What is the purpose of life?
Given the number of posts that have responded to asking what is the meaning of life, I guess the meaning of life is to explain what the meaning of life is.
If that isn't it then the meaning of life must be to simply perpetuate the DNA of the human species, at least until something better comes along. Then we will die off just like millions of other species before us.
cofty: "The tsunami was not a result of tectonics but of plates getting stuck at the subduction zone. Something that would have been trivially easy for the god of Jesus to prevent.
hate to tell you this cofty, but the Indonesian and the Japan tsunamis were the result of plate tectonics, plates getting stuck between jerking movements, or spreadings which are the source of deep ocean vents, that are pegged as a possible source of the abiogenesis conditions.
But why are we talking about a creative (and sometime destructive) process, when for humans the meaning of life has more to do with the beauty, the family, the intense feelings, the music, the glory of it all?
prologos why are you telling me things that I have already described accurately in detail?
The Anatomy of a Tsunami
For hundreds or even thousands of years under the Indian Ocean the Indo-Australian tectonic plate had been sliding below the Eurasian plate, however the slide was not smooth. The lower plate snagged the upper one creating a "locked fault zone". Unimaginable pressure built up as the upper plate was dragged down until at 07:58 local time on 26th December 2004 it broke free lifting up billions of tons of water in a few seconds in a magnitude 9 earthquake.
As the wave rose to the surface it was less than a metre high. As it sped towards the coasts of the Pacific Rim at speeds of 800Km/h the waves grew to over 15 metres. Within hours a quarter of a million people were dead and a further two million were homeless...
No of course it isn't. (victim blaming)
But cofty, I was not talking about the retribution's theodicy. I don't accept that too.
Just like an abused wife, many of the victims of the tsunami look to the person who caused their suffering for relief.
I was talking about this.
You cannot simply affirm that their views are just a Stockholm's syndrome. This is, like you said, an unfounded assumption.
You still haven't told me what you mean by "evil".
Yes I did.
But do you mean natural or man-made evil? I'm talking about both.
If not, I don't understand why ask for my definition of evil.
Do you feel the need of a comparison between definitions? Or do you use some specific definition?
I think we are talking about the same definition when I mention evil. But you can tell me your definition of evil if you want some comparison.
Bad things happen. They cause us physical and emotional harm.
Yes, this is the very problem of evil. But WHY it happens in an atheist scenario?
I don't understand why you think this poses any sort of challenge to my worldview.
I can't know about your intentions of your own worldview.
But when you says things just happen without known reasons you're accepting a mystical (mystery) cause.
At the same time you says you don't accept mystery.
JM - What was exactly the evolutionary pressure that made us the only specie to perceive evil?
Cofty - Sorry but there are too many unfounded assumptions there.
Cofty: The tsunami was not a result of tectonics
Why did I bring it up? because of your statement above, contradicting your good points in the link from the past. WT bsw. claims that jesus has full control over nature's forces, waves. and he , according to last week's study, is now established in his kingdom (1914). so, the tsunami is true, the power of the kingdom is not, and those that make it their purpose in life are in for the disappointment of their life. Jesus could calm the waters of a little lake, but not the Indian Ocean.
Your description reminds me of the dual nature of light, it starts out as waves when travelling, but becomes hard hitting particles when impacting.
New York, we as humans are the most advanced that our type of species could get and the reason why is because God made it so that we possess capacity to nurture Earth with our own abilities. I think it's a sin to deny this as it is clearly evident with how we compare to all other animals in the entire world. And these animals ranges from bears, rhinos cats, elephants, wolves and all the others. You said until something better comes along, well, we are what's better and I assure you that we are as better as it can possibly get.
If we didn't have moving tectonic plates we wouldn't be here according to a popular hypothesis - Ruby
The tsunami was not a result of tectonics but of plates getting stuck at the subduction zone. Something that would have been trivially easy for the god of Jesus to prevent. cofty
subduction is part of plate tectonic movement. and you explain this very well so I'm not sure why you say the tsunami was not down to moving tectonic plates.
It is 12 years since the disaster and the people in the area are taking responsibility by planting new wetlands instead of giving into pressures to provide more and more seafood at the expense of local ecology. the amazing thing is that the improved ecology draws more fish and locals and govs are focusing on sustainability. While in other areas the tsunami enriched areas that had suffered soil depletion. All such factors need to be considered when thinking about the effects of the tsunami.
I don't understand why ask for my definition of evil - John_Mann
Because you are asking me to account for evil. I don't know what you mean by that. It sounds like you are reifying a tragic accident. If there is a god then it was evil. Since there is no god then the cause of the tsunami was geological. No intelligent agency was involved.
I really don't know what your point is.
when you says things just happen without known reasons you're accepting a mystical (mystery) cause.
No. I know exactly why the tsunami happened. Geologists explained it in detail. There is no mystery.
I'm not sure why you say the tsunami was not down to moving tectonic plates. - Ruby
Ruby & Prologos - Subduction of moving plates don't cause a tsunami. Subduction of moving plates is a good thing.
Plates getting stuck cause a tsunami. Pressure builds up for thousands of years in some cases. Then it suddenly breaks free and kills people. Plates getting stuck is a bad thing.
Why is that causing you any difficulty. It is blindingly simple.
Stop pretending to be obtuse.
cofty yes I agree and the pressure builds because of plate movement.
for arguments sake if God had stopped the tsunami he would have been expressing control over the future. This is a huge no no as the future needs to remain open - I think that people somehow sense this when coming to terms with loss of life and this then opens a path to re-engagement with ongoing life.
edit: this is prolly the reason I am so opposed to describing the purpose of life as being merely about passing on one's genes
1. Answers that seek to change the question.
Blaming humans for damaging the earth
References to "the fall"
Slippery-slope arguments such as, "if god prevents a tsunami where does he stop?"
Any answer that appeals to free-will.
The question of this thread is very specific. It only concerns "natural evil". In theology this term relates to suffering that is not caused by human actions. Earthquakes and tsunamis have been happening for millions of years before humans appeared. They are a result of plate tectonics. They are not caused by anything humans have done.
If god chose to do so he could refuse to stop suffering caused by human actions while preventing the negative consequences of how he chose to make the world. Either directly or indirectly, the tsunami was entirely an act of god.
If god had calmed the wave before it had even reached the surface no human would ever have known about it and no free will would have been effected in any way.
2. Answers that call into question god's ability to prevent the tsunami
There may have been unforeseen consequences of stopping the disaster
God is not all-powerful
The god of theism is the omnipotent creator. It would have been trivially easy for him to calm the wave and prevent any other negative consequences.
The question is not a problem for worshippers of a lesser god.
3. Answers that seek to shift the blame
People should not have lived so near the sea
People should have known how to read the signs
Humans do bad things too
Satan did it
This is morally equivalent to throwing rocks at a crowd of people and blaming them for not ducking. It portrays god as vindictive and unloving.
The people who drowned were not living on top of a fault-line or beside a live volcano. The tsunami impacted on thousands of miles of coastline around the Pacific Rim. Most of the victims had no opportunity to take evasive action.
Measuring the morality of god against that of human tyrants is setting the bar low for the god of christian theism.
The concept of god's nemesis doesn't even appear in the bible until post-exile when the Jews came into contact with the dualistic Zoroastrian religion. It is a strange pagan notion that makes god look pathetically weak.
Theism does not teach that god handed over his entire creation to a diabolical enemy with no restrictions. The devil can do nothing without the knowledge and permission of god. If Satan caused the tsunami he did so with the full knowledge and permission of god.
This answer is the moral equivalent of letting a wild lion loose in a village and then blaming the animal for the deaths.
4. Answers that seek to find some benefit in the disaster
Suffering makes us stronger
Suffering teaches us compassion
It afforded the opportunity for people to offer help
These are Ivory Tower responses that takes no account of the reality of human suffering. A quarter of a million people learned nothing from being drowned. Their hopes and dreams perished in a moment. Hundreds of thousands of survivors were left bereaved and without homes, jobs or the necessities of life.
Human efforts to clear up god's mess does not excuse his passivity. It is also astonishing hubris that diminishes the lives of a quarter of million people into a commodity to be used for the benefit of producing better christians.
5. Answers that try to reject the question
Who are we to judge god?
God can do whatever he chooses
We just need to trust that whatever god does is for the best.
This answer requires that we unhitch the word "love" from any meaningful definition. We may think we know what love means but god demonstrates that we have not the slightest idea. Love could just as easily mean the capricious annihilation of a quarter of a million innocent people. It destroys our ability to make moral judgements. "Good" is whatever pleases god from moment to moment. Mass destruction is just as morally good as altruism and self-sacrifice.
If god is love, everything he does must be motivated by love, even when he judges. Love is not a hat he can take off for a while and replace with one labelled "vengeance".
Ethics become a matter of divine fiat and the value of human life is trivialised. This defence reduces god to a celestial Pol Pot who may choose on a whim to eradicate our lives in the manner of the killing fields of Cambodia.
Imagine you thought you knew a friend really well. You knew he was capable of being kind and generous as he had demonstrated many times. Then to your horror you discovered he regularly beat his wife and children. You had proof to this effect. It would be foolish of you to overlook his violence as if his moments of kindness made it of no consequence. You would need to put your emotions aside in order to form a more honest appraisal of your friend. Similarly believers need to face up honestly to god's abuse of the human family he claims to love.
If neglecting to stop a wave that drowns a quarter of a million people doesn't give us pause to reconsider the wisdom of blindly trusting of god what would?
6. Answers that Retreat into temporary Deism
This is not god's time to intervene
God has promised to end suffering at a future time
According to christian theism, god is intimately involved in human affairs. Not just in giving strength to cope with whatever happens in life, but in actually changing events for the benefit of those who ask in faith.
"If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you." - John 15:7
"Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you , even as your soul is getting along well." - 3 John :2
Even the phrase"give us today our daily bread" proves conclusively that god is active in the world. Anybody who does not believe this is not a christian theist and has taken refuge in deism.
If all christians comply with Jesus' words to petition god for things, and imitate John by praying that god bless and prosper others, then god is active every second of every day responding to millions of requests. If god answers even one of those prayers it destroys the argument that god was not in the intervention business on 26th December 2004
Focussing only on a long-term plan to end suffering does not address the question. A believer still has to show how stopping the tsunami would have hindered that plan.
7. Answers that trivialise the reality of human suffering
Suffering will be unimportant compared to eternal rewards
This is ethically repugnant. Suffering is not reducible to arithmetic. This life really matters. Any philosophy that minimises the importance of physical human life is dangerous. It is the same mentality that leads to religious extremism and flies aeorplanes into tall buildings.
It is an extreme example of "the end justifies the means" defence, so beloved of tyrants.
Like other theodicies it is dehumanising by reducing humans to pawns in god's game.
Imagine that scientists developed a pill that would eradicate all unwelcome memories and create a feeling of bliss. How would you judge a scientist who imposed the most horrific suffering on millions of people, as unwilling subjects of his experiment, but who offered some of his victims of the magic pills when it was over?
8. Answers that make a virtue out of "Mystery".
God's ways are higher than our ways
There may be reasons that we are not capable of understanding
Thesits cannot take refuge in mystery without being deeply dishonest. Deists and agnostics can get away with it; they only ever make very modest statements about their knowlede of a deity. Theists are extravagant with their knowledge claims. They claim to know all sorts of things about god's nature, qualities and preferences. So when somebody points out a fact about reality that seems to contradict some of thse claims they cannot suddenly cry "inscrutability". The one option that is not open to a theist is feigned ignorance, not with all those things they already claim to know. That would be like a rich man pleading poverty when its his turn to get the drinks in.
The knowledge claims that theists make for god create the following paradox...
A. God observed the Asian tsunami as it evolved
B. God knew it would kill a quarter of a million people and displace 5 million more
C. God had the power to stop the tsuanmi
D. God did not stop the tsuanmi
E. Everything that god does is perfectly loving
Therefore allowing a tsunami to drown a quarter of a million people is a perfect act of love.
But this contradicts everything that christianity teaches about love. Jesus greatest command was "do unto others as you would have them do unto you".
If we failed to prevent the violent death of others when it was within our power to do so we could not reasonably claim to be following Jesus' greatest command.
Therefore christian theism is fatally flawed, not only because of external evidence but because it is internally inconsistent.