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« The Solution for Shame | Main | The What and the How »

May 16, 2006


Yes, the problem of evil is a problem for all of us. The theist has his work cut out for him, but it's nothing compared to the work required from the atheist...

The atheists must convice us all that evil is an illusion because there is really nothing to it - there is no objective evil that lies beneath our subjective interpretation. How many of us are willing to buy into that far-reaching argument?

Is there anyone willing to live their lives according to that worldview? If evil is just a man-made concept, an illusion, then murder/rape/incest/robbery/etc are just things you do in life - like showering and shopping. Certainly nothing wrong with all these activities so we should not make them illegal. To do so would be like making it illegal to choose chocolate ice cream over vanilla.

In the atheist world, watching children suffer and die has no moral significance to it. It is utterly meaningless and it carries just as much significance and importance as watching the clouds disappear from the sky or watching your friend choose chocolate over vanilla. Somebody suffered and died, so what? Are you willing to live that way, atheists?

So what if "evolution" is absurd?

It never proposed that it had some mythical justness to it.

Existance might actually be of a small point. It might just be to have a conscious for the sake of itself.

That sucks, to be sure. But it is not an intellectual excuse to search for a lie.

Steve, your comments above are enlightning. I have been searching for the truth about many things lately, and I admit I have gotten a little frustrated at times.

Your coments above indicate that religious people may not be the right people to search for answers with. The reason is that you have made it clear that you would be more interested in searching for an "IDEA" than you would be for searching for "TRUTH".

You have made it clear that if the truth is too painful you would rather accept an idea.

Alot of times Christians say (even here at this website) that non-believers are seeking to not believe because they have some hidden agenda. Amy made some comment to this effect a few blogs back. SHe went on to insinuate a fear tactic that if you dont want to beleive God will send an evil spirit to help you on your way.

Well, I am pointing out right now that the accusation of not wanting to believe something for a reason can be leveled by BOTH sides fo the arguement.

Athiests can say that your willing to believe a lie to escape from accepting their "truth", as you indicated above.

Do you disagree with what I'm saying? If so, in what way am I wrong?

Theists have their unproveable beliefs about morality. So do athiests. Everyday people, atheist and theist alike, live their lives as if morality is REAL - not something we all made-up out of thin air. Atheists live like theists in this regard. Why is that?

If it were something we all made up then I imagine everyone of us, when pressed, would admit that we made it up. But we don't. We’re all willing to die for morality. Why is that?

Sure it could be true that morality is a made-up concept like the tooth fairy or santa claus. I said that in my post on the other article.

My question to you (and to the atheist) is why do people who believe it’s a made-up concept continue to perpetuate the lie? Why do they keep the myth alive by pretending morality is real? It’s as if they can’t control themselves.

No, I think xselder is on to something here.

People believe things for different reasons. Greg has laid out the different reasons for belief before. So has James Sire in "Why Should Anyone Believe Anything at All?"

One reason to believe something is evidence. Another is psychological, because it makes us feel better. Only the former type of reason seems legitimate.

So the question xselder poses seems to be: Why should it matter if morality is an illusion? The universe is what it is. We shouldn't disqualify the possibility that torturing babies might be okay (depending on reality works) just because it seems abhorent to us. Maybe that's just our genetic code talking (if you believe Richard Dawkins).

It seems to me that the real argument here is that, according to Occam's Razor, the simpler explanation of the source of morality is God, not evolution. Why? Because the atheist has to explain the existence of the universe, perception, evidence for design, etc. before we even get to morality.

On the other hand, it would be nice if we Christians and other people who claim to follow some kind of religious moral code would get occasional acknowledgement from the atheists about the service we are providing society. Let's grant for the moment that the "evolution as source of morality" worldview is true. The atheists might then be right, but several billion religious folk (not counting the suicide bombers among us) are the reason atheists don't wake up with their throats cut.

So, for those who hold that morality is an illusion, I'd like to say "You're welcome."

CLiff, you make an old point.
Karl Marx said if there wasnt a God we would have to make one up.

Im more educated on Christianity then evolution (funny since Im a scientist) but here is a proposal.

Man needs men in his suroundings to do well. We benefit from each others success. If your baker is successful odds are you'll get good bread.

Also, if your the only successful one in a sea of poverty soooner or later you get your "throat cut" for your money. So you want the people in your surrounding to do well.

In recognizing this we have laws. But maybe its even older than this. Maybe back before we had laws, or even language, there was those who did right by the group and those that tried to make it on their own and just pilfer the group. The ones that played by the 'group status rules' survived and passed on their genes. (killing off the ones that didnt play by the group rules) Hence today most people believe in a moral code that says you have to be fair to others in your surrounding. (because those that didnt have the genes for that were killed off)

Well I am not saying I beleive in evolution but that seems plausible at some level. It would explain the different moral codes in different regions.

Also, no comments on the ulterior motive to believe versus the ulterior motive to disbelieve?

Also, Steve, I think my evolution example explains the "myth" behind morality. It serves a survival purpose for the species (especially back in the "day") I would be the first to admit that this is just speculation, but a plausibl one,,,?

xselder, if morality is a product of evolution, why do our moral instincts so often go against our natural instincts? We all have a sense of right and wrong (whether illusory or not), and we all go against our own sense of right and wrong. We all violate our own morals instincts, and it seems to be in our nature to do so. If our natural instincts and our moral instincts both resulted from the same process of evolution, why aren't they the same thing? Why, instead, are they so often in conflict?

If you think belief in god is on the same level as belief in santa clause then certainly belief that evolution formed our morality is no less silly because it is just as unproveable in the scientific sense of the word.

If the evolutionary theory is true then I look forward to RM+NS doing it's job to cause morality to survive and immorality to go extinct. The sooner the better.

As an aside, how do molecules that are forced to obey the laws of physics and chemistry produce consciousness and ultimately a belief in good/evil?


I'm not sure what you were agreeing with me on (or maybe you weren't).

I think God explains morality much better than evolution. I think a case can be made for this evidentially. I don't think you have to make the "intuitive" case. But I do think the person who champions the "morality as evolution" view has a pretty big burden of proof to answer for. Maybe the reason morality is so strongly intuitive is because it really does exist!

The point I was trying to make about the gratitude I think is due most Christians (and others who follow a religious moral code) is that most individual Christians stay out of trouble and that benefits society as a whole. Of course, many atheists stay out of trouble, too. But I think it's safe to say that a world full of Christians causes less harm than a world full of atheists. That's my anecdotal experience anyway, having been both.

Regarding your description of how evolution could account for morality, I see it quite differently. Throughout history, the strong survive. The ones who can subvert their qualms about murder, etc., gain power and oppress the meek, who then starve to death before having any children. The ones in power sleep with whomever they want, spreading their genes all over creation. And then they make sure their kids take the reins, so the cycle repeats. Go read Machiavelli, who was the first one bold enough to admit how politically advantageous it is to be unfettered by morality.

Finally, I don't think there are real differences in the moral codes between regions. Show me a culture where it's okay to murder, rape, or torture an innocent human of worth and I might think differently.

By the way, xselder, what kind of scientist are you, if I may ask?

OK, alot of Q's Ill try to address each one and not just skip to the ones I feel I have an adventagous response for (unlike most of the other people that blog here.)

Regarding: "xselder, if morality is a product of evolution, why do our moral instincts so often go against our natural instincts?" COnflicting instincts or iterests should not be that big of a deal to either the thiest or athiest. If this is an athisest issue, then God wanting Free will but no sin is the conflicting issue the thiest has to wrestle with. In then end I think its fine to conflicting interests (desires). I dont think they evolved from the same response. there can be a fear instinct and an instinct to mate and these might be conflicting drives at some point in time.

Regarding : "no less silly AND as unproveable in the scientific sense, are not on the same plane. UFO's are pretty silly to me but I cant prove they dont exist scientifically.

Regarding: "produce consciousness" There are a few reasons I find God plausible enough to be here. This is one of them, but not one of the better ones. Its not that big of a stretch to believe that the different hemispheres of the brain may work in a collective unity, in order to better share and work with information.

Regarding: "I think God explains morality much better than evolution,...But I do think the person who champions the "morality as evolution" view has a pretty big burden of proof to answer for." see below.

The fundemental question, is not "is abortion ok", its not "where does morality come from", its not "which doctrine is right"? The fundemental question is , "Does God exist?" The answers to the other questions fall into line depending on the answer to this one question.

I actually dont believe this: "most individual Christians stay out of trouble and that benefits society as a whole." The only differences I can see at all in Christians and non christians is that some types of crimes christians seem not to commit. But I dont even think that has anything to do with the religion itself. I think the kind of people that seek out Christ and commit to the religion are the type of people that wouldnt usually commmit murder anyways, even if it was some other religion or moral code they found to live by.

What that fails to explain is why things like the divorce rate are higher in the church than out. (although I have a pretty good idea on why that is, wink wink.)

Regarding: "Finally, I don't think there are real differences in the moral codes between regions" Have you even been WATCHING the news for the last few years?

Regarding : "What kind of scientist am I?" I have BS in neural psychology.

Adding to Cliff's excellent comments....

If morality is a product of evolution, then so is logic and the many beliefs we have about the scientific method being so useful and our ability to prove anything true or false.

In other words, evolution caused us to think the way we do and to think that we can prove something true or false.

And that means we can't prove anything scientifically, nor mathematically, nor can we know anything about moral truth because it's been programmed in our genes via evolution. We're just a computer program of sorts doing what our genes tell us to do.

Steve, IMHO your arguement used to be better, in the past.

But now that its being proven that some animals have morality, I am not so sure.

The way its being shown is thru some animals that are not raised by their parents, they dont learn to behave properly. They get overly aggressive, etc etc. I am refering to elephants and gorilla's, but there may also be studies along this line with dolphins.

If animals have a moral code that they teach their young, then I am not inclined to put that much stock in your arguement.

And things can be proven.
For example, If I had a hammer and your hand in a vice, I bet I could prove to you that I can make you believe I can inflict pain on you.

As a matter of fact, you would be so convinced with my arguement you would announce to the world that I can in fact make you believe that I can inflict pain upon you. It would be proof positive. No doubt at all.

Oh, and if a colleague were to come behind me and replicate the experiment I am sure he could come up with the same results. 9hence sci meth would be fulfilled.

Has anyone ever discussed this?

Jesus set to prove to the people he preached to that he was the son of God (according to the bible.) And supposedly he did these feats in front of these people so that they would believe him.

What puzzles me is that he chose NOT to prove to other people for the rest of time. He only chose to prove to them.

He did this in 2 ways,

1) he only came physically to earth for 1 extended period of time and performed miracles.

2) the miracles he chose to perform would only impress those that were actually their witnessing them. It is left to the reader of the bible today to decide fi he believes the words written.

WHY didnt Jesus decide to prove to all generations that he was the Son of God? He could have accomplished this in many ways to include:

a) Revealing that the earth was round and traveled in an eliptical orbit around the sun. This would have been information today that we could say "You know what NOBODY knew this back then or thought it, our knowledge of that fact started when Jesus preached it.

b) Jesus could have preached about bacteria and viri. Explaining that the boy that could not talk likely had lockjaw, which lead to siezures (throw on ground, etc). He could explained some of the minute differences. Again, this would serve to prove to those of us today, who were not there to see the evidence of dead rising etc, but would recognize the information as being unthinkable at the time if i had not been for Jesus teaching.

c) Jesus could have taught us about electricity, nuclear reactions, etc etc etc.

Why did he choose not to do these things?

Before Jesus' time philosophers in Greece demonstrated the world was round and postulated that objects were made up of a myriad smaller objects.

None of those statements would have made people think he was the Son of God, any more than people think Nostradamus is divine just because he got a few things right if you read them the correct way.

Jesus Christ as his biography is recorded in the gospels gave everyone enough to recognize him as God, it's just a matter of faith if you believe it or not, just like it would be no matter WHAT he said or did.

However, more on topic: the problem of evil only exists IF you believe in God. If you don't believe in God, there's no such thing as an absolute standard of good and evil. There's only "things I'd rather not experience." And measuring life on that subjective a level negates the ability to make judgements on and for anyone else. Evil simply ceases to have meaning.

Well Chris, obviously I think your wrong.

There are places on earth that dont believe in God, and they still believe in evil.

Also, comparing Nostradomus to Jesus showing the calculations behind nuclear physics is unbelievable. That's not even worth me commenting on.

I am even willing to take that a step further.

If your going around telling this magical tale of christianity you had better have some proof. Not "evidence", I mean PROOF. You had better follow it up with healing the sick or something.

The writers of the New Testament knew this so they incorporated these feats into their books. They also wrote in them that the disciples get to go out and do this stuff. So why did those disiples get to do it but the disciples of today dont? It sounds like the ones from the past knew how to fake it. It also sounds like they werent always able to come threw with a "miraculous sign" hence, "The sign of Jonah". That covers alot fo situations nicely doesnt it?

So why the magic of the past but not of today? I think it was easier to dupe people back then. Ohh, sure, people try to get away with this stuf today too, but intelligent people can discover the hoaxes and the money plundering pretty easily.

Back to the moral code.
There was alot of discussion about that as if it was a singular entity. I dont thing it is. I think if the moral code was given to us by God, then morality among the different cultures of Earth would be precise. Now I admit that as cultures change there might be slight tweaks, but if each person is born with the code then he still is going to feel shame for breaking it now matter who tells him its ok otherwise. But there are vast differences. Look at the age to which a girl can be wed. Look at when its ok to kill someone. Look at the treatment of women. The great variances of the moral code make me more inclined to think it did rise half hazardly from evolution.

And as far as thanking religion for instilling morality in people:

Thanks for the crusades, the IRA, the mideast conflict, the palistinian Indian conflict, pogroms, etc etc etc.

Also,I dont know how linked morality and religion are. Certainly we have seen a vast drop in the percentage ofchurch attendance in the last 100 years, yet the crime rate as not increased to a relative proportion. In fact, nowadays, alot of crime rates (like murder) are decreasing. (The actual amount of crimes may have risen in the last hundred years with population, as would be expected, but the rates have not jumped as much as would have been suggested.

All this talk just makes me revert back to an earlier comment I made.

People in the USA are considered to have a high intellect as far as global history is concerned. Yet we dont even let them have the responsibility of planning for their own retirement (hence social security) if these higher end intelligent people cant even be trusted with that then how can they be trusted with making the decision to accept or freject Christ and spend a lifetime retirement in one fo those two places.

That really hits me. I just find that hard to believe. Especially when you start looking at rural Chinese farmers, etc.

I just read "Faith and Wishing" in the theology section.

Where is our " that you know..."???

I mentioned above that in the past there was importance placed on proof (not a compilation of evidence).

First with Moses, then Jesus and the paralytic, then with Peter and the disciples.

But why did the proof stop?

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Not much on my mind right now, but it's not important. I've just been letting everything happen without me. I just don't have anything to say right now.

You can never disprove God with the problem of evil, or indeed anything, as faith overpowers all reason.
However, I, like Ivan Karamazov, return my ticket to heaven. Though it is not because a baby had to suffer in order for me to get there. It is because if, after judgement day, there is one place in existance where suffering still exists, here I talk of hell, then that is where I should be as that is where people need help. No crime on within a 70 year lifespan justifys eternity without God's compassion.

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