I appreciate your perspective Alex.
We're overpopulating like crazy and sadly we're due for a catastrophic correction at some point. Either we die a bit at a time from diseases and other natural causes (as has been happening throughout our history), we cheat the system for a while without reduction of the birth rate until more catastrophic events take out larger and larger chunks of the population at a time (as we are doing now) or we reduce the birthrate drastically so drastically, it would likely take world-wide authoritarian enforcement to do it (i.e., China)...which would really suck in itself. I'll take the freedom to die catastrophically any day over that.
This is simply how it is in the real world.
I'd go with #2 on the list, btw.
(Isaiah 45:7, KJV) - "I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things."
22,000 Dead So Far in Myanmar
I appreciate your perspective Alex.
Hi Alpaca: I understand the basic point of your post. Basically, you believe that a distinction can be made between natural disasters and moral evil. I mean no disrespect; II simply wish to say that I disagree. To reiterate, for me, there is absolutely no distinction between what is termed "natural evil" and "moral evil." For me, the existence of both is the strongest evidence against the existence of an all-powerful and benevolent God [as conceived of in traditional theology].
In regard to animals, they suffered long before the arrival of homo sapiens on the scene. In ancien Greek terms, the world is much more chaos than cosmos. Considered in universal terms, creation is a blood-bath - horrifyingly violent and unjust. Simply stated, there is no justice in creation. There is no moral order, no moral rhyme or reason. Observing "God's creation - life itself - is like watching a never ending "gore-film", a horror movie. These may seem like naive words at first, but not if one thinks about it.
A basic question of mine is: Why does the life of an organism depend on the death of another organism? Why does life require death to sustain itself? This is the case from the "lowest" form of life to the "highest." It seems that one form of life must die in order for another form of life to live. Why must itbe so? To put it poetically, why must the gazelle or the antelope die in order for the lion to live? Why can't life be self-sustaining and sufficient unto itself.
Please let me not be misunderstood. I'm no naive witness waiting for the new system in which lions snuggle with sheep. I know very well that this will never be the case. My question is much more basic. Again, it is: Why must there be death/sufffering in order for there to be life. I disagree with Leibnitz who thought that our world was the best imaginable. In my opinion, it's far, far from it. I can easily imagine a world in which life is self-sustaining and sufficient unto itself. I can easily imagine a world that is total cosmos - total order as opposed to utter chaos.
Another poster asked how I define evil. Simple. I define evil as suffering. I define it as pain. I find it paradoxical that we humans were supposedly made in the image of our "loving Creator," endowed with a sense of justice. And yet, this very same "loving creator" brings into existence a world utterly devoid of justice. In response to this horror, we humans are suposed to "suspend" our innate, natural sense of justice and simply say: "Oh well, God has his reasons. It's all a mystery that will be explained to us by and by." To that, I say - "Bullshit!" Why would God endow humans with a sense of justice, only to create a world utterly devoid of justice.
I hate to sound dogmatic, but make no mistake about it - Natural evil is the same as moral evil. There is no justifiable excuse for the existence of suffering and pain in the world. If there were an all-benevolent, all-powerful god, this god could easily put a stop to evil. The logic of Epicurus is inescapable. It is so easy to imagine a world in which there is no suffering.
Thanks for clarifying your thoughts. I think I understand what you are saying. Unfortunately, what is, IS and what ain't, AIN'T. The world we would like to see, or can imagine, without pain and suffering, will remain an elusive dream. It is disappointing at a certain level, because humans have so much potential to change the world for the better, but we apparently lack the collective wisdom to actually effect that change.
We are a very young species and at the rate we are going it doesn't look like we are laying the foundation to eventually be an older, more mature species. For what it is worth, my thinking is very much shaped by my geology education. We geologists take a very distinctive look at time. Geologists and astronomers are the two groups of scientists who regularly consider the world in the context of "deep time" -- periods of millions, 100s of millions, and billions of years. The earth and all of the life on it has been rolling along (rather violently as you have so correctly pointed out) for a very long time and there is no reason to think things will not continue to roll along in a similar way (with or without humans or some other intelligent form of life), well into the distant future. It's just how it is. I don't think that there is a god or gods who have anything to do with anything that goes on here.
It doesn't mean that we shouldn't do our best to create a better, more just and fair world. I think that is the moral imperative that our big brains have imposed on us. Animals do what they do because they have to. Humans should be at a point in their development that they do what they do simply because they choose to. Humans should have already reached a point of cognition well beyond that of mere animals. But, chronic, global starvation and privation do not promote the higher powers of reason.
Here's a perfect example of what I am talking about. Several weeks ago I came across a Buddhist proverb that says something like, "When we feed grain to the animals and let the children starve, we surrender that which makes us human." So think about this... with ethanol being touted as a fuel alternative, we are not feeding grain to the animals, we are feeding it to the machines. It is insane. I started a thread about this a few weeks ago but it went nowhere.
All the best Rapunzel,
For that matter, what is "perfection"? It's simply something we dreamed up. I think that our instinct to strive for perfection is just natural desire to optimize the parameters we're dealt with. That's survival. Its how us humans prosper.
Pain? It's a darn good way for us to try and avoid something that will kill us. It all works.
And I wonder, where could God be now?
I wonder, how many of those people had just gotten married? How many infants and toddlers died? How many pregnant women? The numbers are simply an abstraction until you start trying to imagine the individuals involved, and the terror that they must have experienced. What a way to go. :(
And echoing Alpaca, with populations spiraling out of control and ice caps melting and superstorms brewing, the next however many years could bring one Armageddonish event after another.
I imagine that there will be some Awake in the coming weeks or months with a photo of a cyclone damaged coastal city as the cover background and with some ridiculous 'When will it end' headline...BARF
When I think about what you write, its hard to believe in a God.
When I think about how my life keeps plodding along, then sometimes I believe God is helping me.
If I look at the big picture it doesnt add up.
If I look at the little picture, I can find a little comfort.
Maybe God and prayer is a way some of us have learned to self talk and come up with enough positivity to make it through another day of a misserable existence.
I keep thinking there is some light at the end of the tunnel or better days ahead.
I thank everyone for their responses.
BTS - I apologize if I offended you with my query. I appreciate all of your posts, and I meant no disrespect when I asked if I could infer sarcasm/irony in your previous post. I guess you and I see things differently. Again, I apologize if I offended you.
M.J. - For me "perfection" would be the elimination/absence of suffering. I don't necessarily wish for eternal youth/life, or eternal bliss. I simply wish for the absence of suffering. It's ironic how we humans can most assuredly and justifiably condemn God for utterly lacking justice, using the very sense of justice that God supposedly endowed us with!!
Alpaca - It is a pleasure for me to read your posts; it's wonderful to have a person of your intelligence contributing to the discussions here. I know next to nothing of either cosmology or geology. But I do realize how scientists and thinkers in these two fields conceptualize time [and space.] They think in terms of eons, not years or generations. May I quote the French philosopher, Pascal who said: "When I consider the short duration of my lifetime, absorbed in the eternity that precedes and follows it, the tiny space I fill and I can see. lost in the infinite immensity of the spaces of which I know nothing and which know nothing of me, I am dismayed and astonished to find myself here rather than there; for there is no reason to be here rather than there; now rather than then. Who put me here? By whose order and conduct have this place and time been destined for me?"
DanT.M. - What you write reminds me of an idea in Jewish philosophy regarding the horror of murder/homocide. The notion is that when someone [person A] kills another person [person B], not only does person A kill person B, he/she also effectively kills every other person who would have been born from person B. Anyone who kills another person is also slaughtering countless succeeding generations.
But of course, most people don't even consider the horror of this idea, which reminds me of an infamous quote by Joseph Stalin who said: "The death of one man is a tragedy; the death of millions is a mere statistic." Burma is a small and hopelessly poor nation of absolutely no geo-political or strategic importance. Within days, this story will be forgotten. After all, Miley Cyrus did show part of her ass, you know. And that's important! That's news that sells!
JaguarBass - I also want to thank you for your sensitive and insightful posts. I think you're a real "cool" and intelligent person.
And, finally, BTS - I also appreciate your posts a lot. I'm sorry if I offeded you.
One last thought on this question about which I obviously feel so strongly. My thought is this: There are other myths/stories/narratives that posit an explanation for theodicy [the existence of evil/pain/suffering in the world]. According to the Gnostic tradition, the world that we know and inhabit was created, not by a loving god, but by an evil demiurge. The True God [called "Sophia," i.e., "wisdom" by the Gnostics] is beyond the grasp of normal human reasoning or comprehension.
There is also the theological concept of tsimtsum or kenosis [renunciation] - the notion that a weak and feeble God has divested himself of his divinity. Hans Jonas addresses this notion in his book, The Concept of God After Auschwitz. According to Jonas, even believing in an all-powerful God after the horrors of the twentieth century is unthinkable and intolerable.The idea is that, for whatever reason, God has withdrawn from creation, with the resultant vacuum allowing the existence of evil
As I have said, pick your myth. Choose your narrative. Decide for yourselves how to explain theodicy.
it's hard to argue with your logic. BTS tried eloquently, but I believed he failed.
The governmental authorities in Myanmar have killed many many many more times 22 000 as a result of their whimsical policies and murderous suppression of dissent.
How many did they murder in the freedom riots?
This is an opportunity to cynically influence world opinion:
"oh, the Military Government is not evil - SEE See! they want to let the rest of the world help their suffering people. What kind totalitarian rulers they must be."
Believe me, If THEY did not feel threatened and endangered, they would just let the rest of the populace go to HELL.
I feel such sorrow for the common man in that country. He is damned at every turn.