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Talk:Evil is the absence of God

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Good and evil as positive and negative electric charges. Protons are not the "absence of electrons", and electrons are not the "absence of protons". The light-darkness and heat-coldness models of good and evil aren't the only logically-possible models! CodeMaster9000 (talk) 23:12, 15 March 2012 (UTC)

Criticisms of the argument[edit]

. . . Okay, raising a discussion section for the third edit I have made today which has been followed for the third time by the same user:

  1. If you compare God to light and energy, then evil becomes a comparative lack of God, not a complete absence of God. I feel my edits express that more accurately. In fact the statement "Furthermore, if some people can experience a "lack of God", then God is clearly not omnipresent" implies "lack of God" == "complete absence of God". However, "cold" != "complete absence of energy" and "darkness" != complete absence of light." (We can say something is cold, even though it does have some energy present; we say there is darkness, even when there are some photons shooting/flowing around) Thus, I think my copy should be used.
  2. We are not wikipedia. Toungue in cheek statements are allowed, and I feel mine are funnier than the xisting ones. Thus, I think my text should be kept.

Thoughts? --Bertrc (talk) 19:54, 3 June 2014 (UTC)

1.) You edit in something like "evil is the comparative lack of God", but are seemingly content with something like "darkness is a lack of light". It seems in the first instance the word "lack" did not convey enough relativeness to you, but in the second instance it did. Why is that?
2.) The phrase "Do you really need us to tell you?" and then refusing to give reasons is the path of the lazy and/or the cowardly. Giving reasons will always trump not giving reasons in my book. A compromise that I would consider with this is to say "Do you really need us to tell you? Oh sod it, I should probably tell you anyway, just in case", but that also sounds a bit arrogant. I say, just leave as it previously was.
3.) The next bit you edited in uses quotation marks inside quotation marks, which is quite unsightly. I will let it slide if you change that, even though I think this humour is too wordy for me and would need incredibly good comedic timing on the part of the reader to pull it off.
4.) The next bit, even disregarding the fact that it added grammar mistakes where before there were none, is also too wordy for me. Additionally, it assumes too much about a hypothetical apologist, where before only the bare essential was assumed. I will let the "most mere mortals" bit slide if you add it back in, although it is not my type of humour, at least it's short. Nullahnung (talk) 20:20, 3 June 2014 (UTC)
2.) Heh. I'll concede that point. I didn't see the need to recap what is covered in the snopes article. Would it be acceptable to simply include my snarky comment, but have it link to the snopes article? My problem is that few people would actually believe this is true when we have been screaming "URBAN LEGEND" at them earlier.
3.) I think you might want to look at that again. I wasn't including quotation marks; I was including double single quates which italicize the included text and do not appear, themselves, in the article. As for humor, I would once again throw that to the wider audience.
4.) Point taken about the grammar. However, the meat of the text still stands as a better (if snarky) representation of the apologist position. According to the argument, you don't experience a lack of God any more than you experience a lack of energy. I think the original writer was trying to be snarky, but I feel my snarkiness is more clever. Still, as with the other instances of my humor, I would be interested in further opinions. --Bertrc (talk) 20:56, 3 June 2014 (UTC)
3.) If that was so with the quotation marks then fair enough.
4.) I think you added too many assumptions about a hypothetical apologist as soon as you wrote "Well, hopefully, the apologists would simply tell him "Dude, that sucks" but among themselves, they would say this", which may or may not be accurate, but it certainly widens the error bars. Just keep it clean and simple, keep the basic essentials that are necessary for someone to be an apologist and run with that, no need to add more. The original version was fine. Nullahnung (talk) 01:37, 4 June 2014 (UTC)
I thought of what may be an extra argument to be used: If a benevolent god exists, why is there lack of Good in this world? We would expect from such a deity to at least put some benevolent things in this world, not just erase what's evil. After all, what's not evil isn't necessarily good, It can be a neutral state of neither harmful or helpful. Also, on second note, why would a benevolent deity "erase evil" from some places and not others? Many of these places "that lack good" have a high percentage of religious people, christians included, and a good part of the places that are more "Utopic" than others aren't very religious (Northern Europe countries, for instance) so it would seem faith is not the answer, even less that a good deity would treat people based on blind faith in one of many just as valid religions, rather on how good of persons they are.

BTW, this is where the idea i expressed is from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Problem_of_evil#Evil_as_the_absence_of_good , also another thing: we could also reverse that thing and say "good is the absence of evil", as in the idea of good is not a quantity by itself, just as valid as that idea of evil being the absence. After all, someone shooting sadistically an innocent isn't doing something neutral but intentionally harmful. Imadmagician (talk) 07:37, 14 October 2014 (UTC)


Evil is the absence of sanity. An all knowing sane being would understand the cause of every action and see that no action is good nor evil until you compare that act to an ideal standard which that same being would see as a falsehood and not reality. Thus a rational all knowing being would not compare reality to fantasy to divide reality into good (that which seeks the fantasy) and evil (that which harms the fantasy).— Unsigned, by: 173.65.109.191 / talk / contribs

Criticism of the criticism of the criticism[edit]

Awall's criticism of the criticism seemed to me to miss the point that what happened was indeed evil and not simply an absence of God. Also, it did not English real good. Therefore, I reverted it. Hertzy (talk) 20:06, 8 December 2015 (UTC)

I 'Englished' just fine. My point was that the deed was evil but all evil is, is the sucking of something good; that is, life. This is completely different than it existing outright, like a virus that needs a host. Please reconsider my submission. — Unsigned, by: Awall251 / talk / contribs 01:18, 9 December 2015‎

"they experience it in the form of absence, in the form of being taken away something good" and similar constructions in that paragraph do not parse well as English. That's OK, but I am not so sanguine about your logic. SmartFeller (talk) 01:27, 9 December 2015 (UTC)

This was (rightfully) removed from the page. C/Ping it here:

Another Perspective

Evil has to exist so that we have two options: God and not God. If there were no evil, there would only be good (God) left. There is no free will in this scenario. Having more than one option is an imperative to have a choice. Furthermore, choice is an imperative for free will.Evil is an artifact of the human viewpoint. It does not entail the existence of an ostensible deity.

Now, you may say we do not have free will. We are determined by the environment and our genetics. And I will give you this point makes up the majority of us. But I say we have free will over one domain: our conscious mind. We can think about anything we like. Our genes didn't code for a specific thought at a specific moment in time. Neither did our environment or the interaction between the two.Two words: intrusive thoughts.Wikipedia's W.svg

Additionally, though evil exists, it is not truly something, rather the taking of something that is already there: life (murder), well-being (torture or pain), security (rape). Evil takes but does not give anything in return. The pain or misfortune that is left is but a void left when something neutral or positive is taken away. The person being tortured is in pain relative to where they were not being tortured. Evil is relative to good like dark is relative to light. But Good is not dependent on evil, as well as light is not dependent on dark.This paragraph attempts do define evil, but ignores the intent of the evildoer. This prompts a question: Are ignorance or incompetence equivalent to evil?

Evil is the taking of something good because of it is seeking to fill its internal void, or absence. Therefore, a more appropriate definition would be: Evil is the absence of God, which manifests as the taking of things that are good.See above, regarding the intent of evildoers.

Finally, the argument cannot be compared to hot and cold because these could reach an equilibrium point (50 to 50 point). But light and dark could never meet at such a junction. Instead, light would eradicate dark at the speed of light, which nothing can go faster than. So, it is more like 99.999 to .001 ratio. These are completely different operating principles and cannot be compared. The argument can only apply to one example. Therefore, it is only one case, one argument, in one instance: light and dark compared to good and evil. No other example can be made because they all fall short.Not even wrong. A steady temperature may be the result of a thermodynamic equilibrium, but that equilibrium need not be a comfortable temperature for humans. Likewise, the speed at which darkness is "eradicated" has little to do with how humans perceive any degree of lightness or darkness.

and my response as to why the above argument still fails:
To be clear, the above argument is completely predicated upon one individual's definition of "evil" and the belief that anything that falls under that person's definition of evil is completely incompatible with that same individual's definition of "good" (hence the advocacy for the light/dark analogy). One could easily think of examples of one person's definition of evil being incompatible with another's definition of evil. At the end of the day, phenomena are neither good nor evil, but only categorized as such through subjective reasoning made by observers.Petey Plane (talk) 16:56, 9 December 2015 (UTC)
Hey, Petey, I hope you don't mind that I fisked your c/p above. Regards, SmartFeller (talk) 17:20, 9 December 2015 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────Dear Awall251, I don't think your edits are going to stick as long as you keep comparing evil to material phenomena/entities such as viruses or the wind, since that's (rather obviously) a false analogy. Evil solely exists as a human social/value/motive interpretation of human acts (for instance, I've seen no one argue that male lions are "evil" for killing the cubs of a pride when they take it over from its prior leader), whereas wind and viruses would and do exist regardless of whether humans are involved in the equation or not. So, to claim that evil exists in the same objective way that wind and viruses (i.e. independently of a human perspective) is not a sound foundation for an argument. ScepticWombat (talk) 06:34, 24 December 2015 (UTC)

Doesn't God pretty much define what is evil and what not via the ten commandments and a few other verses in the bible? From an apologist's point of view, "evil" should be pretty well defined (if not, he can still use his own moral compass, since God always seems to agree with apologists). Now that we've dealt with the definition, let's take a look at the "evil is the comparative lack of god" argument: Darkness is the comparative lack of light because space remains dark unless it's lit up by passing photons. Physically speaking, darkness is the ground state (or closer to the ground state). Likewise, a cold atom has less heat energy than a warm atom, again, the cold atom is closer to the ground state (no excitations, O Kelvin). If that's comparable to evil being the comparative lack of God, that means that evil is kind of the ground state of the universe - a ground state which can only be excited into a higher state by a local excitation of the God field G(x). Does this mean that God is so incompetent a universe designer that he can't build a universe which follows his rules (a.k.a. what is "good") so that he has to amend them via biblical edicts and his physical presence in the form of G(x)? --Imaginative username (talk) 20:01, 1 June 2017 (UTC)
Imaginative username, I think the point of this analogy is that only the first commandment defines evil. The rest are just symptoms we can use to recognize evil (or, to phrase it differently, to recognize when a decision is being made from a place where you have centered/grounded your life on something other than God) --Bertrc (talk) 13:37, 12 June 2017 (UTC)
Also: An apologist would probably interject and claim that evil only entered the universe due to Original Sin, probably in an event which lead to spontaneous symmetry breaking of G(x) (read a bit about the Higgs Mechanism if you don't get this). However, this would mean, that mankind can undo a fundamental part of God's Creation by just eating an apple or something, which would make us quite powerful compared to God... not quite as powerful as Him, but since He hasn't been able to fix the damage a mere two humans did to the fabric of His creation 6000 years ago, we should be in the same order of magnitude. Which is infinite power, if God is omnipotent. Really, this answer begs more questions than it answers. --Imaginative username (talk) 20:01, 1 June 2017 (UTC)
@Imaginative username, well, it depends on whether you take Genesis literally or literarily. Regardless of your view of Genesis, I think you are essentially discussing the problem of evil. You brought up omnipotence; that is a lot of power; Assuming God is omnipotent, IMHO, the best response is the transformative theodicy --Bertrc (talk) 13:37, 12 June 2017 (UTC)
Well, yeah, I did bring up the problem of evil because that's pretty much what this entire discussion is all about... But back to topic: You said that only the first commandment defines evil, i.e. thou shalt have no gods before me. In other words, "evil" and "not evil" hinges upon belief in (the abrahamic) God. However, the italian mafia is a rather christian bunch, but they violate pretty much all the commandments 4 through 10. Does that make them good persons? What about the Ku-Klux-Klan (christian organization) or ISIS (not christian, but they believe in the abrahamic God as well)? Or, on the other end of the spectrum, decent people like Einstein or Hawking who did a lot of good but happened to be agnostics or atheists? What about Hindus, Buddhists, Zoroastrians, Jains etc. who accidentally live in full compliance with commandments 4 through 10 but happen to not believe in JHW?
And the transformative theodicy has its problems as well... I don't see any internal inconsistencies in the assertion "Mankind is unable to comprehend God's plan", however, once you try to harmonize that with the rest of christian dogma, it becomes problematic.
Assuming that God's plan for humanity can be sufficiently summarized by ten commandments, why does He keep setting precedents when He breaks His own rules, usually by creatively killing people who defy Him, His chosen people or just because He's in the mood? Is it okay when He does it, because He's God? Why does He allow bad things to happen to Israel all the time? Wouldn't it be easier to subtlely convince the attacking Egyptians that it would be a better idea to attack Nubia instead? Or how about settling the Israelites on Cyprus... it's not that far away and, being an island, much harder to attack. Or He could establish a pocket dimension for Israelites only, rendering an attack on them physically impossible. The Cyprus and pocket dimension solution wouldn't even affect the Egyptians' free will.
Also, why did God create humans with an intellect too low to understand His heavenly plan but high enough to question his very existence for which he didn't leave any hard evidence? Was it an experiment what happens when you leave a bunch of semi-intelligent apes stranded on a rock for a few thousand years with a set of rules that was only revealed to a random tribe of bronze age shepherds? If so, then "good" and "evil" is just a spectrum of observables of the experiment ("good" = the test subjects followed the rules, "evil" = the test subjects rejected the rules). Also, God sucks as an experimentator because he couldn't resist influencing the experiment a few times when it was already going on: The Great Flood, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrha, miscallaneous minor cases of dickery and, finally, a hard reset of everybody's test score via the (kind of) sacrifice of some dude who may or may not have been He Himself, His son or some random prophet. --Imaginative username (talk) 01:17, 30 June 2017 (UTC)

Definitions[edit]

Surely 'the absence of God' is some form of limbo (including 'the bits of beyond between the galaxies'), 'the absence of consciousness sufficient to understand the concept of God' etc.

'The absence of God' is no more evil than 'notwhite=black.'

And - which God(ess)((e)s)? 82.44.143.26 (talk) 17:28, 9 December 2015 (UTC)

We don't actually mention of Augustine of Hippo[edit]

Oversight? Stuff people can go to ToW for? He is famously the first philosopher articulating this exact idea, and it's even called Augustinian Theodicy in the more theologianish set. If I just modified the summary to say "The idea was originally proposed by Saint Augustine of Hippo" in like the third paragraph, would it be an improvement? ikanreed 🐐Bleat at me 20:45, 30 May 2017 (UTC)

The obvious question[edit]

The absence of which Deity/ies?

And how do the Spanish Inquisition/sacrificing vast numbers of people in the name of one faith or another/other kneejerk examples fit into this argument? 86.134.53.74 (talk) 21:17, 30 May 2017 (UTC)

Good vs Benevolent[edit]

Regarding this change I certainly agree that omnibenevolence sounds better, but I don't think "benevolence" and "good" are equivalent. Benevolence is not really the opposite of evil; "Good" is the opposite of evil.

The "absence" argument addresses somebody saying "If God created everything, then He created Evil." Or "If God is present everywhere, such as this evil situation, then He must be evil, Himself." It does not address how He could still be considered "benevolent" when he allows Himself to be so absent from a situation that we consider the situation evil.

To phrase my point differently: I think we should use "good" instead of "benevolent". God can be good, even though He is present in an evil situation; He simply is not included enough in the situation. However, if I may stretch the "evil == cold" analogy to a breaking point, my retort would be: "He must not be very nice (ie. must not be very benevolent) to leave us feeling so cold." Thus, IMHO, claiming evil is like cold does not support the claim that God is benevolent; it simply supports the claim that God can be good and present in an evil situation (or good and the creator of all things). --Bertrc (talk) 21:18, 30 May 2017 (UTC)

Omnibenevolent=loving everyone, how could an evil person/God love everyone? Christopher (talk) 07:22, 31 May 2017 (UTC)
Your question is a little tangential. My thought is that "good" fits better thematically, even if it does not sound as good rhythmically. The "evil is like cold" argument attempts to address a particular claim: "If God is present in <blah> and <blah> is evil, then God must not be good." [1] The argument isn't really meant to address the claim: "If God is present in <blah> and <blah> is evil, then God must not be omnibenevolent." [2](at least, not meant to address that claim, directly) I'd like to use "good" instead of "omnibenevolent" because there is a direct equivalence comparison between "good" and "evil", whereas the relationship between "omnibenevolence" and "evil" is less direct. The direct contrasts to "omnibenevolence" are "malevolence" and/or "indifference". --Bertrc (talk) 19:36, 31 May 2017 (UTC)
  1. The "evil is like cold" argument also happens to address the claim: "If God created everything then He created evil" but that is separate from my concerns about "benevolence"
  2. This is a perfectly reasonable claim, but some other argument would be needed to attempt to address it

I hate to sound salty, but[edit]

Please, no — not another talkpage filled with Bertrc's false analogies to heat and cold. Facepalm.png

Last time, it was omnipresence you (completely fallaciously) tried to explain away in terms of "heat and cold".

This time, I see it's moral good and evil that's being subjected to your pseudophysical advances. And like before, the very definition of the word "omni" seems to elude you.

For the record, your above proposed equivocal switching of 'benevolent' for 'good' is pretty embarassing, especially considering your likely motive — that the word 'good' (cf. 'evil') shoehorns more readily into 'heat' (cf. 'cold') than does the relevant term, 'benevolence'.

Heck, If only I knew you'd been toting the same incoherent pet analogy for years, I wouldn't have gotten so indignant at your refusal to abandon it — even as parades of 18-wheelers kept running over its head repeatedly. My bad. Reverend Black Percy (talk) 13:46, 31 May 2017 (UTC)

Aw, Dude, you're the salt of the earth! Don't hate yourself! --Bertrc (talk) 19:37, 31 May 2017 (UTC)

Moving a thread from a talk page[edit]

The following was originally just supposed to be general navel-gazing about the nature of God and good and evil so I started it directly with a user on their talk page; however, it boomeranged right back to discussing the analogy of evil being the absence of God (and evil not being some self-existent construct) so I got permission to throw it back onto this page. We got bored with it, but other people might want to play around. This contains the "Evil is like Cold" fork of the concersation; the "Transformative" fork of the discussion was moved to the other article's talk page --Bertrc (talk) 19:24, 16 July 2017 (UTC)

Omnibenevolence vs Good[edit]

Hey Christopher, I started a thread in the "Evil is like Cold" talk page. --Bertrc (talk) 21:20, 30 May 2017 (UTC)

Moving this here, since it is a bit off topic (I am just philosophizing)
You posted: Omnibenevolent=loving everyone, how could an evil person/God love everyone? Christopher (talk) 07:22, 31 May 2017 (UTC)
For specificity, I'd say "omnibenevolence == wanting the good for everybody", rather than "benevolence == loving everybody". I think loving somebody means more than just wanting the best for them. I think it includes an investment into their well-being; tying your own happiness with theirs; driving your decisions around them, etc. --Bertrc (talk) 20:06, 31 May 2017 (UTC)
Regardless, I think we evil people can exhibit either trait. We can love everybody; we just love ourselves more than we love other people. We can want good for everybody; we just don't want to let other people's good interfere with our own good stuff. --Bertrc (talk) 18:54, 31 May 2017 (UTC)
You really are being pedantic now, I'm still waiting for how this solves the PoE. Christopher (talk) 08:02, 1 June 2017 (UTC)
He didn't want the best for amputees, or Holocaust victims. Christopher (talk) 08:03, 1 June 2017 (UTC)
Oh, I didn't know we were discussing that directly. I was just musing about the nature of and perspectives on evil. Heh, you say "pedantic", I say "precision"!  :-D  :-P~  ;-) Let's consider 3 flavors of the Problem/paradox of evil:
1) If God created everything and God is good, how can there be evil/suffering? He must not be good if he created evil or he didn't create everything.
2) If God is present everywhere, and God is good, how can there be evil/suffering? He must not be good if he is present in this evil situation or he must not be present.
3) If God is all-powerful and omnibenevolent, how can there be evil/suffering? He must not be able to stop it, or he must not be nice enough to want to stop it.
I think you are concerned with the 3rd flavour, but the "evil is like cold" theodicy really only addresses the first two. I think the "evil is like darkness" argument is also good for understanding the nature of evil. . . . Um, before we get really deep into this, are you an amputee or a holocaust survivor (or in a really bad place for some other reason?) I certainly do not want to trivialize things for you, if you are, by coldly analyzing how suffering could exist. I think the "I know what it ain't" view is the best perspective for confronting or dealing with suffering; however, that view is understandably considered avoiding the question if you just want to debate or shoot the bull. --Bertrc (talk) 19:18, 1 June 2017 (UTC)
"Precision"? That's rich — considering you won't even agree that A ⊊ B. And it goes without saying that your false analogy to "heat and cold" is far from multi-applicable; rather, it is not even wrong. Reverend Black Percy (talk) 20:50, 1 June 2017 (UTC)
(EC)I'm not in a position that means I don't want to talk about the PoE, no. The "evil is like cold" argument fails for a number of reasons: 1) It fails for religions where their God is omnipresent as nothing can be the "absence of God", 2) It fails for religions where the God is all powerful and all loving/all good/whatever because even if he wasn't everywhere he could choose to be where a homeless person is to prevent suffering. Christopher (talk) 20:55, 1 June 2017 (UTC)
Cool! I'll trust you and assume that you are not a holocaust survivor or a double amputee and that you are in a good enough place not to be upset if we smugly and analytically consider suffering while sitting comfortably in our ivory towers.  :-) I certainly agree with your second point, which I believe is referencing the third flavor of the PoE I list above; that third flavor of the PoE is better addressed by other theodicies. However, I would disagree with your first point. Let me break those up into two sections. --Bertrc (talk) 16:48, 3 June 2017 (UTC)



Evil is Cold vs a Creator God who is Everywhere[edit]

So, I claim the analogy of evil being like cold (and God being like energy) addresses that second flavor of the PoE I listed above (If God is present everywhere, and God is good, how can there be evil/suffering? He must not be good if he is present in this evil situation or he must not be present) I think this deals with the nature of evil. Before I state my case, I have to ask you, do you believe energy is present everywhere? Let's put zero degrees Kelvin and outer space aside, for the moment, and just look at the bubble from the Earth's stratosphere down to the earth's center. Within those confines, do you think energy is present everywhere? --Bertrc (talk) 16:48, 3 June 2017 (UTC)

Obviously energy is present everywhere on Earth, and due to vacuum energy isn't it present everywhere? I fail to see how hot and cold are in any way related to the PoE though. Christopher (talk) 17:08, 3 June 2017 (UTC)
Well, it has nothing to do with the classic PoE (third flavor, above) When you say "I fail to see how hot and cold are in any way related to the PoE", are you referring to the non-standard flavors of the PoE that arise when you consider God as the creator of all things or as omnipresent? (first and second flavor I list above) --Bertrc (talk) 23:30, 4 June 2017 (UTC)
Beuller? --Bertrc (talk) 13:55, 12 June 2017 (UTC)
I presume that's a reminder I haven't responded to you, I don't think "evil is like cold" is a solution to any version of the PoE (it could be the solution to one I haven't heard of though). Christopher (talk) 14:06, 12 June 2017 (UTC)
Aw, Dude, have you never seen Ferris Beuller's day Off"? Sheesh, you millenials make me feel old. :-) Okay, the PoE's in this case are:
PoE flavor 1) Question: If God is good and God created everything, why did he create evil? The "Evil is like cold" analogy answers this by saying "God did not create evil any more than energy creates cold." --Bertrc (talk) 14:51, 12 June 2017 (UTC)
PoE flavor 2) Question: If God is good and God is everywhere, goodness must be everywhere, so how can evil exist anywhere? The "Evil is like cold" analogy answers this by saying "In the same way that energy is everywhere, God is everywhere, however, just as we feel cold if there is not enough energy present so to do we see the evil in a situation if there is not enough of God's presence." --Bertrc (talk) 14:51, 12 June 2017 (UTC)
So does that explain a bit better how the "Evil is like Cold" analogy can be deployed in response to those two flavors of the PoE and why I feel using "Benevolent" is a strawman, so we should use "Good" in the article? (Ugh, why does auto-correct keep changing my spelling of "flavour"?) --Bertrc (talk) 02:49, 22 June 2017 (UTC)
I'm still wondering why God chooses to operate in a way that's completely indistinguishable from there being no God. Christopher (talk) 07:17, 22 June 2017 (UTC)
. . . Okay . . . I guess we could start a section on that question, but it is a bit of a non-sequitur in this one. Here, we were discussing two flavours of the PoE and how the "Evil is like Cold" analogy can be used to refute the claim that those disprove the possibility of an omnipresent, creator God. So, on topic, Does my previous post explain a bit better how the "Evil is like Cold" analogy can be deployed in response to those two flavors of the PoE and why I feel using "Benevolent" is a strawman, so we should use "Good" in the article? (Ugh, why does auto-correct keep changing my spelling of "flavour"?) --Bertrc (talk) 01:01, 25 June 2017 (UTC)

Evil and God[edit]

Please define #which Gods# the absence of which constitutes evil - most of us do not believe in one, many or all of (long list of gods) and #most of us are not evil.# 31.51.113.86 (talk) 21:18, 16 July 2017 (UTC)

For the purpose of the "Evil is like Cold" analogy, we're talking about your generic omnipresent, good, creator-of-all-things god. Any one of them fits the purpose. The idea of the analogy is to show that evil does not disprove the possible existence of such a god any more than cold disproves the possible existence of energy. Typically, a flavor of the Judeo/Christian God is used. --Bertrc (talk) 23:07, 17 July 2017 (UTC)

Evil is a positive choice to do wrong, not an absence of deity. (Just because Bendy XVI stated it does not exist does not mean that Limbo does not exist.)

And where does 'the Devil in particular or devils in general' fit into the argument.

The argument is flawed - and #it is not worth# proving that it is wronger than wrong. 31.51.113.86 (talk) 21:18, 16 July 2017 (UTC)

Dunno about the devils or Bendy, but the perspective provided by the analogy is different from the perspective provided by the claim that evil is simply a positive choice to do wrong (nice pun there, btw) Instead, evil is a choice made from a place where God is not sufficiently included, involved or at its center. To phrase it differentl;y -- When you drill down through the various reasons behind a choice, you eventually get to something akin to "I did this because I ultimately derive my sense of worth, joy, meaning, security, etc. from X, Y, ... and Z, and I made this choice because it supports or protects the presence or contribution of X, Y, ... and Z in my life." According to Christianity (some flavors, at least) all those things ultimately driving your choices are the things you worship and the more you worship things that are not God, the less you worship God. The "Evil is like Cold" analogy claims that the less you are worshiping God (ie. the less you ultimately derive your sense of worth, joy, meaning, security, etc. from God) the more evil a choice will be. --Bertrc (talk) 23:07, 17 July 2017 (UTC)

The problem is - there are many belief systems and many Gods and other entities (of various genders including 'Deity all encompassing'), 'opponents of God' (whether or not conventionally 'evil') and 'Gods in conflict with each other' - and this discussion focuses on the #Christian# God.

Are not 'God/the Devil' and 'evil/good' different categories.

If someone who does not believe in a God/is agnostic/believes that there is no interaction between God and the universe decides to live an honourable life and, as far as possible, make the world (or some small section of it) a better place #because it is the right thing to do# are they not living a better life morally than someone motivated primarily by what some external entity/fear of what may happen after their death? 86.146.100.72 (talk) 09:24, 18 July 2017 (UTC)

See? Now this is the kind of general meandering I had meant to have back on the user talk page!!!  :-D Here on the "Evil is like Cold" talk page, we are discussing an analogy that supports the possibility of a good, omni-present, creator God. The Judeo/Christian God is typically used but, as I said, believers of any generic, omni-present, good, creator-of-all-things god could use this analogy to support the possible existence of their god. (By "support" I mean, "counteract claims that the existence of evil disproves a good God could be everywhere and/or disproves a good God could have created everything) --Bertrc (talk) 19:25, 20 July 2017 (UTC)
P.S. You (both?) really need to create your account(s?). --Bertrc (talk) 19:25, 20 July 2017 (UTC)
In response to one point you actually brought up, though, I do not know what you mean by "Living a better life, morally". Without God or some other universal, absolute, external morality, what is your metric for determining who is more or less moral? Your entire paragraph seems to boil down to "Isn't somebody who does the right thing because it is the right thing to do more in the right" which is horribly circular (Normally, I am pointing out this flaw to theists. Needing to point this out to a non-theist is refreshingly novel.  :-) ) Why would your metric be based on motivation? Do I even need to ask what you mean by living an "honourable life" or "mak[ing] the world a better place"? I wouldn't even need to cross Godwin to find situations where people's visions of "honour" and/or "a better place" are, by my estimation, repulsively evil. --Bertrc (talk) 19:25, 20 July 2017 (UTC)
Honour is a strange axiom and I'm not sure why this was suggested because we already have secular axioms as part of our everyday morality. Putting the idividual rights and dignity of equal human beings at the centre of our metric is pretty well established in open western societies and it has become increasingly common for philosophers of ethics to do so because in part numerous ethical systems can be developed from that one single axiom (deontological, utilitarian, virtue ethics) and because exploration of these values can be done in a far more rational and humane way than trying to make sense of the horrifically confused and fatally conflicting mess that the bible is on ethics and the horrific examples that God and his prophets have set throughout the long disturbing moral journey that is the bible from cover to cover. It is also selected as one of the principal axioms because in the last century that secular societies have been freed from religious monopolies on good and bad or from religious, cult or even secular totalitarian societies have shown, we've been able openly talk about, question and reflect on the previous centuries of pointless cruelty, individual suffering, gross inequality and through long open conscious difficult dialogue among all of society (not just a dictatorial church) we've successfully started to stop it (though hardly there yet) with an axiom that has so far consistently shown results. Why focus on pointless cruelty, individual suffering, gross inequality instead of an abstract, supernatural, badly defined entity with rambling sets of ethical suggestions and guidelines and demented laws? Because it's a million times better than the horror fest we've seen throughout nearly all of human history and because modern secular humanist-societies have been tremendously successful in making life bearable for most people. A morality based on such a minimalism of axioms ensures that no law is absolute if it leads to the kind of toxic effect on society and individuals that absolute dictated stupid ridiculous religious laws did for centuries. It is also in part done because it leads to far clearer and more consistent moral arguments which is an essential feature in ethical systems. Even the coded law in the bible and most holy books is a disaster-fest of confusion and highly specific bizarre rules which leads to endless stupid debates about non-problems like "the problem of evil" as opposed to say...the psychology of evil and the prevention of sociopathic behavior and rehabilitation of psychopaths etc. When theologians try to put forward a non-ridiculous non-crazy moral road plan...they radically deviate from the grotesque laws and highly ambiguous commandments that is the bible...and develop a "christian morality", it's pretty similar to secular systems...in which case, the bible and God's law is mostly irrelevant. While indeed putting respect and individual dignity of equal humans as the central axiom of a moral system is subjective (as all first principles are in ethical systems)...it certainly kicks the ass of every holy book based moral nonsense in so many ways, including but not limited to: comprehensibility, consistency, logic, strength in axioms, codifiability, flexibility, efficacy, quantity of suffering, the resulting standard of living in secular societies, lack of pointless cruelty, openess of moral debate, inclusivity of moral debate, and so on and so on. 87.218.193.101 (talk) 00:53, 21 July 2017 (UTC)
Well, if we knew who was logging in from 86.146.100.72, we could ask them why they brought up honour, but, for all we know, you are 86.146.100.72, logging in from a different IP address. That is why you (three?) really need to create your account(s?). --Bertrc (talk) 23:29, 23 July 2017 (UTC)
As for what you wrote, above, I (and a lot of other minorities) would disagree that you need to look back at previous centuries to find pointless cruelty, individual suffering and gross inequality -- let alone that we have "successfully" started to stop it -- I would be tempted to say you are very optimistic, but you seem to imply that the individual mindset held by many contemporary Western secularists is somehow better than other focuses, such as the communal (particularly familial) mindset held in many traditional non-western cultures. That implication is dangerously ethnocentric and (IMHO) is at the root of much of the inequality and individual suffering which occurred in previous centuries and which is occurring, now. Honestly, I believe most problems are caused by people who are certain that their way is best, because what they think is best is usually just an attempt to defend whatever idol they happen to be worshipping (See my post in the earlier fork of this thread for what I mean by "worship") --Bertrc (talk) 23:29, 23 July 2017 (UTC)


I feel some sort of fallacy in arguments[edit]

Just look, first you say that good and evil are human perceptions. Then you use ""man killing wife" example to prove smth. But wait! If evil is a perception, why killing is bad? Killing is a "physical", objective action, it can have any subjective perception. I can think of tens of examples, when one killing someone's wife is a very good thing! (sort of "black widows" or "some psyke women burning children" scenario, etc.) If we say, that moral is completely subjective, we can't argue with any "absolute moral" definitions (like any god-related definitions are). And this is not a contradiction - just a different approach. It means you should split argumentation in two parts: one is about objective-subjective approach and other is about staying in the field of absoluteness. And do not mix them.Teamkiller (talk) 13:23, 3 October 2017 (UTC)

@Teamkiller, hmmmm, when I say evil is analogous to a comparative absence of God, I do not mean that good and evil are merely human perceptions. Saying "That rock is cold but that rock is hot" is a subjective statement; however, underlying the subjective statement, there is an objective truth regarding the heat in the rock (technically, regarding the conduction of heat into and out of the rocks but that is heavily influenced by the actual heat in the rocks; let's assume the rocks have the same conductivity) Anywho, this is akin to evil and good. We subjectively assign a measure of evil/good to an action/situation/decision, but the analogy described in this article claims that there is an objective measure underlying such an assignment: How much is God included in/the driving force behind/at the center of the decision/situation/etc. --Bertrc (talk) 21:37, 19 October 2017 (UTC)
I am not arguing further, just clarifying my position. I've come across at one interesting argument, that while God is omnipresent in physical world, it still may not be omnipresent human thoughts, perception, human subjective "model of the world inside head". And that (degree of His presence in thoughts) is the objective measure of good and evil, because human mind, human soul percept real world only through and with this subjective "model". Objective/subjective attribution is crucial while considering this kind of argumentation. So, yes - while you thoughts is 100% full with God, you killing is good! :) Teamkiller (talk) 11:24, 26 October 2017 (UTC)
@Teamkiller, I'm not sure I quite follow you. This proposed model says that the "goodness" of an action can be measured by looking at what the ultimate motivation of the decision is -- ie. What is ultimately driving it? What are the true foundations of the choice? What thing(s) is/are at the center of the decision, acting as the cornerstone from which all the other blocks of the decision tree are made -- The more that the foundation of the decision is God, the more wholesome/good/healthy the decision is; ie. the more it helps repair this broken world (or, the less it helps break it) Looking at your example, I can imagine a decision to take somebody off life support that could be made from a place where one is truly centered on God; so, yeah, according to this model, if you could truly center your life around God to the extent that Christ did, there might be a situation where killing somebody is the right choice. That's only a guess, though, since I, myself, have a life centered on so many things other than God; if some other option(s) should be taken instead then, if one were truly centered on God, (one of) the other option(s) would be chosen.. --Bertrc (talk) 21:19, 26 October 2017 (UTC)

Take 'somewhere in the middle of nowhere in one of the under-galactified parts of the universe.' Nothing happens apart from particles bubbling in and out of existence and 'some atoms or larger objects' flitting through. There is no real reason for God - or Maxwell's demon - to be there: is this place automatically evil? Anna Livia (talk) 21:32, 26 October 2017 (UTC)

@Anna Livia, I would contest that there is no reason for God to be in a galaxy far, far away; the bubbling of sub-atomic particles into and out of existence is a beautiful harmony of mathematical precision (well, statistical precision, at least) I would particularly disagree with the claim that God is not there. Heck, the whole point of this analogy is to claim that God is everywhere. Its us who bring in other things to jostle with Him at our centers; quarks and bosons, on the other hand, know how to align their lives properly. --Bertrc (talk) 15:19, 27 October 2017 (UTC)
I was referring to the galactic voids (where there is no obvious reason for God, the Devil or a police box to be) rather than a place of light sabres and the Force; apart from those who believe that 'God' (or 'the spirit of creation' etc) and 'the universe' are identical - 'good' and 'evil' require entities with sufficient awareness (however defined) to understand that there is a choice (but 'the right choice' and 'the wrong choice' do not map directly to 'good' and 'evil') - and the 'absence of God' (singular or collective) may not necessarily be 'evil.'
@Anna Livia, :-D Yes, I know. I referred to a galaxy far far away, but only mentioned quarks and such. I'm not sure I agree that 'good' and 'evil' require entities with sufficient awareness. The analogy of this article does not equate evil and good to the sound of a tree falling in the woods with nobody to hear it. Let me propose some additional possible perspectives on good and evil: Existence is broken because we have put something other than God at the center (or, to compete with God at the center) The universe is not meant to work that way, so it breaks. We call this brokenness "evil"; when we witness the effects of this brokenness, we also use the term "evil." At the edges of the universe, I would not be surprised if existence is properly orbiting around God and is therefore not yet broken. I think I would agree that "evil" might require entities that extend beyond the physical world and are therefore able to put something other than God at the center of their existence. --Bertrc (talk) 19:25, 27 October 2017 (UTC)

... and what about 'unintended and long term consequences' (because of Katyn the Polish notables died in a plane accident in 2010 - is Stalin responsible for their deaths?) Anna Livia (talk) 21:35, 26 October 2017 (UTC)

Not sure what you mean about unintended consequences. I think "The Matrix" is a better analogy for that than "evil is like cold". When we have things other than God competing with Him as our foundation, everything breaks down; God simply found a much more sacrificial way of correcting the equation than Neo. --Bertrc (talk) 15:19, 27 October 2017 (UTC)
Unintended consequences - as in [1]. Anna Livia (talk) 15:41, 27 October 2017 (UTC)
...Sorry, I'm still missing it. What part of that article applies to the the nature of good and evil or the omni-presence of God?--Bertrc (talk) 19:25, 27 October 2017 (UTC)
Some things are done with good intent but create a worse situation/problems elsewhere - and the reverse. If you do things which God approves of but which results in decreasing God's influence is what you do good or evil? If you cause damage with malicious intent but this leads to legislation which has a net beneficial effect ditto?
Do 'doing good' and 'doing evil' have to have a conscious component - and 'it is my nature to do ...' does have this deliberative component.
And does someone who says 'I do not believe in God (etc)/I am agnostic' but still acts to 'do good/improve the world' etc do good or evil? Anna Livia (talk) 11:54, 28 October 2017 (UTC)
@Anna Livia, But what do you mean by "doing good"? How do you define doing something with a "good intent"? Your post seems to presuppose some undefined, objective measure of good and evil; you then seem concerned that this objective measure is not robust or consistent. The analogy raised in this article tries to give a less amorphous definition of good and evil. The analogy claims that evil reflects a comparative lack of God's inclusion; evil is akin to how darkness reflects a comparative lack of light. Specifically, it is not so much your intent or "God's approval" that determines how good or bad your decision is, but, rather, how much your decision is driven from a place centered on God. Certainly, intent and God's approval might correlate with centering yourself on God but I would propose that such a correlation is because intent and God's approval are derived by how much you center your life on God. --Bertrc (talk) 21:16, 30 October 2017 (UTC)
Separately, I think you are also wondering about good/evil actions and good/evil situations. I do not think that good actions eliminate evil situations. A homeless man might use his meager resources to bring food to some other starving homeless family. The homeless man's action might have goodness/wholeness in it, but the situation is still evil/broken (and the situation is due to so many other decisions made by so many other people from a place not centered on God) Let's make it even more awful: As an unintended consequence of what the homeless man did, some biker gang sees the homeless family with food and, assuming the family had money for the food, beats them up and robs them. In such a case, I would propose that the homeless man's action still might have had goodness in it; the biker gang's action . . . not so much. --Bertrc (talk) 21:16, 30 October 2017 (UTC)
See my comments in the next section. Anna Livia (talk) 22:42, 30 October 2017 (UTC)

The basic problem[edit]

... is that 'God' and 'evil' are to some extent 'different categories'

Either God (however defined and in whatever number etc) is present in the whole of the universe - in which case there is no 'absence of God' - or there is a partial overlap (as with the universe consisting of 'things' and 'spaces between things') in which case the absence of God is a natural part of the universe.

Then what actually are 'good' and 'evil' and with what are they associated? Can 'inanimate objects' be good or evil 'of their nature'? Simple life (of whatever category - those on Earth such as animal, vegetable or mushroom, or those found elsewhere) - pondweed, diatoms etc? Creatures which have 'personalities' and which can plan ahead/use their ingenuity (pets, tool using birds etc)? Or only those which understand what 'good' and 'evil' (among many other things)? What happens if 'God' is evil/asks you to do things which are wrong or in contradiction with previous utterances/there are conflicts of interest between 'the Gods'?

Is it 'better' to do the right thing (and as little as possible of 'the wrong things' because God tells you to - or 'whether or not there is a God it is the right thing to do'? Anna Livia (talk) 11:01, 29 October 2017 (UTC)

@Anna Livia, well in answer to your first bit, I think this woefully insufficient analogy claims that God is everywhere, but that He is included to greater and lesser degrees. When you choose some course of action from a place where you are ultimately depending on or hoping for something other than God, then you are challenging God's place as your foundation; you are making Him share that spot with whatever else you are worshiping. This analogy claims that having less of a focus on God is akin to having less light in your room. Just as having less light makes things darker, having less of a focus on God makes a situation and decision more evil. eg. If you make a decision primarily because you want money or power or acclaim or even family, then that decision is more evil and broken (less good and wholesome) than if you made it primarily because you want God. I think that is a bit of an answer to your question: "Then what actually are 'good' and 'evil'". 'Good' is God's presence; 'evil' is a comparative lack of God's presence. As for the mushrooms and diatoms, I think diluting God's presence at the center of our lives dilutes His presence in the world. There are definitely repercussions in nature and the world. Look at the state of our environment; it is broken and we face evil in the natural world because we have put stuff that is not divine at the center of things (money, luxury, power, etc. which leads to pollution, global warming, ozone loss, etc.) Heck, I believe that one lesson we are supposed to learn from the whole Moses/Egypt/plague story is that when we worship anything other than God then entire world falls apart. --Bertrc (talk) 13:10, 31 October 2017 (UTC)
Separately, you ask things like "What happens if God asks you to do things which are wrong" and "Is it better to do the right thing [because God tells you vs because it is the right thing to do]". I think this analogy says it is better to do things because your sufficiency comes from God, rather than doing things because your sufficiency comes from popularity or money or anything other than God. The things God tells us to do, perhaps, are to help us recognize when we are not depending fully on Him and to help us to come back to Him. I think we recognize when we do wrong; we hear our conscience speaking to us. eg. If you lie about how much you contributed to a project a work, our conscience (or, perhaps, God) will ask us to search ourselves and to realize we lied because we feel we will only be worth something if we get that promotion; if we accepted that our worth comes from God loving us, then we wouldn't have the desperate need for approbation and we wouldn't lie in order to get it. --Bertrc (talk) 13:30, 31 October 2017 (UTC)
So many words, and not answering the points.
What I am saying is that the absence of God (however defined) may well be just that.
Can pondweed believe in God?
Consider 'a place in the universe which contains a bubbling of particles and one actual object passing through in the entire lifespan of the universe' - (there are likely to be places approaching this.) If God exists there, then the initial question is redundant.
Consider two people: one has a belief in a deity, but still actively chooses to do evil things, cause destruction, badmouths people etc, and the other is atheist/agnostic/other position of a similar nature, but, as far as they possibly can strives to make the world a better place or at least leave things as they are, and money or popularity etc are not part of the equation.
Pascal's wager may be relevant in the context of the discussion. Anna Livia (talk) 17:14, 31 October 2017 (UTC)
@Bertrc God is everywhere or he is in most places but absent somewhere. You cannot have both no matter how much you wish it were so. We never said "when evil happens God is indeed still everywhere but less than normal in this case". The claim is "evil is the ABSENCE of God". It cannot be more concise and clear. The term "Evil is the absence of God" is completely different to your watered down appologetic of "absolute concurrent with shades of non-absolute" argument. They are of two totally different statements and they are not compatible. At least one of those statements (if not both) are wrong. ShabiDOO 20:59, 31 October 2017 (UTC)
And if 'the various gods' divide up the universe/multiverse between them - with 'God of the Gaps' taking on 'the absence places' where is evil to be found?
Your rendering of 'my analogy' #is not what I said#.
Various quotes - 'We are free to do as we wish, but we have to choose to do rightly'; 'The evil that men do...'; 'A fool has said in his heart that there is no God'; and there are others: there is a sentiment that 'evil' (and 'good' etc) has an active component - so is there a category error here? Anna Livia (talk) 23:28, 31 October 2017 (UTC)
@Anna Livia, yeah, I tend to ramble. You seem bring up two points; I will create two separate sections and try more concisely propose and answer to each. You seem to be asking "Is God in Nature?" and "Can you do evil by centering yourself on God" --Bertrc (talk) 01:48, 3 November 2017 (UTC)
@Shabidoo, I think you feel I am trying to have my cake and eat it to; that I am saying "God is everywhere but there are places where God is not." I don't feel I am but let me break that out into its own section (and I apologize ahead of time to poor RBP, who, if he reads this, is going to have to see me try to explain this concept again!  ;-) )--Bertrc (talk) 01:48, 3 November 2017 (UTC)

Is God in Nature[edit]

Anna Livia asked "Can pondweed believe in God?" and "Is God out there where sub-atomic particles flitter in and out of existence?" (Anna also asked me not to write so much) --Bertrc (talk) 01:48, 3 November 2017 (UTC)

I would say pond weed cannot believe in God because it cannot think; however, imho, God is present in pondweed and among the bubbling sub-atomic particles. --Bertrc (talk) 01:48, 3 November 2017 (UTC)
. . . I can't help myself! I have to elaborate! (But I will leave the concise answer untouched, above) Anna talks about believing in God and thinking about Him, but that is not really an aspect of my thesis, here. Christians, for the most part, believe that all of creation was designed to be founded upon, invested in and centered on God. Consider somebody who commits suicide if they lose their wealth; their identity was tied up in wealth an/or influence and/or accomplishment; having those threatened can destroy such a person because what they were founding their life upon is at risk of abandoning them. A person in such circumstance didn't just think about or believe in money; instead, money was their reason for being. For somebody who commits suicide because of a break-up/divorce, their idol is that other person. Whatever we found our lives on will devastate us if it is taken away --Bertrc (talk) 01:48, 3 November 2017 (UTC)
As for nature, nature would be fine and whole -- centered on God and balanced -- if we had not started putting things other than God at our center. From then on, everything began to break and we started being aware of the difference between when God is fully and solely at the center of existence and when other things start challenging His position there. ie. that is why and when we started noticing "evil". --Bertrc (talk) 01:48, 3 November 2017 (UTC)
Again this belief in one God and that Christian - what about the non-Christians (which will probably include 'sentients #everywhere else in the universe#')? Anna Livia (talk) 22:48, 6 November 2017 (UTC)
As I said in an earlier post, this analogy can be used for any run-of-the-mill, good, present, creator-of-all-things god. The Judeo-Christian God is the most common example. If such a god exists, then this analogy explains a possible reason as to why we experience evil and a possible perspective as to the nature of evil. If such a god does not exist . . . Well, believers in some non-present and/or non-good and/or non-creator-of-all-things god(s) will have to come up with their own rebuttals for arguments that their god(s) does not exist and will have to come up with their own analogies for understanding the nature of evil. --Bertrc (talk) 20:18, 7 November 2017 (UTC)

Can you do evil by centering yourself on God[edit]

Anna Livia asked us to consider two people: one has a belief in a deity, but still actively chooses to do evil things, cause destruction, badmouths people etc, and the other is atheist/agnostic/other position of a similar nature, but, as far as they possibly can strives to make the world a better place or at least leave things as they are, and money or popularity etc are not part of the equation. --Bertrc (talk) 01:48, 3 November 2017 (UTC)

There isn't really a question in that post, but considering this, I would ask "Why is the person who is bad mouthing people choosing to bad mouth them?" --Bertrc (talk) 01:48, 3 November 2017 (UTC)
I do think there is an unspoken question in Anna's post: "In light of your thesis that evil comes from having things in addition to God as our foundation, how would you explain the person who believes in God doing evil?" I would say that, even though the person believes in God, they are still forging their identity from things other than God. There were not many specifics in Anna's post, but, f'rinstance, if the bad-mouther's sense of worth comes from their position at work, they would probably bad-mouth people whom they feel threaten their position at work. Within the terminology of this analogy, the believer is not doing evil because he or she is centering themselves on God any more than you can make something colder by adding more energy to it [1]; it is the things at the person's center, other than God, that are leading to the evil and brokenness. --Bertrc (talk) 01:48, 3 November 2017 (UTC)
This is not what I said.
What about all the Christians who have caused much suffering #in the name of God#? Anna Livia (talk) 22:50, 6 November 2017 (UTC)
. . . What about them? Your question is not really clear. Can you be more specific? Are you asking: "In light of your thesis that evil comes from having things in addition to God as our foundation, how could people cause much suffering in the name of God?" If so, I would explain it by saying, although they claim to be doing something in the name of God, they are actually doing it in the name of something else -- For example, we tend to have guilty consciences and desperately want to consider ourselves to be "good". If you have a foundation that includes "considering yourself to be 'good'" instead of having God, Himself, as your only foundation, then you will likely try to classify other people as "bad" so that you can consider yourself "good" by comparison. (at least, according to this analogy) Classifying others as "bad" just so that you can classify yourself as "good" will cause suffering, even if you erroneously claim to be doing it in the name of God. --Bertrc (talk) 20:29, 7 November 2017 (UTC)
If your underlying question is not "In light of your thesis that evil comes from having things in addition to God as our foundation, how could people cause much suffering in the name of God?" then could you ask a question that is more specific than "What about [them]?"  :-P~  ;-) --Bertrc (talk) 20:29, 7 November 2017 (UTC)
  1. Yes, you can make one part of a system colder by adding energy to another part of the system, but, unless you take that energy out, the system, as a whole, is not colder. You could also make something colder by adding energy to it and having that energy expand the thing, but let's assume volume remains constant. Come on, no analogy is perfect  :-P~

Can God be everywhere without being everywhere equally[edit]

Shabidoo said: "God is everywhere or he is in most places but absent somewhere. You cannot have both no matter how much you wish it were so." --Bertrc (talk) 01:48, 3 November 2017 (UTC)

Comparing evil to cold and darkness is not simply saying God is absent; that is just shorthand (and why I tend to say God is comparatively absent) The analogy tries to say that there is less of his presence and influence; that the situation is less than fully centered on him. To draw a more direct parallel to the analogy of this article: When you say your soup is cold, you are not really saying that there is no heat in the soup; you are actually commenting that there is less heat in the soup than in whatever you are comparing it to and/or than in your tongue. --Bertrc (talk) 01:48, 3 November 2017 (UTC)

Response to Bertrc[edit]

You state that God is everywhere/is the universe - therefore there is no 'absence of God' - whether evil or not.

You imply that to some extent evil is a matter of what people choose to do (or choose not to do) - possibly others would agree with you here - and in a Christian context - which others might well not agree with - not whether they accept God or a specific (ie Christian) God.

The statement is thus incorrect - and a conflation of 'a state of existence' and 'a deliberate course of action.'

Given that the creation of organic chemicals (by various means) appears to be a natural process and that 'life of various kinds in general' as well as 'sentient life in particular' has occurred once, and there is considered to be the possibility of 'life of some form' having emerged elsewhere in the Solar System, and the length of time 'the Universe' is expected to persist in which the situation can arise, then it is logical to assume that non-sentient life and, possibly/probably sentient life will emerge elsewhere on occasion (see the Drake equation for discussions on number-crunching). Either 'the sentients that emerge will, unlike us, be so innately 'good' they do not need 'saving' #or# they will be the same range of 'good', 'doing the best that they can', 'doing wrong' and 'doing evil' that we do - so how does 'the Deity (singular or plural, of many, one, or no genders as we understand it, Christian or otherwise)' deal with the latter situation? Does 'Christ' have to die many timesto redeem the sentients of the universe or are those who can never be aware of what happens on Earth condemned no matter what they do? Anna Livia (talk) 10:25, 7 November 2017 (UTC)

So many words!! So many topics!  :-P~  ;-) --Bertrc (talk) 20:59, 7 November 2017 (UTC)

Is Evil a matter of what people choose to do[edit]

I did not imply that evil is a matter of what people choose to do. My proposal/implication is that evil is a matter of why people choose to do something; ie. What have they centered their life on which is driving their decisions. What they choose to do, I believe, is simply a side-effect of this why; ie. When we are centered on something in addition to God, then our choices make the world around us centered on something in addition to God. Brokenness and evil in this universe comes from a centeredness that includes anything other than God. --Bertrc (talk) 20:59, 7 November 2017 (UTC)

You are saying that people 'in some manner' choose to do things which are not God-centric.
Is evil in your definition giving topics other than (your) God priority - many others would define evil as 'deliberately making the world or the context in which one or many people live a worse one out of malice..' Anna Livia (talk) 23:25, 7 November 2017 (UTC)
I agree with those others. I also think "deliberately [hurting others] out of malice" is evil; however, I think that that is a very narrow definition of evil. If that were the definition of evil, then I think avoiding evil actions would be much easier; unfortunately, avoiding evil actions is not easy. Consider when I avoid calling a friend who is in need because my time, at the time, is too precious; or when I avoid eye contact with a homeless person because I can't bear the guilty conscience of not doing more for them; or when I mislead people on how far along I am on a project because I worry about my standing at work. At those times, imho, I am not acting out of malice nor am I deliberately trying to make people's lives worse; in spite of this, as a side effect of my actions, I am making people's lives worse and I am doing evil. I take these actions in order to protect something(s) at the root of my being; something(s) that I look to for my ultimate sense of security or joy or worth or identity; something(s) other than God. --Bertrc (talk) 01:31, 9 November 2017 (UTC)
I guess I am proposing looking at the nature of evil from a different perspective -- using a different paradigm, as it were -- Contrary to your first post, I'm not really pointing out that people choose to do things that are not God centric. I am pointing out that their lives are not God centric -- or, more specifically, that their lives are centered on other things in addition to God -- imho, having a life that is not God centric is why we choose to do things that are not God centric. Let me ask you: What is something that you need? Something that will devastate you if you lose it? Does the risk of losing some particular thing paralyze you? That thing is something that you worship, and your decisions and actions are driven from it. Your choices will be designed to revel in, savor, take shelter within and enjoy it. Your decisions will also be designed to protect its presence and inclusion in your life. For example, if your ultimate joy comes from luxury instead of from God loving you, then you will probably need money, which means you will need that job, which means you will need standing among your peers which will lead you to lie about how far along you are in a project or to bad mouth a colleague whom you see as a threat . . . which is evil. --Bertrc (talk) 01:31, 9 November 2017 (UTC)

How does God deal with Aliens[edit]

First, I'll see your Drake equation and raise you one Fermi paradox.  :-) --Bertrc (talk) 20:59, 7 November 2017 (UTC)

I assume God deals with aliens the same way He deals with us. To-wit, if there is any accuracy in the analogy of this article, they are evil to the extent that they worship things other than Him (ie. to the extent that they look to things other than God and His love for worth, identity, ultimate joy, security, peace, etc.) To that extent, imho, they break the world, they break themselves and they break the community; ie. they cause evil. --Bertrc (talk) 20:59, 7 November 2017 (UTC)
What happens if they worship other gods (which may be of different or complex genders)? Anna Livia (talk) 23:26, 7 November 2017 (UTC)
Sure. They probably have non-divine things that inform their choices and decisions, in addition to God, just like we do. In the same way that my idolizing of social position leads to evil (and clouds my understanding of God) so would evil result from anything aliens have, other than God, from which they derive their sense of worth, identity, etc. Hmmm, you probably did not mean that, though. What did you mean by "worship"? What did you mean by "other gods"? --Bertrc (talk) 22:35, 8 November 2017 (UTC)
The Fermi paradox isn't much of a paradox. Imagine a "nearby" alien civilisation. Would it know we exist? I highly doubt that, yet we continue to exist regardless of whether anything else notices. —Kazitor, pending 06:20, 8 November 2017 (UTC)
The paradox is not about them knowing we exist. It is about us knowing they exist. There's certainly a chance that we are the first civilization to reach this level of development but there's, like, a 100 billion stars in the galaxy. Fermi's paradox is saying that some of them should have had planets with life that reach our level of technology, in which case we should be seeing some sort of evidence. The galaxy is only 100K light years across. 100K years is not even a drop thirty gallons in the ocean of time. Heck, there are over a hundred stars within fifty light years of us. If any of them have civilizations at our level or beyond, we probably would have noticed them. --Bertrc (talk) 22:35, 8 November 2017 (UTC)
"If any of them have civilizations at our level or beyond, we probably would have noticed them." I disagree, like I said, would anyone notice us? If other civilisations wouldn't notice us, why would we notice them? —Kazitor, pending 00:35, 11 November 2017 (UTC)
It is ridiculous to assume we would notice other civilizations. We don't even know about millions of species of deep underwater life here on Earth and have barely studied a fraction of Earth's microorganisms. We can only work out the bare details of Earth sized planets in just a few solar systems and only in systems relatively close to Earth. Our technology is extremely primitive in its utter infancy and there is no reason all civilizations should be as curious as humans are. Sometimes staying in your own little burrow/cave is a good per natural selection. There have been dozens of answers to the Fermi Paradox (which by the way isn't a paradox nor by Fermi). Most of them are totally rational and as good as speculative answers can get. They range from "were the first" to "they are uninterested in us" to "they are too far away" to "non-interference" to "they are so different we cannot perceive them as life" and so on. This link has a pretty good explanation of the paradox for us laymen and laywomen. ShabiDOO 18:58, 12 November 2017 (UTC)
I dunno about that. We're sitting here on earth regularly broadcasting signals using millions of watts as part of our info sphere. How far away would a 10 million watt signal be detectable by a civilization at our level of development (or by us)? And that is just our day-to-day activity; SETI claims that ARECIBO was the equivalent of trillions of watts -- albeit, it was a very focused signal but I'm sure there have been several additional deliberate overpowered signals sent out -- I'd say FERMI's paradox still stands: If some other civilization in the milky-way reached our level of development within the past 100K years (or among the 500 stars within 100 light-years, over the past 100 years) why haven't their run-of-the-mill signals (let alone any deliberate signals) been noticed? Maybe life is common but we are simply the first; after all, somebody has to be. Maybe intelligent life is prohibitively rare which means we might be the only ones but that also seems unlikely . . . doo DOO doo Doo DOO doooooooo --Bertrc (talk) 21:23, 15 November 2017 (UTC)

Did Christ have to die for aliens[edit]

*whew-boy* Okay, this steps a bit away from the analogy of this article and into the questions of what salvation is and why Christ died. I need a breather before I try to tackle explaining my beliefs on those but I want to keep a place-holder. --Bertrc (talk) 20:59, 7 November 2017 (UTC)

Does Christ die once or many times? Do the aliens know they have been saved? -- Anna Livia (talk) 23:39, 7 November 2017 (UTC)
I would assume once. We are talking about an omnipotent creator of all that exists but who knows? Maybe there is some particular metaphysical suffering unique to the aliens. I guess it would depend on the aliens. --Bertrc (talk) 22:16, 8 November 2017 (UTC)
Those on RW tend to have a different philosophical view of the universe of the universe and the inhabitants thereof to you - and might well apply the cosmological principle to other sentient species (they will be the same mixture of positive and negative as us). -- Anna Livia (talk) 23:39, 7 November 2017 (UTC)
. . . Not sure if there is a question there. I prefer the view that any aliens would be able to screw things up just like us to Lewis' idea of aliens that did not fall. --Bertrc (talk) 22:16, 8 November 2017 (UTC)
How does this book fit into your argument? Anna Livia (talk) 23:39, 7 November 2017 (UTC)
. . . Um. It is a book and books are part of creation. My argument is that creation, community and ourselves are all broken/imperfect because God is not the sole foundation/center/heart. So . . . I guess that book fits into my argument as . . . something else that is imperfect and broken because there are probably things in addition to God at its heart? I dunno.  :-D Is there something in the plot of that book which you feel has particular bearing on my argument? --Bertrc (talk) 22:16, 8 November 2017 (UTC)
This post is just moving down my place holder for explaining my beliefs on salvation and Christ's death. I feel like I would if somebody asked me to explain derivations while I was still miserably failing to explain addition. --Bertrc (talk) 22:16, 8 November 2017 (UTC)
It has probably dropped off most 'vaguely interested' RWians's look-at list.
The discussion topics I tend to highlight potential lines of questioning for general discussion (rather than answering them myself).
The issue here seems to be that you are using several overlapping definitions.
Is your definition of 'God in the Universe' best described as something like a galaxy - there are places where there are 'things' (from stars and black holes down to dust) and areas where there is 'a present absence of things but where over time there may well be such.'
Possibly your definition of evil needs to be divided up. There is what is generally defined as evil - doing bad things at least partly by intent or inclination (but the intent - good, neutral or bad - may have unintended consequences) and there is 'not being God orientated' (and specifically the Christian God that you adhere to).
The specific question you have to answer - if someone decides to do the right thing (or at least avoid doing things which have negative consequences) without considering whether it is what God wants them to do (or possibly because it is what their God, not being the Christian one, and not for the reasons promoted by the Christian God) what are the consequences for them? Anna Livia (talk) 11:24, 9 November 2017 (UTC)
. . . Well, if we stick my definitions of "the right thing" and "negative consequences" into your question, it becomes: "If someone decides to do something that centers the world more on God (or, at least, avoids throwing the world more off balance by centering it on things in addition to God) without considering whether it is what God wants them to do . . . what are the consequences for them?" To which my answer would be: "They get to live in a world that is less evil and broken than it was before." Unfortunately, I don't think that that is the response you are looking for. So, before I can answer your specific question, the specific question you have to answer is: What do you mean by "Doing the right thing" and "Negative consequences"? --Bertrc (talk) 22:06, 10 November 2017 (UTC)
Separately, the fact that you bring "Without considering what God wants" as a qualifier leads me to infer that you are missing my point. I do not believe evil is an issue of consideration; instead, I am proposing that evil is an issue of one's identity. We do not, ultimately, consider what the objects of our worship want; the closest I can think of is that, if necessary, we consider how to avoid losing the presence and involvement of the things we have founded our lives upon. For example, if you gain your feeling of worth from popularity, you don't consider what popularity wants; instead, you act in ways that you hope will prevent you from losing popularity. Let's take the example of centering your life and joy on some romantic partner. Sure, you might be considerate of what they want, but, in the end, that is just to make sure they don't leave you. I have had several friends (and I have known ex'es of some of my friends) who have become absolutely destroyed and/or unhinged when their significant other leaves them -- I'm talking about complete paralyzation of their lives, restraining order levels of obsession and/or near suicidal levels of wretchedness -- Believe me, they were not being considerate about what their significant other wanted (which was to stop dating them) --Bertrc (talk) 22:06, 10 November 2017 (UTC)
This line is yet another place holder post, under which I hope to write what will probably be an abysmally long (and, likely, simply abysmal) post on my beliefs around salvation and why Christ had to die. Please don't post under this one. Just post under whatever response I have above that you are responding to. --Bertrc (talk) 22:06, 10 November 2017 (UTC)
@Bertec "centers the world more on God". That isn't a definition re: "doing the right thing". Thats just a vague elliptical rewording of "doing the right thing". Definition....it is not. As for "negative consequences" it really sounds almost exactly like "psychologically living in your own personally created interrior hell" in which case, you can dispense with the God part of it and it still makes sense. ShabiDOO 23:05, 10 November 2017 (UTC)
The problem, Bertrc, is #your# definitions, and the #Christian# God - and why do you concentrate on 'courting popularity' (when people operate on a far wider range of motives)? Are you saying some people are born evil? -- Anna Livia (talk) 23:12, 10 November 2017 (UTC)
@Anna Livia, well, if God does not exist in any way recognizable to the way I believe Him to exist, then I'm just plain wrong. You need to understand that I am proposing a possible way that the metaphysical laws (and, even, the physical laws) of our universe work. Thus, if I am correct (or, at least, not completely wrong) then I'm not describing the Christian God; I'm simply describing God. If I'm wrong, well, then the whole thing gets thrown out the window. To put it another way: Whether you agree with my beliefs or not does not affect whether my beliefs are somewhat on the right track or way the heck off base; my beliefs are somewhat on the right track or way the heck off base regardless of whether you agree with them. --Bertrc (talk) 22:12, 15 November 2017 (UTC)
Oh, I just brought up popularity as an example. I think "motive" is too weak a term for what I am describing but I certainly agree that people found their identity on a wide range of things in addition to God. Didn't you notice that I have also brought up wealth, family, and "being a good person" as examples of idols that people worship? Those are not meant to be a comprehensive list, either. You have to examine your own life in order to glimpse the things you worship. What is something that would utterly devastate you if you lost it? You can even come at it in steps: Is there something whose loss worries you enough that you would tell a lie simply to protect its presence in your life? Does its loss worry you because losing it would put something even more important at risk? Is that second thing important because it protects or supports something even more crucial to you? Rinse and repeat until you get to things that you cannot even imagine losing. --Bertrc (talk) 22:12, 15 November 2017 (UTC)
Nah, I've never really believed we are evil or sinners at birth. I think it is when we start building our lives and identities around things other than God that we become sinners. --Bertrc (talk) 22:12, 15 November 2017 (UTC)
RWians appear to be more inclusive about what constitutes goodness/doing the right thing than you. -- Anna Livia (talk) 23:12, 10 November 2017 (UTC)
@Anna Livia, perhaps. IMHO it is not really fair to make that comparison when you won't give me a very solid definition of what RWians think constitutes goodness/doing the right thing. If we assume your definition of "doing the right thing" is the opposite of your earlier definition of evil, then I agree with you; after all, my definition of doing the right thing excludes "deliberately [hurting others] out of malice" while your definition of doing the right thing includes avoiding eye contact with a homeless person because you cannot bear the guilt of not doing more for them.  ;-)  :-P~ So, the specific question you have to answer is: What do you mean by "Doing the right thing" and "Negative consequences"? --Bertrc (talk) 22:12, 15 November 2017 (UTC)
Perhaps you should discuss things with KingDamien1 (sp?) who appears to share similar views. Anna Livia (talk) 23:12, 10 November 2017 (UTC)
He doesn't reply to me!!!!  :_(  ;-) What about his views do you think are similar to mine? Most of the limited selections of his posts that I have read seem focused on intolerance due to a self assurance that he has a completely correct understanding of what actions are pleasing to and accepted by God (Sorry, @Kingdamian1 but that is my impression) I, on the other hand, try to focus on the self-assurance that, although I am a miserably sinful human being, I, myself, am completely accepted by God (I also try to focus on the belief that centering my identity and life more fully on Him will lead to me doing actions that are more pleasing and acceptable to Him) --Bertrc (talk) 22:12, 15 November 2017 (UTC)
@Shabidoo, personally, I have tons of subjective, imprecise definitions for doing the right thing that try to express my awareness of the specific objective definition. What is your definition of doing the right thing? --Bertrc (talk) 22:21, 15 November 2017 (UTC)
*sigh* I'm never going to be able to save a place holder, am I?  ;-) --Bertrc (talk) 22:21, 15 November 2017 (UTC)

Shakespeare[edit]

How many RWians think there is more to heaven and earth than in this philosophy? Anna Livia (talk) 10:20, 8 November 2017 (UTC)

Sure. Why not. Our understanding of reality will always be incomplete. And that's fine. But we don't want to just make stuff up. Computers Other human beings help us to solve problems we wouldn't have without them.
RSamys (bla) 12:15, 8 November 2017 (UTC)
My goodness, I certainly hope that there is more to existence than what my limitted mind can come up with!!! I guarantee that RBP hopes that heaven and earth are not like my philosophy!  :-P~  ;-) --Bertrc (talk) 21:58, 8 November 2017 (UTC)
There is more to everything than Earth and the "post-braindeath-land". There's also the sun, the solarsystem, countless small objects and dust, the space inbetween it all, dark matter, the molecules which transmit the four forces, a history of the past mediated through special relativity...and so on and so on. That's a looooooooooooooooooooot more than a heaven made of Gold with Jeweled gates floating on a cloud. A whole lot more. ShabiDOO 22:54, 10 November 2017 (UTC)
But most of us would enjoy exploring the various heavens that are stated to exist should we find ourselves there - and, no doubt, contributing to their versions of the Wikiverse. (Given the Wikiverse's popularity #of course# it would be an essential part of 'Heaven and its equivalents' for those so inclined.) Anna Livia (talk) 10:51, 11 November 2017 (UTC)
Hehehe. Of course it would be fun to explore all those strange and wonderous heavens. Im sure we'd have a total blast. For the first million years. And then...ugh...meh. Even if there were an infinite number of unique, engaging, surprising realms of heaven, after checking out number 423,416 I can imagine being pretty worn out by it all. That is...unless every day things became more and more joyous and we were enveloped by a growing light within us that brought love and contentment and happiness. That might not get old if it kept getting better and better. But then, that just sounds like one endless morphine trip with an endlessly increasing dose yet no chance of overdosing. So...at what point do you become a mindless dazed and googly eyed addict? And while I'm at it...why is it that an emerald studded gate made of pure gold with pearl trimming...in heaven be necesary if all we do in heaven is surround god and grovel on the ground praising God endlessly? You could just have an old creaky wooden gate and it would be equally irrelevant. I'm just saying. ShabiDOO 02:27, 14 November 2017 (UTC)
There are many gates to many different parts of heaven, not all praise of God will involve singing (and given how some people 'sing' God is duly grateful for this)- and a butterfly would wonder what we do with all our years of life.
Hell and Purgatory (even if one is not Catholic most people are occasionally slightly naughty/do what is convenient rather than what is right etc after all so 'detention to make up for all' this seems reasonable) will also be far more complex than we can imagine.
Going back to the original thesis - a distinction should be made between 'the absence of God' and 'the absence of considering God' (whether the specific God of the proponents of such statements or 'a deity that particularly resonates with the person) - and between 'evil' (which has a component of active choice) and 'indifference' (and its other equally passive equivalents). Anna Livia (talk) 10:12, 14 November 2017 (UTC)
@Anna Livia . . . What does that last post of yours have to do with Shakespeare? --Bertrc (talk) 22:23, 15 November 2017 (UTC)
Read the first few words of my comment. Anna Livia (talk) 09:53, 16 November 2017 (UTC)
@Anna Livia, I was poking fun at you. It went over about as well as most of my jokes, I suppose.  ;-) My implied question was: Why are you bringing up the original thesis in this thread about Shakespeare, instead of bringing it up in one of the threads about the original thesis (or bringing it up in a new thread) --Bertrc (talk) 00:16, 22 November 2017 (UTC)
Comparing 100 years to eternity never goes well. They are incomparable. 1 minute or 100,000 years are virtually the same compared to eternity. As for butterflies living 100 years, I'm pretty sure it would be an agonizing time for them living well past their prime and rotting away over the years. Also...butterflies don't know what humans are or how long they live nor can they imagine how life would be if they lived longer. As for the gates of heaven, there aren't any at all, just in the imagination of people who think the bible is more than a bizarre artifact reproduced with cheap ink printed on cheap thin paper. As for Shakespeare...I too wonder what he has to do with "evil is the absence of God". I've read half his plays and remember nothing of the sort. ShabiDOO 01:51, 18 November 2017 (UTC)
Bertrc - I was 'considering the poor little archive bot which gets confused with too many active threads'; Shabidoo - a reference to the Hamlet 1.5.167-8 quote at the beginning of this section (which is probably the motto of RW). Anna Livia (talk) 12:57, 22 November 2017 (UTC)
Yes, one of hundreds of religion quotes by the Bard, but what does that have to do with "evil is the absence of God"? I cannot think of a single work of literature, theatrical drama or cinema that deals with "Evil is the absence of God" other than the Karimazov Brothers (and even then only sort of). ShabiDOO 17:19, 23 November 2017 (UTC)
There is more to developing Rationalwiki than persisting in this discussion. Anna Livia (talk) 19:30, 24 November 2017 (UTC)