Sunday, July 09, 2006

Evil.

How could evil arise from an omniscient, omnipotent and omnibenevolent God?

Lin Yutang, in The Importance of Living, provides what seems to me to be the most likely explanation for this aspect of Christianity:

"the origin of the Devil had to be explained, and when the medieval theologians proceeded with their usual scholastic logic to deal with the problem, they got into a quandary. They could not have very well admitted that the Devil, who was Not-God, came from God himself, nor could they quite agree that in the original universe, the Devil, a Not-God, was co-eternal with God. So in desperation they agreed that the Devil must have been a fallen angel, which rather begs the question of the origin of evil (for there still must have been another Devil to tempt this fallen angel), and which therefore unsatisfactory, but they had to leave it at that."

7 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can an omnipotent god make an object too large for him to move? Can an immortal omnipotent god kill himself?

11:34 PM  
Anonymous natie_pie said...

as far as the rock is concerned, well, yeah. but it risks losing the 'omnipotent' title as soon as the action occurs. however, one cannot have an entity that has omnipresent omnipotency because of the whole rock thingie. these two are mutually exclusive.

immortality implies something about future, so it would be impossible to die. omnipotency implies that one would have to be able to kill oneself. (here i'm using omnipotency in the sense that one can achieve anything at a particular time step -- if we remove temporal quantities, cause and effect no longer have an edifice upon which action can be constructed and the whole notion of omnipotency loses meaning) these two definitions are thus mutually exclusive.

duh.

8:40 AM  
Blogger Paul said...

The whole issue of the devil is a simple one with no logical problems:

God created angels, beings with free will. They then had a free choice, a choice that does not require the angels to be tempted or not, it was just free. Some chose to turn against God. They therefore "fell."

God, therefore, created beings that were good in just being what they were, and he created them with a free will that was good in its freedom to choose. They used it against God, fell, and now evil exists, evil being a privation of the good, just as cold is a privation of heat. God, then, did not create evil.

I expect a fun conversation from this one.

God bless!

5:42 PM  
Blogger Help People said...

Is there free will in heaven?

2:54 PM  
Anonymous Daniel said...

"God, therefore, created beings that were good in just being what they were, and he created them with a free will that was good in its freedom to choose. They used it against God, fell, and now evil exists"

I wonder what you would call the force that acted upon the free minds of these beings that caused them to "use it against God," since as it says here, evil did not exist before this event.

Just wondering.

11:35 PM  
Blogger Paul said...

Daniel,

The statement: "the force that acted upon the free minds of these beings that caused them" is nonsensical. If they are free minds, there is no sense in talking about a "force" that "caused" them to do anything. They chose. Choice, then, is the only thing that could come close to the "force" you are speaking of, but then nothing caused them but themselves.

And I misspoke: Evil, properly speaking, never existed and still does not exist. Evil is simply the absence of Good just as cold is the absence of heat and dark the absence of light. Cold and dark don't properly exist, and yet they "are" only in so far as their proper opposites are not.

So the only thing that "now...exists" as I said earlier is a disposition away from good, a moral entropy, as it were. But there existed an entirely free choice (which means there had to be the option to choose against God) at the outset, and based on that choice some of the angels remained with God (in heaven), and the other angels fell out of God's presence by choice (to hell, which is not so much a physical location as the painful understanding of the absence of God's presence, like a perpetually insatiable hunger).

I'm not saying that this total free will is easy to understand; indeed, it remains mysterious to us, and this is because we do have some things that make it more difficult to properly exercise our free will (for example, addictions to bodily passions which violate the use of our higher rationality). But think of it this way, God could have created beings that loved Him perfectly in every way except for choice; however, this would not be the most perfect love. For love to be the most perfect love, it has to be freely given. I mean, who wants a girlfriend who is only with you because she is forced to be with you(i.e. a relationship without free choice)? The thing that makes a relationship so intoxicating is the fact that she wants to be with me. And this is what God wants from us: our free choice of Him. So He only created choice, and if someone or an angel chooses God less than they could, it does not mean that He created evil or that evil even exists.

Again, this is very mysterious stuff, but mystery should not hinder inquiry.

God bless!

And Jeff, free will, as you are insinuating, existed prior to the angels being in heaven, namely, at the moment of creation of the angels, after which they simply continually choose God in His presence in heaven. But to understand free will here, one must realize that one is more free the more one chooses God; so free will still exists in heaven, they just don't plan on changing their minds, as it were.

2:25 PM  
Blogger spankidiots said...

You have not shown how free will can exist. So to say humans and their free will is the reason there is a privation of good is really an insufficient explanation.

"I'm not saying that this total free will is easy to understand; indeed, it remains mysterious to us"

Yes, it's hard to understand because either there is causation in our brains (and, therefore, no free will) or our brains have something uncaused & completely controlled by "us"(and, therefore, we have a magical brain & free will).

12:59 PM  

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