Monday, April 16, 2007

Is A Creator God Responsible for Evil?

A creator god is not responsible for evil, a human concept, because evil is not inherent to the universe.

Humans define evil rather arbitrarily. Most if not all cultures have the concept of evil, but what specific actions constitute evil is entirely relative. That we should experience or understand evil is no surprise, as avoiding or regulating this behavior is very important to our survival. It is also no surprise that we react to the world as if it has human properties, as the bulk of our activities involve conversing and interacting with others. These two tendencies combine to fool us into believing that the universe conducts itself with some preconceived notion of morality. A flood that claims the lives of innocent children seems to the bereft parents the cruel act of a ruthless god; the same storm that caused the flooding might also have provided much-needed water for farmers to grow crops, which to them would make the occurrence a non-evil act.

Actions perpetrated by humans are only evil to the extent someone labels them evil. As an abstract concept, evil often has the connotation of free will, suggesting the agent of evil is aware of the morality of an act. In many scenarios this is certainly the case, but in situations where the perpetrator has no understanding of morality, or does not view an act as being evil, either the victim or some third party must judge the act evil.

The universe cannot have morality inherent to it because it would need a basis for its morality (and a way for us to know it!) and a way of determining and executing courses of action. Recent theoretical models suggest that the universe may have existed in some measurable capacity before the event we call the big bang. If this were the case, it would be presumptuous to suppose that the universe contains some innate morality that was formulated well before its present configuration. Moreover, the universe as a giant computer could not know anything beyond that which it was immediately computing, rendering questions of prepared or on-the-fly morality moot. Finally, applying some standard of ethics to the universe would require a non-subjective approach; otherwise its relative nature would make any particular ethical code just as acceptable as any other. Instead, humans use their own internal sense of morality as well as some higher reasoning to formulate a moral code by which agreeing members of a society may function. Implying that the universe behaves according to such a code requires it to have a neutral and objective basis that - assuming one even existed - we have yet to discover.



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