General Discussion

Community Debates Forum

Read 4620 times

Orion

  • **
  • 29 Posts
    • View Profile
If God Is Good, What Is Evil?
« on: May 28, 2016, 11:30:45 am »
Per my post Objective Morality—Atheism vs. Pantheism vs. Theism, I firmly hold the Moral Argument for God’s existence to be true. However, any answer about the nature of objective goodness should be followed by the question of what evil is. Defining goodness should shed light on evil …

If God Is the Essence of Goodness, What Is the Essence of Evil?
As I described in my prior post, evil is merely an inferior, parasitic attack on goodness, just as falsehood is an unnecessary contradiction of truth. Good can exist without evil, but evil cannot exist without goodness. But still … what exactly is evil?!

It is interesting to note that just as falsehood is nothing more than bogus truth (it claims to be factually correct, but is not), evil itself claims to be justified—but is not. Even the most ruthless human beings in history, such as Zedong, Stalin and Hitler, thought they were doing the right thing and attempted to justify their actions. And what about people who openly admit they are evil and morally wrong? The hard-core Satanist who proudly claims to be wicked really means: “I am good—liberated to do whatever I want! And it’s those uptight religious people who are the problem.” In other words, the irony of evil is that it claims to be objectively good! Evil is nothing more than false moral goodness.

But if God’s nature is ultimate goodness, what is the implication about evil? In essence, evil is corrupt self-justification raised in rivalry against God’s true righteousness—it tries to stand independent of God on its own. In terms of our world, human self-righteousness and evil are one and the same.

This is precisely the point of the often-mocked story of Adam and Eve in Genesis 2 and 3. Every created free moral agent must make the decision between submitting to God’s eternal goodness (entering into a healthy relationship with God) and attempting to be independently self-justified (rejecting relationship with God). Adam and Eve tried to challenge God’s righteousness and become “like God” … “knowing good and evil” for themselves. That is the moment humanity became corrupted and fell into darkness.

Ever since the Fall, we humans have been trying to be right. There is nothing that feels quite as good as being correct all the time, whether we are debating religion, politics, economics, science or everyday relational conflicts. Humanity’s deepest desire is to be right—and since God is truth and goodness, it is not a stretch to say that humanity’s deepest desire is to be God—to be omnibenevolent—to be all good and all justified. But since only God is the definition of goodness, we are out of luck.

As WLC has demonstrated, God is the paradigm of goodness, and the paradigm is always superior to imitations—even perfect imitations. Inescapably, the imitation defines its perfection based upon the paradigm. A perfect imitation of the Mona Lisa would still be measured against the Mona Lisa. So even if a human were to somehow perfectly imitate God’s benevolent characteristics in every single way, that person’s goodness would still be subordinate and inferior to God’s ultimate goodness.

Can We Be Good without God?
In many philosophical discussions, the question is raised as to whether it is possible to be morally good without believing in God. As a former atheist, I had an extremely strong conscience prior to believing in God, adhering to many of the same morals as Christians. And many of the atheists I know, including friends of mine, are very honorable! So shouldn’t an atheist who does all the right things be able to justifiably proclaim moral independence from God? In short, the answer is no. Apart from God (the paradigm of goodness), human moral goodness has no definition, which instantaneously undermines any attempt to be independently righteous. And if our goal in being “good” is to proudly throw our supposed holiness back in God’s face, it only proves we have been warped by self-righteousness.

A few years ago, I saw a billboard along an interstate from an atheist organization. It depicted a beautiful blue sky with white, puffy clouds and read: “Are you good without God? Millions are.” But the billboard could have been more accurately written: “Are you self-righteous? Millions are.” In turn, that could be even more succinctly stated: “Are you evil? Millions are.”

Unfortunately for those who are attempting to be morally justified apart from God, it is that very self-holiness that has corrupted them and severed their relationship with God. And lest you think I am merely criticizing atheists, I am directing the same accusation at myself. In one form or another, every human on this planet (yours-truly included!) has demanded the right to be the Almighty’s moral equal, which blatantly demonstrates our lack of respect for God and our overestimation of ourselves. So it really should not come as a surprise to us that our relationship with God has suffered as a result of our “personal goodness”.

This is why Jesus uniquely invites us to surrender our self-righteousness to Him through faith (John 3:16), rather than endlessly trying to earn our way to a righteous status through our own moral accomplishments (Romans 3:20, Galatians 2:16). Believing in Jesus is far more than mere intellectual acknowledgement of Christian religious doctrine (Genesis 15:6, Habakkuk 2:4, Ephesians 2: 8–10)—it is an act of total surrender to God as the paradigm of goodness (1 John 1:5). In place of our fallen self-righteousness (Philippians 3:8–9), Jesus promises to infuse His true righteousness into us through His presence (2 Corinthians 5:17)—and to transform us from the inside out (Philippians 1:6). Whereas other religions offer solutions for human evil based upon our self-effort (whether through good works or meditations), the Biblical Jesus alone offers us redemption based upon divine righteousness.

And because Jesus uniquely offers to redeem and transform us through His divine goodness rather than our own inferior self-righteousness, this leads directly into The Moral Argument for the Christian God Alone.
« Last Edit: October 09, 2016, 03:59:46 pm by Orion »

1

rap2017

  • **
  • 13 Posts
    • View Profile
Re: If God Is Good, What Is Evil?
« Reply #1 on: January 05, 2017, 06:58:04 am »
hello Orion
You make a lot of assumptions about God, which is a male deity. You say that you were an atheist and then became a Christian. That is your prerogative. You talk about a "relationship" with God. What does that mean, really, pause and think about that.
As humans we have "relationships" with one another, in different ways. Attraction, Love, Friendship, companionship are some of the ways. As a humans we make assessment of the people that come into our lives through their body language, culture, language and sadly by their Skin Colour. We are carry out own prejudices and biases, both knowingly and unknowingly.  The first medium of exchange between two or more humans about to meet is eye contact. These are the characteristics that we possess and have evolved.
My question to you again is what do you mean by a relationship with God. Many people simply do not understand this concept. Some people will try to animate it in their minds but that is it. Further, there is no evidence that a God exists.
Historically there have been many many Gods created in the minds of humans. Through time and education nearly all have now been dismissed. To our ancient ancestors a concept of God is quite different from the one that WLC describes. In fact he has had to redefine God as new scientific, cultural, educational and technical information has been learned. We don't know if that is correct.
 

2

Orion

  • **
  • 29 Posts
    • View Profile
Re: If God Is Good, What Is Evil?
« Reply #2 on: January 22, 2017, 04:55:35 pm »
Hello, rap2017 - thanks very much for challenging me on this! I've been waiting for months for some thoughtful criticism. Although you did accuse me of making assumptions about God, you've made quite a few assumptions as well.

First of all, you assume God is a male Deity. That's false, at least from a Biblical standpoint. Yes, the Bible uses masculine pronouns to refer to God, but Genesis 1:27 makes it crystal clear that both the male and female are made in the image of God. God is Spirit (John 4:24), which is genderless. The masculine and the feminine (in their ideal forms) were made to reflect certain complementary aspects of God's personality. But God (as eternal Spirit) predates our created spiritual, emotional and physical masculinity and femininity. Wicca makes the mistake of projecting the human experience (i.e. femininity) back on the divine; hence, the Wiccan belief in a Goddess that is indeed female. The Bible does not make that error, though (again) I can understand the accusation, since masculine articles are used in the Scriptures.

You asked me to think about what it really means to have a relationship with God. Great question! Yes, humans communicate with each other through physical senses, but if atheism is true, we really have no reason to conclude that our physical senses are revealing accurate information. We certainly cannot prove it - you might only be imagining you're reading my response to your post. In fact, we can't even prove we're having this debate.

Blind people still have relationships with other humans, despite the lack of eye contact. You basically assume that physical senses are the only possible means of communication. But if God exists, God is spiritual (predating the contingent physical universe) and can obviously communicate by other means. And you're welcome to call me delusional, but I am happy to report that I have a personal, interactive relationship with God, similar to any other personal relationship. And if atheism is true, I cannot help but maintain this delusion - I have no free will and I cannot help it - my DNA made me do it. (It's the Blind Watchmaker's fault that I believe in God.)

Note that atheism hinges upon an eternal cosmos (one or more universes) of eternally interacting matter and energy. (To argue that something accidentally came from absolute nothingness, without either preexistent material or divine creation, is beneath absurd.) As many atheists have pointed out, eternal matter and energy solves all statistical problems with evolution. All too true! Given infinite time and material, even the most statistically unlikely events will eventually occur, so the complex biological life on earth could have come about sans intelligent design (no God needed). But therein lies the humorous rub! Infinite time and material solves all statistical problems with everything else, including the Smurfs, unicorns, dragons, Darth Vader, fairies, Zeus, Odin, Athena, Baal, Molech, etc. So if atheism is true, we cannot dismiss all those ancient "deities" - they have to exist somewhere in the eternal cosmos!

You stated there is no evidence that God exists and yet you did nothing to back up your statement, whereas I have already made an extremely strong case for God's existence based upon objective morality. WLC's website is chalk full of other strong lines of argumentation (ontology, etc.). I would challenge you to back up your claim. So far, it's just a baseless statement.

Regarding your last paragraph, you've again just assumed that humans have created gods in their minds and you therefore dismiss all of them. This is very fallacious reasoning, lumping all religions into the same boat. Just because most people no longer believe in Zeus and Thor and Hera and Thunderbird and Baal does not mean all religions have been proved false.

Although it's certainly true that people like Moses and the Apostle Paul had differing scientific viewpoints from WLC (based upon the science of their far earlier generations), this does not mean they're talking about different Deities. On the contrary, WLC is using both ancient philosophical techniques and modern scientific knowledge to defend precisely the same truths in which Moses and the Apostle Paul believed.

Lastly, I would challenge you to engage my running moral argument for the existence of God.