I personally do not usually argue with anybody who has regious convictions as long as they don’t start with me. But I have yet to hear anybody come up with a real answer to the riddle of Epicurus. He does it very neatly in 4 simple questions—To wit:
If God is willing but not able to prevent evil in the world, then he is not omnipotent.
If God is able but not willing to prevent evil in the world, then he is malevolent.
If God is both able and willing to prevent evil in the world then whence comes evil?
If God is neither willing nor able to prevent evil in the world then Why call him God?
Oh, and Epicurus lived about 600 years before Christ. But this is easy, really, since he was addressing the quetion of the Sun God.
The Sun God in fact, did provide the model for the God on which the Christian Religion is based. No wonder Constantine was a Sun God worshiper until his dying day! And it was only moments before his death, that Constantine did convert to Christianity.
But really how can anyone take Christianity seriously after one has delved into the Orphic Mysteries of the Greeks? The myth of Jesus is simply a refinement of the earlier Dionysian myth and then the later Orphic myth. The Orphic mysteries was a man’s religion by the way. No ladies nights either.
The ladies had their own Eleusian Mysteries to which the men were not invited.
So you look into these much earlier myths and,— if you are honest— you have to say that Christianity is simply a refinement— and for a desert culture, at that.
As I say I am not really looking for an argument, but, I would like to see someone, anyone refute Epicurus.
Thanks for the very entertaining site, by the way. Although I am a confirmed skeptic, I was born into a Roman Catholic Irish family. My folks used to genuflect and kiss the Bishop’s ring. Such memories still make me shudder. Blind Faith is an ugly thing to behold. Nevertheless, I maintain a keen interest in such discourse, having been educated by Jesuits, Hahahah.
The riddle of Epicurus that you quote is generally countered by saying that God is able to prevent evil but is unwilling to do so because doing so would preclude free will, and eliminating free will would be a greater evil. There is also the whole issue of whether or not evil exists in the first place. Some theologians argue that evil is simply the absence of good, in the same sense that darkness is the absence of light.
For what it’s worth, this counter of Epicurus falls short for me because it does not seem to adequately explain what I’ll call natural evils (disease, disasters, etc.) Most theologians I’ve heard speak on this subject say that such things are the natural consequence of Adam and Eve’s sin, but my feeling is that a benevolent God wouldn’t set up a system in which a bad choice by a human could impact all of nature. I would be interested in hearing a convincing explanation of this set of affairs from a theists.
I agree that there is a great deal in common between Christianity and certain pagan religions, just as there are things in common between pagan religions and the religion of Moses. However, I am very careful when relying on such things. I have seen many historians and theologians point out parallels, but none point to convincing evidence that a pagan religion morphed into Christianity. I think it is much more likely that the presence of such stories in culture made the stories of Jesus easier to believe. But in and of itself this proves nothing about Christianity — one can imagine God specifically creating miracles that people are apt to believe because that makes the job of conversion easier.
That these stories exist is definitely reason for doubt, but I’d say that they are in no way a “smoking gun.”