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In the Name of God بسم الله
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mRNA

Can God Be All-Knowing, All-Powerful, And Good?

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This is one of the oldest theological questions around, but I'm not a fan of any of the solutions I've heard. Assuming there is a God, is an omniscient, omnipotent, and good God consistent with a world where innocent people suffer?

Since indisputably innocent people are hurt, get sick, and are killed, (like babies and children), we know that God doesn't stop bad things from happening to good/innocent people. Below are some of the explanations I've heard, but I'd any others that you might have.

 

There are a number of simple ways to explain this:

 

-a) God could be omniscient and good, but be unable to act because he isn't omnipotent.

-b) God could be omnipotent and good, but doesn't know all the bad things that happen because he isn't omnipotent.

-c) God could be omniscient and omnipotent, but at best just not care what happens to people (because God isn't good).

 

 

All of these scenarios are incompatible with the theology of abrahamic religions, and the main way I've heard people attempt to resolve this is by justifying/modifying scenario c). For example:

 

-d) Heaven is so amazing it makes up for the suffering good people experience.

-e) God cannot intervene because it would interfere with free will.

-f) Everything that happens for a reason because it is part of Gods plan, and is better overall.

-g) God is by definition good, so everything that happens is good.

-h) Without bad things we wouldn't have any reference point for what is good.

 

 

I have issue with all of these:

d) this doesn't explain why there had to be the suffering in the first place, or why it's better to have some suffering.

e) It isn't clear why having free will and atrocities is better than no free will and no atrocities

f) It is unclear how children dying from cholera makes anything better.

g) This implies that bad things are good, which is illogical.

h) it isn't clear why we need a reference point for good, and even if why do why the bad has to be so horrific.

 

 

Anyone have any explanations that are logically sound and fit the world?

 

 

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All of these scenarios are incompatible with the theology of abrahamic religions, and the main way I've heard people attempt to resolve this is by justifying/modifying scenario c). For example:

 

Theodicies are not normally a modification of scenario C. I don't think your list contains much which is a modification of it. The list also lacks some of the stronger responses.

Edited by Muhammed Ali

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This is an interesting topic. I'd like to address C:

 

 

-c) God could be omniscient and omnipotent, but at best just not care what happens to people (because God isn't good).

That, by logic, can't be true. If we accept the idea of a God, by definition, this only God is omnipotent as is the source of all Power and the first cause of existence. If God is omnipotent by definition, is also good and perfect by definition. Perfection or good, in out understanding, is a moral judgement. However, essentially, the idea of Good and Perfection, the original and real idea, belongs to the only omnipotent reality which is God. Perfection is defined by God, and He's the source of it. Perfection isn't an attribute of God, because God can't have attributes as we understand them. Saying God is perfect (in the sense of judging Him as a perfect or good being) would mean perfection has an existence apart from God. God, thus, must and only can be the source of Good and Perfection. It's reality defines perfection, and he cannot be not perfect because He's the source of Perfection by itself.

 

The question that arises is, why people suffer when He is Omnipotent, Omniscient and Perfect. We say subhanalah, no wrong nor injustice can come from God, logically speaking. We have to study about the notion of Divine Justice to approach the answer towards this question.

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e) It isn't clear why having free will and atrocities is better than no free will and no atrocities

 

Why isn't it clear ? If at the start of life, people can choose between two options; one is to give up their free will and have no injustices, and the other is to bear injustices while having free will - what do you think will they choose ? For us, losing free will is equivalent to death. How many people would want to live like plants, robots or stones rather than as humans in order to avoid atrocities ? 

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This is an interesting topic. I'd like to address C:

That, by logic, can't be true. If we accept the idea of a God, by definition, this only God is omnipotent as is the source of all Power and the first cause of existence. If God is omnipotent by definition, is also good and perfect by definition. Perfection or good, in out understanding, is a moral judgement. However, essentially, the idea of Good and Perfection, the original and real idea, belongs to the only omnipotent reality which is God. Perfection is defined by God, and He's the source of it. Perfection isn't an attribute of God, because God can't have attributes as we understand them. Saying God is perfect (in the sense of judging Him as a perfect or good being) would mean perfection has an existence apart from God. God, thus, must and only can be the source of Good and Perfection. It's reality defines perfection, and he cannot be not perfect because He's the source of Perfection by itself.

 

The question that arises is, why people suffer when He is Omnipotent, Omniscient and Perfect. We say subhanalah, no wrong nor injustice can come from God, logically speaking. We have to study about the notion of Divine Justice to approach the answer towards this question.

 

If nothing bad can come from God, is disease, war, famine, wrongful conviction, murder, ect. good, or does it come from something that isn't God? If it comes from something else, and God is omniscient and omnipotent, by not preventing it isn't God in part responsible for those things? As an analogy, if a parent has a fridge full of food and doesn't feed their child, they guilty of child abuse. 

 

 

 

The greatest of moral philosophers, Socrates, denies your premise that bad things happen to good people.

He says, 'No evil can happen to a good man, either in life or after death.'

He said this after he was tried on baseless accusations and was unjustly condemned to death, so he was not speaking from an ivory tower. 

 

By denying this premise, by re-defining 'evil' and 'good' in light of reason, rather than on grounds of injury or suffering, which are dubious grounds for morality, the very question of the OP does not arise. 

 

 

 

What about infants who are killed, or die of disease? Are they evil, or is being killed or getting sick good? I'm not quite sure what you mean by "redefining 'evil' and 'good' in light of reason".

 

Why isn't it clear ? If at the start of life, people can choose between two options; one is to give up their free will and have no injustices, and the other is to bear injustices while having free will - what do you think will they choose ? For us, losing free will is equivalent to death. How many people would want to live like plants, robots or stones rather than as humans in order to avoid atrocities ? 

 

 I'm sure some people would disagree as to what decision they would make, and whether free will actually exists, but that is a good point if one assumes that without free will one would be a different person, and who you are would effectively be dead. It then leads to the question of why atrocities are necessary/exist in the first place.

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If nothing bad can come from God, is disease, war, famine, wrongful conviction, murder, ect. good, or does it come from something that isn't God? If it comes from something else, and God is omniscient and omnipotent, by not preventing it isn't God in part responsible for those things? As an analogy, if a parent has a fridge full of food and doesn't feed their child, they guilty of child abuse. 

The same way cold is the lack of hot, the same way evil is the lack of good. Evil thus doesn't exist by itself. Evil didn't come from something that isn't God, evil takes place when the hearts of humans are not empty for only God. God granted us free will and guided us, we (understood as humanity in general and not as a group of specific individuals) are responsible of our situation.

Edited by Bakir

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Thinking about god in human words itself indicate we are going to bound him within Words limit.

 

If it is matter of Sex how many Sex we have .. Male , Female , Omni, Bi ... that is what we got and that is for Species, either you want god to be like you then what is the use of GOD ?

 

God made things for Human so it is suitable for human not for him. He is self satisfied .. and this " Self Satisfied " is also term of Human bcoz we are limited in our words and Dictionary but not he.

 

He is purest then the Pure, Prophet Muhammad (saw) is mercy on earth .. his view on any one is Mercy , when he is not capable to see God .. can you imagine how much pure God is ?

 

So either you deny there is no God or don't try to fix it in your words. Its only logic .. Rest you can think whatever ....

 

Related to Evil ...

 

A knife is designed to cut the vegetable when someone tried on a human body it damaged the skin and blood loss ... the person died. Knife remain same .. the act become Good and Bad. Until the knife was cutting vegetable you will say its Technology human grow and made tools for his easy, but when same tool made someone dead .. then ? From where Evil came.

Edited by alirex

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we should consider two points:

first, that God is good and loves human.The fact that God has created man in the best of forms and has fulfilled all of his needs both in this world and the next, and has created everything for him and put it at his disposal, is the best reason that shows he loves man. Also, he is kind to other creatures for bringing them into existence from nothingness, and fulfilling their needs as well as leading them to their perfection.

All of the evils, ugliness and inconsistencies out there have their reason and justification; if we learn of these reasons we will see that there is no conflict between these evils and God’s kindness and mercy.

the second point is that many Islamic philosophers have taken it to be clear that existence is good, and that goodness is something existential, and that evil is actually privation and absence of good and not something that exists in and of itself.

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Definitions for god are too flexible for this kind of discussion and details with respect to physical empirical evidence are too subjective or scarce. Nobody will be coming to any agreed upon conclusions in this topic. Nor will anyone be convincing anyone of anything that they haven't already preconceived or accepted as truth.

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I'm sure some people would disagree as to what decision they would make, and whether free will actually exists, but that is a good point if one assumes that without free will one would be a different person, and who you are would effectively be dead. It then leads to the question of why atrocities are necessary/exist in the first place.

 

no... you see.. without free will one would neither be different and nor be a person. One would be an object. Free will means to choose, to have the ability to choose, so there must be choices to choose from. One can't choose between peace and peace, good and good. One has to have variety ranging from one extreme to another.. hence atrocities.

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Related to Evil ...

 

A knife is designed to cut the vegetable when someone tried on a human body it damaged the skin and blood loss ... the person died. Knife remain same .. the act become Good and Bad. Until the knife was cutting vegetable you will say its Technology human grow and made tools for his easy, but when same tool made someone dead .. then ? From where Evil came.

 

I agree that some things can be viewed as being caused by human, but many cannot. What about things like malaria, or cancer; they are not the result of any human decision or choice? In what situation are they not bad? 

 

we should consider two points:

first, that God is good and loves human.The fact that God has created man in the best of forms and has fulfilled all of his needs both in this world and the next, and has created everything for him and put it at his disposal, is the best reason that shows he loves man. Also, he is kind to other creatures for bringing them into existence from nothingness, and fulfilling their needs as well as leading them to their perfection.

All of the evils, ugliness and inconsistencies out there have their reason and justification; if we learn of these reasons we will see that there is no conflict between these evils and God’s kindness and mercy.

the second point is that many Islamic philosophers have taken it to be clear that existence is good, and that goodness is something existential, and that evil is actually privation and absence of good and not something that exists in and of itself.

 

I think the premise of your first point is wrong. Consider this: Humans are not the best of forms- take the retina which has the light-detecting cells under a layer of tissue, giving us a "blind-spot", or the fact that we get cancer, or that some children are born with pompe disease and die. Do you claim that these are part of "the best of forms"? And what about the fact that people starve to death: historically that was caused by weather and disease, do you claim starvation counts as fulfilling all our needs?

 

no... you see.. without free will one would neither be different and nor be a person. One would be an object. Free will means to choose, to have the ability to choose, so there must be choices to choose from. One can't choose between peace and peace, good and good. One has to have variety ranging from one extreme to another.. hence atrocities.

 

 

I think this is a false assumption on 3 counts: 1) we have the ability to conceptualize things which we have never seen or experienced (for instance I can understand that starving is bad despite never having starved to death), so you would only need people to be able to understand/conceptualize evil to make a choice, it is unnecessary to experience it. 2) Expanding on the previous point, does that mean people who suffer more have more free will? Do people who have lived a pampered life without suffering have no free will? I suspect you would not agree with that, so clearly having any level of discomfort/pain/suffering beyond that is not needed for free will. 3) I don't think free will as you think of it exists: with the discovery of natural laws (especially physics) the idea that if you have all information about something you can predict perfectly what will happen began to have solid backing. If this is true, and everything is predetermined, there can be no such thing as "free will", in fact even if you allow for the existence of true randomness it still doesn't exist. In order to say your premise is unassailable you must show there is free will, which currently has no proof beyond a doubt in either direction.

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It maybe depends on your definitions of goodness and evil etc. Or on your "God concept",or "free will" notion etc. That is ultimately subjective. I imagine that according to certain formulations the problem of evil refutes that God idea, and for other conceptual formulations there is no problem. Like with maths and physics, some problems in can be solved using imaginary numbers, otherwise we just scratch our heads. So your concepts help define which moves you can make, in theology aswell as mathematics and logic.

 

 

 

Ludwig Wittgenstein

 

A proposition is completely logically analyzed if its grammar is made completely clear: no matter what idiom it may be written or expressed in...

Edited by Luqman72

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I think this is a false assumption on 3 counts: 1) we have the ability to conceptualize things which we have never seen or experienced (for instance I can understand that starving is bad despite never having starved to death), so you would only need people to be able to understand/conceptualize evil to make a choice, it is unnecessary to experience it. 2) Expanding on the previous point, does that mean people who suffer more have more free will? Do people who have lived a pampered life without suffering have no free will? I suspect you would not agree with that, so clearly having any level of discomfort/pain/suffering beyond that is not needed for free will. 3) I don't think free will as you think of it exists: with the discovery of natural laws (especially physics) the idea that if you have all information about something you can predict perfectly what will happen began to have solid backing. If this is true, and everything is predetermined, there can be no such thing as "free will", in fact even if you allow for the existence of true randomness it still doesn't exist. In order to say your premise is unassailable you must show there is free will, which currently has no proof beyond a doubt in either direction.

 

You understand that starving is bad because you have known people who have experienced it, and you have not starved to death but you have starved a little and can thus imagine it. In a world which only has good, even little starvation must not exist. Therefore, the idea of such a world is equivalent to heaven. A world where there is peace and goodness, no evils and hardships, is close to heaven. Such a world is definitely better but if the intended purpose is the growth and development of the souls residing in it - it is not ideal.
 
You see, we're not talking computers or robots which can be made more and more intelligent simply by adding information, we're talking beings with individual consciousness and personalities, for them to develop we do not just have to load them with information in a peaceful environment, as the goal is not to make them more and more intelligent or strong, but the goal is to let them excel in traits such as patience, bravery, courage, wisdom, compassion, mercy, love and righteousness ...and even though such traits could have been implanted in us by God as innate qualities but this goes against the sole reason of gifting free will. 
 
By bestowing us with free will, God has bestowed us with individuality. He wants us to excel on our own. Like a father wants his sons to stand on their own feet by making them take decisions on their own, make choices and learn. If we had innate ability or tendency to do good and only good then what would be the difference between us and angels ? Why are humans better than angels ? Only because humans are not born angelic; they become angelic, if they do. So the whole point of the world, humans, consciousness, ability to feel pain and having free will is to make this possible. Make it possible for us to earn this status. And it can't happen without fighting desires, temptations, evils, bearing calamities and going through pain.
 
On the other hand, there is no point in 'Free will' if you do not have the ability to not do what you can do. For example, if you can show mercy, free will lies in being able to not show mercy as well and be practically able to enact it. Otherwise, free will doesn't truly exist. In this regard evil is the consequence of free will; because humans have free will therefore some choose evil or inflict evil or injustice upon others. As a result there are sufferings.

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In the Koran it is said "He created life and death to see which of you is best in deeds". This implies a trial, and a scale of better and worse actions to choose from. Also in Islamic judgement, afaik, there is the "mizan" or scale on which our good and evil deeds will be weights for better or for worse. If God is "al Adlu" (the Just) then maybe its the case that justice requires expression. Evil is not necessarily down to sin (it can be punishment, trial or purification IIRC). If evil is a temporary trial, then an all good God wold be impelled to actually preserve it in some form, because without it our moral character cannot be weighed, measured and tested.

 

In fact in the Koran it says that God could have created us all as guided people, but He created some for hell. CAnt get my head around that bit to be honest...

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