The problem of evil, as described circa 300 B.C.

| April 17, 2008 | 446 Replies

In about 300 B.C., Epicurus eloquently summed up the problem of the existence of evil. It has come to be known as the Riddle of Epicurus or the Epicurean paradox. It was translated by David Hume in the Dialogues concerning Natural Religion:

If God is willing to prevent evil, but is not able to
Then He is not omnipotent.

If He is able, but not willing
Then He is malevolent.

If He is both able and willing
Then whence cometh evil?

If He is neither able nor willing
Then why call Him God?

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Category: Good and Evil, Quotes

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Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich and his wife, Anne Jay, live in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where they are raising their two extraordinary daughters.

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  1. Karl says:

    If people could understood how God can know the beginning and the end from an eternal perspective, yet allow free will in a temporal one this whole discussion would simply fade away into a matter of differing perspectives.

    “Time” is a variable that results in people differing in their interpretations about what they want to believe concerning God.

    When time (as we claim to know it) is no longer a variable it will cease to be a factor that we can manipulate in order to misinterpret matters of values and morality for our own goals and purposes.

    • The Happy Nihilist says:

      Well put Karl, we have no clue at all of what we’re talking about when we invoke the concept of God to explain things, do we!

      “If people could understood how God can know the beginning and the end from an eternal perspective, yet allow free will in a temporal one this whole discussion would simply fade away into a matter of differing perspectives.”

      But people don’t understand this, do people. I assume you are including yourself in this crowd, too. Not only do people not understand such, but people are in fact simply blowing hot air when they give assurances that such perspectives as “eternal” ones even actually exist.

      ““Time” is a variable that results in people differing in their interpretations about what they want to believe concerning God.”

      Time is a measure of duration. Some people want to talk about there being an atemporal realm occupied by atemporal personal beings, and can’t seem to convince others that this is not a blatant contradiction. They charge these questioning others with being too concerned with relying on human perspectives, as if to say theirs is something more than human. The questioning others ask them to explain what they mean, but they say language cannot relate. Then they ask the questioning others to spend time reading a certain Book, as if it were beyond the language which composes it.

      “When time (as we claim to know it) is no longer a variable it will cease to be a factor that we can manipulate in order to misinterpret matters of values and morality for our own goals and purposes.”

      Yes. We will be dead.

  2. Karl says:

    Thus the walking, talking, contradiction that is the human being that tries to grapple with understanding anything about God from a purely naturalistic or as some would say “from a temporal scientific perspective.” There is just too much outside of the box (one of those being God) that can ever be fully determined and understood from within the box.

    Those that try to use purely deductive logic based upon assumed inductively derived premises will sooner or later find that this process eventually limits their investigations to only that which agrees with this perspective.

    Those that hold that their inductive premises concerning matters outside of the box should be left open to further consideration have said in both their hearts and minds that “God” could exist, and this physical life may not be all there is to our existence.

    Those that try to use their understanding of existing physical laws and principles to explain even how the “box” itself came to be are willfully stating that even if there were a perspective possible from outside the box they do not wish to consider it knowable. That is what happens when human’s put their perspectives to such a high level of importance that they cease to consider the perspectives of others. Do you agree in this regards that perspective is the issue? Is it ever valid to take any perspective but the one you believe is the correct one?

    While even Solomon in the end found little purpose for living outside of his own personal perspective, he still believed and wrote that God has set “eternity in their hearts.” The only “satisfaction” from his rigorous scientific exploration of that which physical life has to offer led to a fatalistic perspective that removed more and more of any possible eternal perspective from his thoughts, even though he obviously still believed it was still in his heart.

  3. Rodolfo says:

    Too much heavy reasoning about the existence or nonexistence of God. For a true freethinker I think it would be enough to just say: ‘I don’t care whether God exists or not. I have no God -period.’

    • The Happy Nihilist says:

      That would be to be an apatheist… a position to which I aspire! Unfortunately I live in a world where the likes of young earth creationists and imminent rapturists have access to nuclear weaponry. I confess it impinges on the comfort zone of my freethinkerdom. :(

  4. Karl says:

    Thank-you, Rodolfo. Your perspective is appreciated.

  5. Karl says:

    God is not willing to prevent what people would call evil because he would cease to be in agreement with his own thoughts and intentions of his heart.

    If people never gave other people the ability to make wrong decisions they wouldn’t be free moral agents. That’s why many people end up in prisons of one form or another. Some prisons are of a physical nature, others are of a mental or emotional nature.

    Whatever basis people rely upon to evaluate the cohesiveness of the agreement between their inductive premises and their deductive reasoning reveals a mental picture of what their thoughts determines their “God” to be.

    Whatever basis people rely upon to determine their level of empathy for the “ideal human life” which includes both themselves and others reveals what their hearts determine their “God” to be.

    It should be clear from experience that these two ways of determining what one’s “God” is can exist either exclusively, or inclusively of each other.

    However, in reality God the creator is neither simply a super computer with perfect hardware, perfect software and correct inductive premises and infallible logic. Neither is God an emotive vengeance machine that “loves” and “hates” according to variables he permits or even planned to exist, like evil itself.

    People who have hatred for various other people for one reason or another clearly prefer exclusivity even though they try to use mental justification for their hatred.

    People can either seek agreement in how they come to determine both the mental basis and empathic basis of their values. People can also at some point just decide to make a decision that they sometimes use to prevent a need to keep striving for agreement between what their thoughts and their hearts tell them.

    Many people live as though they prefer the two statements above to stay separate from each other. Some people live as though they consciously choose one over the other. Still others live as though the task of keeping one’s thoughts and empathy in agreement is simply impossible, so why even try?

    I’ve been in situations where each of these has been the case, but I have learned to choose to believe that poor decisions in the past don’t have to keep my thoughts and heart isolated from one another.

    • The Happy Nihilist says:

      Hey K!

      “However, in reality God the creator is neither simply a super computer with perfect hardware, perfect software and correct inductive premises and infallible logic. Neither is God an emotive vengeance machine that “loves” and “hates” according to variables he permits or even planned to exist, like evil itself.”

      You saying you know this to be true, or that it’s related to what you believe/have faith in?

      “People can either seek agreement in how they come to determine both the mental basis and empathic basis of their values. People can also at some point just decide to make a decision that they sometimes use to prevent a need to keep striving for agreement between what their thoughts and their hearts tell them.”

      This is just as true in a godless universe, isn’t it?

  6. Karl says:

    Of course its true in either perspective.

    Many people from many worldviews and perspectives have the ability to show empathy. That’s not the essence of this paradox. Trying to logically disprove any matter of faith using trumped up assumptive inductive premises is the problem here.

    Whatever one believes in their heart is a matter of personal belief.

    Whatever one has in their head is an attempt to not contradict what they believe is in their heart.

    “He that comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him” (Heb. 11:6).

    He that seeks to disprove the existence of God must believe that He is not, and that nothing of any consequence comes from such an assumption. – Karl Kunker

  7. Joe Dustoff says:

    You’re over-thinking it.

  8. Karl says:

    I will restate the premise and conclusion.

    Since God is willing to permit freewill in beings He has created and since God is able to do so in a way that is aligned to God’s own heart and mind, one can not disprove God’s existence by defining evil in such as way that it makes God look paradoxical from a human pespective. God’s power, thoughts and empathy are much higher than our own.

    • The Happy Nihilist says:

      Hey Karl!

      I think see the confusion now. While there are, of course, various persons of the atheist persuasion out there who zealously make such arguments, Epicurus’s concern is not equivalent to that of disproving the existence of God. Rather, he is simply taking the omnimax definition of God and critiquing it. He is attempting to make absolutist Theists responsible for the words they use.

      Think of it this way:

      If God is a reasonable concept
      and if Man is able to describe reasonable concepts consistently
      Then man can describe God consistently

      God is not a reasonable concept
      Therefore Man cannot describe God consistently.

      You have said as much yourself whenever you invoke the notion that God is beyond our capacity to conceive. However, insofar as that is true, one must likewise refrain from predicating concepts about God.

      Consider your argument above:

      If God is willing to permit free will in beings he has created
      And if God is able to do so in a way that is aligned to God’s own heart and mind
      Then one cannot disprove God’s existence by defining evil in a way that makes God look paradoxical.

      Now, you might admit that you’ve imported a whole lot into your conclusion that is not obvious on the basis of your premises, but that’s beside the point at the moment. Rather, the critical issue is that you’re predicating qualities about God which are not self-evidently true. Epicurus, on the other hand, is sticking to the deductive power of definitions.

      For instance, it remains true that God can create beings with free will, and still be malevolent. Indeed, that is consistent with the point of Epicurus’s second premis. This derives by definition from the concept that it is reasonable to predicate malevolence to persons who are able to prevent evil, but not willing to do so. The implication is that, to give humans free will, God must be malevolent. But we don’t want that, do we.

      If, however, God is a reasonable concept (and even if he isn’t, of course), then, we must be prepared to accept that He is capable of malevolence. This does not, it should be noted, impinge on the question of His existence. Rather, it is addressed to our assumptions (our predications) about what God is, given for the sake of argument that He is.

      It is insufficient to claim that God said He isn’t malevolent, or that one’s heart dances with the joy-joy-joy down deep inside which assures us otherwise. If we are attempting to present a reasonable argument, we must be able to articluate our reasons conceptually. Maybe some do have a mystical verification unto themselves about the nature of the Divine. But those people tend to live on top of mountains and not say much.

      To say, then, that God is able to do “God things” in a way that is aligned to His own heart and mind is to say nothing substantive. If God is malevolent, then what aligns to His heart and mind is whatever that might allow. This would include lying about Himself.

      Sure, if there is a God, we’d want Him to be all sweet and happy and truthful.

      But: to be responsible to the oft-resorted notion that, if indeed there is an omnimax God, we really can’t say jack sh!t about him, then perhaps it is most consistent of all to adopt an atheist position and not even predicate predication…

      As Derrida is said to have said, only an atheist can truly believe in God. All others believe in what they want God to be. This, of course, broaches on appreciating something more in line with a Zen approach than one of Christian Theodicy… i.e. one where contradictions are the tension points through which truth is revealed rather than the points of argumentation where one gets defensive.

      ah-so, Grasshoppah! :)

  9. Karl says:

    I can just as easily say that The Happy Nihlist is a believer in a God that is unknowable because he is also under the assumption that people can consistently describe the character of God from their perspective even though they can really have no clue about the whole matter.

    The essence of faith is acting on the basis of limited evidence that one believes to be sufficient clues to state the factual truth nature of an inductive premise. God is the ultimate inductive premise, that you say people have “No Clue” of what they do when they say they believe.

    You can say people have “No Clue” all you like, that does not make it true. I prefer to say people can interprete the clue wrongly or for their own purposes, but to say people have “NO CLUE” when they choose to ignore existing ones is just a willful choice to say the clues are not really clues.

    • The Happy Nihilist says:

      To say “God is the ultimate inductive premise” is to misrepresent inductive logic. First, even to have such a proposition requires we have a definition of God. Second, a premise is a premise is a premise… there are no ultimate ones. Third, even to be an inductive proposition requires there be conditions available by which it might at very least theoretically be determined false (cf. all swans are white). But God falls outside all that, doesn’t He.

      Clues as to the nature of metaphysical truth cannot be conflated with clues such as to whether Colonel Mustard did it in the Library with the lead pipe. Bias overrides the “clueness” of any such clues… most especially when the formative “clue” is something on the order of “it says so in the Bible.”. Rather, metaphysics cannot be other than speculation. If such is acknowledged, then fine; but when “Faith” enters the picture, all such qualifications tend to be thrown out the window, and your “Inductive” inferences magically take on the power of deductive reasoning.

      btw could you rephrase that first sentence? I’m not sure I get what you mean to say I’m assuming.

  10. Karl says:

    I should say belief in anything that can not be fully validated by the exhaustive comparison of the results of repeated deductive logic associations remains an inductive premise that is assigned an assumed value by the individual. In this sense belief in God is something to me that is the ultimate inductive premise, as for your belief in atheism, its opposite, is your ultimate assumption. Neither can either be disproven by finding representative flaws in deductive logic because one can always “define” or add “nuances” to existing meanings so that eventually new usages prevent failed deductive associations from causing one to re-evaluate the original premises and thus the original assumption doesn’t need to be reconsidered.

    As for my first sentence, you used premises that assumed that God was definable by human abilities (words or concepts) and then stated that because I have stated God’s ways were beyond man’s abilities this must in essence make God be unknowable.

    I never said I could explain to your satisfaction what or why I believed anything about God. I just have enough clues to go on that I choose to lean in favor of God existence, perhaps in much the same way you have chosen the opposite. I interpret the clues differently if you even call them clues at all.

  11. The Happy Atheist says:

    “I should say belief in anything that can not be fully validated by the exhaustive comparison of the results of repeated deductive logic associations remains an inductive premise that is assigned an assumed value by the individual.”

    But it must be stated in a probablistic form, no? And the extent of value assigned by the individual is up for critique, is it not?

    “In this sense belief in God is something to me that is the ultimate inductive premise, as for your belief in atheism, its opposite, is your ultimate assumption.”

    No, I don’t have a belief in atheism; rather, atheism describes my lack of belief in a transcendent personal deity. It is not a premise, it is the lack of one. Likewise, Epicurus’s position is that it’s not worth worrying about these absolutist theists’ claims if one is not an absolutist theist. What the absolutist theist does with his reasoning is, of course, another matter entirely.

    “As for my first sentence, you used premises that assumed that God was definable by human abilities (words or concepts) and then stated that because I have stated God’s ways were beyond man’s abilities this must in essence make God be unknowable”

    I was giving those premises purely as a matter of illustration, not as my own personal belief. My understanding is that you hold an omnimax notion of God, no? My point is that, if so, then it is better to keep silent than attempt to use “reasonable” concepts such as omniscience, omnibenevolence etc. to speak about God, as these predications are not in fact reasonable when one considers them as a piece. It is better to keep such thoughts to yourself … not as a matter of political right or anything, but simply out of respect for the inarticulatability of what it is you’re claiming. Otherwise the likes of me will be hard pressed not to take you up on what you mean to say.

    Please remember that you remain faceless to me, and I’m addressing a larger target that includes, say, most of the leadership candidates of the Republican party (not Gingrich, …he’s surely a son of Mammon!). The same might as well go for the Democrats as well. I would want them to refrain from adulterating their political thought processes with religious diatribes.

  12. Karl says:

    HN has morphed into HA before my eyes,

    1. Stating in a premise that something does not exist is not a probablistic form, and it certainly is not anything that can ever be proven using deductive reasoning. It is an inductive premise that can only be disproven in a deductive sense.

    2. Stating you don’t consider atheism a belief to me is a flat out denial of what goes on in your heart and mind.

    3. If you think your atheism is only required because of the existence of theists than the term wouldn’t exist if there weren’t for anyone that puts faith in anyone or anything thing other than their own personal wits and abilities.

    4. If you find it necessary to critic others use of terms that do not mean the same thing to you what hope is there for meaningful dialoge?

    5. If you find anything absolutist about the way someone else uses language and ideas, you have just revealed that you have values that you use to judge if something is absolutist or not (at least in your opinion). Such thoughts and ideas of your own choosing do not make others thoughts and ideas any less significant to them.

    6. No one will ever be able to articulate to you in a way that is acceptable to your lack of belief that any Omnimax God could exist because you limit yourself to the finite thoughts and ideas that have been so defined , redefined, interwoven and morphed into your personal worldview to exclude the very probabalistic nature you say inductive premises should maintain.

    7. Essentially, Which premise sounds better to you? The sky is blue, or if the sky is blue?

  13. The Happy Nihilist says:

    “HN has morphed into HA before my eyes,”

    Well, that’d explain my aching joints today!

    “1. Stating in a premise that something does not exist is not a probablistic form, and it certainly is not anything that can ever be proven using deductive reasoning. It is an inductive premise that can only be disproven in a deductive sense.”

    Well, if we’re gonna get technical, we haven’t as yet been using ANY inductive premises so far as I’ve noticed. We’ve been dealing with assertions.

    “2. Stating you don’t consider atheism a belief to me is a flat out denial of what goes on in your heart and mind.”

    Yikes, you’ve got access to my heart and mind?! Quite apparently, though, you don’t. Now, as it so happens, I have an operant belief which is essentially: live as if there is no God. But that is simply a proxy for the role my now departed belief in God once played. I might have chosen: live as if there is a God (as many otherwise upstanding churchgoers do), and we might discuss further why I decided against that. I might also have chosen the agnostic position. Again, my reasons for not doing so (at present at least) might make worthy discussion. But, in any case, my atheism does indeed reflect what my heart and mind express: they are without a belief in God. That you might not be able to accept that such is a possibility is telling.

    “3. If you think your atheism is only required because of the existence of theists than the term wouldn’t exist if there weren’t for anyone that puts faith in anyone or anything thing other than their own personal wits and abilities.”

    If I understand you here, yes, I agree. An infant has no belief in God. And if infants grew up in a world where theists were not to be found, then there would be no need to coin the term “atheism”. But that’s not the case for us, and so I identify as atheist in order to express something particular about the character of my belief system: namely, its failure to be able to maintain the theist component it was once equiped with. I do, however, put “faith” in many things other than my own wits and abilities, I’d have you know. They’re just much less metaphysically ostentatious.

    “4. If you find it necessary to critic others use of terms that do not mean the same thing to you what hope is there for meaningful dialoge? ”

    Well, frankly, I think a good measure of any meaningful dialogue (most especially online, or otherwise limited to the written word) is composed by the dialectic of semantics. The assumption that we know what the other persons means by the words they use is, far too frequently, a dire mistake.

    “5. If you find anything absolutist about the way someone else uses language and ideas, you have just revealed that you have values that you use to judge if something is absolutist or not (at least in your opinion). Such thoughts and ideas of your own choosing do not make others thoughts and ideas any less significant to them.”

    Let me assure you, independent of any semantic hermeneutic we might be caught up in, that the terms “omnipotence,” omniscience,” omnibenevolence,” “omnmiscience,” and, oh crap, what’s the fifth… nevermind, these are quite definitely Absolute terms. Predicated to a deity, they make a claim about the nature of that deity. A claim of absolute absoluteness. Is there a problem here?

    “6. No one will ever be able to articulate to you in a way that is acceptable to your lack of belief that any Omnimax God could exist because you limit yourself to the finite thoughts and ideas that have been so defined , redefined, interwoven and morphed into your personal worldview to exclude the very probabalistic nature you say inductive premises should maintain.”

    I’m not clear that you understand what an inductive premise is. Here is an inductive premise:

    I saw thirty seven good deeds today.

    or

    I witnessed fourteen paranormalities today

    or

    All swans I have ever seen are white.

    Inductive premises involve a quantitative aspect. Sorry, but that’s just true by definition.

    “7. Essentially, Which premise sounds better to you? The sky is blue, or if the sky is blue?”

    Depends how it’s used. Propositions and conditional propositions each have their uses. In any case, neither of those two propositions are articulated in inductive form: Of the 23 days I have observed this month, 15 days have had a primarily blue sky. Or at its simplest, “The sky is blue right now.”

    Here’s a thought: look up “dystheism”

    If you agree that our own human conception of “good” is necessarily limited (though I’m not clear that you do), and that God is beyond our capacity to comprehend (you believe this, right), then is it not a logically reasonable notion to propose that God is not “good”?

    Consider Meister Eckhart again (cf. Wikipedia):

    “In the book The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson, Eckhart is mentioned in a story Marianne Engel recounts to the (unnamed) protagonist about her days in the Engelthal Monastery:

    ‘…Meister Eckhart would not even admit that God was good….Eckhart’s position was that anything that was good can become better, and whatever may become better may become best. God cannot be referred to as “good”, “better”, or best because He is above all things. If a man says that God is wise, the man is lying because anything that is wise can become wiser. Anything that a man might say about God is incorrect, even calling Him by the name of God. God is “superessential nothingness” and “transcendent Being”…”beyond all words and beyond all understanding. The best a man can do is remain silent, because anytime he prates on about God, he is committing the sin of lying. The true master knows that if he had a God he could understand, He would never hold Him to be God.’ (pp.140-41)”

  14. Karl says:

    HN,

    It would appear to me that you have a view of premises that prohibits generalization from specifics unless you believe their is sufficient quantitative data from your perspective and interpretation.

    What you call quantitative data is not an inductive premise from my perspective. It can be a factor in how one arrives at a general assertion (the actual inductive premise) but data itself can be both quantitative and qualitative. If you mean to believe you have never reasoned from specifics to generalizations without the use of fully observable, measurable and repeatable quantitative data our view of inductive premises and reasoning will nedd to be clarified.

    While I agree this is indeed often a good way to begin an attempted generalization from specifics, quantitative data is not the basis for those inductive premises that you appear to call assertions. There is still a degree of personal bias and interpretation in any actual inductive premise.

    To be called an inductive premise as opposed to simply qualitative data there must be some degree to which specific examples in experience are attempted to be generalized into a wider application. People often loose sight of what is actual quantitative data that has become scientific interpretations that are inductive premises because they deny that there is a qualitative nature to how they have approached and narrowed their focus of study on the specifics.

    One can pull together all manner of quantitative data using a narrow filtered approach like micro-evolutionary examples in single cell organisms and claim to have proven a generalization like naturalistic macro evolution of new and improved complex species. The inductive premise is not the use of quantitative data, it is any statement that you would apparently call an assertion.

    I would state that belief in macro-evolution is an inductive premise or an assertion. I would state that an assertion that stresses the role of humans in global warming is also an inductive premise.

    What is the distinction in your thinking between quantitative data, qualitative data, an inductive premise and an assertion?

    • The Happy Nihilist says:

      Quantitative data = instances of observation
      Qualitative data = descriptive aspects
      Inductive premise = A proposition built upon the instances of an observation
      Assertion = a statement that claims to be true by definition.

      Karl, google “induction”, or “inductive reasoning”, or “inductive premise” (or whatever else) and give me a reference that agrees with what you want such to mean. An inductive premise incorporates quantitative data and, often in conjunction with other inductive premises, supports a conclusion which has probablistic strength. The generalisation occurs in the conclusion, not the premise.

      “I believe in evolution” is not an inductive premise, it is a statement of belief. It might work as a premise in a deductive argument:

      I believe in evolution.
      Belief in evolution is based on a scientific understanding.
      Therefore, I have a belief based on science

      But there is no induction involved in such an argument per se. Is there induction in the study of evolution? Absolutely, properly formulated inductive premises are used when doing so.

  15. Karl says:

    A specific observation can be considered alone and by itself. The instant you begin to link one observation to others you are headed down a path that is linked to the very worldview by which you a approach your understanding of the very words you are using to interconnect these observations.

    There are at least two slightly varying perspectives on what is entailed in logical induction. The classical and the more “modern.”

    The classical perspective can be found at

    http://www.thefreedictionary.com/Logical+induction

    Wikipedia has the more modern perspective that tends to ignore the classical foundation that accepts that even stated axioms, propositions or assertions are foundational beliefs themselves that are not made true simply because of a probabilistic approach.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inductive_reasoning

    To a classical perspective “I believe in evolution” would be an assertion that can not lead to strong inductive reasoning as it contains elements that are themselves inductive and therefore potentially false to begin with.

    If you assume any statement listed as a premise is true simply because in your way of beleif it is true you have totally missed that nearly all definitions and even most human knowledge itself is predicated on the construction of apposite opposites that we as people tend to polarize around.

    Even the statement “The temperature this morning outside of my house at 7:00 AM in Schenectady, New York was 33 degrees Celcius.” Has a simple unclarity about it becuse if I read it in a different day of the week I could be wrong, or even my thermometer could be slightly wrong in its calibration.

    • The Happy Nihilist says:

      “A specific observation can be considered alone and by itself. The instant you begin to link one observation to others you are headed down a path that is linked to the very worldview by which you a approach your understanding of the very words you are using to interconnect these observations.”

      Surely you jest. Do you really want to go there? I take it, then, you are a radical relativist. I didn’t have that impression previously.

      “There are at least two slightly varying perspectives on what is entailed in logical induction. The classical and the more “modern.””

      Yes, and our boy Hume (cf the Original Post) decimated “classical” induction like 300 years ago.

      “The classical perspective can be found at

      http://www.thefreedictionary.com/Logical+induction

      That’s just a cursory definition. Show me a site that takes classical induction seriously, i.e. as a viable form of argument and not as a description of how we tend to naturally (and erroneously) think. Hint: you might find some stuff in terms of “Argument from Analogy”, but otherwise you’re hooped.

      ” Wikipedia has the more modern perspective that tends to ignore the classical foundation that accepts that even stated axioms, propositions or assertions are foundational beliefs themselves that are not made true simply because of a probabilistic approach.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inductive_reasoning

      Yes, Wikipedia has a very good entry on Induction. Where has anything I’ve said (and please quote me) contradicted anything in the Wikipedia entry? It certainly hasn’t been the perspective that you’ve been trying to express, has it. Where in the entry, for instance, does it describe a premise which is already a generalized statement? It doesn’t.

      “To a classical perspective “I believe in evolution” would be an assertion that can not lead to strong inductive reasoning as it contains elements that are themselves inductive and therefore potentially false to begin with.”

      I don’t understand what you’re trying to get at here, Karl. You’re not seriously taking the classical perspective seriously, are you? And even if you were, I don’t understand what would lead you to make whatever point it is you’re trying to make here. In any case, I previously said very, very, very specifically that “I believe in evolution” is not an inductive statement. Are you funnin’ with me, Karl?

      “If you assume any statement listed as a premise is true simply because in your way of beleif it is true you have totally missed that nearly all definitions and even most human knowledge itself is predicated on the construction of apposite opposites that we as people tend to polarize around.”

      If you read the Wikipedia entry, please describe your point here in terms of what it described. Are you just pulling my chain? Tell me more of your “apposite opposite” tale, Karl. It sounds like a fun word game, and I love word games. :)

      “Even the statement “The temperature this morning outside of my house at 7:00 AM in Schenectady, New York was 33 degrees Celcius.” Has a simple unclarity about it becuse if I read it in a different day of the week I could be wrong, or even my thermometer could be slightly wrong in its calibration.”

      Yes, and I can’t prove that I’m not a brain in a vat. So what. It’s certainly great to become aware of such things as counterfactuals and empirical errors, but how does this relate to your point about what constitutes induction?
      .
      .
      .
      .

      Karl, Karl, Karl… let’s wind it back a bit. Consider again Epicurus’s argument. It is a deductive argument, is it not? Surely you are not trying to redescribe the problem of evil in inductive terms?? What is going on here, Karl? Are we simply in the depths of head-banging territory? Should I put on my helmet?

      Please, if you would, in your own words,so help you God, give me examples of an inductive argument and a deductive argument. My faith in your ability here is dwindling. You may begin.

  16. Karl says:

    Just because you believe Hume decimated classical inductive reasoning, does not mean people don’t use it nearly every waking moment, but most don’t even stop to consider it one way or the other.

    Any and everything you say “I believe about” that is not linked directly to single observations that are also based upon standardized methodologies employed for quantitatively descriptions of single observations uses induction the instant you try to connect two or more observations in some manner or another for some purpose or another.

    If you really think “belief in evolution” is not an inductively arrived at assertion then everything I have to say will of course seem as though I’m the one being unreasonable.

    Epicurous, like all naturally thinking people assume that their method of arriving at axioms, assertions and the very proportional premises of their logic are only false when the use of other axioms, assertions and the results of deductive syllogisms render the associations under consideration incapable of not returning contradictions.

    The modern sense of trying to turn probabilistic quantitative inductive associations into deductive syllogisms is filled with error when various people can look at the same supposed specific observations and interpret it in differing ways. It is still the individual or individual(s) that usually have unstated motivations that result in their inductive leaps of faith that make their assertions seem true to them.

    If you believe Epicurous was using deductive logic where is the quantitative data and standardized scales used for observing and measuring the terms being used in the propositions?

    • The Happy Nihilist says:

      What, no examples? Oh well.

      “Just because you believe Hume decimated classical inductive reasoning, does not mean people don’t use it nearly every waking moment, but most don’t even stop to consider it one way or the other.”

      Do you not believe Hume did so? It’s pretty much an established fact, isn’t it? In any case, neither Hume nor I would deny that simple induction is a basic, indeed necessary, form of human cognition. So, perhaps, are superstition and mimmicry. But there is a critical difference to be respected in all that.

      “Any and everything you say “I believe about” that is not linked directly to single observations that are also based upon standardized methodologies employed for quantitatively descriptions of single observations uses induction the instant you try to connect two or more observations in some manner or another for some purpose or another.”

      You are continuing to conflate statements of belief with processes of reasoning. Nonetheless, consider the following:

      Today I believe omnipotence means absolute power to control reality.
      Yesterday I believed omnipotence meant absolute power to control reality.
      Two days ago I believed…
      .
      .
      .
      The first time I comprehended the concept “omnipotence” as it is standardly used in English I believed it meant absolute power to control reality.
      _________
      It is a virtual certainty that tomorrow I will believe omnipotence means absolute power to control reality.

      Now, this illustrates an inductive reasoning process about my belief system, but the content of my belief itself, in this case, is true by definition. Moreover, when I state this or any other belief (whether or not their content is true by definition), and do so with honest conviction, the statement per se is true. It is tautologically true I believe what I believe. Now how I arrived at any particular belief may well involve inductive reasoning (it may not, it may simply be a dogma I was born into, for instance). And the small matter of “justifying” that belief may lead me to attempt to construct an evidently unbiased inductive argument (assuming I cannot provide a deductive one). In doing so, it is imparative that my quantitative data be as extensive and unequivocal as I can make it. I do not rely on a single observation.

      “If you really think “belief in evolution” is not an inductively arrived at assertion then everything I have to say will of course seem as though I’m the one being unreasonable.”

      (see above)

      “Epicurous, like all naturally thinking people assume that their method of arriving at axioms, assertions and the very proportional premises of their logic are only false when the use of other axioms, assertions and the results of deductive syllogisms render the associations under consideration incapable of not returning contradictions.”

      I’m not clear whether you’re describing a problem or making an observstion here.

      “The modern sense of trying to turn probabilistic quantitative inductive associations into deductive syllogisms is filled with error when various people can look at the same supposed specific observations and interpret it in differing ways. It is still the individual or individual(s) that usually have unstated motivations that result in their inductive leaps of faith that make their assertions seem true to them.”

      Please cite where you’re deriving your description of this “modern sense” …and who are these various people? And that last sentence is nothing short of disingenuous. Do you at very least apply it to yourself as well? If you do, might you admit that your reticence to take Epicurus’s deductive reasoning impartially is a consequent of a superstitious reasoning process on your part?

      “If you believe Epicurous was using deductive logic where is the quantitative data and standardized scales used for observing and measuring the terms being used in the propositions?”

      …oh my dear lord jesus…

  17. Karl says:

    Deductive and inductive use of quantitative data.

    I have observed more than once that living biological cells only seem to come from other already existing biological cells.
    The people I know all say they have never witnessed a living biological cell form spontaneously wihout another functioning biological cell being present.

    Deductive conclusion: Based on these statements the origin of biological cells is something beyond deductive proof.

    Inductive conclusions of which there are basically two types either point to imaginative circumstances without a purposeful design before the first cell came to be, or imaginative circumstances with a purposeful design that came to physical reality when the first biological cell or cells came into existence.

  18. Karl says:

    HN says,

    “It is a virtual certainty that tomorrow I will believe omnipotence means absolute power to control reality.”

    Karl says,

    “It is a certainty to me that omnipotence includes choosing to use absolute power to control reality in a way that is not just self serving, but also serving of one’s significant others.

  19. The Happy Nihilist says:

    Hey Kman!

    Karl conjectures:

    “I have observed more than once that living biological cells only seem to come from other already existing biological cells.
    The people I know all say they have never witnessed a living biological cell form spontaneously wihout another functioning biological cell being present.

    Deductive conclusion: Based on these statements the origin of biological cells is something beyond deductive proof.”

    Sorry dude, but that is simply not a valid deductive argument: the premises are certainly not sufficient, nor can I imagine them being even necessary. If, for instance, you’re going to claim something about “deduction” in your conclusion, you need to present in a premise a relevant statement about what you take deduction to require, such that your audience might consider the soundness of your reasoning. There should be no new information in a deductive conclusion. You might, for instance have said, I duuno, something like: One may state limits about the nature of deductive proofs on the basis of discrete quantitative samples… we would then argue about whether that was true, i.e. you’d have to back that claim up with sufficiently authoritative support from the literature on deductive reasoning (if, at least, you were without your own eloquent explication).

    But given your premises as they are, the following is as best as I can do to reconfigure your example into valid deductive form:

    Karl and the people he knows constitute Karl’s realm of observation.
    Karl has only observed living biological cells originating from other living biological cells.
    All the people Karl knows have only observed living biological cells originating from other living biological cells.
    ______________
    In Karl’s realm of observation all living biological cells originate from other living biological cells.

    It is noteworthy here that even if EVERYONE who has or will ever observe living biological cells only observes them arising from similar cells, that fact on its own could constitute merely inductive grounds for commenting on the origin of cellular life per se. I take it that such is generally what you want your “deductive conclusion” to be refering to… However, such does not logically negate the possibility of science arriving at an alternative understanding with deductive strength. For instance, assuming for the sake of argument that a finite and exhaustive list of possible hypotheses concerning (a)biogenesis were arrived at, by process of elimination there could conceivably arise a situation of a solution with deductive strength in spite of no one actually observing the same.

    Ergo, it arises that I now have ample quantitative data to induce the conclusion that you are relatively unclear as to the nature of inductive/deductive logic. Here’s another reference: http://www.iep.utm.edu/ded-ind/

    You continue:

    “HN says,

    “It is a virtual certainty that tomorrow I will believe omnipotence means absolute power to control reality.”

    Karl says,

    “It is a certainty to me that omnipotence includes choosing to use absolute power to control reality in a way that is not just self serving, but also serving of one’s significant others.”

    When I claim virtual certainty, I am of course qualifying the nature of my conviction, as would only be proper for an inductively reasoned conclusion. When you claim unqualified certainty, on the other hand, and do so not only while importing information into the core definition of the term, but also without any argument in support, one is left to muse on the relevance of what you are trying to express. An article of Faith, perhaps?

    Additionally, by making the claim that you do, given the context of discussion, you are ipso facto claiming to have (certain) knowledge about what constitute the limits of an omnimax God. You are stating that your God has parameters which unerringly restrict His theoretical capacities. Is your God a finite God, Karl? Or could He choose, if for His own reasons He had need to do so, to control reality in a way which was purely self-serving? Is God limited by the logic of moral constructs, or is He the precedent of such concerns? Please try not to equivocate… ;)

  20. Karl says:

    HN,

    God has a moral nature that has been both revealed to people and encouraged in them as well.

    God is not finite because I state at some level what I have come to understand about the moral nature of God. There will always be some aspects of my understandings about God that are beyond physical and natural description. I do not place God in box. You are the one trying to do that.

    It is telling that your understanding of a being such as God would have characteristics such as you would imagine your characteristics to be were you to have the roll yourself.

    Similarly, you fail to limit what can reasonably be deduced from actual existent observations. You then end up basically telling me that “deduction” has every right to use trumped up and claimed to be scientific inductive premises that somehow become proven by numerous hypothetical associations.

    It is not just Karl and his associates that understand clear deductive use of actual observations.

    • The Happy Nihilist says:

      “God has a moral nature that has been both revealed to people and encouraged in them as well.”

      Any ol’ “moral nature”? You’re asserting an empty generalization. Also, is He limited by this ” nature”?

      “God is not finite because I state at some level what I have come to understand about the moral nature of God. There will always be some aspects of my understandings about God that are beyond physical and natural description. I do not place God in box. You are the one trying to do that.”

      In other words, your hypostatization of an ammended definition for omnipotence was presumptuous?

      “It is telling that your understanding of a being such as God would have characteristics such as you would imagine your characteristics to be were you to have the roll yourself.”

      How is it telling you that, Karl?

      “Similarly, you fail to limit what can reasonably be deduced from actual existent observations. You then end up basically telling me that “deduction” has every right to use trumped up and claimed to be scientific inductive premises that somehow become proven by numerous hypothetical associations.”

      I did? What limits do you propose? And where did I say “deduction” has any rights, let alone those ones? Deduction is not a person, Karl.. You need to add more argumentation to your assertions…

  21. Karl says:

    HN’s assumption: Singular omnipotence without an accompanying moral nature corrupts absolutely. To HN, God’s characteristics or natures can be isolated, separated and pitted against against each other.

    KK’s assertion: Omnipotence interwoven with an accompanying moral nature does not diminish either charcteristic and each are necessary for them both to exist.

    HN is both Happy and a Nihilist isolate and separate the two characteristics and see what that logically implies about HN.

    It is telling that HN does not discuss the concept of absolute power corrupting absolutely, he assumes it is true and simply applies it to God as the ultimate power monger making God malevolent to his undestanding.

    God’s absolutes can not be isolated or you do not grasp the fallacy in such an attempt at understanding God from a human perspective. Absolute power without a moral nature is not really absolute power as it would render unimportant many other aspects of God’s nature.

    You relinquished deductive reasoning claims whenever you personally accept into your thought process that induction can morph in deduction through repeated associated hypothesized conjectures that can turn into virtual beliefs irregardless of reasonable acceptance of limitations on the use of deductive associations. I call this circular reasoning, natural scientists call it trying to find “scientific evidence” that supports one’s inductive assertions.

    What limitaions would I place on the use of deductive logic? Only one, do not ignore ANY of the implications that are made or potentailly eliminated by associating two or more observed phenomenon together.

    People put on whatever blinders that are necessary to prevent their personal interpretations of reality (Inductive thoughts) from being dismantled by open discussion and the application of clear, complete deductive associations.

    • The Happy Nihilist says:

      “HN’s assumption: Singular omnipotence without an accompanying moral nature corrupts absolutely. To HN, God’s characteristics or natures can be isolated, separated and pitted against against each other.”

      Nice attempt, Karl, but no cigar. First, in terms of Epicurus’s paradox, there is no need to posit absolute corruption, but only a measure of malevolence. For instance, submitted for your approval: imagine, there’s God, loitering in middle space prior to the first day, and he recogns, “Think I’ll make me some o’ them freee-wiilll beings. Oh, wait, as I now foresee, that will entail the genesis of evil in my otherwise pure and clean universal realm. [We'll bracket out the Lucifer story for the moment.] But I reeeaaaalllyy want to make some o’ them free will critters, so toss the problem of evil, I’ll just call free will a greater good and be done with it.”. And, shazam, soon as a void can be fiiled, there comes to be an Adam ashamed of his “special purpose” (cf. Steve Martin’s “The Jerk”), and suddenly Cain is sired. But hey, what’s a little malevolence when God’s greater desire is at stake! He’s not abolutely malevolent, but neither, it folows, is He omnibenevolent…. if, that is, He in fact was omnipotent, as described, to begin with. Hey, so He’s kinda self-serving… so get over it! He’s just not omnimax’d. …In any case, Epicurus’s point is that it is foolish to posit such absolute qualities, as they create logical dissonance.

      Second, as for isolating, separating and pitting God’s characteristics against each other, that’s called conceptual analysis. To the tired old saw that we ought not attempt such where God is concerned, well, as I have repeatedly suggested, if so, then we likewise ought not posit ANY descriptions at all of Him either. (cf. my previous reference to Eckhart on God not even being conceptually “good”.) There was a time when it was blasphemous merely to utter Jehovah’s name. Oh but that God Fearing Americans might take such a proscription up again!

      I shall return to “KK’s assertion” shortly…

    • The Happy Nihilist says:

      “KK’s assertion: Omnipotence interwoven with an accompanying moral nature does not diminish either charcteristic and each are necessary for them both to exist.”

      Interwoven, you say. So Omnipotence qua omnipotence, vis-a-vis uninterwoven omnipotence, is in itself without any “moral nature”, e.g. the previously mentioned “serving one’s significant others” is separate from the definition of what we mean by the word.

      I do, of course agree that each are necessary for them both to exist. That is logically necessary. If only one existed, the other wouldn’t. And vice versa. Reminds me of an old joke: What’s the difference between a duck? One of its feet are both the same.

    • The Happy Nihilist says:

      “HN is both Happy and a Nihilist isolate and separate the two characteristics and see what that logically implies about HN”

      Um, I don’t believe in apriori objective moral value and yet my endocrine system sallies forth undaunted?

    • The Happy Nihilist says:

      “It is telling that HN does not discuss the concept of absolute power corrupting absolutely, he assumes it is true and simply applies it to God as the ultimate power monger making God malevolent to his undestanding.”

      Who assumes what? Telling indeed. I’m dealing with Epicurus’s riddle. You dealing with something else, K?

    • The Happy Nihilist says:

      “God’s absolutes can not be isolated or you do not grasp the fallacy in such an attempt at understanding God from a human perspective. Absolute power without a moral nature is not really absolute power as it would render unimportant many other aspects of God’s nature.”

      Read: don’t look behind the curtain, Dorothy. Don’t question authority. Have faith it all hangs together, …heck, believe it’s self-evident. And anyone who says different is in league with the antigodismists. This reminds me of a quote from St. Paul (Romans 1):

      “18For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. 24Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. 26For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. 28And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. 29They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32Though they know God’s decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them. [Source: The Holy Bible, English Standard Version]“

    • The Happy Nihilist says:

      [Apologies for the multiple posts, I was repeatedly dealing with more time than I thought I had, in inclement wifi conditions...]

      “You relinquished deductive reasoning claims whenever you personally accept into your thought process that induction can morph in deduction through repeated associated hypothesized conjectures that can turn into virtual beliefs irregardless of reasonable acceptance of limitations on the use of deductive associations. I call this circular reasoning, natural scientists call it trying to find “scientific evidence” that supports one’s inductive assertions.”

      Is there evidence of any such “morph” in the following statement:

      If God is willing to prevent evil, but is unable
      Then He is not omnipotent

      “What limitaions would I place on the use of deductive logic? Only one, do not ignore ANY of the implications that are made or potentailly eliminated by associating two or more observed phenomenon together.”

      So, as long as we’re dealing strictly with conceptual analysis, there need be no limitations, as we are not concerned in such instances with associating observed phenomena but only the definitions of words, yes?

      “People put on whatever blinders that are necessary to prevent their personal interpretations of reality (Inductive thoughts) from being dismantled by open discussion and the application of clear, complete deductive associations.”

      Epicurus would concur.

  22. gopi says:

    God works in mysterious ways.

    what we may see as ”bad,” is actually for the benefit of oneself.
    we have 2 choices. . .to turn to God or turn away from God.
    He won’t force us to love Him, but He will always love us.

    • The Happy Nihilist says:

      …so the four year old with childhood disintegrative disorder, and his loved ones, ought to be thankful?

      Harold Kushner wrote a popular work in that regard, but it depends on some pretty presumptuous metaphysical speculation… nevermind practical repression. But hey, what ever gets you through the night!

  23. karl says:

    HN,

    Any attempted definition of terms with associated values of any sort can not serve as the basis for clear use of deductive logic. Trying to rationalize that people are able to define what is good and bad, righteous or evil can never be used however to describe God’s character as it can always be shown that absolutes never need to be “maxed” as you would call it, and can never be perfectly described by someone on a learning curve.

    Any values statement that is not observable, measureable and repeatible on some quantifiable standarized scale has morphed its way into an inductive belief whether you care to acknowledge it or not.

    The whole endeavor of creating creatures with free-will and encouraging them to love both one another and their creator as well has been a work in progress in physical time and space.

    I’m not ignoring the man behind the curtain Tin Man, I ask Jesus for a new heart everyday.

    • The Happy Nihilist says:

      Reason is faith cultivating itself. – William James (who also quipped, “We are like fish swimming in a sea of sense.”). I’ll add more later. :)

    • The Happy Nihilist says:

      “Any attempted definition of terms with associated values of any sort can not serve as the basis for clear use of deductive logic.”

      I take it, then, that we cannot use words when constructing our deductive premises. Or are you saying we can, but we mustn’t rely on their actually meaning what they are meant to mean? In the beginning was the Word, and it was meaningless.

      Now, I can appreciate the nihilistic implication there, Karl, but your apparent assumption that intersubjective consensus cannot provide pragmatic ground for reiable semantic expression is, well, wrong. That language swims in the coherence of referential equations is not to be mistaken with its users being incapable of deducing things in context. Simply because alternative associative meanings are available for any given term does not mean we cannot construct definitive discursive arrangements.

      Let us attempt to define the following terms with associated values:
      “One”: a single instant
      “Plus”: in addition to
      “Equals”: amounts to

      We need but agree to those associations (as opposed to, say, “Equal” referring to a sweetening product) and we are equipped with a deductive relation of ideas, upon which we may both define subsequent terms and critique associated claims:

      1+ 1 = “Two”
      1 + 1 + 1 = “Three”
      And by implication,
      Three =\= One, even though one 3 amounts to 1 three, as in 3 = three
      Therefore, 1 + 1 + 1 =\= 1

      Is such (not) a clear use of deductive logic, Karl?,

      “Trying to rationalize that people are able to define what is good and bad, righteous or evil can never be used however to describe God’s character as it can always be shown that absolutes never need to be “maxed” as you would call it, and can never be perfectly described by someone on a learning curve.”

      How is this not also to say that the Omnimax definition of God is, as Eckhart insisted, deluded?

      “Any values statement that is not observable, measureable and repeatible on some quantifiable standarized scale has morphed its way into an inductive belief whether you care to acknowledge it or not.”

      I’m still not clear how this line of thought you’re sticking to relates to Epicurus, but, assuming it somehow does, can we then also agree that the trinitarian conception of God is an erroneous inductive belief, as it contradicts associated deductive reasoning?

      “The whole endeavor of creating creatures with free-will and encouraging them to love both one another and their creator as well has been a work in progress in physical time and space.”

      And yet this work in progress is at once also a fait accompli, because there more essentially exists an a priori eternal perspective on it all…? btw Why isnt it sufficient we simply love one another, why the necessity of loving the Creator (on pain of hell)? Isn’t that rather self-serving?

      “I’m not ignoring the man behind the curtain Tin Man, I ask Jesus for a new heart everyday.”

      Dude, newsflash: Tinman had “heart” all along. He never needed a new one, …that was his epiphany. The exposing of Oz freed him from his compromised sense of self-worth.

  24. Trey says:

    Ask yourselves the question ” what if each and every single human is an extension of god?” What if “god” is everything and everyone? What if “gods” ultimate evolution was to experience separation from “himself”? Giving him 7 billion different perceptions of himself… I beleive in other life so that number is much bigger for me haha in the end this is what I know. But i could never make a person know this could I? Its all about experience, perception, and life. And you could degrade me all you want, but could you ever prove me wrong???

    Just love. That does exist and for those who felt this… practice it everyday and you will begin to find your own answers.

  25. Karl says:

    Numbers are not values that are good or bad, moral or righteous, caring or uncaring. I do not believe numerical data itself causes deductive errors, but liars can sure figure and manipulate how the data is obtained, and also how it is used in association with other data for purposes that are inductive and not simply deductive.

    It is amazing how people can build their world views based upon entire false assessments of reality.

    Did the Tin Man have zero heart? Did the Scarecrow have zero brains? Did the Lion have zero courage? False assessments and a number were used to create the entire plot line.

    Never said Tin Man didn’t have a heart, I said, “I ask Jesus for a new heart everyday.”

    Tin Man wasn’t personally convinced that he had a heart despite his being the most caring and tender of all of Dorothy’s companions. The same applied to the Scarecrow whose ideas improved throughout the quest and the Lion who became bolder each step as they confronted the Wicked Witch of the West. Yet each was stuck under the impression that they still had zero of their desired traits because of the wrongly assumed numerical labels they had accepted as facts.

    They each had to come to terms with the accusations levied at them from the Wicked Witch in order to accomplish the task set before them.

    The readers/viewers have many clear examples of the empathy the Tin Man had for others all along. What he didn’t have was a sense of how to shake off the Wicked Witch’s accusations.

    You make it seem as though it was the trumped up appearance created by a well intending mere man behind the curtain that created the illusion of an all powerful wise and benevolent leader/wizard that was the real antagonist in the story. The guy behind the curtain certainly could have said that the trick was being played upon them because of how they were accepting an improperly assigned assessment of their abilities and talents but that wouldn’t have made the Wicked Witch cease from accusing still others now would it? It also would have stopped the story line dead in its tracks.

    The real comparison to reality for the story to me is that people can grasp how the humanity of Jesus brings all manner of truth to people about that which is truly unknowable to people in this physical life as they come to terms with the lies they have come to believe about their own lives and their own personal values and self worth.

    Tin Man was living under the false impression that he was suppose to believe that he didn’t have a heart. He only fully personally recognized he had a heart when his own feelings elicited towards the loss of Dorothy could mean nothing other than that “he did indeed have a heart.” The zero associated with his heart was seen for the lie it had been all along.

    Exposing the humanity of the man behind the curtain as one who participated in an attempt to scare the be jeepers out of people for some “evil” sick perverted purpose is how some people envision their creator God as well, but the story still goes on even after the human wizard is scolded for taking such liberties.

    I can see how you could view the exposing of the wizard as a fraud as the turning point in the story, but what it does for me is to show that human attempts to reassess wrongly accepted inductive values will undoubtedly lead to blaming others for one’s own errors.

    Anywhere along the way Dorothy could have realized that her companions were demonstrating the qualities they were suppose to have lacked, but the wizard was the one who wanted the broom-stick to do away with the source of the inductive errors cropping up all over the place.

    Does the Creator God want to correct even numerical falsehoods believed by people? Why wouldn’t He? It would be evil and perverted if He didn’t.

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