Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Logical Problem of Evil and the Success of Arguments

Most atheists who use the argument from evil concede that the existence of the world’s evil does not generate a logical contradiction with theism. I think that this as much the result of a general skepticism about philosophical arguments as it is a result of the success of Plantinga’s defensive argument. The idea that one argument against God is so powerful as to settle the issue, and show decisively that everyone who holds a position as widely-held as theism are just being irrational, is a lot to ask of a philosophical argument, so it isn’t too surprising that even many atheist philosophers don’t think the logical argument from evil does what, say, Mackie thought it could do.

81 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'm curious: Would you say the same is true of your argument from reason - that' it's not sufficient to justify theism all by itself, such that if that were the only argument you had, you wouldn't find it a sufficient rational basis for theism?

Ilíon said...

What about the "problem of the good?" -- "evil" is a problem for "theists" and 'atheists' alike, but "problem of the good" is a problem only for those who deny the living and transcendent God.

Ilíon said...

The 'atheists' "solve" the "problem of evil" by denying that the terms 'good' and 'evil' even have meaning. Perhaps this might go into explaining why those 'atheists' above the level of the village atheist realize that the "problem of evil" just isn't up to the worthy task of knocking God off his throne.

Anonymous said...

There are a number of ways in which a non-theist can explain the existence of goodness. For example, a utilitarian can identify certain properties or states as good or bad, and then define the Right and the Wrong as (roughly) the maximization of the Good.

In any case, the problem of evil can be reformulated as The Problem of the Thing That Exists, but that God Doesn't Like. God really doesn't like rape, and yet it exists...

Ilíon said...

That's not explaining, that's explaining away.

Steven Carr said...

True.

After all the mere fact that our senses and memory tells us that almost everybody has two legs is not a logical proof that Homo sapiens is bipedal.


The problem of evil is a very powerful atheist argument.

There is suffering. Some of this suffering can be reduced. For example, if somebody is ill, curing that person will reduce his suffering.

People try to reduce the suffering of the people they love, and sometimes they can do that.

God loves us. Therefore, God will also try to reduce our suffering, and He can do even more than people can do.

Therefore, if there is suffering which can be reduced, and we can see that it is not reduced, we can conclude there is no omnipotent being who wants to reduce our suffering.

Perhaps a Biblical example will help. In the Parable of the Good Samaritan, a man is attacked and suffers. A priest and a Levite pass by on the other side, and do nothing to help his suffering. However, a Samaritan does not pass by on the other side. He helps the attacked man.

Can we conclude that the priest and the Levite were not omnibenevolent? That is indeed one of the morals of the story.

In the same way, if one of our children is stricken with leukemia, doctors and nurses will not pass by on the other side.

The parents will not pass by on the other side.

They will be grief-stricken and do all they can to get their child cured.

Only God passes by on the other side.

The child will either live or die, but only the earthly father will arrange hospital and surgery visits in the hope of a cure.

The Heavenly Father will not cure the child , although it would be the work of a moment for Him to do so. Perhaps this is because there is no Heavenly Father , who loves the child more than even the earthly father does, and who wants the child to be cured more than even the earthly father does.

In his book, ‘The Miracle of Theism’, JL Mackie allowed that there might be some evils which a god could allow, just as we allow the minor unpleasantness of a visit to the dentist to avoid much worse suffering later.

Mackie called these evils ‘absorbed evils’ because they lead to a greater good.

However many evils do not lead to a greater good and indeed lead to greater evil. If there is famine and drought, people will fight each other for the remaining resources. If an all-loving God wanted to prevent war, a good start would be to abolish famine and drought.

Mackie held that in the face of these gratuitous evils, it was positively irrational to believe in a powerful God who loved us so much he would move Heaven and Earth to spare us unnecessary suffering.

This is called ’The Logical Problem of Evil’, and is a very strong argument. It is at least as strong as the claim that it is irrational to believe that everybody except you has only one leg, because your memory and senses tell you that almost everybody has two legs.

It is such a strong argument that Christians have had to go to extraordinary lengths to ‘save the appearances’ - to try to claim that despite appearances, there really is an all-loving, all-powerful God.

‘Saving the appearances’ refers to what happened before it was established that the Earth went around the Sun. On the theory that all revolves around the Earth, Venus and Mercury appear to behave incorrectly. ‘Saving the appearances’ was the name given to extensions of the Earth-as-centre theory, so that despite appearances to the contrary, it could still be believed that the Earth was the centre of the Universe.

‘Saving the appearances’ is a desperate measure to shore up beliefs. Professor Alvin Plantinga of Notre Dame University has come up with a theory to save the appearances.

In fact , the defense used by theists to save the appearances is so extreme that it can be used to defend ‘unipedalism’ - the belief that , despite appearances to the contrary, everybody except me has one leg.....


I think logic which can be used to show both that evil is consistent with God and also that we can believe people only have one leg is not logic you can sell to the general public (with the granted exception of Long John Silver)

Even if Plantinga has succeeded , he has done no more than people did when they wanted to show that the Earth was at the centre of the Universe, despite all appearances to the contrary.

Steven Carr said...

VICTOR
I think that this as much the result of a general skepticism about philosophical arguments as it is a result of the success of Plantinga’s defensive argument.

CARR
Plantinga is lauded because he has managed to construct ONE logically possible world where a being of maximum greatness can exist.

It is a rather baroque construction, and there are holes, but let us assume he has succeeded in finding ONE logically possible world where a being of maximum greatness can exist.

But doesn't Plantinga have to show that his necessary being can exist in ALL logically possible worlds, not just one?

' Being has maximal greatness in a given world only if it has maximal excellence in every world.

A being has maximal excellence in a given world only if it has omniscience, omnipotence, and moral perfection in that world.'

So Plantinga has to construct a defense against the logical problem of evil in *every* world, not just one cherry-picked world.

Ilíon said...

J R Lucas: "On Not Worshipping Facts"

Perezoso said...

Mackie succeeds in showing the apparent absurdity of monotheism--at least assuming omnipotence-- via the LPOE: that in itself might not be sufficient to falsify theism, but combined with other skeptical arguments--such as Hume contra-miracles, and Darwin and Co against dogma, the dangers of theocracy--the LPOE does substantially undermine the claims of rational theology, at least if we accept that suffering and pain are evil (one could take a slightly Hegelian view and view some apparent evil--say War--as a type of necessary feature of the world......not that many biblethumpers would ). Denying omnipotence may offer another solution, but not very appealing to Billy Sundays or seminarians.



It's also to be noted that Mackie's examples usually referred to suffering not involving "free will": natural disasters, collateral damage (civilians bombed), disease, plagues.

Thus a free-will defense misses the point, as Plantinga did for the most part, and there are other responses to the free-will defense (consider G*d the Puppetmaster objection: if God is omnipotent and omniscient, then he knows what his creation will do in advance, so our apparent freedom, really isn't freedom, and the Puppetmaster is held accountable for creating Tamerlanes, Stalins, Hitlers,etc)

Rob G said...

David Bentley Hart, in "The Doors of the Sea," completely blows Mackie's argument out of the water. Honestly, anyone who hasn't read Hart has no business discussing the POE.

Perezoso said...

Honestly, you don't understand the LPOE, or 20th century history for that matter.

Another point to be noted with Plantinga's response to Mackie: AP assumes the reliability, and indeed the inerrancy of the Bible, at least in terms of dealing with so-called natural evils (earthquakes, asteroids, plagues, etc). He argues that "natural evils" resulted from Adam and Eve's original sin. The black plague? AIDs? Hurricanes? Tsunamis?: blame those old reprobates Adam and Eve. When the Death-Roid's headed towards Earth, blame Adam and Eve.

That's not merely ludicrous, but obscene, like most of Plantinga's sunday-school level arguments. Really, even religious pragmatists should object to much of PlantingaSpeak.

Mike Almeida said...

So Plantinga has to construct a defense against the logical problem of evil in *every* world, not just one cherry-picked world.

This is confused. Mackie's logical problem of evil, if sound, shows that there is no world in which God exists along side evil. To refute Mackie's claim all you need is one world in which God exists with evil. If Plantinga shows that, Mackie's argument is unsound.

Steven Carr said...

It is not confused.

To refute a necessary, omnipotent, omnibenevolent, omniscient god you only have to find one world where such a being of maximal excellence does not exist.

Ilíon said...

Rob G: "... Honestly, anyone who hasn't read Hart has no business discussing the POE."

Come on now! That ploy is no good when 'atheists' attempt it.

Matthew said...

To refute a necessary, omnipotent, omnibenevolent, omniscient god you only have to find one world where such a being of maximal excellence does not exist.

And the LPOE tries to show that every world with evil in it is a world where such a being does not exist.

If you have shown it for every world with evil in it, you have shown it for this world, which is one world.

The FWD tries to show that there is a world with evil in it where such a being can exist.

If you have shown it for one world, you have shown it for every world.

So the LPOE and the FWD can't both be succesful.

Mike Almeida said...

It is not confused. To refute a necessary, omnipotent, omnibenevolent, omniscient god you only have to find one world where such a being of maximal excellence does not exist.

Again, confused. Plantinga is responding to an inconsistency claim. The way to show that P & Q are consistent is to find an epistemically possible world where P & Q obtain. If there is such an epistemically possible world, then no contradiction follows from P & Q. This is compatible with God existing in no metaphysically possible world. Mackie is trying to show that we know a priori that nothing instantiates the traditional attributes. Plantinga can show that that is false without assuming that God exists in any metaphysically possible world at all. Just to avoid prolonging this, there are two notions of epistemic possiblity. One is possible, for all we know, and the other is not a priori impossible. They're obviously related, but I'm using the latter.

Perezoso said...

Mackie is trying to show that we know a priori that nothing instantiates the traditional attributes.

Nyet. It's a posteriori, based on the reality of gratuitous evils (which a supposedly perfect and good God would prevent/eliminate) though argument does make use of syllogistic form.

At best, we might grant the LPOE becomes the Evidentiary POE. Of course the Plantingaite can
say, the evidence of gratuitous evils is insufficient. Stalin, Hitler, Hiroshima/Nagasaki, Pol Pot, plagues, tidal waves: it could be worse, brethrrn! Se lah.

Any time someone refers to "possible worlds" in a premise, he should be disregarded (then if he takes the creation myth of Genesis to be necessarily true, he might be disregarded as well). Sound and valid arguments depend on True Premises (either confirmed, or axiomatic). A possibly true premise merely entails a possible conclusion, regardless the argument form is vacuously valid.

Mike Almeida said...

Nyet. It's a posteriori, based on the reality of gratuitous evils (which a supposedly perfect and good God would prevent/eliminate) though argument does make use of syllogistic form.

You are conflating the evidential or probabilistic argument from evil (which is based on the existence of gratuitous evils) and the logical problem of evil, which is based on the existence of evil simpliciter. Mackie's claim is that there is a broad logical inconsistency in God existing along with evil simpliciter (not gratuitous evil). In response, all one needs to show is that it is epistemically possible that God exists with evil simpliciter.

The probabilistic argument tries to show that, probably, there are instances of evil that are gratuitous. Since God cannot exist along with that specific kind of evil, God probably does not exist. This does not attempt to show that God cannot exist along with evil; indeed, most of those who offer the probabilistic argument have conceded that the logical argument is bankrupt. It tries to show that God existence is unlikely, givne the probability that some instances of evil are gratuitous.

For what it's worth, I don't think the existence of gratuitous evil (I simply concede that there are such instances--why fight it?) is inconsistent with God existing. The existence of gratuitous evil might well be our fault rather than God's. That is, for any gratuitous evil E, if we had acted differently, E would not be gratuitous.

Perezoso said...

There's no conflating: any premise must be confirmed, and a claim about human suffering is an a posteriori claim (indeed, let's hear your argument for a priori truths anyway).

Any proposition used as a premise (apart from obvious identities) must be true, so there is a confirmation issue. The LPOE argument is not specifically about "evils" resulting from human action, anyway, but about human suffering due to natural "evil"--disasters, plagues, disease, etc.Natural evils ARE gratuitous evils. Suffering via collateral damage (civilians killed in warfare) would also fall in that class (the term "evil" merely a description for sum total of Unmerited Human Suffering-- UHS). Really, given omniscience, the POE also includes evil due to tyrants, dictators, criminals etc. but that is slightly different (though Bertrand Russell had a great anti-calvinist argument, which most of the Plantinga types just ignore. I think Mackie touched on problem of foreknowledge as well)

Technically, the LPOE does hold anyway: even ONE instance of UHS--say a baby carried away by a wolf or eagle in ancient Egypt-- would suffice as an instance (ie existence claim) of unmerited human suffering. Of course there are millions (if hundreds of millions) of instances of UHS, which a perfect, omnipotent God would have prevented by definition. Ergo, the definitions are wrong (and God is not omnipotent, or perfect, good, etc), OR, there is no God. The LPOE then technically doesn't really depend on what suffices as sufficient evidence of evil--ONE instance satisfies an existence generalization; as used (there are millions of instances of UHS), the LPOE becomes an evidentiary argument.


You don't quite understand the argument.

Gordon Knight said...

P: I think you should go back and read the relevant section of the Nature of Necessity.

When one starts to talk about gratuitious evils, one is of necessity talking about something beyond what is empirically given, since it is possible, for all we know, that there is some necessary connection between such an evil and a greater good (or prevention of a worse evil). P just gives an example of one such possibility. You don't have to agree that demons DO cause earthquakes to agree that this hypothesis difuses the LOGICAL problem. When you start talking about plausibility. that is the INDUCTIVE problem of evil.

Perezoso said...

... it is possible, for all we know, that there is some necessary connection between such an evil and a greater good (or prevention of a worse evil).


hah. It's possible there ISN'T some necessary connection. The "necessity chant" itself bogus. Modality is not necessary .

Note also Planty's strange utilitarian-theology, where he suggests the sum total of Goodness might might outweigh the gratuitous evil/unmerited suffering. That's itself plausibility.

The LPOE does not depend on the weighing. Only ONE instance of gratuitous evil needed, in all of history! Of course it's not used that way (ie we call it LPOE, but usually its used as evidentiary POE, in the sense that there exists significant evidence of suffering), but in terms of predicate logic, one instance would satisfy the existence claim.

Pleasantville could be a pious utopia, but if say 1% of the population were slaves-by-birth performing labor for the Pious, there is still unmerited suffering--and injustice really--regardless if sum total of Happiness completely outweighs injustice and unhappiness. Ergo, the utilitarian approach (goodness due to free will outweighs suffering) does not hold water.

Matthew said...

What if we end up with a universalist-heaven and the world now exists only to have soul-building and free will?

Finney said...

"Can we conclude that the priest and the Levite were not omnibenevolent? That is indeed one of the morals of the story."

Well, the Samaritan wasn't omnibenevolent, either. Christians take God's omnibenevolence not as a desire to reduce all forms of suffering. If that's what being benevolent would mean, I'd expect God to make humans incapable of feeling pain. Would that eliminate suffering? Is that a desirable solution?

Finney said...

"Ergo, the utilitarian approach (goodness due to free will outweighs suffering) does not hold water."

Hmm., I think I know what you're saying, but that's not Plantinga's argument. He doesn't say that as long as the goodness of life outweighs its badness the argument from evil fails. He says that the best possible world would be a world that made people responsible for their actions and capable of being morally virtuous, and therefore the best possible world is one where the possibility of evil is logically inescapable. (It is still possible in such a world that no one chooses to perform an evil act, and also possible that someone does.)

Rob G said...

"Come on now! That ploy is no good when 'atheists' attempt it."

I agree that it certainly can be a ploy (from both sides). It's no ploy, however, when one of the finest theological/philosophical minds in America writes a book on the subject that looks at the POE from a perspective that neither side has really considered, not because it's anything new, actually, but because it's based in a theological/philosophical tradition with which they're largely unfamiliar. In such an instance, I submit, attention should be paid.

I don't expect Hart to convince everyone, obviously -- that's not my point. But his contribution is both different enough and profound enough to warrant a hearing, and his 'solution' to the POE is one that cannot be easily dismissed.

Mike Almeida said...

The LPOE argument is not specifically about "evils" resulting from human action, anyway, but about human suffering due to natural "evil"--disasters, plagues, disease, etc.Natural evils ARE gratuitous evils.

I doubt you've actually read the argument. This is so wildly off the mark, the only explanation is that you've never seen Mackie's argument.

Mackie is concerned with the inconsistency of three propositions.

1. God is omnipotent
2. God is wholly good
3. There is evil.

The claim is that there is no world in which these three claims are true together. To show that these are inconsistent, you need no a posteriori assumptions; all you need is a proof that one or two of these propositions entails that a third proposition is false. And this is why all Plantinga needs to show is that there is some world in which (1)-(3) are true together. Whether there is actual evil or not plays no logical role at all in the argument.

But then there's this,

. . . disasters, plagues, disease, etc.Natural evils ARE gratuitous evils.

The only explanation here is that you're making stuff up....Here's great advice from Fred Schueler, http://udel.edu/~schueler/advice.htm. :) I'm leaving the rest to Gordon Knight, who is displaying admirable patience. Sorry, Gordon!

Perezoso said...

To show that these are inconsistent, you need no a posteriori assumptions.

Wrong: a posteriori does not relate to assumptions anyway, but to observation. One premise is an Existence claim: "there exists evil" (ie gratuitous, natural evil) And yes, observation and knowledge of history shows that to be the case: a tsunami will do (or black plague). The other premises are stipulated by theologians (you could deny them, and thus deny God exists. And really, even an empirical, a posteriori issue there too, as Dawkins pointed out. What does the noun God point to? No object. So in terms of ordinary argument, not even useable in a proposition, except with the usual thomistic jargon).

It's just that most theists never quite understood what a premise really is (or soundness, really).

Perezoso said...

You're wildly off the mark, ese. You're missing the point. Then the argument pretty much destroys a seminarian's little hustle and hype, so the reactions are somewhat predictable.

It's not modal BS, or about possibility, but about observable injustice, suffering. And he does use the term gratuitous evil, and he does not mean the evil of Hitler (in the usual superficial theological sense). He primarily means unmerited human suffering due to disease, natural disasters, due to no fault of the person. It's a bit deep. Then, had you read Voltaire's Candide, instead of Aristotle for biblethumpers, you might have got it years ago.

Robert said...

Hello Mike and Rob G,

Guys I have read both Plantinga and Mackie as well as Hart, you guys are making useful and rational comments regarding these men's writings. Question for you: who is the bigger fool, the one who consistently manifests the character and lack of wisdom of the "fool" or the wise person who tries to reason with the "fool"??

I ask this because you guys keep trying to reason with one who has repeatedly demonstrated his foolishness, it doesn't work. That is why Jesus said not to "cast pearls before swine", they will not appreciate what you have to say and will simply turn on you in anger.

Having rational and fruitful discussions with those who may even disagree with us, is useful, and to be pursued. However, reasoning with a "fool" is a waste of time.

Robert

Perezoso said...

Quentin Smith makes use of Mackie's formulation of the POE (and also notes the inductive character of the claim that gratuitous evil exists, or "unmerited human suffering" to be PC)

"Mackie found it obvious that if there's evil in the world, no all-powerful and perfectly good being could have created the world. Consider, for example, the Spanish influenza. In World War I (1914-1918), ten million people died. But in three months, from September to November of 1919, twenty million people died -- just as many as in the plague in the fourteenth century -- from Spanish influenza. Then suddenly, this virus that caused this deadly flu disappeared, and no one has seen it again. So how could this possibly have occurred if God exists? Is God not powerful enough to kill this virus or prevent it from growing? If so, then He's not all-powerful and is not really the god of the Judeo-Christian tradition. He's just a sort of extraterrestrial intelligence. He's just more powerful than us by degrees, just as we are more powerful than ants by degrees. But that is no god; that is a finite being. You would no more worship this being than you would worship ET.

Suppose God is all-powerful and is capable of killing the Spanish influenza virus before it killed off twenty million people. Why didn't He? Is it because He's not perfectly good? Because He does not care enough about human beings? That is no god. Sounds like more an evil being governs our universe. So that's just one example of many gratuitous evils in the universe.

So how do theists respond to arguments like this? They say there is a reason for evil, but it is a mystery. Well, let me tell you this: I'm actually one hundred feet tall even though I only appear to be six feet tall. You ask me for proof of this. I have a simply answer: it's a mystery. Just accept my word for it on faith. And that's just the logic theists use in their discussions of evil.


On the money, and correct reading of Mackie, however unsettling to sunday school business, or however tasteless some professional Notre Dame theo-businesmen might find it. The spanish flu, killing millions: that's more than sufficient evidence to establish that gratuitous evil exists.






http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/quentin_smith/atheism.html

Mike Darus said...

Steven Carr said (numbers added):
1. There is suffering.
2. Some of this suffering can be reduced. For example, if somebody is ill, curing that person will reduce his suffering.

People try to reduce the suffering of the people they love, and sometimes they can do that.

3. God loves us. Therefore, God will also try to reduce our suffering, and He can do even more than people can do.

4. Therefore, if there is suffering which can be reduced, and we can see that it is not reduced, we can conclude there is no omnipotent being who wants to reduce our suffering.

I say:
Isn't there anyone else who comprehends: if 4 is true, 2 cannot be true. This is a self-defeating argument. If God is responsible to reduce suffering, there would be no (0, nada) suffering for man to reduce. If 4 is true, 1 could also not be true since God would necessarily eliminate all suffering. If 1 is true and 2 is true, 4 cannot be true.

Finney said...

I think if natural evil is a reality, it's a bigger challenge to naturalism than it is to theism.

(1) some event is morally evil or morally virtuous if some person is responsible for it (by, for example, carrying it out).

Assume
(2) event P is morally virtuous.

Then it follows that

(3) some person is responsible for event P.
--------------

(4) if naturalism is true, there are no persons responsible for so-called "natural evils" (like that of millions dying to a drought).

(5) If there are no persons responsible for event P, event P is neither morally virtuous or morally evil.

(6) assume naturalism.

(7) no natural event is neither evil nor morally virtuous.
------------
I'll go further:
(8) if naturalism is true, all events are natural events.
(9) events are neither morally evil or morally virtuous.

Finney said...

"(7) no natural event is neither evil nor morally virtuous."

That should've read

"natural events are neither morally evil nor virtuous." My bad.

Perezoso said...

As Carr said, "gratuitous evil" does not mean theological evil (as in Dante, say); it translates as unmerited suffering. Like "when bad things happen to good people" (or at least mostly innocent).

The argument does not need the premise 2 of Darus.

1. There is unmerited suffering (innocent humans dying in plagues, tidal waves, earthquakes).

2. Religious tradition holds there is a God who is perfect, omnipotent, and omniscient. Tradition also holds God loves us.

3. Religious tradition also holds that God, being perfect and Just, and loving, will reduce and prevent unmerited suffering (such as that due to disease, or natural disasters), and He can do this, since he is omnipotent by definition.

Therefore, if there is significant suffering which could have been prevented or reduced (or even not caused), we can conclude there is no omnipotent, perfect Good Being who wants to, or is able to reduce unmerited suffering, and that traditional theology is mistaken.

Boring, but sound and valid, and no need of Mr. Modality, the necessarily possible.

Finney said...

I think I'll reject premise 3 of your argument, Pere. What do you think of mine?

Perezoso said...

Naturalism might imply that "evil" is meaningless, except in terms of pain or suffering, which a person did not bring about, but obviously according to human standards of justice, one would say unmerited suffering is evil, or at least injust, just as the movie of the week about some nice person with cancer does, as does any natural disaster.

Imagine if an Apollo-like Being was found in a very small craft in the orbit of Pluto. And astronomers prove that he has controlled all of human history, and natural history. He set the parameters for physics, geology, and biology, and knew how events would unfold. He intentionally planned all earthquakes, volcanoes, tidal waves, plagues, predators, and in fact created human intelligence, yet also knew in advance of tyrants, dictators, mass murderers. In fact he's God, at least of this solar system.

Were it in the earth's power to bring him to trial, Apollo would be charged with the greatest crime against humanity, wouldn't he?

The POE, Gene Roddenberry version.


--------

Premise 3 holds, at least in traditional Ju-Xtian theology. Theology holds God is Good,Wise, loving, etc and that means He would reduce suffering, since He is able to do that by definition. Assuming God doesn't exist (which is far more likely than not) you can reject it. But you can't reject that as a traditional definition (or if you do, that needs explaining).

Finney said...

your first statement seems to reject premise (1) of my argument. I'm not sure why. I think it's plausible and makes sense. Natural evils is a problem to the theist because God is allegedly responsible for them. This seems to connect some connection between causality to moral good/evil. Given naturalism, I wouldn't describe a totally natural event as being morally virtuous. By the same reason, I wouldn't describe any unpreferable calamity as "morally wicked"/"evil". I don't think one can reasonably speak about evil or good without referring to some person who perpetrated it. Since there is none who did perpetrate it, I think, given naturalism, natural "wickedness", "virtuousness" or "evil", is non-existent. We may just have to disagree.

"Theology holds God is Good,Wise, loving, etc and that means He would reduce suffering"

This is significantly different from the premise three you stated previously, that "Religious tradition also holds that God, being perfect and Just, and loving, will reduce and prevent unmerited suffering."

It is different in that in the former, religious traditions hold that God prevents unmerited suffering, and in the latter, religious traditions merely hold that God is loving, which (to you) implicitly means that he prevents all suffering.

I rejected the first version of premise 3 because Christianity doesn't teach that. The records of Christian persecution and Jewish suffering attest to that. The traditional definition of God being loving is understood as his being merciful and forgiving. "For God so loved..." It doesn't mean that he witholds people from suffering. In fact, 1 Peter encourages Christians to imitate Jesus in their suffering.

In short, your argument refutes a God who is loving according to a particular definition which entails his preventing unmerited suffering, which is not what Christianity teaches about God and love, and so does not yield a contradiction between the existence of natural evil and of a loving Christian God, but may perhaps preclude the existence of a God who loves in the way you define it.

Perezoso said...

We don't have to believe in God to use the word "evil," or even to hold to objective ethics. JW Gacy was evil (and serial murderers, great criminals another problem for the theist, even one who holds to free well) . Most sane humans would agree a Gacy was evil, regardless if they attend church or not.

The POE of whatever sort (tho I think they all become evidentiary) is not a knockdown argument. However the POE does show the traditional definitions of a monotheistic God to be inconsistent, if not absurd. That's all it has to do. Then add other skeptical arguments, like against inerrancy (via Darwin, or Popper) or the supernatural, and point out dangers of theocracy, and also problem of other faiths. Taken together rational theology seems pretty shaky, if not non-existent.

One might still believe, I guess, at least in a pascal's wager sort of way (which relates more to "doing the right thing" than to "the just shall live by faith), but the point is to show that religious faith is not justifiable by reason.

The POE does not say God will prevent unmerited suffering, anyway. That's how tradition defines him. It may be naive to think God must have created utopia, or there's no God. Even Mackie says some pain and suffering would be understandable, and could coexist with a God. But black plagues, spanish flu, earthquakes, tidal waves etc all add up to a large chunk of unmerited suffering (or gratuitous evils). It seems strange to even discuss that: in other words, most humans don't believe God controls nature, except when in church. But that's what an omnipotent God implies. As LaPlace said, science has no need of the God hypothesis. .

Also, I don't think Plantinga can easily separate moral from natural evil either. Consider soldiers who have to fight, suffer, die in wars, even for 'evil" regimes (like nazis). They are conscripted: they must show up, fight, or they are deserters. So in effect, they have little choice, except desertion, which could mean humiliation. A God, if He existed (unlikely) created that situation: I don't think P's idea that the sum total of good due to having free will offsets that, especially given the problems of foreknowledge. I mean, yes, logically a God could still exist, but only by axing an attribute: whether His supposed Justice, or the omnipotence. Pretty obvious, but I don't see how the FWD gets around that.

Finney said...

"Most sane humans would agree a Gacy was evil, regardless if they attend church or not."

I agree, and this is irrelevent to premise one of my argument, which was "some event is morally evil or morally virtuous if some person is responsible for it (by, for example, carrying it out)." All you need to do is show why this is wrong, or not necessarily the case for an event to be evil. If you want to show why my argument fails, you'll have to show it by disputing this premise, not by saying one doesn't need to believe in God to be moral.

"However the POE does show the traditional definitions of a monotheistic God to be inconsistent"

You haven't shown that.

"The POE does not say God will prevent unmerited suffering, anyway"

Then I assume you disagree with one construal of Carr's argument which says "God loves us. Therefore, God will also try to reduce our suffering, and He can do even more than people can do."

"how tradition defines him."
No it doesn't. I already cited Christian and Jewish persecution in the bible and the theology of suffering referenced in 1 Peter. Christianity holds that God allows unmerited suffering, against your notion of it saying that He prevents unmerited suffering. If you can provide evidence that suggests this tradition of ours, it would be helpful to your argument.

"Even Mackie says some pain and suffering would be understandable, and could coexist with a God"

Do you agree with him? Or do you agree with that fellow who said one "instance of UHS--say a baby carried away by a wolf or eagle in ancient Egypt-- would suffice as an instance (ie existence claim) of unmerited human suffering... The LPOE then technically doesn't really depend on what suffices as sufficient evidence of evil--ONE instance satisfies an existence generalization... You don't quite understand the argument"

I restate that my argument about naturalism is sound, than any argument against God using the premise "natural evil exists" presents a greater problem for naturalism than it does to theism.

Ilíon said...

Rob G: "... It's no ploy, however, when ..."

That isn't the issue on which I criticised your behavior, has noting to do with it.

Ilíon said...

Mike Darus: "Isn't there anyone else who comprehends: if 4 is true, 2 cannot be true."

There is at least one other who comprehends it, now that it has been pointed out.

Rob G said...

"In short, your argument refutes a God who is loving according to a particular definition which entails his preventing unmerited suffering, which is not what Christianity teaches about God and love, and so does not yield a contradiction between the existence of natural evil and of a loving Christian God, but may perhaps preclude the existence of a God who loves in the way you define it."

This is one of Hart's points in his book. Mackie, et al., are refuting a god that is a sort of general purpose, catch-all deity. But this is not a god that is posited, let alone worshipped, in any real theistic religion. This sort of error comes from ignorance about what the various theisms actually teach about their respective "versions" of God, an ignorance which is present in a major way among the 'New Atheists.'

Matthew said...

Would we be justified in saying the theistic argument from evil also works?

(1) If naturalism is true, there is no evil.
(2) There is evil.
(3) Therefore, naturalism is false.

Perezoso said...

"The POE does not say God will prevent unmerited suffering, anyway"

Then I assume you disagree with one construal of Carr's argument which says "God loves us. Therefore, God will also try to reduce our suffering, and He can do even more than people can do."


I agree with Carr's formulation for most part, except that I don't play the hypothetical game (Which I think assists the dogmatists), and so would include something like "Judeo-christian tradition holds that a God exists, and that GOd is omnipotent, omniscient, and loves humanity.....".

The traditional definitions of the J-c God (or axioms, really) are inconsistent with the presence of unmerited human suffering (UHS--or gratuitous evil, as Mackie termed it). Which is to say "history provides many instances of significant unmerited suffering, such as plagues, disease, natural disasters, and collateral damage to civilians due to war and crime."

Not real deep, but those are inconsistent premises, though theologians have various qualifications.

Some theologians assert (I think Hicks, or Hick or someone said it) that eventually, in some future state (or Heaven), the unmerited suffering (natural/gratuitous evil) will be redeemed or something. Obviously very speculative, mystical and only would hold if a God did exist, which seems highly unlikely. So I don't think that Future State Response answers the POE--whatsoever--but a bit more copacetic than Plantinga's usual conservative sunday school hype (WWII, a test of faith!). The idea that the Good of "free will" will outweigh the bad of UHS itself a Rotary club theology, and sort of quasi-utilitarian (justice not a matter of consensus--) .

The believers who quibble on the word "evil" do not offer a solution. Read Quentin Smith's discussion. It's not evil in some Dantean sense (well, it might seem that way to people in a plague). We don't have to be churchies to use the word evil: that's a typical fundamentalist BS tactic. As Smith pointed out,, if an omnipotent God did exist, He would be inseparable from evil. That's one solution to the LPOE--deny His goodness and justice! In fact, I contend many churchies worship an amoral Deity, perhaps not Beelzebub, but a type of evil War-Lord (which has nothing to do with Jeezuss, rebel, and mostly socialist). Not that their prayers do anything, except to inspire the Herd Mind (as Nietzsche claimed as well). Church: like a pep rally for the big game, or war, or business, what have you.

Matthew said...

3. Religious tradition also holds that God, being perfect and Just, and loving, will reduce and prevent unmerited suffering

Wrong. There's no religion that has the tradition that there's a god that annihilates suffering.

Perezoso said...

So God is not loving? What about that old sunday school ditty: "for Gott so loved the world (er peoples on the world) that He gave his only begotten Son...." yada yada yada? Those who disagree with that are heretics, are they not.

The dogma says He loves us; obviously tradition does claim that God loves humanity (Im pretty sure Augustine states that somewhere. Not sure of Aquinas, but then he was more fond of Aristotle than JC). Inferring that a loving God would therefore use His powers (omnipotent supposedly) to prevent/or "not pencil in" epic catastrophes such as a plague is not at all unreasonable (what is unreasonable is positing an omnipotent loving God who allows plagues).



It's the believers who keep demanding some criteria for a sufficient quantity of "evil." They turn the LPOE into an evidentiary argument (as does Plant., arguably, when he says goodness due to free will will outweigh apparent evil).


Of course, you can ax the lovey part, and get a King-God, like Tamerlane x 100:. Or Allah, perhaps. That's what most monotheists subscribe to, anyway, regardless of orthodoxy. I suggest reading Quentin Smith's discussion of the problem.

Matthew said...

I read Quentin Smith. "You don't understand the argument" isn't convincing me.

Perezoso said...

I suspect you've attended sunday school your entire life, right, Matt? So your conditioning probably permanently fixed at this point, brruther. Halleloojah!

For an entertaining discussion of the POE (perhaps more Evidentiary POE--like based on Lisbon quake-- than LPOE) read Voltaire's Candide, wherein he ridicules Leibniz (Dr. Pangloss); Leibniz sort of the Plantinga of 1700. Voltaire also had words for the calvinist zombies (sort of the precursors to baptists and presbyterians).

Victor Reppert said...

Perezoso: Cheap cracks about Sunday School may entertain people who agree with you, (though they wouldn't entertain me if I were an atheist) but ruin your case with anybody you might actually want to persuade. You come across as someone who wouldn't believe in God even if God bit you on the nose.

Most atheists (although there are some exceptions) have moved from the logical problem of evil to the evidential problem of evil, partly because of the efforts of Plantinga, but largely because people realize that slam dunks in philosophy are hard to come by. I'm looking at the very first post in this thread, and yes, if you have read my work on the AFR you will realize that I recognize the limits of philosophical argumentation. So much so, that some people are disappointed that I don't claim more for my argument than I do.

Perezoso said...

Obviously you didn't bother reading my post where I said the POE was only one argument among several skeptical arguments (including Hume's mostly disregarded points contra-miracles, regarding the uniformity of nature, the fallibility of Scripture, and alternative explanations).

In a way the POE as usually stated (like on the Wiki) tends to give religion the benefit of the doubt. The manner in which the premises of the POE hypothetical are stated, even the use of the G-word itself, are to the advantage of the believers (at least monotheistic believers). The premises should be modified, from "God is omnipotent," to something like "the Judeo-christian tradition holds that God is omnipotent."

That said, from reading the comments from the believers on this thread, I am quite convinced they have not grasped Mackie's point on gratuitous evils (or Quentin Smith or Carr's presentations); instead, they have assumed that Master Plantinga won, since that's sort of the official view among theologians, and the philosophy types who work for them. I also find it amusing you object to a bit of lightweight taunting from non-believers and skeptics, yet allow the rude remarks and insults from the sunday schoolers.

Ilíon said...

VR: "... I'm looking at the very first post in this thread, and yes, if you have read my work on the AFR you will realize that I recognize the limits of philosophical argumentation. ..."

Well, then, stop wasting your time with philosophy and deal with the logical AfR ... which is a "slam-dunk."

Ilíon said...

Matthew: "Would we be justified in saying the theistic argument from evil also works?

(1) If naturalism is true, there is no evil.
(2) There is evil.
(3) Therefore, naturalism is false.
"

Atheism implies naturalism, and naturalism implies atheism; to assert the one is to assert the other.

Now, IF naturalism is true, THEN the terms 'good' and 'evil' can have no moral content, can refer to nothing objective; at most the terms can refer to how this or that person *feels* about some "good" or "evil" event.

Yet, we *all* -- including those who with the other sides of their mouths assert that the terms are meaningless -- behave and talk as though the terms have moral meaning and refer to some objective reality in just the manner they have historically always been understood. For, after all, to assert that the existence of "evil" is evidence against the existence of God is to assert that the term 'evil' has objective meaning ... unless, of course, 'atheists' are willing to simply admit that they tend to be to-the-bone liars.

So: 1) is true and cannot be false. And 2) seems to be believed by everyone to be true.

So, IF 2) is indeed true, THEN 3) logically must follow from 1) and 2).

Ilíon said...

To put it another way, anyone who believes that the terms 'good' and 'evil' refer to objective moral facts has no rational (or moral!) justification for either believing or asserting that 'naturalism' is true.

Perezoso said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Perezoso said...

Again the believers show their poor critical reading skills. Mackie's not claiming "gratuitous evil" is evil in some demonic, theological sense. It translates as undeserved pain, misery, suffering, etc.: like 20 million dying due to spanish flu during WWI. Try reading Quentin Smith again (or Carr).

The idea that only theists can be moral or use the term "evil" seems nearly Inquisition like. Any sane person can call a JW Gacy evil, or Jim Jones evil (there was a believer), or Taliban practices evil.

Finney said...

"The idea that only theists can be moral or use the term "evil" seems nearly Inquisition like. Any sane person can call a JW Gacy evil, or Jim Jones evil (there was a believer), or Taliban practices evil."

When was this idea suggested by anyone? When did I suggest this idea?

Perezoso said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ilíon said...

Intellectually dishonest fool: "The idea that only theists can be moral or use the term "evil" seems nearly Inquisition like. ..."

Finney: "When was this idea suggested by anyone? When did I suggest this idea?"

No one did, of course. But, neither truth nor logic matters to the typical 'atheist,' especially to these village atheists with an internet connection.

These people do not argue (and they certainly do not reason). They engage in argumentativeness, which is quite a different thing from argumentation, and in distraction and in rationalization.

These people engage in such blatant intellectual dishonest because they know that very few of "the enemy" are going to directly and openly name their behavior and methods for what they are ... and because they know that rather than call them on their intellectual dishonesty, most of "the enemy" will instead attack those few persons who do call them on it.

====
The truth is that 'atheists' can neither have nor supply a rational ground for moral behavior. 'Atheists' can certainly behave morally ... but such behavior cannot be accounted for in terms of atheism: their moral behavior hangs from a sky-hook, it levitates in the aether.

Likewise, 'atheists' can certainly use the terms 'good' and 'evil' (that is, 'moral' and 'immoral,' or 'right' and 'wrong') ... but the terms are meaninglesss if atheism is the truth about the nature of reality. That is, when 'atheists' employ the concepts denoted by these terms as though the concepts have actual meaning, they are denying that atheism is true.

Certainly, 'atheists' can speak of 'right' and 'wrong' ... but at the cost of incoherence.

Perezoso said...

Wrong again, Il Duce Idion, fool

You don't know what the issue concerns as usual, psychopath, and for that matter, you don't know what Hume's fact/value distinction concerns either, and I'm sure you couldn't defend ethical objectivity any more than you could defend the reliability of your Ebonics Good Book. Stick to the pizza makin'.

The POE argument does not concern some theological definition of evil, except to biblethumping morons.

Rob G said...

"The truth is that 'atheists' can neither have nor supply a rational ground for moral behavior. 'Atheists' can certainly behave morally ... but such behavior cannot be accounted for in terms of atheism: their moral behavior hangs from a sky-hook, it levitates in the aether."

As someone once said, if there is no God then everything is permitted. The only atheist I'm aware of who comes close to formulating a workable materialist ethic is John Kekes, but even he is somewhat at a loss to explain how/where the materialist gets even the mere notion of "the good."

Ilíon said...

Rob G: "... but even he is somewhat at a loss to explain how/where the materialist gets even the mere notion of "the good.""

Just so, as I made reference way up at the top of this thread: atheism/materialism cannot account for the concepts either of "the good" or of "the evil" having real meaning.

This is way 'atheists' tend to deny that there are such things as 'right' and 'wrong' -- until, of course, they want a stick with which to attempt to beat God or his people.

Perezoso said...

The argument known as POE does not depend on "evil" being objective in some platonic or theological sense. That's why Carr and Smith use undeserved/unmerited suffering, misery, pain instead (if you had read them, you'd have realized that) . Was 20 million dead due to spanish flu in WWI not evidence of unmerited suffering? In fact, that's the usual biblethumper view: God works in mysterious ways, or ala Tom De Lay view, they had to atone for humanity's sins, or some other BS.

Anyway, since there are no arguments which necessarily prove the existence of God (as Kant pointed out), the point is somewhat moot. The LPOE (or evidentiary POE) hypothetical does not demand that anyone believe in God (or some platonic form of evil): it shows the unlikelihood of the traditional monotheistic God.

Rob G said...

"Was 20 million dead due to spanish flu in WWI not evidence of unmerited suffering?"

Yes. And unmerited suffering is evil why, exactly?

Ilíon said...

Do any of us *really* stand in a position to assert that those 20 million flu deaths were "unmerited?" It seems to me that the most we might honestly assert in this regard is that we do not comprehend from our limited knowledge how those deaths were merited; that's a different thing entirely.

Also, "evil" is an ambiguous term, making it ripe for equivocation -- the term does not necessarly imply immorality.

Perezoso said...

Does the law depend on theological definitions of "evil"? Nyet. A doctor guilty of malpractice has inflicted unmerited suffering ( by prescribing wrong medicine, etc). He would be held guilty of serious crime (as would a G*d, really, if he was located).

Anyway, you're doing the Tom DeLay theology. Tsunami, 250 thousand dead. It's a test of our faith!

YOu simply don't understand the argument.

Rob G said...

No. I believe that that suffering was in fact unmerited, but that you have no grounds whereby to call it evil. Why is unmerited suffering evil? That's my question.

Mike Darus said...

On the level of argument, I am not troubled by Tsunami reference. I am personally troubled but that is a different issue. God is not responsible to make every place on earth equally habitable or safe. We would have little sympathy for the human who built a hut downhill from an active lava flow. There is advantage to living in a coastal area but there is inherently less safety. God permits risk taking. In a world where there are real consequences for human decisions, there cannot be a "God" who is morally bound to mitigate the consequences of decisions.

The LPoE has potential to expose logical inconsistencies in theism. However, every construct does so by injecting some theological tenant foreign to the various versions of the theism it attempts to criticize. Usually this includes substituting "omni benevolent" for "good" as a characteristic of God. This is a gross distortion of theism. No theism that I know of binds God to maximize human pleasure or eliminate human suffering.

Perezoso said...

Isn't God supposed to be Good, just, benevolent? The theists are the ones who make the claims of ethical objectivity for the Almighty. The POE follows from the axioms/definitions given by religious tradition (at least monotheistic).

If a spanish flu type epidemic was intentionally planned by some powerful General, say, via various means and spread and killed millions, sane people would certainly call the General evil (whether you believed or not).
An omnipotent God would be by implication like an evil General: the plague starter. He could have created a world without plagues, and didn't; he created a world with plagues.
(unless he can't control evil, and then in that case not God, as Quentin Smith and many others have suggested). That can't be squared with the Good/Just/benevolent stipulation.

Since that incongruity seems absurd, many reasonable people conclude He does not exist (or at least monotheism does not hold).

Mike Darus said...

Perezoso:

You are missing the point. In order for there to be a world where the participants have the opportunity to become doctors and researchers to combat plagues, install warning systems for tsunamis, express compassion for the suffering, care for widows and orphans and endless other good and righteous acts, it must be a world where evil is permitted. It must also be a world where God restrains His own abilities to eliminate evil. In a world where God is responsible to eliminate suffering, it would be impossible for people to also have that same moral obligation because there would be none left over.

Matthew said...

How do atheists judge what is unmerited?

Perezoso said...

No, you're missing the point. That's Plantinga's quasi-utilitarian answer (equivocation, really), which suggests that some presumed good of "free will" (valor, honor, yada yada) outweighs the unmerited suffering.

That argument carries no more weight than saying WWI or WWII were good since the Allies won, or a society is Just because over half the population are middle class, regardless if large proportion are in poverty, slavery, etc etc.

Neither the LPOE, or the evidentiary version require proof that the unmerited suffering is more significant/abundant/prevalent, etc than "goodness": anyway, given that 1/2 the world does live in poverty, with disease, violence, etc. it's not obvious that the goodness (or any sort) outweighs the negative, suffering, disease, etc.

Perezoso said...

Actually, I will give the Sundayschoolers a hint: John Hick provides the best answer to the POE (whether logical, or evidentiary) , and I would say even Xtian (in good sense). No need for possible worlds, for "maximal greatness" or weighing free will vs. suffering.

Hick asserts, more or less, that apparent moral and natural evils (ie great suffering due to plagues, disasters, wars) will be settled/ redeemed/accounted for in some future state, or in Heaven. I don't believe that can be defended except by stipulation. So one of the premises in the LPOE, could include, and "God can redeem humans in the afterlife, or something to that effect." Un- f-n-likely, but since the existence of God does imply a supernatural realm, that is at least a somewhat plausible answer within the context of religion (though not in terms of naturalism).

In effect, the LPOE/EPOE are somewhat futile given there are no good arguments for the existence of God, or for anti-naturalist/immaterial views to start with. (Hume understood that)

Matthew said...

You continue to claim that there is unmerited suffering.
This implies that "unmerited" is no meaningless term.

But when we say that some punishment would be merited and some don't, our judgement depends on objective morality.

Let's try this argument from evil:
(1) If God does not exist, objective moral values do not exist.
(2) If objective moral values do not exist, unmerited suffering does not exist.
(3) Unmerited suffering exists.
(4) Therefore, God exists.

You also stay with the definition "A good being eliminates sufferung". Plantinga's utilitarian solution argues that "A good being will pay the price of suffering, so there can be a higher good"

You seem to argue that God would create a world without any suffering. But such a world would have no soulbuilding and no suffering. No one would appreciate the lack of suffering.
Such a world would be completely worthless and not good being would want to achieve this.
This can be solved by adding heaven to the picture, which contains large amount of goodness.

Allow me to borrow form your hero Quentin Smith:
(1) An action is morally indifferent if it makes no difference to the total value of the universe whether that action is performed or not.

What's funny about this is: if heaven contains infinite goodness, evil in this world is indifferent.

Would infinite goodness matter in this case? I think so.

Smith holds (1). So if God creates heaven with infinite goodness, suffering is indifferent.

Mike Darus said...

No, I am not positing the utilitarian justification. I am saying that there is a logical impossibility to demand that an omnipotent being be held responsible to prevent evil in any possible world where created beings are given the opportunity to mitigate evil. You cannot say, "since humans are morally responsible to prevent evil when they can, God (if he exists) is also responsible to prevent evil." It is a logically incoherent statement. If God had to do it all, there would be nothing left for humans to do.


It also does no good to try to shift the burden of proof. the LPOE is an attempt to invalidate theism; it is not on the same side of the equation of proving the existence of God.

Ilíon said...

Matthew: "How do atheists judge what is unmerited?"

By whichever metric yields the bigger club-for-beating at the particular moment.

Ilíon said...

There is also the fact that this imaginary "perfect" would would be supremely irrational, for no wicked acts could have evil consequences.

Rob G said...

Perezoso is missing my point. I want to take it back further. How does an atheist know that unmerited suffering is wrong? Where does he stand, so to speak, to look at one event and say "good" and another event and say "evil"? By what standard does he judge between the two and where does that standard come from? Why is Stalin the atheist's understanding of the "good" (elimination of millions of Ukrainians, say, for the good of the Soviet Union and the world) any less valid than Professor Enod Frappini the atheist's view that the selfsame event was evil and morally reprhehensible?

Does the man with the most followers win? Or the man with the best argument? Do we vote on it? Do Stalin and Frappini armwrestle?

Perezoso said...

Ah yes, a tsunami/plague/earthquake is merited punishment!

Welcome to the Waffen SS realm of calvinist karma.

In effect, the fundamentalist insists only his particular sect can make ethical judgements.

The Constitution proves otherwise.

Anyway, the LPOE works even within the context of theological evil, assuming an omnipotent God himself must be Just and good (as Plantinga asserts). That's why it's called a contradiction, regardless of all the tricks Plantinga attempts (the possible worlds trick a good 'un). That is, unless, like the Waffen SS or Stalinists, you believe concentration camps to be good (some of us don't cede the moral argument to Planti either).


Pol pot's then a sign of Gawd's love, since it allowed some to prove their valor and courage, before being exterminated. Planti-Logic.

Finney said...

"The POE argument does not concern some theological definition of evil, except to biblethumping morons."

If by theological, you mean pertaining to God, then the definition of evil is understood in a non-theistic way, and doesn't have anything to do with theism. For it to threaten the consistency of theological terms, it has to be defined in a way that pertains to the theological understanding of evil. And you yourself said in premise three of your argument that it's defined by religious tradition.

Perezoso said...

Besides, Bertrand Russell offered a fine response to Calvinist omniscience, years ago, but now mostly ignored:

The Judeo-Christian God must (assuming for a few seconds he exists for sake of argument) know what will happen, both in terms of natural and human history.

God's knowledge would be by definition infinite (as would his power), OR He's not God. He sets all world history into motion, knowing of plagues, or pol pots: any supposed free will granted to humans is merely trivial (or illusory, really). Like an evil programmer who creates monster robots, and let's them loose, and they kill millions, God would be even more guilty given omniscience, arguably.

Looks like premeditated mass murder (that, or instead one takes the Waffen SS root, and says world war, genocide, plagues, tamerlanes, hitlers, stalins, are all signs of His Love. Sieg heil!).

(In fact Plantinga seems to deny omniscience or at least limit it, and says God does not determine human life/choices--really, a heretical view, either in terms of traditional catholics or protestants. He sneaks in a limitation).

Finney said...

"In fact Plantinga seems to deny omniscience or at least limit it, and says God does not determine human life/choices--really, a heretical view, either in terms of traditional catholics or protestants. He sneaks in a limitation"

No, Plantinga doesn't deny omniscience. He shows how omniscience is compatible with free-will in his book "God freedom and evil." (I really suggest you read some of his stuff before attacking him (calling him a heretic?!?))And omniscience is not the same thing as fatalism. To know all facts is different from determining all facts; one doesn't have any causal role with the facts while the other does.