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We've had theism and atheism... how about maltheism?

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Emperor_Norton_II Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-30-05 03:27 PM
Original message
We've had theism and atheism... how about maltheism?
From that wonderful source of all knowledge ( :eyes:) Wikipedia:

Maltheism is a modern manifestation of dystheistic belief, aspects of which have been published online in the Maltheism blog and in an online introduction on the Beliefnet website, establishing a number of beliefs characteristic for Maltheism:

1. Maltheists note the presence of evil in a world created by an omnipotent God and conclude that this God must be evilsince, 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 blackmailwhat 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 incompetencewhich contradicts the notion of God's omniscience and omnipotenceor 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. 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.
6. 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.)
7. 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.
8. 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.
9. 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 1984). This is a sharp contrast to dualistic beliefs such as Gnosticism, which asserts that the God of "this world"the physical realmis evil (a demiurge), while a true benevolent God lies beyond the physical realm.


From my perspective, the dystheist or maltheist perspective certainly seems to make a hell of a lot more sense than trying to claim that God is omnibenevolent and loving.

I open the floor to comments from the gallery.
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Az Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-30-05 03:39 PM
Response to Original message
1. Cthulhu
If you are good and true to him he may destroy you first.

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Emperor_Norton_II Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-30-05 03:40 PM
Response to Reply #1
2. Well, yeah (or is that "Ia!")
But on the whole Cthulhu is indifferent to mere mortals like us.
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Az Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-30-05 03:46 PM
Response to Reply #2
3. Indifferent?
He despised us. We are filth to him. Rejoice.
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Emperor_Norton_II Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-30-05 03:51 PM
Response to Reply #3
4. Indifferent
Compared to Great Cthulhu, we're bacteria. One doesn't hate or love bacteria, we just apply antibiotics when necessary.
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cosmik debris Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-30-05 06:14 PM
Response to Original message
5. I learned a new word
"dystheistic"--that's gonna come in handy some day.

"theophile" is pretty good too.

The spell checker certainly doesn't like them.
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trotsky Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-30-05 09:50 PM
Response to Original message
6. I must admit, maltheism fits the reality of our universe
far better than most religions. I would find it nearly impossible to argue against it. The only flaw I can see is noting that the world *could* be more evil, and the fact that it isn't - that there is at least some good, that we don't suffer in pain every minute of every day, that sex feels pretty damn good, etc. - means that god cannot be totally malevolent and must have some modest amount of compassion.

Very interesting point about god using the name of Satan to do his dirty work. Makes me think.
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Emperor_Norton_II Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-30-05 10:59 PM
Response to Reply #6
7. That, or the god is lying when it comes to being omnipotent.
Which is also a possibility. Until very recently, most gods weren't perfectly all-powerful; none of the major pantheons had total control of everything, and they often came into their own by overthrowing earlier deities.

This suggests a pattern, and a possible strategem...
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carl_pwccaman Donating Member (259 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-01-05 02:45 AM
Response to Reply #6
8. Dualism is a bit of a help...
even if that dualism consists of saying that within the Malthiest and others who dare judge/criticize the malevolent God, there is something OTHER than the sort of perversity of the supposed malevolent god.

As a principle, either transcendence or opposition to a perverse/malevolent god/principle, makes a bit of sense, and accounts for things that are not so perverse/malevolent. There is that concept of the 'god beyond god', which can be helpful.

Personally, I'm Gnostic, which is related but not identical to Maltheism. It is related in that I consider the creative/ruling realities of this universe to be defective/imperfect/ignorant and neutral/callous at best, perversely malevolent at worse. It is not identical because I see a principle beyond this world and its ruling/creating forces/realities, both within me and beyond the universe.

Neither principle is omnipotent, in every way. The principles may be 'omnipotent' in their own sort of reality, or more powerful 'in their own element', etc. I dualize according to basically, compassionate wisdom-seeking as contrasted with sadistic ignorance. These aspects of reality, I do not believe can stay mixed together forever. Nor do I think sadism or ignorance can be eternally consistent or eternally aware, nor entirely coherent.
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Old Mouse Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-01-05 04:09 AM
Response to Reply #8
9. There is another interpretation of Gnosticism
in which each Gnostic was required to write his own mythos, as they were considered symbolic, and not literal. Probably made for an awkward Christmas party. ;)

Do you mind if I ask about your Gnosticism?
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catbert836 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Oct-02-05 12:45 PM
Response to Original message
10. This reminds me of a story by Jorge Luis Borges
About a theologian who spends all his life trying to find out the reason that Judas betrayed Jesus. He comes up with several theories that stay true to Scripture (that is to say he assumes Scripture has no errors) including that Judas was really a good man who accepted punishment in hell for betraying Jesus and redeeming mankind, which, along with the others, is rejected by other theologians as heretical. Suddenly, he has an epiphany, and writes a book in which he describes his new theory that God became flesh, but not as Jesus, as Judas, who was willing to accept punishment forever to redeem the human race. Before he publishes the book, he is reminded of all the saints and prophets who saw God/the Trinity, and covered their eyes. A couple died after seeing God in his true form, and one went insane. He fears that God might shut him up before he reveals God's most dangerous secret, as it is not yet time for the world to know. The next day, he dies of a brain ameurism, and his book is never published.
Just some food for thought.
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