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HolyGround >> The problem of evil


12/16/12 7:59 PM
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VKX
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OG Christians - thoughts on the Newtown shootings? Ross Douthat had a post on the NYT about it:

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/16/opinion/sunday/loss-of-the-innocents.html

Blue namer, please. Thanks.
12/17/12 11:04 PM
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DyingBreed
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I believe things just happen, whether within God's will or not. We are free to do as we choose.


That said, I still cannot wrap my head around how evil can exist without having been created as a possibility by God. But the question no longer bothers me like it did when I was an atheist. It is a toy I can now lay to the side with a gentle assumption I will understand one day, or possibly not even care. Phone Post
1/9/13 10:36 AM
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Ogami Itto
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There are some really great summaries of the problem on wikipedia in the philosophy sections. You know, the problem of evil is something you can be okay with on paper. "Free will, I get it, okay, have to have evil to have good, I get it." But then when something horrible tests you on that, it's very difficult to stomach. But stomach it we do.
5/12/13 5:41 PM
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RoidsGracie
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I always thought it was interesting that the problem of evil seems to perplex people living in conditions like ours where we aren't faced with life threatening situations day after day while those who do don't seem to think as much about it. A lot of the people who lose faith lose it over thinking about what people living in third hellholes have to go through each day and how God could allow that but the people who actually do go through these tribulations don't seem to let it affect their faith.
5/13/13 8:51 AM
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gord96
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RoidsGracie - I always thought it was interesting that the problem of evil seems to perplex people living in conditions like ours where we aren't faced with life threatening situations day after day while those who do don't seem to think as much about it. A lot of the people who lose faith lose it over thinking about what people living in third hellholes have to go through each day and how God could allow that but the people who actually do go through these tribulations don't seem to let it affect their faith.
Good observation roids. It may be that we, living in the first world, seem blessed from a worldly POV, but spiritually we are cursed living in such comforts.

Likewise, people in the third world are cursed with poverty, but from a spiritual POV, are 'blessed' as they are forced to rely on God. Phone Post 3.0
5/21/13 7:26 AM
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Joeymarvelous
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"There is Auschwitz, so there cannot be god"

-Primo Levi, Holocaust survivor Phone Post
5/21/13 7:28 AM
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Joeymarvelous
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gord96 -
RoidsGracie - I always thought it was interesting that the problem of evil seems to perplex people living in conditions like ours where we aren't faced with life threatening situations day after day while those who do don't seem to think as much about it. A lot of the people who lose faith lose it over thinking about what people living in third hellholes have to go through each day and how God could allow that but the people who actually do go through these tribulations don't seem to let it affect their faith.
Good observation roids. It may be that we, living in the first world, seem blessed from a worldly POV, but spiritually we are cursed living in such comforts.

Likewise, people in the third world are cursed with poverty, but from a spiritual POV, are 'blessed' as they are forced to rely on God. Phone Post 3.0
Look at the infant mortality, rape and literacy rates in the third world. Any gods they rely on have failed them. Phone Post
5/21/13 10:19 AM
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770mdm
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Joeymarvelous -  "There is Auschwitz, so there cannot be god"

-Primo Levi, Holocaust survivor Phone Post

To those who argued that the Holocaust disproves the existence of G-d or His providence over our lives, the Rebbe said: On the contrary -- the Holocaust has decisively disproven any possible faith in a human-based morality. In pre-war Europe, it was the German people who epitomized culture, scientific advance and philosophic morality. And these very same people perpetrated the most vile atrocities known to human history! If nothing else, the Holocaust has taught us that a moral and civilized existence is possible only through the belief in and the acceptance of the Divine authority. - Yanki Tauber "What the Rebbe said & didn't say about the Holocaust.

Far be it from me to have a voice about the Holocaust but I've heard many say the Holocaust wasn't about where was God but where was MAN! 

"Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks argues God had trusted in men by giving man the responsibility to watch over man’s actions. He illustrates the Holocaust as our “betrayal of God’s trust” (Sacks). His argument doesn’t indicate that the Holocaust was God’s will. He rather convincingly proves that man did not fulfill the responsibility given by God, of the responsibility to have protested against Hitler’s initial regime and destruction against the Jews."  Taken from the website Judaism and the Holocaust

5/21/13 8:56 PM
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Joeymarvelous
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770mdm -
Joeymarvelous -  "There is Auschwitz, so there cannot be god"

-Primo Levi, Holocaust survivor Phone Post

To those who argued that the Holocaust disproves the existence of G-d or His providence over our lives, the Rebbe said: On the contrary -- the Holocaust has decisively disproven any possible faith in a human-based morality. In pre-war Europe, it was the German people who epitomized culture, scientific advance and philosophic morality. And these very same people perpetrated the most vile atrocities known to human history! If nothing else, the Holocaust has taught us that a moral and civilized existence is possible only through the belief in and the acceptance of the Divine authority. - Yanki Tauber "What the Rebbe said & didn't say about the Holocaust.

Far be it from me to have a voice about the Holocaust but I've heard many say the Holocaust wasn't about where was God but where was MAN! 

"Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks argues God had trusted in men by giving man the responsibility to watch over man’s actions. He illustrates the Holocaust as our “betrayal of God’s trust” (Sacks). His argument doesn’t indicate that the Holocaust was God’s will. He rather convincingly proves that man did not fulfill the responsibility given by God, of the responsibility to have protested against Hitler’s initial regime and destruction against the Jews."  Taken from the website Judaism and the Holocaust

Nonsense. The fact that the holocaust was an historic failure of human ethics does not rule out the human capability to behave ethically, that's just silly. For your god, however, to stand idly by in the face of such suffering shows that Yahweh is either malevolent, impotent, or imaginary. As for the idea of god choosing not to restrain suffering caused by other humans, you can't prove your god to restrain suffering from any source, or even to exist for that matter. Phone Post
5/22/13 9:57 AM
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Ogami Itto
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What are you arguing, Joey, the Problem of Evil or the existence of God? I'd pick one if I were you. And if it's Problem of Evil, you will lose. I think centuries of philosophy have pretty effectively "solved it."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alvin_Plantinga%27s_free_will_defense

5/22/13 2:45 PM
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Joeymarvelous
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Ogami Itto - What are you arguing, Joey, the Problem of Evil or the existence of God? I'd pick one if I were you. And if it's Problem of Evil, you will lose. I think centuries of philosophy have pretty effectively "solved it."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alvin_Plantinga%27s_free_will_defense

Both, and I don't lose. Free will is an illusion. All decisions are dependent upon the architecture and chemistry of individual brains, and the experiences of each. Phone Post
5/22/13 3:28 PM
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Kung Fu Joe
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Joeymarvelous -
Ogami Itto - What are you arguing, Joey, the Problem of Evil or the existence of God? I'd pick one if I were you. And if it's Problem of Evil, you will lose. I think centuries of philosophy have pretty effectively "solved it."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alvin_Plantinga%27s_free_will_defense

Both, and I don't lose. Free will is an illusion. All decisions are dependent upon the architecture and chemistry of individual brains, and the experiences of each. Phone Post
You're missing Ogami's point. He's saying that the Problem of Evil is not a contradictory proposition to the concept of a benevolent personal deity.

I disagree with his inference that the Problem of Evil has been "resolved," but you're better off responding directly rather than trying to jump topics to the nature of Free Will. Phone Post
5/22/13 3:44 PM
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Ogami Itto
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Interestingly, I agree with atheist Dan Dennett on free will:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daniel_Dennett#Free_will

5/22/13 7:07 PM
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RoidsGracie
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<blockquote>Joeymarvelous - <blockquote>Ogami Itto - What are you arguing, Joey, the Problem of Evil or the existence of God? I'd pick one if I were you. And if it's Problem of Evil, you will lose. I think centuries of philosophy have pretty effectively "solved it." <br /><br />http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alvin_Plantinga%27s_free_will_defense<br /><br /></blockquote>

Both, and I don't lose. Free will is an illusion. All decisions are dependent upon the architecture and chemistry of individual brains, and the experiences of each. <img src="/images/phone/droid.png" alt="Phone Post" border="0" style="vertical-align:middle;"/>


</blockquote><br />

Then you would agree that people who believe in religion are have the will to believe hardwired into their brain and therefore there's nothing that can be said and done to change their mind so that trying to convince them otherwise is a fruitless cause.

And also you made a reference to the "human capability to behave ethically" in a previous post in this thread but if there is no free will, then where does this capability come from?
5/22/13 8:33 PM
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Joeymarvelous
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RoidsGracie - <blockquote>Joeymarvelous - <blockquote>Ogami Itto - What are you arguing, Joey, the Problem of Evil or the existence of God? I'd pick one if I were you. And if it's Problem of Evil, you will lose. I think centuries of philosophy have pretty effectively "solved it." <br /><br />http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alvin_Plantinga%27s_free_will_defense<br /><br /></blockquote>

Both, and I don't lose. Free will is an illusion. All decisions are dependent upon the architecture and chemistry of individual brains, and the experiences of each. <img src="/images/phone/droid.png" alt="Phone Post" border="0" style="vertical-align:middle;"/>


</blockquote><br />

Then you would agree that people who believe in religion are have the will to believe hardwired into their brain and therefore there's nothing that can be said and done to change their mind so that trying to convince them otherwise is a fruitless cause.

And also you made a reference to the "human capability to behave ethically" in a previous post in this thread but if there is no free will, then where does this capability come from?
May be in many ways hard wired, but not unchanging. Conversations similar to these can be among those life experiences that influence future decision making and belief structure. Phone Post
5/22/13 8:37 PM
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Joeymarvelous
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Joeymarvelous -
RoidsGracie - <blockquote>Joeymarvelous - <blockquote>Ogami Itto - What are you arguing, Joey, the Problem of Evil or the existence of God? I'd pick one if I were you. And if it's Problem of Evil, you will lose. I think centuries of philosophy have pretty effectively "solved it." <br /><br />http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alvin_Plantinga%27s_free_will_defense<br /><br /></blockquote>

Both, and I don't lose. Free will is an illusion. All decisions are dependent upon the architecture and chemistry of individual brains, and the experiences of each. <img src="/images/phone/droid.png" alt="Phone Post" border="0" style="vertical-align:middle;"/>


</blockquote><br />

Then you would agree that people who believe in religion are have the will to believe hardwired into their brain and therefore there's nothing that can be said and done to change their mind so that trying to convince them otherwise is a fruitless cause.

And also you made a reference to the "human capability to behave ethically" in a previous post in this thread but if there is no free will, then where does this capability come from?
May be in many ways hard wired, but not unchanging. Conversations similar to these can be among those life experiences that influence future decision making and belief structure. Phone Post
Ethical behavior stems from solidarity/cooperation essential to human survival, especially at the tribal level. Phone Post
5/22/13 9:55 PM
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RoidsGracie
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I think human survival and morality are not equivalent, though there is some overlap. There are plenty of actions that would be deemed as moral but does help or in cases hinders a human's ongoing existence and there are plenty of actions that assist in continued survival of not only yourself and your tribe but would be considered to be immoral.

Do you still believe people should be held responsible for their actions in the absence of free will? And also, in your response to my question about people being able to change their beliefs on religion, you seem to be implying that people can make a choice based on the data presented to them when it comes to deciding what sort of stance they will take on a particular issue.
5/23/13 6:19 AM
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Ali
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Ogami Itto - What are you arguing, Joey, the Problem of Evil or the existence of God? I'd pick one if I were you. And if it's Problem of Evil, you will lose. I think centuries of philosophy have pretty effectively "solved it."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alvin_Plantinga%27s_free_will_defense


Do you think Plantinga's response to the Logical Problem of Evil really "solves" the Problem of Evil?

Separate but related: Do you think all suffering is explainable in terms of "free will"?

And is your agreement with Daniel Dennett simply one of positioning yourself as a Compatibilist, or do you agree with Dennett's account of how freedom evolves?

(By the way... reader alert: the title of his second book on free will is, in fact, "Freedom Evolves". The same argument, less elaborated but sometimes with more vivid metaphors and examples, is in his earlier "Elbow Room". These are really good books, nothing to do with religion per se -- except warning to those who think all references to Darwinian processes are deviltry. For them, most all of Dennett has something to do, at least marginally, with religion).
5/23/13 9:48 AM
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Ogami Itto
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Ali, you asked:


Do you think Plantinga's response to the Logical Problem of Evil really "solves" the Problem of Evil?


I do. As I said in the beginning of the thread, I think one can accept this solution intellectually, but that accepting it emotionally is a very difficult matter - so I guess I am saying it solves the problem intellectually but not emotionally.

Separate but related: Do you think all suffering is explainable in terms of "free will"?


No, but it almost completely addresses the suffering caused by humans, not "natural" suffering.

And is your agreement with Daniel Dennett simply one of positioning yourself as a Compatibilist, or do you agree with Dennett's account of how freedom evolves?


Honestly, I have to study it more. I find the whole free will topic dizzying!
5/23/13 10:22 AM
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Kung Fu Joe
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Ogami, as I understand it, Plantinga's Free Will defense makes a few assertions:

1. Free Will is preferable to the alternative.
2. God could not have created a cosmos which allows Free Will without allowing the will to do evil.
3. Therefore, the evil in the world is necessarily caused by man, and so, God is not at fault.


However, this strikes me as problematic. Christians tend to define Heaven as a perfect realm devoid of sin and evil. However, if this is true, then either Point 1 or Point 2 from above must be false, at which point we have a Disproof by Contradiction.

So, do you disagree that Heaven is devoid of evil? Phone Post
5/23/13 10:25 AM
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Ali
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Agreed that the topic of free will is dizzying. (I have to study it more, too; but I've read and recommend the two Dennett books on the topic, among others. It still slips away when I'm not looking, though!) It's dizzying without reference to outside interference by any conscious beings. It gets more dizzying when we have an imposition of, say, God deciding to "harden Pharoah's heart" or any brain-in-a-vat scenarios.

Plantinga doesn't come close to solving The Problem of Evil. There was one argument around "The Logical Problem of Evil" that he addressed. That's not the whole Problem. Or even the most interesting part of the Problem to philosophers (or writers of theodicies) these days. Plantinga did a good thing, a good disposal of one thing that looked like it created a self-contradiction. He's a good technical philosopher in that sense. He wouldn't claim the Logical Problem is the whole enchilada.

If you were to find that Plantinga's solution relies on a particular version of free will that is not your own, that is, a non-compatibilist or "libertarian" free will, would you be less convinced by Plantinga? Or would you pronounce yourself something other than a Compatibilist so as to retain him?

And still.... only have the Logical Problem addressed, only to those who subscribe a particular version of free will....


I don't see how addressing the suffering caused by humans (should it be sufficiently addressed -- which I think it's not, certainly not by Plantinga's Logical Problem solution) is enough for explaining away God's generation of evil and suffering ("natural" or not).
5/23/13 10:46 AM
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770mdm
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Joeymarvelous - 
770mdm -
Joeymarvelous -  "There is Auschwitz, so there cannot be god"

-Primo Levi, Holocaust survivor Phone Post

To those who argued that the Holocaust disproves the existence of G-d or His providence over our lives, the Rebbe said: On the contrary -- the Holocaust has decisively disproven any possible faith in a human-based morality. In pre-war Europe, it was the German people who epitomized culture, scientific advance and philosophic morality. And these very same people perpetrated the most vile atrocities known to human history! If nothing else, the Holocaust has taught us that a moral and civilized existence is possible only through the belief in and the acceptance of the Divine authority. - Yanki Tauber "What the Rebbe said & didn't say about the Holocaust.

Far be it from me to have a voice about the Holocaust but I've heard many say the Holocaust wasn't about where was God but where was MAN! 

"Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks argues God had trusted in men by giving man the responsibility to watch over man’s actions. He illustrates the Holocaust as our “betrayal of God’s trust” (Sacks). His argument doesn’t indicate that the Holocaust was God’s will. He rather convincingly proves that man did not fulfill the responsibility given by God, of the responsibility to have protested against Hitler’s initial regime and destruction against the Jews."  Taken from the website Judaism and the Holocaust

Nonsense. The fact that the holocaust was an historic failure of human ethics does not rule out the human capability to behave ethically, that's just silly. For your god, however, to stand idly by in the face of such suffering shows that Yahweh is either malevolent, impotent, or imaginary. As for the idea of god choosing not to restrain suffering caused by other humans, you can't prove your god to restrain suffering from any source, or even to exist for that matter. Phone Post

"The fact that the holocaust was an historic failure of human ethics does not rule out the human capability to behave ethically." 

It was interesting how camp soldiers would treat prisoners with horrifying contempt in one arena then go home and play with their children in another.  So yes, it was a failure of human ethics but In the end Hitler did loose & so did the culture he created.  I don't know, I do think there is a point that the culture that was fostered was manufactured by a man who was able to manipulate a great many people into such duelistic behavior.  I understand many citizens didn't know exactly what was going on but the culture did perpetuate resentment.  Take a look at Kristallnacht.  All that was done in front of all the citizens.  However Gods 10 commandments - 5 of them even athiests should applaud. 

http://www.aei.org/article/society-and-culture/religion/principles-for-neighbors-the-second-table-of-the-decalogue/

"For your god, however, to stand idly by in the face of such suffering shows that Yahweh is either malevolent, impotent, or imaginary." 

It is surprising, of those who were in it, how many people remained faithful or became people of faith after the Holocaust.  I've even heard of a Nazi soldier who converted to Judaism & moved to Israel after the war, can you believe that?  Of those who've remained faithful and have voiced their opinions on it should be respected & heard.  I mean who are you to question a persons faith when it shook you not them in such tragedy?  If it makes you say "You Fool!" does it make that man of faith less of a man?  If Hitler couldn't shake their faith what makes you think your opinion will do anything?  The fact of the matter is our world is our hands not Gods.  If he has entrusted us with its keeping then we must do our best to keep it.  " I was very, very religious.  And of course I wrote about it in "Night.'  I questioned God's silence.  So I questioned.  I don't have an answer for that.  Does it mean that I stopped having faith?  No.  I have faith, but I question it."  Elie Weisel

"You can't prove your god to restrain suffering from any source, or even to exist for that matter."

One thing we know is that God certainly doesn't prevent suffering.  Jews know this intimately.  Paraphrazing what I quoted earlier - God entrusted our world to us!  It's about man's humanity to man that God wants.  Not his intervention!  That's what scripture is about - How God brought us up & taught us then entrusted us with his teachings.  Proving God's existence:  There is really nothing he can do.

 

5/23/13 10:58 AM
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770mdm
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I found this article interesting -

http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2013/05/21/sad-truth-about-today-modern-germany-and-jews/

When hate is imbedded in the language of a culture it's inevitable that action in fulfillment of that hate will eventually follow.  

5/23/13 11:02 AM
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Ogami Itto
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Kung Fu Joe -  Ogami, as I understand it, Plantinga's Free Will defense makes a few assertions:

1. Free Will is preferable to the alternative.
2. God could not have created a cosmos which allows Free Will without allowing the will to do evil.
3. Therefore, the evil in the world is necessarily caused by man, and so, God is not at fault.


However, this strikes me as problematic. Christians tend to define Heaven as a perfect realm devoid of sin and evil. However, if this is true, then either Point 1 or Point 2 from above must be false, at which point we have a Disproof by Contradiction.

So, do you disagree that Heaven is devoid of evil? Phone Post

Damn, good post. Ali's, too.

KFJ, I'm not sure these assertions are in Plantinga's work. Can you point me to a source, or are you extrapolating?

I personally think - and I am thinking out loud here - that God could have created free will AND no evil, but that he chose not to. Why? Is it because the product of that world would be, for lack of a better word, weak? In other words, if a being existed that was simply hardwired to have free will but never to choose evil or degrees of evil, then how "strong" is his goodness?

Perhaps God made man capable of great evil because he is commensurately capable of great goodness, and that goodness is a product he wants. It's funny, I am finally reading Mere Christianity and I was attracted to an idea of Lewis' that I myself has toyed with - God is preparing us for something in the next life. What? Lewis suggests that the choices we make in this world contribute to the sum of our characters, and that those characters will be used in the next world. Christianity believes we will be transformed in Heaven. Perhaps the pursuit of moral goodness is necessary for that transformation, according to God's plan.

Let me try something. You need to add a number or two to your syllogism, don't you?

1. Free Will is preferable to the alternative.
2. God could not have created a cosmos which allows Free Will without allowing the will to do evil.
3. Therefore, the evil in the world is necessarily caused by man, and so, God is not at fault.
4. Heaven is devoid of evil.
5. Something transformative must have to happen to free will between its presence in the cosmos and Heaven.

Perhaps free will is subject to physical constraints in the first world that it is not subject to in the second world. Perhaps in heaven we still have free will and the desire to do evil but not the ability to do so.
5/23/13 11:07 AM
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Ogami Itto
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Voting up 770mdm

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