Talk:Problem of evil/Archive1

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The problem with the problem[edit]

Please note that I am a strong agnostic (I believe that it is impossible to have knowledge of God) and arguing from the Christian point of view here.

No, the argument is not strong. It was refuted quite well by Leibniz:

... it must be confessed that there is evil in this world which God has made, and that it was possible to make a world without evil ...
... the best plan is not always that which seeks to avoid evil, since it may happen that the evil is accompanied by a greater good. ... In this I have followed the opinion of St. Augustine, who has said a hundred times, that God has permitted evil in order to bring about good, that is, a greater good; and that of Thomas Aquinas, that the permitting of evil tends to the good of the universe.

If there is a God, and you and I have free will, then it is necessary for us to be able to do evil. Picture a world in which no one can choose to do an evil thing - however evil is defined. This would be a very boring place to be. In part, it is evil that allows for the varied creation that we do live in. Does anyone who has tasted free will wish to live in a world of do-good robots?

I have shown that the ancients called Adam's fall felix culpa, a happy sin, because it had been retrieved with immense advantage by the incarnation of the Son of God, who has given to the universe something nobler than anything that ever would have been among creatures except for it. For the sake of a clearer understanding, I have added, following many good authors, that it was in accordance with order and the general good that God allowed to certain creatures the opportunity of exercising their liberty, even when he foresaw that they would turn to evil, but which he could so well rectify; because it was not fitting that, in order to hinder sin, God should always act in an extraordinary manner. To overthrow this objection, therefore, it is sufficient to show that a world with evil might be better than a world without evil; but I have gone even farther, in the work, and have even proved that this universe must be in reality better than every other possible universe.

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do-good robots? God could have made the world any way he liked. It could have been evil-free and non-boring. An omnipotent being has that ability. People try to justify God's inclusion of evil in the world by limiting him, and limiting what's permissible. Even logic itself would be one of God's creations, don't forget - it could have been radically different. If an Abrahamic god exists, he's responsible for all the failings in the universe, bar none. Brianetta Brian Ronald, UK. Talk here 18:12, 5 March 2008 (EST)

In order to say that the problem of evil is a strong argument against the existence of God, one must claim that they have a clear view of the universe as a whole and God's plan for the universe. Short of being God themselves, this is very difficult to do.

--Shagie 15:26, 5 March 2008 (EST)

tl;dr  : ) But I can tell you've given it a lot of thought. --Star of David.png Radioactive afikomen Please ignore all my awful pre-2014 comments. 15:58, 5 March 2008 (EST)
Shagie clearly knows what he's talking about, but... "tl;dr"? What sort of arcane hieroglyphs are those? --AKjeldsenGodspeed! 16:02, 5 March 2008 (EST)
tl;dr = "too long; didn't read" --Star of David.png Radioactive afikomen Please ignore all my awful pre-2014 comments. 16:05, 5 March 2008 (EST)
Heh. That was too long? Drop by wp:Theodicy next time you have a few hours available. ;-) --AKjeldsenGodspeed! 16:09, 5 March 2008 (EST)
If the reference is made to what I understand of the god of 'Fundy' Xtians then I see no flaw as they claim to understand god in his goodness. Susanpurrrrr 16:11, 5 March 2008 (EST)


I took a class on modern philosophy back in college. A semester of reading Leibniz, Descartes, Kant, Hume, Spinoza, and Locke. It it was a very interesting class and the bit above is almost verbatim from one of my essays (it went a bit further into Leibniz trying to reconcile God's Plan, determinism, free will, and evil).
As a strong agnostic, I find it frustrating when people bring up arguments for or against the existence of God and overstate them or ignore the refutations.
Another bit of my college classes was one in formal logic. A deductive argument (what is attempted to presented on the article) is not 'strong'. It is valid if the conclusion follows from the premises and it is sound if the premises are all true. I don't believe that the problem of evil is a valid, nor a sound - and certainly not strong - argument. --Shagie 16:15, 5 March 2008 (EST)
The problem of evil is even more complicated. God never comes around to tell us what he wants, expects, or likes. All information we have on God and his motivations have been filtered through the human mind, an inherently unreliable instrument. We have no direct information aout God's will.162.82.215.199 16:16, 5 March 2008 (EST)
Furthermore, kenotic process theodicy as mediated by liberation theologians is awesome, philosophically sound-ish, and biblical! The fact that I'm writing a class essay on the subject right now certainly helps.--מְתֻרְגְּמָן שְׁלֹום
Just admit that you made that up.-- Asclepius staff.png-PalMD --Take two aspirin and call someone else 17:04, 5 March 2008 (EST)
I don't think so, although I must admit that, while I have heard of 'kenosis', I'm a little unclear on what precisely 'kenotic process theodicy' is. --AKjeldsenGodspeed! 17:18, 5 March 2008 (EST)

Kenosis is a 'self-empytying'. In other words, it's an attempt to rationalise the all-powerful, all-knowing, etc God, which is demanded by several passages throughout the OT, with a human, suffering God, as found in the New Testament. In other words, God temporarily hangs up his divine mantle to suffer alongside humans. Keith Ward was talking about this at a lecture recently - he also had some interesting stuff to say about it with regard to free will.

I admit that I may have described it in, uh, not the most Occam's Razor-friendly terms. --מְתֻרְגְּמָן שְׁלֹום

Hm. Isn't that pretty much the same as synkabasis syntabasis syn-ka-ta-ba-sis? Also, even though God descends to become the suffering human, that doesn't mean that he ceases to be also fully the omnipotent God, does it - with the hypostatic union and all that? --AKjeldsenGodspeed! 17:58, 5 March 2008 (EST)
Yeah, there is that term, but I think the difference lies that in the kenotic model, it's most definitely a self-imposed restriction - like in the garden of Gethsemane, and in the Temptation, he's makes it clear that, should he so wish, divinely solve those problems, but he doesn't - effectively, he's fighting with one arm behind his back. He could bring it out, but that's not what he wants. Synkatabasis doesn't stress the imposition, the 'humbling himself - even to death!' (Philippians) that kenosis does. --מְתֻרְגְּמָן שְׁלֹום
Ok, yes, I see the difference. I'm not sure I entirely agree with that interpretation, but it's interesting nevertheless. I can haz essay when finished? --AKjeldsenGodspeed! 18:21, 5 March 2008 (EST)
Well, last time I use a piece of my work from wikipedia, I nearly got in very big trouble for 'copying my work from a public website'. I had to use the history to demonstrate who the author was. The best bit was when a whole lot of other essays appeared, with the same wording for that section. --מְתֻרְגְּמָן שְׁלֹום

No justification for evil.[edit]

If God was good, he didn't need to create evil in order to bring about greater good: He's omnipotent. He makes the rules.

God didn't need to send Jesus down to Earth to die for our sins, except for the requirements of his own law. Laws he made, knowing full well what was going to happen.

It's self-evident that god is not completely omniscient, completely omnipotent and completely benevolent. He chose to create a world with a contrast, and everything, including rebellion, the fall of man and the requirement for the death of Christ in redemption, was all of his own making.

I contend that, if God is ultimately found to exist, that he is basically a bit of a twat. Let's just hope that the Christians are the butt of his joke, and not us. Brianetta Brian Ronald, UK. Talk here 18:07, 5 March 2008 (EST) Note: I'm atheist.

Isn't the issue that God gives people a choice, though? And it's that element of free will that causes rebellion, although it wouldn't have to. --מְתֻרְגְּמָן שְׁלֹום
See the bit I just added further up. God included evil in the available choices. He could have included different kinds of good, if he wanted - something that can't make sense in this universe, because it's something he didn't do. Evil could have been a non-concept, where true free will wouldn't have had a bearing on the goodness of any given thing. In this universe, of course, this isn't possible, but an omnipotent god could have come up with a universe where it was. Brianetta Brian Ronald, UK. Talk here 18:17, 5 March 2008 (EST)
Well, that may be possible, but since this is the only universe we know of and could likely comprehend, it's not very profitable to try to discuss others. In any case, no matter the universe, it wouldn't be much of 'free will' if the Almighty only allowed Man to choose between different types of good behaviour, would it? --AKjeldsenGodspeed! 18:32, 5 March 2008 (EST)
If he is an omnipotent god, what's to say he hasn't made an infinite number of universes, each one with different views of good and evil, and our view of good and evil is simply the result of the universe we live in? ThunderkatzHo! 18:28, 5 March 2008 (EST)
The question of benevolence is one of what do humans consider benevolent. Its a human ascribed trait of God. What about saying that God has created the most perfect of possible universes, after all, He is perfect. What constitutes perfect for God and perfect life for an individual human are not necessarily the same. The question is, is God benevolent an a personal level or on the scale of creation? I would argue the later - the John 3:16 does not read "For God so loved people" but rather gar Theos houto agapao kosmos... Kosmos is the root of the word cosmic and extends to the universe, all of creation.
Related, a universe with free will is a better one than one without. Would you rather have 10 print "Praise God"; goto 10; or a world where the beings praise you on their on free will? Can there be free will without the possibility of evil? That is a interesting philosophical question and I would contend the answer is 'no', just as it is not possible to have a square circle. --Shagie 18:31, 5 March 2008 (EST)
Is this where someone is supposed to ask if an omnipotent God couldn't create a square circle if he wanted to? ;-) --AKjeldsenGodspeed! 18:34, 5 March 2008 (EST)
No, because like the concepts of good and evil, square and circle are human constructs, and using our puny god-mirror powers, we made the concepts mutually exclusive. x2 + y2 = r2 always worked for me, though. humanUser talk:Human 18:39, 5 March 2008 (EST)


Verging on the problem of omnipotence[edit]

Above there are several statements that say in essence "god can change logic". This is again, another overstatement of omnipotence that theologians don't ascribe to God. The accepted definition of omnipotence is "being able to do whatever is possible". Making square circles, making 2+2=5, and other violations of logic are not things that God can do. It weakens one's argument when straw man arguments are used. --Shagie 18:37, 5 March 2008 (EST)

That's a bit of an oversimplification. As far as I know, there is no "accepted definition of omnipotence" - and I don't think that, for instance, Kierkegaard would agree with a definition of omnipotence that is limited by logic. Or Descartes, if I remember him correctly. --AKjeldsenGodspeed! 18:52, 5 March 2008 (EST)
I can haz... AKjeldsen? TmtamesP 18:54, 5 March 2008 (EST)
Sorry, man. I'm a sovereign individual with free will and inalienable rights, so I'm afraid I'm not for sale. :-( We might be able to negotiate a lease agreement, though. --AKjeldsenGodspeed! 19:00, 5 March 2008 (EST)
2 euros a month. TmtamesP 19:04, 5 March 2008 (EST)
Now why would a good little CP-er wish to buy(rent) another user? Eh? Pinto's5150 Talk 19:08, 5 March 2008 (EST)
Haha. Surely you jest. :-D --AKjeldsenGodspeed! 20:05, 5 March 2008 (EST)
Catholic encyclopedia - http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/11251c.htm - "Omnipotence is the power of God to effect whatever is not intrinsically impossible."
http://books.google.com/books?id=4XpCAAAAIAAJ is a good read too.
Aquinas - http://www.ccel.org/a/aquinas/summa/FP/FP025.html#FPQ25A3THEP1
I welcome people to go hunt down other theologians. I beleive that the confusion over omnipotence is largely a naive understanding of a translation.
Looking at the origins of the word and concept, there are problems with taking the Latin omnipotence literally as all powerful. One confusing bit is that the gospels were not written in Latin, but rather Greek. There the word is pantokrator. Pan meaning all and kratos meaning dominion, rule, strength. A king has kratos over his realm. Demos (people) + kratos (power, rule) = Democracy. This is not 'snap my fingers and *poof*' power.
--Shagie 19:16, 5 March 2008 (EST)
I am personally inclined to prefer that definition of omnipotence myself, but it is far from the only one that has been used by theologians. I refer, for instance, to Descartes' Sixth Set of Objections and Replies, Reply 8 in particular, or to Kierkegaard's Fear and Trembling. --AKjeldsenGodspeed! 20:05, 5 March 2008 (EST)
If I recall my Descartes properly, he never argued that God could defy logic, but rather an evil demon could meddle with your mind to make you think that things that were logical true were not (or that things that where logically impossible where true). This, however, did not make it such that God could defy logic. Unfortunately, I haven't read any of Kierkegaard's works. --Shagie 20:16, 5 March 2008 (EST)
[1] Briefly, Descartes argues in Reply 8 that since there cannot be anything, including such things as logic or mathematics, which does not depend on God, it is reasonable that God could also change these things if he so wished. How this could happen is beyond human understanding. Kierkegaard is more complex, but essentially says the same thing, that there cannot be anything that God does not have power over, whether or not it seems absurd to the mortal mind. --AKjeldsenGodspeed! 20:23, 5 March 2008 (EST)

I believe you miss the point that Descartes is trying to make. He is trying to do two things - show that something is knowable and prove the existence of God. It was an argument against skepticism of the time that suggest that nothing was knowable at all. I do not believe that he was personally arguing for that definition of omnipotence, but rather that he was putting up every single possible thing that could prevent us from knowing something - even a God that was messing with basic logic. It should also be pointed out that once Descartes felt sure of the knowledge of God, he then limited what God was capable of doing by saying that God is good and not a trickster and so he wouldn't (can't) create things to deceive us and thus logic cannot be faulty. --Shagie 20:31, 5 March 2008 (EST)

Indeed, but he also points out (both in the Replies and the Meditations themselves) that all things are dependent on God, or perhaps rather the order and disposition created by God (or however it is he phrases it). It seems to follow from this that while God is not a deceiver and follows the rules and laws that he himself made, this is a voluntary limitation, since there is nothing greater than God that could compel him to do so, and that he could choose to do otherwise if he wanted. I'm not that well read in Descartes, so I could be interpreting him entirely wrong, but in any case, it seems pretty far from the scholastic approach of Aquinas. --AKjeldsenGodspeed! 04:32, 6 March 2008 (EST)

No free will[edit]

If Free will exists why is Brainwashing possible? According to Christianity people don't have free will.God causes them to sin. Barbara Shack 03:53, 6 March 2008 (EST)

The (wrong) opinion of one guy on a message board is hardly representative of what "Christianity" says. --AKjeldsenGodspeed! 04:34, 6 March 2008 (EST)

The Bible quotations are accurate. I've checked them. 1Kings 22:23 Now therefore, behold, the LORD hath put a lying spirit in the mouth of all these thy prophets, and the LORD hath spoken evil concerning thee. [2]

Ezekiek 14:9 And if the prophet be deceived when he hath spoken a thing, I the LORD have deceived that prophet, and I will stretch out my hand upon him, and will destroy him from the midst of my people Israel. [3]

2Thressalonians 2:11 And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:[4]

Then there are the mind-benders like this:

Matthew 26:34 Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this night, before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. [5]Barbara Shack 05:32, 6 March 2008 (EST)

Yes, the quotes are accurate in themselves, but we need to consider what they signify in the proper context, otherwise we're no better than the literalists. For instance, the passage in 1 Kings 22 is part of a longer narrative about King Ahab who has lost divine favour because of his idolatry and persecution of priests, among other thing, and it is for that reason that the prophets are made to lure him into a battle where he will be killed (And even that wouldn't have happened if he had listened to Micaiah in time). Not that I see what all this has to do with free will, mind you.
Now, in the Denial of Peter, and to an even greater degree in the Betrayal of Judas, we have a much more interesting problem. Jesus foretold that Peter would deny him and that Judas would betray him. Does this mean that it was predestined that they would commit these sins, which especially in the case of Judas was absolutely essential to the sacrifice of Jesus, and in turn to the salvation of mankind? But if it was predestined, can we really blame them for committing those sins?
Or maybe another explanation is that Christ, being fully God, exists outside of linear time, and so for him, those events had already happened. But that in turn leads to another problem: If Jesus existed outside of time, does that not diminish the impact of his voluntary sacrifice, cf. the above discussion of kenosis? In any case, these are some very difficult issues that touch at the core of Christian theology, and they cannot be answered simply by pulling up a few scripture passages and drawing some fast conclusions. --AKjeldsenGodspeed! 06:05, 6 March 2008 (EST)
There are other explanations without needing to invoke God. One question is are the gospels a perfectly accurate account or was that something written after the fact, inserted by someone else later for some reason. There are other insertions into other spots in the New Testament done by various people to push one message or another. Peter's denial can be explained that way. No need to invoke predetermisim there.
Some historians believe Judas to be of the sacarii sect (Iscariot being a corruption of the sect's name). That sect wanted a military leader to cast off Rome and establish a Jewish nation again. And here you've got a hippy messiah who isn't throwing lighting bolts around, suggesting to pay taxes to Caesar, and whatnot. What do you do? Sell him out (he's not the messiah and is causing some political problems locally that Rome might have to come in and settle). It doesn't take a great leap to suggest that Judas would or has already betrayed Jesus.
Returning to Leibniz, he suggests that free will is the ability to choose otherwise. A deterministic universe (something debated at Leibniz's time) suggests that if everything was exactly the same, you would always make the same choice. But the key there is that you made the choice - you could choose otherwise. And thus, free will and determinism (or a collapse of the wave form by the last friend of Wigner if you're into quantum mechanics) are not in conflict. Being outside time or being able to compute what would happen faster than it happens does not mean you do not have free will.
--Shagie 17:16, 6 March 2008 (EST)

Different people see different things as good or evil[edit]

In other words, "God is omnibenevolent." Simply, means that God is completely good according to at least one person's definition of good, since there are people who believe that allowing some evil to exist is good, the existence of evil does not in any way deny the existence of God.— Unsigned, by: 75.169.193.171 / talk / contribs

It denies the existence of any God whose morality doesn't include "allowing evil = good", i.e. most common ones. ~ Kupochama[1][2] 23:00, 22 June 2010 (UTC)
But if God is "omnibenevolent" (ie: all-loving) then surely he must also love the Great Beast and his False Prophet. So why does he cast them into a Lake of Fire when he releases all the other damned souls from Hell on Judgement Day? --Let Them Eat Cake (talk) 17:13, 1 May 2011 (UTC)
What if some evils are really necessary for goods? Suppose God loves you, or me, or anyone, not just as a person in general, but as a particular person; loving you as a particular person, God chooses to create you. But what if your existence requires evil - a world without evil could have people in it, but it couldn't have you in it. Therefore, in order to create you, God must create evil. Yet, if God's intentions could be put that way, can we so easily question their goodness? (As to your comment about the Great Beast and his False Prophet, I am not a biblical literalist, so I don't think God actually does that.) --(((Zack Martin))) 08:46, 2 May 2011 (UTC)
"God works in mysterious ways that we don't understand". Or, the only "definition" of good and evil is God's, which we won't understand, therefore the Problem Of Evil is moot as it's inherently from our perspective, not His. ADK...I'll insult your fork! 09:22, 2 May 2011 (UTC)
I don't think the problem of evil is just God's. I think it is also ours. I realized this for myself, when I realized that I almost certainly only exist because my older siblings died. If they hadn't have died, my parents almost certainly would never have had any more children; and even if they still had more children, their lives would have been so different (having older siblings), none of them would have been me. So I only live because of their deaths, and all the good things that happened to me is just because of the evil of their deaths. But if all my good depends on evil for another, how am I really different from anyone else who lives - just maybe, personal circumstance make that connection more obvious to me than to others? So if all the good we know depends on evil (even if maybe there is some hypothetical good, different from the good any of us has, which could exist without evil), can we really blame God for creating evil? For me to attack God for creating evil is really to attack God for creating me, and even in my greatest moments of self-hatred, I can't manage to do that. --(((Zack Martin))) 11:46, 2 May 2011 (UTC)
"God is a figment of the imagination" -> problem solved. ADK...I'll vote your clock! 11:50, 2 May 2011 (UTC)
Forget about God, it doesn't solve another problem of evil - all our good requires evil, and so maybe our good isn't so good after all? God or no God, the Holocaust makes children smile. Because, in a world without the Holocaust, those children would not exist to be smiling, even though other children would be smiling in their place - so certainly, the Holocaust makes these children smile. --(((Zack Martin))) 11:54, 2 May 2011 (UTC)

The omnipotence paradox[edit]

People ask the question, if God is omnipotent, could he create a boulder so heavy not even he could lift it? Well, if he's omnipotent then he's outside the laws of logic so he could create a boulder so heavy not even he could lift it and still be able to lift it. He could create a round square or a married bachelor. So why can't he make it so that evil can exist independantly of good? Why can't he make it so that you can experience happiness without knowing unhappiness? Once again, it boils down to the same answer: he's either great or good but obviously not both. That's why I don't swing with the whole Christian thing. --Let Them Eat Cake (talk) 21:49, 27 April 2011 (UTC)

Same answer as I gave in section above, plus I'd add - I don't think omnipotence as "God can do anything" is a very useful concept. My preference is for the concept of "God can do anything anyone can; if She can't do it, no one can". Whether you want to call that 'omnipotent' or not is just a question of definitions. --(((Zack Martin))) 08:48, 2 May 2011 (UTC)

Some responses[edit]

So, in other words, this kind of god has no problems with allowing wars, genocides and plagues to ravage humanity, as long as the end product is just right for his or her tastes.

Yes. "Just right" meaning all the people whom she loves existing. Actually, in my belief, all the souls that have ever lived are willingly incorporated at the end into her soul, and in the circle of time the end is also the beginning, when she emanates forth once more the many souls of the many universes. What this means, is that she used to be us, and will be us once more; we used to be her, and shall be her once more. Thus, the existence of all particular souls is necessary for her own existence in her full particularity, thus she creates the evils necessary for her own existence. And, she loves us as particular persons with the same love with which she perfectly loves her very own particularity.

Of course, this kind of theodicy still has trouble to account for the fact that an omnipotent god could have simply created a set of humans in exactly the way he or she wanted them to be, without exposing past generations to needless suffering.

Only if she gave us false memories of the past. But if she had, some past people would have never existed (i.e. those whom we remembered, but who died before the cutoff at which the memories were false). She loves us, so she would not cause those whom we love to have never existed, to have been mere philosophical zombies of pseudomemory. Nor would she cause our past joys to be imaginary. She has more respect for us than that; she respects, and shares, our anti-solipsistic desires.

And if past evils were necessary for our existence, no human would have a right to complain about any injustice that might benefit future generations - after all, it's just as likely that the set of humans god really wants to exist is not the current generation, but some future one.

I would say the set of humans she really wants to exist is all who have ever existed. As I have said elsewhere, I believe that those whom she loves, yet hurts, for the sake of her love for others whose existence is purchased through those hurts, she compensates for their sufferings through the creation of other universe-branches in which things turn out more to their liking; and she grants them perfect knowledge of these universe-branches after death.

This formulation of theodicy also runs into some problems when it comes to daily application by anyone other than God. When you steal someone's television, it does no good to tell them that you only did it because you have a special love for the person he would be without a television.

But actually, no one really does steal a television because of a special love for the person they would be without one. To love someone you need to know them. The only person who could possibly have such a love would be one who knew the future; that is why this special love is beyond human capacity, it is only possible for the divine. (((Zack Martin))) 11:43, 13 August 2011 (UTC)

How serious is this web site?[edit]

Should I seriously try to argue for omni benevolence, or is this like conservapedia where I should just have fun reading a one sided argument? If it is a serious site, should I develop the explanation of "God is beyond us"?

Essentially, what I have always heard is a comparison of God to us as we compare ourselves to our children. We know considerably more than our children. On the basis of our few additional decades of knowledge and experience, we take our 3 year olds to get shots. I have not yet met a 3 year old who grasps that vaccinations, though they cause suffering now, are actually an action of love and benevolence. Such a concept is simply, in my experience, beyond them. Assuming an omnipotent, omniscient God, the parellel points out that God is infinitely farther from us than we are from our 3 year old children. Just because we cannot understand the eventual benefit of our situation does not mean that there is none.

To continue the parallel, such a God would think in terms of eternity. The 2 seconds of pain and 2 hours of complaining is a much larger percentage of a child's 80 years of life than whatever suffering we experience as a percentage of eternity.

I guess the counter to this is "Why doesn't an all powerful God give us the benefit without the suffering." Rather than re-iterate the "God is beyond us" statement as a response, I would propose instead the possibility that we only seem to be suffering from within our present limitted perspective and not necessarily from our eventual perspective. To propose a new analogy: I have gone on runs that were agonizing. Sometimes I have finished and only remember how lousy it felt, but other times, I finish and exult in the entire experience; I do not mean to say that this is a comparative "I appreciate the accomplishment because I felt like a knife was in my side earlier"; rather, on an absolute level, I look back, remembering the knife in the side and think "that was awesome!". i.e. what seemed like suffering during a narrow state of mind was actually wonderful when I could broaden my view.

I know that the exercise example seems paltry when compared to some of the suffering you may have experienced, or that you imagine others have experienced, but again I would point out that we are using a limitted example (our lives) to make an analogy against infinity (eternity)

--Bertrc (talk) 22:22, 14 December 2011 (UTC)

Ah, the old "God moves in mysterious ways" card. He wouldn't seem so fucking vicious if only we could see the big picture. All those people dying of starvation, it's for their own good really. All the pain, all the misery, all the unfairness... it's like going for your vaccinations because, afterwards we all go to Sugar Mountain. Yeah, I can buy that... er... no, sorry, I can't. Bad Faith (talk) 22:27, 14 December 2011 (UTC)
I've thought that "god is beyond" us is the most plausible "solution" to this "problem," but if he/she/they/it is "beyond us," how do we know that "god" is also omnibenevolent (or any properties or characteristics of "god" at all)? Nebuchadnezzar (talk) 22:28, 14 December 2011 (UTC)
Oh, that is simply on faith. I mean, I have my own personal experience, but I will readily concede that it is primarily faith. --Bertrc (talk) 00:20, 15 December 2011 (UTC)
My problem with this argument is that it doesn't really answer the question other than "I dunno, and no one really can know until after we're dead, so let's all just shut up about it now". How can you tell the difference between this and that he just doesn't fucking exist? I know you want your god to have so many awesome properties, but just tacking on more cool stuff for your god to have doesn't make the idea make any more sense. (ʞlɐʇ) ɹǝɯɯɐHʍoƆ 22:36, 14 December 2011 (UTC)
God follows the Rule of Cool. (WARNING: TV TROPES) Nebuchadnezzar (talk) 22:37, 14 December 2011 (UTC)
I like how you are asking us to compare the suffering of a child having his bone set, with the suffering of millions of kids who die of starvation "for their own good". Every parent and doctor I know does everything they can to alleviate the suffering of setting bones. we give really good drugs for it. An all powerful god does not or cannot alleviate the suffering of starving kids? Again, the problem of evil is not a problem for gods that are not Tri Omni. it is exclusively a christian problem. I don't care about teh suffering of ants, but i both cannot do anything about it, and am not all good. Pink mowse.pngGodotI live in the Infinite monkey cage 23:01, 14 December 2011 (UTC)
Some would say that God is alleviating the suffering of starving children, by causing them to starve to death and bounce them up to heaven where they can strum harps all day. Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 00:37, 15 December 2011 (UTC)
WaitingForGodot, Actually, I was comparing vaccinations, not bone-setting. "Benevolence" in my limitted allegory, was not a trip to sugar mountain but, rather, the protection against influenza/polio/etc. I have seen 3 year olds who can conceive "Take the shot and you will get to go to sugar mountain" (well, a lollipop, actually) But the non-immediate rewards have always been beyond them (and frankly, few have accepted a lollipop as offsetting) My analogy is not God saying "I'm not doing anything to alleviate your suffering"; Rather, "I am sorry you do not realize how I am alleviating your suffering and how I am suffering with you." Personally, I have never lost a child to starvation in Africa; my heart certainly goes out to you, if you have. I have had children lose a parent to cancer, though, and I believe I have seen how God alleviates suffering (FYI, I don't think anybody has felt better being told "Daddy is in a better place." However, understanding/believing that God is with them and suffering along with them has seemed to help). --Bertrc (talk) 00:20, 15 December 2011 (UTC)
CowHammer, I'm not saying that this is proof of God. I proffered this as a partial, possible answer to the problem of suffering. --Bertrc (talk) 00:20, 15 December 2011 (UTC)
Didn't you ask the same question on Talk:Atheism? Star of David.png Radioactive afikomen Please ignore all my awful pre-2014 comments. 23:05, 14 December 2011 (UTC)
Heh, Yeah, I asked about how seriously to take this site on on Talk:Atheism but was bringing up morality, rather than the problem of evil. :-) --Bertrc (talk) 00:20, 15 December 2011 (UTC)

I don't mean to respond with a meaningless cliché, but if god is omnipotent and omni-benevolent, then he doesn't need to work mysterious ways to do good things for all of us. Suffering is suffering is suffering... and a God that is all-good by the standards we judge goodness would use that power to relieve suffering. Even if you like to say "God is beyond us" it's no more than special pleading. What is the difference between a God that supposedly acts in a way that causes us to suffer, ignores suffering, and supposedly does it all "for our own good", and a universe than lacks a God of that description and doesn't care? I'd postulate that there is no difference. Therefore such argumentation is just pleading for us to keep hold of the God hypothesis despite (and even because) there is a sweet bugger-all evidence to support it. Scarlet A.pngd hominem 02:02, 15 December 2011 (UTC)

Well, one difference if God didn't care, I think, is that we would suffer more; also, I believe our suffering would be pointless (a la getting the shot and still getting the disease); our suffering would never be re-perceived (a la, never looking back on a long distance run and exulting in the entire experience); our suffering would never have any alleviation without God's presense and sympathy (a la, not holding a child during and after their shot or not grieving with somebody who has lost a child) These are just a few initial thoughts. Personally I don't think God causes or ignores suffering; I think God supports us in our suffering, shares in our suffering and brings good out of our suffering. That last one is a bit complicated; there is a difference between causing us to suffer "for our own good" vs, from the scope of eternity, turning our suffering to such good that we will be able to exult. --Bertrc (talk) 02:21, 15 December 2011 (UTC)
That doesn't actually answer the question. We only have one world and one set of experiences; suffering "more" makes absolutely no sense at all because we'd require something to compare it against. Scarlet A.pngpathetic 02:33, 15 December 2011 (UTC)
Well, that is certainly a possibility, but I think that most theists believe that this is not the only world nor the sum total of our eventual experience. Isn't that one of the points of contention? Perhaps I misunderstood your question. I gave an answer for what would (IMHO) be different if God ignored or caused suffering. I guess you asked what is the difference between a universe in which God ignores or causes suffering and a universe without God. I don't think there would be a difference, but I would say that the question is moot (a strawman) since my position (belief) is that God neither ignores nor causes suffering. Hmmm, are you asking "How can we know that God is with us, both experiencing and alleviating our suffering while working to make it so that, ultimately, it will not have been suffering"? I think I would say that that is within each person's experience and faith, just as it is up to a child to trust and accept their parent while getting those 5 shots or not and just as it is up to my junior team members to trust me when I push them to finish the 5k race or not (FYI, most of them do not trust me) Yes, yes, I concede that neither analogy is perfect, since, among other reasons, parents and I are certainly fallible while the general theist consensus seems to be that God is infallible but heck, I am trying to use an analogy in a limitted world to convey possible aspects of an unlimitted existence.  :-) --Bertrc (talk) 22:15, 15 December 2011 (UTC)
But that's only hand waving. I'm saying that the evidence before me seems to point away from the existence of a benevolent, omnipotent being. I see absolutely no reason to believe there is one, none what so ever. Your faith that there is one but we don't understand him is all very well for you but it comes down to "I believe there is a benevolent, omnipotent being - however there are things which don't tally with this - therefore it must be that we don't understand the motives of this benevolent, omnipotent being. Sorry, that doesn't wash. Bad Faith (talk) 22:32, 15 December 2011 (UTC)
BadFaith, Aaargh, I missed my window, now I have to retype. My response to your post was: Remember the topic. "The problem of Evil" is "How do we reconcile the existence of a benevolent God with the existence of suffering." My proposal addresses that question; my proposal is not meant to tell you why you should believe in God. The two analogies I made (which I am sure others have expressed better) essentially say "The problem of Evil" is not an actual contradiction and does not disprove God. Proving God's existence would be a completely separate discussion -- one I am willing to bet is beyond me, to tell the truth.  :-) --Bertrc (talk) 00:05, 16 December 2011 (UTC)
Advance apologies for using that horrifically coloured tq template here... but:
I guess you asked what is the difference between a universe in which God ignores or causes suffering and a universe without God. Yep.
I don't think there would be a difference Okay.
Now, we can expand that to cover other questions. Such as: "what is the difference between a universe where God exists and answers prayers to the tune of 'yes', 'no' or 'not yet' and a universe where God does not exist?" or perhaps "what is the difference between a universe where God sets up physical laws as we see them and a universe where God does not exist?"
So, should you answer any of those with "I don't think there would be a difference" then we have to ask the further question of "what use does that belief have?". Scarlet A.pngbomination 23:40, 15 December 2011 (UTC)
As I said, you are building a straw man argument with your question about a universe where God ignores and causes suffering vs a Universe without a God, since my position is not that God causes or ignores suffering (yes, I originally simply said that your question was moot). As for the difference between a Universe where God answers prayrs (FYI, I think answers are considerably more complex than the possibilities you present) and a universe where God does not exist . . . Well, in the Universe where God does not exist, prayrs would not be answered. As for the question "what use does that belief have" . . . I'm afraid I have to start my answer with a questions: what use does a child's belief that their parents or benevolent have? What use does a Junior member of my running team's faith in me have? Their belief does not change a parent's benevolence or the overturning of one's experience of hitting the wall anymore than my our your belief alters the existence or non-existence of God's benevolence, if that is where you are going. FYI, as I told Bad Faith, I think that this is off the topic of "The problem of Evil"; I do not think resolving the problem of Evil proves God's existence. --Bertrc (talk) 00:14, 16 December 2011 (UTC)
To address your original assertion and reference to an analogy, show me the doctor who would still break a child's bone if he had the power to stop them from breaking it in the first place.
On the seashore, erosion wears away a chunk of rock. Eventually, it's so worn that a little boy playing on it is sufficient to snap it quite off. The boy slips and falls a few feet, landing badly and breaking his arm in two places. The doctor hurts the boy more as he sets the bone, but gives him a mild anaesthetic and a lollipop. The doctor minimizes pain and just tries to help.
But imagine a doctor who is all-powerful, yet still chooses to let the boy get hurt. Your analogy fails badly in this way, because you're skipping the "omnipotent" part. You're arguing that the pain and suffering and evil of the world is necessary because it serves some larger purpose, but that's just an admission that God cannot achieve this purpose without pain and suffering and evil - tantamount to saying that he is not, indeed, omnipotent. I will happily agree that Lucretius' original dilemma of the triad is answered by admitting that God's power is limited, but that's a rare claim for a theist to make.--ADtalkModerator 00:30, 16 December 2011 (UTC)
But you are using a different analogy than I did. One aspect of my doctor analogy (which uses vaccinations) is to show that, as broad as the gulf is between a 3 year old and a 30 year-old perspective, the gulf between our limitted perspective and an unlimitted perspective is infinitely greater; once that is grasped, the analogy can show that what the child thinks is suffering is actually an act of benevolence. Separately, I tried to point out that even our conception of suffering can be false; as broad as the gulf is between hitting the wall and the overall race, the gulf between our finite existence and an eternal existence is infinitely greater (If I wished to stretch the doctor analogy, I would have pointed out that I no longer consider all my allergy shots over the years to have been suffering, but I thought the running analogy could be more broadly grasped )However, you have developed a completely different analogy that first requires comprehension of an unlimitted (omnipotent) perspective. --Bertrc (talk) 01:03, 16 December 2011 (UTC)
Try this: stare at this image and recite your analogy. If you can do so with a straight face, then I can conclude one of two things: either you are evil, or God is evil. Scarlet A.pngpathetic 01:18, 16 December 2011 (UTC)
Armondikov, *whew* Frankly, I would advise sticking to the suffering you have experienced in your life when trying to figure out how various analogies apply. Call it a hunch but I am willing to bet you have no conception of what it is like to see your child starving to death (any more than I) and, as such, have no more idea than I of what divine intervention or lack of divine intervention such a person might be encountering. I think it is up to a person experiencing such loss to make accusations of being Evil for talking about God being with them and suffering with them. --Bertrc (talk) 22:55, 17 December 2011 (UTC)
Exactly, it's nice and easy to pass off suffering in the world as just part of some divine plan when the worst you have to experience in your life is your iPod battery running out in the middle of a song, rather than, say, whether flies are going to nest in your eyeballs while your stomach eats itself and you shit yourself to death over the course of a few weeks. Scarlet A.pngsshole 00:00, 18 December 2011 (UTC)
Well, I hate to keep pointing out strawman arguments, but I never said suffering was part of some divine plan. I've been pointing out that the existence of suffering does not contradict benevolence. Personally, I do not believe suffering is part of God's plan, even though I think God can bring about His plan in spite of suffering. Also, I think you missed the point of my last post; let me be more explicit -- Even though you have had to suffer through losing power in your iPod, I don't think you are in any position to comment on the perspective of somebody who is dying from dehydration due to dysentary. ;-) --Bertrc (talk) 00:42, 18 December 2011 (UTC)
You're saying God causes/allows (though in the context of an omnipotent being with total control over and a vested interest in the universe, the difference is moot) suffering "for our own good", as in eventually it pays off or all is better or, as you said above, "God can bring about His plan in spite of suffering". That's your argument. I'd like to see how this is different to "divine plan" or "mysterious ways" or any other well-worn canard. It's hardly a straw man argument to point this out. If you need help in defining good and evil for your purposes, you could try this video. Scarlet A.pngpostate 10:00, 19 December 2011 (UTC)
And no, I'm not dying of dysentery, nor do I even own an iPod so I can suffer such terrors as cracked screens and low batteries. However, if you are going to make excuses for the existence of undue harm, suffering and ills, you should be aware of what you're claiming. I'm not going to be able to know exactly what it's like to be a starving child in Africa shitting themselves to death while they're eaten alive by maggots (although I have come close to dying on occasion, it's been through other means) my human empathy can make a pretty good guess that they're not thinking "oh, this isn't too bad, God's letting me suffer for my own good. I don't understand right now, but let's suck it up for the sake of his plan". Scarlet A.pngbomination 10:09, 19 December 2011 (UTC)
Actually, I am not saying God causes or ignores suffering. Any single analogy is woefully insufficient to cover all the aspects of suffering. The Shot analogy is not addressing the causes of suffering; it is merely trying to address our limitted understanding of eternity. You seem to infer that, since wordly, mortal doctors do cause pain, then I am saying God causes pain. You would be just as incorrect to infer that, since worldly, mortal doctors go through over a decade of education, I am saying God goes through over a decade of education. As soon as you stretch the analogy beyond "We do not understand just as a child does not understand" and "suffering does not necessarily mean a lack of benevolence" you have stretched it too far. Heh, seeing as you live a nice cozy life without so much as a cracked iPod screen, I really do doubt that you can conceive what the starving in Africa are thinking  :-) On a serious note, I honestly do think you should focus on the suffering you are going through rather than trying to compare it to what they (or anybody else) are experiencing. That is a mistake I feel both sides of this theological debate are always making. One side is saying "they must be turning away from God in the face of such calamity" while the other side is saying "they must be turning towards God in the face of such calamity." I think we should not pretend we can put ourselves inside their minds. (On an aside, maggots would not, actually, eat people alive; maggots only eat dead flesh) --Bertrc (talk) 02:20, 20 December 2011 (UTC)
All right, if you insist, we can use yours, although it's not substantively different: if your doctor could make you immune to allergies without a shot - say, with a pill that's just as effective and safe and a single dose - then wouldn't he do so? You are not changing the shape of things at all. In both cases, you're simply arguing that God isn't powerful enough to accomplish whatever good goal he might have (even supposing his ends justified his monstrous means) without inflicting evil and pain.--ADtalkModerator 01:24, 16 December 2011 (UTC)
What I meant is that, by your additions (Doctor being able to prevent a bone from breaking or avoid a shot) your are creating a new analogy. It no longer addresses what the original one did -- My point being that something we perceive at the time as suffering does not mean a lack of benevolence -- I think the thrust of your point is addressed in my second analogy: There is a reason I do not bring a car to pick up my junior team members and drive them to the end of the loop when they initially hit the wall. Doing so is within my ability; the fact that I do not does not mean I am not benevolent to them. I know that at the completion of the route, the entire experience is exulted, even the part of hitting the wall. Now, our lives to eternity is a considerably smaller ratio than the time of hitting the wall to the time of the overall route. If you are not a runner (or hate running), then this analogy might not be working for you. Are you an artist who can compare the completion of a work to the times you gave up instead of pushing through the difficult parts? Are you a broker who can compare the completion of a deal to the times when you had to end the process? AD , I guess my second analogy is trying to say you are thinking too small: You would simply use your omnipotence to prevent any suffering; I believe God goes one step farther and (among other things) uses his omnipotence to complete subvert suffering and turn it on its head. BTW, These are just a couple aspects of suffering; I'm sure that there are an uncountably infinite number of aspects to suffering. --Bertrc (talk) 22:04, 17 December 2011 (UTC)
A little girl was born last week. She has a rare genetic malformation leaving her unable to produce most antibodies. She will die of complications caused by this malformation within six months (actually through a combination of influenza and a series of rashes). Now, your argument appears to be that it is somehow actually good for this little girl to suffer miserably and then die, yes? God works in mysterious ways, so in some manner, her appalling fate is a good thing for her? From what I can understand, that's your argument. You don't know how or why, but you have faith in God's infinite wisdom and benevolence, and so you trust that she either deserved her fate or that it was actually good for her.
My argument to that, one echoed by others, has several components:
  1. Pain and suffering are objectively bad. To inflict unnecessary pain and suffering on a person is objectively bad. If God must inflict pain and suffering to achieve his goal, then he's not omnipotent. If he was omnipotent, he could attain his unknowable and mysterious goal without the torture of a small child. However much God is somehow "subverting" suffering, a rhetorical turn of phrase that appears to have no actual meaning, the fact remains that this child and many other innocents die horrible and painful deaths, and God is either unable to prevent that and still achieve his goal, or unwilling to prevent that (which just makes him a monster).
  2. As you will probably agree, you are trying to place God out of reach of human judgment. You are arguing that even though it appears that God is being unspeakably cruel on an unimaginable scale, inflicting or failing to prevent suffering, and that you actually can't even begin to guess why he might do so, you still trust that he's doing the right thing, because of your faith. But to an outsider, this appears some strange sort of codependence - he only hits you because he loves you? - and would make it hard to tell God from Satan.
  3. Your examples are all terribly flawed because neither you nor a doctor nor anyone else claim to be omnipotent. They are also flawed in other specific ways. For example, your running team all give consent to be there and to put themselves through that pain. The dying little girl does not. And for the record, I do not give consent, either. I do not want God to hurt me, or the little girl.--ADtalkModerator 00:51, 19 December 2011 (UTC)
*whew* A lot to address in that. I'll start by readily admitting my examples are inadequate and flawed. However, when it comes to flaws . . . I feel it is flawed reasoning to expect any finite analogy to address all the aspects of suffering; you are doing this when you complain my analogies are not perfect. Another flaw comes from stretching an analogy beyond what it is trying to address; you are doing this when you bring up that the members of the running team gave consent to put themselves through that pain. A third flaw comes when you miss the point an analogy is trying to make; you say pain and suffering are objectively bad in the face of a specific example (racing; I would drive the members who wanted to stop) where pain and suffering were not bad. Now I admit the racing analogy is just comparing hitting the wall to the completion of a race (I have had runs where I hit the wall and runs where I have not; both can be wonderful experiences in their entirety; I would not rank either above the other) I equally concede I am not in a position to say whether any of the starving in Africa believe that from a position in eternity, what they see as suffering will be turned on its head; however, as I said to Armondikov, I don't think you are in such a position either. To be honest, I can't even speak for those who have suffered the same things as me. Instead, I think we should rationally observe that, as the racing analogy points out, allowing suffering does not require a lack of benevolence --Bertrc (talk) 02:51, 20 December 2011 (UTC)
"Suffering turned on its head" is a meaningless phrase, and accordingly your reply is meaningless. From what I can tell, it appears to mean one of several things:
  1. The suffering inflicted on people serves a greater purpose; i.e. ends justify the means. I assume that you don't actually agree with this.--ADtalkModerator 06:17, 20 December 2011 (UTC)
    Nah, suffering is not simply for the greater good (A great run is not better because of or in spite of the wall; at the conclusion of the entire run, pushing through the wall, in and of itself, is an amazing, awesome experience) --Bertrc (talk) 23:50, 23 December 2011 (UTC)
I will inform the next person I see writhing in agony from pancreatic cancer that his suffering is part of an amazing, awesome experience. But very well, you clearly don't believe the ends justify the means.--ADtalkModerator 22:14, 5 January 2012 (UTC)
Sadly, that is, again, a straw man. I have never said that suffering is part of an amazing, awesome experience. I propose that through the will of an infinitely powerful being, it can potentially be transformed. There is a distinct difference. I'm glad, though, that we agree the ends do not justify the means -- More on that, below. --Bertrc (talk) 01:46, 7 January 2012 (UTC)
  1. The suffering inflicted on people is somehow not really suffering, or doesn't actually count in some ineffable way. This is nonsense.--ADtalkModerator 06:17, 20 December 2011 (UTC)
    Nah, suffering certainly does happen (within the run, hitting the wall hurts like Oedipus Rex; it is suffering when it happens)--Bertrc (talk) 23:50, 23 December 2011 (UTC)
Good. I'm glad we have established that.--ADtalkModerator 22:14, 5 January 2012 (UTC)
  1. The suffering inflicted on people is not bad because of... magic? Something else? But however it happens, there's a starving child out there who is deluded into thinking ill of the ache of his belly. This seems like your most likely intended meaning, but you refuse to connect the dots and explain how that suffering is actually not bad, instead deciding that it is inexplicable. --ADtalkModerator 06:17, 20 December 2011 (UTC)
    Nah, no magic is needed (at least, none that I am aware of; when I have had a great run, it seems to be part of the natural world). Also, if I may knock down another straw man argument you raise, I never said suffering is not bad -- In fact, I doubt you or I can even grasp how bad it is for a starving child -- I simply said the existence of suffering does not necessarily mean a lack of benevolence. Frankly, I believe the existence of suffering is such a bad thing that the eternal power of God Al-frickin'-mighty is needed to truly transform it; heck, I even believe it was the sacrificial death of said God almighty to make such transformation possible. --Bertrc (talk) 23:50, 23 December 2011 (UTC)
Yes, I saw what you said. It just doesn't make any sense. "Suffering turned on its head," the phrase you have repeatedly returned to, is meaningless. I just explained why. On its face, it must mean that suffering isn't really suffering (which you deny), or that it serves a larger purpose and end (which you deny), or that some manner of deity-magic works in some other way (which you seem to deny, albeit less clearly this time). But short of evasion, justification, or sublimation (as I shall blithely call these three possibilities) I cannot deduce any meaning from that phrase, nor has your explanation helped. Rather than actually defining it or explaining how that starving child's pain is necessary (as it must be if God is omnibenevolent and omnipotent) you just say that it is "truly transformed." What does that fucking mean?--ADtalkModerator 22:14, 5 January 2012 (UTC)
Sadly, I do not think you have seen what I have said. Suffering (on a vastly smaller scale then our truly tragic experiences) is transformed. Every day. In our normal, natural lives. It is not that it is not suffering (the wall can be agonizing; Fights with your loved one can be miserable; Writer's block can be crushing; if I may be flippant: Trying to figure out how to get that dang "3 in Three" across the moving elevators can drive you to hit your keyboard) In and of itself, it does not "serve a higher purpose" (A run does not need to hurt to be exhilerating; Love does not need fights; A work of art can simply flow from inspiration; flippantly: A strategy for having your gnome illusionis defeat the Uber-Dragon may be crystal clear) God's power may be needed to address suffering on the scale we face over our entire lives, but it is still a natural process; we do it ourselves in the earthly realm, on a vastly smaller scale, all the time (On my own, completing the run can retroactively change hitting the wall into exhilaration; after overcoming whatever self absorption was causing the fight, I am joyful for the entire event; Ditto for completing a work of art; Flippantly: There is a reason I keep playing ADOM) --Bertrc (talk) 01:46, 7 January 2012 (UTC)
No, suffering is not "transformed." That is asinine. The pain that we have endured is not changed or revised, it is just put into a new perspective and appreciated as part of the experience. You are exhilarated after the fact, in a manner that includes the minor pain and gives it meaning, but that pain is not erased or changed in itself - the past is not altered, only your ability to appreciate the pain you underwent.--ADtalkModerator 21:22, 7 January 2012 (UTC)
This is purely "sublimation" (referring to my new shorthand). You're arguing that God will change the suffering gone through in life into a positive feeling. Or as you might say, "completing the run" (i.e. dying) can "retroactively change hitting the wall" (the agony of starvation, cancer, AIDS, etc.) into "exhilaration" (some positive feeling/perspective/whatever). How? Well, you don't know: some kind of deity-magic, apparently.--ADtalkModerator 21:22, 7 January 2012 (UTC)
You don't seem to like it rephrased in this starker way, but that is what you are arguing through your tortured analogy: we suffer now, but after we die God will change our perceptions or ability to appreciate the painful experiences of life into something positive, via some unknown magic.--ADtalkModerator 21:22, 7 January 2012 (UTC)
see below --Bertrc (talk) 00:10, 11 January 2012 (UTC)
I suspect it has no real meaning, and that you yourself couldn't adequately define it, and that your argument could be adequately summed as, "I just believe it" - without any serious underpinning of thought.--ADtalkModerator 22:14, 5 January 2012 (UTC)
Sadly, I am obviously unable to adequately define it for you since you can't seem to grasp the concept from my description. However, the adequate summation would be: "I just experience it." or, more verbosely, "I have experienced suffering, on a vastly smaller scale than our truly tragic experiences, being retroactively transformed so I can conceive that an infinite power can transform suffering that is orders of magnitude greater." --Bertrc (talk) 01:46, 7 January 2012 (UTC)
This is, as I have explained, simply defining away the problem with a change of terms. It's as if God said the sky was red, and you want God to be correct, so now you're saying that the sky is red but we just don't understand why it's red.--ADtalkModerator 06:17, 20 December 2011 (UTC)
I'm guessing you simply don't understand the racing analogy and have never had such an experience elsewhere (FYI, simply saying such would have been much simpler and clearer) As I said, the analogy might not work for those who do not run. I did try to give other examples of this happening, but if you have never had such an experience, then I do not know how to convey it. At the end of an endeavor, the entire task can become something wonderful. It is not that you did not suffer while in the midst and morass; however, in the totality of the accomplishment, it is as if those parts that were "suffering" are causally changed to something of wonder. So far, that is the only answer I have encountered that seems to resolve the problem of evil: That from a place in eternity, our entire, finite, short, wordly existence can be transformed, as reflected in the transformation of many of our more minor experiences (such as a race or creating a work of art). --Bertrc (talk) 23:50, 23 December 2011 (UTC)
I ran cross-country during high school - I assure you, I am familiar with running and with the experience. It is unwise to assume things about strangers on the Internet.--ADtalkModerator 22:14, 5 January 2012 (UTC)
Sadly, just because you ran cross country does not mean you understand my racing analogy. My guess is that you have never labored through a run, hating and cursing the hill, only to exclaim (or horsely gasp  :-) ): "Holy cr@p! That. Was. Awesome!!!" Not in spite of the hill; not except for the hill; not because of the hill; not simply the run in its entirety including the hill; but every individual nook and cranny of the run. --Bertrc (talk) 01:54, 7 January 2012 (UTC)
I think anyone who runs seven miles in a piece is probably going to have "labored through a run" at some point. But your condescension is totally fun, thanks for that. --ADtalkModerator 21:22, 7 January 2012 (UTC)
Yes, achieving a hill can be just like achieving the whole run, if you want to switch to an analogy of a smaller scope. After finishing it, you appreciate the achievement, fun of it, etc. This does not change any part of the argument.--ADtalkModerator 21:22, 7 January 2012 (UTC)
see below --Bertrc (talk) 00:10, 11 January 2012 (UTC)
You don't seem to know what you mean. You are just speaking about how, after exertion, we do not regret doing it because of the resulting rewards, in spite of the pain. In the case of physical accomplishment, like running, this includes the endorphin boost, feeling of well-being, feelings of accomplishment and achievement, pride in performance, and other such things, as well as the actual pleasure of the activity itself (something to which you repeatedly return). But this is, in essence, simply an argument that the pain is an important part of the experience of the activity and vital to the end result (those positive feelings) we achieve at the end. Translated into the realm of the world's suffering, then, you are (apparently unwittingly) arguing that once we're dead, we will be happy to have suffered because it was part of the experience and necessary for living a full human life - or something like that.--ADtalkModerator 22:14, 5 January 2012 (UTC)
Sadly, I think you don't know what I mean, but before I begin, let me first say: "HA! Yes, I guess there is an endorphin aspect to running."  :-D However, even after the endorphins leave, when I have had a good run, my appreciation for the individual pieces (even those I hated while in the midst of them) remains. To address your point, hitting the wall is not a necessary part in order for an entire run, along with the individual slices of it, to be appreciated; this directly contradicts your assertion that the part you suffered through is important or vital. I am not happy because I suffered during the wall; rather, after the fact, the wall will no longer have been suffering. To translate to the scale of suffering that is inconceivably orders of magnitudes greater than that suffering which you or I have experienced transformed (some of which, themselves, are orders of magnitudes worse than hitting the wall), you would have to have an event that is at least as many orders of magnitude greater than whatever transformed them. Fortunately, if you throw an omnipotent God into the equation, you can have an event that is infinitely greater than whatever transformative experiences you or I have experienced. --Bertrc (talk) 02:00, 7 January 2012 (UTC)
Yes, for the umpteenth time, I understand: after a run, you appreciate even the difficult and painful parts, though at the time they were unpleasant. Please stop repeating that same thing over and over as if it contradicts any point I made. My argument is that you are just making a case for "God works in mysterious ways" nonsense: after we die, God will change our perspective in some way so that the pain becomes a good thing in retrospect as part of our lives.--ADtalkModerator 21:22, 7 January 2012 (UTC)
see below. I didn't actually copy your post above; I feel this is just a re-wording of your claim that I attribute the transformation to "Deity-Magic" even though my examples are occurring in the earthly realm. If you think there is some crucial piece that this brings, feel free to copy this branch of the post below --Bertrc (talk) 00:10, 11 January 2012 (UTC)
This is clearly not true, though, as there are people who live lives almost free from suffering and then die peacefully. Are you arguing that a child who dies instantly in his sleep from a heart defect, after a few hours of life and no suffering, did not live a human life? If suffering is a necessary part of the human experience, then are those who suffer so little (like you and I) so much less human than an old man dying of bone cancer?--ADtalkModerator 22:14, 5 January 2012 (UTC)
Sadly, I did not read this before making my previous post. Otherwise, I would have posted it here instead of there. --Bertrc (talk) 02:16, 7 January 2012 (UTC)
Ooo! I thought of another example: A loving, comitted, covenant relationship. When your heart truly opens and is given to somebody, you will find that many things that irritated you or bothered you are now endearing. Oddly enough, even those occurances that happened in the past (before you considered them endearing) seem to have become wonderful. Heck, you may even look fondly on some of your most tearful fights. --Bertrc (talk) 23:50, 23 December 2011 (UTC)
This is just another example of a life experience where the pain is a necessary part of the process and has helped define the experience. But my wife and I almost never fight. Are we not as in love as a couple that fights all the time, yet reconciles? I assure you that if I could take back the fights we have had, I would. They are important as an element of conflict resolution and sorting out the hiccups that result from two people living such close lives, but they're not a good thing. If I could have achieved the solid marriage I have without fighting, I would do so. Because I love my wife and hate it whenever her feelings are hurt. But I am not omnipotent, so I can't avoid all fights.--ADtalkModerator 22:14, 5 January 2012 (UTC)
Sadly, my previous post disagrees that suffering is necessary. All I can say here is that, although there are definitely some fights I would take back, there are a precious few that I would not give away for the world. --Bertrc (talk) 02:25, 7 January 2012 (UTC)
Yes, that is all you can say. I agree.--ADtalkModerator 21:22, 7 January 2012 (UTC)
YAE: Learning. There are many things I have learned to do during which I, at times, found my self hating the process. However, once the knowledge or ability is gained or the concept is comprehended, even those agonizing steps are appreciated. Also, if I may be particularly flippant, there are video games. How many of you have gotten cheat codes when a game was frustrating? In light of that, how many of you can remember persevering through the parts that drove you mad with aggravation and then, later, looking back and liking the entire game, even those parts that made you want to commit technocide? (I guess I should have headed this edit with YME) --Bertrc (talk) 21:39, 5 January 2012 (UTC)
Again, the same thing: you are arguing that the arduous nature of the experience was a part of the richness of the final result. This is only because we're human, and not omnipotent. If it was possible to plug my brain into a computer and learn French, I would do so immediately. Screw flashcards and Rosetta Stone, I want the end result. The argument could be made that I'd be missing the experience of learning the language yada yada, but this is just another flaw in your argument, because it delineates that I cannot achieve the richness of the experience without the suffering inherent in its achievement - because I am a limited human, rather than a deity.--ADtalkModerator 22:14, 5 January 2012 (UTC)
Sadly, my previous post disagrees that suffering is necessary for an experience's richness. All I can add is that I would not change the experience of learning some of the things I love -- mathematics, programming languages, etc. --Bertrc (talk) 02:25, 7 January 2012 (UTC)
Yes. That is all you can add, I agree.--ADtalkModerator 21:22, 7 January 2012 (UTC)
In other words, you are just arguing that God could not design a world that provided a human experience/free will/whatever that did not also include suffering. You are essentially ceding the point, and admitting God is not all-powerful.--ADtalkModerator 22:14, 5 January 2012 (UTC)
Sadly, I am actually saying that God did not need design a world that provided a human experience/free will/whatever that did not also include suffering. I am pointing out that you think too small when considering the implications of being all-powerful. If it makes you feel any better, though, I will concede that I am, no doubt, thinking too small, as well. --Bertrc (talk) 02:25, 7 January 2012 (UTC)
Why is that sad? Oh, wait, sorry, that's just part of that condescending theme you have going for that edit. My bad.--ADtalkModerator 21:22, 7 January 2012 (UTC)
 :-D Actually, I was going for a "snarky" motif. Don't sweat it. --Bertrc (talk) 00:10, 11 January 2012 (UTC)
No, I'm not thinking too small. I fully appreciate that it allows you to make the argument that "God will just fix it somehow after you die, with magic." It's a very convenient argument and it works for everything. For example, you could justify geocentrism. The solar system may appear to go around the Sun, but in fact that's just an illusion done by God-magic. In the same way, the suffering of a bone cancer victim might be bad for him now, but after he dies, God will magic it up somehow so that it was actually not a bad thing.--ADtalkModerator 21:22, 7 January 2012 (UTC)
see below. I didn't actually copy your post above; your post briefly addresses "thinking too small" but I feel it is primarily just a re-wording of your claim that I attribute the transformation to "Deity-Magic" even though my examples are occurring in the earthly realm. Feel free to copy this branch into the new topic, if you think some crucial idea is added in it. --Bertrc (talk) 00:10, 11 January 2012 (UTC)

I've got to say that I personally find the argument from evil unconvincing as an argument against god's existence unconvincing. Two reasons:

  • Firstly because most of the Gods which humanity has come up with have not been omnibelovelent so it's really only an argument against a minority class of gods.
  • Secondly because those who chose to believe in this version will have added a particular interpretation of divine omnibenevolence which enables them to escape from the contradictory consequences of true omnibenevolence. (Obviously they must have these interpretations or they would need to recognise an inconsistency.)

So it's an argument which mostly doesn't apply, and those Gods to whom it might apply have been invented with an escape hatch.--BobSpring is sprung! 09:01, 18 December 2011 (UTC)

Where on God would such a hatch be found? --MtDPinko Scum 09:03, 18 December 2011 (UTC)
I assume that god would be omnihatched - as he/she/it is "omni" many other qualities. Consequently looking for the location of one specific "hatch" would be futile.--BobSpring is sprung! 12:07, 18 December 2011 (UTC)
The fact that the escape hatch needs to be built into it is probably part of the argument. Scarlet A.pngbomination 10:04, 19 December 2011 (UTC)
Well, the Bible does say that we were created in the image of God, so I would put money on His hatch being in his butt, like ours is. That does create disturbing visuals if you believe in an omnihatched God, though --Bertrc (talk) 02:54, 20 December 2011 (UTC)

Actually I dislike this argument for another reason. Like almost all "arguments against the existence of god" it's unnecessary. The onus is not on the unbeliever to present arguments which disprove the existence of dragons or whatever. Believers like our friend above will always be able to redefine their object of choice - dragons, ghosts, Gods, UFO's or whatever - in order to get around any potential problem.

By accepting the burden of proof we legitimise their arguments. So it's a game I personally try to avoid playing. Let them present their evidence.--BobSpring is sprung! 15:10, 19 December 2011 (UTC)

While I agree on the burden of proof, evidence is presented in various forms: personal experience, the very existence of the universe, the Bible and so on. As skeptics it's up to us to issue what level the burden works at and justify why we reject certain types of evidence. The problem of evil, therefore, isn't so much an argument against God's existence, but a hurdle that must be jumped for the burden of proof to be met: i.e., "for me to accept an all-loving, all-powerful God as proposed, you must assert it in a way that is consistent with existing suffering". We then need to explain why and how responses to this tend to be escape hatch arguments in nature and establish a level of proof we require for this hurdle to be successfully jumped. Also, remember that the context is that the majority of people believe in certain things, so we have a remit to argue in reverse this way. Scarlet A.pngd hominem 15:15, 19 December 2011 (UTC)
Well it's a popular argument so it's obvious many people don't agree with me. If people want to run with it that's fine. I dislike it for reasons stated, but I'm not not that excited either way. :-)--BobSpring is sprung! 15:26, 19 December 2011 (UTC)
I do agree with you in principle, it's just that I think "burden of proof" should always be clarified with what the burden actually is. Scarlet A.pngpathetic 15:29, 19 December 2011 (UTC)
I agree with Bob. I'd like to reiterate (I think I blathered about this somewhere above) that I am not actually trying to prove God's existence I am just confronting "The Problem of Evil" conundrum and trying to show that this specific quandary does not necessarily disprove God's benevolence. I'll leave proving God to God. I can barely handle this little bit (if at all) --Bertrc (talk) 03:05, 20 December 2011 (UTC)

How serious is this edit point[edit]

For me the important thing about The Problem Of Evil is that it was an important part of my (de)conversion. As the doubts crept in about the religion I was brought up with the "how can god alow such suffering" was a major stumbling block. From there the path was clearer. Bad Faith (talk) 15:32, 19 December 2011 (UTC)

Yes, but you only need to posit a non-good/indifferent god; or propose that evil, pain or whatever serve some higher "good" purpose and the argument falls. If it works for you then that's great, but I personally think that its both weak and unnecessary.--BobSpring is sprung! 21:17, 19 December 2011 (UTC)
I can't go with the "god moves in mysterious ways" - he isn't measuring up to my standards and that's good enough for me. As for the non-good/indifferent god, well, what's he done to deserve my worship - fuck all. The sort of god the bible thumpers are pushing is the benevolent "good shepherd" and, as such he sucks. The problem of evil doesn't disprove any supreme being, it simply disproves a supreme being worthy of worship, and, in particular, the one which is pushed by the churches. Bad Faith (talk) 21:58, 19 December 2011 (UTC)
I'm not convinced by the "not worth of worship" angle there. It would still be the creator of the universe. A complete douche, yes, but still God with the Capital G - and so worthy pretty much "by definition". I see the "mysterious ways" thing as a hypothesis testing problem; a god working in mysterious ways doesn't really have any predictive value over no god at all. As a YouTube video I once saw pointed out, God answers prayers with "yes" "no" and "not yet" - so how is that different to a milk jug answering prayers with "yes" "no" and "not yet"? Scarlet A.pngd hominem 22:50, 19 December 2011 (UTC)
Bad Faith, I can see that. I certainly wasn't measuring up to my toddler son's standards of how a parent should act when I was holding him immobile while he got his innoculations. I can't remember my own innoculations that well, back then, but I'm pretty sure my own parents weren't measuring up to my standards, either. Heck, I don't even need to go back to my innoculations; as a teen-ager, it just took some arduous chore assignments for my parents to disappoint me. That was certainly good enough for me, at the time. Ditto with the team captains at the start of the season back in college. --Bertrc (talk) 03:24, 20 December 2011 (UTC)
Bob, personally, I've never accepted the "Higher or eventual good" explanation. One of the central tenets of Christianity is that you cannot make up for sinning by doing good (That is the whole reason we needed salvation by grace as opposed to salvation by works) If that is the case, then I don't see how a good result can make up for bad experiences. So far, the only explanation that seems plausible to me is the idea that one's experience of suffering can be utterly transformed, as per the running analogy. I guess an unfortunate corallary is that Joy can be turned on its head as well; I think one night of binge drinking is an easy enough analogy for that. --Bertrc (talk) 03:24, 20 December 2011 (UTC)

Christianity Section[edit]

Okay, so I would like to re-write the Christianity section, only secondarily because I think it misrepresents Christianity. Primarily, it is a rather urinally impoverished paragraph (IMHO):

  1. I could find a huge number of "won't" examples for any "can't" example somebody can bring up in the old testament. Heck, I even disagree with the single "can't" example that is given.
  2. We say that the New Testament is primarily "won't" then we give Job as an example. Job is in th old testament.
  3. We bring up Jesus as a "won't" example. However, the vast majority of Christian religions seem to believe that Jesus is God. When using the allowance of suffering in a problem that seems to contradict an omnibenevolent God, I don't think it makes sense to use an example of Him allowing Himself to suffer.

So, given my blather in the earlier and later discussions, I was considering the following:

Christianity usually takes the stance that we view the existence of suffering as a contradiction to the existence of a omnibenevolent, omniscient, omnipotent God because we are unable to comprehend the infinite power and perspective of such a being. God wouldn't seem so freaking vicious if only we could see the big picture. The standard idea is that the happy-fun land of salvation is so radically transformative that our entire existence -- past, present and future -- is changed into a thing of wonder and beauty once we have reached such a place in eternity.

This concept is mirrored in examples from our earthly lives where, upon the completion of an task, the entire endeavor is remembered fondly -- At the end of a race, even hitting the wall, though painful and detested at the time, is recalled as "exhilarating"; from within a blissful, loving relationship, our hearts can well up with joy at past memories, even at those of tearful altercations; and let us not forget the wonderful world of whatever-craft where, after slaying the Uber-Dragon, you can't understand why you had previously almost thrown your computer out the window in bitter despair and frustration -- Christians will usually acknowledge these are trivial examples, covering scopes of existence which are insignificant even within our finite perspective; the idea seems to be that, as we move to an infinite, unbounded existence, even truly tragic experiences could be transformed, in a manner similar to these, by a God of unlimitted power and ability.

--Bertrc (talk) 21:31, 5 January 2012 (UTC)

. . . so, any thoughts on the text above? More important, any thoughts on whether the existing Christianity section is sub par? --Bertrc (talk) 00:13, 11 January 2012 (UTC)
. . . Beuller? Can we at least fix the non-theological issues I pointed out above? --Bertrc (talk) 00:24, 16 January 2012 (UTC)
I think it would be good to fix some of the errors you have pointed out. I don't think your proposed new paragraphs are very good, though, as I don't think they actually explain anything, but instead pave over a basic omission with some overwritten examples and the phrase "in a manner similar to these." A better version might be something like, "However, some Christians argue that after death, God will transform previous experiences of pain in a magical but inexplicable way."--ADtalkModerator 05:11, 16 January 2012 (UTC)
Take II:

Christianity usually takes the stance that we view the existence of suffering as a contradiction to the existence of a omnibenevolent, omniscient, omnipotent God because we are unable to comprehend the infinite power and perspective of such a being. God wouldn't seem so freaking vicious if only we could see the big picture. The standard idea is that the happy-fun land of salvation is so radically transformative that our entire existence -- past, present and future -- is changed into a thing of wonder and beauty once we have reached such a place in eternity.

They try mirror this with examples from their earthly lives in where, they claim, upon the completion of a task, the entire endeavor is remembered fondly -- At the end of a race, even hitting the wall, though painful and detested at the time, is recalled as "exhilarating"; from within a blissful, loving relationship, our hearts can well up with joy at past memories, even at those of tearful altercations; and let us not forget the wonderful world of whatever-craft where, after slaying the Uber-Dragon, you can't understand why you had previously almost thrown your computer out the window in bitter despair and frustration -- When asked how or why these earthly transformations occur, their responses are usually at the level of: "I dunno . . . They just do."

Christians will usually acknowledge these are trivial examples, covering scopes of existence which are insignificant even within our finite perspective; the idea seems to be that, as we move to an infinite, unbounded existence, even truly tragic experiences could be transformed, in a manner similar to these, by a God of unlimitted power and ability. When asked how such heavenly transformations could occur, their responses are usually on the level of: "Dude, I just told ya -- I don't even know how the earthly ones work." They seem satisfied with this state of affairs.

--Bertrc (talk) 19:58, 18 January 2012 (UTC)

I think that looks pretty good, though I've never heard that argument myself. I usually hear something in the form of "blah blah mysterious ways blah blah" and/or something about Job and whatnot. I say go ahead and replace the section and we'll clean up/add to it as we see fit since it's not very good right now, but that's just me. (ʞlɐʇ) ɹǝɯɯɐHʍoƆ 20:08, 18 January 2012 (UTC)
You haven't heard this version because it's seldom espoused. It is just a complicated form of that same "mysterious ways" thing.--ADtalkModerator 12:32, 19 January 2012 (UTC)
It's always "Mysterious Ways". "Mysterious Ways" is just the label given to that sort of argument to highlight the absurdity of most of it. Scarlet A.pngnarchist 12:44, 19 January 2012 (UTC)
Done. Try not to get to much blood on the screen.  ;-) --Bertrc (talk) 20:41, 26 January 2012 (UTC)

Can suffering be transformed[edit]

The previous discussion was getting too big to be wieldy. So I am moving a bit of it down here. I made slight edits in green so that the previous discussion would not be needed. This is turning into a 2 man debate, which is disappointing. I, obviously, cannot explain it well and AD, obviously, has never experienced it. Am I the only one on this site that has had an experience of suffering, become something wonderful after the fact? Come on, guys; AD and I are boring and repetetive because you are not adding any new flavor.

Suffering (on a vastly smaller scale then our truly tragic experiences) is transformed. Every day. In our normal, natural lives. It is not that it is not suffering (the wall, during a run, can be agonizing; Fights with your loved one can be miserable while in the midst of them; Writer's block can be crushing as you go through it; if I may be flippant: Trying to figure out how to get that dang "3 in Three" across the moving elevators in that video game can drive you to hit your keyboard) In and of itself, it does not "serve a higher purpose" (A run does not need to hurt to be exhilerating; Love does not need fights; A work of art can simply flow from inspiration; flippantly: A strategy for having your gnome illusionist defeat the Uber-Dragon may be crystal clear) God's power may be needed to address suffering on the scale we face over our entire lives, but it is still a natural process; we do it ourselves in the earthly realm, on a vastly smaller scale, all the time (On my own, completing the run can retroactively change hitting the wall into exhilaration; after overcoming whatever self absorption was causing the fight, I can be joyful for the entire event; Ditto for completing a work of art; Flippantly: There is a reason I keep playing ADOM  :-) )) --Bertrc (talk) 01:46, 7 January 2012 (UTC)

No, suffering is not "transformed." That is asinine. The pain that we have endured is not changed or revised, it is just put into a new perspective and appreciated as part of the experience. You are exhilarated after the fact, in a manner that includes the minor pain and gives it meaning, but that pain is not erased or changed in itself - the past is not altered, only your ability to appreciate the pain you underwent. This is purely "sublimation" (referring to my new shorthand). You're arguing that God will change the suffering gone through in life into a positive feeling. Or as you might say, "completing the run" (i.e. dying) can "retroactively change hitting the wall" (the agony of starvation, cancer, AIDS, etc.) into "exhilaration" (some positive feeling/perspective/whatever). How? Well, you don't know: some kind of deity-magic, apparently. You don't seem to like it rephrased in this starker way, but that is what you are arguing through your tortured analogy: we suffer now, but after we die God will change our perceptions or ability to appreciate the painful experiences of life into something positive, via some unknown magic.--ADtalkModerator 21:22, 7 January 2012 (UTC)
AD, You ask, "How does God do it?" I can't answer that any more than I can explain how I (or life or living) do (does) it. Heh, yes, as you said, it might be endorphins for the run  :-D. However, I did not have endorphins when I was having problems understanding Goedel's incompleteness theorems. I literally detested my failure to understand; it almost drove me to tears and certainly drove me to angry bouts of screaming at people (the risk to my GPA may have had something to do with that) When it came clear, though, the entire learning process was transformed. It was not transformed physically. Rather, the suffering aspect was changed into something of wonder; I have never wished that it was clear to me from the start. Ditto for completing a brutal run, for a precious few of the fights I have had with my loved one and for achieving the Chaos God ending in ADOM. Now then, how did I (or life or living) do that? Was I (or life) moving in mysterious ways? Was it my-magic? Living-magic? Some unknown magic? Or was it simply a part of earthly life? Of course, much, if not most, of our suffering is orders of magnitudes greater than a tearful fight with the person you love, etc. However, according to the hype, salvation is supposed to be infinitely greater than reconciling with said person. --Bertrc (talk) 23:39, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
I don't know what to tell you, if you feel that pain is sometimes transformed into a good thing after the fact. To me, that's crazy. I've already laboriously explained that from what I can tell, pain is important and necessary to certain processes (like learning or relationships) because of what it achieves, and how in retrospect it appears to have been worth enduring to attain a greater result. Thus I do not regret tedious hours of memorization, some conflicts with my wife, or the burning of my legs as I rounded the top of a hill. But in my own experience, that pain was not "transformed," and I find this and other formulations of that idea to be insane. I hate seeing my wife unhappy, and I hate even more those petty moments when we were so embroiled in conflict I momentarily found pleasure in such a sight. (Let me pause here to add that this is very unusual and just a harsh formulation of the mechanics of an emotional fight; my wife and I are very happy together and almost never come into conflict.) I recognize that those fights were necessary to work out conflict and build tools and consensus to circumvent future conflict (now I make sure to do the dishes immediately after dinner, instead of procrastinating). But if I could achieve that end result without causing either my wife or myself any pain, I would do it in a moment. I don't want to accuse you of anything, but your repeated insistence that you actually value and like the pain you endure and cause in a fight (or the like) in and of itself, not just for the end result, seems crazy to me. You have skipped past the actual steps involved here, so please explain to me why the suffering of the fight is important to you beyond what it contributes to the end result.--ADtalkModerator 02:34, 11 January 2012 (UTC)

My guess is that you have never labored through a run, hating and cursing the hill, only to exclaim (or horsely gasp  :-) ): "Holy cr@p! That. Was. Awesome!!!" Not in spite of the hill; not except for the hill; not because of the hill; not simply the run in its entirety including the hill; but every individual nook and cranny of the run. --Bertrc (talk) 01:54, 7 January 2012 (UTC)

I think anyone who runs seven miles in a piece is probably going to have "labored through a run" at some point. But your condescension is totally fun, thanks for that. Yes, achieving a hill can be just like achieving the whole run, if you want to switch to an analogy of a smaller scope. After finishing it, you appreciate the achievement, fun of it, etc. This does not change any part of the argument.--ADtalkModerator 21:22, 7 January 2012 (UTC)
. . . I think you just made my point. You show how one can appreciate an experience after completion of the entire task, even if they were suffering during the event, itself. You even describe how scales can be made smaller, just as my examples are on scales vastly smaller than life as a whole. --Bertrc (talk) 23:50, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
The fact that your analogy scales from smaller to larger perspective does not prove that (a) it is a valid analogy to our experience, since you are comparing minor and voluntary suffering that moves towards a positive end result to the pointless and brutal suffering on a staggering scale that occurs, and have not provided any reasons to overcome these fundamental differences in the sorts of pain that occur, and (b) you have not managed to actually articulate how pain is transformed. You describe vividly how much it hurts, and vividly how it feels afterward, but gloss over the middle with a "somehow."--ADtalkModerator 02:42, 11 January 2012 (UTC)
Well, since it does happen, here in real life (in my life, at least) there must be a mechanism. I can articulate how it feels but not how it happens, since I don't know. However, to re-iterate, since it does happen, explaining how strikes me as interesting and possibly helpful, but not actually necessary. --Bertrc (talk) 05:00, 11 January 2012 (UTC)
Ah, of course. So you feel pain during life, and then later something happens maybe, and it's not pain anymore. No, wait, sorry, it's still pain, but you just remember it differently. No, that's not it either. You still remember the pain, but it's part of a larger purpose - no, no, that's the whole "ends and means" thing you rejected. Ah, of course, the pain is transformed/changed/transmogrified - or some other term that indicates that it has been altered in some way that isn't actually altering your memory or its severity and that you claim is possible because you are capable of constructing a rough analogy that depends on your own subjective summary of your experience that you are unable to explain or communicate beyond the term "somehow."
Sounds airtight.--ADtalkModerator 12:01, 15 January 2012 (UTC)
As I said before, after a run the pain that we have endured is not changed or revised, it is just put into a new perspective and appreciated as part of the experience. You are exhilarated after the fact, in a manner that includes the minor pain and gives it meaning, but that pain is not erased or changed in itself - the past is not altered, only your ability to appreciate the pain you underwent. This is because the end result makes the suffering worthwhile. We cannot achieve the end result without the suffering. If we could, we would. If we could somehow extricate the exhilaration of laboring muscles from the associated burn of pain, I know that I would do it in a moment. But we're mortal, and the suffering is deeply entwined with the joy of exertion, and so we only appreciate it in retrospect. We are not omnipotent.--ADtalkModerator 02:42, 11 January 2012 (UTC)
You seem to be saying we appreciate the pain because the pain was necessary; that we "cannot achieve the result without suffering;" but I have equally enjoyed runs where I did not have pain (and there have been runs that I have not enjoyed, both with and without pain) Ditto for learning, etc. That seems to imply that the pain was not necessary. However, there are certainly times, after the fact (definitely not during) where I do appreciate the pain. Heh, if I may be flippant, I have a great example that shows we endure hardships that are not necessary. Two Words: "Save Scumming". There is a reason many people avoid it.  :-) --Bertrc (talk) 04:46, 11 January 2012 (UTC)
Indeed. Pain is terrible and it's terrible we have to endure it.--ADtalkModerator 05:12, 11 January 2012 (UTC)
Yep, totally wondrous - Now, you might think I'm being facetious here, but seriously think about what you're saying. Don't just brush it off, actually consider what actual suffering exists (and by any believer in a great and good God must conclude, is allowed) on this planet. This is anything but the feeling of "oh this 10 mile run is difficult". Scarlet A.pnggnostic 00:14, 11 January 2012 (UTC)
Obligatory Slacktivist post. Star of David.png Radioactive afikomen Please ignore all my awful pre-2014 comments. 00:18, 11 January 2012 (UTC)
Scarlet A.pnggnostic, I'd have to address that on a few fronts. Firstly, I'd have to ask you what you possibly know or understand about suffering on that scale or of the perspectives of somebody who is suffering so; let's face it: you really don't know any more than I do. Neither of us can say whether or not any particular parent of a starving child in Africa is thinking "God is holding me and suffering with me; upon salvation, my entire existence will be transformed so that I might exult in it completely." Stick to the suffering you know. Secondly, I'd ask if the fact you are changing the scale to such a degree means that you understand and agree with my proposal on lesser scales? If so, I would point out that all you are doing is changing scales. You are pointing out the tragedy of suffering on a scale that is orders of magnitudes beyond what we can comprehend; I'm proposing a transformative event that is similarly (infinitely, in fact) beyond what we can understand. On an aside, thank you for not fulfilling Godwin's law; there are certainly sufficient pictures for that purpose. --Bertrc (talk) 01:01, 11 January 2012 (UTC)
Stop worming out of the point; starvation is starvation, pain is pain, and what actually happens in the world is, well, what actually happens in the world. If your point cannot address the scale of the entire world, then it is less than worthless. Essentially, what you're saying is "I don't know what this person is thinking, but they could be happy and because of God" - or alternatively they can be in agony and wanting to die and your notion of God being with them might be viewed as nothing more than rubbing salt into wounds, if not far worse. The technical term for this is "bullshit". Scarlet A.pngnarchist 01:03, 11 January 2012 (UTC)
I'm not saying they could be happy or might not be happy. The whole first part of my post was meant to show that neither of us can say that. IMHO, your technical term should be applied to anybody who has lived the lives we have lived but still thinks that they can speak for the starving in Africa. The second part of my post was addressing your issue of scale. Remember, this article is about whether the existence of suffering contradicts the possibility of an omnipotent, omnibenevolent deity. We are Rationalwiki, remember? The examples I gave are to show that it is possible to transform suffering. Are you "worming" out of addressing the lesser scale?  ;-) An omnipotent being should be able to increase the scale of a transformative event to match any change in scale you bring to the suffering. --Bertrc (talk) 01:27, 11 January 2012 (UTC)
If "neither" of us can come to a conclusion about how someone else views suffering then your point is mooted again because it might just be that they frigging hate it and would think you talking about God being loving makes you plain and simply sadistic. In fact, we'd be more justified in thinking that because empathy, that is the ability to imagine someone else's experience and think about what they must be feeling, combined with a bit of Occam's Razor, suggests just that - because I certainly wouldn't be very happy starving to death. Now you're just special pleading your arse off with the whole "an omnipotent being should..." because an omnipotent being should be able to accomplish its tasks without the need for suffering - No ifs, no buts, End. Of. Story. It should not be necessary in the first place unless God is not Good and is, in fact, a sadist. Scarlet A.pngd hominem 01:37, 11 January 2012 (UTC)
. . . But you haven't addressed whether or not you accept the examples on the lesser scale. Talking about how somebody views or feels about the suffering they are experiencing is not the point of this article. The article is asking if suffering precludes an omnibenevolent being. If such a being can retroactively change suffering so that you won't consider it to have been suffering, then I think the answer is "No." Heck, I don't think I ever said "an omnipotent being should prevent suffering" I have been saying "an omnipotent being could completely transform an experience so that it will not have been suffering." --Bertrc (talk) 01:58, 11 January 2012 (UTC)
I guess what I don't understand is that this is supposed to be an actual logical argument, not a way for someone to try to deal with their persoanal suffering. My mom died when I was 6. (My father was a minister, remember, so church was important to all of them). Everyone around me told me how she was with god now, or how now she could always look down on me and protect me. They were trying to make me feel better. to give suffering meaning, I guess. But they weren't using logic. The were not showing how there is an actual, phsyical place souls go, nor were they offering any evidence that this had happened before. Your argument is not different. You want there to be a god, fine, for you there is. But saying "he uses suffering to teach us" or whatever you are *trying* (badly) to explain is not logic. It's just emotion. it's a wish. a hope. a need for there to be some kind of reason for all teh crap we suffer from.Pink mowse.pngGodotDear god, fucking grow up 00:29, 11 January 2012 (UTC)
WaitingForGodot . . . That sucks. Frankly, I don't think there is anything anybody could or should say to you beyond that. The fact that your Mom died, let alone when you were so young, is awful. I know you want something logical, but you shouldn't use logic to cope with emotions; emotions are meant to be felt . . . I guess that the only "logical" thing I can tell you is to not look at my proposal as some way to deal with emotions. I can't even bring myself to be snarky when pointing out that I never said God uses suffering to teach us; I think that is a horrible idea. If you want logic, simply for confronting the quandary of the problem of evil, I would ask if you understand at all when I talk about a transformative event retro-actively changing suffering. If so, then an omnipotent being should be able to create an event that can transform any level of suffering. However, this doesn't prove whether such an omnipotent being exists and it certainly doesn't change the suffering we are in the midst of. --Bertrc (talk) 01:50, 11 January 2012 (UTC)
Ironically, it didn't "suck" the way most people think it would, cause at six, you understand these things are part of life. What surprised me was the need to explain suffering, death, sadness, as you are doing in your "argument". Just saying, it doesn't sound at all like a logically constructed argument, it sounds like a way to try to rationalize horrible things. Pink mowse.pngGodotDear god, fucking grow up 02:03, 11 January 2012 (UTC)
Hmmmm, if by "explain suffering" you mean "explain the reason or meaning for suffering" then I actually think I am doing the opposite. Nothing I have said talks about why suffering is there. Heck, if you must know, I think suffering is an awful thing that is entirely unnecessary. However, as I have written ad nauseum, I think suffering can be transformed. This does not mean that there is a reason for suffering. If suffering can be changed by an event which is great enough, then it will no longer have been suffering. If you have never had experiences akin to the transformations I described, though, then you won't understand. --Bertrc (talk) 04:31, 11 January 2012 (UTC)
"I think anyone who runs seven miles in a piece is probably going to have "labored through a run" at some point." Oh please. Learn how to train. :P Sam Tally-ho! 00:31, 11 January 2012 (UTC)