Does the existence of evil do anything to refute the existence of God?
Debate Rounds (5)
This debate will have no formal layout. Provide any refutation to my opening statement in the first round.
Firstly, lets look at "evil"
As defined by the Oxford dictionary
Evil : noun : Profound immorality, wickedness, and depravity, especially when regarded as a supernatural force
I'm not sure how you want to define this, as It's pretty key to the argument. I'd appreciate you offering up a definition, because I don't want the central point of the argument to be vague.
As defined by the Oxford dictionary
God: noun : (in Christianity and other monotheistic religions) the creator and ruler of the universe and source of all moral authority; the supreme being.
Do these sound reasonable?
I'd like for pro to agree to the definitions at hand, or refute, and offer their own in the following argument, where I will begin my refutation of the topic.
I also accept your definition of God but I will add a few things. I will expand on that by saying we are talking about the Catholic God. He is the uncreated creator. He is not subject to time. His existence is entirely independent and we are contingent upon Him.
And "anything" means any reason you can provide about why the existence of God negates or helps to refute His existence.
The reason is this;
Before we can even touch the debate, we must look at the underlying implications of the topic in the first place.
The topic takes the assumption that god exists at all. As is standard ruling in logic, if you're going to assert god exists, the burden of proof lies with you. Now, since I don't want to harp on the "Prove he exists"/ "prove he doesn't exist" argument to pan out ( it never leads to anywhere productive for either party), I have to at least take issue the fact that because of this, you can add essentially whatever caveats to "god" as you would like. That being case, I could do the same, but we will never make any progress because we are stuck trying to pin down exactly how you define something that cannot be measured or observed.
Now, this being said, the main issue I take with the definitions are "His existence is entirely independent of us and we are contingent upon him." Unless you can prove these two additional statements, I reject the definition as subjective.
If we can agree to all the other definitions, including the god definition leading up to "he is not subject to time", then we can continue. If you do not consent to this, I'm going to have to ask for observable proof that good is in fact independent of us, and we are contingent upon him, in order to concede the point.
Your definition itself shows that God is independent from us. We are part of the universe. If you define God as being "the creator of the universe" then I entirely agree. But also, if God created the universe that means He created every part of the universe. Since we are part of the universe, then it goes to logically say that God created us. And if God created us, that means He had to exist before we existed. (Which is another way of saying He exists independently) And since He, by necessity, had to exist before us, that means He existed without us. Therefore, because God created the universe and us, He had to exist before the universe and everything in the universe. aka independently from us. Thus, I logically conclude God is independent from us.
And I cannot add any caveats to God as I choose. As a Catholic I believe in the following known as the Nicene Creed. My faith and definition of God is entirely and fully reflected in this prayer:
"We believe in one God,
the Father, the Almighty,
Maker of all that is, seen and unseen.
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made, consubstantial
of one Being with the Father.
Through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation
he came down from heaven:
and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate
he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary,
and was made man.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered death and was buried.
On the third day he rose again
in accordance with the Scriptures;
he ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end.
We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son.
With the Father and the Son he is worshipped and glorified.
He has spoken through the Prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come. Amen."
So that sums everything up. I have shown with logic and by using your definition that God by necessity is independent from us. And also, we can continue the debate without you having to fully accept the expression of faith as listed. I just offered that so you could see exactly what it is that I believe, but your acceptance of it it is not necessary to the continuation of this debate. We can continue without entirely agreeing on the definition at this point. If you can agree that God created the universe ( and therefore us), is independent from us (as I have shown above) and is the supreme moral authority then that is enough.
This clears things up quite a bit. I am willing to accept and agree to your logic, and definition.
Now, on to the main idea.
I do believe the existence of evil does at least do something to refute the existence of God.
If we are to believe that God is the moral authority, it follows that God would only act morally.
If we are to believe that God is the supreme being, existing outside of time, it follows that God is omnipotent, or omnipresent, or both, as he is superior to all others.
If God acts only morally, and is omnipotent and omnipresent, it can be said that there is nothing beyond God's power or reach.
If nothing is beyond God's power or reach, why do Immoral things happen, or exist?
It reasons to believe that since things such as (for example) the holocaust, or the inquisition, or the crusades would have been prevented by a moral authority.
The existence of such events at the very least casts doubt on the existence of God.
Considering that we cannot prove, or disprove the existence of god, we rely on the subject of faith to substitute proof.
If the argument at hand is "do anything to refute the existence of God", I would argue the existence of evil at the very least causes us to question the existence of God, and in a faith based system, a strong, logical doubt is just as much evidence as a strong belief.
Yes I believe too that it follows God would act morally.
Yes I too believe that God is omnipotent and omnipresent.
I also believe there is nothing beyond God's reach.
Now we must decide "why do immoral things happen." In fact, the answer to this question proves that God cannot act in an immoral way.
The existence of evil is present because of free will. The free will that God gave us was designed to allow us to openly and freely choose to follow and love God. God wants us to love Him. However, if God had forced us to love Him that would mean we weren't displaying true love for Him and also that God made us slaves. As human beings, part of the way we show love or lack of love is through our actions. So, God gave us free will to choose. Evil is when we do that which goes against God's will. Evil is another way of suggesting a lack of love for God.
Certainly God could've acted in stopping the Nazi genocides, as this was very immoral, but then God would've removed free will and made us slaves to Him (which is an immoral action). He has the power to force us to follow Him but that wouldn't be a merciful or loving God. God allows evil because He gave us free will. He gave us responsibility to either follow and love Him or do evil. God does not make our decisions for us. And I personally think that is another reason why God is great. He gives us freedom. Some people like Hitler use that freedom in very wrong ways. But other people like Mother Theresa use it in very appropriate ways. But in the end, as a Catholic, I believe in eternal life. The struggles on this earth are nothing compared to the ultimate and eternal joy faced in heaven.
"The existence of evil is present because of free will"
I will not argue with this point, as assuredly we each choose our own actions.
"Evil is another way of suggesting a lack of love for God."
This point, I believe, is open to interpretation. I believe that because there are varying viewpoints, evil is in the eye of the beholder.
If for example, we are to examine the inquisition, we can consider that the trial, torture, and execution of the various Muslim and Jewish converts was done in the name of the catholic God. Was this an evil act? According to whom? It was done in the name of the catholic religion, sanctioned by the church, so does it not follow this was god's will? How do we divvy up atrocities done in the name of the church?
If we had called those events evil at the time, would it be the church's own lack of love for god that is responsible for evil?
Now, I suppose that it can be written off that these acts were all caused by immoral people, abusing the power of religion for their own selfish ends. This, however, begs the question, at what point does God's gift of free will interfere with his moral authority?
You have said that God could have stopped the Nazi genocides, as this was very immoral, but then God would've removed free will and made us slaves to him, which is also immoral. Is there not a catch 22? Are not both actions immoral?
I close my argument with a final point of contention.
Assuming that Heaven is in fact paradise, it can be assumed there is no evil in heaven.
Assuming that God's giving us free will is a moral action, it can be assumed that there is free will in heaven.
This means that free will exists in heaven, free of evil.
IF free will can exist without evil in heaven, why not on earth?
Is it beyond God's power? This cannot be, as God is omnipotent.
It must be assumed then that God CAN offer free will without evil, yet chooses not to. This violates the fact that he is the supreme moral authority.
If God either cannot, or chooses not to, the fact remains that our definition of God does not fit the bill, and as such, provides adequate reason to question his existence.
Evil is objective. Evil is a lack of morality. The actions done in the Holocaust were objectively evil. Theft is objectively evil. Rape is objectively evil. Evil is not just in the eye of the beholder. Morality is based upon the perfect moral authority, which is God. As we both have stated in this debate, the God we are debating about is the moral authority. Therefore, it makes sense that all morality would be judged according to His objective moral standard with our varying degrees of moral behavior contrasted with His perfection.
I will preface this next argument by saying that I will explain when it is ok to kill and go to war according to objective morality.
The torture and execution of innocent Muslims and Jews would be an evil act according to God and objective morality. God taught us to love our neighbors and enemies as ourselves. The people who were brutalizing the Jews and Muslims were sinning for what they believed God would want, when in fact, it went against everything Jesus taught. Those people were in blatant contradiction with God's will and were committing an act of grave evil. Yes this Inquisition was sanctioned by members of the Church. The members of the Church, even the pope, are only human and since all humans are open to sin, it follows that even the highest world authority on moral teachings and God, the Pope, can sin. The pope can act in ways that actually goes against the Church which is divinely inspired by the Holy Spirit. That is why even the Pope goes to reconciliation; The Pope is as much of a sinner as you and I. Often people see the Church as controlled by people when they forget the Church is actually the Holy Spirit on earth. The people, even the pope, who acted in the Inquisition, with worldly "Church" authority were actually not acting as the Church at all. They used the material resources of the Church to wage war, but contradicted the Church itself. Once someone does an act of immorality like that in the name f the Church, they are actually separated from the Church in what most commonly is known as excommunication.
However, if the Muslims and Jews and were attacking innocent Christians in the Holy Land, then the Church has the authority to permit war in order to protect innocent people from being slaughtered. The church could kill in order to protect innocent lives. But this is where we just have to know the complete historical context of each event. Also, you always have a right to maintain your own innocent life. So if someone is threatening your life, you are permitted to kill them in order to save yourself.
In all, you summed it up perfectly when you said "these acts were caused by immoral people."
And there is no Catch 22. With great power there comes great responsibility. Well, I would say with free will comes great responsibility. God doesn't decide for us. By giving us freedom to act either in evil or moral ways, God is not forfeiting any of His own moral perfection. He allows human beings to partake in evil actions freely because He gives us freedom. It is our responsibility to be good. It is not God's responsibility to make us good. God isn't the omnipotent baby sitter. At some point, we simply have to take consequences for our actions. In the end, we believe our just God will reward us in eternal joy with Him if we act in the good ways.
You have actually asked one of the deepest Theological questions I have ever come across. I have had this explained to me before by teachers who are years beyond me, but i have never had to explain it to someone else before. This will be my first attempt at it so I hope what I say can be easily read:
Yes in Heaven there is no evil. And yes in Heaven there is free will. But how can the two coincide?
Let us look at Heaven itself and those who were in it. I am specifically referring to Lucifer. We believe that Satan/Lucifer is a fallen angel. Angels exist in Heaven and play roles on earth. But that means, Lucifer made an immoral choice (by using free will) and was banished from Heaven. So if we were to decide to freely make an immoral decision, we would most likely be banished from Heaven the instant we act. However, we would not make that decision and this is why:
In Heaven, our souls become more God-like. By that I mean we have been cleansed. Before souls fully enter Heaven, they go through Purgatory (which is actually a part of Heaven). In Purgatory, souls are cleansed by being forgiven of past actions and all evil is removed. Because all evil is removed, we are not subject to temptation. Because we are not subject to temptation, we are not subject to making evil decisions. What is left is a God-like soul that has the ability of free will but is now in such a state of perfection that all evil is entirely senseless. We become God-like because we are still able to distinguish evil from good and still have to decide whether to do evil or good. However, because our souls have now reached a state of eternal and perfect happiness after cleansing, we would never make an evil decision that would ruin that existence. Even though we technically could do evil, we wouldn't or we would end up like Lucifer in Hell.
Now the question of why cant this also exist on Earth:
Actually it did. Before original sin, we were pure with free will. But once again, God could not force us into doing good and humans fell, just like Lucifer. God originally gave us that gift, but humanity abused it. God was great and we still sinned. It is not beyond God's power to restore that previous existence, but most likely humanity would fall again. And then if God forced that upon us, we would be slaves. So this is what God did:
God does offer free will without evil. It is called Heaven. God did offer free will without evil on Earth, but humanity already abused and rejected that gift. Our lives on Earth are merely the prologue of existence. Our time on Earth shapes our soul. God gives everyone the equal chance to be good and earn free will without evil and perfect happiness (aka Heaven), we just either accept the offer or refuse it based on our actions.
This is well said. While there are gray areas I would like to address (is homosexuality evil?), I will agree that ultimately most people can agree on the majority of "evil" acts being wrong.
"The torture and execution of innocent Muslims and Jews would be an evil act according to God and objective morality. God taught us to love our neighbors and enemies as ourselves. The people who were brutalizing the Jews and Muslims were sinning for what they believed God would want, when in fact, it went against everything Jesus taught. Those people were in blatant contradiction with God's will and were committing an act of grave evil. Yes this Inquisition was sanctioned by members of the Church. The members of the Church, even the pope, are only human and since all humans are open to sin, it follows that even the highest world authority on moral teachings and God, the Pope, can sin. The pope can act in ways that actually goes against the Church which is divinely inspired by the Holy Spirit. That is why even the Pope goes to reconciliation; The Pope is as much of a sinner as you and I. Often people see the Church as controlled by people when they forget the Church is actually the Holy Spirit on earth. The people, even the pope, who acted in the Inquisition, with worldly "Church" authority were actually not acting as the Church at all. They used the material resources of the Church to wage war, but contradicted the Church itself. Once someone does an act of immorality like that in the name f the Church, they are actually separated from the Church in what most commonly is known as excommunication."
This is also well said, and I agree with your viewpoint.
However, this next section I would like to comment on.
"But that means, Lucifer made an immoral choice (by using free will) and was banished from Heaven."
" Angels exist in Heaven..."
"In Heaven, our souls become more God-like."
" a God-like soul that has the ability of free will but is now in such a state of perfection that all evil is entirely senseless. "
If angels exist in Heaven, we must assume their souls are more God-like.
And, if a God-like soul has the ability of free will but is now in such a state of perfection that all evil is entirely senseless,
And Lucifer was an angel, with a God-like soul, then for Lucifer to have committed an immoral act to begin with is illogical.
Finally, while we are discussing God and moral in biblical terms, it must be noted that the final explanation hinges entirely on biblical theology, and debate.org, by a 60/40 ratio does not rate the bible as a credible source. If the argument at hand is to reason as to why the existence of evil does anything to refute the existence of God, I hold with my original argument that in a debate of faith and belief, a reasonable logical doubt is just as much evidence as a strong belief.
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