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In the Name of God بسم الله
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Ibn al-Hassan

Discourse On The Problem Of Evil

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(bismillah)

(salam)

This post is a refutation of the argument of evil as a proof against the existence of God.

I ask all readers to be as objective as they can, whether for or against the arguments presented here. I welcome any critiques, as that is the reason for my posting. There isn't much content here. But I would like to analyze the arguments here to identify any flaws in my thought and identify those areas that are strong from those that are relatively weak. If a point seems unclear, please comment and give me the opportunity to clear it up. I intend to refine these points later on and expand on those areas that seem best.

Introduction

The following is a general outline for the argument of evil:

  1. God exists
  2. God is omniscient, omnipotent, and omnibenevolent
  3. An omniscient being would know every way in which an evil can come into existence
  4. An omnipotent being, who would know every way in which an evil can come into existence, would also have the power to prevent an evil from coming into existence
  5. An omnibenevolent being, who would know every way in which an evil can come into existence and who would have the power to prevent an evil from coming into existence, would also want to prevent an evil from coming into existence
  6. An omniscient, omnipotent, and omnibenevolent being, who would know every way in which an evil can come into existence, who would have the power to prevent an evil from coming into existence, and who would also want to prevent an evil from coming into existence, would prevent such an evil from coming into existence
  7. If there exists an omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent being, then evil does not exist
  8. Evil exists
  9. Therefore, God does not exist

The argument attempts to prove the non-existence of God through logical contradiction. In order to achieve this contradiction, statement (1) assumes that God exists. In statement (2), it is also assumed that God possesses the attributes of omniscience, omnipotence and omnibenevolence. From statements (3) through (6), the implications of the aforementioned attributes are expounded. In statement (7), it is supposed that if such a being of omniscience, omnipotence, and omnibenevolence does exist, then evil cannot possibly exist. Therefore, if we suppose statement (8) is true, that evil does exist, then we face a contradiction. That is to say that evil is not logically consistent with the previously mentioned attributes of God in statement (2). Thus, statement (9) concludes that God cannot possibly exist.

So, the argument of evil, essentially, rests upon the existence of evil in order to prove the non-existence of God.

In this post, we will prove that evil is not an objective reality, but rather it is subjective in nature. Thus, the argument of evil cannot disprove the existence of God.

The Origins of Evil

First, evil is largely a moral concept.

“Since, no society can exist without order, and no order without regulation, we may take it as a rule of history that the power of custom varies inversely as the multiplicity of laws, much as the power of instinct varies inversely as the multiplicity of thoughts. Some rules are necessary for the game of life; they may differ in different groups, but within the group they must be essentially the same. These rules may be conventions, customs, morals, or laws. Conventions are forms of behavior found expedient by a people; customs are conventions accepted by successive generations, after natural selection through trial and error and elimination; morals are such customs, as the group considers vital to its welfare and development. In primitive societies, where there is no written law, these vital customs or morals regulate every sphere of human existence, and give stability and continuity to the social order. Through the slow magic of time such customs, by long repetition, become a second nature in the individual; if he violates them he feels a certain fear, discomfort or shame; this is the origin of that conscience, or moral sense, which Darwin chose as the most impressive distinction between animals and men: In its higher development conscience is social consciousness - the feeling of the individual that he belongs to a group, and owes it some measure of loyalty and consideration. Morality is the cooperation of the part with the whole, and of each group with some larger whole. Civilization, of course, would be impossible without it.”

- Will Durant, Our Oriental Heritage, pg. 133

The concept of morality came about as a reaction to man’s need for social order and stability. Through custom and tradition, each culture and society began to define its own sense of morality. These principles and modes of conduct constantly underwent change as a result of man’s intellectual progression. He discovered more sophisticated laws and methods of discipline in order to better meet the needs of his society. It wasn’t until the formalization of religious belief, though, that we see the rise of civilization.

Here, man reached a state of enlightenment. He not only clearly defined the law and order of the society, but he began to elaborate on the philosophy and reason for his original beliefs. Those things that were antithetical to his aims and objectives were declared “evil” while those that benefitted his cause were coined as “good.” Thus, in reality, nothing is truly evil. Our perception of evil is based upon our own set of beliefs, customs and overall objectives.

“Supposing that the abused, the oppressed, the suffering, the unemancipated, the weary, and those uncertain of themselves should moralize, what will be the common element in their moral estimates? Probably a pessimistic suspicion with regard to the entire situation of man will find expression, perhaps a condemnation of man, together with his situation. The slave has an unfavourable eye for the virtues of the powerful; he has a skepticism and distrust, a refinement of distrust of everything "good" that is there honoured - he would fain persuade himself that the very happiness there is not genuine. On the other hand, those qualities which serve to alleviate the existence of sufferers are brought into prominence and flooded with light; it is here that sympathy, the kind, helping hand, the warm heart, patience, diligence, humility, and friendliness attain to honour; for here these are the most useful qualities, and almost the only means of supporting the burden of existence.”

- Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil, Chapter IX, Aphorism 260

Today, religion largely provides people with a sanction for moral principles such as honesty, trustworthiness, justice, compassion, loyalty, and hundreds of other noble and righteousness virtues. Of course, it is possible to attain the same sense of morality without the aid of religion. There are many people who exhibit such moral virtues without necessarily adhering to any particular religious belief. However, without a strong sense of religious faith, these values often lose their meaning as such people are at full liberty to reject them whenever they feel it to be detrimental to their overall objectives. For the one without religious belief, these virtues are often regarded simply as means to an end. They themselves are not important, but rather they may be necessary to attain such goals as security, felicity, and overall contentment. These moral virtues are seen as simply tools in the game of life.

Nonetheless, one can argue that the concept of morality came about in response to man’s need to establish social order and structure.

From the viewpoint of the monotheistic traditions, the mission of the prophets was not to introduce moral concepts to human civilization and culture. The human being had already established moral conduct. For indeed, each society possessed certain positive attributes that reflected the Divine Essence. However, these prophets came to reform those aspects of human life that were not compatible with the Divine Will. It was these norms and customs that would hinder human beings from fulfilling their goal of perfection, which was the aim and objective behind their existence. The human being simply did not possess the ability to establish a perfect and just system of governance.

“I have been sent to perfect morals.”

- Prophet Muhammad (saw)

Even in the secular world, many people have a different understanding of what constitutes evil. For instance, some take a definite stance against such acts like capital punishment, abortion, and euthanasia while others favor them. The fact that such debates take place today and will continue to do so in the future, allude to the man’s inability to accurately and objectively define morality.

So, whatever we refer to as “evil” is in fact shaped by our own sense of morality.

Types of Evil

Now, what about these horrible atrocities that are committed everyday like earthquakes, hurricanes and floods? Are these not evil?

Well, commonly perceived evils such as natural disasters are clearly subjective.

For example, there is nothing to suggest that a flood in and of itself is evil. If a flood causes loss of human and animal life as well as valuable property, then we consider it to be such. Whereas, a flood that overtakes an uninhabited island is not considered to be evil. So, in this context, “evil” is applied to those things that we perceive as negative.

What about evil crimes like rape, torture, and murder?

Even still, these are also subjective and based upon our own set of beliefs.

For instance, why is rape considered an evil? What is the difference between the common understanding of sex and rape? Most people would agree that sex is not evil, although some religious groups do consider it to be such. That is to say if two mutually consenting individuals commit a sexual act, we do not consider that to be evil. However, rape entails one party’s advancement without the other party’s consent. One side has violated the rights of the other.

Another example is genocide. When we talk about genocide, we mean one group’s deliberate and systematic intention to kill another group. One side is the aggressor while the other is the victim. One side is violent while the other is peaceful. One group has violated the rights of another group. Thus, we consider one side to be “evil” while the other side is innocent.

So, we are speaking about a transgression of rights. In this context, we can say that what we really mean by the term “evil” is injustice.

Justice, essentially, entails observing the rights of others and injustice is the transgression of those rights. For example, person A has rights with respect to his / her life, freedom, and property as does person B. Each of them attained these rights independent of one another. If person A were to infringe on the rights of person B (or vice versa), it would be considered injustice. However, the relationship between God and His creation is different. Whatever the creation owns is bestowed upon him / her from the Creator. A person's privileges and properties fall within the vertical hierarchy of the Creator's precedence and ownership. There is none who can claim to have a right of ownership or privilege above God. Their entire existence is derived from His will. God has right of disposal overall things. This was the case before man came into existence and it is still the case after his coming into existence. Thus, injustice can never be attributed to God because there exists no concrete referent (no one has any right over anything relative to Him).

So, then why do we need religion to define our morals if morality is a subjective reality?

As we explained, evil is essentially a transgression of rights. The difference between religious thought and secular thought revolves around how we define these rights.

Today, the modern man fancies himself for such accomplishments as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. However, can we say that these documents truly represent the rights of all human beings? Who gave these nations the “right” to declare what universal human rights are? Surely, this idea did not exist in the days of primate man. Yet, today all of us are subject to an interpretation of rights declared by a select class of people who happen to simply overpower others.

For instance, if someone were to kill an insect, most people would not perceive that to be evil. Why not? Why is there not a declaration of rights for insects? Are they not living creatures? Do they not feel pain?

The reason they don’t have rights is because humans have not delegated rights to them. Quite frankly, modern man does not care for them. You’ll find that in some parts of the world, people have established their own view of animal rights. They have set up regulations regarding how animals must be treated, transported, caged, and even slaughtered. But did they care to respect the animal’s right to live? When did these animals sign up to spend their entire lives in a miserable cage only to be slaughtered in the end?

The answer is that they didn’t consent to it. They don’t have a right of choice simply because humans have not given it to them. This is not to say that the modern man is necessary evil because of his disregard for the rights of other creatures. Rather, it is important to note that, in his view, he possesses full authority over others. He remains unchallenged in his pursuit.

So, one could say that there is not much difference between secular and religious thought. The secularist seeks to impose his worldview on the rest of humanity just as his religious counterpart does. The only real difference lies in the fact that the religious man does not claim his rights over others. He does not claim the ability to define these rights, rather he concedes to the notion that only God can define the rights of human beings and those of other creatures.

From the religious perspective, humans do not have the knowledge nor the wisdom to ordain rights for others. In religion, only God dictates the moral law. Humans have no say as to how rights are delegated. Thus, the highest concepts of good and evil are based solely on the decree of God.

Pain and Suffering

So far we have proven that our notions of what constitute “good” and “evil” are largely shaped by our own experiences, beliefs, customs, and overall aims. In this context, evil is a subjective reality that varies from person to person. We have also shown that evils in the form of crimes such as rape, murder, and torture are also subjective in nature. They are often deemed “evil” as they entail a transgression of rights. A being that observes the rights of others is considered just while one that violates such rights is considered unjust. These rights are themselves relative as a higher authority defines them. In the case of God, we proved that since He is the Creator of all things, everything falls within His domain of authority. It is He who legislates the rights of His creation, for they did not possesses any rights above Him before their existence and neither do they after their coming into existence. Thus, whatever rights (or lack thereof) God legislates for His creation, He can neither be evil nor unjust. However, it is quite possible for a contingent being to be unjust in the case that he / she violates the rights bestowed upon others from the Creator.

Now, it may be argued that although our common perceptions of evil are largely dependent upon our own sense of morality and the transgression of rights, there still exists the phenomenon of pain and suffering. Even if we were able to alleviate suffering through some kind of mental, psychological or physical training, this does not justify the existence of such suffering in the first place. For example, although, natural disasters are clearly not evil in themselves, they do often bring about intense pain and suffering.

“…And the belief that, as a matter of fact, nothing that exists is evil, is one which no one would advocate except a metaphysician defending a theory. Pain and hatred and envy and cruelty are surely things that exist, and are not merely the absence of their opposites; but the theory should hold that they are indistinguishable from the blank unconsciousness of an oyster. Indeed, it would seem that this whole theory has been advanced solely because of the unconscious bias in favour of optimism, and that its opposite is logically just as tenable. We might urge that evil consists in existence, and good in non-existence; that therefore the sum-total of existence is the worst thing there is, and that only non-existence is good. Indeed, Buddhism does seem to maintain some such view. It is plain that this view is false; but logically it is no more absurd than its opposite”

- Bertrand Russell, The Elements of Ethics, Chapter II, Aphorism 10

Here, we should question whether this pain and suffering is inherently evil. If so, then surely we would be able to prove that evil does exist, therefore disproving the existence of God.

Many philosophers are of the opinion that an omniscient, omnipotent, and omnibenevolent God could create a world without suffering. That is to say the world does not necessitate suffering in order for it to have come into existence. This is certainly true. However, as we stated earlier, “evil” is often a term denoting an impediment or obstacle in the path towards one’s aims and objectives.

For instance, an instructor may consider cheating on an exam as “evil” for it impedes his / her ability to accurately evaluate a student’s knowledge. However, a student may not consider it to be “evil”, for it may certainly benefit them in their goal of passing the examination. Now, surely the student may argue that the examination itself brings forth immense suffering. For, the student must necessarily study in order to achieve success in their examination. This can certainly bring forth overwhelming mental and physical distress. However, in order for the instructor to achieve his / her aims and objectives, the examination, along with its suffering on the part of the student, is necessary. Thus, while the instructor knows of the pain and suffering the student must endure, he / she continues with the examination. And this we do not consider “evil”.

This is quite similar to the relationship between the Creator and the creation. Now, one may say that God is Omniscience (Possessor of All Knowledge), so such an analogy is not appropriate. However, in the above example, the knowledge of the instructor is irrelevant. The critical point is that the instructor has the authority to define the rights of the student according to his / her own aims and objectives. Those aims and objectives must not necessarily result from selfish motives. For instance, the instructor may very well intend to increase the student’s own academic and intellectual aspirations or prepare him / her for other challenges that may arise in their further studies. Nonetheless, the pain of the student is a “necessary evil” to order to meet the goals of the instructor. Surely, the instructor has the authority to also exempt a student from such an examination however doing so would entail an unfulfillment of those precise goals.

Now, the reasons for why an omniscient, omnipotent, and omnibenevolent God would decree an aim or objective for His creation where they must suffer is irrelevant to our discussion. Such discourses are clearly a matter of theology and each of the sacred traditions of the world have commented on this issue, each giving their own views and justifications.

Nonetheless, what we do know is that the aims and objectives for which God decreed upon His creation necessitated pain and suffering. If this is the case, such pain and suffering serves to fulfill the primary objectives God decreed upon His creation. So, one could say that since God has unequivocal rights over His creation, pain and suffering cannot be considered as “evil” if it serves to fulfill those very objectives for which He created the world and its inhabitants.

Conclusion

So, here is what we can we conclude from our discussion:

  1. Evil does not exist
  2. That which we consider “evil” is in reality subjective.
  3. Those acts which we denote as “evil” arise from two overlapping concepts
    • An impediment in one’s aims and objectives
    • A transgression of rights

[*]The allocation of these rights are not self-evident, but rather dependent upon that being which possesses greater authority (i.e. The unequivocal rights of the Creator over His creation)

[*]Pain and suffering are also subject to our definition of evil. That is to say that it cannot be considered “evil” if it serves to fulfill an overall aim or objective and does not entail a transgression of rights. (In the case of God, there is none who possesses greater rights than Him. So, the concept of “evil” cannot apply to God for it is not possible for Him to transgress any rights)

[*]Thus, the argument of evil neither disproves the existence of God nor any of His Divine Attributes

(wasalam)

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Ahsant brother Al-Hassan. Wonderful post!

To add to your "pain and suffering" point, here is an article about why we need pain and suffering.

But does evil being subjective escape the problem of the argument?

Why not!

If person A believes abortion is evil and person B believes that it isn't, it tells us that evil is subjective. Since evil is clearly subjective, one cannot simply label something as evil and disprove the existence of god. Perhaps if you reread the first post by OP, you will understand the point.

Edited by Ishraq Abidi

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dude i didnt read all of it but its common sense, God gave free will, evil cannot exist without good therefore God has to be all good, evil is the rejection of good. If God stopped the evil that comes from the rejection of good, then there would be no free will, which will mean we are all robots under gods command, which means there is no purpose, which breaks the notion of god, this argument is baseless against people who believe in god cause its impossible, but for atheists its possible because they dont believe in anything....

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(bismillah)

But does evil being subjective escape the problem of the argument?

Yes, it does because you can't objectively define that "thing" for which you are arguing. Everytime you denote something as "evil", I can fairly argue that I don't consider it to be such. The whole point behind philosophical discourse is that concepts are universal.

If we're going to be serious, then we need to clearly define the terms we are using. You can't be ambigious in your statements. So, one cannot neccessarily equate pain and suffering to "evil". For, it is not self-evident. Please refer to the section on pain and suffering for my explanation.

Ahsant brother Al-Hassan. Wonderful post!

To add to your "pain and suffering" point, here is an article about why we need pain and suffering.

Why not!

If person A believes abortion is evil and person B believes that it isn't, it tells us that evil is subjective. Since evil is clearly subjective, one cannot simply label something as evil and disprove the existence of god. Perhaps if you reread the first post by OP, you will understand the point.

Thank you, brother

dude i didnt read all of it but its common sense, God gave free will, evil cannot exist without good therefore God has to be all good, evil is the rejection of good. If God stopped the evil that comes from the rejection of good, then there would be no free will, which will mean we are all robots under gods command, which means there is no purpose, which breaks the notion of god, this argument is baseless against people who believe in god cause its impossible, but for atheists its possible because they dont believe in anything....

Thanks for commenting.

Well, to be honest, I don't think that the "free will" case completely solves the "problem of evil." The reason being that, according to that view, if we didn't have free will then "evil" wouldn't exist (assuming that evil does exist and is an objective reality). So, I could argue that God didn't have to allow evil to occur, but still chose to do so in order to allow human beings to possess free will. This would violate the attributes that we ascribed to God in the Introduction section of the original post.

But, yes I agree that the aims and objectives that God decreed upon us, neccessitated that we have free will. Whatever the precise objective behind our existence is, the point is that it did neccessitate pain and suffering. So, for those specifc aims, it was needed and God could not have possibly achieved them without allowing for pain and suffering. If we understand this, along with the fact that there was never, at any point, a transgression of rights on the part of God, then pain and suffering cannot be considered "evil".

(wasalam)

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Yes, it does because you can't objectively define that "thing" for which you are arguing. Everytime you denote something as "evil", I can fairly argue that I don't consider it to be such. The whole point behind philosophical discourse is that concepts are universal.

If we're going to be serious, then we need to clearly define the terms we are using. You can't be ambigious in your statements. So, one cannot neccessarily equate pain and suffering to "evil". For, it is not self-evident. Please refer to the section on pain and suffering for my explanation.

There is another option one can (easily) take here. You denote the existence of evil on the basis that it is (or seems) subjective. But perhaps it isn't subjective at all.

One can easily apply the family resemblence argument here to define Evil. Put it this way, no one in the world will consider the act of helping another to be an evil thing. So there are definitely things that do not fall under this category. Although we may not agree exactly as to what evil is in one instance, it does not mean that it cannot be evil. There does not neccessarily need to be a single thing in which we can define the term. So yes, stealing may not always be evil, but if we are to take all the evil in the world, we can certainly create chains that link them. Given, just because one thinks something is evil may not make it so, but the point is that a definiton of it can be created.

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You guys dont get my point, free will doesnt cause evil, the free will that is given by god which the human uses when he rejects good does, so once again you cant blame god because he gave us free will to choose what we want in life, but that free will lets us reject good but that doesnt mean God wants us to commit evil which is why atheisst blame god for "not stopping evil" when we are the ones to make that choice. There argument is stupid because if god didnt give us free will to stop evil then there wouldnt be this argument in the first place. That being said Allah is the greatest! Like atheists arguments are illogical because they only understand God from the christian view point....For example, when people complain why Allah created sickness and natural disasters which kills people, they dont understand the fact that Allah is pure mercy in giving you life that you shouldnt have deserved in the first place. Like what makes you worthy enough that God creates you? So when people complain they are infact refuting their existence.

Edited by pureethics

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pureethics,

Free will, essentially is one of the greatest gift God could bestow upon His creation. None of us are in dispute of this. That is why people put the human race even above the angels.

So is our free will taken away from us in paradise? There is no evil in heaven, but why not? We humans cause the evil, then why can we not cause it in paradise?

So it seems that evil is purposely placed in the world, or rather, in the human heart.

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pureethics,

Free will, essentially is one of the greatest gift God could bestow upon His creation. None of us are in dispute of this. That is why people put the human race even above the angels.

So is our free will taken away from us in paradise? There is no evil in heaven, but why not? We humans cause the evil, then why can we not cause it in paradise?

So it seems that evil is purposely placed in the world, or rather, in the human heart.

Free Will is not taken from us in paradise, why would it? Just because you have free will doesnt mean you will commit a sin or bring abut evil. Free will is given by you rejecting the good Allah has placed. Think about it, everyone that is and goes to heaven is good, therefore why would evil exist? If people who spent their lives in the material world doing good so they could go to heaven, why would they bring about evil in heaven?

True we humans cause evil, but the select people who go to heaven wont commit evil because of their submission to Allah and his commands, which is why in the first place they were allowed in heaven. Otherwise, they are playing Allah, and Allah knows that which probably they would go to hell in the first place. Its logically honestly because once again if people who commit evil are suppose to go to hell then why would Allah allow them into heaven so they can commit evil and corrupt heaven, "hence the whole notion of heaven and why we are allowed there is nullified". Evil isnt placed in our hearts, remember Satan HAS A HUGE ROLE in bringing evil. There is a surah in the quran "Nas", which talks about protecting ones self from the "whispers" of satan. Look at the greatness of Allahs free will, he gave satan the permission to try and corrupt the mankind because of all the worship Ibles (satan) did before disobeying Allah. But just because Satan tells you to do something doesnt mean he controls you, you make that choice of listening to him and your nafs (inner self) plays an important role as well.

I hope I helped alittle bit brother. I suggest you do some reading from Al-Islam.org or Al-Shia.org and truly research this top because im not that knowledgeable and I told you what I understand about it. Wa Salaam

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There is another option one can (easily) take here. You denote the existence of evil on the basis that it is (or seems) subjective. But perhaps it isn't subjective at all.

One can easily apply the family resemblence argument here to define Evil. Put it this way, no one in the world will consider the act of helping another to be an evil thing. So there are definitely things that do not fall under this category. Although we may not agree exactly as to what evil is in one instance, it does not mean that it cannot be evil. There does not neccessarily need to be a single thing in which we can define the term. So yes, stealing may not always be evil, but if we are to take all the evil in the world, we can certainly create chains that link them. Given, just because one thinks something is evil may not make it so, but the point is that a definiton of it can be created.

(bismillah)

Well, I did read up on this family resemblence argument. Although, I do agree that perhaps terms like "evil" are not governed by strict criteria. And one could say that "such and such is evil" based on references to certain features that are indicative of "evil" or commonly associated with it. However, I'm not convinced that this would work for the argument of evil.

For example, here is an example of the family resemblence argument:

Teacher: "Okay, class today we will play a trivia game."

Student: "What is a game?"

Teacher: "This is a game (pointing to a chess board). And so are football, basketball, and tennis."

Student: "What about school?"

Teacher: "No, school is not a game."

Certainly there are things that do not fall into the category of "game", as they do not possess those features that we commonly attribute or observe in all games. But I don't see this applying to our discussion.

You had stated that the act of helping is not considered to be an evil thing. I would agree, but I wouldn't consider anything to be "evil." I consider the act of helping to be neither good nor evil. For example, if I'm fighting in a war and my opponent recieves help from a third party, I would consider that instance of helping to be "evil." Although, my opponent would consider it to be "good", for surely it has benefitted him. So, as far as I see, there is nothing that can be classified as "evil", or even "good" for that matter. I think the only time we can consider something to be "good" or "evil" is in a specific instance. And once we do that, it becomes subjective. So, whatever example of "evil" is given I could fairly argue the opposite. I don't think the terms "good" and "evil" mean anything in the general sense, nor could you identify anything as "evil" based upon certain features, in the general. The only time these terms actually have meaning and can be used are in the particular cases.

(wasalam)

Edited by Al-Hassan

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Allah cannot be disputed.

Even shaytan cannot dispute with Allah.

Allah stated shaytan is feeble, and respited him.

Allah is Master of the Day of Judgement, and nobody can dispute it.

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Inshallah the problem of evil can be sorted using Ali's Zulfiqar, and our Friend Al-Quran.

104- “Your friends are of three kinds and your enemies are of three kinds too. Your friends are; your friend, your friend's friend and your enemy’s enemy. And your enemies are; your enemy, your friend's enemy and your enemy’s friend.”

If you make a friend, you enjoin Good.

If you turn an enemy into a friend, you forbid evil.

Why do we have enemies, and therefore evil? Is Ali's Zulfiqar.

If we know why we have enemies, we know why we have evil.

The evil of the sufyani is most certainly fitna, the creation of enemies among Brothers, and the desecration of Ijtihad.

The evil of dajjal, is most certainly lack of Tawhid, where we then become evil ourselves.

The moment we doubt Allah, we become agents of shaytan.

So let there be no doubt about Allah.

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[Of course, we all do this on the provisio that it is extremely likely no one will have their views changed by a discussion of this nature. To do so is to waste effort. If we are so close to it we know all the philosophy around it and are willing to disagree about it, it's quiet clear theres little odds anyone will change their mind, so, i say this just to avoid frustration to all and even as a reminder to myself. Also, we should likely realise, we will not reach an amicable conclusion, it'll probably keep going back and forth with rebuttal after rebuttal, we'll never end it.]

Not sure if it was you who i suggested make a thread or someone else, great timing though, a lot of the work for the year is over so i have some spare time.

The logical problem of evil is a good one. Why? It doesn’t attempt to show that God is merely unlikely or provide a possible reason that he cannot exist, rather, it tries to show it is literally impossible for God to exist.

I skipped reading your excerpts, I don’t think ideas from someone “famous” are worth any more or worth any less or should be taken as authoritative. I’m interested in your argument, if I would like theirs I would read their book afterall hey.

Even in the secular world, many people have a different understanding of what constitutes evil. For instance, some take a definite stance against such acts like capital punishment, abortion, and euthanasia while others favor them. The fact that such debates take place today and will continue to do so in the future, allude to the man’s inability to accurately and objectively define morality.

There is wide agreement on some issues though. You’re creating a false image, you might be misunderstanding what exactly “evil” in the context of argument of evil is. It’s not some mad scientist or supervillian or a supposedly evil doctor, it’s much deeper than that. There is wide agreement that murder is bad, that paedophilia is bad, that kidnapping is bad, cheating on your partner is bad.

So, whatever we refer to as “evil” is in fact shaped by our own sense of morality.

What if your morality is derived from God? God is all perfect and all knowing, therefore, his moral rules must be perfect. Then, that must be the actual sense of morality.

The Quran agrees that murder is a bad act, it is a positively evil act.

For example, there is nothing to suggest that a flood in and of itself is evil. If a flood causes loss of human and animal life as well as valuable property, then we consider it to be such. Whereas, a flood that overtakes an uninhabited island is not considered to be evil. So, in this context, “evil” is applied to those things that we perceive as negative.

It’s not the flood, a flood is just the movement of water, just like a bullet is a collection of lead. There is nothing inherently evil about lead nor water. It’s the consequences of those things. If the flood causes untold death and destruction, that is a bad consequence, it is a bad outcome, therefore, the flood was bad.

Thus, injustice can never be attributed to God because there exists no concrete referent (no one has any right over anything relative to Him).

God is an absolutely all perfect, all moral being. As a supremely moral being, God must act in a supremely moral fashion at all times.

If there is something inherently wrong with murder, God, as the perfect moral being, simply would not murder.

There can only be one set of objective moral truths, if you’re suggesting God can violate these, then you’re suggesting God isn’t a perfectly moral and perfectly good being.

Could God, as the perfect moral being, tell a lie for instance?

It seems even God is subject to some kind of universal morality or concrete rule of reference, which is the very thing you dispute.

Following morality is a necessary condition of God being the perfectly moral being, if God didn’t follow morality, he wouldn’t be an all moral being. Of course, this means God wouldn’t be a totally good being either. Most think goodness is a perfection, so, if we lose goodness, we loose perfection. If God loses perfection, he is no longer a God.

So, either, God cannot murder a totally innocent person for a totally arbitrary reason because it would “unmake” him as a God and thus, God is subject to some kind of morality (disproving your assertion) or God can (in theory, not in actuality) murder a totally innocent person for an arbitrary reason but he is no longer a perfectly moral being,

Thus, even God must be subject to some morals. The famous Islamic philosopher Ibn Rushd held believes along these lines, that there are some actions that are just evil as a fact of that action; this is why God cannot murder an innocent. Not that he chooses not to but he literally cannot as a perfectly moral being.

The logical problem of evil has been disproved for quiet sometime by the work of people like plantinga, all you really need to show is that it’s not a logical impossibility for God and evil to co-exist for some reason, any reason. It's not terribly hard to argue the free will case for example, natural evil, in particular, the creation of things like smallpox or tuberculosis, is another thing entirely.

Indeed, if you deny there are no objective evils or wrongs, then, the rules in the Quran are essentially arbitrary if they are not objective.

Nor do i believe it matters if it is "subjective". The essence is that evil is mostly related to suffering. It doesn't matter if getting raped is somehow just merely a subjectively bad thing (serious assault like this damages almost everyone, certainly, no one is happy about it), the person who has gotten raped still suffers greatly. They have horrible flash backs, social stigma, intense mental anguish that even drives some to the point of suicide. Try tell someone like that their suffering is just simply subjective and they should stop crying about it. Even if suffering is subjective, it doesn't excuse the fact that suffering occurs in the first place. An all good being would allow no one to unjustly suffer (or maybe even suffer at all).

Unless you agree with the statement the Quran is a made up book, we can agree the morals in it are universal morals, murder is defined as bad in the Quran, thus, it is bad, unless you are willing to deny your own God.

Allah cannot be disputed.

6 Billion people would like a word with you.

Free Will is not taken from us in paradise, why would it? Just because you have free will doesnt mean you will commit a sin or bring abut evil.

And there lies the problem with the free will defense. Plenty of people have free will and never do anything bad because it is part of their character, temperament and it is inherent within them. Muhammed was just another human with free will but he never murdered someone in cold blood or raped a child. If God could create some people, like Muhammed, who always tend to do the right thing, even though they have free will, why couldn't he do this to everyone? We would still have free will but no evil arising from it.

Edited by Pascal

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And there lies the problem with the free will defense. Plenty of people have free will and never do anything bad because it is part of their character, temperament and it is inherent within them. Muhammed was just another human with free will but he never murdered someone in cold blood or raped a child. If God could create some people, like Muhammed, who always tend to do the right thing, even though they have free will, why couldn't he do this to everyone? We would still have free will but no evil arising from it.

Salaam brother,

You can say many people have free will but never do anything bad, but there is a reason why Satan does what he does. Also what is good and bad in your terms? How do you know what is good or bad if you dont believe in a God? How do you know if your God/Gods interpretation of good and bad is different then Islams? I could make up a religion and say killing is allowed and God says okay, does that make it good? What is originally part of everyone character is what Allah has made innate in us but that does mean its perfect in which you know all that is good or bad. God had to have created people (Prophets/Imams) like prophet Muhammad so it is a role model to the humankind otherwise people would think it impossible, they have to teach the way of Allah, and bring holy guides that can be used after them. He couldnt make everyone a prophet because Allah knows all, he is the one who creates you, he knows what you can and cannot do or are capable of. Who knows there might be people that are perfect like Muhammad but there is no prophet hood in them, it isnt impossible but its unlikely. If everyone was like prophet Muhammad then there would be no purpose of life, and its test. In Islam we believe Satan has free will when he decided to disobey God, but because he worshiped God for such a long time, Allah granted his wish which was to influence the corruption in people to do bad. Look at this God, he is so just, he gives all his creations what they want. You also have to remember, in Islam there is free will and predestination, free will being your choices you make (doing good or rejecting good) and predestination being your born date, gender, where your born, gravity things that arnt a choice. Also dont forget Many of the people like prophets and imams who never do/did anything bad understands the true meaning of God and has pure faith in him, hence why Allah chose Prophet Muhammad as a prophet at a young age. Having pure faith in God, helps protect your inner self/soul against satan, total submission to Allah. When I say faith, I dont mean just believing in him but doing everything he says 24/7 Brother you also have to remember Islam is totally different then Christianity. What you prob know is all based on Christianity.

Brother I hope I helped, if you need anything just pm me.

Wa Salaam

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And there lies the problem with the free will defense. Plenty of people have free will and never do anything bad because it is part of their character, temperament and it is inherent within them. Muhammed was just another human with free will but he never murdered someone in cold blood or raped a child. If God could create some people, like Muhammed, who always tend to do the right thing, even though they have free will, why couldn't he do this to everyone? We would still have free will but no evil arising from it.

A) What constitutes as murder is subjective, for orthodox jews any death penalty besides the ones prescribed in the pentateuch is murder. For China its any killing outside its laws. Same thing with our Prophet, who allowed the jews in medina to judge adulterers by their own scripture and executed dissentors who fanned the flame of wars.

B ) The marriages of the Prophet were all consensual.

I kinda have a feeling you tried to slip that nasty canard of anti-Islamic polemicists in.

Edited by Lanatin

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Because Allah has free will too. He creates all humans equal. And raises and lowers them based on what He thinks is fair, not just in this world, but after as well.

They say that Heaven is ranked, but it might not be in that sense. The highest ranked will be able to be closer to Jesus, or Muhammad, or Moses, and Abraham. So if you think about it this way, it might be easier to understand.

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Salaam brother,

...

Brother I hope I helped, if you need anything just pm me.

Wa Salaam

Not a brother first of all (in the sense of being a muslim anyway), thanks for the sentiment anyway though. Just thought i should point that out incase you are directing your time and efforts into something that isn't there, don't wish for you to do that out of confusion.

You can say many people have free will but never do anything bad, but there is a reason why Satan does what he does.

Well, first of all, i would ask you, if you think what i said is true?

Do you think it is possible for people to have free will but never do bad things? You have free will but when is the last time you murdered someone?

Let's extend it out to the extremes, someone like Mary.

Growing up going to catholic schools, we were taught she was sinless, ultimate purity. She was a human yes but did she ever do anything bad? Doubtful.

Think of the most pious, kind, good person you know, could you imagine them doing something bad?

Likewise, it seems some people, just by temprament, are predisposed to doing bad things.

I dont usually share personal stories on here but i think this might hammer my point home. Once i was out clubbing with some of my friends, one of my friends brothers left the club with some girl, i didn't think much too it. The next day at an event, i saw a woman sitting on the table with him, a different woman...turns out it was his wife. He also had a child. Even that day he was telling me about it just mere meters away from his wife. He seemed so cool and collected about it though, it just seems like its part of his makeup. I could never imagine doing a similar thing to my partner.

Why is that difference there? I'd argue its at least part temprament and personality.

Not everyone has the potential to be a brutal dictator like hitler or stalin for instance, you need to be a special kind of person to be that bad.

Also what is good and bad in your terms? How do you know what is good or bad if you dont believe in a God?

I could make up a religion and say killing is allowed and God says okay, does that make it good?

Again, this seems to keep popping up.

You can't honestly tell me the only reason you don't go out on the street at night and become a serial rapist is because God told you not to?

If anyone thought that they would seriously need to consult a headshrinker.

It's quiet amazing but if you look across the globe, human societies everywhere have roughly similar morals on many things.

Almost every society as a whole agrees that infantacide, murder, rape, paedophillia, theft or destruction of others property are bad acts.

You don't need a religion to tell you rape and the horrible, horrible trauma it causes isn't a good thing.

I could make up a religion and say killing is allowed and God says okay, does that make it good?

No, it doesn't. That's what i was trying to argue, there are some morals that are even outside God as Ibn Rushd suggested.

Murder is wrong because it is unversally a bad act, it is not bad only because Allah says it is bad but it is bad because it is inherently a bad act, the destruction of life, especially thinking life.

He couldnt make everyone a prophet because Allah knows all, he is the one who creates you, he knows what you can and cannot do or are capable of.

If Allah is supremely powerful and perfect, i can't see a good reason why such a thing is not within his infinite power.

Who knows there might be people that are perfect like Muhammad but there is no prophet hood in them, it isnt impossible but its unlikely. If everyone was like prophet Muhammad then there would be no purpose of life, and its test.

You can still be perfect (or close to it) and tested, if i recall, muhammed went through such strenous and horrible pain and events.

You are not perfect, i am not perfect. However, i believe we are basically good people (i have no reason to doubt this). If we walk past a shop and the shop keeper is out, would you steal things? You would get quiet a lot of money out of it. There are absolutely no repercussions of being caught. Would you? I know i wouldn't. You can still be good (or extending this, even perfect) and be tested.

The point of the whole argument is God, as an all loving God, would allow no evil to exist at all, i don't think allowing the existence of a test is a sufficient justification to say allow the existence of hitlers and stalins.

It is not impossible for God to break free will, he's done it in the Quran, he's done it in the Bible. The Pharoh was obviously intent on wiping out the Jewish people, what happened to him and his people?

In Islam we believe Satan has free will when he decided to disobey God, but because he worshiped God for such a long time, Allah granted his wish which was to influence the corruption in people to do bad.

Why would an all loving God allow such an evil being to whisper in our ears? I find it hard to see how this makes him more loving, rather than less loving or less good.

------------

Lanatin, you've made it abundantly clear you don't like me for whatever reason, honestly mate, i don't give a stuff (to say it nicely) and yet you seem intent around following me around these forums.

I'm not going to respond to your baiting, so, unless your time is literally worthless, you might save time by stopping.

-------------

Because Allah has free will too.

Appareciate your response first of all.

Well, lets look at it like this:

(1) Allah has free will

(2) Free will, is the property of being to do absolutely anything you will

(3) Allah is perfectly good

(4) Being perfectly good restricts you from doing certain acts to maintain your perfectly good character

(5) There are things which are possible to do, Allah still can not do (A)

(6) Allah does not have entirely free will

It seems like it was impossible for God to strangle a baby for no reason, even if he wanted to.

To do so would invoke a contradiction which just using logic we know can't happen.

These acts do not need to actually happen or be actually willed, they just need to be theoretically possible (Eg. It is impossible for God to make himself not God or to make a 2 sided triangle but it is not theoretically impossible for him to strangle a child).

Obviously, it is part of God's character to never do these things, because he is all good and these are bad things.

So, he does have the ability to think and act but his ability to act is limited by his goodness. I don't think his will is totally free.

He creates all humans equal. And raises and lowers them based on what He thinks is fair, not just in this world, but after as well.

This is a fascinating idea. If this is true, why then do some end up as the Pol Pot's or Hitlers of our world and some end up as the Muhammeds or Martin Luther Kings?

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Not a brother first of all (in the sense of being a muslim anyway), thanks for the sentiment anyway though. Just thought i should point that out incase you are directing your time and efforts into something that isn't there, don't wish for you to do that out of confusion.

Well, first of all, i would ask you, if you think what i said is true?

Do you think it is possible for people to have free will but never do bad things? You have free will but when is the last time you murdered someone?

Yes it is possible, but impossible to reach perfection. Good and Perfection are two different levels.

Let's extend it out to the extremes, someone like Mary.

Growing up going to catholic schools, we were taught she was sinless, ultimate purity. She was a human yes but did she ever do anything bad? Doubtful.

Think of the most pious, kind, good person you know, could you imagine them doing something bad?

Your key word is imagine, your not with them 24/7 so at the end of the day, yes its possible why not?

Likewise, it seems some people, just by temprament, are predisposed to doing bad things.

They are not predisposed to do bad, they made the choice, to reject good. What you are doing right now is by choice, not believing in good, is that not the most mercy and goodness of him to let you question and ponder and even go against him?

I dont usually share personal stories on here but i think this might hammer my point home. Once i was out clubbing with some of my friends, one of my friends brothers left the club with some girl, i didn't think much too it. The next day at an event, i saw a woman sitting on the table with him, a different woman...turns out it was his wife. He also had a child. Even that day he was telling me about it just mere meters away from his wife. He seemed so cool and collected about it though, it just seems like its part of his makeup. I could never imagine doing a similar thing to my partner.

Why is that difference there? I'd argue its at least part temprament and personality.

The choices you make in life make you who you are, your experiences, the way your parents brought you up. He wanted to make a bad decision. He knew what he was doing.

Not everyone has the potential to be a brutal dictator like hitler or stalin for instance, you need to be a special kind of person to be that bad.

Being bad is bad, there is no little bad or higher bad. For example, someone who kills and someone who lies, you might think that are two hugely different people. Obviously the person who kills, also lies. He once lied too. Now the guy who is only lieing can end up killing someone as well. Just cause he only lies doesnt make him immune to not kill. But, doing bad things leads to worse evil. Just as someone who smokes can end up trying all kinds of drugs.

Again, this seems to keep popping up.

You can't honestly tell me the only reason you don't go out on the street at night and become a serial rapist is because God told you not to?

Okay like i said we all have good innate in us, given by God. I believe doing good is my duty as a human being, and as a believer in God who also tells us to do good, we must listen. By doing so, we get a reward. If God tells us to do good, you atheists say you only do it for God, but if God didnt tell us to do good, you would say what kind of God is this and you wouldnt know to an extent what are ALL things which are good and bad, not some.

If anyone thought that they would seriously need to consult a headshrinker.

It's quiet amazing but if you look across the globe, human societies everywhere have roughly similar morals on many things.

Almost every society as a whole agrees that infantacide, murder, rape, paedophillia, theft or destruction of others property are bad acts.

You don't need a religion to tell you rape and the horrible, horrible trauma it causes isn't a good thing.

But that isnt enough, you need a full guide. When you go on a road trip, dont you need to fill your gas fully and not partial. God made us therefore he knows what is best for us. Just as an inventor knows everything about its invention.

No, it doesn't. That's what i was trying to argue, there are some morals that are even outside God as Ibn Rushd suggested.

Murder is wrong because it is unversally a bad act, it is not bad only because Allah says it is bad but it is bad because it is inherently a bad act, the destruction of life, especially thinking life.

Majority doesnt make it right or wrong, what if the majority taught rape was right? would it be right?

If Allah is supremely powerful and perfect, i can't see a good reason why such a thing is not within his infinite power.

Once again you dont understand, there has to be a reason for everything, even a scientist will tell you. There is no purpose if everyone was good, because he has angels for that. Are angels all good? Like I told you satan was once a worshipper of God, because of his obedience to Allah for all that time, Allah gave him the choice to do what he wanted, and that is to "influence" us in doing sins. If we were all good, why would there be a need for earth and hell? We would all be in heaven. In order for us to try and reach perfection we have to be tested.

A person can only reach his maximum when being tested. Therefore we need this test to see what we are made of. But we also need guides to tell us how to become perfect, hence prophets, holy books, and imams.

Why do we take tests? To be tested. Why is there only one right question and the rest bad? Why isnt all the answers right? To test us on how much we know.

You can still be perfect (or close to it) and tested, if i recall, muhammed went through such strenous and horrible pain and events.

You are not perfect, i am not perfect. However, i believe we are basically good people (i have no reason to doubt this). If we walk past a shop and the shop keeper is out, would you steal things? You would get quiet a lot of money out of it. There are absolutely no repercussions of being caught. Would you? I know i wouldn't. You can still be good (or extending this, even perfect) and be tested.

We are not perfect but being good is far lower then being perfect. Perfect is what we are trying to reach. Tests arnt just not stealing, cheating, killing, its obeying God, loving one another, enjoining good forbiding evil, worshiping our lord, being thankful, not eating haram foods and drinks, and so on. Your mind is set into christian doctrine....

The point of the whole argument is God, as an all loving God, would allow no evil to exist at all, i don't think allowing the existence of a test is a sufficient justification to say allow the existence of hitlers and stalins.

It is not impossible for God to break free will, he's done it in the Quran, he's done it in the Bible. The Pharoh was obviously intent on wiping out the Jewish people, what happened to him and his people?

Why are there laws? Why are there punishments for breaking laws? Same thing for Allah, he is all just. If he did not give free will, then he would not be a merciful God. He never allowed evil. It is us who reject good, and listen to Satan. People have to be punished for doing bad, society will not be stable. God gives people chances as well, he is forgiving, but once you repent you cant do it, not like in christainity where you ask for forgivness everytime you commit a sin.

Why would an all loving God allow such an evil being to whisper in our ears? I find it hard to see how this makes him more loving, rather than less loving or less good.

Just as Allah rewards us for obeying and worshiping him, he rewarded satan to do what he wished. Satan will get punished in hell after day of judgement. He doesnt live in hell like in christianity. Once again, by letting satan do this, we get tested which I explained above. Everything falls into place, its just us left with our decisions.

My friend, please check the video links out in my signiture, it will give you a better understanding, im not that knowledgable and I dont wanna give you the wrong understanding.

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There is wide agreement on some issues though. You’re creating a false image, you might be misunderstanding what exactly “evil” in the context of argument of evil is. It’s not some mad scientist or supervillian or a supposedly evil doctor, it’s much deeper than that. There is wide agreement that murder is bad, that paedophilia is bad, that kidnapping is bad, cheating on your partner is bad.

You are against the appeal to authority, but have no problem to appeal to popularity?

It’s not the flood, a flood is just the movement of water, just like a bullet is a collection of lead. There is nothing inherently evil about lead nor water. It’s the consequences of those things. If the flood causes untold death and destruction, that is a bad consequence, it is a bad outcome, therefore, the flood was bad.

It has good consequences too.

God is an absolutely all perfect, all moral being. As a supremely moral being, God must act in a supremely moral fashion at all times.

If there is something inherently wrong with murder, God, as the perfect moral being, simply would not murder.

There can only be one set of objective moral truths, if you’re suggesting God can violate these, then you’re suggesting God isn’t a perfectly moral and perfectly good being.

Could God, as the perfect moral being, tell a lie for instance?

It seems even God is subject to some kind of universal morality or concrete rule of reference, which is the very thing you dispute.

Following morality is a necessary condition of God being the perfectly moral being, if God didn’t follow morality, he wouldn’t be an all moral being. Of course, this means God wouldn’t be a totally good being either. Most think goodness is a perfection, so, if we lose goodness, we loose perfection. If God loses perfection, he is no longer a God

God doesn't 'follow' morality. He is the moral being. The nature of God is the nature of morality.

.

So, either, God cannot murder a totally innocent person for a totally arbitrary reason because it would “unmake” him as a God and thus, God is subject to some kind of morality (disproving your assertion) or God can (in theory, not in actuality) murder a totally innocent person for an arbitrary reason but he is no longer a perfectly moral being,

Thus, even God must be subject to some morals. The famous Islamic philosopher Ibn Rushd held believes along these lines, that there are some actions that are just evil as a fact of that action; this is why God cannot murder an innocent. Not that he chooses not to but he literally cannot as a perfectly moral being.

The logical problem of evil has been disproved for quiet sometime by the work of people like plantinga, all you really need to show is that it’s not a logical impossibility for God and evil to co-exist for some reason, any reason. It's not terribly hard to argue the free will case for example, natural evil, in particular, the creation of things like smallpox or tuberculosis, is another thing entirely.

Indeed, if you deny there are no objective evils or wrongs, then, the rules in the Quran are essentially arbitrary if they are not objective.

Nor do i believe it matters if it is "subjective". The essence is that evil is mostly related to suffering. It doesn't matter if getting raped is somehow just merely a subjectively bad thing (serious assault like this damages almost everyone, certainly, no one is happy about it), the person who has gotten raped still suffers greatly. They have horrible flash backs, social stigma, intense mental anguish that even drives some to the point of suicide. Try tell someone like that their suffering is just simply subjective and they should stop crying about it. Even if suffering is subjective, it doesn't excuse the fact that suffering occurs in the first place. An all good being would allow no one to unjustly suffer (or maybe even suffer at all).

Unless you agree with the statement the Quran is a made up book, we can agree the morals in it are universal morals, murder is defined as bad in the Quran, thus, it is bad, unless you are willing to deny your own God.

Or perhaps that suffering does not have to equal evil. Evil is injustice, but God is just. If we were to take the term 'evil' then many many things will be considered that. Even death, any kind of death. Getting run over by a truck at age 6 or dying of heart failure at age 106. It is bound to cause some grief and suffering to somebody, but should that make it EVIL? if so, then our definitions of evil is probably what is causing misunderstanding about this problem of evil argument.

(1) Allah has free will

(2) Free will, is the property of being to do absolutely anything you will

(3) Allah is perfectly good

(4) Being perfectly good restricts you from doing certain acts to maintain your perfectly good character

(5) There are things which are possible to do, Allah still can not do (A)

(6) Allah does not have entirely free will

It seems like it was impossible for God to strangle a baby for no reason, even if he wanted to.

Premise 4 is absurd. God is not 'perfectly' good in some other right. He is perfectly good in His own right. God is good because He is God. Good is good because it is the nature of God. Your argument seems to seperate the notion of good from God.

God will not do something evil, but as to what something evil is is beyond us. Babies die, horribly. These aren't evil actions, but we percieve them to be because we don't really understand anything beyond what we just saw.

Edited by Incognito

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I find it funny how you think the "problem of evil" is such a strong argument when it is actually the easiest to refute and has already been refuted by many Islamic theologians hundreds of years ago before the crusades even.

Quote

If God is all merciful/loving/good and all powerful, the existence of evil is logically contradictory with these things, just like a square circle.

Your argument is based upon the assumption that evil is issued or caused by god when he is "good".

1. You have not proven that evil is caused or issued by god.

You claim negative to this,and you think that you have proven that evil is caused or issued by god.

You try to do this by claiming that god does not stop evil things from happening,or that evil things occur in nature,where he is omnipotent and is able to stop these things.

Please read carefully.

First we must define what "evil" and "good" is in the understanding of theology and philosophy.

Evil is when injustice is done to another person/living thing or yourself,you cannot be evil to a rock.

Likewise goodness or righteousness is when justice or favor is done to a living thing/person or yourself .

This is why scales are used when talking about justice in philosophy,one panel represents pain and punishment,the other represents pleasure and reward. If the panel of punishment and evil is given weight,then it would only be just if the panel of reward and pleasure is added to or given even more weight,hence the concept of compensation and punishment.

Please keep this analogy in your mind.

Atheist : Why doesn't god stop evil if he is capable,doesn't this mean he has caused this evil?

Theist : This person is compensated for harm caused to him. One may ask why is god letting harm come to him in the first place? Why doesn't he just give him pleasure and reward,why does he have to test him?

Obviously this would be illogical as reward and pleasure can only be earned.

Is it logical to pay someone if they have done no work?

An example of this would be a teacher who gives you a test,you struggle and stress to answer the questions,thus the teacher is causing you harm.

However if you pass the test,you are compensated beyond and above the pain you received and you have earned this compensation.

The teacher is not called unjust.

Likewise with Allah,when you are given harm(not by him but him not stopping it) then you are receiving a compensation that is far above and beyond the pain you received,thus him not stopping it is actually a good thing and not an evil thing.

If a person is killed by an evil man and Allah does not stop this, and this man receives paradise,is Allah unjust?

If someone tells you to run through the hot sun for 1 week and he will give you 20 billion dollars,would you say that this test is unjust?

Then why do you say an innocent man who is killed by an evil man and compensated by Allah with eternal paradise is unjust?

In both examples you are caused harm and compensated,I ask you which test would you rather take?

Running through the sun and getting 20 billion dollars,or dying and receiving eternal paradise?

Those who are caused pain but not death are compensated by reward(heaven or worldly rewards) or having their pasts sins erased.

In short,harm is not stopped by Allah in some cases because this person is being tested and will be compensated making the test more than worth it.

Quote

Philosophers have tried through the ages to successful solve it. Again, it hasn't died and it still has traction in academia, so, that shows us it isn't total garbage.

To do defeat it, you are facing an extreme uphill battle unfortunately.

Actually is has been defeated for centuries by Islamic theologians already.

Please stop exaggerating .

(1) Allah has free will

(2) Free will, is the property of being to do absolutely anything you will

(3) Allah is perfectly good

(4) Being perfectly good restricts you from doing certain acts to maintain your perfectly good character

(5) There are things which are possible to do, Allah still can not do (A)

(6) Allah does not have entirely free will

This syllogism is very weak. Also pascal you seem to be using very weak and immature arguments,and the funny part is you actually are convinced by them. Some problems with this syllogism with 4 and 5.

First of all,Allah doing even things is like a square circle,the concept itself is self contradicting and thus the question is invalid. So there is no "restriction" of will.

This is like saying "You're restricted from existing and not existing at the same time,hence you aren't omnipotent". < This kind of logic is not going to convince anyone.

Also at 5 you say that Allah doing evil acts is contingent (possible),actually it isn't contingent,its necessarily impossible.

Edited by Ibn-Ahmed Aliyy Herz

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Pureethics, thanks for your response first of all. Sorry for being a little late, i have to fit my philosophy hobby around everything else in my life which comes first of course.

Of course, like i made clear in one of my firsts posts, i doubt anyone will get someone on the other side to agree with them just because of this thread.

These things rapidly begin to go around in circles.

I've realised the best thing to do in situations like this is present your argument the best you can, maybe clarify it once and then stop. So, i'll respond to your post one final time to clarify what i meant. Unless you present something else significantly different or there is a big glaring hole in my argument, i think we better call it a truce here.

[Apologies, the quote button that puts times and names in isn't working but i am responding to pureethics]

Yes it is possible, but impossible to reach perfection. Good and Perfection are two different levels.

You were presenting the free will defense (at least i hope you were or we wasted all this time).

The idea is evil exists because to allow free will to exist and its derivative evil is better.

My argument is that if some people are naturally good AND have free will, say, like Mary, why could he not make us all like that?

A good being (like God) reduces evil and suffering as much as he can. It's quiet clear he did not take this option though.

If you look at the state of the world with horrible dictators, serial rapists, people who exploit children, women and the poor, it's clear we're far off from the best as a result of free will.

I think my suggestion would be something a being that always tries to prevent evil would even automatically do, yet, it has not happened?

We have two cases:

( A ) There is no such all good, all powerful, all knowing and all loving being afterall (Of course, this is the conclusion i'm trying to lead things to)

( B ) For some reason, God could not both make people free and good (this seems to be the position you are defending?)

We have people like muhammed or mary who were free and very good (certainly free of major sins or the want to committ them), so, why could he not make us all free and good? That is my objection and i don't think it you've adequately shown why it is wrong.

They are not predisposed to do bad, they made the choice, to reject good.

I think you'll have a hard time arguing some people aren't more predisposed to do bad than others.

Someone like Stalin or Pol Pot or Hitler didn't simply murder millions of people cause they just kind of felt like it.

It takes a special kind of person to do those kind of things. I doubt you could make the choice to murder millions just because you wanted to, i doubt i could make that choice.

So, i'm not convinced about your objection that some people aren't simply more predisposed to evil or good than others by nature of their character.

This just might come down to our basic beliefs we just simply cant get each-other to agree on. This is one of the reasons religious debates go around in circles too.

I just fundamentally think there's a difference in the character of say Hitler and Mary or Ghandi or Maximilian Koble .

The choices you make in life make you who you are, your experiences, the way your parents brought you up.
'

I don't disagree with this. However, if God could make mary like she is, as someone who always chooses good, why could he not do the same for us? I don't think this really resolves the objection.

Likewise, if you grew up in an enviroment which was conducive for you to develop into a bad person because thats all you knew, it seems that would predispose you to act in bad ways. It's not really your fault you grew up in such an enviroment.

You do make a good point though.

Once again you dont understand, there has to be a reason for everything, even a scientist will tell you.

Oh, heck, i study science and i agree.

The problem is, you are talking about a different kind of reason.

It's clear almost everything has a spatial or causal reason for existing.

If i am playing billards, i pull my cue back and strike the red ball that red ball then goes on to hit the blue ball and causes the blue ball to move.

The reason the blue ball has started moving? It is because it was struck by the red ball (forgive me i'm not a physicist) which transferred some of its momentum to the blue ball.

Why did the red ball start moving in the first place? I struck it with my billard cue.

So, in that why, the reason that [the blue ball moves - c] happened is because it was hit by [the red ball moving - b] which started moving because it was [hit by my billard cue - a].

In that way A causes B and B cause C and that is the reason for C (AKA A->B->C ).

You seem to be talking about a philosophical reason or one related to meaning.

I don't think any actual meaning exists inherent in the universe just as a basic fact of my world view, so, we most definitely won't agree here.

Are angels all good? Like I told you satan was once a worshipper of God, because of his obedience to Allah for all that time, Allah gave him the choice to do what he wanted, and that is to "influence" us in doing sins. If we were all good, why would there be a need for earth and hell? We would all be in heaven. In order for us to try and reach perfection we have to be tested.

If he does love us so much and is infinitely good, why not just create all of us in heaven to begin with and cut out the middle man (aka earth and all this) so to speak?

A good being would eliminate evil as far as it can, i'm told theres no evil in heaven and its infinite bliss, so, why wouldn't an all loving God place he's creations in the absolute best of places?

Your mind is set into christian doctrine....

Just out of interest, what makes you say this?

My friend, please check the video links out in my signiture, it will give you a better understanding, im not that knowledgable and I dont wanna give you the wrong understanding.

Thanks, i actually missed those, if you think they are very good and worth watching, then, i will watch a few once i find some time.

Overall, i'm very satisfied with a lot of your objections and things like that. My memory is real bad but you seem to have gotten a lot better (i hope i have too) since we last argued over something so stick at it. Ultimately though, i'm not convinced by the free-will defence and this might just come down to our basic facts of our world view. If you write a response i will probably read it but to avoid going around in circles like i said above, i'll probably refrain from replying unless you point out some new huge hole in my argument or present something totally new and very interesting. Thanks overall though.

Edited by Pascal

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My answers will be in this way

First off, I would like to thank you for taking your time to read my post. Please just search around Al-Islam.org or Al-Shia.org or here is where some of your questions are answered http://www.al-islam.org/faith_reason/, which are both in my signature. Also I highly highly highly highly recommend you watch videos by Hassain Rajabali, ESPECIALLY this one:

Pureethics, thanks for your response first of all. Sorry for being a little late, i have to fit my philosophy hobby around everything else in my life which comes first of course.

Of course, like i made clear in one of my firsts posts, i doubt anyone will get someone on the other side to agree with them just because of this thread.

These things rapidly begin to go around in circles.

I've realised the best thing to do in situations like this is present your argument the best you can, maybe clarify it once and then stop. So, i'll respond to your post one final time to clarify what i meant. Unless you present something else significantly different or there is a big glaring hole in my argument, i think we better call it a truce here.

[Apologies, the quote button that puts times and names in isn't working but i am responding to pureethics]

You were presenting the free will defense (at least i hope you were or we wasted all this time).

In Islam, free will is within predestination. Predestination meaning-where you will be born, gender, earth, family, date of birth, color of your skin, gravity, thinks that were made without your choice.

The idea is evil exists because to allow free will to exist and its derivative evil is better.

No, I said evil exists because people choose to reject good, from their free will, causing evil.

My argument is that if some people are naturally good AND have free will, say, like Mary, why could he not make us all like that?

No one is naturally good, Mary PBUH, choose to be purely good because of her submission and faith to Allah, thus Allah chose her, but of course God knew she would be, since he is the creater. But just because Allah knows doesnt mean he will interject; for example, according to your weather calculations you know it will rain, does that mean you can change it or make it happen, no. Allah knows everything, but he lets us choose our own path...

A good being (like God) reduces evil and suffering as much as he can. It's quiet clear he did not take this option though.

If you look at the state of the world with horrible dictators, serial rapists, people who exploit children, women and the poor, it's clear we're far off from the best as a result of free will.

I think my suggestion would be something a being that always tries to prevent evil would even automatically do, yet, it has not happened?

We have two cases:

( A ) There is no such all good, all powerful, all knowing and all loving being afterall (Of course, this is the conclusion i'm trying to lead things to)

( B ) For some reason, God could not both make people free and good (this seems to be the position you are defending?)

We have people like muhammed or mary who were free and very good (certainly free of major sins or the want to committ them), so, why could he not make us all free and good? That is my objection and i don't think it you've adequately shown why it is wrong.

There is many background information you need to understand for this point. I have posted previously, I suggest you read it again. But, Yes your right, Allah could have put us all in heaven, but he wanted us to be on earth because he believes in us, he is the creator after all, he knows what we are capable of. If we were in heaven there would be no point in the objective of mankind in trying to reach perfection. We would not understand Allah on our own. In an Islamic viewpoint, Allah when he created humans, he gave us conscouisness, intellect, emotion.. Like I said before, why do we go to school and get tested? Why cant we just learn and move on, because the teacher wants to see our potential in what we know and learned, how much we have advanced in knowledge, they test us by giving us questions like multiple choice. Why is there only one good anwser and the rest bad? So the teacher tests us on what we truly know, by "rejecting the bad" we find the good. Hence, when Allah gives us a test, for example, natural dissasters or killers, there has to be bad to bring out the good. Also every single human is good, in christianity everyone has sin, in Islam no, if a baby dies he goes to heaven. Allah did create us all good, its us who choice to reject good later or reject Him or choose to follow our own ways of choosing what we think is good or bad thus again leaving us astray.....

I think you'll have a hard time arguing some people aren't more predisposed to do bad than others.

Someone like Stalin or Pol Pot or Hitler didn't simply murder millions of people cause they just kind of felt like it.

It takes a special kind of person to do those kind of things. I doubt you could make the choice to murder millions just because you wanted to, i doubt i could make that choice.

Even though Allah created you, you made the choice to disbelieve in him, what makes you doubt someone who also choose to reject good. Remember, in Islam, God also says if your not an example to the world, or if you dont do something to stop bad people from becoming leaders your at fault. You cant just sit around doing nothing while a tyrant takes power. Just as the tyrant choose to rule, you have a choice to stop him and do good. Dont blame God, when we as people choose to turn our heads when there is wrong around us. In fact I believe when people end up being killers and rapist and murders its our fault, the society, his/her parents. Its not God's, you could have stopped it. In Islam, there is a way to stop all of this, and Allah expecially has a huge role for parents.

So, i'm not convinced about your objection that some people aren't simply more predisposed to evil or good than others by nature of their character.

This just might come down to our basic beliefs we just simply cant get each-other to agree on. This is one of the reasons religious debates go around in circles too.

I just fundamentally think there's a difference in the character of say Hitler and Mary or Ghandi or Maximilian Koble .

'

I don't disagree with this. However, if God could make mary like she is, as someone who always chooses good, why could he not do the same for us? I don't think this really resolves the objection.

Likewise, if you grew up in an enviroment which was conducive for you to develop into a bad person because thats all you knew, it seems that would predispose you to act in bad ways. It's not really your fault you grew up in such an enviroment.

True, Allah does not hold liable people who were cornered to believe in a certain way, and in fact will hold the poeple responsible. But if that person had encountered to become good, and rejected the option, then Allah will hold him liable for rejecting when the truth was clear.

You do make a good point though.

Oh, heck, i study science and i agree.

The problem is, you are talking about a different kind of reason.

It's clear almost everything has a spatial or causal reason for existing.

If i am playing billards, i pull my cue back and strike the red ball that red ball then goes on to hit the blue ball and causes the blue ball to move.

The reason the blue ball has started moving? It is because it was struck by the red ball (forgive me i'm not a physicist) which transferred some of its momentum to the blue ball.

Why did the red ball start moving in the first place? I struck it with my billard cue.

So, in that why, the reason that [the blue ball moves - c] happened is because it was hit by [the red ball moving - b] which started moving because it was [hit by my billard cue - a].

In that way A causes B and B cause C and that is the reason for C (AKA A->B->C ).

You seem to be talking about a philosophical reason or one related to meaning.

I don't think any actual meaning exists inherent in the universe just as a basic fact of my world view, so, we most definitely won't agree here.

If he does love us so much and is infinitely good, why not just create all of us in heaven to begin with and cut out the middle man (aka earth and all this) so to speak?

I answered it above I hope, but once again, heaven hell would be pointless, thus our creation would be pointless,

heaven was created for those who had faith believed, enjoined good, forbid evil, choose the right path....

A good being would eliminate evil as far as it can, i'm told theres no evil in heaven and its infinite bliss, so, why wouldn't an all loving God place he's creations in the absolute best of places?

Look around you, this is the tip of the iceberg, imagine how great heaven is. This world is magnificent, the way it works, how gravity doesnt make u sfall off the planet, we were all on earth with oxygen, food, nature, stars, there is no way its chance, its soo perfect.......

Just out of interest, what makes you say this?

I said that because I believe from what your saying you have not studied Shia Islam's viewpoints on creation, Allah, the world, how everything works....Some things you say like, why didnt God create us all good, this is in christian doctrine saying everyone is bad so god killed himself to erase sin....

Thanks, i actually missed those, if you think they are very good and worth watching, then, i will watch a few once i find some time.

Overall, i'm very satisfied with a lot of your objections and things like that. My memory is real bad but you seem to have gotten a lot better (i hope i have too) since we last argued over something so stick at it. Ultimately though, i'm not convinced by the free-will defence and this might just come down to our basic facts of our world view. If you write a response i will probably read it but to avoid going around in circles like i said above, i'll probably refrain from replying unless you point out some new huge hole in my argument or present something totally new and very interesting. Thanks overall though.

I hope I didnt repeat myself. I hope you understood my points. Im not arguing for the sake of arguing, my duty as a Muslim is to try and help you understand my way, whether you make the choice or not, its up to you. If you ever need anything message me, thanks and take care my friend, Wa Salaam (Peace be with you).

Edited by pureethics

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[Of course, we all do this on the provisio that it is extremely likely no one will have their views changed by a discussion of this nature. To do so is to waste effort. If we are so close to it we know all the philosophy around it and are willing to disagree about it, it's quiet clear theres little odds anyone will change their mind, so, i say this just to avoid frustration to all and even as a reminder to myself. Also, we should likely realise, we will not reach an amicable conclusion, it'll probably keep going back and forth with rebuttal after rebuttal, we'll never end it.]

Well, I'm not sure about others, but I can say I'm not here to get an atheist to agree with me. I'm here to assess the strengths and weaknesses of my arguments for myself. Sometimes we just need someone to play devil's advocate.

I skipped reading your excerpts, I don’t think ideas from someone “famous” are worth any more or worth any less or should be taken as authoritative. I’m interested in your argument, if I would like theirs I would read their book afterall hey.

The excerpts were not meant to be taken as authoritative. They were intended to make a point. I figured why reinvent the wheel when someone else has already said what you were going to say. So, they were simply included to further clarify my points or explore some of the objections that can be raised.

There is wide agreement on some issues though. You’re creating a false image, you might be misunderstanding what exactly “evil” in the context of argument of evil is. It’s not some mad scientist or supervillian or a supposedly evil doctor, it’s much deeper than that. There is wide agreement that murder is bad, that paedophilia is bad, that kidnapping is bad, cheating on your partner is bad.

There is today. As I said before, the intellectual progression of man gave him the ability to export his ideology more efficiently. The fact that the world is so integrated now as a result of colonization and globalization means people will have similar beliefs. Even the basis of the secular state, is rooted in the monotheistic traditions and their sense of morality. If you go even further back, you can clearly see that much of the Western ideals and beliefs are based upon the works of the classical Greek philosophers (Socrates, Plato, Aristotle). So, we will certainly have similar positions on many of these issues but this was not always the case, particularly in the primitive era. No doubt, the dominant religions of the world had a strong influence on the modern conception of ethics. It would be naïve to overlook the history and development of human culture and civilization and compare where we once were to where we are now.

What if your morality is derived from God? God is all perfect and all knowing, therefore, his moral rules must be perfect. Then, that must be the actual sense of morality.

The Quran agrees that murder is a bad act, it is a positively evil act.

Yes, the dictates of God are the actual sense of morality. However, as stated in my original post this is because there is none who possesses greater authority than God. Our reference to “God” presupposes that He is the Absolute Lawgiver. So, the fact that there is none who is above God implies that we all fall under His domain of authority.

The Quran does obviously consider murder to be evil in most circumstances. However, there are exceptions to this in Islamic moral law. For instance, lying is considered as one of the worst sins a believer can commit. However, there are instances were it may be incumbent on a believer to lie. For example, if lying can save an innocent person’s life or property, then the believer must lie. This is because there is a hierarchy of priorities. Saving the innocent person’s life or property is more important than telling a lie. Sure, these cases are not the norm which is why Islam refers to such acts as sinful, even though there are exceptions.

This is why I suggest that nothing in and of itself is evil, but rather these terms of “good” and “evil” are only applicable in particular cases. For, if lying was in and of itself evil then it should be deemed such in all cases. However, I just provided an instance where the act of lying would not be considered evil. So, how could something be innately evil, yet good at the same time? I don’t see how these are reconcilable. Thus, “good” and “evil” have no meaning in the general sense. They only apply to specific instances.

God is an absolutely all perfect, all moral being. As a supremely moral being, God must act in a supremely moral fashion at all times.

If there is something inherently wrong with murder, God, as the perfect moral being, simply would not murder.

There can only be one set of objective moral truths, if you’re suggesting God can violate these, then you’re suggesting God isn’t a perfectly moral and perfectly good being.

Could God, as the perfect moral being, tell a lie for instance?

It seems even God is subject to some kind of universal morality or concrete rule of reference, which is the very thing you dispute.

Following morality is a necessary condition of God being the perfectly moral being, if God didn’t follow morality, he wouldn’t be an all moral being. Of course, this means God wouldn’t be a totally good being either. Most think goodness is a perfection, so, if we lose goodness, we loose perfection. If God loses perfection, he is no longer a God.

So, either, God cannot murder a totally innocent person for a totally arbitrary reason because it would “unmake” him as a God and thus, God is subject to some kind of morality (disproving your assertion) or God can (in theory, not in actuality) murder a totally innocent person for an arbitrary reason but he is no longer a perfectly moral being,

Thus, even God must be subject to some morals. The famous Islamic philosopher Ibn Rushd held believes along these lines, that there are some actions that are just evil as a fact of that action; this is why God cannot murder an innocent. Not that he chooses not to but he literally cannot as a perfectly moral being.

The logical problem of evil has been disproved for quiet sometime by the work of people like plantinga, all you really need to show is that it’s not a logical impossibility for God and evil to co-exist for some reason, any reason. It's not terribly hard to argue the free will case for example, natural evil, in particular, the creation of things like smallpox or tuberculosis, is another thing entirely.

Indeed, if you deny there are no objective evils or wrongs, then, the rules in the Quran are essentially arbitrary if they are not objective.

Nor do i believe it matters if it is "subjective". The essence is that evil is mostly related to suffering. It doesn't matter if getting raped is somehow just merely a subjectively bad thing (serious assault like this damages almost everyone, certainly, no one is happy about it), the person who has gotten raped still suffers greatly. They have horrible flash backs, social stigma, intense mental anguish that even drives some to the point of suicide. Try tell someone like that their suffering is just simply subjective and they should stop crying about it. Even if suffering is subjective, it doesn't excuse the fact that suffering occurs in the first place. An all good being would allow no one to unjustly suffer (or maybe even suffer at all).

Unless you agree with the statement the Quran is a made up book, we can agree the morals in it are universal morals, murder is defined as bad in the Quran, thus, it is bad, unless you are willing to deny your own God.

Not necessarily. You’re looking at God and His attributes as two distinct entities. That is to say that there is God and then there are His attributes. That these exist outside of God. However, this would imply a sense of duality. When we say attributes we are referring to those qualities which define God. They are inseparable from Him. So, it is not that God cannot commit an act because he would violate His attributes. For instance, He can’t be unjust because that would violate His attribute of being the All-Just. Rather, it is logically impossible for Him to act in a manner that is contrary to His own essence. That is why in the Islamic tradition we also refer to His attributes as the Divine Names. They do not exist outside of God to say that He is subject to them.

As far as pain and suffering go, I already explained this in the original post. Please read the example of the student and teacher. It shows how the act of the teacher is not considered evil even though they possess the ability to alleviate the student from the pain and suffering of the examination.

And I already stated that the dictates of God in the Quran are not arbitrary because when we speak of God it implies that there is none who possesses greater rights or authority over Him. So, whatever God dictates is the actual sense of morality.

(wasalam)

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(salam)

The argument presented in the OP is philosophically untenable, with some inherent contradictions and there are many counter examples that can be presented which cannot be dismissed so easily. It does not present God in a classical theistic light, and more towards the modern conception of God. It attempts to arbitrarily present God as free to do as wish because of His greater right and all our perceived notions fall into the sphere of subjectivity. To delve in to the problem of evil would take a very long time, so I would like to recommend a really good work in this regard. The book is called 'The Reality of God and The Problem of Evil' by Brian Davies. Before dealing with the problem of evil, one must first understand what God is; rather I should say one needs to understand what God is not. Only then, should attempt to deal with the nature of the problem of evil.

Edited by InfiniteAscension

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^ Well, this was written quite awhile ago. My approach has since then changed, dramatically. However, I think there are still some sound points in the argument that was presented. It may not conform to most traditional religious outlooks, but is coherent when examined withhin it's own framework. And actually could even be argued when one assumes a certain Islamic theological perspective (like that of the Ash'arites). Of course, even though I would now likewise disagree with what is typically known as "Divine Command Theory", this is part of classical Islamic thought. So, I would disagree with that bit, namely that this conception of God is a strictly 'modern' conception.

(wasalam)

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