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The "Epicurean Paradox"

Posted by Ponderer 
The "Epicurean Paradox"
June 10, 2011 04:30PM
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 (attributed)

I came across this quote yesterday for the first time. I know many of you philosophiles in here probably think it's old hat, but I think it nails a pretty big question right on the head and I would be interested in hearing other's thoughts on it.

Why would God not only create but perpetuate evil?

Anonymous User
Re: The "Epicurean Paradox"
June 10, 2011 05:26PM
Funny thing about that quote is that we only have it because it was preserved in an early Christian treatise that critiques it (or so I've heard).
Re: The "Epicurean Paradox"
June 10, 2011 05:37PM
I believe I first came across this quote in Dawkins' "The God Delusion".

Of course, the believers here would rather comment on it's origin, or perhaps ask you to read some scripture that will likely have nothing to do with the propositions presented here, rather than actually discuss the meaning of what you've posted.

Logical conclusion from the quote - Even if your god exists, he is undeserving of worship.


*Sanders 2016*

"And these children that you spit on
As they try to change their worlds
Are immune to your consultations
They're quite aware of what they're going through"
Re: The "Epicurean Paradox"
June 10, 2011 05:45PM
Logic and physics do not apply to imaginary beings. That's the reason people love them. It means anything is possible including everlasting life.
Anonymous User
Re: The "Epicurean Paradox"
December 16, 2011 12:52AM
The only logical conclusion is that you didn't do your homework. It always astounds me how people who claim to be philosophers turn out to be nothing more than arrogant bandwagoners. It would behoove you to actually understand the Christian God before making accusations. You should never make blind assumptions on anything, even if it is something you inherently disagree with. Give every argument its fair shot and give it proper due diligence. First of all Epicurus was alive before Christ so this argument applying itself to a Christian God is almost taken out of context. Second of all that quote is a rough translation that doesn't say "Why call Him God," but rather asks where evil comes from. All that aside, the issue of evil is a matter of choice. We choose to do evil every day. I've sinned, you've sinned, every man has sinned. Why? Because we have chosen to, because we have chosen to put ourselves first and because we are inherently selfish. That isn't God's fault anymore than it's our fault that another man does evil. You aren't accountable for Hitler and neither is God. And Christians don't believe that evil will exist forever, it's only until the world is remade. So essentially, under the Christian belief, God satisfies the expectations Epicurus has of God, as He has the power to stop evil and will stop evil when the time is right. God permits people to do evil, however, He is not the cause of it. And here is some scripture that IS relevant to the discussion. "What if God, choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath—prepared for destruction? What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory." (Romans ch 9) It is essentially saying God allows, with patience, people to do evil so that His justice can be known when they are brought sentencing and so that His mercy may be known in contrast to those who He shows mercy upon. If you ask why, here is another part of Scripture, "One of you will say to me: “Then why does God still blame us? For who resists his will?” But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? “Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’” Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use?" (Romans ch 9) It is always a good idea to fully explore and understand a concept, especially as someone who practices philosophy. Don't sell yourself, or other arguments, short.
Anonymous User
Re: The "Epicurean Paradox"
December 16, 2011 01:03AM
God doesn't create evil, according to the Judeo/Christian belief, man was created in a state of perfection, yet man followed temptation away from God, sinned (i.e committed evil), and fell. Man caused its own problems from the start. When someone gets shot it is not God pulling the trigger, but rather a man who chooses to do so of his own free will. And in regards to why God doesn't act against evil, He does. For starters, those people will be punished, because it is in God's power to do so and just that He does. In the same capacity, God is merciful and forgives those who repent, because that too is within His realm of power and falls under who He is as an omnibenevolent being. Lastly, it seems to me that God permits the existence of evil because otherwise the afterlife would be pointless. We show who we are as beings when we resist evil for a higher purpose or choose to follow God through faith. What would be the point of being puppets on a string forced to do good and love God if it is just a hollow existence? To this extent, free will is a necessity to do good and part of free will is the option to do bad.
Anonymous User
Re: The "Epicurean Paradox"
December 16, 2011 01:04AM
I don't think physics has anything to do with everlasting life. Wouldn't that be biological chemistry?
Re: The "Epicurean Paradox"
December 16, 2011 01:23AM
I just don't see how God could create man with the capacity to chose evil without being responsible for the evil Himself.

If someone puts a loaded gun in the midst of a bunch of toddlers and tells them none of them are to touch it, yet one of them picks it up and shoots another child, How is the person who put the gun there in the first place blameless for what then happened?

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12/16/2011 02:43AM by Ponderer.
Re: The "Epicurean Paradox"
December 16, 2011 02:56AM
Re: "I don't think physics has anything to do with everlasting life."

Exactly. Nothing does except religion because everlasting life and your silly gods aren't real.
Re: The "Epicurean Paradox"
December 16, 2011 03:38PM
Pondy, we've been given the power to exercise free will. The freedom to make choices. Because God created human beings capable of thought and judgement, not puppets he can play with.

Something to add to this, from Hindusim:
"The doctrine of Karma in Hinduism requires both that we pay for our actions in the past, and that our actions in the present be free enough to allow us to deserve the future reward or punishment that we will receive for our present actions. The Advaita philosopher Chandrashekhara Bharati Swaminah puts it this way:
Fate is past karma, free-will is present karma. Both are really one, that is, karma, though they may differ in the matter of time. There can be no conflict when they are really one. Fate, as I told you, is the resultant of the past exercise of your free-will. By exercising your free-will in the past, you brought on the resultant fate. By exercising your free-will in the present, I want you to wipe out your past record if it hurts you, or to add to it if you find it enjoyable. In any case, whether for acquiring more happiness or for reducing misery, you have to exercise your free-will in the present."

Isn't it interesting to note how Hinduism and Christianity hold similar doctrines. I suspect all genuine religions talk about the same thing when it comes to basics, but I know only about Christianity and Hindusim. Wish people from other religions also chipped in and contributed on this board.

Re: The "Epicurean Paradox"
December 16, 2011 03:56PM
"we've been given the power to exercise free will. The freedom to make choices. Because God created human beings capable of thought and judgement, not puppets he can play with."--- Maddie

But the ultimate responsibility for the existence of what we call evil would still rest with the creator of all of this. The question really is, is the existence of evil (what is evil?) worth it, if it is a necessary component of a truly autonomous universe? That would be the choice the creator would have to make, and the creator would bear ultimate responsibility for the results of such a choice.
Re: The "Epicurean Paradox"
December 16, 2011 04:10PM
Thanks, Maddie. Pretty interesting.

I don't hold humans blameless for the evil they do. Maybe I should mention that. I just don't see how a Creator who supposedly created us with the capacity to do evil should be held entirely blameless when a certain percentage of humanity will always be guaranteed to perpetrate it.

Re: The "Epicurean Paradox"
December 16, 2011 05:27PM
Evil is in the eye of the beholder. If there even was a god, it probably wouldn't consider anything it created or oversees as evil. Humans have given that arbitrary term to things they don't like. If a monkey hits other monkeys over the head to steal their coconuts, is that evil? People are not special cases. We are animals. Evil is a religious term and without religion, evil would not exist at all.
Re: The "Epicurean Paradox"
December 16, 2011 06:22PM
Maddie, How can a real xian espouse hinduism, a completely different religion with different gods and different, well, everything else? I've been asking you to clarify this for years and you always either get mad or run away. Why is that? Nothing is worse than a religious person who cannot explain why they believe what they do except someone who believes in two religions at once that contradict one another. While it's infuriating to the likes of me to be so surrounded by such superstitious people, it's also fascinating. If you think I'm mocking you sometimes, I am, but not because you are religious, but because your beliefs seem inconsistent and you are frankly a whiner. 3 words for this forum: big girl panties.


Re: The "Epicurean Paradox"
December 16, 2011 06:31PM
To the Atheists:

Evil doesn't exist... It's all in your mind... You can't use God as a rational foundation for good/evil...

Suffering is objective... That is your argument...

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