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  #1  
Old 07-19-2009, 12:31 PM
straggler straggler is offline
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It makes no sense to point to the suffering in this world to argue against "God"

People often point to all the suffering in the world as an argument against God. Sometimes it's to argue against the existence of God, sometimes it's to imply that if there is a God, he's evil.

Christopher Hitchens gets asked in this video what "anti-theism" has contributed to the world. Hitchens responds by saying that theism seemed to offer nothing to Joseph Frtizl's daughter.

But it got me thinking. Why do atheists so often point to the suffering in this world to argue against God? If we take the Abrahamic faiths as our example, we know that the inhabitants of hell will suffer far beyond what any person has suffered in this world. Islamic tradition narrates the story of an inhabitant of the hellfire who will spend every waking moment thinking that nobody could be suffering as much as he is, when in actual fact, he will be the person who is suffering the least. To put it another way, every single inhabitant of hell would, by all accounts, trade their spot with Fritzl's daughter in the blink of an eye. Or, I'll put it another way: If you want to talk about the worst kinds of suffering, you look silly talking about anything earthly.

But silly seems to be how a lot of God bashers don't mind looking.

The Abrahamic faiths also seem to indicate pretty strongly that those who suffer the worst in this life, will have it "the best" in the next life.

If we say for the sake of argument that the God of Abraham is the one true God. I then ask you which scenario is worse:

Spending 24 years locked in a cellar, being raped by your father nearly every day, eventually being freed, living (most likely) for no more than 90 odd years, in which you then transition to the next life, where you will enter a state of eternal bliss, the likes of which you couldn't ever hope to experience here on earth.

Or..

Live a fairly comfortable life here on earth, but due to a pretty selfish existence, burn for an eternity in hell.

If eternal bliss was offered to me for the price of an earthly torment, I'd take it.

Wouldn't anyone?

Last edited by straggler; 07-19-2009 at 12:33 PM..
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  #2  
Old 07-19-2009, 12:39 PM
Bryan Ekers Bryan Ekers is online now
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I don't take the suffering to argue against the existence of God (which is a waste of time), but rather to point out the flaws in any religious interpretation that claims to understand God and that God is merciful and just.
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  #3  
Old 07-19-2009, 12:41 PM
Paul in Qatar Paul in Qatar is offline
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I just wanted to point out that "thoedicy" is my new word for the day. Thank you.
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Old 07-19-2009, 12:49 PM
Alka Seltzer Alka Seltzer is offline
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The problems of evil and arbitary suffering do not disprove the existence of god, but it does suggest that a benevolent god does not exist.

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If eternal bliss was offered to me for the price of an earthly torment, I'd take it.
I find that absurd, why should it be necessary to pay such a price?

In my view, any god that would create a hell does not deserve to be worshipped, only feared.
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Old 07-19-2009, 12:49 PM
raindog raindog is offline
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Originally Posted by Bryan Ekers View Post
I don't take the suffering to argue against the existence of God (which is a waste of time), but rather to point out the flaws in any religious interpretation that claims to understand God and that God is merciful and just.
I don't believe you can "...point out the flaws in any religious interpretation....." with anything but a form of witnessing.

Do you?
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  #6  
Old 07-19-2009, 12:50 PM
raindog raindog is offline
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Originally Posted by Alka Seltzer View Post
The problems of evil and arbitary suffering do not disprove the existence of god, but it does suggest that a benevolent god does not exist.



I find that absurd, why should it be necessary to pay such a price?

In my view, any god that would create a hell does not deserve to be worshipped, only feared.
What if he didn't create such a hell?

How does that change things?
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Old 07-19-2009, 12:51 PM
RickJay RickJay is offline
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Originally Posted by straggler View Post
If eternal bliss was offered to me for the price of an earthly torment, I'd take it.

Wouldn't anyone?
Well, of course.

The problem is that there isn't any eternal bliss. Atheists aren't arguing the pros and cons of earthly suffering versus eternal paradise. They're pointing out the fact that there is no eternal paradise. There's no equation to be worked out there. The existence of earthly suffering is simply one of a jillion arguments against the existence of God; in the sense of the Abrahamic God, earthly suffering is pointless (a person who doesn't suffer much is just as equally rewarded in Heaven as one who does, as long as she's pious.)

I'd agree earthly suffering isn't the strongest argument against God's existence, but only because there are so many other even stronger arguments.

But as Bryan Ekers points out, earthly suffering points to another weakness in the Abrahamic mythology. Even if you were to believe in the invisible-man-in-the-sky monotheistic God, the nature of earthly suffering argues against the default Abrahamic assumption that God loves human beings. If He does, then why bother with life on Earth at all? Why not just create the souls and plop them directly into Heaven? There's no logical argument for the arrangement we have now if God is eternally loving and merciful - so maybe if there is God, He isn't eternally loving and merciful. Perhaps God is sadistic and cruel. Why not? Based on the available evidence it's every bit as reasonable a conclusion.

And historically, "you'll be rewarded in the afterlife" has been used far too often as a way of excusing NOT helping those who are suffering in real life.
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  #8  
Old 07-19-2009, 12:52 PM
raindog raindog is offline
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Originally Posted by straggler View Post
People often point to all the suffering in the world as an argument against God. Sometimes it's to argue against the existence of God, sometimes it's to imply that if there is a God, he's evil.

Christopher Hitchens gets asked in this video what "anti-theism" has contributed to the world. Hitchens responds by saying that theism seemed to offer nothing to Joseph Frtizl's daughter.

But it got me thinking. Why do atheists so often point to the suffering in this world to argue against God? If we take the Abrahamic faiths as our example, we know that the inhabitants of hell will suffer far beyond what any person has suffered in this world. Islamic tradition narrates the story of an inhabitant of the hellfire who will spend every waking moment thinking that nobody could be suffering as much as he is, when in actual fact, he will be the person who is suffering the least. To put it another way, every single inhabitant of hell would, by all accounts, trade their spot with Fritzl's daughter in the blink of an eye. Or, I'll put it another way: If you want to talk about the worst kinds of suffering, you look silly talking about anything earthly.

But silly seems to be how a lot of God bashers don't mind looking.

The Abrahamic faiths also seem to indicate pretty strongly that those who suffer the worst in this life, will have it "the best" in the next life.

If we say for the sake of argument that the God of Abraham is the one true God. I then ask you which scenario is worse:

Spending 24 years locked in a cellar, being raped by your father nearly every day, eventually being freed, living (most likely) for no more than 90 odd years, in which you then transition to the next life, where you will enter a state of eternal bliss, the likes of which you couldn't ever hope to experience here on earth.

Or..

Live a fairly comfortable life here on earth, but due to a pretty selfish existence, burn for an eternity in hell.

If eternal bliss was offered to me for the price of an earthly torment, I'd take it.

Wouldn't anyone?
Thanks for a great post. I suspect you and Pascal would be drinking buddies.

But the responses so far I think are missing your point.
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  #9  
Old 07-19-2009, 12:55 PM
Diogenes the Cynic Diogenes the Cynic is offline
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Your theodicy is that suffering by God in Hell is worse than anything anyone can suffer on earth, therefore allowing suffering on earth is not inconsistent with an omnimax God? That makes no sense whatsoever. You're actually kind of arguing against yourself. Hell itself cannot be consistent with an omnibenevolent God. Arguing that God can be more evil than Joseph Fritzi is not exactly a defense of God's goodness.
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Old 07-19-2009, 12:59 PM
Rigamarole Rigamarole is offline
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That's a pretty sadistic view of things you have there, OP, if you're trying to establish a view whereby God tortures people on Earth just so he can slap them on the back when they get to heaven and say, "Was just messin' with ya. Have to test you to make sure you're worthy, ya know?"

And anyway I'd take the comfortable life on Earth any day, laughing my ass off at the ones who purposely bring hardship and suffering unto themselves because they think they are scoring some sort of Afterlife Points, only to find out that when they die nothing happens except that they rot in a box.
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  #11  
Old 07-19-2009, 01:04 PM
Diogenes the Cynic Diogenes the Cynic is offline
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If eternal bliss was offered to me for the price of an earthly torment, I'd take it.

Wouldn't anyone?
I would not be interested in that deal, no, but the bigger problem with that as an answer to the POE is that no such condition is necessary or logically reconcilable with a benevolent God. Only an evil God would impose rape, or torture or childhood leukemia as a condition for his so-called "Heaven."
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  #12  
Old 07-19-2009, 01:08 PM
FriarTed FriarTed is offline
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Originally Posted by Diogenes the Cynic View Post
...Hell itself cannot be consistent with an omnibenevolent God.
The traditonal idea of Eternal Hell as punishment imposed from outside is indeed inconsistent with the idea of an O-B God. However, if souls are eternal and a soul can harden itself to be eternally irreconcilable to an all-good God, then that soul's eternal rebellion & resulting resentment against that God Who just will not go away is indeed a totally just & proper Hell. While I hold to Annihilation & Universal Salvation as possible options, I cannot deny that a form of Eternal Torment as posited by C.S. Lewis &/or the Eastern Orthodox may well be the final fate of incorrigible souls.
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Old 07-19-2009, 01:13 PM
monstro monstro is offline
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Firstly, if all the suffering in the world can't be used to argue against the existence of God, then neither can all the wonders and beauty be used as an argue for him. I'm frequently told that surely God exists, because there's love and flowers and rainbows and butterflies. But I believe if he gets credit for the good things, he should get credit for the bad things. And if he's responsible for the bad things, then he's not as loving as much as indifferent to his creation. And if he's indifferent, then he doesn't really care for us or our love for him. He's not very lovable or understanding.

Secondly, it's easy to accept suffering if you know there's an external bliss waiting for you. But doesn't that sound awfully convenient? It's no different than the fantasies a wretched prisoner dreams up to help him cope through solitary confinement. The question is, would you still love God even if there was no promise of heaven or hell? Would you follow his commandments and love others even if death was death and there wasn't another door on the other side?

Sounds to me that the concept of heaven is the only incentive for being a Christian, given that God chooses who he'll help or hurt regardless of how much love they have for him. Take away the heaven thing and you're left with nothing but a diety who likes to create both beautiful and ugly things, and allows people to suffer or live abundantly based on a mix of random and non-random factors. Doesn't sound like a very lovable diety to me. Sounds like Chaos.

I'll ask it again: If there was no promise of heaven in the Bible, would you still love God?
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Old 07-19-2009, 01:13 PM
Diogenes the Cynic Diogenes the Cynic is offline
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What does it mean for a soul to "rebel" against God?

How can an individual "resent" something he/she does not believe exists?

How can God expect people to reconcile themselves with him if he is not willing to communicate with them or prove his own existence?

How does any of that justify allowing suffering on earth?

Last edited by Diogenes the Cynic; 07-19-2009 at 01:14 PM..
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  #15  
Old 07-19-2009, 01:19 PM
straggler straggler is offline
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I don't take the suffering to argue against the existence of God (which is a waste of time), but rather to point out the flaws in any religious interpretation that claims to understand God and that God is merciful and just.
Fair enough. But why is it when God bashers/atheists want to present some evidence against God, whether in regards to his existence, his benevolence, theism vs atheism, etc, and they clearly want to present suffering as their evidence, do they pick such silly and comparatively mild examples? Not only do they go for these strange examples, but any sane person would choose an earthly torment for eternal paradise.

Whatever point an atheist is making when he/she references earthly suffering, I sure can't figure it out.

Last edited by straggler; 07-19-2009 at 01:20 PM..
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Old 07-19-2009, 01:22 PM
Grumman Grumman is offline
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If we say for the sake of argument that the God of Abraham is the one true God. I then ask you which scenario is worse:

Spending 24 years locked in a cellar, being raped by your father nearly every day, eventually being freed, living (most likely) for no more than 90 odd years, in which you then transition to the next life, where you will enter a state of eternal bliss, the likes of which you couldn't ever hope to experience here on earth.

Or..

Live a fairly comfortable life here on earth, but due to a pretty selfish existence, burn for an eternity in hell.

If eternal bliss was offered to me for the price of an earthly torment, I'd take it.
What sort of piss-weak god do you worship? Why doesn't this god have the power to let the mortal have their cake and eat it too, living a life without constant rape and then still getting the good ending?
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Old 07-19-2009, 01:24 PM
Alka Seltzer Alka Seltzer is offline
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Fair enough. But why is it when God bashers/atheists want to present some evidence against God, whether in regards to his existence, his benevolence, theism vs atheism, etc, and they clearly want to present suffering as their evidence, do they pick such silly and comparatively mild examples?
Because the existence of hell is not universally accepted by theists.
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Old 07-19-2009, 01:26 PM
straggler straggler is offline
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I would not be interested in that deal, no, but the bigger problem with that as an answer to the POE is that no such condition is necessary or logically reconcilable with a benevolent God. Only an evil God would impose rape, or torture or childhood leukemia as a condition for his so-called "Heaven."
Why did you go for rape, torture and childhood leukemia as your examples? Why not go for runny noses, cold weather and peak hour traffic?

Seems like you wanted to go for some extreme examples of suffering, yes?

Well, you failed pretty badly if this is the worst you could come up with.

Last edited by straggler; 07-19-2009 at 01:28 PM..
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Old 07-19-2009, 01:28 PM
straggler straggler is offline
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Because the existence of hell is not universally accepted by theists.
No problem. Let's assume that those who suffer the worst in this life, have it the best in the next life.

How much suffering would you be prepared to go through during your 90 or so years of earthly existence?
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Old 07-19-2009, 01:29 PM
Slithy Tove Slithy Tove is offline
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(hijack) Hitchens' Quo Vadis joke was originally told by Winston Churchill about Labour MP's Christopher Mayhew, and post-war socialism in general.
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Old 07-19-2009, 01:32 PM
straggler straggler is offline
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What sort of piss-weak god do you worship? Why doesn't this god have the power to let the mortal have their cake and eat it too, living a life without constant rape and then still getting the good ending?
Rewards have to be earned if you want to call yourself "just".
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Old 07-19-2009, 01:34 PM
Skald the Rhymer Skald the Rhymer is offline
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Rewards have to be earned if you want to call yourself "just".
Straggler, can you please explain why we should believe in this God of yours rather than Odin, Zeus, Mithra, Marduk, Morrigan, or Thor?

I'm gonna need a particularly good explanation in the case of Thor.
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Old 07-19-2009, 01:37 PM
monstro monstro is offline
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F Not only do they go for these strange examples, but any sane person would choose an earthly torment for eternal paradise.
Not unless they felt, as I do, that it's an insane set-up.

A sociopath could play a similar game. Let me sexually torture you every hour on top of the hour for ten years and then I'll give you a billion dollars and your own private island where you can live happily for the rest of your life. Would you love that sociopath? Would you gladly submit to the sexual torture and put all your hopes in some mythical-sounding pipedream that you have no proof even exists? Or would you say "HELL NAW!"

That's my whole problem with the Christian logic, my tendency to say "HELL NAW!!!!" to everything. So I guess that makes me insane.

If Christians didn't put such an emphasis on God being loving and wanting a personal relationship with you, then the harping about suffering would be moot. But because Christians in fact do emphasize that God loves you more than you love yourself, then it stands to reason that we can criticize the theology when it chooses to gloss over all personal suffering with stupid platitudes about heaven and God moving in mysterious ways. I much prefer the idea of an indifferent, cold God who's just watching television on a universal-sized TV screen. That kind of God makes sense, given the reality.

Last edited by monstro; 07-19-2009 at 01:39 PM..
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  #24  
Old 07-19-2009, 01:38 PM
Diogenes the Cynic Diogenes the Cynic is offline
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Fair enough. But why is it when God bashers/atheists want to present some evidence against God, whether in regards to his existence, his benevolence, theism vs atheism, etc, and they clearly want to present suffering as their evidence, do they pick such silly and comparatively mild examples?
"Mild?" Was the Holocaust mild? Your argument is asinine. It's like trying to argue that a stovetop can't really burn you because the sun is so much hotter. Actually it's like trying to argue that the SUN isn't really hot, because you believe in a supernatural sun that's way hotter than regular stars. I think you're being incredibly insulting and belittling to people who suffer incredibly in real life, and you don't make it better by saying God can make it hurt even worse after death.

You're also completely missing the point that it's logically impossible for an omnimx God to allow ANY suffering, earthly or otherwise.
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Not only do they go for these strange examples, but any sane person would choose an earthly torment for eternal paradise.
I don't want any part of your paradise, but the real point you're missing is that good God would ever make the DEMAND that anyone (especially utter innocents) suffer earthly torment. There is no conceivable justification for it because there is no conceivable necessity for it.

It's also incredibly weird to try to defend God's sadism on earth by arguing that he's an even bigger scumbag after death.
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Old 07-19-2009, 01:42 PM
Diogenes the Cynic Diogenes the Cynic is offline
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Why did you go for rape, torture and childhood leukemia as your examples? Why not go for runny noses, cold weather and peak hour traffic?

Seems like you wanted to go for some extreme examples of suffering, yes?

Well, you failed pretty badly if this is the worst you could come up with.
You cannot address the Problem of Evil by trying to belittle evil.
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Old 07-19-2009, 01:45 PM
Diogenes the Cynic Diogenes the Cynic is offline
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No problem. Let's assume that those who suffer the worst in this life, have it the best in the next life.

How much suffering would you be prepared to go through during your 90 or so years of earthly existence?
How can a omnibenevolent God demand any suffering at all? It's impossible for an omnimax God to need a reason, therefore it's impossible for God to be omnimax.
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Old 07-19-2009, 01:45 PM
Jimmy Chitwood Jimmy Chitwood is offline
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This is ridiculous.

You invented a place called hell, which is defined by comparison to earthly suffering - viz., the suffering in hell is worse than that by a lot -- and now somehow it's supposed to lend credibility to your position that god exists?

The suffering in this world is brought up to point out the fact that there is suffering, and that your god is a douchebag if he's real, not to "prove" that god must not be real.

If the examples given of actual human suffering aren't bad enough for us to feel like your god isn't that appealing, tell us, what's hell like? What happens there?
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Old 07-19-2009, 01:45 PM
you with the face you with the face is offline
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Fair enough. But why is it when God bashers/atheists want to present some evidence against God, whether in regards to his existence, his benevolence, theism vs atheism, etc, and they clearly want to present suffering as their evidence, do they pick such silly and comparatively mild examples?
Suffering is relative, so what some people think are severe misfortunes may look "silly and comparatively mild examples" to you. But the point remains that we live in a world in which horrible things happen to innocent people on a constant basis. You're going to have hard time convincing me that rape by machete, full-body 3rd degree burns resulting from a drunk driving incident, and children born with painful and disfiguring diseases does not constitute examples of suffering that call into question the sweet mercifulness of an all-loving God.

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Not only do they go for these strange examples, but any sane person would choose an earthly torment for eternal paradise.
I'm not getting the point of this. Just because suffering in hell is supposedly worse than the suffering on earth, why is that an argument for God's existence? And, really, why would anyone willingly and joyfully choose to worship an extortionist? If this was a person we were talking about, we'd have locked them up a long time ago, if not electrocuted them for crimes against humanity.
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Old 07-19-2009, 02:07 PM
Alka Seltzer Alka Seltzer is offline
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Let's assume that those who suffer the worst in this life, have it the best in the next life.

How much suffering would you be prepared to go through during your 90 or so years of earthly existence?
Lets rephrase that question. You, and everyone else, are the inmates of a prison. The length of your sentance is determined arbitarily. The all-powerful govenor has installed CCTV, covering every angle of the prison. He has arranged it so that upon your release you will receive a sum of money, gving you the opportunity to to set-up your new life. The amount you are given is determined by how badly you are treated by your fellow inmates and the guards. You earn dollars for receiving abuse, beatings and suffering rape.

You are asking me if I'd be willing to pick fights with gang-members and how often I'd bend over for the soap in the shower. Can you not see how absurd that is?

Some questions for you Straggler. Do you believe in the existence of hell? If so, what crimes do you believe merit being committed to eternal torture? Do you beleive that the only purpose of life is to determine the fate of your eternal soul?
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Old 07-19-2009, 02:11 PM
Bryan Ekers Bryan Ekers is online now
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I don't believe you can "...point out the flaws in any religious interpretation....." with anything but a form of witnessing.

Do you?
Yes. If a religion is described to one, one can point out the contradictions it contains, both with itself and with empirical evidence. Perhaps a religion exists which is free of contradictions. I'm not familiar with it, but I'll accept the possibility.
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Old 07-19-2009, 02:25 PM
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... And historically, "you'll be rewarded in the afterlife" has been used far too often as a way of excusing NOT helping those who are suffering in real life.
Long-haired preachers come out every night,
Try to tell you what's wrong and what's right;
But when asked how 'bout something to eat
They will answer with voices so sweet:

You will eat, bye and bye,
In that glorious land above the sky;
Work and pray live on hay,
You'll get pie in the sky when you die.


The Preacher and the Slave by Joe Hill (1911)

CMC fnord!
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  #32  
Old 07-19-2009, 02:34 PM
SSG Schwartz SSG Schwartz is offline
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straggler,

The way I see your argument is this; If I want to be truly blessed when this life is over, I should go out and rob and beat homeless people. After all, they are suffering in this life. I should maim and torture young children. Maybe disfigure a few people by setting them on fire. Not killing anyone, you understand, but leaving them alive, hurting and of course suffering so as these people will have an eternal reward. During the course of my trial, I should accept Jesus Christ as my lord and savior and ask for forgiveness. When I am imprisoned I will suffer for the rest of my days. Both from the abuse from the other inmates, and from the memories of the horrors I have inflicted on others. And it would horrify me, because I am a basically good person. I would have to live with the sounds of the screams and the look on the faces of the people I chose to harm to give them a greater reward in the kingdom of heaven. Could I then sit at god's footstool?

SSG Schwartz
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Old 07-19-2009, 02:48 PM
Euphoria Euphoria is offline
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I believe that organized religion is man's agenda. Read the histories of organized religions to see how a few with a message can manipulate and control the masses. What is a better way to control a society than to convince them that a god in the skies is watching their every move and will punish them eternally if they do the wrong things? Let's not forget the business factor of religion. Religion=big business.
I look at organized religion and spirituality in two different lights. I am very questioning of organized religion, but I have my own spiritual beliefs. I can believe in a higher power without having to dish out the greenbacks. That's my two cents.
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Old 07-19-2009, 04:00 PM
gonzomax gonzomax is offline
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No problem. Let's assume that those who suffer the worst in this life, have it the best in the next life.

How much suffering would you be prepared to go through during your 90 or so years of earthly existence?
Suffering here is a sure thing. But on the off chance a sky god has a nifty place for an eternity of bliss, should you think" I got Lukemia ,I had my legs cut off in a car accident, I went blind at the age of 5. Damn did I get lucky" Just think how good I am going to have it in this place priests and shamans assure me is there. Yea me.
It is a stupid argument because your heaven does not exist. You can not be assured you just have been dealt a crappy life.
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Old 07-19-2009, 04:46 PM
Sage Rat Sage Rat is online now
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Originally Posted by straggler View Post
But it got me thinking. Why do atheists so often point to the suffering in this world to argue against God?
Because most people pray to God to give them health and happiness, and often say that everything in the world that is good is His, and everything bad is due to Human Fault or Bad Luck. For instance, there was a thread a while back about a plane which nearly crashed, except for the pilot was able to "miraculously" bring it down safely. The popular Christian media held it up the miracle as a proof of God. Anyone with half a brain noted that you could just as easily that God caused the plane to short out and it was the skill of someone who worked really hard to get good at his job that brought it down safe.

The argument might be not-in-keeping with official Christian theology, but practically no-one actually follows any of the various branches of official Christian theology much beyond in name only.

Last edited by Sage Rat; 07-19-2009 at 04:50 PM..
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Old 07-20-2009, 12:11 AM
The Lurker Above The Lurker Above is offline
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Originally Posted by straggler View Post
Fair enough. But why is it when God bashers/atheists want to present some evidence against God, whether in regards to his existence, his benevolence, theism vs atheism, etc, and they clearly want to present suffering as their evidence, do they pick such silly and comparatively mild examples? Not only do they go for these strange examples, but any sane person would choose an earthly torment for eternal paradise.

Whatever point an atheist is making when he/she references earthly suffering, I sure can't figure it out.
Generally speaking, atheists don't *believe* in an afterlife. So generally when pulling up examples of suffering we're going to stick to the earthly kind, cause that exists.

Getting upset at atheists using earthly rather than unearthly suffering in their POE arguements is like getting mad at biologists for describing the evolution of horses instead of the *much* more interesting unicorn family tree.
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Old 07-20-2009, 12:53 AM
madmonk28 madmonk28 is offline
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I'm an atheist, but for me the suffering doesn't offer proof that there is no God. The suffering does offer proof that if there is a God, he is a complete son of a bitch and does not deserve to be worshipped by me. If anything, He should be looking at how I live my life as a role model (I don't think I've ever caused even one plague).

Last edited by madmonk28; 07-20-2009 at 12:54 AM..
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  #38  
Old 07-20-2009, 02:51 AM
ashman165 ashman165 is offline
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Originally Posted by straggler View Post
Fair enough. But why is it when God bashers/atheists want to present some evidence against God, whether in regards to his existence, his benevolence, theism vs atheism, etc, and they clearly want to present suffering as their evidence, do they pick such silly and comparatively mild examples? Not only do they go for these strange examples, but any sane person would choose an earthly torment for eternal paradise.

Whatever point an atheist is making when he/she references earthly suffering, I sure can't figure it out.
Well, no sane person would accept your premise. Anyway, pointing out the pain, rapes, murders, tortures of people isn't an argument against a god; only against your god because, according to his PR people, he's a good, just, compassionate, merciful, loving god. Well, such a person wouldn't torture, rape, murder and/or torture people. Moreover, emotional blackmail would cut against any concept of such a god.

There's no guarantee though that simply suffering in this world gets one an eternity of paradise. Indeed, the deciding factor has never been how much one suffers here; rather it seems, how much one can suppress one's rational faculties and proclaim a faith in said god, and to do the rites and rituals and all that jazz.
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Old 07-20-2009, 02:54 AM
Kobal2 Kobal2 is offline
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I don't get it. Is your point that the worst suffering in this world is peanuts compared to the eternal and unimaginably cruel suffering your God reserves to some of us, and that's a proof that God's kind ?

I'm sorry, but that totally fails to parse on this side of the screen.
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Old 07-20-2009, 03:10 AM
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Originally Posted by straggler View Post
But it got me thinking. Why do atheists so often point to the suffering in this world to argue against God? If we take the Abrahamic faiths as our example, we know that the inhabitants of hell will suffer far beyond what any person has suffered in this world. Islamic tradition narrates the story of an inhabitant of the hellfire who will spend every waking moment thinking that nobody could be suffering as much as he is, when in actual fact, he will be the person who is suffering the least.
Judaism, as I learned it, has no hell and no suffering in hell, so you goyim can keep the concept. Even when I used to believe in God I didn't believe in hell. My God wasn't a sick piece of scum.

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The Abrahamic faiths also seem to indicate pretty strongly that those who suffer the worst in this life, will have it "the best" in the next life.
Cite? Judaism certainly doesn't believe that, and I've never seen evidence Christianity does. If you want to make up your own religion, be my guest.

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If eternal bliss was offered to me for the price of an earthly torment, I'd take it.

Wouldn't anyone?
Suffering today for the vague and unsubstantiated rumor of a better life to come? Only an idiot would choose that. Let's see the video at least. Your god is slimier than a used car salesman.
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Old 07-20-2009, 05:10 AM
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I think of it as this:

Immortal souls, a benevolent god, and hell. Even conceptually, only two of this three things together make any sense.

Really, what could a human do to deserve eternal punishment? I never understood that. Even more, people seemed to enjoy thinking about others suffering in hell. I don't know, I wouldn't even say hitler deserves hell (and I hope I dont goodwinize the thread). I mean, eternal punishment? That is sick.

So comparing anything to hell will only make any sense to people who believe in it. I would even go further, any god who creates a conscious, feeling being with the ability to suffer and places it in a world like ours in with it will suffer must be considered evil. And if religion claims god to be good, well, then something's off. The argumentation in the OP only makes sense if you are on his/her side already.
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Old 07-20-2009, 08:58 AM
Jackmannii Jackmannii is offline
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Originally Posted by straggler View Post
Why do atheists so often point to the suffering in this world to argue against God?
And lightning struck once, and lightning struck twice
And I said "If there's a God, He sure ain't nice"
And Chuck said "God is an Indian giver
I don't trust nothing but the Mississippi River"


The Rainmakers - "Downstream"
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  #43  
Old 07-20-2009, 09:02 AM
CurtC CurtC is offline
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Originally Posted by ashman165 View Post
Well, such a person wouldn't torture, rape, murder and/or torture people.
You said "torture" twice.


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Originally Posted by Voyager View Post
Cite? Judaism certainly doesn't believe that, and I've never seen evidence Christianity does. If you want to make up your own religion, be my guest.
Luke 16: 19-31: In the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, the rich man goes to hell, because as Abraham explains, he had a good life on earth and so now he will be tormented. Whereas Lazarus, who was miserable on earth, is now in heaven. This seems fair to Jesus.
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Old 07-20-2009, 09:09 AM
Kobal2 Kobal2 is offline
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You said "torture" twice.
He likes torture.
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Old 07-20-2009, 09:36 AM
smiling bandit smiling bandit is offline
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All the sources we have on the subject imply that basically, God tosses you out. There is a very good reason why Lewis* among many others, as he was hardly the first to do so but the clearest expositor, though of Hell as being something very unlike a prison. The parables of the Bible, in fact, specifically talk about people being exiled away from their true home or cast outside the warm and inviting home of their true friend or master. Meanwhile, it look at redemption in terms of returning home (the Prodigal Son, etc.) or being invited inside.

However, God does not in any of them go about burning people. In fact, He essentially implies that he forever leaves them alone exactly as they demanded.

* Those unfamiliar with Christian theology may wonder why this is, as Hell and Damnation tend to loom rather large as being associated with Christianity in the popular mind today. This is actually a bit odd and a bit American. A considerable interest in Hell was more a Protestant or populist thing (Dante's Inferno, after all, is a work of fiction which loosely uses popular theology of his day as background). Most serious theologians don't really consider it all too much, as it isn't really their business to deal in Hell, so to speak. In America particularly, early Protestant thinkers had a strong emphasis in sin and damnation and redemption, and it certainly characterd American popular ideas about religion. In Catholic or Orthodox churches, at least, it's not something which gets casually mentioned very often.

I blame the old Jonathan Edwards. Not the new one, who is a really crappy magician.
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Old 07-20-2009, 09:36 AM
Bryan Ekers Bryan Ekers is online now
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Originally Posted by CurtC View Post
You said "torture" twice.
He likes torture.
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  #47  
Old 07-20-2009, 09:37 AM
Bryan Ekers Bryan Ekers is online now
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Dagnabbit!
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Old 07-20-2009, 09:42 AM
hotflungwok hotflungwok is offline
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Originally Posted by raindog View Post
I don't believe you can "...point out the flaws in any religious interpretation....." with anything but a form of witnessing.
This is a ridiculous attempt to distort the definition of witnessing. This is also the third thread I've seen you pull this same tactic. Witnessing in a religious context has a specific meaning. Using logic and evidence to argue against a religious position is not witnessing, and trying to say that it is fails for the exact same reason that the old and lame 'atheism is a religion' claim fails. It's not.
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Old 07-20-2009, 09:59 AM
Diogenes the Cynic Diogenes the Cynic is offline
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Originally Posted by smiling bandit View Post
All the sources we have on the subject imply that basically, God tosses you out. There is a very good reason why Lewis* among many others, as he was hardly the first to do so but the clearest expositor, though of Hell as being something very unlike a prison. The parables of the Bible, in fact, specifically talk about people being exiled away from their true home or cast outside the warm and inviting home of their true friend or master. Meanwhile, it look at redemption in terms of returning home (the Prodigal Son, etc.) or being invited inside.

However, God does not in any of them go about burning people. In fact, He essentially implies that he forever leaves them alone exactly as they demanded.
This still sounds like passive-aggressive, victim blaming horseshit to me. Who's "demanding" anything? You can't make demands from an entity you have no idea exists. This explanation doesn't let God off the hook for anything. He's still eternally punishing people for basically nothing. Trying to cast it as an informed, conscious choice on the part of the victims does not pass the smell test, especially the "informed" part. God has no right to make any demands or set any conditions as long as he refuses to prove his own existence.

This is all off-topic from the POE, though.
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Old 07-20-2009, 11:24 AM
Marley23 Marley23 is offline
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I keep reading "POE" as "purity of essence."

The problem of evil, or suffering in general, don't argue against the existence of an impersonal god. But they're fairly convincing arguments against any kind of compassionate and just god - and if they weren't, people wouldn't have been struggling with these issues for millennia. And when people point this out, the response usually takes one of two forms: "keep saying that and you'll go to hell," or "you can't understand what god is doing." The OP has chosen the former. One's a threat and the other is thoroughly unsatisfying for many people.
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