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post #3 of (permalink) Old 12-26-2010, 02:11 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Liddelianenko
Here's the short answer to Epicurus: Free will. The Christian answer to that question is: God is omnipotent, but he is also benevolent. If he created humanity but gave us no choice to CHOOSE good or evil for ourselves, then we would be puppets and life would be meaningless.

The basic explanation I can offer is this - Evil comes from our own choice, and God's Gift of free will. He is omnipotent, but his benevolence constrains him from destroying his own gift of free will, hence his obscurement of himself to something that can never be "Proven" beyond doubt, only felt through life's experiences and patterns after witnessing the positive aftereffects of good choices such as love, charity etc. and the depressions and hardships of making evil choices such as cruelty etc. If there was an all powerful God sitting right there in front of you that you knew you couldn't anger or go against, where's the free will?
Free will isn't a solution.

If God is omniscient then (via LaPlace's Demon) he must be aware of all events that will occur at every moment in the future. All such events are conditioned, as a result of particle collisions and other conditions. The strong reading of free will (that we have the power to make decisions independent of our circumstances) violates causality.

In the same way, he cannot wipe out evil in this life without wiping out humanity's free will, he can only take us away from it (afterlife and so on) if we choose to move away from it on our own. But even in this life, if we do move away, the rewards are palpable, and these I can vouch from my own personal experience and those of other christians.
Anecdotal evidence is, actually, (despite the name) not evidence in this argument.

He is very much able and willing to prevent evil to some degree in this life as well, there is prayer but of course it's not an instant magic button. Because there is also the whole "you reap what you sow" thing and the constrains of free will. But evil and life's tests or no, there is always the general happiness that comes from making the right choices in life. Love over lust, humility over arrogance (just ask all top MMA fighters for example) and so on.
You don't want to take this line of argument. Trust me, it's a very bad one. Virtue ethics (which are, again, derived from Aristotle, and not from the doctrines of the early church) asserts that we ought to do what is virtuous because the practice of virtue improves virtue and this leads to a good life.

The problem is that there's no delineation of what those virtues are. Moderation? Sure, but in what respects. Moderation is always a paradox when we talk about categorical practice. How can you practice moderation all the time? Do you have to moderate your practice of moderation? All moderation says is that you should do things to a proper degree, and what is that proper degree? Why, it's the degree to which you should do them. I smell circularity.

Then you have virtues like charity, humility and compassion, which are introduced largely by the Christian tradition by observing the person of Christ as portrayed in particular passages, mostly in Matthew and Luke. Those are fine, but you have to except the specious foundation for virtue ethics.

The reason I tell you to avoid that argument is because its foundations run totally contrary to the Bible, which relies almost entirely on Divine Command theory, which has a totally different grounding in ethics.

And, just so that we're clear, as far as MMA fighters go, there are arrogant and humble guys at all levels of competition in the sport. The difference is that we don't treat the ones who say they're good as delusional when they actually are good. Look at Tito Ortiz. He was absolved of his smack talk when he was the lightheavyweight champion because, as far as anyone was concerned, he was the greatest lightheavyweight in the world. Arrogance is treated differently when we regard the arrogant individual as somewhat justified. That's where the illusion (albeit easily broken) that the top guys are humbled comes from.

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