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Encyclopedia > Eutheism, dystheism, and maltheism

Dystheism is the belief that there is a God that does exist and that this God is evil, or at best not wholly good. It is contrasted with eutheism, which is the belief that God exists and is good. Michelangelos depiction of God in the painting Creation of the Sun and Moon in the Sistine Chapel Krishna, the eighth incarnation of Vishnu, one of the manifestations of the ultimate reality or God in Hinduism This article discusses the term God in the context of monotheism and henotheism. ... Evil is a term describing that which is regarded as morally bad, intrinsically corrupt, wantonly destructive, inhumane, or wicked. ... This article or section is in need of attention from an expert on the subject. ... Michelangelos depiction of God in the painting Creation of the Sun and Moon in the Sistine Chapel Krishna, the eighth incarnation of Vishnu, one of the manifestations of the ultimate reality or God in Hinduism This article discusses the term God in the context of monotheism and henotheism. ...


Eutheism and dystheism are dialectic opposites within the spectrum of theistic religious beliefs. Both are forms of theism, in that they are belief systems that assert the existence of God or gods in some form. (The opposing viewpoint to theism, of course, is atheism.) In classical philosophy, dialectic (Greek: διαλεκτική) is an exchange of propositions (theses) and counter-propositions (antitheses) resulting in a synthesis of the opposing assertions, or at least a qualitative transformation in the direction of the dialogue. ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ... Atheism, in its most inclusive sense, is an absence of belief in the existence of deities. ...

Contents


Foundations of eutheism and dystheism

The vast majority of theistic belief systems that posit a Singular God (monotheism) are eutheistic, leading to an erroneous general assumption that all theistic belief systems have a positive attitude about God. Gnosticism, Satanism, and Maltheism are examples of belief systems that have at least some dystheistic tenets. Many polytheistic belief systems assert the existence of a variety of both 'good' and 'bad' deities, but the strict dichotomy of eutheism vs. dystheism is usually (though not always) framed in monotheistic terms. Wikipedia does not yet have an article with this exact name. ... Monotheism (in Greek μόνος = single and θεός = God) is the belief in the existence of one God, or in the oneness of God. ... This article or section is in need of attention from an expert on the subject. ... This article or section is missing references or citation of sources. ... Polytheism stevenis gay, or worship of, multiple gods or divinities. ... Monotheism (in Greek μόνος = single and θεός = God) is the belief in the existence of one God, or in the oneness of God. ...


Eutheism arises from a belief that the universe is inherently good, and that its creator is also inherently good. Dystheism arises from a contrary belief, that neither the universe nor its creator is necessarily good. Dystheists assert that eutheistic belief is predicated on assumption, and that the preponderance of evil present in the world makes any belief that the universe and its creator are inherently good presumptuous and contrary to the way things are. Evil is a term describing that which is regarded as morally bad, intrinsically corrupt, wantonly destructive, inhumane, or wicked. ...


They say that an omnipotent creator whose creation includes things that are evil is responsible for the existence of that evil, and is thus evil himself, since an omnipotent could have chosen otherwise. The assumption is that omnipotence would allow this creator to create a world without evil, thus it must have been a free choice the creator made to include evil in the creation. In other words, the presence of evil in the world indicates to dystheists that inherent goodness is not an innate quality of the universe or its creator, and in fact it indicts the creator as having made a deliberately evil choice.


How does this relate to the problem of evil?

Eutheists counter this argument by saying that God had his reasons for including the possibility of evil in his creation, which absolve him of accusations that he is evil in nature. The theological question of why an omnipotent benevolent God would include evil in his creation is called the problem of evil. In the philosophy of religion and theology, the problem of evil is the problem of reconciling the existence of evil or suffering in the world with the existence of an omniscient, omnipotent, omnibenevolent god. ...


The problem of evil raises questions about God's nature, asking why a benevolent omnipotent God would create a world with evil in it when he could have chosen not to do so. Responses to the problem of evil are known as theodicies. Some consider the whole discipline of theodicy problematic, since it involves working backwards from a desired conclusion (that God is good) in order to prove that this is so. To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ...


Many atheists cite the problem of evil's insolubility as a disproof of the existence of God and of theism in general. It only serves as a possible disproof of eutheism: the problem of evil does not eliminate the possibility of the existence of a malevolent God as postulated by dystheism.


If the problem of evil poses a legitimate contradiction, with both elements of the contradiction incapable of simultaneously coexisting (based on the assumption that God is benevolent and omnipotent), then one (or both) of those assumptions must be invalid. Some eutheists respond to the problem of evil by denying God's omnipotence: if God cannot be both omnipotent and benevolent, then we must concede that either God is not benevolent (as claimed by advocates of dystheism), or God is not omnipotent (as claimed by advocates of process theology and Open Theism). This may be perceived as the "better" alternative, in that contradictions are eliminated and we still get a God that is benevolent, but to some eutheists this radically changes what they believe to be the nature of God, to the point that we aren't really talking about God as God anymore. (Dystheists also say that a God who claims to be omnipotent but isn't is a liar, which also makes him evil.) Process theology (also known as Neoclassical theology) is a school of thought influenced by the metaphysical process philosophy of Alfred North Whitehead (1861 - 1947). ... Open theism, also known as free will theism, is a theological movement that has become popular within Evangelical Protestant Christianity. ...


On the other hand, dystheists are presented with the same logical problem. If God is inherently evil and is also omnipotent, then how can there simultaneously coexist an evil God and goodness? In this way goodness becomes insoluble and can potentailly serve as a possible disproof of dystheism. Dystheism is also presented with the additonal problem of the logical contradition of an omipotent, yet evil God. Evil brings the implications of being wrong and to be omnipotent (or perfect) and evil (or wrong) would lead to a contradiction in itself.


Is there a corresponding "problem of good" for dystheists?

Some eutheists have suggested that there must be a corresponding "problem of good" associated with dystheism: "If God is evil, why is there good in the world?" Dystheists say this isn't really a problem (see The Myth of "Necessary" Evil) for the following reasons:

  1. While it is often said that good cannot exist without evil (frequently as an explanation for the existence of evil), there doesn't seem to be any logical basis for saying this. Things we think of as good could exist in a world without evil, but they would not "stand out" as things that ought to be given a special label such as "good". There is no logical reason to assert that a world that is totally good without any evil could not possibly exist—in fact (dystheists ask), isn't Heaven supposed to be that very world?
  2. But the converse is not true: while good can exist without evil, evil cannot exist without good. According to dystheists, a world that is totally evil, without any good in it, could not sustain itself for any extended period of time; it would wither and die. It is part of the very definition of evil, that evil feeds off of good and takes advantage of it in order to thrive. It is in fact what defines it as being evil.
  3. Therefore, they conclude, it is not a "problem" for an evil deity to have created a world that has good in it. He would in fact need to do so.

This argument leads to the conclusion that it is necessary for an evil God to do good in order to continue existing. If this evil God does good, then he cannot be truely evil, as doing good would be a contradiction to his nature. In other words, this God has a need to do good. According to this argument, an evil God can neither be perfect nor omnipotent. He cannot be perfect because he has a need for something (goodness) or he will cease to exist (opposed to being perfect, where he would need nothing). He cannot be omnipotent because he is not able to rid himself of this need for goodness (indicating a scenario where he is not all powerful).


How do we define "good?"

Clearly one of the first orders of business in analyzing the dialectic between eutheism and dystheism is to define what is meant by "good." Since eutheism asserts that God is good, one of the fundamental elements of any eutheistic belief system is the way its adherents define what "good" means and how God manifests himself as good.

  • Some eutheists would define good in and of itself, in a hopefully objective sense independent of God, asserting that God is good because he fits this definition in his nature and behavior. Such people use a descriptive definition of good.
  • Other eutheists would say that good is defined as whatever God says is good. Such people are using a proscriptive definition of good.

These two viewpoints may seem to come into conflict with contemporary standards when examining some of God's characteristics. God is often described as exhibiting some characteristics that some cultures would normally consider negative, such as jealousy, cruelty, vindictiveness, and destructiveness. Although these characteristics may seem negative in some cultures, it is important to understand that if an absolute standard of "good" exists, cultural standards do not necessarily (and are not necessarily) in alignment with this absolute standard. For example, a culture may believe that it is socially negative to wear red clothes, where the absolute standard of "good" states that wearing red is considered "good." These people would see wearing red clothes as negative, while it is actually "good."


The former group of eutheists defines good in a descriptive way that excludes such behaviors, yet most of them still believe God is good, and try to find a way (often through faith) to resolve that apparent contradiction. The problem with the descriptive method of defining good is that a generalized list of what is considered to be "good," while it is possible that the qualities of what it is to be good is not exhaustive. The world is extremely complex and it is very difficult to define a standard of "good" that can conform to all situations. The word faith has various uses; its central meaning is similar to belief, trust or confidence, but unlike these terms, faith tends to imply a transpersonal rather than interpersonal relationship – with God or a higher power. ...


The latter group, which uses a proscriptive definition of good, sees no problem with this. In their view, God has the authority to say what is good and what is not—even to make such definitions in a seemingly unbalanced way so that what is wrong for us is acceptable for him. They see no contradiction in this, this is simply the way it is—God gets to define good, we don't. Some may find this contradictory or hypocritical. This approach to defining good is known as the divine command theory. This theory may seem unfair, but it is not hypocritical. Eutheists believe that God and man are not inherently equal. God is greater than man in all respects and has the authority to rule over man. As ruler over man, it is his right to define the rules and as an infinitely greater being to man, it is also in his ability to determine what is "good" for his creation. Man, as a subject and as an inferior being neither has the right nor the ability to question the Word of God. The divine command theory is the metaethical theory that morality (e. ...


The Euthyphro Dilemma is a rebuttal to the divine command theory. Originally offered by Plato, it showcases the dichotomy between descriptive and proscriptive definitions of "good". Essentially, it poses the question "Is an action good because God approves of it, or does God approve of it because it is good?" The Euthyphro Dilemma is found in Platos dialogue Euthyphro, in which Socrates asks Euthyphro: “Is the pious loved by the gods because it is pious, or is it pious because it is loved by the gods?” In monotheistic terms, this is usually transformed into: “Is what is moral commanded... Plato ( Greek: Πλάτων, Plátōn, wide, broad-shouldered) (c. ...


Eutheists who employ a proscriptive definition of "good" would concur with the first part of the question, saying that things are good (or not) because God says they are (or aren't), period.

Those who pose this dilemma consider this an arbitrary, circular definition, and in fact an example of moral relativism, since good is whatever one particular entity—in this case, God—says it is. The rebuttal to this is that God is the summum bonum—the center and source of all good—by definition, and thus has the right to do this. They say that since goodness is defined by God and not by us, God cannot be judged, we are in no position to even attempt to judge him. Obviously this argument is not convincing to dystheists, or even to many "descriptive eutheists." (It's not clear whether all those who believe God to be the summum bonum are using a descriptive or proscriptive definition of good in asserting their claim, e.g., eutheists who believe God is the greatest possible example of goodness but not necessarily its source.)

On the other hand, eutheists who use a descriptive definition of good would concur with the second part of the question. They agree that goodness is an independent quantifiable concept that can be measured without reference to God, but they also believe that God does fulfill that definition of goodness. In philosophy, moral relativism takes the position that moral or ethical propositions do not reflect absolute and universal moral truths but instead exist relative to social, cultural, historical or personal references, and that no single standard exists by which to assess an ethical propositions truth. ... Summum bonum (greatest or supreme good) was first introduced to humanity as Ahura-Mazda, `The Ultimate Good` who is God, by the Persian prophet Zoroaster, whose ideas would later heavily influence Judeo-Christian beliefs. ...

Those posing this dilemma note that if goodness can be defined and measured independent of God, it becomes reasonable to judge God (and his actions) as good or evil, based on the degree to which they comply with the definition. Naturally, dystheists also concur with the second part of the question, but they would say that God fails to meet the test of objective goodness based on his exhibiting of negative characteristics.

How do we define "evil?"

Conversely, these same issues arise with respect to dystheistic belief systems and how their adherents define what "evil" means. Eutheists arguing against dystheism often claim that the dystheist's definition of evil is flawed, because it is based on a limited human perspective instead of God's omniscient perspective. Dystheists respond by noting this is an example of the logical fallacy known as "argument from authority." They also note that any harm God causes us, individually or collectively, even if in the service of some greater good, is still an act of evil that a truly omnipotent benevolent God could and would not have to perform. If God were truly benevolent and omnipotent, they say, he could and would reach his goal of greater good without having to go through evil to get to it. To the dystheist, eutheistic explanations for the presence of evil in the world (theodicies) are just rationalizations. In philosophy, the term logical fallacy properly refers to a formal fallacy: a flaw in the structure of a deductive argument which renders the argument invalid. ... An appeal to authority is a type of argument in logic also known as argument from authority, argumentum ad verecundiam (Latin: argument from modesty) or ipse dixit (Latin: he himself, said it). ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ... Look up Rationalization on Wiktionary, the free dictionary Rationalization can refer to more than one thing: In psychology, rationalization is the process of constructing a logical justification for a decision that was originally arrived at through a different mental process. ...


At a fundamental level, dystheists define evil as simply as eutheists define good—anything that causes harm is evil. Eutheists counter this by noting that the world is a complex place where it is impossible not to harm other beings in the course of living. In response, dystheists ask why God designed the world to be like that, where the very act of living necessitates the infliction of harm onto others. They cite God's choice to design the world in this fashion as evidence that he is evil, since an omnipotent God could have chosen another design that omitted the possibility of evil, and they cite the Heaven God promises as proof that God could and did create such a world, but that he explicitly chose not to do so in the case of the world we live in, also marking him as evil. Heaven is an afterlife concept found in many religions or spiritual philosophies. ...


Historical perspective

Since the majority of theistic religious beliefs tend to be eutheistic, the history of eutheism is pretty well covered within the study of the history of religion. Dystheism, on the other hand, is another story: its history tends to be obscured by the overwhelming predominance of eutheism in religious thought. Still, there are significant examples of historical dystheism: History of Buddhism History of Christianity History of Eastern Orthodox Christianity History of Hinduism History of Islam History of Judaism History of Protestantism History of Rastafarianism History of Roman Catholicism History of Santeria History of Shintoism See also Religion Categories: Religion ...

  • The early Gnostics believed that the God worshipped by Jews and Christians was really a demiurge that stood between us and some greater, more truly benevolent real God. The Gnostic Gospels were suppressed for many years by the established church.
  • The trickster gods that play a part in many polytheistic belief systems certainly have a dystheistic nature. One example is Eshu, a trickster God from Yoruba mythology who deliberately fostered violence between groups of people for his own amusement, saying that "causing strife is my greatest joy."
  • In Jewish author Elie Wiesel's play, The Trial of God, the survivors of a pogrom in which most of the inhabitants of a 17th-century Jewish village were massacred, put God on trial for his cruelty and indifference to their misery. The play is based on an actual trial Wiesel participated in that was conducted by inmates of the Auschwitz concentration camp during the Nazi holocaust, but it also references a number of other incidents in Jewish history including a similar trial conducted by the Hasidic Rabbi Levi Yitzhak of Berdichev.

Gnosticism is a blanket term for various religions and sects most prominent in the first few centuries A.D. General characteristics The word gnosticism comes from the Greek word for knowledge, gnosis (γνῶσις), referring to the idea that there is special, hidden mysticism (esoteric knowledge) that only a few possess. ... It has been suggested that Nebro be merged into this article or section. ... The Gnostic Gospels are a class of writings about the life of Jesus which are associated with the early mystical trend of Gnostic Christianity. ... John Milton, English poet John Milton (December 9, 1608 – November 8, 1674) was an English poet, best-known for his epic poem Paradise Lost. ... Title page of the first edition Paradise Lost (1667) is an epic poem by the 17th century English poet John Milton. ... The trickster figure Rénert the Fox as depicted in an 1869 childrens book by Michel Rodange. ... Polytheism stevenis gay, or worship of, multiple gods or divinities. ... Eshu represented in concrete with his features made with cowrie shells. ... The Yoruba (native name Yorùbá) is a large ethno-linguistic group or ethnic nation in West Africa. ... Elie Wiesel Eliezer Wiesel (commonly known as Elie) (born September 30, 1928) is a world-renowned American novelist, philosopher, humanitarian, political activist, and Holocaust survivor. ... Pogrom (from Russian: ; from громить - to wreak havoc, to demolish violently) is a form of riot, a massive violent attack on a particular group; ethnic, religious or other, primarily characterized by destruction of their environment (homes, businesses, religious centers). ... Auschwitz, in English, commonly refers to the Auschwitz concentration camp complex built near the town of Oświęcim, by Nazi Germany during World War II. Rarely, it may refer to the Polish town of Oświęcim (called by the Germans Auschwitz) itself. ... It has been suggested that Internment be merged into this article or section. ... National Socialism redirects here. ... Concentration camp inmates during the Holocaust The Holocaust was Nazi Germanys systematic genocide (ethnic cleansing) of various ethnic, religious, national, and secular groups during World War II. Early elements include the Kristallnacht pogrom and the T-4 Euthanasia Program established by Hitler that killed some 200,000 people. ... Hasidic Judaism (Hebrew: Chasidut חסידות) is a Haredi Jewish religious movement. ... Rabbi (Classical Hebrew רִבִּי ribbÄ«;; modern Ashkenazi and Israeli רַבִּי rabbÄ«) in Judaism, means teacher, or more literally great one. The word Rabbi is derived from the Hebrew root-word RaV, which in biblical Hebrew means great or distinguished, (in knowledge). In the ancient Judean schools (and among Sefaradim today) the sages...

Biblical support for dystheistic viewpoint

The Bible and the Koran are the primary religious texts of those often called Abrahamics (those who believe in the God of Abraham from the Old Testament). Although the so-called Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) all appear to have a eutheistic nature, those holding dystheistic beliefs cite the words of the Bible (and similar religious texts) as evidence of God's duplicitous nature. The Gutenberg Bible owned by the United States Library of Congress (Hebrew: תנ״ך tanakh, Greek: η Βίβλος hē biblos) (sometimes The Holy Bible, The Book, Work of God, The Word, The Good Book or Scripture), from Greek (τα) βίβλια, (ta) biblia, (the) books, is the name used by Jews and Christians for their differing (and...

  • They note that God tells people that it's wrong to kill, but then exhorts them to kill in his name at his behest (e.g., the slaughter of the native inhabitants of Canaan by the returning Hebrews, the Christian Crusades, the Inquisition, the missionary practices of colonial Europeans, and today's Islamic Jihad). Some argue that these are all examples of free will.
  • They also note that God says we have free will, but punishes us when we exercise it. This is assuming of course that you believe in a classical Christian Hell of fire, brimstone, and eternal torment and that it is a place of punishment. If hell is not seen as pain and suffering and torture incarnate, but rather perceived as a more neutral place apart from God where you live by said free will, then this poses no problem.
  • They also note that God says we were created in his image, but at the same time he tells us we are low and vile creatures based on the original sin of Adam and Eve. To dystheists this is nothing more than justifiable rebellion against arbitrary authority.

These apparent contradictions regarding God's actual behavior (and even what is supposed to be his own recounting of that behavior) are viewed by dystheists as glaring inconsistencies at best or blatant hypocrisies at worst. Many examples of such apparent contradictions, inconsistencies, and hypocrisies appear in the Bible, posing challenges to eutheism: This article is about historical Crusades . ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ... Free will is the philosophical doctrine that holds that our choices are ultimately up to ourselves. ... Free will is the philosophical doctrine that holds that our choices are ultimately up to ourselves. ... Medieval illustration of Hell in the Hortus deliciarum manuscript of Herrad of Landsberg (about 1180) Hell, according to many religious beliefs, is a place or a state of pain and suffering. ... Free will is the philosophical doctrine that holds that our choices are ultimately up to ourselves. ... Michelangelos painting of the original sin (the Fall) According to Christian tradition, Original sin describes the condition of sinfulness (lack of holiness) into which human beings are hereditarily born. ... It has been suggested that portions of this article be split into a new article entitled Adam. ...


The Garden of Eden and The Tree of Knowledge

In Genesis 2:16, God told Adam and Eve not to eat from the Tree of Knowledge, warning them that on the day they eat from this tree they will surely die. The serpent tempted them to eat the fruit anyway, telling them that what God said was not true. God was angered by the disobedience and banished Adam and Eve from paradise for their actions. Genesis 5:5 says "Altogether, Adam lived 930 years, and then he died." Although Adam and Eve did not die instantly upon eating the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, it did indirectly cause them to be placed in situation where they were capable of dying and did. Genesis (Greek: Γένεσις, having the meanings of birth, creation, cause, beginning, source and origin), also called The First Book of Moses, is the first book of Torah (five books of Moses), and is the first book of the Tanakh, part of the Hebrew Bible; it is also the first book of... It has been suggested that portions of this article be split into a new article entitled Adam. ... In the Hebrew Bibles Book of Genesis, the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil (Hebrew: עֵץ הַדַּעַת טוֹב וָרָע) was the tree in the middle of the Garden of Eden from which God forbade Adam and Eve to eat. ... Serpent is a word of Latin origin (serpens, serpentis) that is normally substituted for snake in a specifically mythic or religious context, in order to distinguish such creatures from the field of biology. ... Paradise, by Jan Bruegel The word paradise is derived from the Avestan word pairidaeza (a walled enclosure), which is a compound of pairi- (around), a cognate of the Greek peri-, and -diz (to create, make), a cognate of the English dough. ... Genesis (Greek: Γένεσις, having the meanings of birth, creation, cause, beginning, source and origin), also called The First Book of Moses, is the first book of Torah (five books of Moses), and is the first book of the Tanakh, part of the Hebrew Bible; it is also the first book of...


According to the dystheistic perspective, God sets things up to entrap Adam and Eve, using Satan (the serpent) as a patsy. God lied when he said that eating this fruit would cause Adam and Eve to die. The story indicates that they did not die from eating the fruit, meaning that the serpent's statement was correct and God's was a lie. Furthermore, God had to take explicit action to cause them suffering—not because eating from the tree was bad or wrong, but merely because it displeased him. The question arises as to whether God saying "when you eat of it you will surely die" was an overt threat (leading to that explicit action by God against Adam and Eve), or whether it was simply a lie. However, others believe that God is referring to a spiritual rather than physical death. Serpent is a word of Latin origin (serpens, serpentis) that is normally substituted for snake in a specifically mythic or religious context, in order to distinguish such creatures from the field of biology. ... A lie is an intentionally false statement. ...


While this story is often seen as metaphorical in nature, it raises questions about God's nature. Why would a God who created humans to be curious and knowledge-seeking punish them for being curious and seeking knowledge? What is the "lesson" to be learned from this parable?—that seeking knowledge is wrong?


The Tower of Babel

In the story of the Tower of Babel, the people in the city of Babel work together to build a tower that "will reach the heavens". God remarks that "the people are one, and they have all one language, and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do." Apparently seeing this as a bad thing (as a threat to his authority?), God goes down to "confound their language, that they may not understand one another's speech," so that these people would not be able to work together on this or any other common goal. The Confusion of Tongues by Gustave Doré (1865) According to the narrative in Genesis Chapter 11 of the Bible, the Tower of Babel was a tower built by a united humanity to reach the heavens. ... Babel () is the name used in the Hebrew Bible for the city of Babylon, notable as the location of the Tower of Babel. ...


While this story is often interpreted as another admonition about rebelling against God, it's not clear to dystheists that these people were doing anything wrong. According to the dystheistic perspective, the message of the story is that God's glory and ego are more important than humanity working together. Is it any wonder, it is noted, that religion since this time has been plagued with division and fractionalism? Dystheists see God talking about how following his way will lead to peace, but each group is told a slightly different "way", with the end result being interreligious hatred and violence. The interpretation here is that God wants us divided from each other, fighting each other, each group being told to worship God in a different way that leads them to ostracize and quarrel with others who believe differently.


The Hardening of Pharaoh's Heart

In the book of Exodus, when Moses was instructed by God to lead the effort to seek his people's freedom from slavery in Egypt, God deliberately "hardened Pharaoh's heart", making him even more unwilling to free the Hebrew slaves, making it less likely (not more likely) that they would be released from bondage. Exodus is the second book of the Torah (the Pentateuch) and also the Tanakh (the Hebrew Bible), and the Christian Old Testament. ... Moses or Móshe (מֹשֶׁה, Standard Hebrew, Tiberian Hebrew Mōšeh, Arabic موسى Mūsa, Geez ሙሴ Musse) is a legendary Hebrew liberator, leader, lawgiver, prophet, and historian. ...


Is this the act of a benevolent God, a dystheist would ask? Was his goal to free his chosen people from slavery, or to show them (and everyone else) how powerful he was? By deliberately making Pharaoh more obstinate about not releasing the Hebrew slaves, he got the opportunity to demonstrate to everyone how powerful he was through the series of plagues he beleaguered the Egyptians with. This interpretation of the story reinforces the notion that God performs "miracles" not as an act of benevolence, but as an act of showing off to gain praise and worship. A benevolent God would not save people from disaster after the fact, he would prevent the disaster from occurring in the first place.


Furthermore, this story would seem to invalidate the common theodicy that God allows evil in the world because he cannot or will not interfere with human free will. Aside from the other known flaws in this explanation for the presence of evil in the world, in this story it can be interpreted that God can and did indeed "tamper" with human free will. To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ... Free will is the philosophical doctrine that holds that our choices are ultimately up to ourselves. ...


Call for Genocide?

In Deuteronomy 7:1-6, God orders the Hebrews, his chosen people, to invade seven nations and destroy them totally, telling them to "make no treaty with them, and show them no mercy." This is no less than a call for genocide, which would seem to clash with the commandment "Thou shalt not kill" (Exodus 20:2-17 and Deuteronomy 5:6-21). Furthermore, God threatens the Hebrews by telling them that "(his) anger will burn against (them) and will quickly destroy (them)" if they did not comply with this explicit call for genocide. Deuteronomy is the fifth book of the Hebrew Bible. ... Chosen People refers to a group of people who have been chosen by G-d to act as G-ds agent on earth. ... Genocide is defined by the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (CPPCG) Article 2 as any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group, as such: Killing members of the group; Causing...


The Book of Job

The Book of Job has probably sparked more controversy and debate than any other story in the Bible. In it, God allows Satan to test Job to see if he would continue to worship him even after he is plagued with devastating tragedies. The Book of Job contains accusations against God, suggesting that he cannot be criticized because he is all-powerful, and not because he is all-benevolent. The accusations are retracted once Job is reinstalled into his former state, but the controversy regarding the text still exists in modern times. To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ...


Dystheists think that a deity who allows Job to be deliberately hurt to see if he would remain faithful and devoted despite this, does not qualify by any objective standards as good. Even many Judeo-Christian eutheists see the Book of Job as bringing into question the fundamental assumption of God's goodness, since God is shown not to have our interests and well-being at heart, and we learn that neither we nor any idea we have about what is good really matter to him.


Those who agree with this conclusion seem to approach it with resignation, saying that it doesn't matter how we might define good, God has the power to do whatever he wants, so we'd best just give in to his will. Dystheists see this as an accession to a might makes right moral code, and as a fundamental reason not to worship God. Might makes right is an aphorism with several potential meanings: First, it can describe a morality which dictates that those who are the strongest will rule — and should rule — others and have the power to determine right and wrong. ...


Some believe that the authors of the Bible knew God's nature all along and sought to placate him through their praises, but that the Book of Job has a not-so-hidden subtextual message for those who read it carefully—that the God whose praises were being sung throughout the Bible isn't really as good as he is made out to be.


Belief systems with dystheistic aspects

Satanism

Satanists advocate rebellion against God because they also consider him evil, and (depending on the particular flavor of Satanism) may or may not believe in the existence of an actual Satan as a real entity, as described in various parts of the Bible and in Milton's Paradise Lost. If God is determined to be at least partly evil, and if Satan does exist, then God's supremacy is only justified by brute force, and thus Satan was justified in rebelling against God's tyranny. This article or section is missing references or citation of sources. ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ... John Milton, English poet John Milton (December 9, 1608 – November 8, 1674) was an English poet, best-known for his epic poem Paradise Lost. ... Title page of the first edition Paradise Lost (1667) is an epic poem by the 17th century English poet John Milton. ...


If Satan exists, he can be viewed as God's agent, unfairly blamed for things God himself does not want to be associated with, as in the Book of Job or in the story of the Tree of Knowledge. Some dystheists (e.g., Maltheists) believe that Satan is just an alias God uses to veil his evil aspects and maintain a façade of "goodness", accusing a mythical Satan of being the instigator of evil that God himself is responsible for. This is similar to the way Big Brother in George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four would blame all the evil in the world on imaginary insurgent Emmanuel Goldstein, who was really just a fiction invented by the Party as a scapegoat. Big Brother as portrayed in the BBCs 1954 production of Nineteen Eighty-Four. ... Eric Arthur Blair (June 25, 1903 – January 21, 1950), much better known by the pen name George Orwell (pronounced ), was a British author and journalist. ... Nineteen Eighty-Four is a political novel which George Orwell wrote in opposition to totalitarianism. ... Emmanuel Goldstein is a key character in George Orwells novel Nineteen Eighty-Four. ... The scapegoat was a goat that was driven off into the wilderness as part of the ceremonies of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, in Judaism during the times of the Temple in Jerusalem. ...


Gnosticism

The Gnostics believed that the God many worship is not the "real" God but a demiurge standing between humanity and the true benevolent God. According to Gnostics, an agent of the true benevolent God (i.e., Jesus Christ) was sent to our world to redeem true believers. Dystheists would ask, if this true God is really more powerful than the demiurge and is benevolent, why he doesn't step in and crush the demiurge directly? This article or section is in need of attention from an expert on the subject. ... It has been suggested that Nebro be merged into this article or section. ...


Some Gnostics might argue that the True God isn't omnipotent, that he may be in unison with the universe but did not create the natural order. This would lead to the question (out of the Epicurean paradox)—"if he is neither able nor willing (to prevent or destroy evil), then why call him God?" In the philosophy of religion and theology, the problem of evil is the problem of reconciling the existence of evil or suffering in the world with the existence of an omniscient, omnipotent, omnibenevolent god. ...


Atheism

Atheism obviously cannot be labeled either eutheistic or dystheistic since it is the state of being without theistic beliefs. Atheists cite Occam's Razor as a reason for not believing in gods, but like dystheists they also tend to see eutheists' theodicies (intended to serve as responses to the problem of evil) as unconvincing, and consider the contradictions and hypocrisies they see in religious texts like the Bible to be evidence that the problem of evil has only been resolved if one doesn't assume the existence of an omniscient, omnipotent and omnibenevolent god. While atheists solve the issue by simply not assuming any gods, dystheists believe the biblical God exists, but that he is a capricious and sadistic liar and bully. Atheism, in its most inclusive sense, is an absence of belief in the existence of deities. ... William of Ockham Occams razor (also spelled Ockhams razor) is a principle attributed to the 14th-century English logician and Franciscan friar William of Ockham. ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ... In the philosophy of religion and theology, the problem of evil is the problem of reconciling the existence of evil or suffering in the world with the existence of an omniscient, omnipotent, omnibenevolent god. ... The Gutenberg Bible owned by the United States Library of Congress (Hebrew: תנ״ך tanakh, Greek: η Βίβλος hē biblos) (sometimes The Holy Bible, The Book, Work of God, The Word, The Good Book or Scripture), from Greek (τα) βίβλια, (ta) biblia, (the) books, is the name used by Jews and Christians for their differing (and...


Dystheism has been described as the position an atheist would hold if it were proven to him logically that the God of the Bible really did exist (assuming that such an assertion could be proven logically without contradictions), as described in Tim Maroney's essay Even If I Did Believe.


Maltheism

Maltheism is a modern manifestation of dystheistic belief, aspects of which have been published online in the Maltheism blog[1] and in an online introduction[2] on the Beliefnet[3] website. Maltheism does not appear to be an organized religion, in that it has no established church or other organization, no doctrine, no rules, and no prescribed requirements for membership, but it is apparently a concrete manifestation of dystheistic belief in the modern world.


Although there is no prescribed doctrine of Maltheism, those identifying with Maltheism share most of the following beliefs:

  1. Maltheists note the presence of evil in a world created by an omnipotent God and conclude that this God must be evil—since, being omnipotent, he could have chosen not to create evil, but willfully chose to do so anyway.
  2. They see his demands for worship as bullying and coercion. A truly benevolent God, they say, would neither need nor want his creations to worship him. They also see his promise of "salvation" from eternal torture as blackmail—what is God saving us from, they ask, if not his own willful wrath? Isn't this like (for example) calling a school bully a "savior" for not beating you up when you give him your lunch money?
  3. Noting how much divisive fighting there is between world religions, they say that a God with all the characteristics his followers attribute to him couldn't possibly fail so miserably in conveying a benevolent message of peace and love to all people. The utter failure of this message (in its variegated forms across belief systems) to accomplish its goal, bringing about peace and love in the world, can only be accounted for by either total incompetence—which contradicts the notion of God's omniscience and omnipotence—or malicious intent. Either God is not what he says he is, marking him as a liar, or he is overtly malevolent.
  4. They believe that the problem of evil is not really a problem at all, because an omnipotent benevolent God creating a world with evil in it when he could have chosen (and did choose) otherwise is a logical contradiction. They contend this is only a "problem" if you are working backwards from a conclusion that God must be benevolent. They claim this is what those attempting to produce theodicy are actually doing.
  5. Some say God is the summum bonum, the center and source of all that is good, and that this means he is good by definition and that he alone gets to define what good is. Maltheists see this as circular reasoning—"God is good because he gets to define what good is because he's God"—and as the ultimate example of moral relativism.
  6. The claim that God uses the existence of evil to work towards some greater good is also unconvincing to Maltheists: a God who is benevolent and omnipotent, they say, would not need to "go through" evil to get to some ultimate good.
  7. Maltheists dismiss "miracles" performed by God as self-aggrandizing boastfulness. They say that "miracles" in which a mere handful are cured of a fatal disease or saved from a natural disaster do not demonstrate that God is benevolent. Instead of saving only a few who would testify to his greatness after the fact, a truly benevolent God would have prevented the disease and disaster in the first place. (See essay on Miracles in External Links below.)
  8. They believe God is dependent on the worship and adoration of human beings for his existence, and hope that if he is deprived of that worship, he will wither up and die. This is akin to the common belief that what we worship is given spiritual substance through the act of worship. According to this belief, those who believe in the God of the Bible, whose behavior Maltheists find deplorable, give him life and form through their worship, and create a world where such a God influences life on earth negatively. In contrast, those who withhold worship of that God help to solve the problem of evil in this world, by focusing on being good, instead of on worshipping God.
  9. The Maltheism blog and online introduction refer to people who worship God and believe him to be good as "theophiles", likening belief in a benevolent God to the Stockholm syndrome or to symptoms found on classic cult checklists, in that it is behavior common to abuse victims that come to love their abusers.
  10. Although Maltheism is often incorrectly thought of as just a form of Satanism, it posits that instead of being a real entity, Satan may merely be a pseudonym used by God when overtly engaging in evil acts. According to this belief, God uses the name "Satan" as an imaginary scapegoat for the evil he engages in (cf. Emmanuel Goldstein in Nineteen Eighty-Four). This is a sharp contrast to dualistic beliefs such as Gnosticism, which asserts that the God of "this world"—the physical realm—is evil (a demiurge), while a true benevolent God lies beyond the physical realm.

It has been suggested that Workplace bullying be merged into this article or section. ... In the philosophy of religion and theology, the problem of evil is the problem of reconciling the existence of evil or suffering in the world with the existence of an omniscient, omnipotent, omnibenevolent god. ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ... Summum bonum (greatest or supreme good) was first introduced to humanity as Ahura-Mazda, `The Ultimate Good` who is God, by the Persian prophet Zoroaster, whose ideas would later heavily influence Judeo-Christian beliefs. ... Begging the question, in modern popular usage, is often used synonymously for raising the question. However the original meaning is quite different: it described a type of logical fallacy (also called petitio principii) in which the evidence given for a proposition as much needs to be proved as the proposition... In philosophy, moral relativism takes the position that moral or ethical propositions do not reflect absolute and universal moral truths but instead exist relative to social, cultural, historical or personal references, and that no single standard exists by which to assess an ethical propositions truth. ... Theophilia literally means love of God and is used to describe any religion (or its advocates) who love and offer worship to God. ... The four hostages in the Kreditbanken robbery sympathized with their captor (right) The Stockholm syndrome is a psychological response sometimes seen in a hostage, in which the hostage exhibits seeming loyalty to the hostage-taker, in spite of the danger (or at least risk) the hostage has been put in. ... A cult checklist is a group of factors proposed to identify objectively which groups, cults, or new religious movements are spurious, or likely to abuse or exploit or otherwise harm its members. ... The scapegoat was a goat that was driven off into the wilderness as part of the ceremonies of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, in Judaism during the times of the Temple in Jerusalem. ... Emmanuel Goldstein is a key character in George Orwells novel Nineteen Eighty-Four. ... Nineteen Eighty-Four is a political novel which George Orwell wrote in opposition to totalitarianism. ... This article or section is in need of attention from an expert on the subject. ... It has been suggested that Nebro be merged into this article or section. ...

External links

  • Lecture on Eutheism, dystheism and atheism by Robert Koons (utexas.edu)
  • Atrocities committed or commanded by God
  • The moral imperative to rebel against God
  • God on Trial: A Critical Analysis of the Book of Job
  • Even If I Did Believe
  • George Carlin on God
  • Online introduction to Maltheism
  • Maltheism Blog

See also


  Results from FactBites:
 
Eutheism, dystheism, and maltheism - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (4351 words)
Eutheism and dystheism are dialectic opposites within the spectrum of theistic religious beliefs.
Dystheism, on the other hand, is another story: its history tends to be obscured by the overwhelming predominance of eutheism in religious thought.
Maltheism does not appear to be an organized religion, in that it has no established church or other organization, no doctrine, no rules, and no prescribed requirements for membership, but it is apparently a concrete manifestation of dystheistic belief in the modern world.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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