Friday, November 28, 2008

Hurdles for theists

There are many situational facts which may seem incompatible with a 3-O deity. Arguments have been made on either side that we have looked at. My question, which is the greatest problem for the theist to solve in order to dispel non-believers' claims? Personally I believe that evil is the greatest problem; certainly God could conceive of a situation in which the world could function in a way that one may soul-build yet be absent of evil. It seems reasonable that a God would be capable of producing beings without the faculties of choosing/doing wrong. Your problem?

Sunday, November 23, 2008


So I may be jumping ahead, in talking about this article but I wanted to tie this in with our discussion about Karma. When we were discussing the philosophical problems with Karma, I was surprised to note that Karma and its ties to the caste system, and the suffering derived from castes that is ignored because of the concept of Karma was never brought up. To me this seems to be the most damaging argument--that Karma in a way desensitizes people to others suffering. Perhaps this is a branch of the determinism problem, but I think Rushdie's editorial touches on the problem of desensitization in an interesting way. Any thoughts?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


After reading "Karma, Rebirth, and the Problem of Evil", the argument that was presented caused me to believe that maybe Karma doesn't actually offer an explanation for suffering and evil. I have always thought that Karma offered a good explanation for the some people or cultures of why evil and suffering exists, but this article caused me to rethink my ideas. The main point that caught my attention was the idea of the memory problem. In order to learn and progress, we must learn from our mistakes. Since in Karma you do not know what punishments are being given for, whether from a past life mistake, or a recent mistake, there seems to be no way to morally progress. This idea puzzles me because no one would ever know which wrong doing they are being punished for and can't learn. Also the idea of death puzzles me with Karma. Everyone eventually dies which means everyone has done wrong and is being punished, but if someone does everything right, like for example Jesus? Some explanations are given in the reading, but I don't think they totally answer the question.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Okay, I am still hung up on something that maybe someone can help me with. A few weeks ago, we were talking about religious experience; I believe the Julian of Norwich reading. If I recall, the terms "religious" and "spiritual" were being used interchangeably. I said something in class on how I did not think that they mean the same thing. I am still wondering about it. Spirituality to me seems less organized and structured than religion. I looked up 'spiritual' on Merriam-Webster and saw that there are different definitions. Some having to do with religious matters and the one that I think I was hinting at; "of or relating to supernatural beings or phenomena". Its the awe that one feels witnessing a sunset or the feeling when in a place of meaning, such as an ancient ruin or a historically significant location. The first beliefs humankind might have had (as I see it) would have been spiritual. Did religion then grow from a group of people's spiritual beliefs? Does spirituality still exist or has it been replaced by religion? Can someone who is a firm believer in some religion be also spiritual? So I guess I need to find the distinction (if one exists). These seem like petty questions or something that should be obvious, but I have been thinking about them.

Monday, November 3, 2008

3-O God and Existence of Evil

I noticed something I believe Matt said right before the end of class today that we didn't get a chance to expand upon, and I believe might have supported the general argument we were debating. Taking for granted that a 3-O god is a creator god, wouldn't it necessarily follow that the creation of evil had to have come from this god? In which case, it seems to me that this would completely negate the omnibenevolent claim. And if we argue that evil is not created by this god, but either has always existed or was created by some other force, wouldn't this negate the omnipotent claim? Basically, this evidence seems to reiterate our stated argument that "Since evil exists... no 3-O god can exist."

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Revelation as Authority

Our discussion about religious experience got me thinking about what actually counts as evidence or authority. It seems to me that there are so many levels of possible deception that make it impossible to determine whether a religious experience is really genuine. There is the possibility that the person is lying, and did not really have the experience. Then there is the possibility that they really did have the experience, but it was a dream or hallucination or from some other natural explanation. Last there is the possibility that they really had the experience, and it really was God or something supernatural communicating with them, but that thing itself is actually deceiving the person. Most people of faith would be uncomfortable with the possibility that their revelation is genuine, but God is actually lying to them, but I bring it up simply as a logical possibility. It is also possible that Satan or whatever other supernatural being is posing as God to give someone a revelation. Deception can enter the picture at any point in this chain, and even if you are the person experiencing the revelation, how can you even determine its validity, let alone convince anyone else of it?

This is important because ultimately all religion comes down to a spiritual experience of some kind. Christians take the Bible as their authority, but what gives it its authority? The revelations given to the prophets and other authors, and later Paul's vision of Jesus are all varieties of revelation, as is the recitation of the Qur'an to Muhammed. Even the canonization process ultimately goes back to asking what authority the compilers of the Bible had to do so, which is connected to apostolic succession and their own religious experiences. What makes one legitimate and not the other, and how do you know? We can't say that all religious experiences are equally legitimate because obviously some are mutually exclusive. So we must have a way to distinguish what is real from what isn't. There seems to be no way to do this besides one's own personal conviction in the strength of their experience, but anyone from any other faith has the same argument and equal convictions of their own.