A Philosopher's Blog

God, Rape & Free Will

Posted in Ethics, Metaphysics, Philosophy, Politics, Religion by Michael LaBossiere on December 10, 2012
freewill.jpg

freewill.jpg (Photo credit: Thunderkiss59)

The stock problem of evil is that the existence of evil in the world is incompatible with the Philosophy 101 conception of God, namely that God is all good, all powerful and all knowing. After all, if God has these attributes, then He knows about all evil, should tolerate no evil and has the power to prevent evil. While some take the problem of evil to show that God does not exist, it can also be taken as showing that this conception of God is in error.

Not surprisingly, those who wish to accept the existence of this all good, all powerful and all-knowing deity have attempted various ways to respond to the problem of evil. One standard response is, of course, that God has granted us free will and this necessitates that He allow us to do evil things. This, it is claimed, gets God off the hook: since we are free to choose evil, God is not accountable for the evil we do.

In a previous essay I discussed Republican Richard Mourdock’s view that “Life is that gift from God. I think that even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something God intended to happen.” In the course of that essay, I briefly discussed the matter of free will. In this essay I will expand on this matter.

For the sake of the discussion, I will assume that we have free will. Obviously, this can easily be dispute, I am interested in seeing whether or not such free will can actually get God off the hook for the evil that occurs, such as rape and its consequences.

On the face of it, free will would seem to free God from being morally accountable for our choices. After all, if God does not compel or influence our choices and we are truly free to select between good and evil, then the responsibility of the choice would rest on the person making the decision. It should also be added that God would presumably also be excused from allowing for evil choices—after all, in order for there to be truly free will in the context of morality there must be the capacity for choosing good or evil. Or so the stock arguments usually claim.

For the sake of the discussion I will also accept this second assumption, namely that free will gets God off the hook in regards to our choices. This does, of course, lead to an interesting question: does allowing free will also require that God allow the consequences of the evil choices to come to pass? That is, could God allow people moral autonomy in their choices, yet prevent their misdeeds from actually bearing their evil fruit?

One way to consider this matter is to take the view that free will requires that a person be able to make a moral decision and that this decision be either good or evil (or possibly neutral). After all, a moral choice must be a moral choice. On this approach, whether or not free will would be compatible with God preventing occurrences (like rape or pregnancy caused by rape) would seem to depend on what makes something good or evil.

There are, of course, a multitude of moral theories that address this matter. For the sake of brevity I will consider two: Kant’s view and the utilitarian view (as exemplified by John Stuart Mill).

Kant famously takes the view that “A good will is good not because of what it performs or effects, not by its aptness for the attainment of some proposed end, but simply by virtue of the volition—that is, it is good in itself, and considered by itself is to be esteemed much higher than all that can be brought about by it in favor of any inclination…Its usefulness or fruitlessness can neither add to nor take away anything from this value.”

For Kant, what makes a willing (decision) good or evil is contained in the act of willing itself. Hence, there would be no need to consider the consequences of an action stemming from a decision when determining the morality of the choice. An interesting illustration of this view can be found in Bioware’s Star Wars the Old Republic game. Players are often given a chance to select between light side (good) and dark side (evil) options, thus earning light side or dark side points which determine the moral alignment of the character. For example, a player might have to choose to kill or spare a defeated opponent.  Conveniently, the choices are labeled with symbols indicating whether a choice is light side or dark side—which would be very useful in real life.

If Kant’s view is correct, then God could allow the freedom of the will while also preventing evil choices from having any harmful consequences. For example, a person could freely chose to rape a woman and the moral choice would presumably be duly noted by God (in anticipation of judgment day). God could then simply prevent the rape from ever occurring—the rapist could, for example, stumble and fall while lunging towards his intended victim. As another example, a person could freely will the decision to murder someone, yet find that her gun fails to fire when aimed at the intended victim. In short, people could be free to make moral choices while at the same time being unable to actually bring those evil intentions into actuality. Thus, God could allow free will while also preventing anyone from being harmed.

It might be objected that God could not do this on the grounds that people would soon figure out that they could never actualize their evil decisions and hence people would (in general) stop making evil choices. That is, there would be a rather effective deterrent to evil choices, namely that they could never bear fruit and this would rob people of their free will. For example, those who would otherwise decide to rape if they could engage in rape would not do that because they would know that their attempts to act on their decisions would be thwarted.

The obvious reply is that free will does not mean that person gets what s/he wills—it merely means that the person is free to will. As such, people who want to rape could still will to rape and do so freely. They just would not be able to harm anyone.

It is, of course, obvious that this is not how the world works—people are able to do all sorts of misdeeds. However, since God could make the world work this way, this would suggest various possibilities such as God not existing or that God is not a Kantian. This leads me to the discussion of the utilitarian option.

On the stock utilitarian approach, the morality of an action depends on the consequences of said action. As Mill put it, “actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness, wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness.” As such, the morality of a willing would not be determined by the willing but by the consequences of the action brought about by the willing in question.

If this is correct, then God would need to allow the consequences of the willing to occur in order for the willing to be good or evil (or neutral). After all, if the willing had no consequences then it would have no moral significance on a consequentialist view like utilitarianism. So, for example, if a person freely wills to rape a woman, then God must not intervene. Otherwise He would be interfering with what determines the ethics of the willing. As such, if God did not allow the rapist to act upon his willing, then the decision to rape would not be an evil decision. If it is assumed that free will is essential to God being able to judge people for their deeds and misdeeds, then He would have to allow misdeeds to bear fruit so that they would be, in fact, misdeeds. On the usual view, He then punishes or rewards people after they die.

One rather obvious problem with this approach is that an all knowing God would know the consequences of an action even without allowing the action to take place. As such, God could allow people to will their misdeeds and then punish them for what the consequences would have been if they had been able to act upon their intentions. After all human justice punishes people even when they are prevented from committing their crimes. For example, someone who tries to murder another person is still justly punished even if she is prevented from succeeding.

It might be countered that God can only punish cases of actual evil rather than potential evil. That is, if the misdeed is prevented then it is not an actual misdeed and hence God cannot justly punish a person. On this view, God must allow rape in order to be able to toast rapists in Hell. This would, of course, require that God not consider an attempted evil deed as an evil deed. So, actual murder would be wrong, but attempted murder would not. This, of course, is rather contrary to human justice—but it could be claimed that human law and divine law are rather different. Obviously humans and God take very different approaches: we generally try to keep people from committing misdeeds whereas God apparently never does. Rather, He seems content to punish long after the fact—at least on the usual account of God.

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  1. ajmacdonaldjr said, on December 10, 2012 at 5:20 am

    In theology, we speak of secondary causality. God determines the actions of all people’s, including morally evil actions, but he is not the causes or author of such evil, people are, because they are free agents who do evil willingly.

    One thing most people fail to realize is that the world we live in is not the world as God intended it to be when he created it – the world is a work in progress on it’s way to becoming what he intended it to be.

    Think about the Garden of Eden. Many (most) Christians believe if Adam and Eve had not sinned they would have lived in the Edenic paradise forever, having passed a one time moral test that would have established the world as a paradise forever, and them in it, but nothing could be further from the truth.

    The Garden of Eden was no paradise, unless people’s idea of paradise is a place where serpents walk around telling lies and enticing people’s wives to sin, which is what Eden was: a corrupt and sinful world in which Adam and Eve found themselves.

    The world was created by God and subjected to futility by him in order for it to become what he intends it to be after the resurrection and the regeneration, which is still to occur in the future.

    Most Christians also have no idea what the Bible says about the future and our eternal state after the general resurrection on the Last Day of Judgement. These people believe an unbiblical myth about being in heaven forever with Jesus and grandma, which is not at all what the Bible says. The Bible says the world was created and planted like a seed, which must “die” and be reborn later in order for it to become what it was intended to be by God: a perfect world without sin and evil. After the resurrection and the final judgement, the entire world will be reborn and those who have been judged worthy of eternal life will live on this reborn world forever, not in heaven but on earth… the same earth we are on now, only it will have been reborn and regenerated.

    See: http://ajmacdonaldjr.wordpress.com/2012/03/10/the-future-glory-παλινγενεσίᾳ/

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on December 10, 2012 at 7:09 pm

      If we assume a progressing world, then the existence of evil can be countered by claiming that it will be rectified in the future. Of course, there is also the stock response in regards to why God has to start off with such a defective world.

      Leibniz probably has the best response in his Theodicy, namely that it is impossible for God to create a perfect world.

      • ajmacdonaldjr said, on December 11, 2012 at 5:41 am

        If we believe in the existence of evil then we’ve already assumed the existence of good; therefore the existence of the both doesn’t preclude the existence of an all good creator and an imperfect world which has evil in it.

        If the world wasn’t predominantly good, with only occasional evils, the insurance industry wouldn’t exist.

        Rather than fault the world for not being perfect, people should acknowledge the overwhelming goodness of the world. For most people in most places there is no evil evident to them, meaning: if they were to walk outside and look around they would not perceive the existence of evil and would instead perceived the incredible and overwhelming goodness and beauty of the world surrounding them, which is perceptible everywhere.

        Not that evil doesn’t exist in the world, because it certainly does, only that evil is not often perceived by us; certainly not on a regular basis, unless we’re a soldier, a policeman, an oncologist, or the like.

        The world is basically an overwhelmingly good world and evil so rare that, in comparison, it seems it shouldn’t exist at all. The existence of good as such is the first big assumption we make before we can recognize evil as such and begin criticizing the world for its being less than perfect and for having evil in it.

        Morally speaking, if good and evil are social conventions and not ontological realities it makes no difference that some peoples love their neighbors and other peoples eat them.

        • WTP said, on December 11, 2012 at 9:03 am

          If we believe in the existence of evil then we’ve already assumed the existence of good; therefore the existence of the both doesn’t preclude the existence of an all good creator and an imperfect world which has evil in it.

          Was there good and/or evil before man entered into it? Does everything fall under the category of either good or evil or is there some neutral category of neither one nor the other?

          As for evil not being perceived, that doesn’t mean it isn’t there.

          The world is basically an overwhelmingly good world and evil so rare that, in comparison, it seems it shouldn’t exist at all.

          That’s much easier for one to say sitting comfortably in modern Western civilization. Re Hobbes:

          “Whatsoever therefore is consequent to a time of Warre, where every man is Enemy to every man; the same is consequent to the time, wherein men live without other security, than what their own strength, and their own invention shall furnish them withall. In such condition, there is no place for Industry; because the fruit thereof is uncertain; and consequently no Culture of the Earth; no Navigation, nor use of the commodities that may be imported by Sea; no commodious Building; no Instruments of moving, and removing such things as require much force; no Knowledge of the face of the Earth; no account of Time; no Arts; no Letters; no Society; and which is worst of all, continuall feare, and danger of violent death; And the life of man, solitary, poore, nasty, brutish, and short.”

          Not to mention how nasty things were in Hobbes’ day.

  2. T. J. Babon said, on December 10, 2012 at 7:35 am

    We think we “know” what evil is, but what if God doesn’t agree? What if God agrees with Kahn? How many of Khan’s children were products of rape? I’m sure his genes are alive and well today.

    One day in the pavilion at Karakorum he [Genghis Kahn] asked an officer of the Mongol guard what, in all the world, could bring the greatest happiness.

    “The open steppe, a clear day, and a swift horse under you,” responded the officer after a little thought, “and a falcon on your wrist to start up hares.”

    “Nay,” responded the Kahn, “to crush your enemies, to see them fall at your feet — to take their horses and goods and hear the lamentation of their women. That is best.”

    http://www.barbariankeep.com/ctbsecrets.html

    • T. J. Babson said, on December 10, 2012 at 9:30 am

      Maybe my name will morph into T. J. Baboon :-)

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on December 10, 2012 at 7:12 pm

      The idea that “evil” and “good” do not mean the same to God as they do to us was a stock reply to problem of evil advanced in Medieval times. However, God seems to condemn much of what we condemn (murder, theft, etc.) if we take scripture seriously. Also, if we take God to have a different concept than we possess, then various problems arise-as raised by the stock replies to this stock reply.

      • T. J. Babon said, on December 10, 2012 at 8:47 pm

        Which scripture? The Bhagavad Gita is pretty warlike. Do you claim there is some underlying agreement on what is good and evil? Would a Zen Buddhist agree?

        • Michael LaBossiere said, on December 10, 2012 at 9:08 pm

          There does seem to be broad agreement among humans: don’t murder me, don’t take my stuff, don’t lie to me.

          • T. J. Babon said, on December 10, 2012 at 9:31 pm

            Too pat. Glosses over huge differences in value systems.

      • WTP said, on December 10, 2012 at 9:23 pm

        God seems to condemn much of what we condemn

        Yes, what an odd coincidence.

  3. WTP said, on December 10, 2012 at 11:01 am

    The stock problem of evil is that the existence of evil in the world is incompatible with the Philosophy 101 conception of God, namely that God is all good, all powerful and all knowing. After all, if God has these attributes, then He knows about all evil, should tolerate no evil and has the power to prevent evil.

    Putting aside the idea that one could possibly know what the All-Powerful Being should and should not tolerate, does Philosophy 101 consider the possibility that it is the creator of the Universe who is the Evil One and that the Good One manifests Himself through man such that man is the actual source of good in the Universe? After all, the Universe does seem to have one giant failing, that being that every living thing in it (known to man anyway) dies. While some of the higher mammals have been known to show some form of empathy with other creatures within and without their species such creatures are very few and far between. It’s pretty much a dog-eat-dog world. Man is the only creature in the known Universe who has shown the desire and ability to fight death and prolong life.

  4. inrockfordnow said, on December 10, 2012 at 11:05 am

    I’m surprised to hear that Mill thought the will is irrelevant in the sense you describe. You quote him as saying that “actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness, wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness.” But that covers actions, not choices. So isn’t it natural to add that choices are right (wrong) insofar as they are made to bring about right (wrong) actions? That’s what I would expect from Mill, or any other consequentialist.

    Anyway, you have pointed out one of the obvious problems with the free will defense. Just because God must allow evil choices doesn’t mean he must allow the consequences of those choices.

    However I would add one more point: Suppose, as you ask us to do for the sake of argument, that free will logically requires we make evil choices. And let’s assume furthermore that their evil consequences are in turn logically required. Then doesn’t that just give God a really great reason not to instantiate free will? If free will and evil really are a package deal, then so much the worse for free will.

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on December 10, 2012 at 7:18 pm

      Mill does claim that morality is ultimately a matter of utility (that is, it all comes down to the creation of pain or pleasure). However, he probably did consider motivation to matter-other utilitarians do look at the intended consequences in terms of an act being subjectively right or wrong.

      Well, if free will does require evil, then that would suggest that a universe without free will would be better. Of course, there is the usual reply that creating races that lack free will would be a greater evil than all the evil that these races do from free will (by race I mean intelligent species, such as humans and what else might inhabit the universe).

  5. magus71 said, on December 10, 2012 at 1:48 pm

    “The stock problem of evil is that the existence of evil in the world is incompatible with the Philosophy 101 conception of God, namely that God is all good, all powerful and all knowing. After all, if God has these attributes, then He knows about all evil, should tolerate no evil and has the power to prevent evil.”

    The stock problem with the idea that there is not God, is that it means there is no justifiable measurement at all for good and evil.

    So there is either no God, and thus no good and evil, God is limited and thus not omnipotent, or God allows evil.

    Which one of these would be preferable to you, Mike? My point being, we will complain no matter what the case.

    • WTP said, on December 10, 2012 at 3:06 pm

      OK, I’ll play….

      it means there is no justifiable measurement at all for good and evil.

      Now this is not my spoecific arguement (see above) but I’d argue that absense of a God would mean that there’s no divine interest in defining what is good an what is evil. Man may define each in various ways. One way could be that Good is that which enables man to reduce sentient suffering in the most efficient way possible. Evil being the various degrees of adding to sentient suffering.

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on December 10, 2012 at 7:21 pm

      Actually there is a multitude of moral theories that account for good and evil without god. Aristotle, Confucius, Kant, Mill, Plato, and many other ancient, modern and current philosophers have theories that do not require God at all. So, the idea that morality requires God needs to be proven by showing that these other theories cannot possibly succeed or by showing that God is a necessary condition for ethics. This has not been shown.

      • magus71 said, on December 10, 2012 at 7:26 pm

        Just as you have complained that good is whatever God says it is, in a world without God, good is whatever I say it is.

        “If there is no God, then everything is permitted.”~Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov

        • Michael LaBossiere said, on December 10, 2012 at 9:06 pm

          Not at all. If Plato had it right, the Good is an objective entity and not what you say it is. If Aristotle got it right, the supreme good is happiness and it is achieved via virtue. If Mill got it right, then the goodness of action is in proportion to their creation of happiness. If Kant got it right, goodness is set by passing his categorical imperative test. And so on for all the various theories. The only world in which good is whatever you say it is would be a world in which moral subjectivism is true. I doubt there is any such world, since subjectivism seems to collapse into nihilism making it an untenable position.

          Dostoyevsky got it wrong.

          • WTP said, on December 10, 2012 at 9:25 pm

            An if history has any purpose, good is what works and evil is what fails. See coincidence, above.

          • magus71 said, on December 11, 2012 at 7:16 am

            I do not think good is what I say it is. I think good is what God says it is.

            • Michael LaBossiere said, on December 11, 2012 at 2:28 pm

              Are you a divine command theorist? If so, how do you solve the usual problems: 1) the Euthyphro Problem, 2) the problem of God’s goodness, 3) the elimination of reason from morality, 4) the arbitrariness problem, 5) the epistemic problems and so on.

              One can accept God without believe that good is what God says is good. Aquinas, for example, is not a DCT but obviously accepts a Christian ethics (based on Aristotle’s pagan ethics).

          • magus71 said, on December 11, 2012 at 7:19 am

            Dostoyevsky did not argue that true good is whatever a person says it is, only that if there is not God, it doesn’t seem to matter that much.

            • Michael LaBossiere said, on December 11, 2012 at 2:29 pm

              Why wouldn’t it matter? Evil would still be evil and just as painful and horrible. Good would still be just as good. In fact, we might very will be living in just such a world (one without God).

            • magus71 said, on December 11, 2012 at 10:22 pm

              Good is painful, too. There is no escape from pain.

            • Michael LaBossiere said, on December 12, 2012 at 3:26 pm

              Right training makes good enjoyable and evil painful.

            • magus71 said, on December 12, 2012 at 8:43 pm

              Killing bin Laden was good. His wives feel pain over it, though.

            • Michael LaBossiere said, on December 13, 2012 at 10:08 am

              If Bin Laden was a good husband and loved by his wives, then the pain felt by them would add some negative value to the action-at least on some moral views.

              If an event is assessed in a morally complex way, there will typically be good and bad aspects.

              Now, I won’t deny that a good action can cause people pain and discomfort (getting shot probably hurt Bin Laden). However, being good should be, on the whole, a cause of happiness. At least if Aristotle, Plato and Aquinas are right.

            • T. J. Babson said, on December 11, 2012 at 11:24 pm

              “There is no escape from pain.”

              Attachment involves pain. This was the Buddha’s point.

              Nietzsche’s point was that Christian morality was not the morality of nobility but of slaves. At heart it is very selfish: what do I need to do to get into heaven?

            • magus71 said, on December 15, 2012 at 11:31 am

              TJ,

              Paul examined himself and found that even his best intentions had selfish roots. The fact that wanting to get to heaven is selfish only shows that humans can only be so good a pure. Which is why Paul came to the conclusion that a savior was necessary to make peace between Man and God. Paul knew he could never have pure intentions.

              “No man hath greater love than that he lay down his life for another.” and yet even this is selfish: It would not be worth living and the pain would be too great to live without that other person. But it is the closest we will ever get to what God is. The closest I have come to an absence of selfishness is when I think of my youngest daughter. I forget about myself. I would jump in front of a car to save her. If there were food for only one person, she would get it before me.

              It’s only when a person reaches this point that they have reached maturity. It took me almost 40 years.

            • Michael LaBossiere said, on December 15, 2012 at 12:26 pm

              Kant makes a good case that acting good from selfish motives is not being good. He believed that we could act from the good will, choosing goodness because it is good.

              Hume makes an interesting case that we are not purely selfish. I agree with him on this, especially around Christmas.

            • WTP said, on December 15, 2012 at 11:43 am

              Magus, have you read Twain’s What is Man??

            • magus71 said, on December 15, 2012 at 11:54 am

              I have not. What’s it about?

            • Michael LaBossiere said, on December 15, 2012 at 12:27 pm

              You should-almost everything Twain wrote is worth a read.

            • WTP said, on December 15, 2012 at 12:06 pm

              I think of it often when the subject of free will and selfishness and what drives man is being discussed. It’s fairly short and you should be able to find a copy on the ‘net. In fact this link may be the whole thing:

              http://classiclit.about.com/library/bl-etexts/mtwain/bl-mtwain-whatisman.htm

              Wiki’s summary:

              “What Is Man?”, published by Mark Twain in 1906, is a dialogue between a young man and an older man jaded to the world. The title refers to Psalm 8-4,[citation needed] which begins ‘what is man, that you are mindful of him…’.
              It involves ideas of destiny and free will, as well as of psychological egoism. The Old Man asserted that the human being is merely a machine, and nothing more. The Young Man objects, and asks him to go into particulars and furnish his reasons for his position.
              The work appears to be a genuine and an earnest debate of his opinions about human nature, rather than satirical. Twain held views similar to that of the old man prior to writing ‘What is Man?’. However, he seems to have varied in his opinions of human freedom.[1]

          • magus71 said, on December 11, 2012 at 7:23 am

            And one of the reasons I like Nietzsche, besides the fact that he was a good writer, is that he is honest. Thus, his “Beyond Good and Evil” thesis in a world without God. Few before him who espoused atheism thought of the can of worms to be opened.

            • Michael LaBossiere said, on December 11, 2012 at 2:31 pm

              Well before Nietzsche theists laid out what they regarded as the dangers of atheism. He is interesting to read, but existentialism never really appealed to me.

            • ajmacdonaldjr said, on December 11, 2012 at 5:55 pm

              Although I agree Nietzsche is plain spoken, which I greatly appreciate, his “philosophy”, like Foucault’s, is an anti-philosophy, which I cannot accept.

              Rather than seeking wisdom, beauty, truth, and justice, these pseudo-philosophers espouse foolishness, ugliness, lies, and injustices.

              The “genius” of both men being their ability to turn the golden rule upon it’s head and to have this anti-Christ “philosophy” baptized by the “church” of postmodernity and her “priests”: the academies and her professors (no offense intended Mike!).

              Concerning the dramatic contrast between the ethical theories of Dr. King and Frederick Nietzsche, the late Boston University professor Roger Shattuck has said,

              “A succinct and unflinching answer to Nietzsche arose out of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s resolve to protect the civil rights struggle from the forces of radical black violence. In ‘Where Do We Go from Here?’—his 1967 Presidential address to the Southern Christian Leadership Conference—King picks out as one of the great errors in history the interpretation of power and love as polar opposites and the association of power with violence. King cut to the core of the matter with a no-nonsense simplification:

              ‘It was this misinterpretation that caused Nietzsche, who was a philosopher of the will to power, to reject the Christian concept of love. It was this same misinterpretation which induced Christian theologians to reject the Nietzschean philosophy of the will to power in the name of the Christian idea of love. Now, we’ve got to get this thing right. What is needed is a realization that power without love is reckless and abusive, and love without power is sentimental and anemic. Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice.’ (A Testament of Hope, p. 247)

              King was not just playing games with the words love and power. He was reaching back to a series of his own earlier readings (above all, in Paul Tillich) and writings and to his experience as intellectual and tactical leader of the civil rights movement. ‘To get this thing right’ meant to King an appeal to a long-mediated and carefully defined philosophic position: the philosophy of non-violence . . . These two prophets, Nietzsche and King, confront us with a continuing struggle between power and justice that no thinking person can responsibly turn away from” (Roger Shattuck, Forbidden Knowledge: From Prometheus to Pornography; p. 303).

              See: http://ajmacdonaldjr.wordpress.com/2010/06/03/love-implementing-the-demands-of-justice/

              See: http://ajmacdonaldjr.wordpress.com/2010/04/26/foucault-and-the-folly-of-the-narcissistic-self/

            • magus71 said, on December 11, 2012 at 10:17 pm

              I do not agree with Nietzsche’s philosophy, other than the fact that we have to face a tough reality without a whole lot of help, and that it is those who thrive upon facing the harshness that are the supermen.

            • T. J. Babson said, on December 11, 2012 at 11:31 pm

              “…who was a philosopher of the will to power, to reject the Christian concept of love…”

              And yet Nietzsche plainly thought that someone like Mother Teresa had a great “will to power.” Presumably she did not reject the Christian concept of love.

          • FRE said, on December 11, 2012 at 6:14 pm

            In the Odyssey by Homer, it was assumed that respect for the gods would cause people to treat each other fairly and justly and that lack of respect for the gods would cause people to act like barbarians. That idea, somewhat modified, still exists. However, the correlation between religion and good behavior actually seems somewhat questionable.

            • magus71 said, on December 11, 2012 at 10:20 pm

              FRE,

              That is because so few civilizations have actually existed without a belief in the beyond. Those that have come the closest have been disastrous. Our baseline is biased toward the natural human tendency to believe there is a power greater than is.

            • Michael LaBossiere said, on December 12, 2012 at 3:26 pm

              Yes, but a tendency to believe X is no proof that X exists. Also, people have believed in a huge ranged of “greater powers” ranging from vaguely defined supernatural forces to the Platonic Good.

            • WTP said, on December 12, 2012 at 4:32 pm

              That is because so few civilizations have actually existed without a belief in the beyond
              I think this would be accurate if you said “belief in God”. IIRC, Judaism doesn’t mention a life after death aside for the occasional prophet swept up into the heavens. Such was the point of/need for Christianity.

  6. FRE said, on December 10, 2012 at 3:57 pm

    Could it be that God permits evil on earth but that those who have suffered as the result of evil will be so adequately compensated in the next life that the evil they have suffered on earth will be forgotten and of no importance?

    I do not claim to have all the answers.

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on December 10, 2012 at 7:25 pm

      That could be. However, the hard part is proving that this will occur. After all, we know that all sorts of terrible things happen here but we have no actual evidence that we’ll be rewarded (or punished) post death.

      • FRE said, on December 10, 2012 at 7:55 pm

        There is no proof; it is simply a possibility.

        • WTP said, on December 10, 2012 at 9:27 pm

          But if that is what your argument stands on, is not the opposite also a possibility?

      • biomass2 said, on December 10, 2012 at 10:31 pm

        “However, the hard part is proving that this will occur.”
        Or that it won’t.
        If someone here can prove anything about what will, without a doubt , occur in the near future or in the hereafter, please raise your hand.


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