Good vs Evil - How do we even know which is which?
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I feel that Philo is right that there is more suffering in the world than there is pleasure, and this would certainly make one wonder as to the benevolence of the Deity responsible for creating and maintaining our world. It makes since to reason that if the world around us has a great deal of evil; weather it is less than, equal to, or greater than the amount of good, really doesn’t matter; there seems to be a flaw in the idea that the Deity is all good, and all powerful. If the deity has all good intentions, is all powerful, and never makes a mistake, why is there so much suffering in the world? Why, does it sound as though evil was introduced into the world by mistake in the stories connected to this religious belief? Lucifer was not planned to become what he became, nor was Eve meant to eat the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge. If it was a part of the plan it was definitely not a part of the story, and according to the text contained with-in the same book, the book itself is perfect, therefore it must tell the entire story, mustn’t it. This is where I side with Demea in the idea that there could be good yet to come from all of the evil; at some point in the future, or on some level that mankind just can’t comprehend.
Cleanthes, in my opinion has dug himself into a hole that will be very difficult to escape, with his declaration that there is a greater amount of good in the world than there is evil, and has done so completely in vain. Even if you could prove that there is more good than evil in the world, it doesn’t make the Deity seem any more likely to be benevolent, because evil does still exist. And as Philo pointed out to stake a religious belief on the idea of there being more good than evil seems to discredit his own belief, because it would be impossible to accurately measure. So I ask, if the deity is perfect, all powerful, and all good, why is the world he created so seemingly imperfect, and why are there so many inconsistencies in the book that he supposedly overseen the creation of, that is supposed to represent him perfectly. I have personally always looked at evil in the world as a necessity; if there was no evil there would be no reason to define good, and we must remember that we are dealing with words and the ideas they represent, not absolute truths. The word good may take on a different meaning than the word it was translated from, and then again from the originator of the idea. It comes down to faith that something that seems bad may be good for some unknown purpose, which brings to mind the story of a time traveler who goes back in time to change something that went wrong, only to discover that changing that one thing had catastrophic results on the future. There are so many variables to consider when deciding if something is good or bad, how could anyone ever be absolutely sure?
Good and Bad
For example, there might be a man who murders someone, which definitely seems like a bad thing, but he is then caught, convicted, and sentenced to life in prison, which seem like a good thing to me. However, the story may not end here in the world of free choice, which we all live in. If he had not killed that person and been caught, he may have gone on to kill many other people and perhaps never have been caught. Or perhaps the person he killed could have gone on to be a tyrant who brings about the destruction of the world as we know it, if he wasn't killed. In either case, was it bad for him to be killed in the first place; in the grand scheme of things? Who are we to judge what is good or what is evil?