Monday, June 26, 2006

Some basic discussion of the problem of evil


Steven Carr said...

The author goes in for Plantinga's 'saving the appearances' defense , which can also be used to show that flat earthism, geocentrism and the belief that we only have one leg are all logically consistent beliefs.

Showing that a belief system is logically consistent does no more than 'save the appearances'. It is not a defense.

And, for some reason, the author goes in for the most stupid defense available. He claims there is no problem of evil if you say 'I, Blake, don't know why God allows evil.'

So now God can roast Blake alive on a spit, while prodding him with burning pokers on a lake of fire, and Blake will claim that there is no problem here, because Blake doesn't understand why God is doing that.

Yes, even if Satan turns out to be God in disguise, Blake would claim that is not a problem for Christianity because Blake doesn't understand why God enjoys watching Blake to suffer in Hell for all eternity.

Steven Carr said...

The author then goes on to claim that it is pure human hubris to suggest that a good, loving God would want his children not to suffer in lakes of fire or in gas-chambers , or in agonising deaths from the Ebola virus or rabies.

Around here, you start to wonder what the point of the Christian God is.

We don't even know that God would want to stop abortion, according to Blake :=

I quote him

'Thus, regardless of what evil x is assumed to be — a fawn suffering in a forest fire, a child killed by the tsunami, the entire Holocaust — the truth of (6) only raises a theoretical problem for belief in God if we assume that we do know that an omniscient, omnipotent, wholly good being would (or would probably) prevent x.'

But only a bloated opinion of the powers of human understanding would have us assume this. In my opinion, the problem of evil (in its theoretical form, at least) is really just the problem of human hubris.'

Ask yourself 'What would Jesus do, if he saw Jews being killed in the Holocaust'?

Steven Carr said...

Of course, if one wanted to explain observed atomic behaviour by a 'saving the appearances' extension to classical theory. the logical contortios needed would be huge.

This is why people prefer to expain such phenomena by quantum theory, rather than classical theory.

Rutherford did have a 'saving the appearances' explanation of the atom - he simply claimed that what classical theory predicted about electrons circing a nucleus didn't happen.

But people did not like the idea that an unknown reason was breaking one of the most fundamental principles of electricty - that an accelerating electron radiates engery.

Similarly, the claim that there is an unknown reason why God allows children to burn to death in house fires violates such a fundamental consequence of the idea that God loves childrem, that a simpler idea is preferred.

And logical consistency is a really low barrier for Plantinga to jump over.

Why not simply claim that it is possible we are all brains in vats, and so the evil we see is not really existent?

Isn't that logically consistent?

By the way, my belief that I am perfectly good is logically consistent with the observed fact that I sometimes do things which appear to outsiders to be wrong.

Is it rational ot believe that Steven Carr is logically good?

Mike Darus said...

I would like to test a line of thought I am trying to piece together. The problem of evil as stated by Rowe and others sets up a false dilemna where in order for God to exist, evil cannot exist. It is not just that gratuitous, horrible evils cannot exist, but that any evil cannot exist. If an good, omnipotent and omnicient God is morally bound to prevent the terrible death of an innocent faun (or the Holocaust), we would also be bound to eliminate any degree of pain. He would be bound to stop my hand from slapping against my forehead. The view of God suggested by the atheologian demands the promised state of heaven to be the only state of existence. Somewhere behind these thoughts may be an explanation of the problem of evil entitled "The World As We Know It." In the world as we know it, evil exists. We also have indications that God exists. The new world promised will be better in many ways.

I am sure someone thought of this before.

Even if these thoughts "solve" for me the problem of evil, I am now ruminating about the "problem of heaven" in terms of issues such as free will, moral perfection, human "omniscience", etc.

Steven Carr said...

'The brain-in-the-vat scenario may be logically consistent,...'

But that is all I need to make it rational to believe that Steven Carr is all good. The fact that you sometimes perceive me to do bad things is not a problem , because you do not really exist.

And according to Plantinga's defense a proof of logical consistency is all I need to cock a snook at your doubts of my omnibenevolence.

Steven Carr said...

'And what if the child that burns to death in a house fire was previously terribly abused by her parents, and now that she is dead she is raised into the presence of God, where she will never again suffer abuse but will be surrounding by love, happiness and delights? God may allow the evil, but always 'overcomes evil with good'.'

I shall recommend to the NSPCC that if they come across a case of child abuse, they should burn the child to death, so that it may go to Heaven.

Can I put your name forward as a seconder to that motion?

Steven Carr said...

'The problem of evil as stated by Rowe and others sets up a false dilemna where in order for God to exist, evil cannot exist. '

Read Mackie's Miracle of Theism where he spoke only of what he called 'unabsorbed evil'

You raise an interesting point.

When Jesus was resurrected into a glorius body, and invited Thomas to touch him, could Thomas have made a free will choice to hurt Jesus resurrected body?

If Thomas had made a free will choice to stab Jesus, would Jesus have suffered?

If Thomas had (to use your analogy) slapped Jesus across the forehead, would the resurrected Jesus have felt any pain?

When we are resurrected , will we still be able to make free will decisions to inflict pain on each other?

Anonymous said...

"The elimination of all pain and evil would lead to a very peculiar (and uninteresting) kind of life, without moral progress, without freedom of choice, without satisfaction at having overcome significant obstacles, etc."

Guess heaven would then be a peculiar and uninteresting place to live.

Anonymous said...

"My point is that God always overcomes evil with good. "

I don't get why christians thinks this lets their god off the hook. Kinda like me saying 'I'm going to poke your eyes out with a branding iron, but it's really ok because I'm then going to give you something good.' Or to give a more exact analogy: 'I'm going to give you a birth defect that will give you horrible pain while you are alive on earth, but its really ok because I'm going to make you feel better in the next life.'
Or as Jason would put it: It's really ok because I'm going to put myself through some pain too by dying on a cross.
Sorry, but that kind of logic just sounds screwy to us non-christians.

Steven Carr said...

'I don't get why christians thinks this lets their god off the hook. Kinda like me saying 'I'm going to poke your eyes out with a branding iron, but it's really ok because I'm then going to give you something good.'

To be more prcise, God is going to stand by and watch somebody poke your eyes out.

Of course, JD Walters appears to think that a sufficient condition for getting to heaven is that you have suffered in this life.

Now I may not know much about Christianity, but having suffered is not somethimg that earns salvation.

Many Jews who died in the Holocaust rejected Jesus even at the end.

Well, that's just tough.

Anonymous said...

jd, I'm not under Mr. Carr's influence. I just get tired of the weak excuses Christians come up with to defend their conception of God. Though I strongly disagree with you pov here, I do gather you are a fairly intelligent person who realizes that each person is responsible for the kind of god they worship. Your conception of god seems to me quite flawed -you would apparently allow him to do anything and still say that he is good despite the evil he does and allows to happen. Or can you imagine any scenario in which you would agree that he is doing evil?
The vast majority of evil that happens in the world is not due to human actions. The amount of suffering from crippling and painful diseases alone dwarfs anything that humans have done.
And if this god of yours is unable to create a world without suffering, then what becomes of heaven?

Anonymous said...

"That's precisely the case with the Judeo-Christian God. We are not responsible for the conception of God that we hold."

I couldn't disagree more strongly. Don't you think those xians who thought their god supported slavery were responsible for their views of god? Wasn't their conception of god flawed?

"One final point. It's all too customary to shake your finger at theists and complain about all this evil, but what about you? Have you been so overwhelmed by evil yourself, been through so many diseases and been psychologically traumatized so much that you feel you have the right to complain against God? Or are you, as I think you are, engaging in armchair speculation? If you've been through hell then I say by all means, go ahead and yell at God and curse all you want."

Man oh man, you are really projecting a lot of bs onto me. What makes you think I want to curse an imaginary being?
All I'm trying to do here is point out that your imagined concept of god is very incoherent and does not correspond well to what we experience here on earth. And this is important to me because in this country I see many evangelicals trying to pass laws which would harm other people, because they (the evangelicals) have such screwy views of god.