Theodicy (Introduction)

by dhw, Saturday, October 10, 2020, 09:34 (16 days ago) @ David Turell

There was a section missing from the run-in to this:

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.

dhw: 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.

DAVID: You have not described God's personality above. I view Him as knowing exactly what He wishes to create and conducts His role with purpose, and I add nothing more.

By coincidence, I have also presented him as knowing exactly what he wishes to create and conducting his role with purpose (See my first paragraph). The paragraph you have just responded to contains everything that you have added: he deliberately designed nasty viruses and bugs, and his purpose was to challenge us. (Presumably we should forget about the sufferings of all the life forms that preceded us.) You’ve always said he must be interested in us, so he’s interested in seeing how we respond to a challenge. Then maybe he created ALL organisms to see how they would respond to challenges (e.g. environmental changes). We seem to be drifting closer together!

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: […] Free will is ours. Evolution is tightly designed by God, not by free-will organisms.

So what, according to you, is the purpose of our free will, if it’s not to see how we will respond to all the challenges life offers us? Your statement about evolution being tightly controlled is a repetition of your fixed belief, and it leaves wide open the question of why your God’s tightly controlled design has produced “evil”. That is the subject of this thread. I have offered a simple explanation: freedom for ALL organisms as they design their own ways of survival, whether “good” or “bad” in our eyes.

dhw: 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.

DAVID: I've told you it is my belief He cannot design an error-free system due to the speed of reactions required.

Earlier you said he knows what he wishes to create. I know you believe that he could not design an error-free system, but I’m suggesting that he wished to create the system we have, as opposed to having no choice.

Transferred from “The simplest explanation?

DAVID: I don't presume to know why God allowed dangerous bacteria and viruses except my view (and yours) that He wanted life to be challenging and gave us the brains to solve the problems. No humanizing here.

I thought your theory was that he designed them in order to challenge us! I have asked you why he wanted to challenge us. Of course the desire to see how we respond to a challenge is human, but why shouldn’t you humanize? You’ve told us your God probably has patterns of thoughts and other attributes similar to ours.

DAVID: I believe God is in total control but don't know His reasons for allowing the bad bugs. They may have a role we do not yet understand. At least He gave us brains to fight them.

I’m the one who comes closer to “allowing”, by suggesting that he gave them the mechanism with which to do their own designing. Thank you. But whether they are allowed or designed (as you said originally) makes no difference to the overall argument. If God is in total control, you can hardly escape the explanation that he WANTED the bad bugs. You have offered the very human explanation that he wanted to challenge us – which can only mean he likes watching how we respond to particular circumstances. You see how nicely that fits in with your other theory – he didn’t want a dull Garden of Eden. And there you have the simplest possible explanation of evolution and theodicy, all in one go. He likes watching how ALL organisms find their own different ways (freedom to act) of meeting the challenges he has set them in the struggle for survival (Darwin), which they conduct through the cooperation of their intelligent cells as well as cooperation with one another (Shapiro and Margulis). The result for all organisms: good and bad ways to get what they want (survival). For humans: good and bad ways to get what they want (survival, power, money, gratification of desires etc.).


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