Did the Christian god create evil?

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Did the Christian god create evil?

Post by Ottr on Sun Jan 24, 2010 1:52 am

I’ve a question that I was hoping to get some opinions on. I’ve looked through the threads, but I may have missed this being discussed before. If so, my apologies.

Anyway… I’ve come across an opinion that the Christian god didn’t "create" evil, that he simply "allowed" it to happen.
The idea is framed as:
If a person is asked, “Does cold exist?” the answer would likely be “yes.” However, this is incorrect. Cold does not exist. Cold is the absence of heat. Similarly, darkness does not exist; it is the absence of light. Evil is the absence of good, or better, evil is the absence of God. God did not have to create evil, but rather only allow for the absence of good.

My own thoughts are … If this god is perfect, all knowing, and all powerful, then he would understand that the conscious act of withdrawing himself would create the darkness, or the evil. With the foresight of the consequences to his actions, he went ahead anyway. This indicates to me that the creation of darkness or evil was not simply a passive event allowed by this god, but a purposeful, desired outcome.

Any thoughts, or opinions?
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Re: Did the Christian god create evil?

Post by DotNotInOz on Sun Jan 24, 2010 3:23 am

To some extent, I think that "evil" is largely a manifestation of human egocentricity. That which thwarts our desire to have what we want is frequently labeled evil.

For all I know, the Earth might be an enormous organism, and all our gouging and parasitic assaults upon it result in periodic attempts to get rid of us--earthquakes, tidal waves, etc. Rather like a person scratching at something like an infestation of lice or ringworm. (How's that for an anthropomorphic image? heh heh)

Anyway, I like that theory better than Pat Robertson's about the Haitian earthquake. < wry smile >
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Re: Did the Christian god create evil?

Post by john5180 on Sun Jan 24, 2010 1:19 pm

DotNotInOz wrote:To some extent, I think that "evil" is largely a manifestation of human egocentricity. That which thwarts our desire to have what we want is frequently labeled evil.

For all I know, the Earth might be an enormous organism, and all our gouging and parasitic assaults upon it result in periodic attempts to get rid of us--earthquakes, tidal waves, etc. Rather like a person scratching at something like an infestation of lice or ringworm. (How's that for an anthropomorphic image? heh heh)

That's something to think about.

DotNotInOz wrote:Anyway, I like that theory better than Pat Robertson's about the Haitian earthquake. < wry smile >

I would listen to and take under advisement any drug or alcohol induced rant of a theory any day before I would give any consideration to anything Pat Robertson has to say.

Personally, I believe in opposites. Good/evil, up/down, in/out, male/female... And what is considered good or evil may have a different understanding depending upon the circumstances, and one's geographic location. I don't think any particular god is the author of evil, or condones it. It's only one of the options of personal conduct we have to choose from. Another consideration is the human mind. Mass murderers, serial rapist and the like have a mental defect. That isn't to say the punishments for such act ought not fit the crime due to this mental defect..... we euthanize dumb animals who have rabies. But it takes away the excuse that a god allows, or a demon coerces.
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Re: Did the Christian god create evil?

Post by Gorm_Sionnach on Sun Jan 24, 2010 5:03 pm

Ottr wrote:I’ve a question that I was hoping to get some opinions on. I’ve looked through the threads, but I may have missed this being discussed before. If so, my apologies.

Anyway… I’ve come across an opinion that the Christian god didn’t "create" evil, that he simply "allowed" it to happen.
The idea is framed as:
If a person is asked, “Does cold exist?” the answer would likely be “yes.” However, this is incorrect. Cold does not exist. Cold is the absence of heat. Similarly, darkness does not exist; it is the absence of light. Evil is the absence of good, or better, evil is the absence of God. God did not have to create evil, but rather only allow for the absence of good.

My own thoughts are … If this god is perfect, all knowing, and all powerful, then he would understand that the conscious act of withdrawing himself would create the darkness, or the evil. With the foresight of the consequences to his actions, he went ahead anyway. This indicates to me that the creation of darkness or evil was not simply a passive event allowed by this god, but a purposeful, desired outcome.

Any thoughts, or opinions?

In my experience the most common apologist response of what "evil" is, is a state of acting against their deity, generally through transgressing (sin). Separation from the will of their deity also seems to be central to the concept, and one definition of sin. That sin (and thus evil, suffering) exists is because of humanities choice to "do things their own way" and turn their backs on their deity.

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Re: Did the Christian god create evil?

Post by TPaine on Sun Jan 24, 2010 5:47 pm

Ottr wrote:I’ve a question that I was hoping to get some opinions on. I’ve looked through the threads, but I may have missed this being discussed before. If so, my apologies.

Anyway… I’ve come across an opinion that the Christian god didn’t "create" evil, that he simply "allowed" it to happen.
The idea is framed as:
If a person is asked, “Does cold exist?” the answer would likely be “yes.” However, this is incorrect. Cold does not exist. Cold is the absence of heat. Similarly, darkness does not exist; it is the absence of light. Evil is the absence of good, or better, evil is the absence of God. God did not have to create evil, but rather only allow for the absence of good.

My own thoughts are … If this god is perfect, all knowing, and all powerful, then he would understand that the conscious act of withdrawing himself would create the darkness, or the evil. With the foresight of the consequences to his actions, he went ahead anyway. This indicates to me that the creation of darkness or evil was not simply a passive event allowed by this god, but a purposeful, desired outcome.

Any thoughts, or opinions?
This is an interesting question, Ottr. If we go by the Christian Bible, Adam and Eve supposedly sinned by eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good an evil after they were forbidden by God to do so. Therefore evil had to exist and since God created everything evil would have to have been one of the creations. The question is did Adam and Eve actually sin by eating the forbidden fruit? If they did not know the difference between good and evil before eating, they could not have known that disobeying God was wrong or evil until it was too late.
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Re: Did the Christian god create evil?

Post by gillyflower on Sun Jan 24, 2010 6:04 pm

I think that first evil has to be defined.

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Re: Did the Christian god create evil?

Post by P_Synthesis on Sun Jan 24, 2010 6:06 pm

I'd essentially agree with Dot in many ways -- that what we call 'evil' is largely stuff we do not like. In fact in many ways I would go further and say that what we call 'good' is largely stuff we do like!

TPaine wrote:
If we go by the Christian Bible, Adam and Eve supposedly sinned by eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good an evil after they were forbidden by God to do so. Therefore evil had to exist and since God created everything evil would have to have been one of the creations. The question is did Adam and Eve actually sin by eating the forbidden fruit? If they did not know the difference between good and evil before eating, they could not have known that disobeying God was wrong or evil until it was too late.

See this is why I rarely venture into these waters -- the above doesn't quite wash philosophically because a genuinely omniscient God would have deliberately created the possibility of evil in the first place and would also have known whether Adam and Eve would eat it, would have created the serpent to tempt them to eat it, etc.

Similarly in the OP, personally I think that if temperature can be said to exist, cold certainly can. But even if one accepts that cold is merely 'absence of heat', the idea of 'God withdrawing himself' won't work either, because what is he withdrawing himself from? Only from something created by himself of course, since there is nothing else...

I more or less avoid questions like these in my own beliefs, because I have found the only answers are experiential. But that's just my way.

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Re: Did the Christian god create evil?

Post by john5180 on Sun Jan 24, 2010 6:06 pm

TPaine wrote:
Ottr wrote:I’ve a question that I was hoping to get some opinions on. I’ve looked through the threads, but I may have missed this being discussed before. If so, my apologies.

Anyway… I’ve come across an opinion that the Christian god didn’t "create" evil, that he simply "allowed" it to happen.
The idea is framed as:
If a person is asked, “Does cold exist?” the answer would likely be “yes.” However, this is incorrect. Cold does not exist. Cold is the absence of heat. Similarly, darkness does not exist; it is the absence of light. Evil is the absence of good, or better, evil is the absence of God. God did not have to create evil, but rather only allow for the absence of good.

My own thoughts are … If this god is perfect, all knowing, and all powerful, then he would understand that the conscious act of withdrawing himself would create the darkness, or the evil. With the foresight of the consequences to his actions, he went ahead anyway. This indicates to me that the creation of darkness or evil was not simply a passive event allowed by this god, but a purposeful, desired outcome.

Any thoughts, or opinions?
This is an interesting question, Ottr. If we go by the Christian Bible, Adam and Eve supposedly sinned by eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good an evil after they were forbidden by God to do so. Therefore evil had to exist and since God created everything evil would have to have been one of the creations. The question is did Adam and Eve actually sin by eating the forbidden fruit? If they did not know the difference between good and evil before eating, they could not have known that disobeying God was wrong or evil until it was too late.

Well, supposedly he told them not to..... "Make them as smart as the other gods". And then some other god disguised as a talking snake told them it was really ok; the Christian god was only fooling when he said he'd KILL them out of love for eating it.

Personally, if the Christian god was going to be that upset for people having a desire to learn, he ought not have given them a superior brain. Give it to the other animals instead. He could have given it to the fox, or the owl.... Certainly not something as inferior as humans.
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Re: Did the Christian god create evil?

Post by P_Synthesis on Sun Jan 24, 2010 6:11 pm

Well, supposedly he told them not to..... Make them as smart as the other gods. And then some other god disguised as a talking snake told them it was really ok;

uh John 5180, just how many gods do you think Christians believe in? I thought the whole idea was that we only have the one Christian god to work with here. Surprised

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Re: Did the Christian god create evil?

Post by DotNotInOz on Sun Jan 24, 2010 6:29 pm

I got curious and looked up the story in Genesis since I couldn't recall exactly what is said there.

God tells Adam that he'll die if he eats from the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

But it's actually the serpent who tells Eve that they won't die from eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. "For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." [Genesis 3:5 RSV]

I think it's intriguing that one phrase from those summing up Eve's justifications for eating from the tree is, "...and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise,..." [Genesis 3:6]

Since the point supposedly is the loss of innocence after the "fall," that's a rather unpleasant implication that innocence equals ignorance and foolishness while wisdom goes hand in hand with the knowledge that presumably God tried to withhold from humankind.

Doesn't say much for a deity that prefers its creatures to be obedient and ignorant, IMO.

The whole Adam and Eve story is quite obviously an attempt to explain why nudity is regarded as shameful, why good and evil exist and furthermore why people must work so hard to survive as well as why women have agonizing labor pains and commonly fear snakes, not to mention why women are supposed to be subservient to their husbands. (It's all Eve's fault, in brief.) Cautionary tale and myth, that's all this account really is.
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Re: Did the Christian god create evil?

Post by sacrificialgoddess on Sun Jan 24, 2010 6:36 pm

I think Neil Gaiman is of immense importance at this juncture in the conversation.

http://www.amazon.com/Good-Omens-Accurate-Prophecies-Nutter/dp/0060853972/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1264372586&sr=1-1

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Re: Did the Christian god create evil?

Post by DotNotInOz on Sun Jan 24, 2010 6:43 pm

Oh, Good Omens is a must-read for any of us demon-possessed types. It's a total hoot!

That and Christopher Moore's Lamb which is along the lines of MP's Life of Brian.
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Re: Did the Christian god create evil?

Post by sacrificialgoddess on Sun Jan 24, 2010 6:49 pm

My point is that people want evil to be big, grand, and well, evil. That's why Buffy, Supernatural, V, that sort of thing have always been popular. It's an enemy we can kill, because they really are evil. They like being evil. They get up in the morning, eat their evil flakes, put on their evil clothes, get into their evil car, and think 'what can I do to further the cause of evil today.'
In reality, evil is usually the guy who has different ideas than we do, and thinks we are about as evil as we think they are. It is not as clear cut. Often, evil is just another bureaucratic system trying to make its way in the world and furthering their own aims, which often aren't as evil as we wish they were.


Anyway, that is what I got out of the book. Well, that and Queen is an evil band.
Your mileage may vary.

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Re: Did the Christian god create evil?

Post by john5180 on Sun Jan 24, 2010 8:52 pm

P_Synthesis wrote:
Well, supposedly he told them not to..... Make them as smart as the other gods. And then some other god disguised as a talking snake told them it was really ok;

uh John 5180, just how many gods do you think Christians believe in? I thought the whole idea was that we only have the one Christian god to work with here. Surprised

I can think of at least two, and a goddess too boot. scratch Let's see now.... scratch There is the war god Yahweh, and there's Lucifer who has been promoted to god-like status by Christians; (by that, I mean he has just as much power as Yahweh affraid ). Then there's the goddess Sophia, (Wisdom, or Chokmah depending on the translation.) Wink If you doubt the existence of Wisdom, grab a Catholic bible and you'll find the Book of Wisdom in their Old Testament version. It goes into pretty good detail how she was there from the creation of the world. Protestants (who believe the bible is completely unaltered and error free) managed to conveniently omit that book from their version of the Holy Writ. Rolling Eyes
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Re: Did the Christian god create evil?

Post by sacrificialgoddess on Sun Jan 24, 2010 8:58 pm

Only in Christianity could 3=1.

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Re: Did the Christian god create evil?

Post by Ottr on Sun Jan 24, 2010 9:05 pm

Here’s a link of the entire argument … http://www.gotquestions.org/did-God-create-evil.html

Hi Dot,
**For all I know, the Earth might be an enormous organism, and all our gouging and parasitic assaults upon it result in periodic attempts to get rid of us--earthquakes, tidal waves, etc. Rather like a person scratching at something like an infestation of lice or ringworm. (How's that for an anthropomorphic image? heh heh)**

I’ve thought that myself.

Hello John … Forgive me, but I don’t remember speaking with you as of yet, so… Pleased to meet you.
**I don't think any particular god is the author of evil, or condones it.**

I don’t believe myself that there is a conscious “creator” of evil. Though I do believe that chaotic forces cause evil consequences.

Hi Again Gorm Sionnach …(BTW do you have a preference of what you like to be called, shortened version of your name?)
**That sin (and thus evil, suffering) exists is because of humanities choice to "do things their own way" and turn their backs on their deity.**

Which brings up the question in my mind of free will. If you aren’t allowed to opt out, then there’s no free will.
I dunno, Sometimes it’s like playing a form of mental twister.

Hello Tpaine … Pleased to meet you too.
**The question is did Adam and Eve actually sin by eating the forbidden fruit? If they did not know the difference between good and evil before eating, they could not have known that disobeying God was wrong or evil until it was too late.**

And as an added bonus, they were created with a curious nature, and the potential for deceit. I read somewhere last night while searching around, the idea that if humans were to genetically alter their offspring to give them a propensity to murder, and their child then goes out and murders, wouldn’t the parents hold some responsibility for the actions of the child? The child would be held accountable, surely, but who made them that way to begin with?

Hi P Synthesis …
**I more or less avoid questions like these in my own beliefs, because I have found the only answers are experiential. But that's just my way.**

I admit it, I like puzzles.

John …
**And then some other god disguised as a talking snake told them it was really ok; the Christian god was only fooling when he said he'd KILL them out of love for eating it.**

And how long did they live after they ate the apple? Some 800 years wasn’t it? Probably meant the second spiritual death, maybe?

Dot …
**Doesn't say much for a deity that prefers its creatures to be obedient and ignorant, IMO.**
Sheeple?

Hi Sacrificialgoddess ... My wish list has just grown. I really liked his book American Gods.
**Only in Christianity could 3=1.**

I've heard that the trinity is only a Catholic construct and that there is really only one god with these "offices" that he has the ability to visit.

Finally, I’m still playing with the features of the site here, so … please bear with my copy and paste.
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Re: Did the Christian god create evil?

Post by john5180 on Sun Jan 24, 2010 9:06 pm

Another good source for early Hebrew gods is http://einhornpress.com/jews.aspx

But then with Christians breaking away from Judiasm, and striking out on their own, perhaps the 3 in one god is all they could manage to steal.
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Re: Did the Christian god create evil?

Post by TPaine on Sun Jan 24, 2010 11:21 pm

Ottr wrote:

Hi Sacrificialgoddess ... My wish list has just grown. I really liked his book American Gods.
**Only in Christianity could 3=1.**

I've heard that the trinity is only a Catholic construct and that there is really only one god with these "offices" that he has the ability to visit.
Nice to meet you too, Ottr. As I recall you're right. 1 John 5 7:8;
7For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.
8And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one. (KJV)
was not in any Greek manuscript until Erasmus' second edition of his Greek New Testament. Those verses were not in his 1516 first edition, and when the Inquisition asked him why, he responded that they was not in the available Greek manuscripts, only in the Latin Vulgate. The church "suggested" that he add them to his next edition, and being no one's fool and not wanting to become a human torch he agreed. The King James version was translated from his second edition. These are the verses the concept of the Trinity came from. 1,2,&3 John were among the last canonical books written, most likely sometime in the early second century CE.
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Re: Did the Christian god create evil?

Post by Gorm_Sionnach on Mon Jan 25, 2010 1:05 am

Ottr wrote:
Hi Again Gorm Sionnach …(BTW do you have a preference of what you like to be called, shortened version of your name?)
**That sin (and thus evil, suffering) exists is because of humanities choice to "do things their own way" and turn their backs on their deity.**

Which brings up the question in my mind of free will. If you aren’t allowed to opt out, then there’s no free will.
I dunno, Sometimes it’s like playing a form of mental twister.

Gorm is fine Smile

I think there are a great many specious arguments required to hold to the literalist versions of Christianity, but that hasn't had as detrimental an effect as one would expect. Though I suppose they could try and make the argument that free will is not limitless, that people are restricted to choosing within the bounds of their deities established order. Since they often conflate natural laws (i.e. gravity) with the "realities of sin", they treat it as such. From their perspective a limited free will, does not negate free will in and of itself, anymore than gravity negates your ability to jump, it is simply the way the world works.

The simplest (and even then it is a bit of a stretch) which I have asked a hundred times and rarely get back an answer that does not prove the point raised by the question is along the lines of "explain (without special pleading) why one ought to hold your religions scripture as being authoritative to anyone outside your religion". So far I have been unable to get an answer that did not amount to "because it says so".

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Re: Did the Christian god create evil?

Post by DeavonReye on Mon Jan 25, 2010 11:59 am

Here's my take on "god creating evil". If evil is "that which goes against god and/or god's will", then Satan isn't actually evil, but fulfilling god's purpose as was planned out from the beginning. As the bible states, "he [Satan] was a murderer from the beginning. . . . the father of lies". The words, "from the beginning" is key here, as it shows that there was a being that was created to be the antithesis of god, for a purpose. For god's own purpose, to be exact. Thus, not evil at all, but necessary.

All this is, of course, assuming that the christian bible is how it happened, . . . of which, I do not agree.

And yes, "cold" does exist. As does "dark". The argument, in the OP, is just some sort of crazy apologetics to get people to agree that their's is the god for all.
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Re: Did the Christian god create evil?

Post by Gorm_Sionnach on Mon Jan 25, 2010 12:40 pm

DeavonReye wrote:Here's my take on "god creating evil". If evil is "that which goes against god and/or god's will", then Satan isn't actually evil, but fulfilling god's purpose as was planned out from the beginning. As the bible states, "he [Satan] was a murderer from the beginning. . . . the father of lies". The words, "from the beginning" is key here, as it shows that there was a being that was created to be the antithesis of god, for a purpose. For god's own purpose, to be exact. Thus, not evil at all, but necessary.

All this is, of course, assuming that the christian bible is how it happened, . . . of which, I do not agree.

And yes, "cold" does exist. As does "dark". The argument, in the OP, is just some sort of crazy apologetics to get people to agree that their's is the god for all.

I recall something, and more learned voices would be appreciated on this aspect, but there was something in Jewish understanding of ha-satan as being "the accuser", pointing out the short comings of humans to YHWH, (a la the Book of Job). Talmudic tradition also holds ha-satan as being an agent of YHWH, and not independent, and certainly not the source of evil.

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Re: Did the Christian god create evil?

Post by DeavonReye on Mon Jan 25, 2010 1:04 pm

Yes, I have heard that too. The very story [ficticious story, that is] of Job is an example of this for sure. It is as if god and Satan are playing games with humans and there doesn't seem to be any "can't abide with evil/iniquity" in that story at all. If Satan IS "evil", and "any evil is destroyed in the presence of god", then it would only make sense that Satan wasn't evil. . . . .

Of course, the story [again] is not a real occurance.
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Re: Did the Christian god create evil?

Post by Gorm_Sionnach on Mon Jan 25, 2010 1:39 pm

DeavonReye wrote:Yes, I have heard that too. The very story [ficticious story, that is] of Job is an example of this for sure. It is as if god and Satan are playing games with humans and there doesn't seem to be any "can't abide with evil/iniquity" in that story at all. If Satan IS "evil", and "any evil is destroyed in the presence of god", then it would only make sense that Satan wasn't evil. . . . .

Of course, the story [again] is not a real occurance.

Real as in historic, or real as being part of a specific mythic narrative?

I'd agree with the former, disagree with the latter (unless Job has no place within the Judaic mythic narrative?)

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Re: Did the Christian god create evil?

Post by DeavonReye on Mon Jan 25, 2010 2:37 pm

Oh, definitely the former. It wasn't a literal historical account.
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Re: Did the Christian god create evil?

Post by P_Synthesis on Mon Jan 25, 2010 4:18 pm

[quote="john5180"]
P_Synthesis wrote:
I can think of at least two, and a goddess too boot. scratch Let's see now.... scratch There is the war god Yahweh, and there's Lucifer who has been promoted to god-like status by Christians; (by that, I mean he has just as much power as Yahweh affraid ). Then there's the goddess Sophia, (Wisdom, or Chokmah depending on the translation.) Wink If you doubt the existence of Wisdom, grab a Catholic bible and you'll find the Book of Wisdom in their Old Testament version. It goes into pretty good detail how she was there from the creation of the world. Protestants (who believe the bible is completely unaltered and error free) managed to conveniently omit that book from their version of the Holy Writ. Rolling Eyes

John I think we're a little at cross-purposes here. I'm trying to solve the conundrum in the OP. I know very well there are various goddesses in the old testament, from Asherah forward, and yes, lots of other kinds of divinity could be said to be recognized by various Christian schools.

But dash it, you can't get away from the fact that, if you're a believing Christian, 'God' must have created all the other divinities. That leaves the original question unanswered.

If people really want to use 'religious beliefs' and 'logic puzzles' to solve questions like this, you can't get away from it: Believing that a) God created everything in existence, and b) Evil exists, it follows that c) God created evil. He can't 'withdraw and leave evil' because he can only withdraw from something he's created -- there is nothing else. Same with Lucifer, et al.

P_Synthesis

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Re: Did the Christian god create evil?

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