New Civilization News: DOES EVIL EXIST?    
 DOES EVIL EXIST?11 comments
12 Sep 2004 @ 12:04, by Lydia Teo


This may or may not be a true story but it is a nice bit of logic

A university professor challenged his students with this question. "Did
God create everything that exists? A student bravely replied, "Yes, He

"God created everything?" the professor asked. "Yes, sir," the student

The professor answered, "If God created everything, then God created
evil, since evil exists. And according to the principal that our works
define who we are, then God is evil." The student became quiet before
such an answer.

The professor was quite pleased with himself, and boasted to the
students that he had proven once more that the faith in God is a myth.

Another student raised his hand and said, "Can I ask you a question,
professor?" "Of course," replied the professor. The student stood up and
asked,"Professor, does cold exist?"

"What kind of question is this? Of course it exists. Have you never
been cold?" The students snickered at the young man's question.

The young man replied, "In fact, sir, cold does not exist. According to
the laws of physics, what we consider cold is, in reality, the absence
of heat. Everybody or object is susceptible to study when it has or
transmits energy. Absolute zero (-460 degrees F) is the total absence of
heat. All matter becomes inert and incapable of reaction at that
temperature. Cold does not exist. We have created this word to describe
how we feel if we have no heat."

The student continued. "Professor, does darkness exist?" The professor
responded,"Of course it does."

The student replied, "Once again you are wrong, sir. Darkness does not
exist either. Darkness is, in reality, the absence of light. We can
study light, but not darkness. In fact, we can use Newton's prism to
break white light into many colors and study the various wave lengths of
each color. You cannot measure darkness. A simple ray of light can break
into a world of darkness and illuminate it. How can you know how dark a
certain space is? You measure the amount of light present. Isn't this
correct? Darkness is a term used by man to describe what happens when
there is no light present."

Finally, the young man asked the professor, "Sir, does evil exist?" Now
uncertain, the professor responded, "Of course, as I have already said.
We see it everyday. It is in the daily example of man's inhumanity to
man. It is in the multitude of crime and violence everywhere in the
world. These manifestations are nothing else but evil."

To this the student replied, "Evil does not exist, sir, or at least it
does not exist unto itself. Evil is simply the absence of God. It is
just like darkness and cold -- a word that man has created to describe
the absence of God. God did not create evil. Evil is not like faith, or
love, that exist just as does light and heat. Evil is the result of what
happens when man does not have God's love present in his heart. It's like
the cold that comes when there is no heat, or the darkness that comes
when there is no light."

The professor sat down. The young student's name -- Albert Einstein.

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12 Sep 2004 @ 17:23 by jmarc : Thinking...
Does this rule out omniscience as a characteristic of GOD?  

12 Sep 2004 @ 19:02 by spells : A more direct question....
It is really besides the point if evil exists, because what does exist is intention. A better question would be: Does the intent of evil exist? Intention is behind every action, it is THE motive force. There is impure, low, unsavory intention, which may be denied or lied about by many.
A Higher Source would have pure and high intent. Even our soul's are made up of intent elements and focusing on such can raise one's vibration, love states, positivity, clarity and energy, to name a few. But one must acknowledge that intent is behind all action before one can even tap into this.  

14 Sep 2004 @ 12:14 by namakando : Satan Enigma
A discussion on evil is incomplete without introducing the 'Satan factor'in the picture.To what extent are humans liable for their actions?Is everything good DIVINE and everything EVIL satanic in origin?Are we as humans merely Marrionettes on strings?Are we incapable of originality in Deed or action?The common practice in Christendom of blaming every evil thing we do on the Devil because we were powerless in preventing our actions and their outcomes is to say the least disappointing.
The only hope i can express here is,as humans we posses the same equal potential for Evil as we have for good,yeees in equal measure!!
It's ultimately up to each one of us to choose!So what is it going to be?
The choice is ours,

14 Sep 2004 @ 14:32 by nednednerb @ : on the absence of loving intent
One can leave their reason and emotions behind to merely act as to achieve the result of some preset goal. Without responsiveness to our reason and emotions, any goal can still be pursued. With these 'vouchsafes' left behind, achieving of a preset goal may include neglect or suppression of what reason and emotions seek to provide for.

Evil would seem to me as a possibility encountered in an absence of 'good faith' in one's fellow human and living planet as the reason for life and provider of constructive or beneficial emotion.  

15 Nov 2004 @ 11:29 by newdawn : my views
*intention is what is behind all action manifest in the physical world.
*we place a "good"/"bad" judgement call on all actions we see manifesting in the world around us
*the choice is always ours
*we choose whether we wish to be a participant or observer of "good" or "evil" actions
*the One creative energy pervailes all of creation everywhere and where it is not, there is no creation as there is only One creative energy of which we are all a part
*we all play the game we made up  

30 Nov 2004 @ 07:19 by john @ : einstein/atheist prof.
It's not true... check this URL

Claim: While a student, Albert Einstein humiliated an atheist professor by using the "Evil is the absence of God" argument on him.

Status: False.  

30 Nov 2004 @ 12:43 by spiritseek : Evil
seems to be also the presence of fear. I believe the correlation of LIVE versus EVIL,if one doesn't truely love life then their intent is evil and fear is there.Fear comes from many reasons but the root of fear is lack of understanding.  

15 Jan 2007 @ 03:11 by Jay @ : how to read
You know that one? Good. Time to deconstruct it. Let's get started.
First - this story is an urban legend.

Second - Einstein was a Pantheist, by definition. Practically an atheist in disguise.

"I believe in Spinoza's God who reveals himself in the orderly harmony of what exists, not in a God who concerns himself with fates and actions of human beings." Upon being asked if he believed in God by
Rabbi Herbert Goldstein of the Institutional Synagogue, New York,
April 24, 1921, Einstein: The Life and Times, Ronald W. Clark, Page 502.

"It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it." - Albert Einstein in Albert Einstein: The Human Side

Third - Einstein is only put forth as the author because he's about the only genius that the unawashed masses are aware of.

Fourth - The college professor is put forth as an arrogant, dogmatic man who views science as a religion and views questions from students as a challenge to his worldview. The student is put forth as a polite, honest, skeptic. The reality is that the roles are reversed: while a scientist can be dogmatic and a theist can be skeptical, science itself is skeptical, and religion itself is dogmatic. The emotional immaturity of the professor is a projection of the emotions found in the sort of theist who would actually be inspired by this tripe.

Fifth - Cold is not 'the absence of heat' anymore than "heat is the absence of cold'. Both 'hot' and 'cold' have to do with the motion of atomic and subatomic particles - "hot" and "cold" are not the opposite or the lack of one another, they are both subjective evaluations of the same thing - movement.

Sixth - This Thomistic-Augustinian semantic farce doesn't solve the problem of evil. Since an "evil" act requires human intent, a cognition, it's clearly ridiculous to call "evil" a non entity.
Seventh - "Evil is simply the absence of God"? - God is defined in the bible as omnipresent, ergo there can be no 'absence of god' as per the negative trait applied to 'god'.

Eighth - Isa 45:7 - I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these [things].
Note: some respond by stating that later versions of this passage change the word 'evil' to something else, such as causing disaster. However, to purposely cause disaster is to act in an evil manner, so
this 'solution' just moves the problem one step back.
In addition, Rook Hawkins points out that a christian trying to defend this claim through redefinition has a lot of redacting to do:
”Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that good and evil come?”
(Lam. 3:38).
”...that I may repent of the evil, which I purpose to do unto them because of the evil of their doings” (Jer. 26:3).
”...all the evil which I purpose to do unto them; that they may return every man from his evil way; that I may forgive their iniquity and their sin” (Jer. 36:3).
”I gave them also statutes that were not good, and judgments whereby they should not live. And I polluted them in their own gifts....” (Ezek. 20:25-26).
”For thus saith the Lord; as I have brought all this great evil upon this people, so will I bring upon them all the good that I have promised them” (Jer. 32:42).
”...shall there be evil in a city, and the Lord hath not done it?” (Amos 3:6).
See also: Jer. 11:11, 14:16, 18:11, 19:3, 19:15, 23:12, 26:13, 26:19, 35:17, 36:31, 40:2, 42:10, 42:17, 44:2, 45:5, 49:37, 51:64, Ezek. 6:10, Micah 2:3, 1 Kings 21:29, 2 Chron. 34:24, and 2 Chron. 34:28

Now, to visualize such a dialogue in an environment with REASON and without PREJUDICE, this is how it should've looked like.

Dialogue with a young theist.

A philosophy professor challenged his students with a form of the Euthyphro dilema: Did 'God' create everything that exists?" A student replied, "Yes, he did!" (The 'bravely' part is removed, seeing as
civil disagreement is the very point of philosphy courses, no bravery is required for dissent. In fact, civil dissent is often rewarded in a philosophy class.)
"God created everything?" the professor asked. "Yes," the student replied. (The 'sir' part is removed, as no student in the 21st century addresses a college professor in this fashion, and the use of 'sir' is just a pretense of 'respect' from the theist mouthpiece who's actually feeling little more than contempt for the professor.'
The professor answered, "Well then, here's a logical puzzle for you: If God created everything, then God created evil; since evil exists and, according to the principal that our works define who we are, then God is evil."
The student became silently enraged over his worldview being 'attacked'. He began to project out his feelings of inadequecy as smugness coming from the professor.
The student then said: "Can I ask you a question professor?"
"Of course," replied the professor. That's the point of philosophical discourse. (The writer of the original story clearly has little experience with a real college classroom. The whole point of a philosophy or theology course is to foster discussion.)
Student: Is there such thing as heat?"
Professor: Yes, the professor replies. There's heat.
Student: "Is there such a thing as cold?"
Professor: "Yes, there's cold too."
Student: "No, sir, there isn't"
The professor doesn't grin or frown or react with any emotion other than curiosity. (The desire to see the professors 'smug smile wiped off his face' is just another projection of the feelings of inadequecy found in theists who argue like this sort of pablum...)
The student continues. You can have lots of heat, even more heat, super-heat, mega-heat, white heat, a little heat or no heat but we don't have anything called 'cold'. We can hit 458 degrees below zero,
which is no heat, but we can't go any further after that. There is no such thing as cold, otherwise we would be able to go colder than 458, You see, sir, cold is only a word we use to describe the absence of
heat. We cannot measure cold. Heat we can measure in thermal units because heat is energy. Cold is not the opposite of heat, sir, just the absence of it"
Professor: (Nodding his head in dismay, and working out how many times he's heard this bad logic by now). Do you remember the section in your workbook on semantic fallacies? By your "logic" we could also say there is no 'heat', only differing degrees of cold.
Student: ( gives a confused look a dog might make)
Professor: Your choice of 'heat' over 'cold' was arbitrary. In reality, both 'heat' and 'cold' are subjective terms... what the philosopher John Locke properly called "secondary qualities". The secondary qualities refer to a very real phenomena: the movement of atomic and sub atomic particles. We refer to their different rates of movement as 'temperature.' So what we 'really' have is temperature.... the terms 'heat' and "cold' are merely subjective terms we use to denote our relative experience of temperature.
So your entire argument is specious at best. You have not 'proven' that 'cold' does not exist, what you have done is shown that 'cold' is a subjective term. Removing the term we use to reference the phenomena does not eradicate the phenomena.
Student: (a bit stunned) "Uh... Ok.... Well, is there such a thing as darkness, professor?"
Professor: You are still employing the same logical fallacy. Just with a different set of of secondary qualities.
Student: "So you say there is such a thing as darkness?"
Professor: "What I am telling you is that you are repeating the very same error. "Darkness exists as a secondary quality.
Student: "You're wrong again. Darkness is not something, it is the absence of something. You can have low light, normal light, bright light, flashing light but if you have no light constantly you have nothing and it's called darkness, isn't it? That's the meaning we use to define the word. In reality, Darkness isn't. If it were, you would be able to make darkness darker and give me a jar of it. Can you give me a jar of darker darkness, professor?
Professor: Sure, right after you give me a jar of light. Seriously, what we call 'light' is actually a reference to photons. You've confused a secondary quality with an attribute again. "Light and dark' are subjective terms we use to describe a measure of photons. The photons actually exist, the terms 'light' and 'dark' are just subjective, relative terms... Doing away with a subjective term does not eradicate the actual phenomena itself - the photons.
Student: (gives a look not unlike a 3 year old trying to work out quantum physics)
Professor: I see your still struggling with the fallacy hidden in your argument. But let's continue, perhaps you'll see it.
Student: Well, you are working on the premise of duality", the christian explains.
Professor: Actually, I've debunked that claim two times now. But carry on.
Student: "Well, you assume, for example, that there is a good God and a bad God. You are viewing the concept of God as something finite, something we can measure.
Professor: And here, my class, we have a special plead fallacy. Be careful, my student. If you want to place your god beyond the grasps of reason, logic, and science and make him 'unmeasurable', then you are left with nothing but a mystery. So if you use this special plead to solve the problem, you can't call your god moral either. You can't call him anything. You can't say anything else about something beyond reason. So your solution is akin to treating dandruf by decapitation.
Student: (Gulps. Continues on, oblivious to what was just said) Sir, science cannot even explain a thought. It uses electricity and magnetism but has never seen, much less fully understood them.
Professor: You just said that science cannot explain a thought. I'm not even sure what you mean by that. I think what you mean to say is this: there remains many mysteries in neuroscience. Would you agree?
Student: Yes sir.
Professor: And, along the same line of thought, we accept that there are things like thoughts, or electricity or magnetism even though we have never seen them?
Student: Yes!
Professor: Recall the section in your textbook concerning fallacies of false presumption. Turn to the entry on 'Category error'. You'll recall that a category error occurs when an inappropriate measure is used in regards to an entity, such as asking someone what the color a sound is.
Asking someone to see magnetism commits such an error. However, there is yet another error in your argument: it assumes that empircism relates to vision alone. This is false. Sight is not the sole means of knowing the world. We can use other senses to detect these phenomena. And we can view their effects upon the world.
Furthermore, Again, you are conflating the fact that science is incomplete with the ridiculous implication that science knows 'nothing' about these phenomena... so you'll also want to review the section on 'arguing form ignorance.'
Do you have more to say?
Student: (The student, continues, mainly unfazed, due to the protection his shield of ignorance affords him.) .... Um....... to view death as the opposite of life is to be ignorant of the fact that death cannot
exist as a substantive thing. Death is not the opposite of life, merely the absence of it"
Professor: You are really in love with this secondary quality fallacy, aren't you? You are again confusing a secondary quality with the phenomena in of itself. "Death" and "life" are subjective terms we use
to describe a more fundamental phenomena - biology. The phenomena in question, however, does exist. Biological forms in various states exist. Doing away with the subjective term does not eradicate the existence of death.
Nonplussed, the young man continues: "Is there such a thing as immorality?"
Professor: (Reaches for an asprin in his desk) Son... you're not going to again confuse a secondary quality for an atttribute, are you? Please... what can I do to help you see this problem?
Student: (Continues on, fueled by ideology and oblivious to reality) You see, immorality is merely the absence of morality. Is there such thing as injustice? No. Injustice is the absence of justice. Is there such a thing as evil?" The christian pauses. "Isn't evil the absence of good?"
Professor: So, if someone murders your mother tonight, nothing happened? There was just an absence of morality in your house? Wait, I forgot... she's not dead... she's just experiencing an absence of life, right?
Student: Uh.....
Professor: You're beginning to see that something is missing in your argument, aren't you? Here's what your missing. You are confusing a secondary quality... a subjective term that we can use to describe a
phenomena, for the phenomena itself. Perhaps you heard me mention this before? (The class erupts in laughter, the professor motions for them to stop laughing.) 'Immorality' is a descrptive term for a behavior. The terms are secondary, but the behaviors exist. So if you remove the secondary qualities, you do nothing to eradicate the real behavior that the terms only exist to describe. So by saying that 'immorality' is a lack of morality, you are not removing immorality from existence, you are just removing the secondary attribute, the term.
And notice how dishonest your argument is... in that it speaks of morality and immorality devoid of behavior, but 'evil' exists as a behavior, evil is an intent to do harm.
By the way, are you really trying to imply that immorality or evil are merely subjective qualities?
Student: Gulp! (Reeling from the psychological blows to his corrupt worldview....) Sir, Have you ever observed evolution with your own eyes, sir?"
The professor soothes his aching forehead, and prepares for the 1 millionth time that he will be subjected to the 'can you see the wind' argument.
Professor: What an interesting turn this conversation has taken. Can I advise you to read Brofenbrenner's suggestion against arguing over subjects over which you are uninformed? It's in your textbook.
Student: "Professor, since no one has ever observed the process of evolution at work and cannot even prove that this process is an on-going endeavor, are you not teaching your opinion, sir? Are you now
not a scientist, but a priest?
Professor: Interesting indirect comment on the priesthood. But let's leave that aside... We do observe the process of evolution at work, for the process works at this very moment. As for the implication in your argument that one must 'be there' to observe a process at it occurs, surely you realize that we can infer the process through examining the evidence that these processes leave behind? In a sense, we 'are there' when we observe artifacts.
Consider for example the science of astronomy. How do we know about super novas? Because we can observe diferrent supernovas in different stages of super nova, by observing their 'artifacts' in the night sky. The same stands for any historical science. Your mistake here is that you think science is merely observation, and 'real-time-observation' at that...This is a strawman of science. Science is both direct and indirect observation... it also allows for inference.
Student: "But sir! You stated that science is the study of observed phenomena.
Professor: No, this is a strawman of what science is... Science is more than just real time observation, we also make inferences. But continue....
Student: (Responds to this as a goat might respond to a book on calculus) May I give you an example of what I mean?"
Professor: Certainly.
Student: "Is there anyone in the class who has ever seen air, oxygen, molecules, atoms, the professor's brain?"
The class breaks out in laughter. The christian points towards professor, "Is there anyone here who has ever heard the professor's brain... felt the professor's brain, touched or smelt the professor's brain?" "No one appears to have done so", The christian shakes his head sadly. "It appears no one here has had any sensory perception of the professor's brain whatsoever. Well, according to the rules of empirical, stable, demonstrable protocol, science, I declare that the professor has no brain!"
Professor: You mean, according to your strawman view of science. I am glad that you are here in my class so that I can help you better understand what you criticize. Science is not merely 'looking' at things. Science is empirical, but also rational. We can make inferences from evidence of things that we do see, back to phenonema that we might not be able to directly see.
And one inference I can make from observing your behaviors here today is that you've wasted the money you've spent on your logic textbook so far this year. I strongly advise, for your own sake, that you crack open that book today, and start reading.  

25 May 2007 @ 12:27 by newdawn : logic
logic wins out again!
only in an argument where judgement is involved.
So if that's the criterion used for solving a dilema
then it has been solved but if there is no judgement
of good
or evil
then there is neither
all just is  

28 Oct 2008 @ 22:43 by Jeff @ : Good argument...
I very much liked Jay's re-writing of the encounter, though I would argue that it is equally biased compared to the first writing (creating a nice balance with the two). In reality, the question of the existence of evil and the existence of a good God still remain. The most interesting part of the re-write for me was the section on the special plead fallacy

"And here, my class, we have a special plead fallacy. Be careful, my student. If you want to place your god beyond the grasps of reason, logic, and science and make him 'unmeasurable', then you are left with nothing but a mystery. So if you use this special plead to solve the problem, you can't call your god moral either. You can't call him anything. You can't say anything else about something beyond reason. So your solution is akin to treating dandruf by decapitation."

This special plead (fallacy here may show a bias) that God is beyond measure and understanding is exactly what makes Him God. If "God" were measurable, then he cannot be "God". I know science has explained a nearly infinite number of things in our universe, and has yet to explain another nearly infinite number of things, but the idea of God is that he truly is infinite and that he is beyond understanding and explanation. I believe in God, I believe in Evil, I believe God created all things and I believe that God is good. I cannot make sense of that or really even defend it beyond saying that an infinite God told me that these things are true. I don't doubt that eventually we will be able to figure out this apparent fallacy adn that questioning the premise of these arguments may be a necessary step in reaching solutions, but I also believe that we must always leave room for our own lack of knowledge and perspective as humans until we have a better understanding. While we strive to figure these things out, we need to give an infinite God the benefit of the doubt.

My assumption is that 'Jay', whoever he is, is much smarter than I am. I am glad to have learned as much as I did, and thought as much as I did in reading his very well articulated response. I hope my response can generate some further discussion in this vein.


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