Why is the problem of theodicy a problem?

Discussion in 'Religion Archives' started by wynn, Dec 28, 2012.

  1. Balerion Banned Banned

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    Wrong. A one lifetime conception would not make any comments about the justness or righteousness of suffering. It just means that there's no greater purpose for it, that it serves no greater good. That there is no redemption.

    Yeah, that's kind of shitty. But it is what it is.

    Wrong again. Who says we have to be at peace with it? Life isn't fair, and you don't have to like that fact. You don't have to live with it, either. One could theoretically kill themselves at the thought of it. There's no rules, wynn. That's what you need to understand.


    So you're not looking for truth, then, just comfort. At least you're admitting it now.
     
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  3. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

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    I've replied to this yesterday, but the post still isn't showing, so I'll re-reply, with the consideration of how the thread is going:


    Sure. But such an admission doesn't really solve the problem either. It just opens up a whole battlefield of new problems.


    According to Hamlet, it is the fear of what may come after death that puzzles our will "and makes us rather bear those ills we have / than fly to others that we know not of."
    Or, as Thich Nhat Hanh put it, "People have a hard time letting go of their suffering. Out of a fear of the unknown, they prefer suffering that is familiar."

    As it is, I am undecided whether it is just fear, and if it is fear, what kind of fear (wholesome or unwholesome?) that holds us back from trying to transcend run-of-the-mill life.


    Also, I think there is a categorical difference between (traditional) Buddhism and theistic devotional religion.

    While the Buddhist path is taken up with the specific desire to find a happiness that is beyond aging, illness and death, I don't think that theistic devotional religion can effectively be taken up with that same motivation.

    I am bringing this up because theists sometimes resort to Buddhist reasoning (such as in the example you cite above) to motivate people to take up a theistic path. Yet at least in my own experience, and in the experience of some other people I've known, that is a dead end, it doesn't work. To take up a theistic path with the intention to find a happiness that does not deteriorate seems contrary to the spirit of theism. This is not to say that theism's intention is to make people miserable or to neglect happiness. But theism does have an altogether different goal than Buddhism, so a Buddhist approach cannot work in theism.
     
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  5. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

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    This is simply the thinking of someone who has given in to the bully: it's acquiescing to bestiality.


    You really need to stop putting words into my mouth.
     
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  7. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

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    The problem of theodicy implies another problem: What are we entitled to?

    We wonder about the relationship between an omnimax God and a world that suffers because we propose to be entitled to something better.

    Epicurus' argument is based on this sense of entitlement: life, the Universe and everything should be as we want them to be; and if they aren't, God is evil, unworthy or doesn't exist.

    While it's easy to dismiss all sense of entitlement as vain or otherwise wrong and bad, it remains that there is a number of things we did receive in the past, which we were apparently entitled to, or we wouldn't receive them.
    So, evidently, there are things we are entitled to. The question is, what things.

    As Kant noted that one ought to be guided by these two questions: What must I do? What may I hope for?
     
  8. lightgigantic Banned Banned

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    I'm sure you've heard that happiness is the constitutional quality of the living entity and that issues of potency is what distinguishes the living entity from the supreme living entity.

    IOW we are pleasure seeking by nature but have the propensity to look for it in the wrong places - namely by operating in the mode of isvara (controller/enjoyer) as opposed to jiva (part and parcel/facilitator)

    So in that sense, the hope for happiness never subsides (regardless of who, where or what we are), but it only ever meets with success according to how one can distinguish between long term and short term happiness. For instance a lot of discourse on the subject with gross materialists often leads to them trying to vamp up mundane existence in an unacceptable or poorly thought out manner (aka epicurus : "yeah I'm happy, I just ate a chocolate cake - what more in life is there?")
     
  9. Balerion Banned Banned

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    There is no bully, wynn. There's no one at fault for it, it's just the way things are.


    Oh, I guess I was premature in assuming you had achieved some level of intellectual integrity...

     
  10. Balerion Banned Banned

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    Wrong. The contradiction is not between an all-powerful god and suffering. The contradiction is in the Judeo-Christian portrait of a loving, caring, benevolent God and suffering.

    It helps to have some clue as to what you're talking about before you enter these discussions.
     
  11. lightgigantic Banned Banned

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    Originally Posted by wynn

    We wonder about the relationship between an omnimax God and a world that suffers because we propose to be entitled to something better.


    (emphasis mine)

    fumble +6 :shrug:
     
  12. Balerion Banned Banned

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    It wasn't a fumble, you useless troll, it was a misunderstanding on my part. I had never seen that word before, and assumed she meant it to mean all-powerful. I mean, the word doesn't even exist in the real dictionary.

    Also, you need to watch some football, because you are so not using that word correctly.
     
  13. lightgigantic Banned Banned

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  14. lightgigantic Banned Banned

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  15. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

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    I'm not sure this is a complete analysis.

    To facilitate involves to control, at least to some extent; one cannot facilitate something unless one also has some control in the matter.
    Also, providing pleasure for others can be enjoyable for the provider as well.


    This seems like a truism, of course, and one that in order to be acknowledged requires a multi-lifetime conception (ie. serial reincarnation). This is where we get heavily into a completely different outlook than the Western one, and that brings along some philosophical, practical, and social problems that are anything but easy to solve.

    Acknowledging a multi-lifetime conception is necessary, as in the opposite case, in the one-lifetime conception (ie. all there is to human life is those 70 or 100 years or so, but we could die anytime), the idea of pursuing long-term happiness is absurd: if death can come at any time and cut short all our efforts, how can we still sanely pursue long-term goals - we can't.


    "Life is a struggle for survival, and then we die" - to accept this proposition is to go contrary to our sense of morality, justice and goodness. Which is why materialist morality is so corrupt.
    Unfortunately, realizing this doesn't seem to help much either.
     
  16. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

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    I can't yet pinpoint what exactly I find incomplete about your reasoning, but I do find it incomplete.


    The Buddhist reasoning goes thus:

    At Savatthi. There the Blessed One said: "From an inconstruable beginning comes transmigration. A beginning point is not evident, though beings hindered by ignorance and fettered by craving are transmigrating & wandering on. What do you think, monks: Which is greater, the tears you have shed while transmigrating & wandering this long, long time — crying & weeping from being joined with what is displeasing, being separated from what is pleasing — or the water in the four great oceans?"

    "As we understand the Dhamma taught to us by the Blessed One, this is the greater: the tears we have shed while transmigrating & wandering this long, long time — crying & weeping from being joined with what is displeasing, being separated from what is pleasing — not the water in the four great oceans."

    "Excellent, monks. Excellent. It is excellent that you thus understand the Dhamma taught by me.

    "This is the greater: the tears you have shed while transmigrating & wandering this long, long time — crying & weeping from being joined with what is displeasing, being separated from what is pleasing — not the water in the four great oceans.

    "Long have you (repeatedly) experienced the death of a mother. The tears you have shed over the death of a mother while transmigrating & wandering this long, long time — crying & weeping from being joined with what is displeasing, being separated from what is pleasing — are greater than the water in the four great oceans.

    "Long have you (repeatedly) experienced the death of a father... the death of a brother... the death of a sister... the death of a son... the death of a daughter... loss with regard to relatives... loss with regard to wealth... loss with regard to disease. The tears you have shed over loss with regard to disease while transmigrating & wandering this long, long time — crying & weeping from being joined with what is displeasing, being separated from what is pleasing — are greater than the water in the four great oceans.

    "Why is that? From an inconstruable beginning comes transmigration. A beginning point is not evident, though beings hindered by ignorance and fettered by craving are transmigrating & wandering on. Long have you thus experienced stress, experienced pain, experienced loss, swelling the cemeteries — enough to become disenchanted with all fabricated things, enough to become dispassionate, enough to be released."


    http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn15/sn15.003.than.html


    It focuses on looking at the misery of the run-of-the-mill life and thus becoming disenchanted with it. Although the desire for true happiness is central in Buddhism, the actual pursuit of the Buddhist practice is focused on eliminating suffering, not on producing or attaining happiness.
    The proposition is that eliminating suffering is something we can do, that making an end to suffering is something doable for people. Or, in roundabout: you can do something so that you don't suffer, but you cannot make yourself happy.


    On the other hand, your theistic line of reasoning seems to suggest the pursuit of producing or attaining happiness. This is something quite different from the Buddhist idea. I don't understand your theistic outlook here.
     
  17. Balerion Banned Banned

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    It most certainly is not. Your failure to reconcile ultimate cosmic purposelessness and personal, subjective purpose seems to be deliberate. I say this because you've yet to articulate why or how subjective morality negates emotion or righteousness, or how such purposelessness contradicts said morality. You've only claimed that these things are so, and made no attempt to explain yourself. This suggests you don't actually have a foundation for this position, and are merely stating preconceptions based on something other than evidence. Much like your rejections of one-lifetime worldviews, you've probably reached this conclusion because of how it makes you personally feel. Or that seems to be the case, anyway. You could prove me wrong by actually explaining yourself, but I'm not going to hold my breath.

    Another empty claim. Before you reach this conclusion, you first have to explain the comments above and in previous posts. Until you do that, your words are meaningless. Also, the claim doesn't make much sense with a proper contextual definition of "corrupt."

    Probably because it isn't true.
     
  18. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

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    Please, then, finally, explain how to reconcile ultimate cosmic purposelessness and personal, subjective purpose.

    I'd very much like to reconcile the two, but I don't see how.


    What isn't true? Is life not a truggle for survival? Do we not die?
     
  19. Balerion Banned Banned

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    Live your life. Enjoy scenic vistas. Have great sex, have a big family and true friends. Love your work, gain satisfaction from it. Do these things and ask yourself of what importance cosmic purpose has when compared to them. See which question is of greater moment--where your next paycheck is coming from, or whether or not you have a soul. When you see your child take a date to prom, will you really give a damn what caused the Big Bang, or what happens to your consciousness when you die?

    The irony is that the biggest questions don't even matter.

    It is, and we do, but it's not reducible to that. If you can truly look at your life and say that it's only a struggle for survival before inevitable death, then you need to get a life.

    Another great irony is that the people you see as nihilists and fatalists are the only ones who don't take that view.
     
  20. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

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    How does one learn to enjoy "scenic vistas" etc.?

    It requires a lot of belief to pursue these things, what to speak of enjoying them.

    Sure, there is some pleasure in work, sex, hobbies, food etc. - but it doesn't feel like "the real thing."


    That - "Enjoy scenic vistas. Have great sex, have a big family and true friends. Love your work, gain satisfaction from it." is the struggle for survival before inevitable death.
    Those activies you list are just temporary distractions from the awareness of the insufficiency of those pursuits.
     
  21. Balerion Banned Banned

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    I wasn't aware that such pleasures required learning. The first time I saw a mountain I was very moved by it. I didn't need anyone to tell me to be in awe of it--I just was.

    I don't know what that means. What belief?

    It sure does for me, and I know it does for others. And I didn't just say sex, hobbies and food. Family, career, life in general; these are huge parts of one's existence.

    I have to think that if you really do have trouble enjoying these things that perhaps you're depressed. Have you considered therapy? I'm honestly not trying to be mean or jerky, it really sounds like you are. I mean, who asks how one learns to enjoy a scenic vista?


    They don't feel that way to me. I really think you're depressed. That's a horribly crappy outlook you have. I mean, look, it's true that nothing is going to save us from death, but it doesn't need to weigh on you like that. I think if you actually did some of the things you dismiss as "distractions" you'd change your outlook. Life is for living, wynn. Try it sometime.
     
  22. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

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    One is moved by something beautiful only for a limited amount of time. Then, some kind of action follows - such as buying the beautiful thing, or starting a relationship with a beautiful person, or whichever may be the case. That action one takes - that is a matter of learning.


    The belief that those things are worth doing, that pursuing them will pay off.


    Note the etc.


    You mean, I should, in a downright religious manner, just trust someone, in this case a doctor?

    And dismiss all my philosophical concerns and the workings of a "chemically imbalanced brain"?


    Have you considered that maybe I have a valid point in all this?


    Oh, I've been doing those things. They are just not as satisfying as people generally claim they are.
     
  23. elte Valued Senior Member

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    Wynn, I went to a psychiatrist once, and he agreed that I wasn't the crazy one but that society was crazy and then he released me.

    When your beliefs conflict with the general ones in society, society tends to strongly make sure that you are miserable trying to do things that you enjoy if society can see you doing them. Even if you are trying to mind your own business, society feels threatened, I guess. It happened to me a lot.
     

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