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 Epicurus' View on God 
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Post Epicurus' View on God
"Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent.
Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent.
Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?
-Epicurus"

Discuss, go.


Tue Sep 15, 2009 5:46 am
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Post Re: Epicurus' View on God
You've presented some great ideas there.

Most people will counter it with some drivel about how the world is a test; if it's true, it's all just a huge game of "I bet you can't do this" between God and Satan. So much for the "benevolent god" hogwash.

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Tue Sep 15, 2009 5:21 pm
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Post Re: Epicurus' View on God
Most people actually respond with the comment "Freedom of choice".

I would go on, but I have the feeling n0th1ng will be here soon.

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Post Re: Epicurus' View on God
The old Theodicy problem? Its a rather pedestrian dispute which is based on alot of assumptions it does not clearly lay out.

It interestingly assumes that a benevolent being would necessarily not allow anything bad to ever happen. Yet, it never considers the question: what is evil? By what standard do you call a thing "good" and another "evil"? If you follow that there is indeed a God, who is the source and standard of goodness, then you have your standard and you most certainly have your God whom you have already predicated with being Good, and evil is most logically a term for things which in some way fall short of being connected or in likeness with God, the things which stray away in some way from God. We will put the next considerations aside for now.

If you do not start with there being a God, where is your standard, and what is the standards credentials? Likely you base it on something arbitrary, or on mere whim of preference, and even more likely you are actually basing your ideas on the doctrines which rely on there being a God in the first place. There are theoretically other options, but I have yet to see one that isn't simply arbitrary.

Of course, once you consider, or possibly before you do, what is evil, you must also figure out what you mean by good or benevolent. Do you mean simply what is pleasing to you personally, or do you mean what objectively is so, or do you mean what the philosophers would often eventually boil down to, as earlier, that which is in likeness or relation to God?

This also seems based on a particular other assumption: God does nothing about evil. That evil is allowed to be does not mean that nothing is being done about it. Possibly something far greater is being done about it than simply preventing it from being entirely. For maybe it shows greater omnipotence, even greater benevolence, not to disallow evil, but to pull out good from evil when it occurs, or to allow the choice (as pKb indicated) to those of the ones most loved to choose one or the other, and to produce good strong enough that could battle the evil.

Or, possibly, the Epicurus and his followers are simply whining that God doesn't act the way they want him too (despite that God has no obligation to do so whatsoever), and the world is difficult and maybe their way isn't really so great after all and they don't even understand whats going on. That's a distinct possibility but we'll entertain the above for now.

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Tue Sep 15, 2009 11:32 pm
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Post Re: Epicurus' View on God
Well, since you brought up the point, I'll ask: can there be good without evil? Of course, this is a philosophical debate that has been going on for who knows how long, so it's doubtful I would be able to answer it in a single forum post, let alone on a whim.

But I suppose one should first consider whether those that are evil consider themselves to be evil. Contrary to story villains like the Joker, I don't think that there are really all that many people who want to, as that particular movie puts it "watch the world burn." Then what is good, what is evil? Is good what benefits you? What benefits the majority? What benefits those in need?

Although this paragraph:
Quote:
This also seems based on a particular other assumption: God does nothing about evil. That evil is allowed to be does not mean that nothing is being done about it. Possibly something far greater is being done about it than simply preventing it from being entirely. For maybe it shows greater omnipotence, even greater benevolence, not to disallow evil, but to pull out good from evil when it occurs, or to allow the choice (as pKb indicated) to those of the ones most loved to choose one or the other, and to produce good strong enough that could battle the evil.


Assuming there is a God (for if there weren't, this argument is moot), their purpose is then to test humans? For what purpose? If it is to "produce good strong enough that could battle the evil.," is it for the purpose of making humans self reliant, rather than reliant on an "Upper Being," whether it be a God, Goddess or a polytheistic collection of gods?

I'm not saying I support Epicurus, I just like debating. :D


Wed Sep 16, 2009 6:10 am
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Post Re: Epicurus' View on God
Actually, I very much never said anything about this being at all to test humans. I'm not sure why that even seems like a probably reasoning from what I said honestly. And the greater good from evil is better understood as a foreseeable response to evil rather than a purpose. And also I never really mentioned humans in the equation, though we could consider humans. At least some of the philosophers along the lines of Epicurus have actually put this question in context of what they call 'natural evil' rather than human good and evil, i.e. natural disasters and disease and so on.

However, in the line of "what is linked to God is thus the good, and what turns from God is thus lacking of good in some degree and thus what we call 'evil'" the purpose would very well not be to make humans self reliant in certain senses, since that would mean detaching from the God, and thus falling into evil. The purpose would seem more likely to allow them to understand and appreciate, or simply to willfully choose and thus choose stronger, there utter reliance on the God, as the source of what is good and as that without which they experience evil.

As for you first question: yes, there can be good without evil. When evil is understood as merely a term for a degree of lacking of good, rather than a separate entity unto itself, you can understand that is something is not lacking, is satisfied/complete in the good, there need not be evil. Indeed, in this line of understanding good can penetrate and eliminate evil in the same way water can be poured into an empty glass, or better, light can expand and fill darkness so that there is no darkness, yet emptiness is not necessary to exist for fullness to exist, nor darkness for light. And, we would say this occures with good and evil, as the God is complete and without any evil inside Himself. We would on the other hand say, that as evil is simply a degree of lack, and that existence itself is a most base form of good, there can be good without evil, but not evil without good (again because evil is not an entity unto itself). However, at this point it may seem like arguments are being split, I would just remind you that there are a few pieces missing for time reasons and not to get too tied up in analogies (they are there for explanation of concepts).

Your second part gets to part of an earlier point about matters of perspectives. Someone may see something and, in their view, often an isolated one, think "this is evil and terrible", while another say "this is good". This does not mean there is no definite good and evil, but that we often have a rather limited viewpoint and make an interpretation based on incomplete information, which may change with more information or may not. Likewise one might say having only read little of the book and not knowing the man and greater context that "1984" is pro-communist, while another having read the whole book and knowing a bit more about George Orwell's body of work and views that it is extremely anti-communist (this is a real example by the way, a community tried to ban the book for being pro-communist before).

But, going back to the last part, I believe I answered above what the good is: that which is best linked with the God. On this view, those that follow it, will also say that on the greater scale, and to a greater extent, though it may not be immediately apparent, this focus allows one to also accomplish the things you mentioned best, benefiting the community, self, need, everything at once.

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Post Re: Epicurus' View on God
It's a good argument against a Personal God, unfortunately Priests and Theologians don't think on a common sense level. They seem to try and point out a greater good.

Here is why the freedom of choice thing is bullshit:

A girl is kidnapped, raped and tortured until one day she dies. This happens. Now, where was the freedom of choice? If God cared about us, why would he allow something like this to happen to a poor, innocent girl?

Answer this before answering anything else.

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Post Re: Epicurus' View on God
CarsitoPyg wrote:
It's a good argument against a Personal God, unfortunately Priests and Theologians don't think on a common sense level. They seem to try and point out a greater good.

Here is why the freedom of choice thing is bullshit:

A girl is kidnapped, raped and tortured until one day she dies. This happens. Now, where was the freedom of choice? If God cared about us, why would he allow something like this to happen to a poor, innocent girl?

Answer this before answering anything else.


Priests and Theologians actually tend to first think on a common sense level. I think G.K. Chesterton had his "Father Brown" say something along those very lines. Get to know a several sometime.

As for your proposition: So? Whats the problem? Why shouldn't all that happen? Why should God disallow it?

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Post Re: Epicurus' View on God
Regarding your analogy of the light expanding until there is no darkness: this can only be regarded as true if you believe in Good as an absolute (or light for that matter), for what is darkness but an area that is not as light as another? If a room is uniformally dark, it would be just as correct to say that it is uniformally light. Hence, if good expanded, per se, so that there was no evil, does that not then raise the standard of what is "Good?" For "Good" is not black or white, no matter what your point of view, "Good" is measured in shades of gray. What is someone that is "Evil" other than someone who is less good than someone who is "Good?" Although I guess the point is moot, since there are holes in an analogy, the only perfect explanation is the straight facts-the problem with metaphors is that if they have holes, they can be used to show holes in the original argument, even if they aren't there.

As for the point you bring up with 1984, you are saying that anything can be considered as good, because you cannot know the full ramifications of an action, and that though it may appear bad, in the... ineffable, let's call it, plan it may be good?

Quote:
Of course, once you consider, or possibly before you do, what is evil, you must also figure out what you mean by good or benevolent. Do you mean simply what is pleasing to you personally, or do you mean what objectively is so, or do you mean what the philosophers would often eventually boil down to, as earlier, that which is in likeness or relation to God?

Quote:
However, in the line of "what is linked to God is thus the good, and what turns from God is thus lacking of good in some degree and thus what we call 'evil'" the purpose would very well not be to make humans self reliant in certain senses, since that would mean detaching from the God, and thus falling into evil. The purpose would seem more likely to allow them to understand and appreciate, or simply to willfully choose and thus choose stronger, there utter reliance on the God, as the source of what is good and as that without which they experience evil.


That wasn't my point; though first of all I have to address the problem of "what is Good?" How are humans to know what is linked to God, and what turns from God? I cannot imagine a depiction of God in which humans are granted full knowledge of what God would or would not do. My point was, for what purpose does God (assuming Its existence), govern over the world? To teach its denizens what is Good, as is defined as being linked to God? Why is God the arbitrator of what is Good? How is this not as arbitrary as saying that Person A will be the arbitrator of what is Good and what is not (i.e. Evil)? Is it not the same as declaring what is Good to be a personal whim, albeit that of God? Say that humans do choose the "stronger" path, being able to differentiate Good from Evil independently. How is that choosing reliance on God? Doesn't that make them less reliant on God?


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Post Re: Epicurus' View on God
n0th1n wrote:
CarsitoPyg wrote:
It's a good argument against a Personal God, unfortunately Priests and Theologians don't think on a common sense level. They seem to try and point out a greater good.

Here is why the freedom of choice thing is bullshit:

A girl is kidnapped, raped and tortured until one day she dies. This happens. Now, where was the freedom of choice? If God cared about us, why would he allow something like this to happen to a poor, innocent girl?

Answer this before answering anything else.


Priests and Theologians actually tend to first think on a common sense level. I think G.K. Chesterton had his "Father Brown" say something along those very lines. Get to know a several sometime.

As for your proposition: So? Whats the problem? Why shouldn't all that happen? Why should God disallow it?


Back to Epicurus's quote. If he has the ability to stop this, why won't he? It's because he does not care about our suffering. He allows it all the time. If a personal God does exist, he certainly doesn't give a fuck about us. Hell, it's likely that he likes to watch us suffer and even sets up scenarios where it happens (like the Greek and Roman Gods).

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