Re: [asa] Philosophical Musings on Heaven & the Problem of Evil

From: George Murphy <GMURPHY10@neo.rr.com>
Date: Tue Jul 29 2008 - 07:18:37 EDT

This didn't get out to the list last night.

Shalom
George
http://web.raex.com/~gmurphy/
  ----- Original Message -----
  From: George Murphy
  To: Christine Smith
  Sent: Monday, July 28, 2008 10:00 PM
  Subject: Re: [asa] Philosophical Musings on Heaven & the Problem of Evil

  Sure, you can have infinite sets of numbers that have no largest member. My example simply shows that there are infinite sets of numbers which do have a largest member. I.e., one cannot argue that because a set of numbers is infinite, it has no largest member. By analogy - a fairly close one, I think - one cannot argue that because the number of possible universes is infinite, there cannot be a "best" member. Of course I haven't shown that there is in fact a best possible universe.

  An infinite set is in one sense unlimited but that doesn't mean that there isn't a rule specifying which things are in it & which aren't.

  Shalom
  George
  http://web.raex.com/~gmurphy/

  ----- Original Message -----
  From: "Christine Smith" <christine_mb_smith@yahoo.com>
  To: "George Murphy" <GMURPHY10@neo.rr.com>
  Sent: Monday, July 28, 2008 9:04 PM
  Subject: Re: [asa] Philosophical Musings on Heaven & the Problem of Evil

> Hi George,
>
> Maybe I'm misunderstanding the concept of infinity,
> but in your example, aren't you arbitrarily defining a
> limit of the numbers in your set by starting with 1
> and working your way down by halves? Why not also
> include 2, and 4, and 8, etc. Why not look at the
> whole set of possible numbers in that pattern (in
> which case, there would be no "largest number")? Isn't
> that the idea of infinity, that it's unlimited?
>
> Thanks ahead of time for the clarification :)
> Christine
>
> --- George Murphy <GMURPHY10@neo.rr.com> wrote:
>
>> The assumption in 1) is wrong. Consider the
>> infinite sequence 1, 1/2, 1/4,
>> 1/8, ..... . If "best" is defined as "largest" then
>> this infinite sequence
>> contains a "best" member, the first.
>>
>> Of course the notion that this is "the best of all
>> possible worlds" is not
>> the Bible's but that of Leibniz (aka Dr. Pangloss,
>> "a very wise man whom I
>> once knew, who has since had the misfortune to be
>> hanged.").
>>
>> Shalom
>> George
>> http://web.raex.com/~gmurphy/
>>
>> ----- Original Message -----
>> From: "Christine Smith"
>> <christine_mb_smith@yahoo.com>
>> To: <asa@calvin.edu>
>> Sent: Monday, July 28, 2008 2:22 PM
>> Subject: [asa] Philosophical Musings on Heaven & the
>> Problem of Evil
>>
>>
>> > Hi all,
>> >
>> > Thought I'd add to the mix of "problem of evil"
>> themed
>> > threads the following musings...I hope in some
>> way,
>> > shape, or form, they're not redundant on previous
>> > conversations...would appreciate all of your
>> insights
>> > as always :)
>> >
>> > I recently read the book "The Unexpected Way: On
>> > Converting from Buddhism to Catholicism" by Paul
>> > Williams. Among the items in his book that I found
>> > thought-provoking was his take on the problem of
>> evil.
>> > The basic essence of his argument is as follows:
>> >
>> > 1) Because there are, theoretically, an infinite
>> > number of universes God could have created instead
>> of
>> > this one, it is logical contradiction to say that
>> God
>> > could have created the "best of all possible
>> worlds",
>> > since being a part of an infinite set of
>> > possibilities, there would always be a better
>> > possibility. Therefore, it is not a violation of
>> > God's omnipotence to say that He couldn't create
>> the
>> > "best" world, and thus the question is reduced to
>> "why
>> > didn't He create a BETTER universe"
>> > 2) Being God, He is under no obligation to make a
>> > better universe than the one we currently live in,
>> if
>> > the one we currently live in suits His purpose.
>> > Therefore, God's creation of a universe that
>> includes
>> > suffering and evil is not a problem, and indeed,
>> > should probably be expected.
>> >
>> > My musings on these lines of reasoning are as
>> > follows...
>> >
>> > Regarding #1, this sounds reasonable on the
>> surface,
>> > but is this a correct understanding of the idea of
>> > what an infinite series means, and is it
>> > scientifically correct (so far as we can
>> understand
>> > things) to say that there could have been an
>> infinite
>> > number of universes created? Also, regarding the
>> idea
>> > of the "best of all possible worlds", doesn't this
>> > equate in some sense, to what we believe heaven to
>> be?
>> > If so, does the idea that this type of world could
>> not
>> > be created, violate our theological creeds which
>> state
>> > that God is the creator of "heaven" and earth, and
>> the
>> > general understanding that Christ "came down from
>> > heaven" and "ascended to heaven". Or, rather than
>> > being the "best of all possible [created]
>> universes",
>> > is heaven rather to be understood as the place (so
>> to
>> > speak) where God resides, outside of created time
>> and
>> > space? If so, then will heaven (where we will rest
>> > eternally) merely be better than our current
>> universe,
>> > rather than the best possible universe? Is it
>> possible
>> > that the creation of a lesser (containing more
>> > suffering & evil) universe is in some way a
>> > requirement of being able to create a better
>> universe,
>> > thus the need to endure the lesser to get to the
>> > greater?
>> >
>> > Regarding #2, I question the premise of his
>> argument.
>> > In the act of creation, doesn't God submit Himself
>> to
>> > certain obligations, in the same manner that a
>> parent
>> > is obligated to a child? Certainly, it is clear
>> that
>> > God does submit Himself to certain obligations
>> through
>> > the form of historical convenants with His people.
>> > Doesn't this mean that God does, in some sense,
>> have
>> > an obligation to create a better universe than the
>> one
>> > we are in now (or perhaps that's what He's doing
>> as we
>> > speak?)?
>> >
>> > Thanks ahead of time for your insights and your
>> > patience as I reflect on these questions in an
>> attempt
>> > to better articulate my own thoughts on it.
>> >
>> > In Christ,
>> > Christine (ASA member)
>> >
>> >
>> > To unsubscribe, send a message to
>> majordomo@calvin.edu with
>> > "unsubscribe asa" (no quotes) as the body of the
>> message.
>> >
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Received on Tue Jul 29 07:19:16 2008

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