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  3. Our choice to continue living is a theodicy

User Info: the_hedonist

the_hedonist
1 month ago#1
My basic answer to the problem of evil is that it is entirely conceivable that God had a good reason to allow suffering in the world, that the good in our lives ultimately outweighs the bad. God saw that the good would outweigh the bad, so he decided to create us.

My contention in this topic is that my continued living, instead of opting out via suicide, is a lived-out proposition in which I express agreement with the proposition that the good outweighs the bad in my world. I choose to continue living, whether because I actually enjoy life enough or because, even if I would personally prefer death, I know my death would hurt other people and I value them more than I dislike the suffering I experience. Either way, I am saying that there is some good out there, whether my good or the good of others, which is greater than the suffering of the world.

In brief, if people truly believed that the bad outweighed the good, they would commit suicide.

Since most don’t, they implicitly agree that, at the very least, the good outweighs the bad. Or, I suppose, if the good does not currently outweigh the bad, there is hope, a chance, that it could within their lifetime, whether by their own efforts or by some external force. Either way, I think the precept that ‘actions speak louder than words’ is applicable here.

I am assuming here that most individuals, at a certain point in their life, have the means to commit suicide. Most who truly want to commit suicide do so. Of course, unsuccessful suicide attempts exist, but in many of those cases I think part of the reason is due to lack of putting forth full effort. Not all the time, but often. I could be wrong here, but it doesn’t negate the argument entirely. It just narrows down the number of people it is applicable to. I don’t know the numbers, but I imagine that the percentage of the population that has attempted suicide, whether successfully or not, constitutes a sizable minority.
'Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus, just to take him at his word.
Just to rest upon his promise, just to know, "Thus saith the Lord."
(edited 1 month ago)

User Info: zinformant

zinformant
1 month ago#2
A couple of alternate reasons that some, if not many, faithful avoid suicide-as-a-ticket-to-life-with-Him:

1. Their faith is not strong enough to motivate permanent action against temporary worldly troubles.
2. Their faith dictates that one's final action being murderous in intention would not (assuredly, anyway) permit their soul time for contrition to merit essential absolution.
3. Fear of death outweighs consideration of any good or bad in this world.

All three of these points distill down to there being comfort in the assurance that the sun will rise tomorrow, at least. It hangs somewhat with the optimism of the original post, though I propose the primary reason being that anxieties associated with the uncertain, unknown, or unknowable are of utmost concern, consciously or otherwise. In other words, one's choice to continue living is probably in preservation of the knowable status quo, though it's a highly personal question with variation.
Is it naive to dream of a world without war?

User Info: kozlo100

kozlo100
1 month ago#3
I think a few counterpoints occur to me. The sort of quick one is that I think you also need to consider fear of the unknown. Even if the bad outweighs the good, the devil you know is better than the devil you don't. Additionally, most cultures have suicide as an immoral act, and many would say it incurs significantly negative consequences in the afterlife. So one might keep living simply to keep in accordance with morality, and/or because as bad as it is, it can always get worse. There's also the sheer biological survival instinct to consider as well.

The other thing is that this seems too personal an approach? If that's the right word? I'm going to try not to get too political with it, but I need an example of mass suffering to make this point, and mass suffering is usually political. In that context the situation at the US border seems a useful example. We have this group of people who's prospects were so bleak they made the difficult trip to come seek refuge in the US. Now they're being detained and held in very poor conditions. Also, they do not currently have the ability to suicide. All that collective suffering certainly outweighs any amount of good in my own life, but I'd never choose to end my life because of that imbalance.

That makes me think that the sum of individuals' choices to continue living is maybe not a great indicator of the balance of good and bad in the world.

Then on a final note, while suicide is kind of a useful thought experiment for this, the reality is different. As an example there, my mother committed suicide shortly after I was born, and it wasn't because she thought the bad in her life outweighed the good. It was because she had a medical condition affecting her mental health that made it impossible for her to evaluate good and bad in her life at that moment. The vast majority of suicides and attempts come from similar medical conditions.
Time flies like the wind,
and fruit flies like a banana.

User Info: CoyoteTheGreat

CoyoteTheGreat
1 month ago#4
That logic is all well and fine is you are talking about a regular god. But the Christians omni-everything God can't be omni-benevolent without maximizing good and turning evil into a nil value, and given that he is omnipotent, he can do this without breaking a sweat. By the way Christians have defined their god, there can be no good reason for allowing evil.

Now, if he is just your run of the mill normal, non-omni god, then there isn't really any problem of evil to contend with. He did what he could to the best of his ability, there is still evil in the world, oh well.

Anyways, I think the evil in the world vastly outweighs the good, but I've never once been tempted to suicide. Why? Because even though the world is an evil place, my standards of living are quite nice and I don't have to experience most of it. You can live in an evil world and be quite happy just by being in the right place, and the right time.

And as Kozlo said, suicide isn't really about how happy or miserable a person is anyway, it is often due to an untreated mental health issue. Or sometimes it can just come down to personal elan, as there are plenty of people who live in absolute misery that will do everything in their power to survive anyways even if there isn't a glimmer of hope in their life.
Disobedience is the stamp of the hero. -Ragnar Redbeard
Also, this is Kagata..

User Info: LinkFanatic

LinkFanatic
1 month ago#5
Tagging this for later today when not inebriated. I really wanna discuss this...just like we always did in the old days.
Islam is Chaos Control.

User Info: darklao

darklao
1 month ago#6
I'm not sure if "well, you didn't kill yourself, so it can't be that bad" is a super great place to draw a moral line.

User Info: YHWH_Saves

YHWH_Saves
1 month ago#7
I'm not endorsing the idea that God "allows" for evil to exist, but I wanted to chime in on Coyote's argument that "omni-everything" God would wipe out evil.

The problem with this is that what we call "evil" is largely perpetuated by willing human participants. To wipe out evil is to destroy human beings, and Jesus has made it expressly known that God is in the business of salvaging human beings, not destroying them.

=========

Again, I raise the analogy of the child-parent relationship.

Assume your child is the one who is causing chaos at home/school. When it is your own "creation" that perpetuates theft, infidelity, lying, and other injustices, do you - being able (you are stronger/bigger than your child) - kill your child?

How does wipe out human evil without destroying them with violence?

(The Christian answer to this is that God rescued humanity from nonexistence by making Himself known through Jesus, Christ. Repentance/reform/REBIRTH is the only solution that works.)
"Man will not live off of bread alone, but by every word proceeding through the mouth of God." "You are not able to serve God and wealth.".
(edited 1 month ago)

User Info: kozlo100

kozlo100
1 month ago#8
YHWH_Saves posted...
The problem with this is that what we call "evil" is largely perpetuated by willing human participants. To wipe out evil is to destroy human beings, and Jesus has made it expressly known that God is in the business of salvaging human beings, not destroying them.


I have a couple of problems with that statement. Firstly, human caused 'evil' is definitely only a subset of the suffering felt on this planet. If tomorrow everyone on Earth chose to be a saint, suffering would definitely be greatly reduced, but it would not be gone.

The other thing is that even within the human-caused suffering, so much of it is born of innocent ignorance, lack of perspective, and the like. An omni-god could definitely fix a lot of that without destroying human beings.
Time flies like the wind,
and fruit flies like a banana.

User Info: YHWH_Saves

YHWH_Saves
1 month ago#9
kozlo100 posted...
I have a couple of problems with that statement. Firstly, human caused 'evil' is definitely only a subset of the suffering felt on this planet. If tomorrow everyone on Earth chose to be a saint, suffering would definitely be greatly reduced, but it would not be gone.

Which is why I said "largely perpetuated." Also, we're talking about evil, which is - in my view - different than suffering.

kozlo100 posted...
so much of it is born of innocent ignorance, lack of perspective, and the like. An omni-god could definitely fix a lot of that without destroying human beings.

I believe this has happened, in the incarnation of Christ. Christ essentially revealed the heart of God, and it's one of compassion, non-partiality and mercy. We no longer have an excuse for viewing "other" as "enemy," or to lack perspective, or to even make irrational judgments based on fear/prejudice.

That being said, many will still choose to ignore God. I don't see a hard fix for this, other than awaiting the inevitable downfall of the wicked.

I
"Man will not live off of bread alone, but by every word proceeding through the mouth of God." "You are not able to serve God and wealth.".
(edited 1 month ago)

User Info: kozlo100

kozlo100
1 month ago#10
YHWH_Saves posted...
That being said, many will still choose to ignore God.


This is the crux of what I'm getting at. It's equivalent to saying that a tri-omni god is incapable of making a compelling argument. I don't see how that's possible.

And I don't think Christ's existence and teachings fit that role in the first place. Obviously in that it was ineffective as mentioned above, but also because it's insufficient.

Think of a case where every time a human was about to make a choice that would inflict suffering, they were given full knowledge of the implications and results of their choice before they made it. Imagine I'm about to cut someone off in traffic, and I get a flash of undeniable knowledge that if I do, it'll form a traffic jam that will cause an ambulance to be four minutes late to a call, and someone will die.

That's the kind of knowledge and context that we humans lack, and that's the sort of thing that an omni- god could give us. Giving us that knowledge isn't forcing any choices, it's just letting us make them fully informed.
Time flies like the wind,
and fruit flies like a banana.
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