Whiteheadians please respond.

One of the major reasons cited for prefering Process theology over standard theism is that the Problem of Evil defeats standard theism and not process theology.
It seems to me, though, that process theology has a problem here too. For if God is compelling, he must be compelling towards an ideal- there must be a possible world in which every subjective entity behaved just as God compelled it to. Call that world W.
Now, there are two options: Either W contains suffering, or it does not. If W contains suffering, then that means that God sometimes compells things in directions that will cause them pain, which means the Problem of Evil applies to the God of process theology just as much as to standard theism. I consider this a very strong argument, and I don’t think most process theologians would take this option.
If W contains no suffering, then to the degree that pain in the world shows the cruelty of the theistic God, it shows the powerlessness of the process God. Every instance of pain is an example of things not going how God would prefer them to go. In other words, there is still a Problem of Evil; it just points to God as being irrelevant instead of cruel. Is there anyway that process thought can solve this Problem of Evil for themselves, without also providing a similar solution to the traditional theist?

i dont know what your words mean, but i think i have an answer to your question anyway.

W = a world where god teaches souls, a few at a time, to treat their neighbor like themselves. he uses their earthly experience to teach them. and he certainly doesnt put all equal souls to into entirely different lives and expect them to all learn the same thing.

in order for god to teach selflessness to a soul, he must show them unresolved human suffering, and he must give them surplus happiness. so much happiness that self-happiness is no longer a goal, and the only worthwhile life goal is helping others.

those people who suffer beyond a certain arbitrary amount 1) arent soulmobiles like you and i, or 2) they are similarly being taught using only their children as selflessness recipients and they will be taught more once reincarnated, 3) or their suffering is required to teach us.

or, i like this one 4) the brief moments of happiness they have completely outweighs the suffering they have become callous towards. poor black people sure laugh a hell of a lot more than i do.

the problem i have with evil is that god put it here, and he didnt give us free will. every decision you make is a product of your experience. god gave you your experience.

even if he did give you free will, if you have the same will as those who went to heaven and you made the decisions that got you in hell, how did that happen? did god give you a bad life or was your soul hellbound from the start? its gotta be one or the other right?

sorry to clog your thread if thats all ive done. i dont actually know what you were talking about. whats process and theism.

HI Uccisore,
The problem lies in assuming that evil is an entity in itself. If evil is my description of what is happening to me, then I may ask why God allows evil to begin with. But if suffering and pain are a part of life, then I will have to think again about calling it evil - especially if I mean something that is adverse to God.

If I understand Psalm 23 rightly, suffering and pain are something that God helps me through, but something he doesn’t wipe out. If God intends us to learn by means of suffering and pain, then it is time to tell those Christians who seem to advertise for their dentist, that they don’t have to keep up their smiles and permanent optimism. At the same time, they don’t need to do the opposite by carrying their woe and troubles into every meeting.


I think that’s accurate for day to day life, from a human perspective. But the problem of Evil relates to God as creator most of the time- it’s nice that God helps us through these situations, but I think the PoE revolves around whether or not he created those situations, and whether or not there is something to be gained from them that is worth the human anguish.

Why do we have to make it so hard to understand? Good and evil are 2 sides of creation, human view points used to describe our feelings about ourselves and others. Good and evil are ONE thing, like 2 sides of a coin.

Out side of the human mind they do not exist, they are just ideas.

How can an earthquake be evil? who has the evil intent? God/Satan? We see it as evil because we are attached to life, we fear death so anything to do with death is seen as bad/evil, its knee jerk reaction for most poeople I think. If there where no earthquakes,volcanos, typhoons etc. the earth would die, it would become one big flat plain, or puddle. Its not evil, its appropriate.

Much of what we see as evil is the nature of being alive. We are genetic material, as such there is some “hard wiring”, consider the following.

  1. We must reproduce, its hard wired in, no choice. If we try to ignore our sex drive we will most likely become unbalanced, or if we are very strong emotionaly, perhaps we can learn from the experience of abstinence. Think that the “software” of you ideas can overide the hardwireing? go ahead and try it for yourself, give up sex, masturbation too, all of it, see how long you last before you become unbalanced.
    If there is no other way to reproduce, some may commit rape, yea its ugly but from the genes point of view it makes good sense, and could even been seen as apropriate, at least to an unbalanced individual.

  2. We are hard wired to survive as long as possible, this means we will fight to do so…to the death if need be.

Ideas are like the software of our minds, good and evil, morality etc. are just ideas. The software changes with the society, or some of us who become fed up trying to use software that won`t work for us write our own.

I have no need for ideas like good and evil. Life has taught me that trying to be good all the time leads to failure, and feelings of guilt and shame. These feelings lead to depression, and unhappieness. Those of us who fail often enough see our selfs as evil, to live this way is hell on earth, I know because I treid it.
I simply try to do what is appropriate, I try to play nice when I can, I dont steal, or fight, or cause suffering, I try to recycle, I minimise my impact on the earths resources. If I find myself in a stuation where I must defend myself I do so, but I stop when the other guy is unable to hurt me, and I forgive him. WHY, because its appropriate, not because thats what society tells me I should do, but because I WANT to. I examine all my motives and try not to perform actions I cant or don`t want to live with. I have a well develpoed conscience, I let it be my guide. I examine the outcomes of my actions and try to perfect them so that I can achieve my desired results.
I do not hide from my emotions behind ideas of good and bad, or morality. I listen to them and let them guide me.
We all do this actually, in the end. Just some of us have not yet figured out that we have no choice, the emotions can only be denied for so long before something breaks.

I have severe lack of self disapline and am very impulsive. I am also a bit of a thrill seeker, I really do like to fight, and do so legaly.
I also have a very strong sense of empathy and compassion.
Perhaps others who are “hardwired” differently can play by the “rules” of good and evil, I can`t, and I refuse to make myself miserable trying too.

I like to help people, not because I want a reward or want to fit in etc. but because the emotions of sympathy, empathy and compassion demand that I do so. If I ignore these feelings or try to bury them I will suffer, I will see myself as bad/evil/less than etc., to use your words/ideas. I prefer to see myself as unbalanced, wich is for me a lot easier to fix than being evil was.

If I behave appropriatly I can maintain my balance, and the balance of the world around me as well perhaps. If I try to do good or evil I will upset that balance, it is very simple really for me, I sit on the fence so to speak, its where I belong.

I don`t see myself as good or bad, I see myself as trying to maintain a balance between the two.

I had a similar contextual argument with my father, who happens to be a process philosopher who teaches it to aspiring college students. I must say, first, that I understand Whitehead only enough to say, “I get it!” and note nough to explain it thoroughly to others–if at all correctly.

There are no options within the dialogue of process philosophy. So W is not so dogmatic that it either is or is not one of two things. Two is dogma. Whitehead goes beyond ascribing such dogma to God by explaining the attraction that all things have towards God. Systematic Theology [the theology of process philosophy] says that all things are attracted to a certain perfection–this perfection is God. God entails all things and refutes the necessity of these things.

Ultimately this means that Evil and Good, as concepts or realities, are not necessary–yet still are. God essentially encompasses all qualities, but lacks such a limitation that we can call God either [good or evil].

This is how process philosophy handles the said problem. Evil exists simply because it is a reaction, rather, it has an attraction to the perfection of God, as all things are attracted to God–so it simply is. So God is not the compelling force.

God is only compelling in the sense that everything is attracted into being because of said God, said perfection. God does not command such and such a thing to be, instead, such and such a thing is inspired to be because of the perfection that is God…

Confusing language…

Hey, cool someone gave me an answer. Sorry ImmanuelAy, I stopped watching this thread after the first couple days.
I think I’m still left with my original doubt about process theology, though; either God inspires things towards evil, or else God’s power of attraction isn’t strong enough to prevent evil.
Now, a process theologian can choose to simply accept this fact, which I think it what you’re telling me: There is Evil, God can’t do anything about it, and that’s that. To my mind process theology replaces the wicked God of theism with an inadequate God. Which brings me to this point: Isn’t the Problem of Evil frequently cited by process theologians as the major inadequacy of traditional theism?

What I tried to explain is a combination of the problem you see with God’s attraction and inspiration. It is actually a culmination of the two points as attributes of the uncaused-cause that is God.

God does attract evil into being. According to Whitehead, the only necessary characteristic that God must have is creativity. This creativity is very difficult to explain but I will try my best. When Process Philosophers expound on creativity in relation to God they are explaining the contingencies that happen after a necessary event occurs. In their case, this necessary event is called God.

So, it isn’t as much that Process Philosophers simply accept that God can’t do anything about it in the traditional sense as an inability of something to react to another thing properly, but they recognize evil as something that has stemmed from God as a contingent reality. Evil is because it emanated from God.

I still feel as though I have to clarify some things, though.

God is not conscious.
God has no will.
God is not benevolent, omniscient, and omnipotent.
God is only creative [as explained above].

So, the problem with traditional theism is that if God is benevolent, then it does not make rational sense that God can create evil [which would ultimately mean that something else, equal in power to God, created evil]. Process Philosophy sees evil as a contingency that derives from a necessary event, which is called God.

i dont understand the purpose of writing this sentence. the problem of evil is solved by saying that evil must neccesarily exist? …!!?

so the solution to the problem of evil is to take away those silly characteristics that a dusty book says he has? i could have told you that. i did actually, with much more additional content. why arent i famous yet? did i miss something?

OK, cool. I have it now. I think I was viewing the lack of consciousness, will and etc. in God as fringe or optional beliefs in process theology, that some subscribed to and some didn’t. If you view them as central, then that clears up the Problem of Evil quite nicely; it has no relevance to a Being which is not alleged to be benevolent or aware of it’s own actions.
I had thought, though, that the ‘plan’ God attracted the universe towards was supposed to be some sort of ideal, and that evil resulted from the freedom of the Universe to deviate from that ideal. That was the apparent misunderstanding that my argument came from. I’ve only read Whitehead, and a very little Tillich, has process theology moved past this notion, or did it never have it in the first place, and I was just off the mark?

In a less sarcastic way Future Man: To eliminate all of the contradictions that have arisen with God; you have to remove God’s characteristics, but they are removed for a more serious and contemplative reason and more thoroughly explained…

Furthermore, the sentence implies that evil exists because it “just does” in layman terms. I could try to explain it, but I don’t know if I can do that properly enough for you to understand.

Uccisore: You’re on the right track. You haven’t missed the mark either. Process Philosophy still maintains the ideals of Whitehead, Tillich, even Ward, but these ideals are becoming more refined.

alright, ive removed gods characteristic of omnibenevolence and said that he does whatever actions will cause the universe to be in a state of disharmony. he always wants there to be poor people because he wants people to do selfless actions.

he doesnt want all people to learn how to get into heaven, he just wants the actions to be done by somebody, anybody. is that it? are there similar theories for what a god is doing that fits the evidence we see.

i mean it just sounds so vacuous and essentially atheistic to say that “god is the universe. he doesnt do anything, and theres no simple reason why anything is the way it is” i mean replace the word god with ‘chaos’ or ‘some physical process that created the universe’ or ‘the void’ and it sounds the same to me.

sounds like atheism. if theres no theory for why he does anything, why bother saying he exists at all as anything different from a physical process?

ok, im trying to read this and it still sounds vacuous. apparently god is the thing that define the choices that an electron can make as it goes about its business, and the enduring object we would refer to as an electron does not actually exist. the only thing that exists in there are all of the actions that the electron does. this is what creativity is?

well upon very little thinking, it seems like this has the problem of that bullet that always gets halfway to its destination forever. what is the basic unit of action that an electron created that actually exists unlike the enduring object that we wrongly think exists?

:blush: im dizzy. my real question is, what the heck is the point? sure whatever he said is true. i dont see what it has to do with evil that is any different from deism that states god is dead and has no influence on the things that happen. i mean, id ask whitehead 'why does it make sense that this kind of god makes nerve signals that are bad and not any regular god?"

im sorry, im a few steps behind i guess. i wont hold it against you if you dont feel like teaching. i am still going to read about the first thing i have failed to understand in years.

Future Man: First, under the context of Process Philosophy you should not call God “he”, nor should you continue with the ascription of “want”. Process Philosophy is Atheistic, but in the traditional sense. Atheism technically began in England, not as a disbelief in God, but as a disbelief in the [religious] God. That is what Atheism actually means. Theism is not the belief in God, but the belief in a [religious] God. A (anti, against, or without) Theism (belief in a [religious] God).

Now, an existence is anything that is. The universe is, therefore it exists. Air is, therefore air exists. Now God as an existence is.

According to Process Philosophy God is the rationalizing force of the universe, so why God exists is very important, but the definition of this “why” is unimportant (for the moment). God does not exist as a consciousness, instead God just exists because, like anything we can find in the universe, it is.

The interpretation of the Author is fairly uneducated, don’t read it. The words used are not accurate and can end up making a misinterpretation of the Philosophers the article is trying to clarify.

God doesn’t exactly define the reasons why things do what they do, God only rationalizes their existences and indirectly (because it rationalizes their existences) rationalizes the processes these things go through.

Scythekain and I were indulging in a similar discussion privately and he used an example of tripping:

He tripped, causing a series of other events to occur. The necessary event that occurs that rationalizes the entire event is the thing that made him trip. Without that thing, the string of contingencies that followed his tripping would not be rationalized, furthermore, his tripping would not be rational. I call these events contingencies because, even if he did trip, the events after may or may not have occurred. Similarly, he may or may not have tripped in the first place. But what is consistent, what will always be true, is that the thing that made him trip in the first place would still have been there—perhaps causing another series of events to occur.

So the necessary thing does not do anything, it only causes events to occur because it is consistently true, and will always be there. That is God according to Process Philosophy.

Sorry correction: The interpretation of the Author isn’t fairly uneducated, but don’t read it. The words used are not [entirely] accurate and can lead to a misinterpretation.

Read Whitehead yourself, relying on others’ interpretation won’t help you in the long run. Go buy a book on the issue and try to discover it yourself. The problem with writers like the AUthor of the particular Author in question is that he uses a lot of words like metaphysics, which are basically an antiquaited form of ontology, axiology, truth, right, fairness et cetera. And everything ends up sound more confusing than they should be…

Furthermore, it isn’t good to listen to others. It just isn’t. It’s ike listening to the follower of a follower of the original teacher… Don’t even listen to me. Take what I say with a grain of salt because what I say isn’t nearly what the Author meant… unless it is. But pretend it isn’t.

A Deist believes in God, but not the tenets of any religion.