Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Who are you, O man? The eliminativist response to the problem of evil

The idea that we have no duties to that which we create seems counterintuitive to me. That is why I'm not an eliminativist with respect to the problem of evil.
Yet, I sometimes I wonder how to argue with someone who is. And there is a Bible verse to support their view:

Romans 9:20 But who are you, a human being, to talk back to God? "Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, 'Why did you make me like this?'"

Does it follow from this that if A is the creator of B, then B cannot make any moral judgments concerning A's treatment of B?

14 comments:

im-skeptical said...

I feel responsible for the lives of my children and my pets. I'm certain that if I had the power to create beings as God is said to have created us, I would care about them and feel a responsibility toward them. Just saying.

Dr. Evangelicus said...

This would not be the case with parents - children, so I don't see why it would be the case with God-humanity.

BenYachov said...

@Victor

>The idea that we have no duties to that which we create seems counterintuitive to me.

The idea that an unequivocal comparison between us as "creators" vs God the Creator is philosophically legitimate and should be presumed without argument seems even more counterintuitive to me.

>That is why I'm not an eliminativist with respect to the problem of evil.

Except you are implicitly assuming God as creator can be unequivocally compared to us as "creators".
Your assuming a Theistic Personalist "god".

Why should we do this?

Even if we drag Dun Scotus who believed you could make limited unequivocal comparisons (i.e. God exists, we exist etc) even he did not advocate that without limit.

>Yet, I sometimes I wonder how to argue with someone who is. And there is a Bible verse to support their view:

>Romans 9:20 But who are you, a human being, to talk back to God? "Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, 'Why did you make me like this?'"

We are not talking about some arbitrary rule like the "King can do no wrong". Kings obviously can do wrong since they are coherently seen as moral agents with moral obligations to God and Natural Law.

God given His Nature can't coherently be seen as a moral agent with obligations to us.

Does that mean God can do what he wants without limit like some Stephan Law Evil Deity?

No He can't.
http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2010/10/god-obligation-and-euthyphro-dilemma.html

BenYachov said...

eliminativism

QUOTE"The view that the terms in which we think of some area are sufficiently infected with error for it to be better to abandon them than to continue to try to give coherent theories of their use. Eliminativism should be distinguished from scepticism, which claims that we cannot know the truth about some area; eliminativism claims rather that there is no truth there to be known, in the terms with which we currently think. An eliminativist about theology simply counsels abandoning the terms or discourse of theology, and that will include abandoning worries about the extent of theological knowledge."END QUOTE

How does any of this apply to Thomism or a Classical Theistic View of God?

Unless abandoning Theistic Personalist terms or presuppositions means we are using no terms to discuss theological knowledge?

Sorry but recognizing that God in the Classic Sense can't coherently be seen as a moral agent is not an "eliminativist" response to the problem of evil.

BenYachov said...

In fact the Problem of Evil as Aquinas addressed it can be seen from reading his arguments.

Here is what I take from them.

Good and Evil are in irreconcilable opposition. If you have an Infinite omnipotent all good Divine Substance then it would by nature abhor any evil substances and eliminate them. Thus an evil substance could only exist
if either A) the Divine Substance wasn't omnipotent or B) the Evil substance was also omnipotent.

So you either has a finite god or dualism.

Aquinas & others before him pointed out evil metaphysically speaking is not a substance but a privation of being".

The original problem of evil saw evil as a sort of cosmic metaphysical anti-matter to good's matter.

God was a sort of mega form of exotic matter that annihilated anti-matter but was itself impervious to being diminished.

Aquinas solved the problem by pointing out evil at the fundamental level has no real substantive existence. Just an accidental one.

Even the Devil isn't Pure Evil. Metaphysically as long as he has being he is good.

The Problem of Evil in terms of coming up with a plausible Theodicy presupposes God is a moral agent.

But what if he isn't? Then there is still a mystery of evil(i.e why any particular evil?) but there is no problem.

im-skeptical said...

Dr. Evangelicus,

"This would not be the case with parents - children, so I don't see why it would be the case with God-humanity."

Once the children have reached adulthood and enjoy the same status as the parents, then the parents are free of their responsibility. But humans don't enjoy the same status a their god-creator, who made them what they are, including all their shortcomings. I don't see how a reasonable person can say it's not his problem.

BenYachov said...

>I don't see how a reasonable person can say it's not his problem.

Having a problem implies a difficulty how can God have difficulty given His Omnipotence?

But of course speaking of creatures being independent of God in the classic sense is about as coherent as claiming the number 5 may one day be greater then the number 6 or Absolute Infinity.

But then again in the Beatific Vision one will never exhaust God.

The question isn't "Why can't God make everyone good & have the Beatific Vision" but "Can I be Good & have the Beatific vision?". The answer is Yes if you use your free will to choose it.

It's not hard.

im-skeptical said...

"The answer is Yes if you use your free will to choose it."

And why wouldn't I choose that? Why wouldn't anyone choose it by simply exercising their free will? Clearly there's something else going on.

BenYachov said...

>And why wouldn't I choose that?

You tell me?

>Why wouldn't anyone choose it by simply exercising their free will?

Why did Hitler become what he became?

Why does Thomas Nagel say "I don't want God to exist"(not that I am judging him but that's not good).

>Clearly there's something else going on.

Mystery of evil.

It's still not hard.

im-skeptical said...

Ben,

So your answer is it's a mystery? That's the kind of logic that I reject. I prefer logic that is consistent and coherent.

BenYachov said...

>So your answer is it's a mystery?

Why any particular evil is a mystery. What evil is and the so called Problem of evil are not.

Don't be obtuse.

Every discipline has mystery. Things that by nature cannot be rationally solved or contemplated.

The number Pi is a transcendental irrational figure without resolution that never repeats.

That's a mystery. Mystery in the philosophical or theological sense is not what we don't know yet but what we cannot in principle ever know.

If you deny that you are not rational.

>That's the kind of logic that I reject. I prefer logic that is consistent and coherent.

Yet you always leave it home in a discussion? Now that is a mystery!

im-skeptical said...

"Yet you always leave it home in a discussion? Now that is a mystery!"

One man's logic is another man's mystery, and one man's mystery is another man's logic. I don't suppose there will ever be a resolution for that.

Jason Pratt said...

Aside from the metaphysical issues involved, my exegetical response would be that Paul is citing one or more OT passages where God is rebuking people for not believing He can and will save punished rebels (Israel being typically in view) and hasn't abandoned them.

So actually, anyone who quotes it to defend the notion that God doesn't have a responsibility to save even His worst enemies, couldn't be running much more against the context if they tried.


Details and lots of them.

JRP

Joshua said...

"The idea that an unequivocal comparison between us as "creators" vs God the Creator is philosophically legitimate and should be presumed without argument seems even more counterintuitive to me."

Exactly.

A shepherd has a moral responsibility to his sheep. But the sheep are in no position to decisively judge what those responsibilities are, let alone comprehend what it would mean to do so. That seems like it ought to be relevant to PoE.