If one believes that there is a creator, a designer of all that is, and that creator is god, then is that god good? christians, muslims and others seem to think so, and so do many pagans.
Let’s start by examining the core of our existence and sustenance on this earth plane---the food chain. Everything that lives needs to eat; and to eat, something else must die. The stronger kills the weaker, often in violent and cruel ways. Watch the parent animals teach their young to hunt in the wild. Pagans revere nature and do rituals in her honor; but the original pagans, those of ancient times, did rituals, not out of adoration, but as an effort to appease nature, hoping she would spare them and provide for them. These pagans often did ritual sacrifices to their gods of nature, acts that I see as murder. Even today’s modern pagans who think that if they raise their own animals and slaughter them “humanely” are really just mentally masturbating a rationale into existence to justify their acts. And the gods made all this possible.
Here’s something else to consider: laboratory results show that plants show stress when they are harvested, even when other plants in their proximity are the ones being harvested. And the gods created these plants and these outcomes.
God created everything; and everything created is sentenced to death at their birth. And no creature knows how or when that death may take place. There is no mercy. Nothing wants to die, even the most “enlightened” pagans. I have seen animals die; I have seen people die; and almost all of them did not want to, the exception being those who suffer pain with no hope to get better. To bring up the ideas of reincarnation and eternal existence from one lifetime to another with the assumption that we go through a process of experiencing karma and integration is unverifiable, and even the idea that there is a god/goddess that is consciously involved in our daily lives requires belief, because there is no evidence of such an entity; rather, experience shows just the opposite.
Life is a series of close calls, until one day something hits you right
between your eyes, and then you die. You can do rituals and you can pray; ask the Jews during the holocaust and ask the slaves down through history that suffered through the atrocities committed against them- did god save them; did he/she show mercy to them? And what about random acts of violence; rape, murder, torture; and how about earthquakes, volcanoes, tsunamis, all made possible as a result of god’s creation? Let’s not even get into free will! I will say this: if you don’t do everything you can to keep yourself out of harm’s way, god will not; if you think that by taking responsibility for your own welfare means invoking god within you to get it done, by all means go ahead. But one day, after all your close calls and near misses, when something finally gets you, chances are it was beyond your control and that means god/goddess rules, more or less indifferently, and impersonally. The ancient Greeks saw gods as fallible and corrupt, and that might does not mean right. The more accurate assumption would be that the gods are amoral, so they cannot be judged good or bad.
By the way; christians and muslims and others believe in a judgment day. Wouldn’t it be compassionate and just, if this were so, that god would be the one on trial, not creation. If creation was so imperfect and “sinful” what does that say about a just and righteous creator/creatrix?! who made it all so? God/goddess is and was never just, or kind, or caring, or good; we just want them to be. So, we create them in our own image, hoping that ultimately god/goddess really cares.
Thank you for posting; you have made some excellent points, although I personally don't see compassion except in the hearts of creation. I view this universe as being largely impersonal, but if there are alternate ones then maybe compassion might exist somewhere...~BB~
Life and death are one.
People often find it hard to not think of God as themselves. Is that why they created her in their own image? ;-) I agree with you for a big deal. And even if you call God or the Gods amoral it assumes a notion of morality. I often thought of the God force as a groundprinciple. Its pretty vein to believe we will ever grasp that principle.
Answer to Epicurus- a Discussion of Divine Justice
There is an old saying aimed at God by the philosopher Epicurus who invented the philosophy known as Hedonism. It goes:
"Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?" - Epicurus
My answer to this speaks from the idea of justice developed out of an understanding of karma and re-existence (both of which I think I can even demonstrate are Biblical if that is of interest).
“Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent...”
That doesn’t follow.... what if evil has a developmental use? Those who believe in God also believe you have an immortal aspect, usually called the soul. In the Bible that one is called the spiritual man or elohim, a god who pre-existed the foundation of the earth. And then you also have a man made from dust on the “6th Day” (after everything else was made) called the earthly man, the animal body in your charge. This one which you ride and try to humanize, the earthly personality, is the one “unto whom it is appointed once to die, and then the judgment”, or a summing up of the fruit of his works. Evil in your sense really just means things that can happen to your body, because of its frailty and mortality, that you don’t want to feel or experience. But if, as spiritual people believe, you are not your body, and your consciousness survives death - and even causes your next body to be formed according to the divine pattern given it -then you are entirely unharmed by anything that happens to it. If it was known for a fact that nothing you could experience could really harm the one who survives death, nothing whatsoever – which if you wake up after you die IS the case - bodily experiences then might be seen as learning situations rather than as anything that does you real harm. Especially if your experiences are mere reaping of what you sow. Like the principal of a primary school, God ensures you have the environment, tools and teachers you need to learn, ensures you are in no real danger and cannot be harmed, and guides the curriculum. But he also ensures that each learns under their own interest and initiative. And instruction is through deeper consideration of what is true, and failing that, through experience.
“Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent...”
Under the above described scenario, since nothing ultimate is actually at risk, where is the malevolence? Human culture is the expression of our ideas and desires. The difficulty arises when desire suppresses intelligence to satisfy or get some feeling you want. When you ignore what things do/are/feel like to others/your body/the environment. You dont care. You just want to feel what you want to feel, and you cant if you have to think about what you know to be true. Like smoking kills the body. The results of suppressing intelligence like this at the behest of unreasoning desire, is mirrored in society as the willingness to condone the actions of vested interests, preference, habit and prejudice, over what people know or see is true, fair, good or real. So mankind learns why not to do this. How? Well, since they will not think (because they are suppressing their knowledge and intelligence to satisfy desire, or craving) the only way to reach them and make them think, when they absolutely will not and do not want to, is to make them feel. More specifically, make them suffer. Evil, so-called, provides the opportunity to smart under unfairness, under someone else's unreasoning desire, under somone else's rationalizations for not caring what you go through.
It brings your willingness to allow things to happen to others, so long as you are not disturbed, up for consideration, by reversing the situation you desire and making you experience it, thereby provoking thinking about it.
“Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil?”
From our own thinking of course. But also, from the higher standpoint of the inner man, from our willingness to develop and evolve as consciousnesses, and use our experiences honestly, to do so. It is our honesty that demands, because of our divine nature which does not lie, that we experience what we sanction. Consider you were about to come into life, and you could influence the ideas your culture adopted and stood for, but that you had no say in the position, gender, power, status, or money you personally would have, or be, in that culture... what ideas then would you promote? Well in an intelligent universe trying to teach selfish people simple ideas about fairness and human decency, experiences which caused them difficulty might be in order IF every time they got into a position to lord it over someone, they did so. The eternal Ideas of God, in the form of the Logos according to Heraclitus, would then have others who were similarly confused about fairness administer balancing doses of pain and difficulty to those who previously imagined this was a cool plan; who doled it out whenever they thought there was no mechanism in place to correct their ignorance, no blowback. This is the "spitting into a fan" explanation of evil. The word karma incidently comes from.... ka from kama, or desire. Ma, from manas, or mind. R, a letter for action or interaction. Thus karma means literally, the action or interaction of mind with desire; the result of that. “Everything we are by thought is wrought and built. If a man think evil, pain follows him as surely as the wheel the ox behind. If a man think good, joy follows him as his own shadow, sure.” - from the Dhammapada.
“Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?”
Since God is normally conceived as comprising all, then evil would be said to come from him, as there could not be an equal and opposite force outside of him, and he still be what we call God. What that means though is that all experiences are controlled to learning, and are in place to accomplish the divine ends projected for our education. In other words, All things work for good to those who love God, or the Light of the World. Since nothing ultimate is at stake and only your selfishness and willed ignorance allows you to suffer, or causes you to suffer, then the picture of what is happening is different than what it appears to be, especially to the vested interests of your ego. Interfering with the lessons your inner being is trying to teach your own personality by preventing them would be the same as constantly telling the child what the solution to the problem was, and not allowing him to work it out and develop his or her own powers.
The above, even if you don’t know that it is true, is a perfectly cogent answer to these questions. You can see them as working hypotheses if you like. They do explain the strangeness of human experience and why earth is, as the Buddhists term it, the place of Middling pain. A place where it was never intended you get comfortable in any permanent sense, as this is not the mind’s real home.