Seminary Lesson: Theodicy & Ontology

GodtheFatherIconGaldioloIn the Middle Ages, the following two questions were more hotly debated than the famous question,  “How many angels can stand on the head of a pin?”

Theodicy:  Why does God permit evil and suffering
in this world?!

Ontology:  Does God even exist? How can we prove
or disprove God exists?

Theodicy is also called by philosophers “The problem of Evil,” and was argued before Christianity existed.

Please click here and read this article
Suffering, Evil and the Existence of God,
by Stanley Fish. And don’t forget to read all the comments that come after it.  All 351 of them!

(If for some reason you cannot reach this article at its New York Times location, please email the Seminary and we will send it to you as a .doc file)

Then answer the following questions:

Copy the following questions into an email, insert your answers, and then
send to the Seminary.  Put the Theodicy & Ontology from ____________ (your name) in the subject line of the email.

1.  As you read, did you feel any new understanding dawning about
whether God exists or not? (Personally, I came away with a nice new metaphor
to help me banish agnosticism whenever it raises its ugly head in my mind
or in a conversation: God must exist as a Super Mind, because DVD-players
don't "enjoy" the music they play and my computer does not "understand" what
it is doing as I type.)

2.  Jot down anything that comes to mind as you skim over the
many, many comments. What lines do you strongly agree with, strongly
disagree with?

3.  Why do you think this article generated so many comments?
Why does this topic still get peoples' passions up just as it did centuries
and centuries ago?

4.  Did you notice many of the commenters are professionals at
the top of their fields?  Google some of their names and see who they
are.  I googled Anthony D'Amato, for instance.

5.  Look up Theodicy in your online dictionary, or a real live
dictionary from your bookshelf.  Please type up a definition of it.

6.  Now look up Ontology, and type out the definition of it.

7.  Exercise:  Pretend this Stanley Fish blog entry is still
open to comments.  Type here what your comment would say. (Must be at
least two paragraphs, please). Scroll down to the bottom of this page to
read the comments your fellow alumni have written.

8. Extra Credit:  Have a good look at the Christian icon pictured
above of God the Father. What symbols do you see and what do you think they
Also:  Icons are symbolic art, not supposed to be "beautiful".  What
do you think about that?

9. a Extra Credit: Supplemental Reading: Read this Gnostic take on the Problem of Evil, "The Mystery of Iniquity", by Bishop Stephan A. Hoeller. Does it solve the problem for you? Why or why not? OR 9. b check out this article, "The Atheism Crusade: A Jewish rebuttal to Richard Dawkins', The God Delusion" and opine about it. (If either link is broken, email the Seminary and we'll find the article for you in another format.)


Rev. Dr. Victoria Newman writes:

I appreciate Mr. Fish presenting these two opposing arguments. God is in
the design and is something that speaks to individuals in the most personal
way. Despite the arguments presented on this very divided subject, as someone
who is in service to those who suffer and those who look for hope that all
is not lost, it is finding comfort in our plight as human beings that begs
us to question, 'is it all worth it?' If we choose to blame an external source
for our inefficiencies (biological or not), then why not God? We forget that
we as humans inhabit the world and that evil is of man. I believe that
irregardless of what side we're on in this argument, we can perceive life
in one of two ways: for better or for worse.

It matters not that we prove that how we perceive God to be and act on a
level that personifies an image that relates to our level of intelligence
and conciousness is tangible. What matters most is that we continue to come
together as human beings to strive to bring about solutions to alleviate
the social ills of our world today. We may not be able to control all the
variables in life that cause tragedy and suffering, but we can control how
we respond during such events. If we all lived with the concept of having
God in our hearts, hope would continue to flourish. Afterall, it is in troubling
times that we seek those answers that bring us closer to God's existence.
Utopian? I think not. We do not need to have all the answers. However, there
has to be something said for the inspirational quality that a belief in God
provides to millions daily.

Rev. Dr. Oliver Williams writes:

As we continue to explore and search for meaningfulness and purposefulness
in the quest of living spiritually, Ehrman and Flew elucidate the continuing
polarity of thought concerning evil and suffering on the planet.
Of course, this is an age old discussion based on very powerful and emotionally charged
points of view depending on one's religious or spiritual
affiliation.  An important consideration involves how evil and suffering
is interpreted, and then responded to.
In Neale Donald Walsch's work The Conversations with God, our purpose for
living on the planet involves us being the ultimate expression of Who We
Are.  Another important distinction in that discussion involves Who
We Are Not, which, in fact, becomes what God calls the Divine Dichotomy.
If the expression of evil involves us being who we are not, then the question
of evil on the planet centers on the choices we make and the energy we put
into those choices.

The Law of Attraction is about manifesting certain things based on the power
of our thoughts. If we look at the current state of the planet, many of the
disparities happening reflect choices that have been made based on greed
and power.  As a result of the choices made by our current political
and economic structure, a tremendous amount of suffering has been
manufactured.  Hence, we have the price of a gallon of gasoline
approaching five dollars, the spiraling effect of increased prices for food
and other items due to higher costs related to the increasing cost of
transportation, countless individuals losing their jobs, a war being waged
out of fear and greed, and famine in some third world countries induced and
exacerbated by tribal and religious strife.  At the same time many people
in the governmental and corporate elite are benefiting from this greed and
the exploitation and manipulation of power. Do the aforementioned issues
reflect evil with suffering as a result? It is possible that we can surmise
that good and evil can be manifested by the power of our thoughts?
Barbara Hort, in her book Unholy Hunger-Encountering the Psychic Vampire in Ourselves
and Others, discusses the dynamic of the psychic vampire, an energy manifested
in humans the uses power to literally drain power from another. These individuals
usually present themselves as being quite powerful and charismatic, but typically
use that power as a way to drain the life essence from another person. The
psychic vampire archetype reflects the shadow side of humanity, which could
certainly be interpreted as a manifestation of evil.
Then, there is the reality of major incidences of senseless crime occurring in
our major cities.  Many city leaders, including city officials, law
enforcement, and religious leaders are appealing to the populace to stop
the killings, and asking the perpetrators of crime to give themselves up.
The survivors and relationship systems of people killed by criminal acts
are left to grieve and make sense of the loss perpetrated on them by people
who have little value for others.
The central question becomes how can God allow this? The reality is not whether God can
allow evil to exist on the planet, but the choices that we as humans make
and where we choose to vibrate on the continuum of being who we are and who
we are not. Our world is an incredible life force that can support all of
us if we are mindful of managing its resources. Creating evil is a choice,
just as creating peace and prosperity is a choice.  The challenge becomes
where do we place our vibration.

Rev. Dr. Joe Marshalla writes:

Theodicy is nothing more than Ontology. We search for examples, models, symbols,
stories or logic to explain or give meaning to this experience. What if there
is no meaning? Is that okay? What if the mind simply cannot fathom that as
truth? One man’s suffering is another’s pleasure. Who is to say
that suffering is bad? Who is to say that pleasure is good? Who are we to
define any of this experience?

For me the Grand Organized Design (GOD) is a construct that is superimposed
on this world solely through the thinking mind. GOD is ever present and GOD
is not in time. For time is just a measurement of the passing of Now. GOD
cannot be found in the future, nor can GOD be found in the past. GOD is only
found in the Now. A true experience of the Now cannot include thinking because
thinking takes time. Thinking is either projecting into the future or reflecting
on the past. Therefore, GOD cannot be found through thinking nor can GOD
be explained.

GOD can only be experienced. Experienced from a place that is not the mind.
And as long as we persist to explain GOD to one another, we will be forced
to divide that which is united, for that is all the mind can do. All is one.
It never was nor will ever be otherwise. As we begin to release ourselves
from our identifications with our minds, so shall we also begin to realize
that all of this is a united field filled with waves forms of different
coagulations and densities of light.

As with the Law of Repeatlessness as well as the Law of Conservation, every
moment, every experience, every molecule and every quark is fresh and new,
constantly changing and transforming. Nothing is repeated and nothing is
lost or gained. All is in constant transformation. Therefore to hold true
that anything is static, including any definitions, is to deny the truth
of these two laws. To box GOD into anything other than a continuously growing,
changing and transforming set of vibrations and wave forms as represented
by particles of condensed light, is to say that GOD is not alive, GOD is
not growing, GOD is not learning and that GOD is not in the process of becoming
self aware through its constant equilibration and experience with itself.

Therefore, the ramblings of our simple minds as to whether there is a God
or not a God is simply our attempt to avoid the responsibility of learning
that we are not our minds. It is also, in my opinion, the ultimate in personal,
ecological and spiritual irresponsibility. Our minds are the only place evil
can get in; our minds are the creators of everything we don’t like.
As long as we are slaves to it, so shall we be slaves to this conversation.

Rev. Dr. Ferdinand J. Beukes of South Africa writes:

These two gentlemen; Ehrman (against), and Flew (for), continue the debate
on God's existence by representing the opposing views in their books. Their
different stances on this contentious issue could be seen as representative
of the majority of inhabitants of this Planet, due to the divided views on
the subject.

This is a very sensitive, age-old Topic and can be an exhaustive discussion,
and this debate will never be totally answered in this world, either way.
The approach to this issue depends on the individual's own personal beliefs,
background and religious orientation.

There is much evidence to suggest that there is a Higher Being involved in
the Creation of our Planet and the Universe, and in our daily lives, as we
experience it. Just because we don't understand it, doesn't mean this fact
can simply be wished away, and also does not warrant the ridicule of Religion/s
and/or Believers.

There are many things that cannot be explained satisfactorily, scientifically
and/or materialistically. As human beings, we will also never fully understand
God and His ways, but faith means believing in what you cannot see, a kind
of "childlike trust", and herein lies the key. You either believe or you
don't, no-one is forced to believe.

There is also an argument to be made that if good doesn't exist, then evil
cannot exist either, and if we follow the materialistic view to its conclusion,
then there really is no purpose or meaning to life on Earth.

With regard to the issue of suffering, it is man who is responsible for suffering
on this Earth, not God. The blessing of suffering can only be comprehended
by those who live in faith, because suffering allows for growth, physically,
mentally and spiritually. The Bible often refers to Christians "picking up
their Crosses and following God", therefore suffering in this World is a
given/a guarantee to the followers of Christ. We also have a task in this
world, to address and alleviate suffering of others, to the best of our

Dr. Michael Fascia of Edinburgh, Scotland writes:

If one were to understand the statement of suppositions and truths from the
rhetoric of this article, one would have to consider the consequential actions
of several ideologies perpetuated in the "Christian"
doctrine. It would be too easy simply to imply that the psychological
indifference of "human kind" needs to be constantly reminded
of inherent evil and battles between good and evil , however, the existence
of evil challenges the traditional conception of God as all-powerful and
benevolent. The existence and extent of "natural evils"
(such as disease and earthquakes) and "moral evil" (-the
deliberate infliction of harm as, for example, manifest in the Holocaust)
challenges the Judeo-Christian conception of God as possessed of perfect
attributes, including omnipotence, omniscience and benevolence. Considering
the following comments, as it would be easier for the reader to contemplate
a more Jungian credence to the argument, rather than the blunt instrument
used to deliver it; Because they are naturally "filled with all
unrighteousness" unrighteous deeds are what they will perform:
"fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness . . . envy,
murder . . . deceit, malignity."

"There is none
righteous," Paul declares, "no, not one." A much more
lucid and robust explanation could be contrived from the following example. Why does He allow evil if He knows about it and has the power
to prevent it? Surely Evil comes from God directly, not through the 'free
will' of mankind: "I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity
and create disaster; I, the LORD do all these things." Isaiah 45:7
Isaiah 45:7 affirms that God creates darkness and disaster. It is not a creation
of mankind, nor of fallen beings or Satan. The Hebrew word here that is
translated as "disaster" could also mean "wickedness", "hurt", "affliction"
or "adversity". God creates these things directly. This hypothesis could
perpetuate definitive thought , depending on the dissemination in the context,
consider: The Old Testament describes God as angry, fearsome, destructive
and vengeful. In continual deviance from what a good god would do, and feel,
the God of the Old Testament sometimes repents of its own actions and thoughts.
It may be construed as a definitive discipline by the author and I did consider
his argument, however it would appear that any supposition of definitive
rhetoric must be concluded with a much more coherent understanding of the
zenith of the argument and not just the proposed fundamentals. The
conviction, held by some, that the problem is intractable leads to the conclusion
that there is no God, a conclusion reached gleefully by the authors of books
like The God Delusion, God Is Not
and The End of Faith. How can a
god that knows everything, and is never wrong, repent? How can a good god
even have evil thoughts, let alone do evil actions? Like the doctrine of
original sin, the doctrine of predestination, as found in the New Testament,
affirms that God is not just, not moral, and is actively evil and arbitrary.
There is no grand moral plan to god's will. It makes no sense to say that
this is the behaviour of a good god... but it explains a lot more if an evil
god exists instead.
"And the LORD repented of the evil which he thought to do unto his people"
Exodus 32:14
"The LORD is a man of war: the LORD is his name"
Exodus 15:3
"For thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name is Jealous,
is a jealous God"
Exodus 34:14

Finally, a disconcerting statement: Is there a conclusion to be drawn from
these two books, at once so similar in their concerns and so different in
their ways of addressing them? Does one or the other persuade? I personally
found it difficult to completely understand the authors position with this
proposition, It does seem a little contrived compared to the other parts
of the article, some of which did make you stop and think!, but philosophical
theology is one thing, pretense and supposition are a completely different
thing. For example: Christians stressed God's presence with the suffering,
Hindus reconciled themselves to fate, the Chief Rabbi composed a prayer and
the Archbishop of Canterbury wrote an article for the Sunday Telegraph. "There
is something odd about expecting that God will constantly step in if things
are getting dangerous. How dangerous do they have to be? How many deaths
would be acceptable?
God does not prevent suffering but instead promises to redeem it. And it
is this promise that we see fulfilled in the death and resurrection of Jesus
Christ. This reality is something each generation has to come to terms with
as we try to make sense of life. To be a Christian is not to be respectable:
it is to be set free to see things as they really are - including sin and
evil. To be a Christian is not to adopt a pastoral attitude or to be converted
to general niceness, but to be delivered into truth. To be a Christian is
to be able to acknowledge sin in ourselves and others because we see this
in the wider context of our redemption by Jesus Christ. Our knowledge of
our redemption by Christ means we are no longer paralysed by fear of our
sin, for we no longer believe our salvation depends upon our own achievements.
We cannot investigate the proposition of a Great Maker spirit who made the
cosmos and all that is in it, including the laws of nature, by insisting
that he subject himself to those laws at our command.

But what do I know......

Michael Fascia

Rev. Dr. Antwon James writes:

It has become my thought that both men and books have valid and logical
arguments. Convincing to say the least. Ontology is the branch of metaphysics
dealing with the nature of being. "Onto" means "being",
the ontological argument is an a priori argument. And ontological argument
for God's existence is an attempt to prove rationally that God exists, without
referring to Scriptures or otherwise. It differs from other arguments of
that kind by taking as its starting point nothing but the concept of God.
The Cosmological Argument starts from a fact and leads to God, the Ontological
Argument doesn't start from a fact. It is a UNIQUE argument because it is
the only A PRIORI argument. Hume dismisses the Ontological Argument from
the beginning. He says no a priori argument for God can be of any value.
This is because you can't make God exist just because you think about it,
you have to experience something for it to exist. Since this argument has
appeared it has been debated by philosophers, many saying it doesn't work
but they can't always say why. It is not an argument that has been settled
and is still after 1000 years very much alive today.

An argument of this kind was first proposed by Anselm of Canterbury in his
Proslogion created in 1077, a meditative prayer like book by the saint. The
writing becomes a prayer. The foolish man says in his heart "There is no
God"', this is the first line of Psalm 14 and St Anselm goes on to
talk about the foolish man. He goes on to discuss the Ontological Argument
more (though he didn't the argument this, we have over time). St Anselm says
the foolish man is very foolish to arrive at such a conclusion as there is
no because no intelligent man cannot conclude this because you are contradicting

To truly understand this free will theodicy we must first try to understand
the problem of evil by itself. I feel that the simplest and yet most complete
understanding of this was best written by C. S. Lewis. He explains this problem
by writing, "If God were good, He would wish to make His creatures
perfectly happy, and if God were almighty, He would be able to do what He
wished. But the creatures are not happy. Therefore God lacks either goodness,
or power, or both." (Nicholi 2002)

I would simply add to his final
conclusions that God lacks goodness, power, both or He simple does not exist.
It seems that as time goes by this argument is used more often to attempt
to prove that God does not exist, specifically the Christian God. This argument
is not new to our scientific and skeptical age. This is a question that has
been posed by a myriad of Philosophers throughout most of history. The biggest
problem with this argument is that it's a good argument. It has withstood
the trials over time and still convinces many today. This argument tries
to get one to admit that either God is not all loving, all knowing or all
powerful and then, by definition of the Christian God, there is no God. (White

I believe that this problem has become more widespread in the past century.
I believe this for two main reasons. The first is that I am convinced that
with the rise of the ability and the power of the media more information
get out quicker and we have less time to discern anything in it. We hear
this question being raised in article, on television and in blogs. With the
question being raised and no good answer being given by those who are raising
the question, then those absorbing this information are left with one conclusion.
This conclusion is that there is no God. Also with this rise of media comes
the rise of bad news. Faster than ever we are hearing of tragedies not only
in our local areas, but worldwide. I'm not sure if these massive tragedies
have always happened at this rate, but that doesn't really matter because
we never would've known about them before. Now we see faces, bodies and lonely
children standing helpless all over our television screens. We read personal
stories on the internet of individuals who faced these horrific events hours
after the events take place. As this things hit us in the face constantly
it seems almost impossible to not question God's love or His power.

Rev. Dr. Gregory L. Bock writes:

Juxtaposing the two concepts, as the author Fish did, was thought provoking,
and, after all, he is a law professor. Having spent most of my life working
in the field of computer science and electrical engineering, I found the
example of a computer being able to "understand" like a power line meditating
on "free will" to be so true! While a computer is sometimes given a sense
of "intelligence", they have none. They are chemically modified and x-ray
etched pieces of treated sand (i.e. glass) with some electricity connected;
with no power, there's no so-called, "intelligence." The resulting computer
cannot think nor reason because it is simply cleaned-up sand! Someone has
designed the layout of "sand" -- what to do, how to do it, when to do it,
and what the resulting outcome will be. Now the sand didn't just come together
and evolve by happenstance, there was an intelligent guide who nudged it
and changed it resulting in something much greater than simple sand. While
in this instance, mankind over a period of time manipulated the sand to
ultimately get the computer. It was clear the sand wouldn't have been able
to do so on its own by continuing to wither away to ever smaller pieces on
the seashore! Therefore, I find that God must exist due to the resulting
world we see around us, and my computer-sand metaphor is a strong example
of why it is so.

Instructions: Jot down anything that comes to mind as you skim over the many,
many comments. What lines do you strongly agree with, strongly disagree with?

I used the format of responding to particular blogger comments as they bring
about some stirring of "strongly agree with" or "strongly disagree with"
their response to the Fish article.

Comment 1: I strongly agree with Christ's redemptive work created meaning
out of horrors brought on by mankind's "free will" to produce atrocities
and this is a key to understanding theodicy and what lies hereafter based
upon Christ's work.

Comment 5: I strongly disagree with the implication that a "true" religion
doesn't exist (other than the commentator's proposed religion of Science).

Comment 9: I strongly agree, but not in the commentator's ultimate conclusion,
with the idea that not everything comes from God.

Comment 11: I strongly agree with the corollary idea proposed.

Comment 12: I strongly agree that everyone must ultimately decide on belief
in God or not.

Comment 13: I strongly agree with the points made concerning a "good" god
doesn't do such and such. The thought that comes to mind is that God is God
- in a way he even says so to Moses in Exodus 3:14. When asked who he is,
the reply is simply "I am who I am!" It's as if God doesn't understand why
anyone would ask such a question. He is simply, "I am".

Comment 16: I strongly agree with this commentator pointing out that not
all suffering comes from God. Animals are an example of this point. They
often suffer from perfectly natural situations that are unrelated to man;
therefore the sin-nature/punishment aspect is irrelevant since they aren't

Comment 17: I strongly agree with this blogger's observation. Quote, "Here,
of course, is the quantum leap: Couldn't this also be true for God? Clearly
the plethora of world religions goes a long way towards the idea that a Supreme
Being/Force (or any plurality) would have to be relative. But more than this,
perhaps God is a force, like light, whose very existence depends on the

Comment 27: I strongly disagree with this comment dismissing someone who
sees the universe as more than random dust as "Godnuts"...? Interestingly,
the commentator doesn't accept their place in the random dust and the materialist
view of such events. They propose saving humanity but that's a contradiction
to science's view of things evolving: therefore man, like anything else,
can come or go. There's certainly nothing either gained or lost if one follows
that philosophy.

Comment 31: I strongly agree with the comment "What part of the theodicy
issue is a projection of human failure".

Comment 34: I strongly disagree with the premise of the commentator. While
the comments look to be a corollary to theodicy, the verses (looking very
official, I might add!) show no research into the underlying language of
the verses referenced. If the blogger had done even an Internet search,  he
would have seen his theorem has feet of clay. (Thought I'd borrow and apply
biblical-sounding terms like he did!)

Comment 35: I strongly agree with this commentator's observation on theodicy.
A question comes to mind from this comment, "Why is man's 'free will' so
easily discounted and God blamed for man's own creation of suffering?" I
find it interesting that, to borrow a more recent example, so-called global
warming is blamed on man and not God! But, I'm sure God will be blamed for
it down the road just like the New Orleans hurricane disaster. Instead of
man being blamed for the short-changing of building and maintaining good
levies, God is blamed for "sending" a hurricane to rain on the people of
New Orleans.

Comment 37: Wow! I strongly agree with this commentator's remarks and
observation. Epicurus' problem then becomes the lazy man's out. Why doesn't
a God serve my need for comfort, despite my evil?...The fact that God doesn't
destroy whole tribes and nations caught up in systemic greed and mayhem I
take to be a sign of Divine patience, not stupidity. This is very well said!

Comment 39: I strongly agree with this writer's comment on theodicy and ontology.
She states, "When the question of why does God allow suffering, it places
the blame on God when the real cause of suffering comes from man. God is
gracious in that he doesn't allow man to be as evil as he could be. The presence
of any good in this world at all is a testament to the benevolence of God."

Comment 46: I strongly agree with the ontology view presented by this blogger.
Philosophers have always pondered why things are the way they are. There
is a metaphysical world out there that can't be simply dismissed because
there's not a scientific formula to explain it.

Comment 48: I strongly disagree with this writer. His premise of "all men
are created equal" as being a greater thing than postulating ancient sages
ignores God stating that "all men are sinners". Isn't that the mathematical,
inductive equivalent?

Comment 51: I strongly disagree with the method of presenting the Pantheism
doctrine. Instead of the metaphysical aspects and Unitarian view of God being
all things and therefore everywhere at the same time, it presents a mixed-version
of pantheism and materialism.

Comment 56: I strongly disagree with the blogger's comment about believing
in a "supreme being" is simply for explaining something "when we don't have
a clue." I think he misses the point that such an explanation is just as
valid as so-called, scientific fact, if it explains what or why something
is happening. How does science explain captured evidence of a ghost?! Clearly
such a capturing of fact shows another dimension exists, but how does one
explain it without considering a spirit world that is mentioned in ancient

Comment 59: I do agree with this writer to some extent. He presents the Judaic
view of God accurately and it is a different philosophic view to consider.

Comment 61: I strongly agree with the assertion of the article author, Fish,
focused on Western monotheistic belief and view, instead of injecting some
other religious points of view on the matter of theodicy. Fish does look
to be discussing theodicy while presenting a dual book review, so inclusion
of, say, Buddhism could have been woven into his text. The Buddhist view
does place a bit of karma on why people suffer and that much is their own
doing in an attempt to contradict the existence they find themselves in.

Comment 66: I strongly agree with the concept of good and evil being like
positive and negative physical energies that try to constant seek equilibrium.

Comment 77: I strongly agree with the points made later in the commentary
concerning using "God's will" to justify a myriad of ideas and reasons for
why something was happening or being done.

Comment 79: I strongly agree with the blogger's comments concerning the
materialist's views and observations of former materialist, C.S. Lewis: "If
I am merely a product of the soup, how am I able to stand outside it and
say it is terrible? If there is nothing more than the survival of the fittest,
why should I be offended when the strong dominate the oppressed?" Lewis'
remarks refute the materialist fundamental view of all existence.

Comment 86: I strongly agree with this assertion that the corruption of man's
view of "good." It makes whatever good is done by God to look absurd in man's

Comment 91: I strongly agree with the blogger's answer that the matter of
God's existence is simply unknowable by methods scientific or philosophical.

Comment 95: I strongly agree with the statement "Original sin is not a problem
of behavior. It is a problem of consciousness."

Comment 99: I strongly agree with not dismissing the creature Satan.

Comment 114: I strongly agree with the commenter about science and the "Creator."
The more science I study, the more I see the Creator at work.

Comment 116: Not that I agree or disagree with this one, but I find it
interesting about the "God-gene." As the commenter claims, biology has evolved
within us a gene to seek out the greater being interesting!

Comment 119: I strongly disagree with the commentator's hypothesis that a
belief in the supernatural leads to a world of destruction.

Comment 130: I strongly agree that suffering has molded me into the person
that I am, much like the commenter.

Comment 133: I strongly agree (see my response to #130).

Comment 137: I strongly disagree with the commentator's elegant analysis
that results in the conclusion that all things lead to agnosticism.

Comment 142: I strongly agree with this commentator's opinion of suffering
happens and it is our religion that shows us that suffering is to be alleviated
wherever possible. The comment about the argument of science versus God is
a good one. I see them as complimenting to each other, not opposing each

Comment 147: I strongly agree with the commentator concerning "science looks
at the outsides of things," then continuing with "while intelligent interior
experience can only be known by "talking to them."

Comment 149: I strongly agree that both camps (materialists and religious
zealots) are at extremes, and since everything cannot be explained by entirely
by either, this is why departments of philosophy exist at universities.

Comment 172: I strongly agree with the commenter concerning "The challenge
in these debates is to express the logic of our visions in terms that those
who follow the logic of other visions might find intelligible."

Comment 173: I strongly agree with the point that one can believe in God
without subscribing to religious dogma.

Comment 177: I strongly disagree with the commentator's inductive reasoning
that believing in God is for people of a lower IQ. (This is inferred from
his question concerning why [some] people of high IQ believe in God.)

Comment 179: I strongly agree that an atheist attempting to explain why there?s
good and evil without God is humorous. Without a god of some sort, then the
concepts of good and evil have no meaning.

Comment 180: I strongly agree with the clever statement that, "Without God,
Charles Manson wasn't evil; he was just living an alternate lifestyle."

Comment 181: I strongly agree with the commentator's comparison and contrast
of God disciplining us doesn't make [him] anymore evil than us as parents
disciplining our children being evil. The writer also adds the point of us
wanting our children to love us of their own free will, not forcing them
to do so a la Mommy Dearest!

Comment 200: I strongly agree with the commentator's reasonableness that
only through continued searching and understanding of both viewpoints of
theodicy, and the required ontology, will answer the questions battled by
both sides of the issue.

Comment 203: I strongly agree that in looking at the universe, and the very
apparent order of things within it (look at a Hubble photo of celestial space!),
that a guiding presence isn't so hard to believe in.

Comment 216: I strongly agree with the remark, "if we can accept the existence
of dark matter fully knowing we can never prove its existence, why can't
we accept the existence of 'God'?

Comment 220: While I strongly disagree with the overall remarks, I do agree
with: "Evil" is nothing more than the acting out of bad ideas that the actors
have deluded themselves into thinking they are good ideas.

Comment 224: I strongly agree with the observation, although a bit off topic,
that believers need to practice what they preach in order to make the world
a better place.

Comment 259: I strongly agree with the commenter on his discussion of theodicy.
He pulls information from past philosophers who noted, Any God that could
be discovered or disproved by science (or theology) simply would not be God.
This is a good point in and of itself. But, back on the theodicy question,
he points out substituting "universe" for a'Goda' in order to appease the
materialists, doesn't answer the question of evil versus good coming into

Comment 270: I strongly agree concerning the point that 'free will' generated
evil, but it also gave us the power to freely love without bounds.

Comment 292: I strongly disagree with the repeated premise that higher
intelligence is greater than a belief in God. This seems to be a common theme
with those individuals who struggle with keeping their ego fed: it's like
a survival response. It's a fear of 'letting go' in order to grow, in my

Comment 304: I strongly agree with the commentator's summary, 'The important
question is not whether God exists (or if he is good or indifferent), but
how we can allow God to exist for different people without violence.'

Comment 319: I strongly agree with "Faith does not require proof".

Comment 321: I strongly agree with the analysis that "faith" is the basis
of both the theist's and materialist's belief systems.

Comment 324: I strongly disagree that Evil does not exist. It's just that
people are bad, so the blogger surmises.

Comment 326: I strongly agree with the statement about turning to compassion.
Compassion is what all peoples should practice.

Comment 330: I strongly disagree with the commenter asserting that "Death
is final".

Comment 331: I strongly agree with decoupling human understanding from God's
mind and application. The quote from Isaiah 55:8-9 is a perfect commentary
on theodicy: "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways
my ways, declares the Lord. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so
are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts."

Comment 330: I strongly agree with "in the world, 'the lack of perfection,'
is neither pro for or against God."

Comment 351: I strongly disagree with the commenter asking if an intelligent
mind created everything, why wait billions of years to create something?
This statement ignores the point that God has no beginning or end. Time is
irrelevant to such a being.

* * * * * * * * * *

Did you notice many of the commenters are professionals at the top of their
fields? Google some of their names and see who they are.

* Matthew Carnicelli Literary Management, handled books by Hillary Clinton
and Al Gore, for example.
* Chris Faulconer 21st Century Mystery School
* Daniel Polowetzky RN doing bio research at Mt. Sinai Medical
* Charles Tillinghast MSNBC exec
* Robert L. Blackburn Computer Science Author
* Glenn Ward M.D., Surgeon
* John Schertzer, New School poet
* Philip Jarrett, Actor
* J. Patrick McGrail, Telecommunications Professor
* Richard Mendales, Law Professor
* David Morris,Writer and scholar
* William Grassie, Founder of Metanexus Institute on Religion and Science
* T. Joyner Drolsum - Author

It is fascinating to see the blog responses to Mr. Fish's article on the
topic of theodicy. I found the article to be the usual presentation of case
studies that present both sides of the atheist-theist argument. mentions
someone (Bart Ehrman) leaving his religious beliefs for the philosophy of
agnosticism, and juxtaposed to that transition, another person (Antony Flew)
leaves atheism for a religious-based theist belief. The mixture of such paths
in an opinion article certainly raises the ire of 'believers' on both sides
of the aisle. The belief systems of both atheism (materialism) and theism
have such a large chasm between them, it's remarkable and astonishing that
at least these two individuals have made the difficult crossing. That, in
and of itself, is enough to grab the attention of so many and challenges
the internal beliefs that each clings to. So, why such heated postings by
commenters? I truly think a lot of the comments stem from individuals feeling
they're being told they're wrong for believing the way they do; even foolish
for doing so. And, even worse, they may be able to be 'converted' to the
other belief!

Still, what is a person to do in postulating the whole idea of theodicy?
I think much of it goes back to the overall study of ontology. Does God truly
exist? And if so, what is the relationship of that Being to the order in
which we find ourselves? I liken it to the chicken and egg scenario. Which
came first the Being who created everything? Or did everything else create
the Being? Certainly the arguments have and continue to be presented by both
sides, and both hold validity to a great extent. But, since the mathematical
induction (if true for 1, it's true for n+1) cannot be proved by either side,
here we sit, resting once again on our faith in whichever process we believe
to be valid.

Aah, it's great to live in a free open society discussing these things! Or
is this another kind of, dare I say it, 'free will' at work?!