Your Opening Quote
Has A Deep Flaw
You're opening quote poses four questions. Only one is possible. God is able to prevent evil, but not willing. However, Epicurus' conclusion that therefore God is malevolent is deeply flawed.
Why is God able to prevent evil? Because He is the All-Powerful Designer. If He chose to create a being unable to choose himself over others, unable to choose to evil over good, unable to choose hisself over his Creator, than God could have. All would be a blissful paradise. Or would it? God would have created a robot programmed to acheive good and holiness. Man's relationship with God would have been inborn, unacheived, un-strived for, easy, unchosen. However, God desired man to choose God for himself, He does not force Himself on anyone.
Instead of this robot existence God took a great risk. A loving investment. He gave humans a gift. And that gift, with all it's potential for good as well as evil, and as we have seen recently; utter, explosive, enormous and destructive hate filled evil, that gift is our free will. Why is this a loving gift? Because God knew that we need free will to be happy. Why is it a risk? Because it gives man the power to overlook God, to see Him and reject Him, to spit in His face, to go an entire lifetime without thanking Him once. Why is it not malevolent? Because God is the Ultimate Good, no evil comes from Him. It is our choice, the choices of all humans to create good, as well as evil. Out of His love for us, He allows us to choose it over Himself.
Please respond -- I took time to write in hope for a response.
From: "Positive Atheism" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: "John Gannon"
Subject: Re: Opening Quote in Regard to it's Deep Flaw
Date: November 28, 2001 6:54 AM
This, the most popular response to the dilemma of Epicurus, still fails to demonstrate the existence of said deity. It merely make pronouncements about someone's idea -- fantasy -- about what a deity might be like were she or he or it to exist.
Unless and until someone can demonstrate the existence of an alleged deity, that alleged deity remains just that: an alleged deity. What we have is a god-claim, and no more.
The dilemma of Epicurus is an attack not on a deity (which, as I mentioned, has not been shown to exist) but is an attack on a god-claim. This particular dilemma shows that the god-claim in question, that a deity exists who is simultaneously powerful and good, is most absurd.
Had somebody been able to show, for example, that the sufferings of the Jews, homosexuals, secularists, and others during the Holocaust could ever be mitigated by the "right" of a deity to create beings capable either of freely loving Him or freely rejecting Him, I might not have placed this objection on my page. However, could we awaken any of the victims of the Holocaust (or any victims of religious persecution throughout the ages -- from those who were made to sit upon a long, sharp stick because they rejected the claims that God is merciful to those who were tied to a stake and set ablaze because they rejected the claims that God's love is everlasting), I doubt they would agree that the suffering they endured could be justified by some cosmic game of religious loyalism played in the name of "free will." No. If we could awaken any of my ideological predecessors and if it turned out that the deity of your ideological predecessors was as you describe Him here, and that their suffering and the destruction of their families, their homes, their tribes, their communities, their nations, their dreams, and their lives, was arranged solely so that this deity could allow people to freely choose or reject Him, then He would be hard-pressed to get any of these victims to understand, much less agree.
Besides, the Free Will Argument says nothing of the evils which are arguably not caused by any sense of human "sin" or "choice." Earthquakes, meteors, storms, floods, famine, disease, the pillaging of helpless and innocent tribal lands, and sheer accident, not to mention well-meaning but misguided incompetence, all could have been mitigated without affecting any element of what the Free Will Argument attempts to explain.
Thus, my placement of the dilemma of Epicurus at the very top of our front page stands. I put it there to show the sheer absurdity of the claim that a deity exists who is both powerful and good. That god-claim is and remains, in my opinion, patently absurd, and the dilemma of Epicurus remains, in my opinion, the simplest, most powerful, and most accessible expression of my response to that patently absurd god-claim.
You are welcome to purchase a domain and some web space and to put together whatever statements you wish and to join the hundreds of thousands of Christian web pages on the Internet. However, I have purchased these domains and pay for this space and have done all the work toward making this one of the more popular of the two or three dozen atheistic web pages online. Thus, I will continue to place on this web page what I consider to be the most truthful expressions of the atheistic position. If you wish to change my mind in this respect, you will need to do much better than you have done: the dilemma of Epicurus is much older than even the Christian religion, and it remains as valid today as it was when Paul first pretended that it was invalid as he set about to reinvent the Myth of Christ (which has existed in one form or another for longer than even the dilemma of Epicurus).
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