Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able ? Then he is not omnipotent.

Is he able, but not willing ? Then he is malevolent.

Is he both willing and able ? Then whence cometh evil ?

Is he neither able nor willing ? Then why call him God ?

Epicurus.

Any thoughts ?

Tags: Epicurus

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Most scientists, being human, do bring expectations to their research, but they respect the requirement to be objective, and so they're pretty good at attacking their own ideas. They know that, if they don't anticipate every possible line of attack, somebody else will do it for them -- in public. But that doesn't stop them from hoping in their hearts to obtain a particular result.

Good response! As a sidenote, it is interesting to note Darwin's view on this. He expressed it in an 1861 letter:

About thirty years ago there was much talk that geologists ought only to observe and not theorise; and I well remember somone saying that at this rate a man might as well go into a gravel-pit anc count the pebbles and describe the colours. How odd it is that anyone should not see that all observation must be for or against some view if it is to be of any service!

However, Darwin did, just as you say, anticipate every possible line of attack, beginning with Chapter VI Difficulties of the Theory in The Origin of Species. Thus with Darwin we have a perfect example of both of your points.

Scientific study starts from the formation of a hypothesis and proceeds to test it by observation, making necessary revisions in the light of that observation.

I wish more people would read Darwin. While his books are long, the text flows smoothly and his tone is so civilized and reasonable that it is a pleasure to read.

Truth Chris: There is no such thing as 'EVIL'.
Evil things and people don't exist.
The nearest thing to 'Evil' in human psychology are psychopaths.
This is a neurological disorder of the limbic (empathy) system which in most cases is treatable by medication,
If the condition in serious cases (extreme or potentially dangerous psychopaths) is diagnosed early enough, they are completely treatable and never evolve to becoming mythically evil.
Their mirror neurons simply don't work properly and they cannot understand empathy towards others.
It is a form of autism which may be acquired at birth or through brain damage.
Many autistic people have this issue, but rarely do they become dangerous because of their inability to understand empathy.

From a scientific viewpoint, neither 'EVIL' nor 'SIN' exist as a real concern.
There are only brain damaged people.
Mild psychopaths are often the people who drive businesses to success but upset their staff and competitors with their lack of care and remorse for their decisions.
Some of these are not due to problems in their neural network, but simply attitudes that have been embedded/indoctrinated into them by their environment, parents or culture.
These psychopaths are being reduced by better education and development of a stronger, more ethical, care based social fabric.
The kind of social fabric we humanists are trying to sustain.
So, there truly is NO SUCH THING AS EVIL!

@Dr. Allan H. Clark, thank you for the quote from Robert G.Ingersoll, 'Variant', as it appears on a manuscript copy he jotted down for a fan (26 March 1897)"
I happily reconnected with Ingersoll's writings and here is another of his jewels:

"The Declaration of Independence announces the sublime truth, that all power comes from the people. This was a denial, and the first denial of a nation, of the infamous dogma that God confers the right upon one man to govern others. It was the first grand assertion of the dignity of the human race. It declared the governed to be the source of power, and in fact denied the authority of any and all gods. Through the ages of slavery — through the weary centuries of the lash and chain, God was the acknowledged ruler of the world. To enthrone man, was to dethrone God."
~ Robert G. Ingersoll, Individuality (1873).
Thank you!

Another great Ingersoll quote to put in my file!

About twenty years ago I found a small photograph card of Ingersoll at a book fair in New York City. The dealer had no idea whose portrait it was and I got it for very little. I had it framed and added that verse in a window below. It hangs on my stairwell where I pass it every time I go up and down.

A lovely experience. The great joy to me is that if evidence does appear to reveal god exists a true scientist and philosopher can recognize and acknowledge truth. The hard part is getting rid of all the delusions.

@ Chris Crawford
"Aquinas was not concerned with justifying his faith; his concern lay in a variety of philosophical issues, one of which was the apparent conflict between free will and determinism."
It seems to me the difference between philosophers and scientists is some philosophers think, reason, and aspire to justify what they already know. Who cares about "free will and determinism" if god does not exist? He dealt with the frosting on the cake, not the cake itself.

Scientists observe what is known and include thinking, reasoning and aspiring to know what is true.
Both philosophers and scientists don't know how something came from nothing and some claim "god-did-it". Great philosophers and scientists seek to find flaws in the known and move toward truth as demonstrated by evidence.

Religion fails on so many fronts; wars driven by ideology and greed, power and authority driven by needing to control everything from nature to thinking of "man" as being at an apex of some imagined pyramid, delusions of some hierarchical power ordained by god to have dominion over all that swims, crawls and flies.

"Justice is the only worship.
Love is the only priest.
Ignorance is the only slavery.
Happiness is the only good.
The time to be happy is now,
The place to be happy is here,
The way to be happy is to make others so.
Wisdom is the science of happiness."
~ Robert G. Ingersoll, As quoted in Familiar Quotations (1937) edited by Christopher Morley, p. 603

Joan, you write: He dealt with the frosting on the cake, not the cake itself.

As far as Aquinas was concerned, the existence of the cake was a given. It's a point of view that's different from ours. Being wrong doesn't make you stupid. Aristotle got a bunch of things wrong, but that doesn't diminish his greatness. 

Here's an interesting conjecture for you: you owe to Aquinas (among many others) the intellectual context that permits you to realize that there is no god. If Aquinas hadn't come along, would the West have developed logic and science as far as it did? That's a very tricky question to answer. All in all, my guess is that the West would still have developed logic and science without Aquinas, but it would have taken longer to get as far as we are now. I think that I can say with certainty that we wouldn't be having this conversation if Aquinas had not been born.

Great quote Joan!
Though my favourite Ingersoll quote is still:
"If a man would follow, today, the teachings of the Old Testament, he would be a criminal.
If he would follow strictly the teachings of the New, he would be insane."

Which is entirely true from those theists I've trained with and worked with who considered themselves as following in JC's footsteps.
They were all insane.
Two of them are now confirmed schizophrenics.
Which is what we have coined the Moses Condition as he appears to be the first ever recorded sufferer.
So it appears were all the great visionary theistic heroes of the past, including Thomas Aquinas.
So maybe one of those I worked with will start their own version of Christianity.

Aye M8! :-D~

futilethewinds, "I said, then why are do pedophiles in the Catholic Church take advantage of alter boys? He said the alter boys were not true believers."

This statement is absolutely and utterly outrageous!
OK! that kind of statement comes across to us all the time and we have got to give up being shocked and embarrassed and say out loud they are idiots! To be so callous, so dis-compassionate, it tells me something terrible has happened to their brains under the influence of religion.

Have the lives of altar boys been altered by priestly abuse? You bet!

I love thos blokes Joan, I can't get enough of reading their concepts and research.
Just about finished another Ramachandran book "The Tell-Tale Brain" and then likely back to Sapolsky.
Yes, they are extremely different, with different approaches to neurology and life views, yet they all reach similar conclusions about religious belief. Such view of religion is becoming standard now in neurology.

I particularly like Ramachandran's very light, humorous, even comical approach to life and his work which he often makes fun of. He has a very enlightening way of looking at the world and seems to enjoy all aspects of his work, he works on the diagnostic, prod/question and see what squeals, almost freudian approach.
Sacks is a little more self centric with his own neurological issues and developed a lot of his concepts through using himself as a guinea pig for his interest in the chemical side of neurology.
Sapolsky is more concerned primate field work/comparisons with humans and with laboratory work and a very clinical, research approach to neurology.
All different, but when studied together form a very good, well rounded neurological foundation for those studying neurology.

Aye M8! :-D~

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