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Talk:Problem of evil

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Issues with "Because I'm God, Darn It[edit]

Hey everybody, @GrammarCommie and I are arguing about a few changes in the "Because I'm God Darn it" section. Point number 3) claims that God is known to violate His own morality. I disagree that He does, let alone that it is known that He does. I can understand people who do believe it, though. As such, I first tried changing it to "seems to violate His morality" and, next, tried a snarky play on "apparently". I think simply stating that God is known to violate his own morality is building up a strawman that is fun to knock down but will not create any engagement or discussion with dogmatic Christians (or, for that matter, with anybody who disagrees). Still, since I can't seem to get rid of that absolute statement (unless one o' you et al'ers wants to chime in) I am trying to address the resulting strawmen that occur later on. --Bertrc (talk) 03:28, 11 July 2018 (UTC)

What is the obvious response to the claim God breaks His own morality (and its implications)[edit]

We've claimed that God is known to violate his own morality; this means that His actions do not reflect morality; which means he is not a source of morality. We presently say that the obvious response our claim is "God is allowed to violate His own morality." I do not know a single Christian, dogmatic or not, who would come up with this response! [1] Instead, most Christians (and Jews, Muslims and Hindus) would immediately respond that God does not violate his own morality. As such, I think we should address the actual obvious response instead of a happy-happy-fun-fun strawman response. I made an edit that tried to do this. It is certainly an overlap with mysterious ways, but it is a different perspective on that. --Bertrc (talk) 03:28, 11 July 2018 (UTC)

. . . Beuller? --Bertrc (talk) 14:09, 18 July 2018 (UTC)
References
  1. Yes, I'm sure there are some simpletons out there, who would respond that God gets a pass, but I'm sure there are also atheist professors out in some remote corner of the world who try to humiliate their non-atheist students. Let's deal with the likely encounters

Is the tautology useless[edit]

We wind up, throughout this endeavor, with the tautology "Good is God and God is Good." We say that this tautology is useless. While tautology is not helpful for explaining what "good" is, the tautology is helpful in other areas. Namely, it gives a direction for how to be "good". If the tautology is true (big "if") then being "good" resolves to figuring out how to be like God. Now then, although the tautology does not tell you how to be good and like God, it is not useless in that area because it let's you know what your goal should be -- It's like the statement: "You win the game by catching the snitch; the snitch is what wins you the game". That is a useless statement for trying to learn how to catch the snitch, but the statement does have a use: Namely, it gives you a goal if you want to win the game -- I tried to capture this nuance of uselessness in a separate post]. --Bertrc (talk) 03:28, 11 July 2018 (UTC)

. . . Beuller? --Bertrc (talk) 14:10, 18 July 2018 (UTC)

Babby's first logical whoopsie[edit]

Fun fact: the free will theodicy (read: argument from free will) constitutes a literal teaching example of the modal fallacy in action.

The modal fallacy being a formal fallacy at that, there were no survivors. 85.226.177.90 (talk) 06:51, 1 February 2019 (UTC)

The the argument from free will is used against the free will theodicy. The free will theodicy says that God allows evil because God allows free will; some people use the "argument from free will" to dispute the "free will theodicy", claiming omniscience prevents free will. Schwarz' paper proposes that claiming omniscience prevents free will has a modal fallacy. --Bertrc (talk) 22:23, 6 February 2019 (UTC)

Definition of "evil".[edit]

The article, quite rightly, points out that the "problem of evil" argument depends on which god or gods it is being used against, and defines the god involved as being both omnipotent and omnibenevolent.

But I'm wondering if, in addition to defining the god, we need to define "evil" as well. While all words have multiple meanings which tend to change with context, the word "evil", for me, really exists in a religious context. As an atheist I see a contrast between "good and bad" rather between "good and evil".

It could be argued that "Everyone knows what evil is" - but the same argument is sometimes proposed about god. Yet we have seen it is necessary to define it very clearly in the article.Hubert (talk) 13:42, 24 May 2019 (UTC)

A good definition of evil in this context is "suffering" imo. Oxyaena Harass 13:55, 24 May 2019 (UTC)
OK. That's pretty good. It's a shame it can't be reformulated as a "problem of suffering" really. Because, as an atheist, I believe in neither god (not a typo) nor "evil" (in the religious sense ). The idea that one thing I do not believe exists being disproved by the alleged existence of another thing I do not necessarily believe exists starts to get a little bit hypothetical. — Unsigned, by: Hubert / talk / contribs
There is no direct connection between 'evil' and 'suffering' - you may suffer because your car is not working and you just missed the bus and it is hailing, but there is no evil in the situation.
To what extent is 'evil a state of mind' - doing things which you know to be wrong and which cause harm to others/allowing a situation where others experience suffering to persist and doing nothing about it or even encouraging it? (Simplistic examples but nothing wrong with them for that.) Anna Livia (talk) 11:12, 25 May 2019 (UTC)
@Anna Livia I've always interpreted the "evil" in the "Problem of Evil" to mean "suffering" since people typically include cancer in that, even though cancer is naturally occurring and not artificial. I agree that it's good to include a dividing line, but the things you mentioned above are typically called "nuisances" and aren't what come to mind when most people think of "suffering." Oxyaena Harass 22:46, 27 May 2019 (UTC)
But 'evil' and 'suffering' are two different things - Hitler and 'the other usual suspects' are/were evil. Anna Livia (talk) 22:59, 27 May 2019 (UTC)
@Hubert, I agree with @Oxyaena. In the PoE, "evil" means "suffering". Remember, the PoE is a very targetted argument which tries to prove by contradiction that God, as typically envisioned by Christians, does not exist (although, it could be used in an attempt to disprove the existence of any omnipotent, omni-benevolent entity) The argument happens to be popularly known as "The Problem of Evil" but that is just semantics. --Bertrc (talk) 20:15, 30 May 2019 (UTC)

Perhaps the answer to the problem of evil[edit]

... is that we are asking the wrong question.

Is it that evil is more a process, activity or state of mind etc than 'an actual thing of itself'? Anna Livia (talk) 15:04, 24 May 2019 (UTC)

Divine Evil[edit]

I recently came across this section on David Lewis's philosophy of religion, https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/david-lewis/#7.4, which I think provides an interesting perspective on the problem of evil. The last paragraph of section 7.4 concerning Lewis's paper "Divine Evil" is particularly interesting: "Lewis suggests that proponents of the problem of evil should not focus on what God fails to prevent, but on what God does." Lewis spotlights how in orthodox Christianity and Islam, God is portrayed as perpetrating great evil against sinners, in the form of extreme punishments in the afterlife. Lewis urges that a God who exacts these punishments would be so evil that we should not only reject Him, but we may regard those who endorse the divine punishments as somewhat culpable of divine evil.

Here is an entity that knowingly allows evil to occur—but no, this isn't enough for him—he also actively carries out infernal punishments, indiscriminately; and all the while, he remains convinced that he isn't a hypocrite—no! I am divine! and you should count yourself lucky that you get to grovel at my feet. Theists are certainly an odd bunch, even by the delusional communities' standards, they simply cannot accept that the nonentity they obsequiously fawn over ... has a heart of obsidian.—LeucippusTalk 21:40, 15 May 2021 (UTC)

I am not Muslim, so I do not want to speak for them, but, personally, I do not think you or David Lewis have a completely accurate understanding of Christian teachings. --Bertrc (talk) 01:05, 25 June 2021 (UTC)
1) First, you should understand the Christian view of what you are referring to as "punishment", aka "damnation". In most Christian denominations, the afterlife "punishment" you refer to is not pitchforks and flames; the ultimate "punishment" is true separation from God. Think back to a time that you felt utterly devastated -- I am talking about weeping, borderline (or actually) slitting-your-wrists wrecked[Note 1] kind of despair -- If you honestly explore why you were/are in such a state, I think you will find that it is because something has either been taken away from you or lost by you; or that something is in danger of being taken away or lost. That "something" is probably something you largely base your identity on; or define your self worth by; or look to for your true sense of joy or security. When a foundation of your life crumbles, your life falls apart. Christians largely believe that even in those times, God is still there supporting you. Since any non-divine foundation will ultimately crumble under the weight we place on it, the ultimate suffering would be to not even have God's support. I would take the pain of ten drawn out kidney stones over that pain of despair. --Bertrc (talk) 01:05, 25 June 2021 (UTC)
2) Second, you should know that, in the Christian belief, separation from God is allowed, rather than inflicted. That is the central point of the Gospel -- Like followers of most religions, Christians do believe that there is a gulf between the natural and the supernatural. Unlike religions, however, Christianity does not believe there is a set of practices and/or actions which can allow us to bridge that gap and thus reach the "salvation" of the supernatural. Instead, Christianity tells us that God incarnated one of the persons of God, in the form of Jesus, in order to build that bridge for us; we can now choose to cross over. [Note 2] That being said, many of us believe we haven't done enough bad things to require God's forgiveness of our debts or maybe we believe we have done enough to make up for those bad things; perhaps we think we are in a better position to judge God than God is to judge us. Regardless of the reason, if we truly do not want to come face to face with God's holiness and to see our full sinfulness, and if we really do not want God's cleansing love and forgiveness, then God is not going to rewrite our beings and force us to do so. Like a good parent, God does not force us to be with Her/Him. --Bertrc (talk) 01:05, 25 June 2021 (UTC)


  1. If you or somebody you know is considering suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1(800)273-8255
  2. Those rules and practices held up in the religion of most Christian denominations are not how we get into a relationship with God. Instead, they are what entering into a relationship with God looks like