Theodicy (Introduction)

by dhw, Friday, October 09, 2020, 14:21 (475 days ago) @ David Turell

dhw: Today’s article on "Molecular machines seen clearly" does indeed help us to see clearly the consequences of these mistakes, which in your posts on God’s error corrections you dismissed as "minimal":

QUOTE: "'Malfunctions in these molecular machines contribute to diseases such as osteoporosis, neurodegeneration, diabetes, cancer and AIDS [...]

DAVID: Minimal in the sense that the many trillions of reactions work perfectly, and God anticipated mistakes with editing systems. The system we have is the only one that will work.

His editing systems have failed to cope with these extremely nasty mistakes, but you have made it clear that all these diseases are part of God’s wanting to challenge us – for reasons I am eagerly waiting to hear.

dhw: How about: God didn’t design them, but wanted to avoid the dull predictability of a Garden of Eden, and therefore invented a system whereby living organisms would design themselves in an endless variety of forms, all of which would find different ways (which we judge to be good or bad) of surviving in the on-going process we know as evolution?

DAVID: A possible explanation I don't accept, based on my view of God's personality.

Please tell us more about your view of God’s personality. So far we’ve learned that he wanted complete control of evolution, didn’t want a dull Garden of Eden (I agree), and didn’t want to harm us but did want to challenge us. None of this is apparently “humanizing”. (See “error corrections” and “simplest explanation?”) And so in the context of theodicy, we now have your God deliberately creating “evil” in order to set us a challenge. I must confess I find the whole concept of “theodicy” deeply dissatisfying when we humans restrict it to the effects of “evil” upon ourselves. What about the suffering of our fellow creatures, including those that preceded us. My prime example is meat eating. What could be more evil than a system which requires one organism to kill and eat another?

DAVID: Evil among humans beings is explained because God gave us free will.

dhw: Just as in the above proposal he would have given organisms “free will” to find their own methods of survival.

DAVID: With 'free will' evolution it would be directionless.

So your God’s special design of humans and their free will must also be directionless. Makes you wonder why he bothered. My proposal brings the two together: the unpredictability of life forms, natural wonders etc. AND the unpredictability of human behaviour all make for the very opposite of a dull Garden of Eden (your expression).

dhw: So it’s back to your inevitable “errors” theory, in which it’s not God’s fault if the only system he could devise entailed “bad” errors and “bad” environmental conditions. He was incapable of creating a system without harmful or bad or evil effects.

DAVID: Not incapable. Impossible with the speed of reactions involving 'free' molecules to create life.

Since you believe your God created absolutely everything from scratch, I’m surprised at your lack of confidence in his ability to invent an error-free system. I propose that your all-powerful God designed the system he WANTED to design.

dhw: You consider a God who creates a life system of endless and ever-changing variety, with all the interplay between good and bad, light and dark, and all the unpredictability that would be the exact opposite of a dull Garden of Eden, to be soft and purposeless. So please tell us why you think he deliberately created bad viruses and bacteria, earthquakes, volcanoes, hurricanes in spite of his soft-heartedness (which I hope he would also feel towards other organisms than ourselves, since the our fellow animals also know what it is to suffer). If you can’t think of a reason, once more please tell us why my proposal is not feasible. And please accept that a test of feasibility is not whether or not it matches your own subjective concept of God and his purposes and nature.

DAVID: You blithely ignore all the facts presented about the perfect planet presented here at length. I won't repeat them.

We are not discussing the “perfect planet” but the problem of good and evil. Please tell us why my proposal is not feasible.

DAVID: Your view of Him is obviously soft and highly humanized. It is feasible only if your soft God is the real God. So we reach agreement. Your God is not my God by a very wide margin.

You have now replaced namby-pamby with soft. What is soft about a God who wants and gets a mixture of good and bad by giving freedom of self-organization to his invention as exemplified by human free will? Why is this more highly humanized (and let us add less logical) than a God who wants total control over his creations, doesn’t wish to harm them but deliberately invents nasty things in order to challenge them?

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