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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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GOD'aye , I would prefer we not be cheeky with each other. If you referred to me as "Joanie" I would feel put-down, discounted, trivialized and even demonized. I would feel I have to defend myself instead of open myself to new ideas.

Thanks Joan,
Realized that after I posted it, such a habit is so natural here in Australia, as to us it is not considered cheeky, we alter people's names as a form of endearment or familiarity.
The first thing that happens to me when I join any group or start working at any company in Australia is I score a common nickname or get a "Y" or "azza" inserted into my name.
Monty Python did a great skit on this aspect of Australian culture.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qJkO-EKRVd0

Enjoy!

Your judgment of Aquinas is ill-founded and summary and fails to recognize his value to the progress of philosophy, but it's clear you have no interest in any views other than your own and since it satisfies you so completely there is no reason to continue discussing this issue with you.

Well Allan, simply deeper, more neurological and psychological analysis of his work, such as "Summa" which Anthony has already alluded to.
As we gain a deeper understanding of the human mind, from the inside, as I stated before, such science is still in it's infancy.
I'm constantly watching Sapolsky's articles and lectures, because his lab is somewhere close to the forefront of this field.
I found much of Aquinas's writings nonsensical in the late 70s, I'm certain many have also, but their criticisms have been quashed by Catholicism until recently.
I find it unusual that the likes of yourself are making excuses and apologies for Catholic apologists (those who make excuses for Catholic lies).
We have already coined the term here for Catholic Theology as "Porky Pondering", Theologians as "Porky Ponderers" and Christian Apologists as "Porky Deniers/Excusers", which describes Aquinas and all his derivatives excellently.

I, too, like Sapolsky because he doesn't look only at what philosophers or religious write and repeat generation after generation, gaining power and authority over the centuries. He observes how superstitions begin, grow and evolve over time. He also recognizes the role obsessive compulsive disorder in human thought and action impacts an individual, and a culture.

Professor Sapolsky Explains the Origin of Religion Part 1/2
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LNSe4Ff57n4&list=PLPblR4bWCoxlk...

Professor Sapolsky Explains the Origin of Religion Part 2/2
http://video.strangeclip.com/?w=U8GFQRAlDmE&title=professor-sap...

Joan, thanks for linking the clips.

It's an interesting topic all on its own.  Way back when, early in my training, I did a couple of clinical rotations on a psychiatric ward.  It was so interesting.   A few patients, either schizophrenic or in manic stage of bipolar disorder, were like prophets.  Very intense, very compelling.  They had surprising charisma.  They were seductive both emotionally and sexually.  They were often hyperreligious, heard auditory hallucinations, saw visual hallucinations.  Their speech was highly pressured, intense.  They were tangential.  

I remember one who had dug out teeth with a pocket knife, believing that within the teeth were transmitters from aliens.  Apparently, others have also done that.

Since then, I have encountered a small number of either schizophrenic or manic bipolar individuals, out of the hospital.  They too, are such compelling personalities. Interesting, it can feel good to be around them.  Again, quite charismatic.

This would make for an interesting topic all on it's own, but I don't have the energy to research it.

Not long ago I saw a book review on the role of hallucinogens in evolution of human society and the human brain.  I will look for that.

Even though hyperreligiosity may be frequently manifested in psychosis, it would be a mistake to dismiss all religious thought as a form of mental illness and too use that judgment to ignore the accomplishments of all religious thinkers. That may be tempting, but it's foolish.

A good counterexample to that attitude is the mathematician Blaise Pascal, who made significant contributions to mathematics, philosophy, and theology. Pascal had a mystical experience and gave up his scientific work in favor of theology, something to be deplored for the loss to mathematics, but out of it came the Provincial Letters and the Pensées. The latter contains some of the most beautiful French ever written and has been recognized for its literary value as well as its theology. It contains the famous wager, which is still often discussed here and elsewhere. Pascal spent time at the abby at Port-Royal and may have had a hand in the Port-Royal logic which was the standard for a long period.

You make very valid points and ones I need to keep in mind. However, I get the Pascal wager tossed at me very frequently and find it irrational, unsupported by anything other than fear. 

I also observe behaviors of dearly loved family and friends who grasp onto religion, hoping desperately for superhuman help that does not come. Of my two cousins who had breast cancer, and thus my created Cousins' Cancer Club, one is an atheist and when she got the news, she got on with the process. The other, a devout christian, went into the procedure with fear and hope and has fear to this day. I received emails from them yesterday, and their lifestyles continue. I had Paula as an example of how to go into this experience, and I am so grateful. I know, this is anecdotal evidence, however, a grain of truth resides in anecdotes.  

I value your caution and take heed. 

There are several reasons to find fault with Pascal's wager and I am just as tired as you of having it tossed at me by people utterly unfamiliar with Pascal and his writing, but read in the context of the period—in which there was no developed notion of probability—it was a clever stroke.

It's unfortunate that most do not think of ultimate things until faced with a life-threatening illness. I think that is one of the profits of a healthy old age: as things decline slowly you have time to come to terms with non-existence.

And as for anecdotal evidence, the entire Christian religion is based on a handful of anecdotes, most of them probably false, so why not bring them into a casual discussion?

Absolutely agree with you on that.  

Religiosity must be multifactorial - probably most of it culture, some political, some existential, some philosophical, and any portion that is neurologic would be very small.  

It's just an interesting topic for me.

I don't have any axe to grind about any theologian or mystic - not informed enough about those to comment.

Don't you think it is the hyperrelgiosity that is the tipoff? Most religious people go about their daily lives without a great deal of thought to theology or mysticism. It's those—other than those who make their living from it— who are intensely focused on it that we suspect are mentally ill. We make the same kind of judgment for people who are intensely concerned about cleanliness.

Probably correct.

I cant assume that someone is mentally ill just because they are religious.  It's a disagreement, different temperament, education, exposures, socialization etc.  Defining as mental illness is somewhat disparaging.  Some times I am not sure what constitutes mental illness, except if it interferes with social functioning.

I suppose the idea of hyperreligiosity is the same way.  If it interferes with social functioning, then there may be relation to a dysfunction of thought processing or organization, or personalityl.

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