, Bertrc etc etc' without the statement sounding odd, subtracting or adding information.

(This is the Aristophanes/The Frogs/bottle of oil argument - lines 1208ff here.) Anna Livia (talk) 20:23, 14 February 2021 (UTC)

How is that a problem with the argument? Remember, the argument says "You cannot claim that, if God is everywhere and if God created all things, then, simply because there are situations and things that are evil, God must be evil." That argument works just as well for rejecting "If Alien Space Bats are everywhere and created all things, then, simply because there are situations and things that are evil, Alien Space Bats must be evil." Are you thinking of a different argument? PLEASE tell me what argument you are thinking of if you are thinking of a different argument! --Bertrc (talk) 01:56, 17 February 2021 (UTC)

Bertrc's Syllogism[edit]

Anna Livia (or somebody else who understands him/her) I would love to know what you consider to be my syllogism. I hadn't thought I had given a syllogism, but I would be thrilled if you have found such within my blather! What are the various propositions? What is the conclusion you think I am making? I have really thought hard, but the only syllogism I could see in my writing is a bit convoluted, and I doubt that it is the same syllogism you have found. --Bertrc (talk) 23:42, 16 February 2021 (UTC)

Bertrc's attempt at creating a syllogism[edit]

Proposition 1) Things that create stuff while defining some descriptive attribute are able to exist in areas that we label with the opposite of the given attribute. However, we do not claim that such a thing creates the opposite of the attribute it defines (at least, we don't say the opposite would no longer exist without the thing) nor do we claim that said opposite is an accurate adjective for said thing. eg. Energy creates matter and defines heat, yet it exists in areas we consider cold (the opposite of heat); we do not claim energy creates cold to the extent that cold would not exist without energy (refrigerators aside. >:-(  :-P~  ;-) ) nor do we not claim "cold" is an accurate adjective for energy. Similarly, light creates illumination and defines brightness, yet light exists in areas we consider dark (the opposite of brightness); we do not claim that light creates darkness to the extent that darkness would not exist without light nor do we consider "dark" to be an accurate description for light. *Bertrc draws in a big, hoarse breath*
Proposition 2) God might be a thing that created the universe and God might define goodness
Conclusion) Therefore, you cannot simply say that such a God could not exist where there is evil (the opposite of goodness), nor can you simply say such a God creates evil (ie. defines it to an extent that evil would not exist without Him) merely based on the hypothesis that He created all things, nor can you simply say that "evil" is an accurate adjective for God merely based on the hypothesis that He created all things.

I would summarize the above as "If there is a God that created all things and that defines goodness then you cannot use the mere existence of things/situations we describe as evil in order to claim such a God is evil." However, I believe such a statement is an inference, not a syllogism. --Bertrc (talk) 23:42, 16 February 2021 (UTC)

But - what about the other Deities (of whatever kind)? Anna Livia (talk) 11:18, 17 February 2021 (UTC)
Well - I don't think my thoughts on other deities form a syllogism, either.  :-P~  ;-) (Thoughts to which you have also never responded, btw)--Bertrc (talk) 23:18, 27 February 2021 (UTC)


You keep on using the roundabout without providing actual definitions/answering questions. The rest of us are engaged elsewhere: RW, the rest of the wikiverse and fanfic do not write themselves. Anna Livia (talk) 00:33, 17 February 2021 (UTC)
. . . Yeah . . . Y'know, I feel you keep saying my definitions aren't definitions without explaining what they are lacking. I do wish you would actually respond to what is written. Take your last reply -- I asked you to tell me what syllogism you found, but you didn't answer the question; you simply said I am not answering questions. My asking you what syllogism you see is a completely new point from me but you didn't respond at all. Remember: You claimed I was making a syllogism (and that the syllogism was invalid) but when I actually responded directly to what you had written, you ignored my response. Like I said, deja vu. --Bertrc (talk) 01:44, 17 February 2021 (UTC)


Have a nice day, and don't forget to switch off the light when you leave this room/page. Anna Livia (talk) 00:33, 17 February 2021 (UTC)
You are veering towards 'RAAAAAHHHHH! Let's storm the capitol since we cannot provide evidence of fraud!!!!' so be #very# careful how you proceed. ;-) (FYI, I still do not know what you meant by "the usual suspects" and you didn't bother to respond to my question about "the usual suspects", either.  :-P~  ;-) ) --Bertrc (talk) 01:44, 17 February 2021 (UTC)
I am not - and there is no obvious connection between my last comment and your last comment. Anna Livia (talk) 11:18, 17 February 2021 (UTC)
Well, in hopes of making you drink again, I'd like to point out that this is RationalWiki; rationally, all you can say is that there is "no obvious connection" to you.  ;-) More seriously, though, do you truly not see any curtness, threat or confrontation in telling me "to switch off the light when [I] leave this room/page" even though I have never shown any desire to leave? Even your "Have a nice day" feels to me like it was meant to be ironic. I just get a vibe of "See yah, wouldn't want to be yah. Don't let the door hit you on the keister on the way out." Add in that you never respond to the actual points or questions that I bring up (what did you mean by "the usual suspects"?) and, to me, it sounds akin to those who relentlessly complain that there was fraud in the last election, but refuse to respond to any questions or points brought up by others and who eventually got mad enough to stage an insurrection. --Bertrc (talk) 23:18, 27 February 2021 (UTC)


As I have said - I am far more patient than you (and show a far wider range of arguments than you) - but I have other things to do across the various wikis and various other contributory sites I participate in. Anna Livia (talk) 11:18, 17 February 2021 (UTC)
Heh, I have always felt that impatience is a flaw of mine that I need to work on, so saying you are more patient than me is not saying all that much!  :-D However, as I often say, I hope you do not LANCB. This discussion led me to an interesting insight, the other day. I might try to add a couple new section to the article (if I can work up the nerve, that is) --Bertrc (talk) 23:18, 27 February 2021 (UTC)
And the characters in the stories I write do not think much of your arguments either. Anna Livia (talk) 12:06, 28 February 2021 (UTC)
Your poor characters. Are none of them able to go against the will and ideas of their omnipotent (at least in their universe) creator?!  ;-) --Bertrc (talk) 01:38, 6 April 2021 (UTC)
Bertrc - you have obviously not written fiction in general and fanfic in particular. Anna Livia (talk) 13:45, 10 August 2021 (UTC)

Definitions[edit]

To some extent the discussion is about the definitions. Anna Livia (talk) 13:45, 10 August 2021 (UTC)

. . . Well, you headed this section as "Definitions", but I think all you have given is a list of statements. What is being defined in your individual bullet points? --Bertrc (talk) 20:40, 2 September 2021 (UTC)


  • The universe is very big, 'various telescopes and other devices' have detected a number of planets, so there are likely to be 'very many more' that us humans cannot see. Anna Livia (talk) 13:45, 10 August 2021 (UTC)
  • Life and sentience have evolved once, so will probably emerge on at least some of these planets that meet certain minimum criteria; however both 'life' and 'sentience' is likely to be far more diverse than we can possibly imagine (and possibly could recognise). Anna Livia (talk) 13:45, 10 August 2021 (UTC)


  • 'Deity or deities and related concepts or entities' exist in many cultures. However there is no objective proof that said deity/ies exist(s), and some deities are problematic when 'evil' is considered (The Christian Devil, Fenris-Wolf and trickster gods, the gods of disease and war etc). Anna Livia (talk) 13:45, 10 August 2021 (UTC)
    • Sure . . . However, I don't quite see the problematic-ness of your specific examples. (Although I do see many problematic things about there being evil and God) Could you elaborate? --Bertrc (talk) 20:40, 2 September 2021 (UTC)


  • Evil as a concept exists in many cultures, along with other concepts such as 'dishonourable thought and behaviour.' However the nature of these concepts varies to some extent between culture and over time, and are likely to diverge even more for 'sentience elsewhere in the universe.' Anna Livia (talk) 13:45, 10 August 2021 (UTC)
    • Agreed, although I do not know what point you are making. After all, what is considered cold vs warm weather and what would be considered a bright vs a dark day also vary by culture; however, inspite of this variance of definition, there is definitely an explanation for why there is cold and dark.  :-P~  ;-) --Bertrc (talk) 20:40, 2 September 2021 (UTC)


  • There are large parts of the universe where nothing much has or will happen, and there is no obvious reason for such localities to have innate goodness, evil, Deity-presence or Deity-absence. Anna Livia (talk) 13:45, 10 August 2021 (UTC)
    • I honestly never understood (or agreed with) your claim that there is no reason for somebody to be present in a place where nothing much happens. I can spend joyful hours looking at paintings and sculptures in a museum (where nothing much happens) Also, I enjoy watching the motions of waves on a beach, wherein, if something much happens, that something is actually disruptive and unwelcome! My reason for being present in such places is to enjoy what happens to be there; my reason for being present in such places is not due to what is happening there. [Note 1] --Bertrc (talk) 20:40, 2 September 2021 (UTC)


  • Does the concept of evil (and goodness etc) imply a measure of conscious involvement. Anna Livia (talk) 13:45, 10 August 2021 (UTC)
    • I believe that consciousness or sentience probably needs to be involved, but that gets into a whole other barrel of fish. On a high level, though, I think that somebody has to choose to put something ahead of (or, at least, on par with) God in order for evil to creep in. At that point the choice, actions, situation and environment become less "good". eg. If you get your sense of security from money instead of from being loved by God, you might make the choice to not put proper filtration in a factory you own resulting in respiratory problems among your workers. Emphysema is evil; it came from an evil choice to place saving money on filtration equipment over protecting people's health; that choice came from evilly basing your life/worth/identity/sense-of-security on money, rather than on God. [Note 2]



etc etc Anna Livia (talk) 13:45, 10 August 2021 (UTC)



  1. See what I did there?  :-D
  2. Yes, this is a vast oversimplification as would be any attempt to explain the underlying choices and chain of effects that lead to climate change, rampant wild fires, and avalanches. Work with me, here!