Good, Evil, and Neutrality: A Personal Take

First off…

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I’ve written over 200 posts! Thank you to everyone who’s followed my journey thus far! I look forward to seeing you all for another 200 posts! 🙂

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Now to the topic at hand. I’ve gotten into yet another really awesome, stimulating conversation about my spiritual views, and thought I would share a little, namely share my current analysis of the concepts of good and evil, as well as why I believe the neutral is god.

To begin, a recap. My belief is that god is neutrality, the perfect serenity between the conflict of good and evil. I believe that god has sent us here, in this life, to experience. We live this life to experience good and evil, experience conflict (the opposite of peace and serenity) in order to truly appreciate and better understand neutrality after this life is over. With this in mind, I’ll try to define what good and evil mean to me.

When we look at the Webster dictionary definition of ‘good,’ we get, “virtuous; morally excellent.” Contrarily, evil is defined as, “immoral; offensive.” So we move to the definitions of moral and immoral, which lead to what is ethical and unethical, what is right and wrong. This revolves back to the words of good and evil again, and so we find that, in trying to define these words, we simply end up using alternative words which all mean the same thing, and yet we still don’t know what that meaning is. I find the only way to break this cycle is to use the words positive and negative. Something good involves a positive outcome, while something evil involves a negative outcome. Simple, yes?

Not really. Now we need to figure out in whose perspective must the action or event or thing be to determine if it is good or evil, positive or negative. This becomes a huge problem. When analyzing events, actions, things, and the effects on those involved with them, we find that there is really no point where all peoples involved in any action, event, or thing would 100% agree upon the positivity or negativity of it. There will always be an optimist or pessimist in the group who will point out that, in some way, there will be a positive or negative repercussion to any action, event, or thing. No matter how horrible the atrocity of the Holocaust, there were those who, for some amount of time, benefited from those atrocities. This does not make them good events, but shows that good can come from evil events, just as evil can come from the most good intents, such as the atrocities of the Crusades.

dividing-line-between-good-and-evilThis is not to say there is not some dividing line, as I have referenced before. With so many perspectives, however, on what is moral and immoral (or whatever terms you’d like to use), I do not believe it is possible to know truly know, in this life, definitively, where the line truly lies. We each determine where the line is for each of us as individuals. This is why some people don’t care if they step on a bug, but others feel bad and contemplate the death of the bug. It is why some agree with the right to homosexual marriage and others consider it a moral injustice. It is why people of the same religion argue about the right to abortion. Guidelines may be presented to steer us in a favorable direction, in order for us to understand the most grandiose extremes of good and evil, but it is up to us to personally determine where we stop moving toward the middle. It is not, I believe, a fear of the other side, but more a fear of when the line is truly crossed, since we do not really know where the true dividing line is. We must determine our own line, hope and personally believe it is the right line, and restrict ourselves to it. No matter where we personally put the line, however, we will inevitably cause evil as well as good in our lives. Our good-intentioned actions will cause negative repercussions for others. In the same way, evil actions do have positive repercussions for some people involved. We can look outward, to some outer power, to show us the true line, but if we get an answer, there is no way to prove that answer to all other people. We are so fixated on our own personal lines that we cannot trust others’ opinions of where our line lies, no matter what their proof or opinion may be. There are those with sense enough to be open to change, to others’ opinions, but generally, we shut down when told our idea of good and evil is wrong. And so all we can rely on is our own interpretation of good and evil, our own experiences of positive and negative results due to certain events, to determine what actions and events are right and wrong to us.

So why does this all matter? I bring back my idea of god, the neutral, the center peace. With good comes evil, and with evil comes good, all according to each individual’s perspective of an event, action, or thing. In this, we see a constant conflict, the conflict between good and evil, always balancing back and forth. With every Hitler, there is a Gandhi, as it were. Looking at this need for personal perspective on good versus evil, I come to the question of what would we be if one of these two sides did not exist? Certainly there would be no conflict without one or the other? Yet as I think about it, even within the sole realm of good can there be a pessimist, and in the sole realm of evil there can be a ray of hope. Again, the balancing act of conflict continues. What is the opposite of conflict? Peace. Only if both were to not exist, if they were to nullify, would true peace be obtained, true neutrality.

Through this I say that, if there is a god (and as I’ve stated before, I believe there is), then god must exist in the neutral, in true peace. God, as the origin of all, is non-conflict, and conflicts with nothing, and therefore cannot be good nor evil. The neutral is the final balance of good and evil, where there are no positives and no negatives, just calm. Neutrality, true god, is the dividing line of good and evil, where neither good nor evil reigns. This is why the dividing line is such a grey area for us as humans, because it is beyond us. Living in the world of conflict, we cannot truly understand neutrality in this life. We are too bombarded by the conflict to have enough time to love the neutral.

This, in essence, is the reason we are here. If the world was only good, with no evil, and they were not to balance out, but for one to conquer the other fully, would we not be so surrounded by goodness, positivity, so much that we would lose appreciation for that goodness? If you eat your favorite ice cream every night for a year, it gets boring. If we did not acknowledge what would happen in the absence of gravity, would we still appreciate our ability to stick to the earth so much? For me personally, I could not appreciate what I have without understanding, in some capacity, the opposite of it. Therefore I believe we are here to experience the opposite of god, conflict, in order to truly understand and appreciate god and neutrality after this life is over.

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I could certainly keep going to explain my belief that god created both good and evil, created the nature of conflict, in order for us to experience it and learn from it, but it is getting very very late and I am tired. Questions? Comments below, please! 🙂

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23 thoughts on “Good, Evil, and Neutrality: A Personal Take

  1. This is a good way of looking at it, and gets us away from giving god human attributes, and anthropomorphizing god. However, for some people, I imagine they would see a neutral god as a god that didn’t care about them, and as such they would interpret neutrality as indifferent and evil. Interesting post.

    • Hi Johnathan! Thank you for taking this time to read! ^_^

      Yes, I do come across this a lot, that if god is not good it must be bad or indifferent. I use the example of a loving parent when I come across this idea. A loving parent will love their child no matter what that child does. There are children who grow to do terrible things. Some of the parents of these children disown them, shun them, and hate them. But there are loving parents who, despite all the logic and obvious hurt that the child has done to others and to them as parents, these parents still love their child. It is instinctual, natural, and inexplicable to humans of logic and want for conflict. This is consider to be true, unconditional love. It is not based on judgment of action or pre-conditions, and yet this kind of love is not only natural, but comforting. This, I believe, is an aspect of neutrality, love without influence from good or evil, just love. Although we attribute love in our lives as a good, I believe it is something more, beyond good.

      I’ve not delved into this idea, but in a way, it is like good and evil make a circle, connecting at one end in the neutral we understand, the indifferent neutral, and on the other side, the extreme neutral, where the greatest goods and greatest evils are indistinguishable. Unconditional love could possibly fall on this side of neutrality, an extreme neutrality. But again, I have not really thought of that much, so it’s a new concept.

  2. Another way to define good and evil might be considering the vantage point. Good and evil can only be comprehended in a system giving you some rules. Rules that state what is evil and rules that state what is considered good. Social norms, if you will. Rules you grow up with, you witness and rules the government imposes on you.

    Neutrality would simply be something undefined by the system’s implicit rules.

    Viewed this way, love would be a good thing. It’s not explicitly defined, but your experience has taught you that it’s good. It feels good to love and to be loved.

  3. Rana,

    I find it very curious the way you’ve defined “neutral” – as true peace. In other words, where everyone and everything gets along and there’s never any conflict. I don’t quite understand how that’s neutral. Sounds pretty good to me.
    In order for there to be neutrality, there can’t be any objects or actions. It would be a place where absolutely nothing exists and nothing happens. Humans living together in harmony, without conflict wouldn’t be neutral – it’d be good – at least I think so anyways.
    But that’s just a sidebar from the real meat of the substance. I find this statement very disturbing: “Therefore I believe we are here to experience the opposite of god, conflict, in order to truly understand and appreciate god and neutrality after this life is over”
    I find it troubling and disturbing for several reasons. Firstly, I cannot understand why a god would deposit us on earth to experience conflict so that we would know good (or neutrality) as you call it in the life to come. It would seem that this would be one gigantic exercise in sadomasochism. What kind of twisted, sick, deranged, lunatic god would use human beings (or any species for that matter) as the playthings in this horrendous experiment? What would be the purpose behind it? I invite you to a thought experiment of your own. Think of yourself as the god. Can you imagine that if you could create life and an afterlife, that you’d create a species, let it live with itself and at times, tear itself limb from limb so that it would know the difference between good and evil and then, when it’s all over, let them go into the afterlife in perfect calm, knowing what it was like to have experienced evil and conflict? Having talked to you over these past few weeks, I know what a kind, patient person you can be. I don’t believe for a single second that you’d even contemplate doing anything as hideously evil and wicked and hateful as that. Secondly, it would seem to make the suffering and pain and misery in the world rather meaningless. I mean, really, what difference can it possibly make? So you’re born in Africa with AIDS and numerous other diseases and if you’re lucky, live long enough to learn how to cry and then die of diarrhea. Why bother trying to cure AIDS – Who cares? – you’ll be spending the rest of eternity in the presence of god in perfect calm! World War 2 claimed the lives of something like 20 million people – but what difference does that make? They’re all with god in perfect neutrality now!
    Rana, I really need you to think long and hard about that statement that you made.

    • But Ashley you are seeing this neutral god as evil by personifying its intentions. I think as a way to avoid some of these personifications and anthropomorphizing of god, there is something to be said for thinking of god as neutral. I don’t necessarily go along with it myself, as I have reservations about even using the term god, and prefer to just think of there as being a spiritual domain. But I think it is an interesting way to look at things.

      • Jonathan – Why would one want to avoid ascribing human attributes to god? In other words, if god created man in his own image, then wouldn’t man share some of the same attributes as god?

        • I would simply say that I don’t expect god to be just another human with immortality and a different ratio of human attributes than normal humans have. I would expect god to be something better than us, without all the things that make humans miserable for themselves, including judgment, favoritism, and jealousy. Granted, I also don’t consider humans as made in the image of god.

          • Rana – If you believe that human beings are the god’s offspring, why do you say that you don’t consider human beings to be made in the god’s image? Do you know of any parent-child relationships in which the child does not inherit at least some attributes of the parent?

        • Hello Rush! Sorry, the format of my blog doesn’t let reply chains get too long, so I’m replying here, but this is in regard to your comment on humans being god’s offspring. I’m afraid that’s not the idea. I use the metaphor of the good parent to explain god’s view of us in terms of unconditional love, but I do not consider god as a parent of us itself. If that were the case, I would say that all creatures are god’s ‘children’ and if that is so, then god must be picking favorites, and by this I mean favoring other animals and not us. If we exist within the conflict and animals do not (aka animals do not experience good and evil, but merely natural instinct), then it could be deduced that animals are favored to not experience conflict while we are subjected to it. As it is, I believe that god is simply a creator, and that all its creations have their own unique attributes not out of favoritism, but out of pure diversity in the creation itself. (I hope that makes sense. XD) Humans are no more god’s ‘offspring’ than any other animal. Our creation was simply more ornate.

          • Rana – First, I would have to take issue with the term ‘good parent’. If your god is neutral, neither good nor evil, then it’s inconsistent to liken him to anything ‘good’. This means that love cannot be one of his qualities, especially unconditional love. As a matter of fact, I really can’t think of any qualities of human behavior that are not considered to be either good or evil.

            As far as favorites go, parents often have a favorite child, so I don’t know why it you would consider it to be unusual for a creator to have a favorite creation. As an aspiring writer, surely you have a favorite writing amongst all that you have written, or do they all hold equal value to you?

    • Hi Ashley! Sorry for the long pause, I’ve been super busy! XD

      As for your concerns, the issue with good versus neutral I completely understand. I see conflict as the opposite of peace. Conflict has to have two sides which do the conflicting, aka good and evil. With all good things to some come evil things to others. Every situation has good and evil outcomes, it just depends on who you are and where you stand on the event taking place. So good and evil both exist in conflict of each other. Without good, we would no nothing but evil, and visa versa. To that end, good cannot exist without evil to balance it, and again, visa versa. Good and evil force each other to exist, and their existence creates conflict, chaos, a disruption of peace, serenity, and calm. Because our lives are so bound and commanded by our perceptions of good and evil, by the conflict, we put a good or evil spin on everything, including putting good or evil perceptions on natural occurrences which are not bound by good and evil, like people being sad about a predator eating prey, or interpreting a dog’s reaction to a human as happiness instead of instinctual reaction to their alpha. This is why I say that peace is a neutrality, a moment outside of the conflict of good or evil.

      In regard to your troubled concern on our experience of conflict, I also understand. One thing I can never be certain of is whether we existed as creations of god before our life on this earth. I will never make a determination either way in regard to that. What I consider is this; either we existed with god before this life, or we were created immediately on this earth with nothing before us but what we have now. If the former is true, perhaps, as I believe is human nature, we became bored with neutrality. Think of your favorite flavor of ice cream. If you ate a bowl of that ice cream every night for a year, do you think you’d still love it as much as you do now? Would you get tired of it after a whole year? What if you did the same with pumpkin pie, making it every night instead of just for the special occasion of Thanksgiving or Christmas? I know I would. Even our most cherished relationships with people get dull if we bound ourselves to it for too long. We do not give up on it, they are still cherished to us, but we need some fresh air sometimes. Now if god is peace and we grew bored with peace, how are we to escape it? By experiencing non-peace, or conflict.

      Let me break from this for a moment and go back to the image of the loving parent. There is a point where, again, the loving parent allows the child to fall and pick themselves back up. The parent realizes that the child needs to learn, that sheltering it from the difficulties of the world is not going to make the child stronger. The parent also realizes that the child will someday appreciate the parent’s teachings to them. Just as the child will say they miss high school or elementary school and how much easier it was, they will come to appreciate that simpler life they had under their parents wing, and will show appreciation for that later in life. The loving parent, even if it hurts to see their child fall from time to time, will allow them to see the harshness of the world and trust the child to stand firm and learn and grow on their own. It may seem cruel to the child at first for the parent to let them fall, but they will be stronger and grateful for it later.

      So yes, it can seem cruel, but I believe that it really isn’t as cruel as it seems. It is a learning experience, and in the long run of our existence after this life, it will worth it. God does not determine how are fates unravel in this life, it simply puts us here and observes the course we take. No matter our condition, our unplanned fate, we will all be able to experience something better.

  4. Jonathan,

    You can call it god, or a spiritual domain or whatever else you want. It doesn’t really matter to me. Even religious people can’t even come close to a consensus about what god is and isn’t, what he (she/it) can and can’t do, etc. However, regardless of what we call it, my question still stands. What’s the point of going through this horrible interlude here on earth to achieve “neutrality” in the afterlife? It just doesn’t make sense.

    • And keep in mind, Ashley, I’m not talking about earning or achieving neutrality. Our existence with god is not something to earn. This isn’t a game or a test of free will or righteousness. It is simply an experience, a step in our journey of existence. Again, just explaining my view. ^_^

  5. Hi Rana,

    I realize it’s been a while since I’ve been on here. I too have been extremely busy. My first foray into carpentry didn’t go as smoothly as planned but it’s going much, much better the second time around.
    Anywho, on to the real discussion. I’ve read through your post and I’d like to make some points and ask some questions

    Observations:
    1) I don’t agree with your good vs. evil pre-requisite in order for there to be conflict. Conflict can be something as simple as a disagreement. It can get infinitely more severe depending on what the difference of opinion is about. You’ve heard the term yourself I’m sure many times – Conflict of Interest – where you have a conflict within yourself about a decision you need to make or a duty you need to perform.
    2) This statement from you is a prime example of a false dichotomy: “What I consider is this; either we existed with god before this life, or we were created immediately on this earth with nothing before us but what we have now”. You are assuming an either/or philosophy in the case of this incredibly complex question – How did we get here? To boil it down to 2 choices is ridiculous. There could many different explanations for how life came to originate on this planet. Scientists and biologists are working on this question as we speak.
    3) I understand your analogy about eating the same bowl of ice cream every night. Yes, that would get rather boring. However, I would rather be bored from eating ice cream than experience conflict – eating something undesirable say – a bowl of dirt or nothing at all. And I wouldn’t need to actually experience that to know that it’s an undesirable event. The mere knowledge of it would suffice. (For example, if my 11 year old told me she was tired of eating the same dinner every night, I would merely suggest to her that eating a plate of dirt or nothing at all would be preferable to eating the same thing. I wouldn’t ACTUALLY make her eat the bowl of dirt to ram the point home.)
    4) I understand your loving parent analogy as well but I think it’s a flawed application in this sense. In my experience, we learn a lot of other people’s experiences and a great deal from our own failures. I can tell you that first hand. I tried to make stairs for my deck. The first attempt was more or less a disaster. I learned from my mistakes and re-did it. If I had to do it again, I wouldn’t need to do it twice. However, I did not suffer from this in any way (I mean other than $50 worth of wasted wood and some frustration). No one got hurt, no one got killed, no one got dispossessed from their home (I could go on but you get the point). I don’t consider it “loving parentage” to let a nation (The US about 150 years ago) tear itself apart trying to decide whether or not owning other people was right or wrong. It’s one of many experiences we humans have had to endure to learn from our mistakes. Surely, for a god, there must be an easier, less bloody, less cruel way to decide this question.

    Questions:

    1) I understand that you’re not talking about earning neutrality – that we just end up there, but regardless, my original question still stands. Why would a god make us go through this earthly exercise if in the end, we all end up in neutrality in the afterlife? What’s the point? Why not create us in the neutral place and be done with it – give us things to entertain ourselves and forget about evil and conflict. I keep coming back to this answer: This god must be a sadistic, twisted lunatic to do something like this
    2) If there is in fact no judging, then that must mean that every single human ends up, with god, in the same neutral place. I.e. you and I would be in the same place as Stalin and Hitler. Now if that’s the case, why would they behave the way they did on earth and then, in the presence of this god – the neutral place – behave peacefully and without prejudice and aggression? What would make them change that drastically? Who would want to be in the same place with them? Certainly not me.
    3) Why would a god create us with all the negative aspects of human nature? Greed, aggression, hatefulness, etc., etc. Why not just make everything good and let everyone be happy all the time? This is the ultimate goal of everyone on this earth now – we all want to live in peace and harmony. Why would a god put in place gigantic barriers to achieving this ultimately noble goal?

    I think that’s where I’ll leave it for now. Rana, you’ll have to admit that I’ve asked some pretty big and very tough questions. If your worldview is to be plausible, you HAVE to have answers to these questions. I’ll wait for your reply and we’ll go from there.
    Hope you have a good day and I’ll talk to you soon.

    • Ashley – I’d have to agree with you. There doesn’t seem to be much to appreciate about a neutral god or a neutral place of existence. If one is required to suffer conflict in order to develop and appreciation of peace/god, perhaps there’s not much there to appreciate, which is why everyone would be in danger of suffering eternal boredom otherwise. And if we will still experience boredom in this afterlife, then can’t we also assume that we will continue to experience forgetfulness, which would mean that as eternity passes, the memories of the conflict will fade, and our appreciation for the neutral along with it.

    • Hey Ashley! Sorry for the late reply, I’ve been super busy. ^_^ I’ll go through your points one at a time if you don’t mind.

      Observations:
      1) True, you can have two people conflicting about something that, generally speaking, is positive. However, the reason they do not agree is because each thinks that there are negative attributes to the others’ view. The illusion of good and evil, the obsession with conflict, encompasses us so much that we even find conflict in things that are obviously good. We create illusions of negativity to keep the conflict alive. Obviously, this is not intentional nor puts us at fault, it is simply the way of good and evil coexisting, the nature of conflict. It is the same with internal conflict, we debate the choice because of the positive and negative consequences.

      2) Keep in mind, in this case, that I say, “or we were created immediately on this earth…” I consider this not only as a possibility of being created by a creator of sorts, but also as a possibility of no creator at all, of us simply ‘being created’ through the ‘coincidence’ (for lack of a better word) of life on this planet.

      3) I suppose this is just a point of preference. I have a hard time grasping things I don’t experience to some degree. I find it very necessary in life to try to experience all I can, the good and the bad, in order to appreciate both fully. I may see a picture of the Sphinx, but until I see it in real life, I can’t comprehend its size, its craftsmanship, the awe of it. I did not understand the magnitude of what it meant to be burned until I accidentally put my hand in the stove without a mitt. I may have been able to see others’ reactions and deduce it was not such a great idea, but not until I experienced it did I really understand. Just because you know the negative aspects of the world doesn’t mean you should avoid them and what you can learn from them.

      4) I can’t really say much to this end on your point. I agree that conflict has caused much pain and suffering for humanity, and that it would seem odd that there isn’t another, less painful way to experience conflict. I don’t deny that the conflict of good and evil sucks, and it makes our lives miserable. However, I can only speculate at god’s reason for it (if my belief is right, mind you). I admit I presented this idea as a belief at the beginning, however this whole concept of why we exist in this life within the conflict of good and evil is a very new concept for me, and so I would recant me position on it in the original post and call it speculation more than belief. At least with belief a person can claim to have proof, whereas this concept I have established has no proof, merely deduction. I’ve presented my speculation, that neutrality is peace, it is god and god’s state, and that (whether we knew neutrality before this life and got bored with it or whether we are created to experience conflict first) the conflict we experience in this life is for the sake of knowing something besides neutrality, in order to appreciate it all the more. What we do within the conflict of good and evil is our own choice. It is not humanity as a whole which learns the difference and comes to appreciate neutrality, but each of us as individuals. How that experience compiles to create the worldly conflicts we see as war is simply a compounded consequence.

      Questions:

      1) I’ve already answered this question through my perspective. I don’t know if we existed in neutrality before this life or not, but I still believe that neutrality is peace, serenity, and if god is anything, it is neutrality. It is possible we existed in neutrality for eons, and over time, became weary of it. Perhaps we asked for something different, something not-peaceful, and what else is there that is not peace but conflict? Perhaps god exists alongside good and evil, alongside conflict, and we are born into conflict because it exists on the same ‘power-plane’ if you will of god, and so god has no power to keep us from experiencing it; god perhaps simply gives us a better place to be after we must experience conflict. Perhaps this is all bullshit (as I’m sure you are thinking to yourself XD) and we’re just here to be here for now, and this is all we have. There’s no way to prove these things, but that doesn’t mean I can’t speculate for shits. ^_^

      2) Yes, I think we all end up in the same place. If we are created by a god, I do not expect god to judge us for the actions we take in this short life; if I’m to believe we exist in eternity, to presume our creator, our ‘parent’ would shun us for eternity for what we did for a hundred years or less seems sickening to me, and no better than any other human judging another human. I would speculate that we retain our memories of the experiences of conflict but we would not exist within conflict anymore, and our souls would not be bound by conflict. The comparison of positive and negative would end, and despite our pasts, we would move on. Forgive and forget if you will. Again, merely speculation.

      3) The negative aspects of human nature are developed and nurtured by conflict. The want to be on the winning side of the argument empowers us against each other. The way we experience good and evil in this world, I cannot believe that good could exist without evil, nor the other way around. If that is the case, and god created a world of only good, there would also be a world of only evil. Basically, heaven and hell. Yet, as I said before, even if two people discuss a good thing, their opinions on the degree of good vary. It is the nature of good and evil, that even standing alone, they create conflict, aka they could not exist without the other. So heaven and hell, I speculate, cannot exist. A purely good world or a purely evil world could not exist without causing the opposite’s presence. We may all want to live in harmony, but we still argue, we still demand our perspective to be correct, and so conflict continues. We cannot agree with everyone else about everything. Peace and harmony, neutrality, is an impossible goal in this life, no matter how much we claim to want it, we do not act in all our actions to achieve it. So I believe that neutrality is beyond this life, beyond us, and something that we will attain later.

      I love your points, I really do. I hope I made sense in my answers. I know you’re not going to agree with them, but again, it’s just my perspective and it makes sense to me. 🙂 I look forward to your rebuttal. ^_^

      • Rana,

        I’ll take the observations and questions points in order again for clarity purposes

        Observations
        1) I don’t think there’s much to discuss here really – mostly semantics so it’s not really worth spending any more time on

        2) Same with this point. Other than your use of the word “creation” which I am pretty sure you don’t mean literally, there’s not much to talk about here either. You’ve acknowledged my objection and acknowledge that there could be numerous explanations for how we got here. The simple fact of the matter is that no one knows for sure. We know that humans have evolved from simpler life forms but we do not know the origin of the simpler life forms as of yet.

        3) I am afraid I am still in complete and total disagreement with you about needing to experience something to know how truly awful it is. I understand the burning hand analogy but it’s a fairly trivial example. Here’s a small, incomplete list of some examples that I am 100% positive that you’d never, ever, under any circumstances want to experience because the mere knowledge of them would be insufficient: Rape, torture (say waterboarding), child sexual molestation, child genital mutilation. I’ll leave it at those four.

        4) Rana, I think you need to step back and think a lot more about what you said – that conflict sucks and makes our lives miserable. Now I don’t know about you, but I’ve never experienced REAL conflict. And when I say conflict, I put it in this context: You’re a young male child (say 10ish) living in Uganda. You’ve just been kidnapped by the LRA and you’re being “re-programmed” to become a child soldier. This scenario has played out to 10’s of thousands of young children and their families and has completely RUINED the lives of them and their families. The horror that they have had to endure is on a scale that is completely unimaginable to you and me. I can’t event think about it for more than a few minutes because I get so upset and depressed that I can’t carry on with my day. Sit and think about what millions and millions of poor Jews living in Poland and Germany went through during the holocaust. HELL ON EARTH. That’s the only way I could describe that. To say that it “sucks and makes our lives miserable” is to make the most gigantic of understatements and to completely trivialize what happened. I’m not trying to be hateful, but I have to say that it’s an unbelievable insult to anyone that’s actually experienced such terror. I know it’s not what you meant to do, because I don’t think you’ve really sat and thought about it long enough. There can be no way possible to reconcile any of the things I’ve mentioned along with the numerous other horrendous things that have gone on through the course of human history with the concept of any loving, caring god. Only a god that is either indifferent/cold hearted/cruel OR powerless OR non-existent (which is my position) could allow something like this to happen.

        Questions

        1) Once again, I’m sorry, but there is no “perhaps” to it. It IS bullshit. ALL of it. There is no possible way you could ever hope to prove a single thing you’ve said – which you readily admit to. Many of the concepts of god that you assume and the qualities that you attribute to him come from other religions and cultures and you’ve adapted and changed so that it makes sense in your world view. You can speculate and believe all you want, but just realize that it is just that. You can’t prove it, you can’t test it, you can’t falsify it and you can’t use anything you’ve said to make future predictions. Until anyone can do that with their concept of god, it’s ALL bullshit. Made up, fairy tale nonsense.

        2) Perhaps the fact that you’re more of a patient forgiving person than I am, might allow you to forgive and forget when confronted with people like Hitler and Stalin, but I couldn’t. And I am sure there are a lot of other people who absolutely wouldn’t either – namely their victims and their victims’ families. Something tells me, there’d be a lot of animosity there.

        3) I would have to disagree with you and say that you’ve got it exactly backwards. Conflict does not nurture and develop negative human nature – it’s exactly the opposite. The negative aspects of human nature result in conflicts. If we didn’t have the tendency to be hateful, cruel, heartless, indifferent, intolerant, judgmental, petty, jealous and greedy there’d be no conflict.
        I cannot understand why you’d have to have evil in order for there to be good. It’s a concept I simply cannot grasp. Your “neutral” afterlife apparently has neither according to you (although you describe it as “peace in harmony” which I said earlier is the opposite of conflict which would be good – not neutral) I am still unclear as to why an omnipotent god, to whom you’ve given the “loving parent” attribute to, would need this. Why not just do away with the evil aspects of the world and have only the good things? Why do both need to exist? In other words, if I had a list of wishes, mine would look something like this:
        I wish that humans were incapable of the concept of religion, afterlife and god, were incapable of racism, were incapable of nationalism and were incapable of all the attributes I listed at the beginning of this answer.
        Now if I could wish for such a thing, which, if possible, I would make happen in one second flat if I had the opportunity, why wouldn’t a god, who apparently IS capable of such things, do so? The most reasonable answer to that question is that such a being capable of doing those things likely does not exist. Granted, there could be many answers to that question. For all I know a supreme being that is, at the very least, indifferent to our struggles, exists. However, employing the principle of Ockham’s razor (the answer that requires the least number if assumptions is much more likely to be the correct one), I have to stick to my original answer. This being almost certainly does not exist.

        • Hey again Ashley!

          Let me start by saying after looking over your responses as well as looking over some of my past posts, I believe I’ve been overthinking my beliefs. There is a time when one needs to simply be okay with not knowing the answers, and trying to deduce an answer that cannot be proven, only speculated, can become pointless. I’m really enjoying our back and forth, and will certainly continue to discuss as long as you like, but I would like to thank you for that discussion. I was honestly not expecting it from you. 😉

          Let me start with #3 of the observations. I completely understand where you’re coming from with your list. Where I think we didn’t make a clear line is that I don’t WANT to experience bad/evil things in order to better understand them. I’m not going to allow a man to rape me just to know what its like and hate the concept of rape all the more because of it. I am saying that I do appreciate and understand things better if I experience them, whether I enjoy the experience or not. If I am put in a position to experience something and I do end up experiencing it, I have a much more relatable understanding of it. There are things I will strive to experience to appreciate them more, and some things I will avoid because I don’t want to appreciate that experience. But experiencing does create higher appreciation, whether one wants that appreciation or not. That’s my point.

          To your fourth point, I can assure you that I did take into account such situations. My use of words in that case may seem slight compared to how conflict can sometimes be experienced, but I by no means intended to make light of those situations. How much more impacting of a statement can I make to include all walks of conflict than to say it makes us miserable? Misery can come in many degrees, but it still is misery. Again, I do not make light of that fact. Also again, I cannot speak to god’s reasoning behind it, I can speculate. This is where my first section of this comment comes in. I’m not going to know god’s intent until I’m dead. That’s a fact. I choose, as someone who appreciates the concept of a creator, to hope that there is an explanation which is not negative (for lack of a better way of explaining that…) As I’ve said, I’m still very much in the mindset that there is a creator, simply because I’m used to the idea. Because of this, I don’t want to live my life bitterly, assuming the worst from god and despising it for what I have to go through as a human. I have the opportunity to live, to experience both the good and the bad, and I appreciate that opportunity. Just because I don’t know the purpose doesn’t mean I have to assume the worst about that purpose.

          To question 1, I don’t think there’s anything more to say. You know that I have my silly little belief, and that I readily admit not only to the fact that it is only my personal belief and nothing more, but that my belief could most certainly be wrong. To me, just because something seems made up (or actually is made up) does not make it nonsense. You can still learn from fiction. Having aspirations in one’s life which are founded in the inspiration of a good piece of fiction is nothing to be ashamed of to me. If I can exercise those aspirations, those things introduced to me through fiction, in my real life and get good results from that exercise, is it so bad still that fiction was the inspiration for it? I know people use religion to have their way, they use it for evil means, they believe nonsense that only makes them happy and makes everyone else around them worse off, and create despair for others. Fiction, however, can still provide good for the world, religion included. Religion may cause overshadowing negatives in the world that seem to trump the good, but that’s just the way humans are. We create both positive and negative effects in everything we do. For some reason we just like to dwell on the negative more.

          I think I’m just going to let #2 go. It’s personal preference if a person is willing to forgive and forget. Debating which way is right is never going to go anywhere I don’t think. Unless you think there is a proper path?

          With question 3, I think we’re coming full circle. I believe I’ve already addressed all the things you outline here, at least according to my views. The concepts of good and evil are separate from the concept of conflict and neutrality. Good and evil both exist in the realm of conflict, as they are either side of the ‘coin’ of conflict, as it were. Neutrality is everything outside the coin, neither good nor evil, not conflict. Peace and harmony are the absence of conflict, and therefore are neutrality. As to why they exist, why we live here and experience them, etc. again, I cannot say definitively. I can speculate, I can try to deduce under my own understanding of my beliefs, but that is of no use to you. I’m not trying to blow you off, I promise! I just don’t really know how else to explain all this any more than I already have. I can’t answer all your questions of why, because there’s no way to know. For me, I don’t mind not knowing and still believing. It seems odd, but I find more and more that I am actually just as comfortable with the unknown as the known, so it just doesn’t bother me to have unanswered questions.

          I love that Ockham’s razor idea. I’ve never heard of it before. I’ll have to read up on it sometime. 🙂 I don’t mean to cut this…. not as long as usual XD but I really need to get to bed. You’ll be veeeery interested in my next post, by the way. A very very intriguing question posed by a professor of mine. Take a look next time you’re on. 🙂 Talk to you later!

  6. P.S. from point #3 This should read “I would merely suggest to her that eating a plate of dirt or nothing at all WOULDN’T be preferable to eating the same thing. “

  7. Pingback: Poison Veins | Virginia the Viruliferous
  8. Rana,

    I am in 100% complete and total agreement with this statement of yours: “There is a time when one needs to simply be okay with not knowing the answers, and trying to deduce an answer that cannot be proven, only speculated, can become pointless.” That is EXACLTY why I reject religion and why I won’t talk with people who think they have all the answers (you know who I’m talking about). Religion doesn’t say there’s a mystery, it says there’s an answer to a mystery. All you need to know is that there’s a god and he works in mysterious ways. End of story. This ties in with a statement that you make later on in your post “…Having aspirations in one’s life which are founded in the inspiration of a good piece of fiction is nothing to be ashamed of”. I concur that what you believe in is fiction (and am very glad to hear that you acknowledge it). If more people were like you, and recognized that religious beliefs were fiction, we would be living in a much different world today. Unfortuntately there are millions of people on this earth who base their lives around the prospect of such fiction being the ineffible word of an omniscient, omnibenevolent god and being absolutely true, that they are willing to throw out all logic and reason to live their lives around this concept.
    With this statement: “…I cannot speak to god’s reasoning behind it, I can speculate”, I am also in agreement with you. If I assume, with you, that such an entitiy exists, I can speculate too but I really can’t think of any GOOD reason why a god would willingly subject humans to what we’ve been subjected to (what we’ve done to each other) – and I don’t believe I’ve heard any good reasons from you either – other than being able to know good from evil or conflict from neutrality. This does not seem like a a very good justification for the American civil war or the holocaust to me. Now if I assume that such an entity does not exist, I feel that my explanation is much easier to justify and requires the least amount of assumptions.
    Here’s the golden nugget though :…As I’ve said, I’m still very much in the mindset that there is a creator, simply because I’m used to the idea.” I understand very much that you are used to the idea. Its been a part of your life for as long as you can remember. Its something like a custom or tradition that just takes place every year on the same day at the same time. It’s just the way it is. That’s where you and I really diverge. Being in a mindset because I am “used to an idea” is not a sufficient reason to remain in that mindset. My mind will simply not allow that. Reason, logic and evidence are required for me to sustain any mindset about any subject. I am very lucky. I have the benefit of previous humans experience and having the technology that enables me to aquire evidence or use reason and logic. If I can get you to recognize and acknowledge that, I will have considered this a very meaningful conversation (although I think I have already since you’ve admitted that your beliefs are just that – beliefs, not derived from evidence) And please don’t ever think that you’re wasting my time or boring me or anything like that. I very much enjoy these conversations.

*Insert your thought here*

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