Epicurus Quote

epicurus-quote.jpg

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?


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    Common SenseFoinlavinsykotikrebootJeros Recent comment authors
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    xcanadian
    Member

    I’ve loved this quote since I first saw it in the Richard Dawkins documentary “The Root of All Evil”. It shows that intelligent, cynical atheism has roots as deep and strong as any religion.

    kazza-flazza
    Member
    kazza-flazza

    Deep.

    Jeros
    Member

    This has ended quite a few religious debates for me rather quickly, though I always have mixed feelings about the look of doubt I see in my opponents eyes afterwards. Have I enlightened them and given them a new lease on life? or have I just ruined a perfectly comfortable and viable world view and caused suffering and misery? Or more likely, they will simply forget the conversation ever happened and continue on without a care in the world. The comeback I here most often though is God Wants evil to provide a contrast for good, or that without evil… Read more »

    Ando
    Member

    Epicurus
    341 BC – 270 BC

    The Matrix: Rebooted
    Member

    Why should a god need to be omnipotent or benevolent? Just because the Christian notion of god is a paradox, doesn’t mean there isn’t a higher power. Or you could take the view of Ludwig Wittgenstein: that language is an inadequate description of an omnipotent being and that the apparent contradiction is really a problem of semantics. Also: can anyone cite a source for this? I did a quick search Epicurus’s works and the quote doesn’t come up. Maybe I missed it, but it does seem odd that a Greek philosopher would make this argument since the Greek gods were… Read more »

    Kaze
    Member

    Without being a proponent to either argument:
    Without misery, pleasure is unknown. Happiness as a feeling is calibrated based off of an individuals understanding of the extremes of emotions.
    As such, one can not truly know happiness, until they have been through the depths of agony to reach it.

    Ando
    Member

    Kaze – I can calibrate my feeling of happyness from a lack of happyness, a zero point. I’ve never known agony but I have known happyness.

    Jeros – I find that people tend to refute this with the argument that life is trivial, a passing stage on our way to the afterlife. A test of sorts, and that as such, suffering is unimportant. At that point I kick them in the balls.

    The Matrix: Rebooted
    Member

    @Kaze
    You don’t need misery to “calibrate” happiness. You could calibrate kinda content with extreme happiness. If fact, that’s what most people do, since I doubt that most people ever experience “the depths of agony”. Further, the contrast argument is negated by assumptions of an omnipotent god, since such a god would be able to create happiness or good without misery or evil.

    roamingidiot
    Member

    Maybe God Just Want’s To Lick Your Balls.

    Ollie
    Member

    I suppose you could argue that God gave us free will, so he can’t directly affect wehther a person does a bad thing or not, and thus the consequences for the people the bad thing is done to. That doesn’t explain random shit like getting hit by a meteroite though, and the fact you were born hideously disabled and ugly, that’s just God’s way of saying he hates you.

    xcanadian
    Member

    Was god willing and able to prevent the cancellation of Firefly?
    Then god is a dick.

    Kaze
    Member

    @Ando and @reboot

    All this shows, is that you two do not have the same understanding of happiness that I do. But that’s to be expected, because no two people can feel the same things as one another.

    xcanadian
    Member

    Kaze, you seem like nice dude but you’re talking out your ass a bit here. Happiness is what occurs when the pleasure centres of your brain get lit up. End of story.

    There’s nothing existential about it.

    Anonymous
    Member

    I think Kaze is dead-on. Here’s a quote from the last chapter of “The Count of Monte Cristo”:

    “As for you, Morrel, this is the whole secret of my behavior towards you: there is neither happiness nor misfortune in this world, there is merely the comparison between one state and another, nothing more. Only someone who has suffered the deepest misfortune is capable of experiencing the heights of felicity. Maximilien, you must needs have wished to die, to know how good it is to live.”

    beep beep
    Member

    I thought this was a David Hume quote, since it is in “Evil Makes a Strong Case against God’s Existence.” It could be Epicurus still because Hume did mention him in the essay, but it seems odd to me that Epicurus would say “god” and not “gods.”

    Kaze= Nietzschean thought
    xcanandian= Identity theory
    I tend to agree more with Kaze since Identity theory has some glaring problems with it; unless you are talking about token-identity theory, but I doubt that anyone here besides me knows the difference or the implications of either theory.

    The Matrix: Rebooted
    Member

    After a little bit of research, it was actually Lucretius who said this, but claimed to be quoting Epicurus. He may have been, but the text he was quoting hasn’t survived.
    In the text he does say “gods”.

    Foinlavin
    Member

    The worst day of your life could be a decent day in someone else’s. I don’t know how you would define zero happiness. Are you hungry in zero happiness? I ask because there are a lot of people in this world who would consider not being hungry a pretty happy occasion. The only way zero happiness exists is to compare it to when times were not as happy, meaning you need strife to recognize joy. Whether or not God makes the world kinda crappy for this reason or not is beyond me, but I ask you to find me where… Read more »

    phantasm
    Member

    Can Evil or Good exist without the other? Are they just relative terms, and without the other you just have existience?

    GrammerRobot
    Member

    I don’t think of good and evil as a binary state, phantasm. I think of it more as a spectrum (or like relative terms as you said) Only instead of a spectrum of shades of gray, think of a spectrum of all the colors in existence. Probably an accurate description, but not really something you can logically organize without having an opinion about the colors themselves. Like having a favorite color. Everyone has one, and I’ll bet everyone has a color that they completely despise. And I’ll also bet most of those people have no reason to initially like that… Read more »

    beep
    Member

    I saw a turtle!

    Caio
    Member

    xcanadian, your post intrigues me. I don’t want to be contrary or insulting, but here are the first three things that popped into my mind: 1) Epicurus was an agnostic, not an atheist. He argued that the gods (referred to singularly as a collective in ancient greek), if they existed, were indifferent to man. That quote is taken *way* out of context. The idea was that we should be indifferent to an indifferent God. The idea of there not being a creator of some sort, however, was a pretty difficult concept for people without concepts of modern science. 2) In… Read more »

    Ando
    Member

    Ciao, afaik Dawkins doesn’t want religion to be outlawed, just doesn’t think it should be forced upon people.

    Foinlavin – I accept that happiness is comparative, I don’t think it’s necessary for someone to experience starvation, genital mutilation, torture or otherwise delve into the depths of misery and suffering in order for us to feel happy in comparison.

    Kaze
    Member

    Misery is conditional, as all people do not feel the same emotions. Mutilation, as such, while most people would be horrified by the concept, not all of them would be.

    Some people would rather be ripped to shreds, before they had a mouse crawl on them, or a spider, or even water.

    The point is, after meeting that, and surviving it, and moving on, when they smile, you’d never of seen such a grand smile on someone in the history of the world.

    That is euphoria, incarnate.

    Jeros
    Member

    Why does god care if we have evil to compare goodness to? No one has adequately addressed this question in my mind. Does he need it for his own reference? If so then how did he create it in the first place? Does he like seeing us suffer? Then he is malevolent.

    Caio
    Member

    I have a hard time believing that, Ando. Although he doesn’t come right out and say it, he uses the language of those who have opposed freedom of conscience historically. He supports attacking moderates, for one. I suppose by attack he means “debate”, but his intention is very much revealed by the words he uses. He also accuses religion of being untouchable by criticism. Is it? Maybe things are different in the states, but I can think of *very* few examples of atheists being persecuted by governments in the last thirty years in the developed nations, save a bit of… Read more »

    Caio
    Member

    Responding to Jeros’ post: In Catholic School, we were taught about free will. The modern Catholic line of thinking is that evil on earth is caused by humanity, and that God’s interference is subtle and minimal. Life, following this view, is a test. I don’t buy that line of thinking. I’m religious in the sense that I believe in a universal order that goes beyond our understanding of physics and that I believe that ethics can’t be captured by pure reason. But I don’t believe in a personal God whose white blue eyed son whispers into americans’ to kill sand… Read more »

    Jeros
    Member

    What drives god to test us? in these catholic school mythos?

    Foinlavin
    Member

    Jeros: It is not that God is giving us evil to compare with good, it is that there is no good without the reference point that is evil. I don’t think its an issue of religion or faith but simply one of logic. I have been told that in much the same way that dark is only the absence of light and not an entity onto itself, so is evil the absence of good and not a separate force fighting against it. Here is some religious banter to try on for size though: our ability to understand why God would… Read more »

    The Matrix: Rebooted
    Member

    @Foinlavin Here’s some things to think about: even if evil is some sort of logical complement to good (and I don’t see why it should be) then why should God be bound by logic? Didn’t God make logic? If so isn’t he still responsible for suffering? You can’t make excuses for God by some “lesser of two evils argument” because an omnipotent God doesn’t have to make those choices. He should always be able to good without causing suffering. Let’s consider your own flawed analogy. The doctor giving a shot doesn’t want to cause pain. If she could give the… Read more »

    sykotik
    Member

    Personally, I find the quite antiquated ideas of “good and evil” to be ridiculous. What’s “good” to one, could be considered heinous or “evil” to another.

    I don’t believe in black and white, polar opposite, only ONE “good” and only ONE “evil” (I’m simplifying of course, there are numerous “goods” and numerous “evils.”

    This is the mindset that gets people killed for nothing. Take Catholics and the Dark Ages… Science was “evil” and people were burned alive (or worse) for practicing it. Where are we now?

    Foinlavin
    Member

    @Reboot Please don’t misunderstand me. I was not trying to say that someone’s mom dying of ovarian cancer is akin to a booster shot for life. I was saying that our ability to comprehend why bad things happen might be as stunted as a baby’s understanding of a booster shot. As you said, God is not bound by logic, however, humans and their language are. For instance, the English words “good” and “evil” are bound by logic. Is an apple good or evil? How about a canyon? Bacteria? Abortion? Without context and comparison these questions are unanswerable. I won’t pretend… Read more »

    Common Sense
    Guest
    Common Sense

    We were given the Gift of FREE WILL. This Hell on earth is caused by Man and when man can no longer bear the evil he has created, he looks on to God as an excuse to Blame his miserable life on! Very much like a child, (don’t you think?) who is given a beautiful room where in he can play safely but in so doing, creates a horrible mess that caused him to stumble and hurt himself, then tearfully blames his mom (who is cuddling and band-aiding his boo-boo)for not tidying up his mess! God is both omnipotent and… Read more »



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