Posts tagged ‘evil’

Read and respond to The Problem of Evil by Peter Kreeft.

Write a post in your iblog in which you

  1. demonstrate an understanding of the main point(s),
  2. relates an idea(s) from the reading to another text(s),
  3. offer your own arguments – agreeing or disagreeing with the points in the reading – with supporting evidence.

Consider the rubric:

Read Matthew 6:24-34.

In this Gospel reading, before Jesus tells his listeners not to worry, he says “No one can serve two masters.” Who is Jesus refering to? One master is God(Love), surely, but who is the other?

Could Jesus be refering to more specific “evils” – evils that cause us to worry and make us miserable?

What kinds of worry are normal? What kinds of worry lead to debilitating anxiety?

Consider the character Tony from Wm. Paul Young’s, “Cross Roads” – after reading Chapter 3. What “masters” does (or doesn’t) he serve? What other ideas come to mind?

Survey:

Discuss

Explain these statements:

  • All other natures on earth are commands; only human nature is an invitation.
  • Guilt is one of the many qualities that separate humans from beasts.
  • Baby : cub = acorn : marble
  • Whatever makes us grow as knowers and lovers is good; whatever makes us shrivel as knowers and lovers is evil.
  • Unless you choose to know and love, you automatically choose to be less than human.

Ruby Petunia Fawn felt less than human, even though objectively she surely was human. What is the difference between “feel” and “be”?

Why is guilt often a very good thing?

What objective norm would tell you whether guilt is appropriate or inappropriate?

What makes humans specifically different from all other species?

 

Bible Readings:

Skim these Scripture passages. Pick one that appeals to you and

  1. summarize its main point,
  2. tell how it relates to the theme “Understanding Humanity”,
  3. list one or two thoughts that entered your mind when you read it.
  • “The Good Samaritan” Luke 10:30-37
  • “Come Higher!” Luke 14:15-24
  • “Different Gifts” Genesis 49:1-28
  • “The Giving Soul” Hebrews 5:11-14
  • “Degrading” Isaiah 1:2-6

 

Reflect:

No human is merely a higher-level animal. Each human has the potential – which no animal has – to be far far more.

  • What is the difference between being human and acting human?
  • What test is there that you can apply to an entity to see if it is human – and not something less?
  • When does a baby start being a human entity?
  • When does a person in a coma stop being human?
  • People in mental hospitals, children who murder without any remorse, mob hit men – are all less than fully human, but are they less than human?

 

Quotable Quotes:

“What is man that you think of him; mere man that you care for him?” – Psalm 8:1,3-9

“No man is free who is not master of himself.” – Epictetus

“I am the master of my fate; I am the captain of my soul.” – William Ernest Henley

“Vision … It reaches beyond the thing that is, into the conception of what can be.” Robert Collier

 

Faith reflection

The psalmist described the dignity of humans this way:

Psalm 8:1, 3-9 http://bible.oremus.org/?ql=385540891


You have set your glory above the heavens. 
When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars that you have established; 
what are human beings that you are mindful of them,
mortals that you care for them?


Yet you have made them a little lower than God,
and crowned them with glory and honour. 
You have given them dominion over the works of your hands;
you have put all things under their feet, 
all sheep and oxen,
and also the beasts of the field, 
the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea,
whatever passes along the paths of the seas.


Lord, our Sovereign,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!

Pope John Paul II echoed that human dignity when he addressed the united nations in 1979. He said:

It is a question of the highest importance that in internal social life, as well as in international life, all human beings in every nation and country should be able to enjoy effectively their full rights under any political regime or system.

If reason alone and Scripture and the church attest to the dignity of every human being, what effect does that have on arguments about abortion, war, capital punishment, and euthanasia?

 

Activity:

Choose:

  1. Read aloud – or even memorize – Shylock’s response to Salanio and Salarino an The Merchant of Venice, Act 3, Scene 1, that begins “To bait fish withal…” What is Shylock trying to justify? What arguments does he use to justify it? Debate the points for and against Shylock’s argument.
  2. Lord of the Flies embodies the thesis: Human beings are evil at the core, and the only things keeping humans from open savagery are control by civilized society and its law enforcement agencies. Catcher in the Rye embodies precisely the opposite thesis: We are all born innocent and are corrupted – or even driven mad – by the wickedness of the society we are thrust into. Which thesis is true? Why? Or are they both true? Why?
  3. Explain these statements:
    • All other natures on earth are commands; only human nature  is an invitation.
    • Guilt is one of the many qualities that separate humans from beasts.
    • Baby : cub = acorn : marble
    • Whatever makes us grow as knowers and lovers is good; whatever makes us shrivel as knowers and lovers is evil.
    • Unless you choose to know and love, you automatically choose to be less than human.

In a universe increasing less black and white and enjoying more grey, I pause to reflect on the concept of Christian Hedonism.

I have always appreciated the more rigorously fashioned ethics of Kant, an action is either right or wrong, all times all places in the universe. One does not do the right thing out of hope for a reward, only of the duty that knowing the right thing to do compels one to do the right thing. The difficulty is discerning or revealing an actions’ inherent evil or righteousness. But there is no room in his logic for an ambiguous action – only the certainty of judging an act objectively as right or wrong. Straightforward, an action either is or is not right. Our appetite for a reward or aversion to punishment is irrelevant. Period.

Now I read about CS Lewis and he shakes me up a little bit about something I was certain – hedonism is a bad thing. Lewis reflects on an objection to Kant’s matter of fact denial of hedonism:

British writer C. S. Lewis, in an oft-quoted passage in his short piece “The Weight of Glory,” likewise objects to Kantian ethics:
If there lurks in most modern minds the notion that to desire our own good and to earnestly hope for the enjoyment of it is a bad thing, I suggest that this notion has crept in from Kant and the Stoics and is no part of the Christian faith. Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that our Lord finds our desires, not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling around with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.[2]

So, ought we do the right thing because there is a reward, or not? Can it be both ways, do it because it is right AND do it because a reward is there?

Why ought we do the right thing?

 

THE CRAIG-NIELSEN DEBATE: GOD, MORALITY, AND EVIL
William Lane Craig and Kai Nielsen
with annotations by William Lane Craig
February 1991, University of Western Ontario

 

This debate is presented on the Internet as a project of Leadership University. Leadership University is dedicated to providing the best information in the world informed by a biblical worldview.

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