RE: Evil ? (was: Hypostases (was: Natural Order & Belief)

From: Stathis Papaioannou <>
Date: Mon, 8 Jan 2007 20:55:23 +1100

Tom Caylor writes:

> Stathis Papaioannou wrote:
> > Tom Caylor writes:
> >
> > > > So you believe that the Qur'an is the literal word of God? What I was hoping is that
> > > > you would say Muhammed was deluded or lying, so that the Qur'an is at best an
> > > > impressive piece of literature with some interesting moral teachings: i.e., what atheists
> > > > say about the Bible.
> > > >
> > > > Stathis Papioannou
> > >
> > > No, I was just answering your question. I'm going out on a limb (not
> > > referring to Shirley McLane ;) but I think that the belief in Islam
> > > about the Qur'an is that it fulfills the role of the 2nd/3rd
> > > hypostates, instead of the person of Jesus. It is eternal and spans
> > > the infinite gap between God and man. For the Christian, Jesus
> > > fulfills this role. (Also, Jesus, being a person, solves the problem
> > > of the infinite relationship gap between us and God in a from-God-to-us
> > > direction rather than the from-us-to-God direction of good works. Good
> > > works are only finite.) So as I see it the Christian has a different
> > > belief about the Bible than does the Muslim about the Qur'an. There
> > > are plenty of good sources about the Christian's belief about the
> > > Bible, and evidence to support those beliefs, so I don't want to get
> > > into a long discussion about it on this List. I'll just say that I
> > > believe that a non-Christian can read the Bible, and about the Bible,
> > > to try to find out something in a rational way, just like reading any
> > > other book.
> >
> > Sure, the Bible contains some historical facts, some moral teachings, some great literature,
> > as does the Qur'an. But there are literal conflicts between the Bible and the Qur'an, eg.
> > Muslims believe that Jesus was just another prophet, not God in human form [if that concept
> > is even coherent], while Christians do not believe that Muhammed actually took dictation from
> > God. But in terms of empirical evidence, general plausibility, or even strength of conviction in
> > believers, there isn't much to choose between the two faiths. Why do Christians and Muslims
> > agree on certain incredible-sounding things of which they generally have no direct experience,
> > such as the Earth being spherical, but strongly disagree on other things such as the status of
> > Jesus and whether he really rose from the dead?
> >
> > Stathis Papaioannou
> People disagree on lots of things, especially if it touches on ultimate
> questions, for instance as I mentioned about the Christians' belief
> that Jesus is the solution to the problem of evil (from-God-to-us) and
> Muslims' (and all other belief systems that recognize the problem of
> evil) belief that the solution depends on our good works (or something
> similar, from-us-to-God/Good). Do you recognize the problem of evil,
> and if so, what do you believe is the solution? Do you think that the
> MWI is the key to the solution?

People disagree on lots of things, but they also agree on lots of things, many of which are on the face
of it either incredible or unpleasant - because the evidence leaves them no choice. On matters of values and
religion, however, they disagree far more frequently. In the case of values this is because they are not
actually disgreeing about any empirical or logical fact: they are just saying this is the way I wish to live my
life, this is what I hold to be good or important, this is what I would like other people to hold good or important.

In the case of religion, people disagree because they are selective in the evidence they accept because they
want to believe something. Jews believe that God spoke to Moses, but they don't believe that God spoke to
Muhammed. I don't think there is evidence that God spoke to either of them, but if your standards of evidence
are much lower than mine and you accept one, you are being inconsistent if you don't accept the other. That is,
if you think the sort of evidence presented in holy books, reports of miracles, religious experience, strength of
faith in followers etc. is convincing, then pretty well every religion is equally convincing. That is not the case if
you compare the evidence for a flat Earth versus a spherical Earth, for example.

As for the Problem of Evil, that's easy: there is no evidence that there is a God; if there is a God, there is no
evidence that he cares what happens to us; if he does care what happens to us there is no evidence that he
intervenes in our lives; if he does intervene there is no evidence that things are any better than they would be
if he didn't intervene.

Stathis Papaioannou
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Received on Mon Jan 08 2007 - 04:55:41 PST

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