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Natural Evil Before The Fall


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So if someone loses their child in a disaster and they question why God would allow their child to die, you would tell the grieving parent they're being selfish? If you did that, you would get a slap in the face.

 

Ya know, Neon, some of the people who post on this site ARE bereaved parents, and we can still manage to find the love and redemption that are buried deep in the experience of grief. Please do not presume to speak on behalf of all bereaved parents.

 

A couple of Trust's 23 suggestions above have a lot of wisdom in them. The one I know from my own experience to be true is #7: "God is telling us a story. There is not joy without sadness and God is using all frames of reference to tell the story."

 

I don't agree, Soma, that we can't have good unless we have evil. This is your starting point, and you're entitled to your own beliefs as a Christian mystic. But I'm also a practising Christian mystic, and everything in my experience -- including the death of my beloved son -- has taught me that Divine Love is an experience of constant transformation and forgiveness, a constant refusal to choose anything but "the good."

 

Dualistic thinking -- good versus evil -- is one of the greatest causes of human suffering, and we create this pattern of thinking all by ourselves. We create these patterns of dualistic thought, and use them to feel sorry for ourselves, but this doesn't mean God agrees with these ideologies.

 

Is night worse than day? I don't know . . . first give me the date and latitude for the person asking the quesion, because right about now at 90 degrees Sorth there's no day at all. Is that a bad thing? A natural evil? Or is it part of a wider story God is telling us that we don't yet understand?

 

I'm with Dutch: "We are individuality responsible/culpable.God is with us."

 

Amen to that.

Edited by canajan, eh?
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So if someone loses their child in a disaster and they question why God would allow their child to die, you would tell the grieving parent they're being selfish? If you did that, you would get a slap

“I don't agree, Soma, that we can't have good unless we have evil. This is your starting point, and you're entitled to your own beliefs as a Christian mystic. But I'm also a practising Christian mysti

Soma, your words here are very thoughtful and much more nuanced than the earlier statement you made about good and evil.   I have worked in the mental health field and have seen difficult challenges

Ya know, Neon, some of the people who post on this site ARE bereaved parents, and we can still manage to find the love and redemption that are buried deep in the experience of grief. Please do not presume to speak on behalf of all bereaved parents.

 

 

 

And don't you presume to speak for all bereaving parents, either. I've known other bereaved parents who lost their children and were unable to reconcile their tragedy with a god that answer prayers and intervenes with the universe. To tell someone who questions why a god would allow so much pain and suffering in the world that they're being selfish is judgmental and highly offensive and it's the same kind of blame the victim mentality that Christian fanatics like Pat Robertson use when they tried to blame the suffering of the Haitians on their actions.
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I am not suggesting an uncaused cause. Natural disasters (I would avoid the term 'evil' with its connotations of intent) are the result of natural processes functioning according to natural laws. These are part of the big picture of which we are too small to comprehend.

 

George

 

When I was making my list, I was constantly reminded about how much we don't know. But even more about how much we don't know we don't know.

 

Natural Evil does not exist - it is a anthrocentric, egocentric, selfish construct. "Oh poor,Poor, pitiful me." We would like to blame someone. In the Hebrew scriptures we said God did it because we blew it. Then we said the Devil did it to get God off the hook.

We can harm each other but Evil is the product of a large group.

We are individuality responsible/culpable.

God is with us.

 

Dutch

 

When Christ asked God why he had forsaken him, it was not about placing blame, it was about understanding. When terrible things happen to people, they have a right and a built in desire to understand. I think one of the main things we tend to forget is that, just as much as God has to forgive us, we also have to forgive God for allowing this to happen to us. There are some things that happen to us that has nothing to do with deserving it or being responsible for it. Christ certainly was not responsible for it.

 

What chains?

 

I would never, ever suggest rejoicing at death - unless it was at the end of a terrible suffering. And even then, rejoice would be the wrong word. Perhaps; relief.

 

All I'm saying is that there is no need for a deity to understand death. Nor do we need to appease this deity in order to buy favors for the afterlife.

 

My father recently passed away, and some wingnut had the gall to tell my sister and I that "Your father's death must serve God's purpose," or some such silliness. This was during the Wake, mind you, before my father was even in the ground.

 

I don't care if you believe that; just don't go spouting this nonsense while your standing in line to greet a mourning family.

 

NORM

 

I think death (not the act of dying) is a great thing for those moving on. The only reason it is sad is because of those who are still here to live without them.

 

I think the chances that nothing happens after we die is very slim, but if it were so, it would be neutral. On the other hand, If I am right and something continues, then most likely we will lose all of the chains that tie us down here on earth. Life on earth for a majority of the world is a constant struggle. I am beyond blessed and have almost none of that typical day struggle. It is others who I am working for.

 

I am sorry that someone would say that to you when you are in the act of grieving. While I think they might be right, no one wants to hear that when they are in the act of suffering. Most likely the person was trying to help but sometimes all we need is someone to be there to comfort and simply empathize. Not to try to explain everything.

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“I don't agree, Soma, that we can't have good unless we have evil. This is your starting point, and you're entitled to your own beliefs as a Christian mystic. But I'm also a practising Christian mystic, and everything in my experience -- including the death of my beloved son -- has taught me that Divine Love is an experience of constant transformation and forgiveness, a constant refusal to choose anything but "the good."

 

Canajan I respect you opinion and your inner strength to go through such a tragedy as the death of a beloved son, and I am happy that you have the Divine Love to see “the good”. You are a mystic to have found the peaceful experience of Divine Love and to continually fight for that unity. It seems on the physical plane one has to endure the innumerable annoyances that try to spoil that Divine Good, Harmony and Love that unites us all. The fight to endure in Spiritual happiness is the undisclosed art of being spontaneous in uniting the opposites into one. In the mystical awareness of an immediate pure Divine consciousness I can feel the glow love and unity. Life at this moment overcomes death and good overcomes evil in a mystical sensuality. There is an immediate feeling of happiness with an aura of victory or success because love dominates over hate, pleasure over pain, and peace over agitation. This comes as a revelation of truth and harmony. I feel you have that experience.

 

Now, the hard part is what purpose does suffering, evil or the negative serve? Suffering makes me conscious of my mortality. It reminds me of my weakness and my procession to death. It seems to create an atmosphere that directs my mind towards the all-pervading consciousness that I sometimes ignore. This consciousness sings in pleasure, speaks in silence, but screams to me in pain. Yes, it also sows the seeds of doubt so we discuss the parts good and evil to lay the foundation for a new way of thinking, and living in hope as you have done. On the physical plane some see evil and suffering as real, the sexual abuse of children, but I feel so is the experience of an eternal pure consciousness where opposites are united. I feel hope and a taste of eternity in consciousness is a part of my reality that sends me forward in life and in my Christianity. I do not know where it is leading, but I know that the pure all-pervading consciousness of God is always present wherever I go. It is there and here, everywhere. In silent compassion the always present consciousness of God is soothing, heartening and encouraging in a continuous presence if I am aware of it or not until I die. The suffering, pain and evil I have experienced it has lead me to the good as if it was working with Divine Love to guide me to God’s presence. I hope this compassion is extended to the sexually abused children and the people that can help or change that situation. I see people in pain and have met people in prison that committed terrible crimes when they were not balanced, but they seemed to utilize their time well regaining the balance lost and the joy and love that is always present with Divine Good. Others in the same prison are still causing pain to others and themselves because of their disharmony with life on the physical plane. I feel they too are being guided by suffering and will be lead to God's pure consciousness that is ever present someday.

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Now, the hard part is what purpose does suffering, evil or the negative serve? Suffering makes me conscious of my mortality. It reminds me of my weakness and my procession to death. It seems to create an atmosphere that directs my mind towards the all-pervading consciousness that I sometimes ignore. This consciousness sings in pleasure, speaks in silence, but screams to me in pain. Yes, it also sows the seeds of doubt so we discuss the parts good and evil to lay the foundation for a new way of thinking, and living in hope as you have done. On the physical plane some see evil and suffering as real, the sexual abuse of children, but I feel so is the experience of an eternal pure consciousness where opposites are united. I feel hope and a taste of eternity in consciousness is a part of my reality that sends me forward in life and in my Christianity. I do not know where it is leading, but I know that the pure all-pervading consciousness of God is always present wherever I go. It is there and here, everywhere. In silent compassion the always present consciousness of God is soothing, heartening and encouraging in a continuous presence if I am aware of it or not until I die. The suffering, pain and evil I have experienced it has lead me to the good as if it was working with Divine Love to guide me to God’s presence. I hope this compassion is extended to the sexually abused children and the people that can help or change that situation. I see people in pain and have met people in prison that committed terrible crimes when they were not balanced, but they seemed to utilize their time well regaining the balance lost and the joy and love that is always present with Divine Good. Others in the same prison are still causing pain to others and themselves because of their disharmony with life on the physical plane. I feel they too are being guided by suffering and will be lead to God's pure consciousness that is ever present someday.

 

Soma, your words here are very thoughtful and much more nuanced than the earlier statement you made about good and evil.

 

I have worked in the mental health field and have seen difficult challenges in individuals, too. Yes, people commit terrible crimes when they're not balanced. But people can also look their own mistakes in the eye and find healing and redemption. To watch someone undergo the experience of redemption is truly an awesome miracle that is humbling and awe-inspiring.

 

Best,

Jen

Edited by canajan, eh?
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And don't you presume to speak for all bereaving parents, either. I've known other bereaved parents who lost their children and were unable to reconcile their tragedy with a god that answer prayers and intervenes with the universe. To tell someone who questions why a god would allow so much pain and suffering in the world that they're being selfish is judgmental and highly offensive and it's the same kind of blame the victim mentality that Christian fanatics like Pat Robertson use when they tried to blame the suffering of the Haitians on their actions.

 

I'm fairly certain, Neon, that I began my comment by referring to "some of the people who post on this site." I don't see any reference in my post to "all bereaved parents."

 

I stand by the point I was trying to make, which is the honest reality that some bereaved parents are able to find love and redemption within the grief.

 

I have no quarrel with anyone who wants to ask difficult questions about why god allows suffering. I wouldn't where I am on my journey if I hadn't asked these questions.

 

You have clearly stated your beliefs, Neon. You've said, "The only two theodicy solutions that have ever made sense to me was either the Gnostic solution, that an evil or incompetent deity created the universe, or the deist solution; that God created the universe and then left it alone and doesn't intervene with the universe at all"

 

Well, I'm not a Gnostic, and have no beliefs in common with any form of Gnosticism. I'm also not a deist, So it's understandable that you and I don't see the theodicy question in similar ways.

 

Guess we'll just have to agree to disagree.

 

Jen

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The conversation has gone pass my comment but . . .

 

My comment that "Natural Evil does not exist..." was about the concept embodied in those terms not about the suffering of people. I regret that I wasn't more clear. I agree with George that if we must talk about captial "E" Evil we must look for intent. I see no Natural Intent. Therefore Natural Evil does not exist. Evil is an overused word which distracts us from attending to human relationships and human suffering. There are many things we say to each other when we share our sufferings. What works for some does not work for others.

 

I think one of the main things we tend to forget is that, just as much as God has to forgive us, we also have to forgive God for allowing this to happen to us.

I would not describe the barrier to feeling one with the Source as mutual forgiveness but perhaps saying, as I might, that we must open ourselves to the transcendent experience mirroring God's making room for creation would seem parallel.

 

Dutch

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I think death (not the act of dying) is a great thing for those moving on. The only reason it is sad is because of those who are still here to live without them.

 

I would agree with the basis of this comment, however, I still wouldn't characterize it as "great." I certainly do not anticipate death with relish. There's too much I want to see and experience. I want to live life to the fullest, and live long enough to see my grandchildren grow up. In fact, I wish that I NEVER had to go. I enjoy life! Isn't this what theists are really after? Eternal life?

 

I think the chances that nothing happens after we die is very slim, but if it were so, it would be neutral.

 

I don't share your optimism. In my experience, dead people remain dead. I think the evidence is more strongly in favor of nothing happening when we die. Do you have evidence to the contrary? If so, I would really like to see it! As I stated above, I would like to live forever.

 

If I am right and something continues, then most likely we will lose all of the chains that tie us down here on earth.

 

Again, what evidence do you have to support this theory of loosed chains? How do you know that if there is an afterlife, that it will be idyllic? What if there were more chains in the afterlife than now?

 

Life on earth for a majority of the world is a constant struggle.

 

To our eternal shame!!!

 

I am beyond blessed and have almost none of that typical day struggle. It is others who I am working for.

 

Me too.

 

I am sorry that someone would say that to you when you are in the act of grieving. While I think they might be right, no one wants to hear that when they are in the act of suffering. Most likely the person was trying to help but sometimes all we need is someone to be there to comfort and simply empathize. Not to try to explain everything.

 

I'm not so much sorry for myself, except at the time, it was very hurtful. I actually feel sorry for people who think they have to die in order to experience pleasure. This life offers so much fulfillment.

 

NORM

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I have worked in the mental health field and have seen difficult challenges in individuals, too. Yes, people commit terrible crimes when they're not balanced. But people can also look their own mistakes in the eye and find healing and redemption. To watch someone undergo the experience of redemption is truly an awesome miracle that is humbling and awe-inspiring.

 

Best,

Jen

 

Hello Jen,

 

I find your worldview very refreshing. I am always amazed at the human capacity to rise above disaster. Our family has endured much tragedy and suffering, yet, we remain mostly hopeful and positive in our philosophy. We are Christian and Jewish (me), and have managed to pare away all the negative dross (Sinners in the hands of an angry G-d / ritual and guilt) revealing a positive worldview.

 

NORM

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The conversation has gone pass my comment but . . .

My comment that "Natural Evil does not exist..." was about the concept embodied in those terms not about the suffering of people. I regret that I wasn't more clear. I agree with George that if we must talk about captial "E" Evil we must look for intent. I see no Natural Intent. Therefore Natural Evil does not exist. Evil is an overused word which distracts us from attending to human relationships and human suffering. There are many things we say to each other when we share our sufferings. What works for some does not work for others.

 

I would not describe the barrier to feeling one with the Source as mutual forgiveness but perhaps saying, as I might, that we must open ourselves to the transcendent experience mirroring God's making room for creation would seem parallel.

Dutch

 

We seem to be trying to deny that natural evil exists in the first place instead of dealing with the issue at hand. We are also gravitating toward a very human centered perspective instead of suffering before the fall.

 

Christ says, "I am the Good Shepherd. I lay down my life for the sheep". In other words, Christ is the Good Shepherd and the sheep are humans. When applying this analogy to ourselves, we are the Good Shepherd to our sheep (animals). If we ignore for a minute that we are putting our sheep through factory farms and consider this moral evil instead of natural evil, the question still remains why there was natural evil before the fall. For the animals have been groaning for millions of years before human moral evil even existed. Why has God forsaken the sheep (animals) just as much as he has forsaken Christ?

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I would agree with the basis of this comment, however, I still wouldn't characterize it as "great." I certainly do not anticipate death with relish. There's too much I want to see and experience. I want to live life to the fullest, and live long enough to see my grandchildren grow up. In fact, I wish that I NEVER had to go. I enjoy life! Isn't this what theists are really after? Eternal life?

I don't share your optimism. In my experience, dead people remain dead. I think the evidence is more strongly in favor of nothing happening when we die. Do you have evidence to the contrary? If so, I would really like to see it! As I stated above, I would like to live forever.

Again, what evidence do you have to support this theory of loosed chains? How do you know that if there is an afterlife, that it will be idyllic? What if there were more chains in the afterlife than now?

 

On a practical level, I think that it stands to reason that if there is a God, that he is good. On a personal level, I believe in the ideas Christ talked about and a place where the wolf lives with the lamb as Isaiah says.

 

When we look at people who have near death experiences, there are just way too many people from way too many walks of life that report essentially the same death experiences for us to claim that they are lying (although some certainly are). I think it is difficult to deny the experience in general. These people have their entire lives transformed by these experiences that they know they experienced. Many atheists change their beliefs after NDE's so at the very least it is real enough for them to believe it. So the question comes down to whether that experience is the next life or still a part of this life. Personally I think this life is and always will be about us reaching out to God based on our own free will so I don't think we wil ever have "proof" one way or the other. That would negate one of the main reasons for this life.

 

To the theist, the mere fact that we are here, we are conscious, and we have a conscience is enough to make one at the very least an agnostic. There are a million other reasons to make one a theist. For the atheist, the odds of there being more than this are too low and they therefore do not believe. This is probably the sole question we cannot reason through. We must simply agree to disagree. Just about every other question in existence we are able to reason through.

 

I'm not so much sorry for myself, except at the time, it was very hurtful. I actually feel sorry for people who think they have to die in order to experience pleasure. This life offers so much fulfillment.

NORM

 

To me, this life is full of heartbreak so that we feel the desire to become Christ-like. Although I don't agree, even if we take the assumption that this is all that there is, then we are even more obliged to help those in need because this is all they will ever experience.

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We seem to be trying to deny that natural evil exists in the first place instead of dealing with the issue at hand. We are also gravitating toward a very human centered perspective instead of suffering before the fall.

 

Shouldn't we first establish the existence of something before we 'deal with it?' Why would you describe a hurricane as evil? What if it does no harm to a person? What if it also brings needed rain? What if it does both? I think it would be helpful if you defined 'evil.'

 

I personally think the notion of natural evil is a "human centered perspective." In fact, we have no other perspective to assert.

 

George

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On a practical level, I think that it stands to reason that if there is a God, that he is good. On a personal level, I believe in the ideas Christ talked about and a place where the wolf lives with the lamb as Isaiah says.

 

Can you explain why it stands to reason?

 

Is "good" a universal, objective state? When a wolf kills a lamb and feeds his family, is this "good" from the perspective of all? The wolf? The wolf's children? The lamb? An disinterested observer? Can we all say, "good!"

 

George

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When we look at people who have near death experiences, there are just way too many people from way too many walks of life that report essentially the same death experiences for us to claim that they are lying (although some certainly are). I think it is difficult to deny the experience in general. These people have their entire lives transformed by these experiences that they know they experienced. Many atheists change their beliefs after NDE's so at the very least it is real enough for them to believe it. So the question comes down to whether that experience is the next life or still a part of this life. Personally I think this life is and always will be about us reaching out to God based on our own free will so I don't think we wil ever have "proof" one way or the other. That would negate one of the main reasons for this life.

 

 

NDEs are a form of lucid dreaming caused by increased activity in the left temporal lobe. If there's so much overwhelming proof of the existence of the afterlife and if being dead is so wonderful that we should praise it, why don't more Christians commit suicide so they can be with the Lord? Why continue living in life if heaven is so much better?
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Science sees the unity of opposites and I feel the spiritual experience experiences this harmony.

 

In the grace and comfort of unity, a spiritual experience experiences a new heaven and a new earth where everything is united. The confusions on the physical plane, the duality of the sins and miseries of the mind are not remembered or renewed in this experience. In the present moment harmony we see the balance and unity of opposites. A center of heaven is on earth with glory in our sorrows because at our lowest point we are the most open to change and renewal. The beast in us can lay with our innocence in a new life where we are whole or holy.

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I would not describe the barrier to feeling one with the Source as mutual forgiveness but perhaps saying, as I might, that we must open ourselves to the transcendent experience mirroring God's making room for creation would seem parallel.

 

Trust,

 

I offered a metaphorical connection between your view and mine. That seems to have been missed.

 

We seem to be trying to deny that natural evil exists in the first place instead of dealing with the issue at hand. We are also gravitating toward a very human centered perspective instead of suffering before the fall.

 

For the last 20-30 years I have been prophesying, whenever I am asked for an answer, that the answer is "37 true." People keep denying that that answer is relevant to their question. Are you also going to deny that the answer is "37 true". As long as we deny "37 true" we are gravitating toward a very human centered perspective.

 

Likewise I deny any meaning to "Natural Evil". I have already made my arguments.

 

It is nonsensical to me to include the story of Adam and Eve in the evolutionary history of the universe.

Did it happen before or after homo sapiens evolved?

Were Adam and Eve part of the first but unsuccessful move of homo sapiens into the Levant?

Did Adam and Eve live before Neanderthals?

Since many of us have a small amount of Neanderthal genetic material the answer seems yes.

So maybe Adam and Eve lived 500,000 years ago.

 

Good, Love and empathy were evolving before this so how far back would we have to put the Garden of Eden so it made sense in the ongoing history of the evolution of the universe.

 

It is a powerful story. To force it into evolutionary history deflates it.

 

Dutch

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PC friends,

 

To me, the concept of ‘natural evil’ as a precursor to human will-choice can only be understood as the potential for error which is “inherent in evolutionary growth”.

 

The authors of the Urantia Papers thoroughly addressed the questions of evil, error, sin, and iniquity. Perhaps this link to the subject of evil from an online topical index will aid some in deeper examination.

 

We might consider, for example:

 

Evolutionary man finds it difficult fully to comprehend the significance and to grasp the meanings of evil, error, sin, and iniquity. Man is slow to perceive that contrastive perfection and imperfection produce potential evil; that conflicting truth and falsehood create confusing error; that the divine endowment of freewill choice eventuates in the divergent realms of sin and righteousness; that the persistent pursuit of divinity leads to the kingdom of God as contrasted with its continuous rejection, which leads to the domains of iniquity.

 

The Gods neither create evil nor permit sin and rebellion. Potential evil is time-existent in a universe embracing differential levels of perfection meanings and values. Sin is potential in all realms where imperfect beings are endowed with the ability to choose between good and evil. The very conflicting presence of truth and untruth, fact and falsehood, constitutes the potentiality of error. The deliberate choice of evil constitutes sin; the willful rejection of truth is error; the persistent pursuit of sin and error is iniquity. (UP 54:0.1,2)

 

to attain perfection as an evolutionary ( time-creative) experience implies something other-than-perfection as a point of departure. Thus arises imperfection in the evolutionary creations. And this is the origin of potential evil. Misadaptation, disharmony, and conflict, all these things are inherent in evolutionary growth, from physical universes to personal creatures. (UP 105:6.4, em. mine)

 

And from the ‘Jesus’ papers, UP 148: 4 – Evil, Sin, and Iniquity

 

"Evil is the unconscious or unintended transgression of the divine law, the Father's will. Evil is likewise the measure of the imperfectness of obedience to the Father's will."

 

 

Best regards,

Brent

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PC friends,

To me, the concept of ‘natural evil’ as a precursor to human will-choice can only be understood as the potential for error which is “inherent in evolutionary growth”.

 

Can evolution as designed by God with its infinite possibilities really be considered error whether in potential or growth? I think not in reality except in the conceptual and highly subjective mind of man who feels he/she must differentiate by arbitrarily choosing a point along a continuum where there is none. Where does that leave understanding?

Joseph

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Can evolution as designed by God with its infinite possibilities really be considered error whether in potential or growth? I think not in reality except in the conceptual and highly subjective mind of man who feels he/she must differentiate by arbitrarily choosing a point along a continuum where there is none. (Joseph)

Joseph,

Do you so completely discountenance subjectivity that ‘you’ propose there are no “point(s) along a continuum”? My understanding is that subjective-mind differentiation is essential to progressive time-experience, otherwise what’s the point (pun intended) of any of this? Thus the concept of ‘potential’ evil is evolutionarily valid, even though ‘actual’ error is dependent upon subjective choice.

 

In good spirit,

Brent

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Since we seem to be talking about evolution here . . . the latest issue of Scientific American (July 2012) has a cover story about the evolution of cooperation. The article, called "Why We Help" by Martin Nowak, says this in the "In Brief" box:

 

People tend to think of evolution as a strictly dog-eat-dog struggle for survival. In fact, cooperation has been a driving force of evolution. There are five mechanisms by which cooperation may arise in organisms ranging from bacteria to human beings. Humans are especially helpful because of the mechanism of indirect reciprocity, which is based on reputation [and information] and leads us to help those who help others.

 

It has always struck as important that the theological doctrine of natural evil so closely resembles the theory of natural selection in its purest "dog-eat-dog" form (the form which, until recently, has been the dominant view among biologists, according to Dr. Nowak).

 

The honest truth is that reproductive success for single individuals is not the sole factor that drives all life on Planet Earth, as many recent researchers have been showing with their work on the role of cooperation in all species.

 

The question we should be asking ourselves is not "why is there suffering?" but instead "why does the altruistic spirit always seem to rebuild itself?" (to paraphrase Dr. Nowak).

 

Any sound theory about the nature of humanity and the nature of our relationship with God MUST account for both ends of the spectrum of human behaviour, not just the nasty bits at the psychopathic extreme.

 

We all know there's suffering during our lives on Planet Earth. I don't think anyone disputes this reality. But the parts that hurt aren't the only parts that exist. It's not reasonable or fair to pretend that altruism and selflessness aren't real, measureable forces that lead to change in our world. Altruism and selflessness and friendship with others for the sake of friendship (instead of for the sake of selfish genes) are real, and they're being practised every day by worker ants and lions and vampire bats (to name three examples given by Dr. Nowak). It's part of our hard-wiring, and, as people of faith, we should be asking ourselves why. Why are we hard-wired this way, and what can we learn from this scientific reality that will help us heal and build our relationships with all of God's good creation?

 

There's so much that we, as human beings, don't know and can't know while we're here. But I know we can help each other learn from our own mistakes, and in my view this is one of the highest forms of cooperation we can choose. It sure beats the heck out of "dog-eat-dog" survival.

 

Jen

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It has always struck as important that the theological doctrine of natural evil so closely resembles the theory of natural selection in its purest "dog-eat-dog" form (the form which, until recently, has been the dominant view among biologists, according to Dr. Nowak).

 

The honest truth is that reproductive success for single individuals is not the sole factor that drives all life on Planet Earth, as many recent researchers have been showing with their work on the role of cooperation in all species.

Jen

 

Yes, it has been shown (as an example, see E.O. Wilson, a noted sociobiologist) that social cooperation is a feature of evolution among 'eusocial' animals (which includes humans). Altruism is hard to explain without a social dimension of evolution.

 

Also, this 'dog-eat-dog' or 'survival-of-the-fittest' idea about of evolution is a caricature of natural selection. A species can adapt to a new environment or situation without 'eating another dog.' Often a new species simply fills an unfilled ecological niche.

 

George

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Brent,

 

I would also ask you to define 'evil.' It would also be helpful to distinguish between 'moral evil' and 'natural evil' (as in Trust's opening post), if you see any difference.

 

George

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George and PC friends,

 

Doubtful that my understanding will satisfy, I'll continue a little longer for those who are finding it difficult to research the subject from the multiple perspectives of the reference I've already linked.

 

In my opinion the term ‘natural evil’ has no applicable meaning. As I explained earlier, ‘potential’ evil originates from the differentials inherent in progressive time-space evolution while ‘actual’ evil (perhaps ‘moral’ evil fits loosely here) does not manifest absent unconscious or unintended erroneous will-choice. By the way, since the appearance of human will-choice was certified on high nearly 1 million years ago, this has nothing to do with the timing of Adam and Eve’s mission in the Levant roughly 38,000 years ago (according UP:74). Sin arises through deliberate choosing of error; whereas iniquity derives from habitual sin.

 

The possibility of mistaken judgment (evil) becomes sin only when the human will consciously endorses and knowingly embraces a deliberate immoral judgment. 3:5.15

 

The problem of sin is not self-existent in the finite world. The fact of finiteness is not evil or sinful. The finite world was made by an infinite Creator -- it is the handiwork of his divine Sons -- and therefore it must be good. It is the misuse, distortion, and perversion of the finite that gives origin to evil and sin. 111:6.3

 

There are many ways of looking at sin, but from the universe philosophic viewpoint sin is the attitude of a personality who is knowingly resisting cosmic reality. Error might be regarded as a misconception or distortion of reality. Evil is a partial realization of, or maladjustment to, universe realities. But sin is a purposeful resistance to divine reality -- a conscious choosing to oppose spiritual progress -- while iniquity consists in an open and persistent defiance of recognized reality and signifies such a degree of personality disintegration as to border on cosmic insanity. 67:1.4

 

In friendship,

Brent

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In my opinion the term ‘natural evil’ has no applicable meaning.

 

I think we may agree on some points, probably regarding 'natural evil."

 

However, I have trouble processing "‘potential’ evil originates from the differentials inherent in progressive time-space evolution while ‘actual’ evil (perhaps ‘moral’ evil fits loosely here) does not manifest absent unconscious or unintended erroneous will-choice."

 

(And, I am not prepared to accept the "certified on high nearly 1 million years ago" or the dating of Adam and Eve.)

 

George

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I think the question of whether there is such a thing as natural evil or not is a red herring and irrelevant to the problem of evil. The problem with the traditional theistic god is not whether you can say a natural disaster is evil or not, but that a god that chooses to save some people from natural disasters but chooses not to save other people is either an incompetent god or an evil god. This is best summed up by Epicurus

Either God wants to abolish evil, and cannot; or he can, but does not want to. If he wants to, but cannot, he is impotent. If he can, but does not want to, he is wicked. If God can abolish evil, and God really wants to do it, why is there evil in the world?
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