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Getting Real : Faith No More

Waves of destruction wash away belief in God's benevolence (SMH)

from jpmagero - Wednesday, December 29, 2004
accessed 1630 times

Don't tell me this was according to some fucking master plan, or that it has anything to do with the majesty of choice, good vs evil, or any other BS. This was plain and simple a natural disaster that had nothing to do with mankind or people. But apparently there was nobody to stop it from happening. [/p]

Compassion is the best response when humanity faces the problem of evil, writes Edward Spence. [/p]

Link to original Sydney Morning Herald article by Edward Spence.

"Why did you do this to us, God? What did we do to upset you?" asked a woman in India this week, a heart-wrenching question asked in common these past few days by Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus and Christians. Nothing could have prepared us for what happened when the tsunami unleashed its terror. So we seek answers where answers are hard to come by, in either secular or sacred realms.

Traditionally, the Judeo-Christian God, considered the most supreme and perfect being in the universe, has been ascribed the following necessary attributes: omniscience (all-knowing), omnipresence (present everywhere at all times and at once), omnipotence (almighty and powerful) and benevolence (all good and caring).

How, then, did a God as powerful and benevolent as this allow such a thing to happen? If he is benevolent then he cannot also be omnipotent, for a God who has both these attributes would have wanted to, cared to and been able to prevent such a catastrophe.

Perhaps, though omnipotent, He is not benevolent. That might explain why, although it was within His power to stop the tsunami, He simply chose not to: God has His own reasons and we are not to ask why. However, this answer will not suffice since by definition God is perfect. Being perfect, He must of necessity not merely be omnipotent but benevolent as well.

A possible solution to this problem, traditionally known as the problem of evil, was offered by the heretical Manicheans, who believed not in one supreme being but two: one good God responsible for all the good things in life and another bad God, Satan, responsible for all the evil in the world.

St Augustine, a follower in his early 20s, became an ardent critic of this doctrine, thinking a weak God powerless to defeat Satan was not worth worshipping.

Philosophically, if God is perfect, then there can be only one perfect God, not two. In any case, evil is an imperfection and thus not a characteristic that can be attributed to God.

If the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune are at play and the deaths caused by the tsunami are a cosmic payback in the form of karma, does that offer a solution, albeit a philosophical one, to the problem of evil? I think not. For how can children, some as young as a few months, who had not yet lived their lives, deserve to be punished so cruelly for their past sins - especially when they have not been offered the promised divine opportunity to atone for those sins through another life?

Even if solutions are forthcoming to these philosophical conundrums, humanely speaking they make little sense. Perhaps that is why some people remain sceptical about the presence of any divine providence ruling over us.

A compromise solution, between secular scepticism and a psychological need for the sacred, was offered by the Greek philosopher Epicurus. Although believing in gods, he claimed these divine beings would not want to diminish their heavenly happiness by mingling in the sordid affairs of mortals. For Epicurus, the gods were not crazy but simply indifferent to both human joys and sorrows. When it comes to social or natural evils, we are all alone.

But if natural disasters are merely random events caused by the uncaring and blind forces of nature, does this offer us any comfort or meaning in the face of the apocalyptic events on Boxing Day?

Even if our heads offer us such solutions, our hearts refuse to follow. For the problem of evil is an existential problem that confronts our own individual mortality and vulnerability to unknown and unexpected disasters.

Ultimately, heartfelt tears shed in earnest and with compassion, with offerings of charity for those who have suffered, are more meaningful than any theological and philosophical treatise on the problem of evil. Especially at Christmas when, according to the gospels, love is the single core message.

Perhaps this is the essence, if the legend is true, of what God learnt from us when He walked and suffered as a man among us. Ultimately, the problem of evil confronts us not as a puzzle to be solved but as a mystery to be experienced. And as Jesus and Plato before him indicated, the meaning of the mystery of life can be found only by experiencing another great mystery - the mystery of love.

Dr Edward Spence is a philosopher at the Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics, Charles Sturt University.

Reader's comments on this article

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from shocking
Tuesday, September 18, 2007 - 04:33

(reply to this comment)
from Leocon
Friday, January 28, 2005 - 17:23


breakaway.....can u post the link to the bulletin where u got that add?

(reply to this comment)

from whatever1037
Friday, December 31, 2004 - 11:23

Average visitor agreement is 1 out of 5(Agree/Disagree?)
Ahhh yes , I like how this verse puts it.

10 Many will be purified, cleansed, and refined by these trials. But the wicked will continue in their wickedness, and none of them will understand; but the wise shall understand.
(reply to this comment)
from breakaway
Thursday, December 30, 2004 - 07:43

Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5(Agree/Disagree?)
There really is nothing we can do to stop the forces of nature. None of this tragedy is due to people’s ungodliness and wickedness (as in Sodom and Gomorah), nor is it due to some great “lesson” or “breaking” that God administers to “his children”, much less a so-called “sign of the end of the world”, as some absurdly ignorant, square-headed & moronic people are saying. It is not in anyone’s (not even a supreme being’s) power to do anything about this. The best we can do is offer our heartfelt tears for these people and try to help them in the aftermath of this disaster.
Natural disasters have been a phenomenon ever since the beginning of time. There are people who go all through life never having anything disastrous happen to them. Others’ lives are filled with misery. Who are we to explain or understand it, much less to think that “God” willed it, or even that there is a God?

Below is a copy/paste of something I got off a Family message board. It is just sickening to see their attitudes about these poor people. I left all the misspellings and mistakes in so as not to change it in any way.

"The Fam live nearby, but in safety I believe in Thailand. The place destroyed in Phuket Thailand is the most Sodom and Gomorah area on the Island, heavy huh? Child prostitution, homos, pros and drugs everywhere, full of really weird tourist perverts too. But of course, there are good
people, sheep and all the rest as well. But Thailand kind of deserves it in some ways as they are killing moslems by the drove down south and feeling that it is nothing. the moslems threatened to strike in this exact place as revenge and wow, it happened ahead o their plan. But of course, again, there
are many good people there too.
It's shocking news and heartbreaking to see the mommy's lost kids and all...thank God there are no more tears in heaven. It's heavy as some of the photos of Thailand I know the places so well and I wanted to be in Srilanka this year. there is now a home there and I pray that they are safe. Yes, let's keep it all in our prayers, heavy Christmas time stuff huh? Whew!"

Disgusting, isn’t it? The stupid idiot who wrote this is so biased and egocentric. This ignorant hillbilly way of seeing things is so typical of the Family. It just makes me want to puke. Reading this reminded me of all the reasons I left and everything I stand against now.

(reply to this comment)
From Haunted
Friday, December 31, 2004, 08:53

Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5(Agree/Disagree?)
I can't even begin to describe the disgust that filled me as I read the above comment from a member of a group that proports to live their lives helping others.....

I have to go now and stop thinking about this before I burst a blood vessel!(reply to this comment
From neez
Thursday, December 30, 2004, 18:10

Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5(
I wonder if this guy realises that most of his terrorist role-models were probably wiped the fuck out by this.(reply to this comment
From Joe H
Thursday, December 30, 2004, 10:13

Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5(Agree/Disagree?)
Meanwhile the soddoms and gommorrahs of Las Vegas, Amsterdam, Rio de Janeiro, and good old Portland, OR are still standing. Maybe god just doesn't like south east asians? Glad to know I'm on your cool list, God! How about a new job and/or a raise?(reply to this comment
From moon beam
Thursday, December 30, 2004, 14:52

Tich tich!!! Whats with the double d and m? Hate to be pedantic or anything ! (reply to this comment
From lucidchick
Thursday, December 30, 2004, 10:16

Hey Joe-- can you go to the chat for 1 sec? Thanks(reply to this comment
From lucidchick
Thursday, December 30, 2004, 10:31

Never mind -- see my e-mail. Happy New Year.(reply to this comment
From Joe H
Thursday, December 30, 2004, 12:27

My inbox is empty, sweetheart.(reply to this comment
From banal_commentator
Thursday, December 30, 2004, 08:45

Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5(Agree/Disagree?)
When 9/11 happened, I was sadly in a "family home." The first thing this "Auntie" said when she heard the news was somthing like "Wow, PTL this reminds me of the poster 'When towers fall.' America is finally getting what it deserves".............Morons!!! I felt like slapping her for being so brainwashed. It wasnt even like she thought about what she was saying, or had any reaction or emotion at all, she was just like a robot spouting of that cult shit that had been drummed into her brainless head. (reply to this comment

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