Is Suffering Compatible With God's Existence?
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06-12-2014, 07:51 AM (This post was last modified: 06-12-2014 11:02 AM by DLJ.)
Is Suffering Compatible With God's Existence?
That is the subject of next week's Philosophy Group meetup here in Singapore.

It looks like it's going to be the biggest turn-out of the year.

Those who know me will be able to guess what my approach will be (assuming I'll be able to get a word in edgeways).

I was wondering how you guys would approach the subject.

Here is a paper we've been asked to read as a scene-setter.

From the comments section (via the first link) is this gem from Joe who pretty much sums things up quite nicely as...

"The day approaches ..."



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06-12-2014, 08:42 AM
RE: Is Suffering Compatible With God's Existence?
I think they have the argument wrong:
Quote:(1) If God exists, then there would be no pointless suffering.
(2) There probably is pointless suffering.
(3) Therefore, probably God does not exist.

Should be:
(1) If a benevolent God exists, then there would be no pointless suffering.
(2) There is apparently pointless suffering.
(3) Therefore, such a God does not exist.

The article does a relatively fair job of reviewing the arguments and I agree that the theists' best argument is to presuppose god does exist and deny that there is pointless suffering. The idea that a benevolent god would allow us to endure suffering that we saw as pointless is contradictory though so all it supports is a god that is not benevolent or one that is severely limited in his powers. It's why the problem of evil has been such a problem for Christianity for so long; all they can fall back on is "mysterious ways" which is just a cop-out.

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06-12-2014, 10:15 AM
RE: Is Suffering Compatible With God's Existence?
(06-12-2014 08:42 AM)unfogged Wrote:  I think they have the argument wrong:
Quote:(1) If God exists, then there would be no pointless suffering.
(2) There probably is pointless suffering.
(3) Therefore, probably God does not exist.

Should be:
(1) If a benevolent God exists, then there would be no pointless suffering.
(2) There is apparently pointless suffering.
(3) Therefore, such a God does not exist.
In a philosophy of religion context, something like omnibenevolence is almost always implied in the definition of the word "God." It's usually explicitly stated in academic papers, like the one in the second link, but even if it's not, it's safe to assume that something like "maximal goodness" or "moral perfection" are implied when someone talks about God in the general sense.

I'm just thinking out loud.
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06-12-2014, 10:35 AM
RE: Is Suffering Compatible With God's Existence?
(06-12-2014 07:51 AM)DLJ Wrote:  I was wondering how you guys would approach the subject.

1. Have they defined exactly what they mean by "evil", (or suffering for that matter) ? It appears they interchangeably use both, and define neither.
If there is "evil" then there probably should be a standard against which something is measured to meet the definition. If by "suffering" they mean that which causes pain, they can try again. Not all pain is bad. Is it bad my quads ache after doing squats ? Nope.

2. This "argument to prove" something, is bullshit. It assumes Reality is intuitively logical. It ain't.

So I'd ask them :
a. what they think they're doing, and why they think it's worthwhile,
b. ask for definitions of all pertinent concepts.
Popcorn

Insufferable know-it-all.Einstein God has a plan for us. Please stop screwing it up with your prayers.
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06-12-2014, 11:08 AM
RE: Is Suffering Compatible With God's Existence?
(06-12-2014 10:35 AM)Bucky Ball Wrote:  ...

So I'd ask them :
a. what they think they're doing, and why they think it's worthwhile,
b. ask for definitions of all pertinent concepts.
Popcorn

As I said... those who know me... Big Grin

But I'm going for b) first as it has the benefit of causing a bit of heat before a) which should start the rioting.

Cool

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06-12-2014, 12:02 PM
RE: Is Suffering Compatible With God's Existence?
(06-12-2014 10:35 AM)Bucky Ball Wrote:  ----
b. ask for definitions of all pertinent concepts.
----

^^This^^

The pertinent concept being: a clearly defined concept of "god".

Not a definition of need or a reason for a god, rather a clearly defined concept with no speculation of intent or purpose.

A new type of thinking is essential if mankind is to survive and move to higher levels. ~ Albert Einstein
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06-12-2014, 12:41 PM
RE: Is Suffering Compatible With God's Existence?
Gods that are conceptualised by theologians and given arbitrary traits such as omnipotence, omniscience, omnipresence, and perfection reflect a stagnant and dangerous perspective.
If there is a universal 'force for the good' our earthly scenario reflects it little.
In terms of infinity many things are possible, perhaps even a force as indicated, that may well transcend much of both our secular and spiritual leanings.
This is simply an hypothesis of what possibly could be. The difficulties are boundless.
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06-12-2014, 12:56 PM
RE: Is Suffering Compatible With God's Existence?
(06-12-2014 12:41 PM)Mr Woof Wrote:  Gods that are conceptualised by theologians and given arbitrary traits such as omnipotence, omniscience, omnipresence, and perfection reflect a stagnant and dangerous perspective.
If there is a universal 'force for the good' our earthly scenario reflects it little.
In terms of infinity many things are possible, perhaps even a force as indicated, that may well transcend much of both our secular and spiritual leanings.
This is simply an hypothesis of what possibly could be. The difficulties are boundless.

Yep. I might even be able to accept the concept of a god ... if it could be defined without such presuppositions.

I mean... I define myself without such presumptions. If it's good enough for me, a god should be able to withstand similar scrutiny. Drinking Beverage

A new type of thinking is essential if mankind is to survive and move to higher levels. ~ Albert Einstein
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06-12-2014, 01:08 PM
RE: Is Suffering Compatible With God's Existence?
(06-12-2014 12:56 PM)kim Wrote:  
(06-12-2014 12:41 PM)Mr Woof Wrote:  Gods that are conceptualised by theologians and given arbitrary traits such as omnipotence, omniscience, omnipresence, and perfection reflect a stagnant and dangerous perspective.
If there is a universal 'force for the good' our earthly scenario reflects it little.
In terms of infinity many things are possible, perhaps even a force as indicated, that may well transcend much of both our secular and spiritual leanings.
This is simply an hypothesis of what possibly could be. The difficulties are boundless.

Yep. I might even be able to accept the concept of a god ... if it could be defined without such presuppositions.

I mean... I define myself without such presumptions. If it's good enough for me, a god should be able to withstand similar scrutiny. Drinking Beverage
Yes! The great bulk of arguments opposing 'god' are linked to the definitions posited by the theologians. We are in no way obliged to take this on board, or stop thinking for that matter.Consider
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06-12-2014, 02:46 PM
RE: Is Suffering Compatible With God's Existence?
(06-12-2014 10:15 AM)KnowtheSilence Wrote:  
(06-12-2014 08:42 AM)unfogged Wrote:  I think they have the argument wrong:

Should be:
(1) If a benevolent God exists, then there would be no pointless suffering.
(2) There is apparently pointless suffering.
(3) Therefore, such a God does not exist.
In a philosophy of religion context, something like omnibenevolence is almost always implied in the definition of the word "God." It's usually explicitly stated in academic papers, like the one in the second link, but even if it's not, it's safe to assume that something like "maximal goodness" or "moral perfection" are implied when someone talks about God in the general sense.

Ooooh, I want to play:

(1) If an evil god exists, then there would be pointless suffering.
(2) There is pointless suffering.
(3) Therefore, an evil god does exist.

And I'll support this with these facts:

1. All living beings die
2. All living beings experience suffering in their lives.

Gods derive their power from post-hoc rationalizations. -The Inquisition

Using the supernatural to explain events in your life is a failure of the intellect to comprehend the world around you. -The Inquisition
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