I will argue that the statement, “Given the amount of evil in the world, it cannot be that Godexists”, is the by-product of what I will call the “personal conceptualization process” of a particular individual. A fictional agent will be invented as a thought experiment to provide a virtual reality aimed at accommodating a clearer understanding of the line of reasoning that this paper will present. The statement itself will be broken down into two main parts where the words “evil” and “God” will be focused on in order to prove that both are merely mental constructions, born out of the personal conceptualization process of the agent. Moreover, it will be claimed, that the words “God” and “Evil”, insofar as they are manifestations of thought, due to thispersonal conceptualization process,inhabit no reality of their own other than in the mind of the agent
The primary purpose of thisessay then, is to present an argument that suggests that the statement itself is a mental edifice, affected by theagent’spersonal conceptualizationprocess. The result of this, it will be further asserted, is a fundamental inaccuracy in the way the agent perceivesand therefore understands objective reality and the world around him.
If we begin with the actual statement itself, “Given the amount of evil in the world, itcannot be that God exists”, it seems clear that it makes two primary assertions. 1. That evil exists and 2. that the existence of acertain amount of evil threatens the existence of God. In order to discuss this statement we will create a fictionalagent who we will assume created it – we may call him John. In order for John’s statement to have even come in to existence, one could suggest, that it required a few basicbuilding blocks. In the first instance, John needed a concept of evil, for without a concept of evil he cannot assert that there is such a thing; and one cannot speak about anything that does not exist – that is to say, for the purposes of this paper – something that has not first been conceptualized.
But, thankfully, John is not free from concepts. As was mentioned, he already has his own conception of evil by virtue of the fact that it is part of the above statement, and now all that remains to give it life, or in other words, to make it a reality for John is for him tobreathe belief into it. Put simply, John must believe in his concept in order for it to become a reality for him. The same conditions, it could be said, must be met in regard to the word God.
John needs a concept of God along with a belief in that concept – and hey presto – Johns concept of God is also nowa reality for him.
However, it is important to note that John’s use of the word God in his statement differs from his use of the word evil, insofar as it seems quite clear that he is certain of the existence of evil but is in doubt as to the existence of God. It is possible for us to infer, but we cannot be certain, given the way the statement is framed, whether or not John actuallybelieves in theexistence of God;though equally, we cannot say for sure that he does not. We can say however, that John does have a concept of God, for if he did not, God would not have been a part of the statement at all.
John’sstatement also seems to suggest that there is a quantifiable or finite amount of evil in the world but it does not tell us how much or how little that amount may be. On reading the statement it could be argued that John is somehow leading us to infer that there is a lot, or at least he himself certainly seems to believe that there is.
So, shall we take it that John indeed does seem to believe that there is quite a lot of evil out there? Equally, his statement would appear to proclaim that hebelieves in the possibility of there being actually no God at allbecause of this evil. Given Johns doubts about God, it is reasonable then to say, that the thoughts, and the images and ideas that constitute Johns concept of God appear – according to John himself- to be incompatible with the thoughts, images and ideas that constitute his concept of evil.Therefore, it seemsnot so much a question of John doubting the existence of God, but rather the question ofhis concept of God being incompatible with his concept of evil.
This point is of immense import regarding John’s statement. John is not saying that God must not exist because of all the evil that is in the world; what John is actually saying is – that according to his understanding of God, that is to say, his conceptualization of what God is, it seems highly unlikely that God exists; given, as was previously mentioned, that his concept of what evil is, seems to bein direct opposition to his concept of God. So, in John’s worldview it seems there can be no opposites regarding good and evil. According to John it is either one or the other, and because the world that John perceives corresponds more to his concept of evil than his concept of God, he is contemplating whether or not God exists at all.
It would seem then that the validity, or perhaps to put it more accurately, the authenticity of John’s conception of God is dependent on the absence of a conception of evil. This development renders John in a sort of no-man’s land concerning the construction of his own reality regarding these two seemingly opposing concepts;which this paper is implying, are nothing more than mental constructs.So, it seems that John’s statement is not just problematic from a philosophical angle; but when broken down and examined in view of the personal conceptualization process, it appears in actuality, to make no sense at all.
Now, by the same token, given that John does not provide any information for us to ascertain the amount of evil that he perceives there to be in the world, we are again left to infer the possibility that John may indeed feel that a certain amount of evil can exist in the world without Gods existence being threatened; which would validate Johns statement on the grounds that he has what could be described as – a cut-off point – regarding the amount of evil he deems to be acceptable in order for his conception of God to prevail.
However, given that John’s statement does not provide us with sufficient information to gain clarity on this issue, it would, I believe, be both presumptuous and illogical to pursue it. This obvious grey area in John’s statement is important to mention though, not so much to accept or reject the possibility previously suggested, but rather to support the argument that John’s whole statement is in fact, as was suggested in the previous paragraph, largely incoherent.
Thomas Hobbes said, “For these words of good and evil, and contemptible are ever used with relation to the person that useth them: there being nothing simply and absolutely so; nor any common rule of good and evil to be taken from the nature of the objects themselves”. (Hobbes, 28)
Hobbes is asserting that, words like good and evil are used in accordance with what I have termed as, the personal conceptualization process of the individual, or, to repeat Hobbes, “with relation to the person that useth them”. (28) Hobbes goes on to suggest that, “any common rule of good and evil” cannot be rooted in “the nature of the objects themselves” (28)it would appear that Hobbes’s remarks correlate with and substantiate the view of this paper.
Johns concepts of evil and God and the resultingbeliefs that copper-fasten them into a perceptual reality exclusive to John, have absolutely no intrinsic value of their own, or to repeat Hobbes yet again, “there being nothing simply and absolutely so”. Therefore, in reality, Johns concepts of God and evil can claim no actuality whatsoever in the world of phenomenal existence. As was mentioned earlier, they are simply mental constructs – and the architect of them, their father, if you will, is John and John only.
John both creates his own reality and interprets the world through the outward projection of the same internal productions. It could be said that this whole process is in part, the result of an ingrained teleological belief system, supported by an Aristotelianmodel of thought which asserts that there is an ultimate purpose to the universe of which mankind plays a centraland even special role. This may account for John’s confusion when the external world does not conform to his internal expectations.This could also account for his doubt about the validity of one concept which is marginally believed in, due to the more dominant level of belief invested in the other.
The author then submits that the words, “God” and “evil”, are mental constructs created by the agent of the statement, based on his own personal conceptualization process. So,from the contextual framework adopted in this paper, the question of Gods existence, given the amount of evil that may or may not be in the world is quite meaningless.
John’sconceptualization process is the agent that turns the key in the motor of his internal reality making machine. As John formulates his concepts, it is whichever one gains the most attention – that is to say – the one in which John impregnates with the most belief, that makes it through the cut, so to speak, and therefore develops into a reality for John. The interesting thing about this theory is that, throughout the whole process, John gets to create his own reality and to choose his own experience. Nowsimilarly, whether or not John choses to take responsibility for his own creations, does not, under the model presented in this paper, alter the fact that they are indeedhis and his alone.
1. Hobbes, Thomas. Leviathan:With selected variants from the Latin edition of 1668. Hackett, 1994.