The REAL “Problem of Evil”

[moderator’s note: Nonlin.org produced this at about the same time as his “Miracles” post. I delayed this, so that they could be discussed one at a time. I’m now publishing this one.]

[a note to nonlin – if all of your post is one block, it is hard to add a “more” break. Maybe a short introductory sentence as a first block would make that easier]

  1. “Problem of evil” is supposed to disprove God because,
    • a) A God that is all powerful would be able to prevent evil.
    • b) A God that is all knowing would know that evil happens.
    • c) A God that is all loving wouldn’t want evil to happen and would take needed action to stop it.
    • d) Evil happens.
    • e) Since evil happens, these statements are contradictory.
    • f) An all powerful, all knowing and all loving god cannot exist while evil continues.
    Although short, this argument fails repeatedly:
    • c) A God that is all loving wouldn’t want evil to happen, but would not necessarily take needed action to stop it due to other, higher reasons.
    • d) Evil happens only in a theist universe. The true materialist would not believe in evil, hence this whole argument proposed by him/her would be meaningless and self defeating.
    • e) There is no contradiction given the c. and d. counterarguments.
    • f) Because there is no contradiction per e. counterargument, f. does not follow.
    • g) And f. would not follow even if a. to e. were true, because the conclusion may miss some unspecified additional evidence, such as the fact that the human brain is not good enough to judge God, rendering this and many other such arguments false throughout.
  2. How would we know ‘the good’ without ‘the evil’? We wouldn’t! Therefore Evil is inescapable as experiences are continuously normalized to include good and bad. There’s always a ‘too cold/too hot’, ‘too loud/too quiet’, ‘too much/too little death (who wished historical tyrants lived longer?)’, and so on. Whatever the range, there’s always an extreme good/bad. Cut the range in half and, what was moderate before, becomes extreme. Therefore, God tolerates the [necessary] evil to a certain extent and for a good reason, also as part of the free will deal He offered mankind. For those that say “there’s no need for this much evil”, the question is: “ok, then how much evil should there be?” In addition, the Book of Job clearly explains that it is not up to the lowly humans to second guess God. Those that did not understand this (Nazis, Communists, Eugenists, and many more) have tried to do better than God. But their dreams of evil-free societies invariably turn into nightmares full of evil.
  3. Evil should mean nothing to the materialist because of the determinism belief (despite the clearest experimental evidence that determinism is dead). And this is the REAL Problem of Evil. A problem only materialists should face since, according to any coherent materialist, not only were Stalin, Mao, Hitler not evil, but they also had no choice due to determinism. Yet mankind insists on calling those individuals evil and with good reasons. Seeing this dilemma, some argue for word substitution – suffering to evil – not noticing that the argument would thus go from bad to ridiculous. After all, God let Adam and Eve know ‘suffering’ will happen after the Original Sin transgression, and most people accept “no pain no gain”, hence suffering for a good reward. Others claim evil makes sense in “humanist morality”, clearly forgetting that, as determinists, they shouldn’t have the free will to do anything morally or immorally, just as stones and animals do not abide by any moral standards. Hume got this one thing right: you can’t derive ‘ought’ from ‘is’, therefore good and evil are incompatible with materialism.
  4. Is the concept of Evil just a human “evolutionary” adaptation? That doesn’t work because ‘ought’ was derived from ‘is’. The “original ought-is sin” is when materialists imagine the first RNA randomly happening and then, hocus-pocus, “evolution” with its ‘oughts’ takes over. The second is when we see no evil in the lion eating the gazelle alive, or the wasp turning the cockroach into a zombie food supply, the weasel killing all the chickens, peer violence, or even cannibalism, and infanticide. Yet we see evil in the human behaving like these (although infanticide against the unborn is OK – go figure). We do not need the concept of evil to avoid harm. But, aside from the mentally impaired, psychopaths, and a few hypothetical primitive cultures that supposedly do not know evil, all modern humans including the materialists know and oppose evil. Even communists are for “social justice” and fascists for the improvement of society, eugenists for the betterment of mankind and abortionists for “choice”. Not one of these stands for evil despite killing and persecution of the innocent. All these go to great length to hide, and minimize their evil deeds and often argue that – in fact – their opponents are the evil ones. “Sure, you have to break a few eggs to make omelet, right”? “But that’s not evil” is their argument.
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480 thoughts on “The REAL “Problem of Evil”

  1. Kantian Naturalist: Apparently believing in the existence of God and the soul is the only thing that prevents theists from agreeing with Dr. Manhattan: “A live body and a dead body contain the same number of particles. Structurally, there’s no discernible difference. Life and death are unquantifiable abstracts. Why should I be concerned?”

    A bunch of BS from some random guy. What the heck is a “particle”? and did this dude count them all? Did he positively prove “no discernible difference”? Can we get back to the topic?

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  2. Nonlin.org: A bunch of BS from some random guy. What the heck is a “particle”? and did this dude count them all? Did he positively prove “no discernible difference”? Can we get back to the topic?

    Weren’t you the one complaining that “materialists” had no basis for saying that life was preferable to death?

    Anyway, Dr. Manhattan is a fictional character from a popular 1980s comic book.

    I don’t know what the topic is, because we’re still waiting for you to argue that atheism entails materialism or physicalism and that either entails determinism.

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  3. DNA_Jock,

    No, silly billy. It’s nonlin‘s claim that you cannot know God’s will, not mine. Although I am enjoying your late addition of the qualifier “competent”.
    Let me guess, “competent” will turn out to be synonymous with “agrees with whichever of the mutually exclusive exegeses that colewd was indoctrinated with”.
    It’s an improvement over nonlin’s self-defeating argument, I guess.
    Perhaps you meant to link to this video, which is on Job, although given what it says at 3:30 – 5:00, perhaps not.

    Competent means understanding the themes in the Bible and being able to articulate them accurately. This has nothing to do with indoctrination it’s merely listening and reading comprehension. Nonlinear would probably agree that the message of Job is that you cannot merely observe a small piece of the universe and infer a plan. While Job does not talk about the plan Isaiah does so I will post it again for you to listen.
    https://youtu.be/d0A6Uchb1F8

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  4. DNA_Jock: if I, DNA_Jock, cannot know God’s reasons, then neither can you, nonlin. So any and all claims that you might make about God’s intentions are groundless.

    You confuse will (intentions) with reason. That’s embarrassing.
    What claims do I make about God’s intentions?
    And what has that to do with this topic?

    DNA_Jock: for me, it is suffering unrelated to moral choices that is the problem.

    Whatever. We’re discussing evil here (the REAL problem), not your feelings.
    As explained, “Seeing this dilemma, some argue for word substitution – suffering to evil – not noticing that the argument would thus go from bad to ridiculous. After all, God let Adam and Eve know ‘suffering’ will happen after the Original Sin transgression, and most people accept “no pain no gain”, hence suffering for a good reward. “
    Deal with it.

    Please comment on what you read here, not on what the Anglicans told you. Understand that I am not representing them.

    DNA_Jock: They do? Really?

    Yes, really. Perhaps you were born yesterday or on another planet.

    BruceS: If theists are not trying to provide a full fledged theodicy, but rather only a defense of the reasonableness of belief, all they need claim is that some aspects of God’s actions are unknowable.

    Have you noticed we’re discussing a specific topic here, not distilling the ocean? Would you stick with this topic and this essay?

    DNA_Jock: nonlin, phoodoo, and colewd are most certainly attempting a full fledged theodicy.

    False.

    DNA_Jock: nonlin asserted “you cannot know God’s will”.

    Where do you see that?!?

    DNA_Jock: It’s nonlin‘s claim that you cannot know God’s will

    Again? Where?!?

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  5. Kantian Naturalist: Weren’t you the one complaining that “materialists” had no basis for saying that life was preferable to death?

    What? Where?!?
    And while you’re at it, where is the example?
    http://theskepticalzone.com/wp/the-real-problem-of-evil/comment-page-8/#comment-264160

    Kantian Naturalist: I don’t know what the topic is, because we’re still waiting for you to argue that atheism entails materialism or physicalism and that either entails determinism.

    See ongoing discussion with Corneel, Alan Fox, etc:
    “Con: Atheism is not a philosophy. It’s simply a view that gods don’t exist.
    Pro: Doesn’t work like that. You have a belief system. Not just one belief. That’s why you’re not just an atheist, but also materialist, evolutionist, determinist (free will denier), socialist, climate alarmist, abortionist, etc. with minor variations on the theme “

    colewd: Nonlinear would probably agree that the message of Job is that you cannot merely observe a small piece of the universe and infer a plan.

    The more important message is: “don’t second guess God”. “You [human] are NOT qualified to do that”

    second-guess
    [second-guess]
    VERB
    anticipate or predict (someone’s actions or thoughts) by guesswork.
    “he had to second-guess what the environmental regulations would be in five years’ time”
    synonyms:
    preempt · forestall · intercept · beat someone to it · beat someone to the draw · beat someone to the punch
    NORTH AMERICAN
    judge or criticize (someone) with hindsight.
    “the prime minister was willing to second-guess senior ministers in public”

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  6. Nonlin.org:
    Kantian Naturalist: I don’t know what the topic is, because we’re still waiting for you to argue that atheism entails materialism or physicalism and that either entails determinism.

    Nonlin the idiot: See ongoing discussion with Corneel, Alan Fox, etc:
    “Con: Atheism is not a philosophy. It’s simply a view that gods don’t exist.
    Pro: Doesn’t work like that. You have a belief system. Not just one belief. That’s why you’re not just an atheist, but also materialist, evolutionist, determinist (free will denier), socialist, climate alarmist, abortionist, etc. with minor variations on the theme“

    That’s not an argument, that’s a fucking claim. It neither proves that all atheists are materialists, nor does it prove that materialism or physicalism imply determinism. All it does is claim that all atheists have the same beliefs and that those beliefs include all of those items because you say so! Sorry. It doesn’t work like that. We are the ones who don’t buy into those magical beings in the sky. We are the ones who know what we accept and what we reject. So stop pretending that you can read minds. You cannot! Stop pretending that atheism is a philosophy or a religion. It’s not.

    Nonlin.org: 1. Who the heck cares about “us-against-them”? This is about exchanging ideas and learning something.

    Well, so far you have proven that you’re far from wanting to exchange ideas and learn anything. Feel free to prove me wrong: stop claiming and start listening!

    So here it goes again:

    1. Atheism is not a philosophy, it’s when someone is not convinced that there’s magical beings in the sky. That’s it. Nothing else.

    2. Materialism and its current physicalism is but the position that all there is is physical. that’s all it means. It therefore can accommodate determinism, randomness, and combinations therein.

    Atheism, physicalism, and determinism don’t go together just because you say so Nonlin. Sorry. I myself don’t believe in magical beings in the sky, and I’m not a materialist, physicalist, or determinist. Since you cannot support your claims, I suggest you to put them back up your ass where they came from.

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  7. Nonlin.org: you know nothing about God’s reasons

    You, nonlin, know nothing about God’s reasons. Thus, you have no information to counter the claim that the Toad God is about to kill you.

    Totalitarians like to point out rape and murder are rare in their societies because “rape and murder are necessary consequences of freedom”

    Two citations of totalitarians making this specific claim, please. The claims I’ve seen are more along the lines of “because we run a tight ship”.
    You have become incoherent.

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  8. Nonlin.org: Do your thing and don’t let anyone “tell you off” if indeed true. Which it isn’t. Given I asked you repeatedly to clarify.

    If “Then why did you answer your own lame and fake question instead?” is a polite request for clarification, then I am the king of Sweden.

    Very well. Let’s take it one by one:

    Evil should mean nothing to the materialist because of the determinism belief

    As KN said, you still need to explain how atheism entails materialism and determinism. (spoiler: it doesn’t)

    The “original ought-is sin” is when materialists imagine the first RNA randomly happening and then, hocus-pocus, “evolution” with its ‘oughts’ takes over.

    Then, you need to explain where in evolutionary biology moral principles are dictated, ’cause I sure missed that part in biology classes.

    The second is when we see no evil in the lion eating the gazelle alive, […]. Yet we see evil in the human behaving like these

    Finally, you may clarify how it follows from materialism/determinism/atheism/evolutionism/abortionism/socialism that I should hold animals to the same moral standards as humans.

    Now, will you please indulge me and tell me who is responsible for evil in the world (regardless of justification) in your view?

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  9. DNA_Jock: True, but off-topic.
    nonlin, phoodoo, andcolewd are most certainly attempting a full fledged theodicy. And they are really really bad at it.
    nonlin asserted “you cannot know God’s will”.

    I won’t comment on the quality of their argumentation, but after pleading ignorance and bowing out way upthread, I decided to learn a bit about the philosophical arguments around the problem of evil. For anyone who needs the intro I did, these two IEP articles are helpful.
    https://www.iep.utm.edu/evil-log/
    https://www.iep.utm.edu/evil-evi/
    Regarding human ability to ascertain God’s reasons: skeptical theism is a formalization of this idea, and is used to respond to the evidential argument to the problem of evil (see second IEP link for evidential problem):
    https://www.iep.utm.edu/skept-th/

    This book is a gentle intro to all these arguments and more:
    https://www.amazon.com/Problem-Evil-Daniel-Speak/dp/0745664075/

    Finally, with regard to theodicies, I suspect Plantinga has it right:

    [start of quote]
    “we cannot see why our world, with all its ills, would be better than others we think we can imagine, or what, in any detail, is God’s reason for permitting a given specific and appalling evil. Not only can we not see this, we can’t think of any very good possibilities. And here I must say that most attempts to explain why God permits evil—theodicies, as we may call them—strike me as tepid, shallow and ultimately frivolous.”
    [end of quote]

    — quoted here: https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/evil/

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  10. Entropy: 1. Atheism is not a philosophy, it’s when someone is not convinced that there’s magical beings in the sky. That’s it. Nothing else.

    2. Materialism and its current physicalism is but the position that all there is is physical. that’s all it means. It therefore can accommodate determinism, randomness, and combinations therein.

    Atheism, physicalism, and determinism don’t go together just because you say so Nonlin.

    Yes to all that.

    To put Entropy’s point somewhat differently: for me, my atheism is the least interesting consequence of my more fundamental commitments to non-reductive naturalism (in metaphysics) and to pragmatic empiricism (in epistemology). If I were to realize that naturalism and empiricism entailed theism, that would be surprising but not earth-shattering.

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  11. Entropy: There was an explanation, you illiterate buffoon:

    Entropy: In the words of the idiot who wrote the OP: read again!

    Entropy: You started calling everybody retards and dimwits, while showing very little self-awareness of your own idiocy.

    Entropy: Check again ass-hole.

    Entropy: You surely love making a fool out of yourself.

    Entropy: ETA: and that makes you a tiny little chihuaha barking and barking, thinking that it must sound like a wolf, yet making people laugh.

    What were you barking about authentic “oughts” little chihuaha? That they’re really real? Sure, sure. You show us how real they are little chihuahua. Show us. We’re impressed by your majestic barking.

    Entropy: Thanks to imbeciles like yoursel

    Alan Fox: Side-tracking from this by suggesting folks who are (or who you frame as) atheists, materialists, socialists (and – heaven forfend – abortionists) are somehow incapable or incoherent is ad hominem smoke screening

    How would you know?

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  12. phoodoo:
    Alan Fox: Side-tracking from this by suggesting folks who are (or who you frame as) atheists, materialists, socialists (and – heaven forfend – abortionists) are somehow incapable or incoherent is ad hominem smoke screening

    phoodoo: How would you know?

    Because context is important phoodoo. Learn to read things within their context. Otherwise you risk being taken for an illiterate fool (See? Context!).

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  13. 400+ wasted comments to date because some people are unwilling to admit:
    1. Atheists do not have a single belief, but a belief SYSTEM = religion = philosophy.
    1.b. And of course, a single belief out of the blue would be retard.
    1.c. One guy manages to acknowledge and deny said system in the same comment. Wow! http://theskepticalzone.com/wp/the-real-problem-of-evil/comment-page-9/#comment-264221
    2. Said belief system is incoherent at best. No one wants to explore the incoherence because some Cubs vs. Barca or whatever fan-ship nonsense.
    3. No one reads the essay for comprehension and replies with specific disagreements.
    4. Lots of tangents to nowhere and failed “gotchas” attempts.
    5. When atheists lose arguments, they simply go silent to resurface same failed arguments later and in different contexts.
    6. Atheists suffer from too many feelings and too little logic. Double curious from people hell-bent on materialism and “evolution”.

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  14. DNA_Jock: You, nonlin, know nothing about God’s reasons.

    That’s what I said. Did you just wake up?
    Are you embarrassed already about will vs. reason?

    DNA_Jock: The claims I’ve seen are more along the lines of “because we run a tight ship”.

    And you expected them to say “because we curtail freedom”?!? That’s why the world is going to hell – because of dumb posh socialists that can’t read between the lines.

    Corneel: As KN said, you still need to explain how atheism entails materialism and determinism. (spoiler: it doesn’t)

    You are the living proof. And if not, terribly confused and in denial about your incoherent views. Let’s explore.

    Corneel: Then, you need to explain where in evolutionary biology moral principles are dictated,

    No, YOU need to explain that. It’s your belief system and it’s incoherent. I am only pointing out the incoherence. And that’s why I asked YOU that question.

    Corneel: Finally, you may clarify how it follows from materialism/determinism/atheism/evolutionism/abortionism/socialism that I should hold animals to the same moral standards as humans.

    That was not the point. Question is, if animals know no evil, then why do humans? Read 4. again. IOW, if “human is just an animal”, why is the human evil when we [rightfully so] won’t call the animals evil?

    Corneel: Now, will you please indulge me and tell me who is responsible for evil in the world (regardless of justification) in your view?

    The people that commit said evil.

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  15. Nonlin.org: …because some people are unwilling to admit:
    1. Atheists do not have a single belief, but a belief SYSTEM = religion = philosophy.

    Atheism is the null hypothesis that has been my position for over sixty years. I’ve not needed another. I wonder if people might take whatever it is you are trying to say somewhat more seriously if you can present an alternative. I doubt you can manage that.

    I don’t spend my time worrying about it*; nor do I spend time discussing it with friends. In fact, I’m not sure I know my friend’s views on the existence of magical entities. But I happen to live in a society where secularism holds sway. I don’t have to worry about Christian fundamentalist leaders and their supporters changing the judicial landscape or pushing back on personal freedom where I live.

    *Why religious belief still has such a hold in some communities is perhaps OP material but maybe others have more time and motivation to publish one.

    ETA words

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  16. Nonlin.org: No, YOU need to explain that. It’s your belief system and it’s incoherent. I am only pointing out the incoherence. And that’s why I asked YOU that question.

    Since you keep telling me what I do and do not believe, surely you can also tell me how I justify that?

    Nonlin.org: Question is, if animals know no evil, then why do humans? Read 4. again. IOW, if “human is just an animal”, why is the human evil when we [rightfully so] won’t call the animals evil?

    That’s two different questions: “Why do (most) animals know no evil” and “why don’t humans consider animals to be evil”. Assuming you meant the first thing: Because we are different from other species. Humans have high intelligence and are living in complex social groups, so have the capability for and can benefit from moral sense. Most animals don’t.

    Nonlin.org: Corneel: Now, will you please indulge me and tell me who is responsible for evil in the world (regardless of justification) in your view?

    Nonlin: The people that commit said evil.

    Thank you. So why did you object when I stated that under the free will argument, evil is our own fault, and God cannot be held responsible? Isn’t that concordant with your claim?

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  17. Alan Fox: I don’t spend my time worrying about it*; nor do I spend time discussing it with friends.

    Same here. TSZ is the only place where I discuss these things. My guess is this is an US American thing where everything appears to be polarized between two camps.

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  18. Nonlin.org: 5. When atheists lose arguments, they simply go silent to resurface same failed arguments later and in different contexts.

    So you are an atheist then?

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  19. I’m reluctant to feel national pride or to look favorably when others exhibit national pride. Nearly every existing nation has, within my lifetime, committed atrocities, or started wars, or oppressed minorities, or had a psycho authoritarian government, or adopted suicidal economic policies, or the equivalent.

    What I see, however, is a general trend toward better physical conditions for most people. And a general tendency for journalists to avoid reporting this.

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  20. petrushka,

    You have never read a news story that said:
    BREAKING NEWS, PEOPLE ARE GENERALLY BETTER THESE DAYS, NOT ALL, BUT MANY!

    Hm, I am surprised.

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  21. Alan Fox: On this we can wholeheartedly agree! 🙂

    Alan Fox: Atheism is the null hypothesis that has been my position for over sixty years.

    No one is forcing you to write and waste time here. But if you chose to participate, better address the topic at hand. Don’t they teach you that in your degenerate society?

    Alan Fox: I wonder if people might take whatever it is you are trying to say somewhat more seriously if you can present an alternative.

    Alternative to what? This essay, if you read and understand, is just presenting a problem faced by coherent atheists (which btw no one practices).

    Alan Fox, ladies and gentlemen, continuing to waste time since 1918.

    Corneel: Since you keep telling me what I do and do not believe, surely you can also tell me how I justify that?

    ?!?

    Corneel: Because we are different from other species. Humans have high intelligence and are living in complex social groups, so have the capability for and can benefit from moral sense. Most animals don’t.

    1. What happened with “human just another animal”?
    2. When did the 3 months old that knows good and evil learn about “complex social groups”?
    3. Read again: “4. Is the concept of Evil just a human “evolutionary” adaptation? ” and “We do not need the concept of evil to avoid harm.”
    4. What makes animal “complex social groups” different? How do they get by without good and evil?
    5. Exactly where did you get from “stuff just happens” (“evolution” and physicalicisticism) to “I ought not do evil”.

    Corneel: So why did you object when I stated that under the free will argument, evil is our own fault, and God cannot be held responsible?

    1. This OP is not about “fault” and/or “responsible”.
    2. You said something fuzzy about “free will not compatible with… whatnot”

    Corneel: TSZ is the only place where I discuss these things.

    No one’s forcing you. You’re probably trying to escape some “everything verboten” euro dronosphere decrepitude.

    petrushka: And a general tendency for journalists to avoid reporting this.

    Journalism is long dead. Little Goebbels-es have been running the show for a very long time. But what has this to do with the topic?

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  22. Nonlin.org: This essay, if you read and understand, is just presenting a problem faced by coherent atheists (which btw no one practices).

    How does a ‘true atheist’ act, according to you?

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  23. Nonlin.org: This essay, if you read and understand, is just presenting a problem faced by coherent atheists (which btw no one practices).

    Only in terms of your rather complete misunderstanding of “coherent atheism”, but whatever. You’ve managed to resist all attempts at correction thus far and I don’t imagine I’ll get through to you when no one else has.

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  24. Nonlin.org: No one is forcing you to write and waste time here. But if you chose to participate, better address the topic at hand. Don’t they teach you that in your degenerate society?

    I have free will. This life, the only one we’ll ever have, allows me to choose how to spend it. I choose to spend some of it debunking your nonsense and some spending time socalizing with my fellow degenerates. I’ll let you guess which I find more profitable.

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  25. Nonlin.org: Corneel: Since you keep telling me what I do and do not believe, surely you can also tell me how I justify that?

    Nonlin: ?!?

    Why would I defend or justify something I don’t believe to be true? Before you “point out the incoherence”, you’ll first have to convince me that atheism + materialism + determinism + evolutionism + socialism is actually my “belief system”.

    Nonlin.org: What makes animal “complex social groups” different?

    You are asking me to speculate here, but I’d venture that the use of concepts like “good” and “evil” requires a level of abstraction for which animals lack the cognitive abilities.

    Nonlin.org: This OP is not about “fault” and/or “responsible”.

    You think the problem of evil doesn’t touch on topics like morality, responsibility and guilt?

    Nonlin.org: You’re probably trying to escape some “everything verboten” euro dronosphere decrepitude.

    LOL! You have the most fascinating view of Europe. The place isn’t so bad: we have social security, public healthcare, and heads of state tend to have a lovely pink colour.

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  26. OMagain: How does a ‘true atheist’ act, according to you?

    ‘True’ is not ‘in/coherent’. Be careful.

    Kantian Naturalist: Only in terms of your rather complete misunderstanding of “coherent atheism”, but whatever. You’ve managed to resist all attempts at correction thus far and I don’t imagine I’ll get through to you when no one else has.

    This is not the first time you’re making unsupported claims.
    Explain yourself!

    Alan Fox: I have free will. This life, the only one we’ll ever have, allows me to choose how to spend it. I choose to spend some of it debunking your nonsense and some spending time socalizing with my fellow degenerates.

    Good for you. “Debunk” away and let me know when you do.
    How is free will compatibility with atheism? On second thought, not this topic, so never mind.

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  27. Corneel: Before you “point out the incoherence”, you’ll first have to convince me that atheism + materialism + determinism + evolutionism + socialism is actually my “belief system”.

    Is it not? Then how is yours different?
    We need a separate discussion on belief systems…

    Anyway, this is your menu:
    coherent atheist – address the REAL problem of evil
    incoherent atheist – explore the incoherences

    Corneel: You are asking me to speculate here, but I’d venture that the use of concepts like “good” and “evil” requires a level of abstraction for which animals lack the cognitive abilities.

    Aha. Then you better never say “man just another animal”. Same as with determinism – I distinctly remember everyone was a determinist in another thread but now no one is anymore. Damn chameleons…
    Now will you answer the other 4 questions from that set?

    Corneel: You think the problem of evil doesn’t touch on topics like morality, responsibility and guilt?

    It does. Just not this topic. Save it for some other time.

    Corneel: LOL! You have the most fascinating view of Europe. The place isn’t so bad: we have social security, public healthcare, and heads of state tend to have a lovely pink colour.

    Then we’re in complete agreement. Anyway, back to the topic at hand.

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  28. Nonlin.org: This is not the first time you’re making unsupported claims.
    Explain yourself!

    Meh, every time someone points out that you’re just mistaken to assume that atheism is a package deal along with materialism, determinism, etc., you avoid, deflect, etc. You really don’t come across as someone who is interested in communicating and learning. So no, I’m not going to explain myself to someone who isn’t interested in having a conversation.

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  29. Kantian Naturalist: Meh, every time someone points out that you’re just mistaken to assume that atheism is a package deal along with materialism, determinism, etc., you avoid, deflect, etc.

    False again. And discussed extensively – see coherent/incoherent atheism.

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  30. Nonlin.org: False again. And discussed extensively – see coherent/incoherent atheism.

    When I read about these megachurch televangelists paying themselves multi-million salaries, am I supposed to decide whether they are (1) actually atheists; or (2) actually not materialists?

    Personally, I don’t think that lack of belief in some god (pick any one) necessarily requires that one adopt specific policy positions with respect to same sex marriage, global warming, abortion rights — or any particular philosophical position either. If you should attend a meeting of atheists, you’d find they had little agreement in common – except I suppose enough common sense to recognize that a meeting of atheists is a waste of time.

    I’m a free will guy one day, and a determinist the next. Doesn’t seem relevant to my life on the whole.

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  31. phoodoo: Do you know of many kinds of groups that get together and talk about things they don’t believe in?

    They are called “politicians”.

    Creationists talk about things that they don’t believe in (such as evolution).

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  32. Nonlin.org: False again. And discussed extensively – see coherent/incoherent atheism.

    This distinction between “coherent atheism” and “incoherent atheism” is your fabrication, which you have invented in order to label your insistence that atheism, materialism, and determinism are a package deal. At no point have you provided any argument to justify this claim, and every time you have been asked for one, you have done nothing but pound the table with your insistence.

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  33. For the record, when this question about “the real question of evil” was first posed, I responded with several links to articles and books that address the issue of how to explain the evolution of normative and evaluative behavior. So it’s just false to insist that everyone here has been evading the question.

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  34. Flint: Personally, I don’t think that lack of belief in some god (pick any one) necessarily requires that one adopt specific policy positions with respect to same sex marriage, global warming, abortion rights — or any particular philosophical position either.

    Kantian Naturalist: This distinction between “coherent atheism” and “incoherent atheism” is your fabrication, which you have invented in order to label your insistence that atheism, materialism, and determinism are a package deal. At no point have you provided any argument to justify this claim, and every time you have been asked for one, you have done nothing but pound the table with your insistence.

    Fair enough. Let’s pick some easy ones:
    1. Do you or don’t you agree beliefs are NEVER isolated and ALWAYS part of a belief system where they have to be reconciled with other beliefs?
    2. Do you know of any atheist that is not an evolutionist of the “blind, mindless, and purposeless” type?
    3. Do you know of any atheist that is not a materialist in some shape and form?
    4. How can you possibly reconcile free will with atheism?
    5. As far as the others beliefs, do you see high correlations between beliefs? I do.
    6. Let’s compare just a few beliefs. Are you personally ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ on: 1. atheist, but also 2. materialist, 3. evolutionist, 4. determinist (free will denier), 5. socialist, 6. climate alarmist, 7. abortionist, etc. with minor variations on the theme? I am ‘No’ on all 1 to 7. Your turn.

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  35. Kantian Naturalist: For the record, when this question about “the real question of evil” was first posed, I responded with several links to articles and books that address the issue of how to explain the evolution of normative and evaluative behavior. So it’s just false to insist that everyone here has been evading the question.

    Pointing to the internet is evasion. You must be able to summarize your argument and only then link to SPECIFIC supporting material meaning actual quote, paragraph, chapter, book, author, etc. You should have learned this in elementary school.

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  36. Nonlin.org: Pointing to the internet is evasion. You must be able to summarize your argument and only then link to SPECIFIC supporting material meaning actual quote, paragraph, chapter, book, author, etc. You should have learned this in elementary school.

    You have any specific supporting material for that summary of your argument?

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  37. Nonlin.org: 1. Do you or don’t you agree beliefs are NEVER isolated and ALWAYS part of a belief system where they have to be reconciled with other beliefs?

    If I lack the belief in aliens, how would the effect my belief that the only way to drink whiskey is neat?

    So no, some beliefs are isolated and certainly the lack of a belief not part of a belief system by definition. Now if one believes there is no God, that is a different matter. In that case,yes.

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  38. Nonlin.org: Fair enough. Let’s pick some easy ones:
    1. Do you or don’t you agree beliefs are NEVER isolated and ALWAYS part of a belief system where they have to be reconciled with other beliefs?

    I think it depends on the context and content. My belief that there’s milk in the fridge depends on a background of other beliefs: that milk is the kind of thing that should be refrigerated; that I bought milk recently; that objects don’t disappear when no one is looking at them; that there are no milk thieves in my apartment, etc. But my belief that my car is in good running order doesn’t depend on my beliefs about milk. So while all beliefs depend on some background of beliefs, expectations, assumptions, etc. they don’t all do so in the same way or to the same extent.

    2. Do you know of any atheist that is not an evolutionist of the “blind, mindless, and purposeless” type?

    I don’t understand this question — way too many assumptions built into it. Is the question “are there atheists who don’t believe in evolution?” or “are there atheists who believe in evolution but think of evolution as an intelligent and purposive force?”

    .3. Do you know of any atheist that is not a materialist in some shape and form?

    I don’t know what you mean by “materialism” here. Is “materialism” the idea that everything that exists is composed of subatomic particles, which would be a metaphysical claim? Or the idea that everything that exists can be explained in terms of fundamental physics, which would be an epistemological claim?

    Again, I’m doing a lot of work here for you because you’re not making the effort to be clear in your thinking or writing.

    4. How can you possibly reconcile free will with atheism?

    Why would there be a problem in reconciling them? Does free will presuppose a belief in God? That seems really bizarre to me.

    Possibly what you mean is that a belief in libertarian freedom or agent causation wouldn’t have occurred to someone who didn’t believe that God created ex nihilo. That seems plausible to me.

    But then you need to argue that libertarian freedom is the only way of understanding free will, and that compatibilism doesn’t make sense.

    Feel free to demonstrate that, if you wish.

    5. As far as the others beliefs, do you see high correlations between beliefs? I do.

    I really don’t.

    6. Let’s compare just a few beliefs. Are you personally ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ on: 1. atheist, but also 2. materialist, 3. evolutionist, 4. determinist (free will denier), 5. socialist, 6. climate alarmist, 7. abortionist, etc. with minor variations on the theme? I am ‘No’ on all 1 to 7. Your turn.

    1. Yes.
    2. No.
    3. Yes
    4. false dichotomy — one can deny both free will and determinism. 5
    5. no, but only because my political ideal is far more radical than any democratic socialism: fully automated luxury communism
    6. pejorative term — suggests that someone who thinks that climate change is real and happening is just overreacting to the situation
    7. pejorative term — conflates the distinction between someone who performs abortions (which is what the word ‘abortionist’ means) and someone who thinks that abortions are morally permissible under some or all conditions.

    So, we have some pejorative terms and some serious confusions — and yet you want us to believe that you’re sincerely committed to honest conversation? I confess that I have my doubts.

    Nonlin.org: Pointing to the internet is evasion. You must be able to summarize your argument and only then link to SPECIFIC supporting material meaning actual quote, paragraph, chapter, book, author, etc. You should have learned this in elementary school.

    And here I was naive enough to think that people would be interested in reading for themselves. I didn’t realize you were expecting someone else to do all the hard work for you.

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