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God, Suffering, Evil and Disease Revisited

  1. Dec 27, 2005 #1
    Now I am going to throw away all of the assumptions of the original thread and make one other.

    Let's assume that the physicalists are right. There is no God or Creator.
    All that is is the natural result of the Laws of Physics, Chemistry and evolution.

    Who or what now do we blame for all the evil, suffering, starvation, disease and killing in the world?
     
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  3. Dec 27, 2005 #2

    selfAdjoint

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    Most of your list comes from the human species. No-one ever said they were Good, unlike god. Much of what cannot be blamed on mankind is just the way of the world, for example medicine enables us to live longer, but that gives various systemic weaknesses more time to show themselves.

    In general if people don't keep trying to persuade us there's an All-Good big daddy responsible for the world then we don't have any puzzle about its more unpleasant features. What can be amended we should work to amend, and what can't be must be borne.
     
  4. Dec 28, 2005 #3
    I agree completely with everything that you say.

    Especially; "In general if people don't keep trying to persuade us there's an All-Good big daddy responsible for the world then we don't have any puzzle about its more unpleasant features. What can be amended we should work to amend, and what can't be must be borne."

    It seems to be human nature to search for something or someone to blame rather than doing something about it. In this way religion becomes a crutch, an opiate and a way to absolve ourselves of guilt, blame and responsibility.

    Given what you said above, for the sake of the discussion, assume that God, the creator and master of the universe does exist. Now tell me please, what changed here on this tiny spec of a world lost in the cosmos.
     
  5. Dec 28, 2005 #4

    selfAdjoint

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    Well if you assume some deity is "creator and master of the universe", then the way it is here and everywhere IS the responsibility of that being. And he either wills it to be this way or he doesn't will it and it is that way anyhow in spite of his will. This is not about fixing blame but just about the definition of "creator and master" As masters go he doesn't shape up really good or competent.

    The blessed relief is not to make that assumption. No master, loving or otherwise, no creator, competent or otherwise. Just forces and practical mechanisms like evolution. And admitted ignorance about how it all started, but ignorance is better when it can't be avoided than unsupported fairy tales.
     
  6. Dec 28, 2005 #5
    Except for your first concept "evil" the other four are the way of nature. Thus, animal prey suffer when not killed completely by predator, some starve, many die of bacteria-virus disease, and of course many more are killed for food (even some plants kill animals for food). So, no "blame" needed, by definition, none of these concepts are "bad". Only humans are "evil", but what does it mean to be "evil" ? I have suggested in another thread: https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=103519
    that the root of all evil is when a person uses another person as a means to an end. Thus, let us blame such humans for evil.
     
  7. Dec 29, 2005 #6

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    If use of animals as things by other animals is the way of nature, not evil, and just to be accepted calmly, then your other thing, about humans doing the same being evil, loses a lot of its force. For we are animals too!

    But if you assert that this whole setup is the deliberate work of some deity then I repeat that it shows, assuming he is competent, that he is not good by any human standard, and those are the only standards we have. Of course if he is incompetent then he may be good, but just ineffective!
     
  8. Dec 29, 2005 #7
    This couldn't be more true. I always hated the line, "The best trick ever played by the devil was convincing the world he didn't exist." I think it should be changed to, "The best trick ever played by the devil was convincing the world he does exist."
    In this manner, people end up blaming something else for the bad things that happen to them or the bad things they do ("I gave in to Satan") rather than take responsibility for their own action.
     
  9. Dec 29, 2005 #8
    Well, assuming some kind of god does not exist, then evil is merely an extension of survival instincts to situations where survival is not necessarily an issue (ie., Enron, torture, etc.). In this manner, I don't think anything can be said to be truely evil (though by Rade's definition, it is evil) but rather weakness on the part of some members of the human species, biochemical imbalances, etc. Not that this absolves said members of responsibility for their actions. Human definition of good and evil in this manner are (frequently) relatively defined unless you assume a priori that there is some absolute good and humans are too ignorant to understand it fully or just ignore it.
    However, if there is some kind of god, then either 1) it is not at the same time all-knowing, all-powerful, and all-good. Otherwise, it can at the same time see that some situation will cause evil (all knowing), have the moral authority to know how it should be fixed so that no evil (period) may arise from it (all-good), and the ability to fix it just that manner (all-powerful); or 2) It's definition of good is in partial opposition to human definition of good. In this manner, what we humans perceive as evil is not really evil but a means to an end (but by Rade's definition this would make this god evil.
     
  10. Dec 29, 2005 #9
    Without free will and without hard determinism, I cannot agree. While the Master must take responsibility and is ultimately responsible as is the master, captain, of a ship for instance, we being agents of freewill must also take individual responsibility for our own actions or inactions. Just as any Master delegates power and responsibility, I believe that if there is a God who is the Creator and Master of the universe, he has done just that for whatever reason he may have.

    I agree; but, I don't know.
     
  11. Dec 29, 2005 #10
    I contend that only humans can be evil. We have a choice and knowingly making the wrong choice at the expence of others is evil, to put it as simply as I can.
     
  12. Dec 29, 2005 #11
    The devil is an invention of Man and incorporated to absolve guilt and responsibility but mainly to add a stick to the carrot. Playing on people's fears and guilt by incorporating old myths is one of the main ways that Christian churches and preachers fill their coffers and control their sheep.
     
  13. Dec 29, 2005 #12
    :approve: Yes, a very good point. So, for my concept to hold, I must then assume that the human animal is the only animal that by volition can decide to use another member of its own species as a means to its own end. For all other members of the animal kingdom, the action derives from genetics, not free will choice. Consider for example a situation where a human uses another human to help them conduct an experiment (e.g., they get injected with some drug, take some new pill, etc)--would this be an evil act ? To be consistent with my argument, I would have to say yes, this is an evil act, even if the person being injected agreed. The only way to find a good action in this example would be for the person to inject themself, that is, to use self as a means to an end for their own experiment. Another example, a leader of a country decides to use members of his country to fight wars to protect the country--is this an evil act ?--again the answer is yes if my concept of the "root of all evil" holds. The only way to find a good action in this example would be for each individual of the country to fight for themself, to use self protection as a means to an end to protect all. Clearly my concept is not well developed, and perhaps as full of holes as swiss cheese, and it sure seems to go against common wisdom of what is good and evil.
     
  14. Dec 29, 2005 #13
    The subjugation of the self to ‘God’ or the ‘good of society’ to a large extent define the realm of evil. When the individual is not free to pursue their own rational self-interest the potential of that individual to achieve their highest potential suffers and their ultimate value as individuals to others through cooperative and mutually beneficial relationships suffers. This in effect contributes to suffering, starvation, disease, murder and all other forms of evil attributable to creatures of reason and choice. This is not to suggest that these can be eliminated entirely; only that people who benefit by doing their best are our greatest resource for the reduction of these things.
     
  15. Dec 30, 2005 #14

    DM

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    Where these survival instincts are imprinted in our DNA. It has been proven that humans contain a gene which allows us to be conscious of a greater being (note that it doesn't imply a deity exists, but simply confirms that we possess a surrounding awareness). Without a God, all the evil, suffering and other related properties is ultimately reduced to DNA, more specifically the "God gene" which is responsible for the culprits we very often place in God and Satan. Given that we deem human testing as an "evil" act, humanity will never be empowered to completely absolve God or Satan from our good or evil actions. Removing this gene would ostensibly cause us to commit more suicides and indeed further wars. I perceive the existence of this gene, assuming God doesn't exist, to be a simple mechanism of our body to relieve tension, depression and senses of being guilty.
     
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2005
  16. Dec 30, 2005 #15

    selfAdjoint

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    What is your source for this?
     
  17. Dec 30, 2005 #16

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    This is an easy question to a very difficult answer since I saw it on a TV report. However I have managed to gather some evidence:

    TIME
    Source Reference

    Telegraph
    After comparing more than 2,000 DNA samples, an American molecular geneticist has concluded that a person's capacity to believe in God is linked to brain chemicals.
    Source Reference

    Although the "God gene" is pretty much anecdotal by a small number of scientists, other leading scientists are becoming more and more unanimous on this phenomena.

    In the TV report I saw, it was also discussed how an ancient scientist predicted the human soul to measure 12 grams by recording the mass of various people prior and after their death. It's ironic how several centuries ago, performing such experiments were not conceived to be "evil".
     
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2005
  18. Dec 30, 2005 #17
    First, I question the causal conclusion of a study that says those with the gene are more likely to be spiritual than others. There may be correlation, but not necessarily causation. Nowhere does it take into account if a person starts out non-spiritual, then becomes spiritual (nor vice-versa). If the reason a person might do either is because of the expression of the gene through biochemical processes, I would be a bit less skeptical if he then went on to do clinical trials by injecting participants who aren't spiritual with synthesized biochemicals and seeing how many became spiritual, etc. Additionally, I would like to see his data of those who don't have the gene but are nonetheless spiritual. Second, I see no evidence of peer review (in peer review journals) of his data and work, so saying that this is "proven" is a gross misstatement. Finally, if
    then there should not be anyone who does not have the gene but is aware, as you say.
     
  19. Dec 30, 2005 #18

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    Right. The "god gene" is a typical leap to a conclusion by a physicalist researcher who is already convinced consciousness is "caused" by the brain. All interpretation of data goes the way of the researcher's a priori belief. The truth is, correlation (rather than cause) between brain states and consciousness is a perfectly viable interpretation.
     
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2005
  20. Dec 30, 2005 #19

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    On the correlation vs. causation issue, given a high correlation between gene and spirituality, then either the gene causes the spirtuality, or the spirituality causes the gene, or both the gene and the spirituality are caused by something else. Given the difficulty of changing your genome, the latter two possibilities are very unlikely, leaving the first one.

    Does this happen? A person might change the religion he practices or go from religious to non-religious, but being spiritual or not is something different. In fact such a history of religion change would perhaps argue a strong persistent spirituality which is not satisfied by the churches available.

    added: Thinking it over, I think the spirituality they measured is actually the sociologists' "religiosity", which, derived from answers to a questionnaire, is based on propensity to pray and take part in religious services, in fact just the opposite of the spirituality I defined. Religiosity was long ago found by the Minnesota twin study to be highly heritable. And in this case the answer to the question about changing practices would be that in a sample as large as 2000 individuals, the number of those who had been religious and stopped would roughly balance the number of those who had not been religious and started, and in any case, situations like this would reduce the correlation, so if it was high, they would apparently be rare.
    This is an argument of perfection. "I won't believe the evidence until you do such-and-such that I specify (and if you should do it I will surely think of something further you should do before I believe it)"

    Or of those who have the gene and aren't spiritual. The correlation won't have been perfect of course.

    I am sure that the scientist will submit his research to a peer-reviewed journal. Those are what a scientist lives by however much publicity he may garner by the way.

    added: I looked up Dean Hamer and he is a very respected scientist with a long history of publications in genetics. The articles were based on a book he published.

    Finally, ifthen there should not be anyone who does not have the gene but is aware, as you say.[/QUOTE]

    I can't parse this last statemwent at all. Could you clarify?
     
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2005
  21. Dec 31, 2005 #20

    DM

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    Not entirely true. It's been concluded that this gene is dominant in certain people and recessive in others. In other words, despite all the people possessing this gene, some are more affected by it than others.
     
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