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The Riddle of Epicurus

Alex

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Epicurus is one of the major philosophers in the Hellenistic period, the three centuries following the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BCE (and of Aristotle in 322 BCE). Epicurus developed an unsparingly materialistic metaphysics, empiricist epistemology, and hedonistic ethics. Epicurus taught that the basic constituents of the world are atoms, uncuttable bits of matter, flying through empty space, and he tried to explain all natural phenomena in atomic terms. Epicurus rejected the existence of Platonic forms and an immaterial soul, and he said that the gods have no influence on our lives. Epicurus also thought skepticism was untenable, and that we could gain knowledge of the world relying upon the senses. He taught that the point of all one's actions was to attain pleasure (conceived of as tranquility) for oneself, and that this could be done by limiting one's desires and by banishing the fear of the gods and of death. Epicurus' gospel of freedom from fear proved to be quite popular, and communities of Epicureans flourished for centuries after his death.

The Riddle of Epicurus:

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 able and willing? Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?

Also from Epicurus:

"If the gods listened to the prayers of men, all humankind would quickly perish since they constantly pray for many evils to befall one another."

Do these seem logical? Are they valid points?
 

Real_American15

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No they do not (seem logical) yet they are not valid, allow me to explain: God does not make evil events happen he allows them to so he can be with us when they do, thus we should beleive in Him and want to be loved by Him.
 

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Gandhi>Bush said:
So he is malevolent?
I believe this may be the only conclusion. If a god exists and they allow evil to exist also, then that god allows harm on his people. Is this a caring god? I just think it is a very interesting riddle.
 

nkgupta80

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assuming that an omnipotent god does exist,
i don' t think He created good or evil.

In the end good and evil are just actions with different causes and effects. It just happens so that in the human race, commiting actions that disrupt peace and happiness, nearly always leads to destruction and suffering (thus evil), while commiting actions that create peace and happiness usually leads to a better life (thus good).
 

Alex

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nkgupta80 said:
assuming that an omnipotent god does exist,
i don' t think He created good or evil.

In the end good and evil are just actions with different causes and effects. It just happens so that in the human race, commiting actions that disrupt peace and happiness, nearly always leads to destruction and suffering (thus evil), while commiting actions that create peace and happiness usually leads to a better life (thus good).
But if a omnipotent god does exist, then they created everything. Isn't that the very definition of a god? If they created everything, then they created evil. Whether its abstract or not makes no difference. A god would be creator of all that exists. If they only created material things, then they did not create emotions, thoughts, etc. If they did not create these things, then they are not omnipotent. If they are not omnipotent, why call them a god?
 

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Evil does not exist, or at least it does not exist unto itself. Evil is simply the absence of God. It is just like darkness and cold, a word that man has created to describe the absence of God. God did not create evil. Evil is not like faith, or love that exist just as does light and heat. Evil is the result of what happens when man does not have God's love present in his heart. It's like the cold that comes when there is no heat or the darkness that comes when there is no light.
 

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Real_American15 said:
Evil is the result of what happens when man does not have God's love present in his heart. It's like the cold that comes when there is no heat or the darkness that comes when there is no light.
So, does that mean that, since I do not have God's love present in my heart I am evil and everything I do is such?

Funny, I'm an atheist and I feel neither evil, nor cold, nor trapped in darkness.
 

Tashah

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The points are logical but perhaps not valid....

• Perhaps there is no God.

• If there is a God and He banished evil... then what is the point of free choice?

• In the Book of Genesis (Torah), God proclaims "I am Echad". This translates into English as "I am The One". What God is proclaiming here beyond the dictum that He is the only God, is that He is everything: Light and Dark, Fire and Water, Good and Evil etc. Since we are made in His image, the capacity for evil comes with the total package (quite unlike batteries).

• One must also remember that before God rested on the seventh day, He gazed upon His creation and was pleased with His works.

• A purely personal observation is that if there is a God, He does not meddle in the workings of the universe (at least at our plateau of reality).


 

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9TH said:
So, does that mean that, since I do not have God's love present in my heart I am evil and everything I do is such?

Funny, I'm an atheist and I feel neither evil, nor cold, nor trapped in darkness.
No it doesn't mean you are evil but lost in the darkness...But, with all respect, you will have to deal w/ that during Armageddon, now won't you?
 
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sebastiansdreams

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 able and willing? Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?
The problem is that this does not take into consideration that sometimes the greatest act of love is giving one the ability to choose to love. Like a truly loving parent, there are often times when you can prevent a child from making a choice, but allow them to make that choice because you love them enough to not prevent them from their will. Free will is a gift. And it makes the fact that we love God all the more meaningful to Him, because we can choose not to.
 

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sebastiansdreams said:
The problem is that this does not take into consideration that sometimes the greatest act of love is giving one the ability to choose to love. Like a truly loving parent, there are often times when you can prevent a child from making a choice, but allow them to make that choice because you love them enough to not prevent them from their will. Free will is a gift. And it makes the fact that we love God all the more meaningful to Him, because we can choose not to.
I totally agree with you on that.......
 

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Real_American15 said:
No it doesn't mean you are evil but lost in the darkness...But, with all respect, you will have to deal w/ that during Armageddon, now won't you?
Don't backpedal - You said that evil is what happens when there's an absence of God's love in people's hearts. How can I not be evil if I have this absence?

sebastiansdreams said:
Like a truly loving parent, there are often times when you can prevent a child from making a choice, but allow them to make that choice because you love them enough to not prevent them from their will. Free will is a gift.
But unlike a parent, who may be wrong in their foresight and may have to watch a child's apparently poor choice come out well, God is supposed to be perfect. If God's foreknowledge is perfect, where is free will. You can only "choose" that which is foreseen and the outcome cannot be different than what is foreseen. Is this not so?
 
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sebastiansdreams

But unlike a parent, who may be wrong in their foresight and may have to watch a child's apparently poor choice come out well, God is supposed to be perfect. If God's foreknowledge is perfect, where is free will. You can only "choose" that which is foreseen and the outcome cannot be different than what is foreseen. Is this not so?
I've always thought of it this way: God knows the various choices we will be given. He knows every single outcome that may come from that choice. He allows us to choose our course, a course that He is already aware of. Knowing that He was going to allow us freewill, there is no reason we should expect Him to know which path we are going to take, because He is leaving that to a mind He created. Look at it this way. Say you created a computer program that had three hundred different functions. You know what all of them are, and you know the outcome of those actions. But you allow the computer to select these different actions at random. So while you know the actions and outcomes (all of them) you are still allowing freedom of selection.
 

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9TH said:
Don't backpedal - You said that evil is what happens when there's an absence of God's love in people's hearts. How can I not be evil if I have this absence?



But unlike a parent, who may be wrong in their foresight and may have to watch a child's apparently poor choice come out well, God is supposed to be perfect. If God's foreknowledge is perfect, where is free will. You can only "choose" that which is foreseen and the outcome cannot be different than what is foreseen. Is this not so?
OK...I might be back-pedaling but the point I am tying to make is that without the love of God in your heart you are lost, spiritually at least. So yes i do think that those who have the absence of God's love are evil, but not the whole of them. You choose to be evil or good but if you dont beleive or at least have faith in God than your soul is "rotted with evil".
 

Tashah

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Real American15 said:
OK...I might be back-pedaling but the point I am tying to make is that without the love of God in your heart you are lost, spiritually at least.
This explicit theology also condems the beautiful spirituality of those who venerate the earth and nature.

Real American15 said:
So yes i do think that those who have the absence of God's love are evil, but not the whole of them. You choose to be evil or good but if you dont beleive or at least have faith in God than your soul is "rotted with evil".
Another prime exemplar of a self-declared theological and moral superiority. It astounds me that those who believe in God and also believe that God is the ultimate and final arbiter of good and evil... fail to recognize the inherent hypocracy of judging precisely who among us is good or evil. Either God alone determines our individual righteousness on Judgement Day, or He allows His earthly minions to pronounce verdict based on their *understanding* of the mind of God.

You cannot conveniently have it both ways here. Either you understand the mind of God in which case He is not omniscient, or you preserve His omniscience by refraining from speaking as His voice. Which is it?


 

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Tashah said:
This explicit theology also condems the beautiful spirituality of those who venerate the earth and nature.


Another prime exemplar of a self-declared theological and moral superiority. It astounds me that those who believe in God and also believe that God is the ultimate and final arbiter of good and evil... fail to recognize the inherent hypocracy of judging precisely who among us is good or evil. Either God alone determines our individual righteousness on Judgement Day, or He allows His earthly minions to pronounce verdict based on their *understanding* of the mind of God.

You cannot conveniently have it both ways here. Either you understand the mind of God in which case He is not omniscient, or you preserve His omniscience by refraining from speaking as His voice. Which is it?


I beleive that we all have a little peice of God inside us which gives us a little bit of an ability to judge, but, with all to respect, for those who don't beleive in God than what's it to them?
 

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WARNING - THE FOLLOWING POST IS FROM SOMEONE WHO, ACCORDING TO REAL AMERICAN15, POSSESSES A SOUL "ROTTED WITH EVIL". YOU'VE BEEN WARNED.

sebastiansdreams said:
Like a truly loving parent, there are often times when you can prevent a child from making a choice, but allow them to make that choice because you love them enough to not prevent them from their will.
Does this mean that you do not love the prostitutes we're discussing in the other thread? You seem to have no problem using the law to prevent them from their will. After all, they're not your children - they're adults.
sebastiansdreams said:
I've always thought of it this way: God knows the various choices we will be given. He knows every single outcome that may come from that choice. He allows us to choose our course, a course that He is already aware of. Knowing that He was going to allow us freewill, there is no reason we should expect Him to know which path we are going to take, because He is leaving that to a mind He created.
God may know all the outcomes of all the choices, but if he is truly omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent, he MUST know which choice I'll actually make. Does he not know who will be saved and who will be condemned even before they are born? Does he not make some vessels for honor and some for dishonor?
sebastiansdreams said:
Look at it this way. Say you created a computer program that had three hundred different functions. You know what all of them are, and you know the outcome of those actions. But you allow the computer to select these different actions at random. So while you know the actions and outcomes (all of them) you are still allowing freedom of selection.
Unlike, say, a human, a computer cannot truly choose and can only do that which it is programmed to do. Unlike, say, God, a programmer does not have perfect foreknowledge. Can a computer "choose" to shut down rather than perform one of the 300 programmed functions? Could Judas choose not to betray Christ? (no betrayal = no crucifiction = no ressurrection = no Christianity) I'm guessing God wouldn't leave that to chance.

FREE WILL = IMPERFECT GOD (OR NO GOD AT ALL)
PERFECT GOD = NO FREE WILL
CHOOSE WISELY
 

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9TH said:
WARNING - THE FOLLOWING POST IS FROM SOMEONE WHO, ACCORDING TO REAL AMERICAN15, POSSESSES A SOUL "ROTTED WITH EVIL". YOU'VE BEEN WARNED.


Does this mean that you do not love the prostitutes we're discussing in the other thread? You seem to have no problem using the law to prevent them from their will. After all, they're not your children - they're adults.

God may know all the outcomes of all the choices, but if he is truly omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent, he MUST know which choice I'll actually make. Does he not know who will be saved and who will be condemned even before they are born? Does he not make some vessels for honor and some for dishonor?

Unlike, say, a human, a computer cannot truly choose and can only do that which it is programmed to do. Unlike, say, God, a programmer does not have perfect foreknowledge. Can a computer "choose" to shut down rather than perform one of the 300 programmed functions? Could Judas choose not to betray Christ? (no betrayal = no crucifiction = no ressurrection = no Christianity) I'm guessing God wouldn't leave that to chance.

FREE WILL = IMPERFECT GOD (OR NO GOD AT ALL)
PERFECT GOD = NO FREE WILL
CHOOSE WISELY
Im sorry for saying your heart is "rotted with evil", I think that God is both, he gave us free will but wasn't totally in the idea and he allowed Jesus to die for our sins because he also loved us. But it really does not matter because who ever created this world must love us for all we have and are able to do.
 

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Real_American15 said:
I beleive that we all have a little peice of God inside us which gives us a little bit of an ability to judge, but, with all to respect, for those who don't beleive in God than what's it to them?
Well, "with all to respect," I'll tell you what it is to me. I don't mind the judging you seem to believe yourself qualified to do. That just proves that your God needs better recruiting skills when looking for a PR Rep. What I do mind is when you, and the others like you, take your religious judgements about the unworthiness of us all and attempt to enshrine your beliefs into the laws of my land, empowering yourselves with heavenly righteousness as you crush the liberties I cherish. And it really bugs me when you ignore the point of the post you responded to. Do you know the mind of God or don't you?

All thanks to Tashah

Real_American15 said:
Im sorry for saying your heart is "rotted with evil", I think that God is both, he gave us free will but wasn't totally in the idea and he allowed Jesus to die for our sins because he also loved us. But it really does not matter because who ever created this world must love us for all we have and are able to do.
Apology accepted, although you really shouldn't feel the need to apologize to me for saying what you believe. I've been called much worse.
Not sure what you mean by the "...wasn't totally in the idea..." Care to clarify?
 
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sebastiansdreams

Does this mean that you do not love the prostitutes we're discussing in the other thread? You seem to have no problem using the law to prevent them from their will. After all, they're not your children - they're adults.
Firstly, yes I do love them. I'm not taking that choice away from them. I am ensuring that there are consequences that follow one side of that choice. I am not capable of making them choose one way or another.

God may know all the outcomes of all the choices, but if he is truly omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent, he MUST know which choice I'll actually make. Does he not know who will be saved and who will be condemned even before they are born? Does he not make some vessels for honor and some for dishonor?
Unless He has chosen NOT to know. I think He creates all of us with intent to carry out His will. But He is also aware that if He forces anyone down a path, then they are nothing more than His puppets, so their must be ambiguity (if only intentional) for the sake of allowing them to CHOOSE to follow Him and love Him. He uses anyone that is willing. The reason I do not think He creates someone for a purpose of being a vessel of evil is that He serves as a judge. It is not logical that He would be our judge for actions He knew we would commit when we were born. I think there remains ambiguity, but I believe it is intentional.

Unlike, say, a human, a computer cannot truly choose and can only do that which it is programmed to do.
Unless that happens to be one of the functions the computer is designated.

Unlike, say, God, a programmer does not have perfect foreknowledge.
I think you're assuming that God even wants to know which path we take. I think I would be content in saying someone on earth is all knowing if they could tell me every single situation I may come to in my life and be able to chart out the path each of those choices may lead me. Not only that but they know the future events of the end of the world and such. I think I'd be willing to call them all-knowing. But I guess I just have really low standards ;)

Can a computer "choose" to shut down rather than perform one of the 300 programmed functions?
If that's one of its designated functions.

Could Judas choose not to betray Christ? (no betrayal = no crucifiction = no ressurrection = no Christianity) I'm guessing God wouldn't leave that to chance.
Wow, you're putting a heck of a lot of responsibility on Judas, and in reality, he served a next to irrelevent role. These Jewish officials wanted Christ dead. They allowed Judas to take them to Him that night in the garden and point Him out so that they could do all this in private, under the radar, since, this was a travesty of an event. If Judas had not led them that night, they still would have wanted to kill Christ, and they still would have found a way to do it. I think God is sure enough of the nature of man that He knew His Son would be murdered, regardless of one of the disciples taking money to lead the officials to Him.

FREE WILL = IMPERFECT GOD (OR NO GOD AT ALL)
PERFECT GOD = NO FREE WILL
CHOOSE WISELY
Neither, a perfect God that loves us so much that He has given us the freedom to make the choice to follow Him or not. Your ultimatum just doens't hold up.
 

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9TH said:
Well, "with all to respect," I'll tell you what it is to me. I don't mind the judging you seem to believe yourself qualified to do. That just proves that your God needs better recruiting skills when looking for a PR Rep. What I do mind is when you, and the others like you, take your religious judgements about the unworthiness of us all and attempt to enshrine your beliefs into the laws of my land, empowering yourselves with heavenly righteousness as you crush the liberties I cherish. And it really bugs me when you ignore the point of the post you responded to. Do you know the mind of God or don't you?

All thanks to Tashah



Apology accepted, although you really shouldn't feel the need to apologize to me for saying what you believe. I've been called much worse.
Not sure what you mean by the "...wasn't totally in the idea..." Care to clarify?
When I said he wasn't totally in the idea, what i meant was it didn't really want to give us free will but still did.
 

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Neither, a perfect God that loves us so much that He has given us the freedom to make the choice to follow Him or not. Your ultimatum just doens't hold up.
He gave us free will, but then He expects us to choose the path to Him out of the many options. I mean in the ideal situation He'd expect everyone to choose his path right? Now couldn't an omnipotent, all powerful God indirectly force us to all choose the path of righteousness? Force us in such a way, that we, in our limited mindsets, think that we are making the choice out of free-will, but in fact God is indirectly inducing us to take His path? Couldn't He have created a universe where all the variety of choices every single one of us can take eventually lead to Him and only Him?

And secondly, why is free-will held at such a greater value than eternal bliss. After all, we all use our free-will to get something better out of life, and achieve a happier life. So why doesn't God give us that exactly? He is all powerful now...right?

All these questions eventually lead me to questions like "what is the meaning of life?", And dang... haven't we all tried answering that.
 
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sebastiansdreams

nkgupta80 said:
He gave us free will, but then He expects us to choose the path to Him out of the many options. I mean in the ideal situation He'd expect everyone to choose his path right?
Idealy, He wants everyone to choose the path to Him, but to force them into that path is not allowing them the choice to begin with.

Now couldn't an omnipotent, all powerful God indirectly force us to all choose the path of righteousness? Force us in such a way, that we, in our limited mindsets, think that we are making the choice out of free-will, but in fact God is indirectly inducing us to take His path?
Of course He could. But He practices restraint. Because lets face it, that wouldn't really be free will. It would be an illusion of free will, and God wants us to actually make the choice ourselves. There is no point in having Him choose our path for us.

Couldn't He have created a universe where all the variety of choices every single one of us can take eventually lead to Him and only Him?
But so many of us, a majority of us, choose not to go to Him. He doesn't want to force us to love Him, because let's face it, that's not really love.

And secondly, why is free-will held at such a greater value than eternal bliss.
Because eternity with someone you have chosen your whole life to ignore and not love would not be eternal bliss. It would be miserable for you and for Him.

After all, we all use our free-will to get something better out of life, and achieve a happier life. So why doesn't God give us that exactly? He is all powerful now...right?
Do we? I know plenty of people who do not have a happy or beneficial life. And He offers salvation and heaven as a free gift. All you have to do is except the gift.
 
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