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Theists Hurt Themselves When Defending God From Evil

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    Sooner28posted 3 years ago

    William Lane Craig, the eminent Christian philosopher, claims in response to the problem of evil:

    "1. We are not in a good position to assess with confidence the probability that God lacks morally sufficient reasons for permitting the suffering in the world. Whether God's existence is improbable relative to the evil in the world depends on how probable it is that God has morally sufficient reasons for permitting the evil that occurs. What makes the probability here so difficult to assess is that we are not in a good epistemic position to make these kinds of probability judgements with any sort of confidence. Only an omniscient mind could grasp the complexities of providentially directing a world of free creatures toward one's pre-visioned goals. One has only to think of the innumerable, incalculable contingencies involved in arriving at a single historical event, say, the enactment of the Lend-Lease policy by the American Congress prior to the United States' entry into World War II. We have no idea of the natural and moral evils that might be involved in order for God to arrange the circumstances and free agents in them requisite to such an event. Certainly many evils seem pointless and unnecessary to us, but we are simply not in a position to judge. To say this is not to appeal to mystery, but rather to point to the inherent cognitive limitations that frustrate attempts to say that it is improbable that God has a morally sufficient reason for permitting some particular evil."

    I apologize for quoting something so long, but I want to ensure I am not accused of taking anything out of context.  I will post a link to the full article at the bottom.

    Nevertheless, Craig's argument is basically the Lord works in mysterious ways the human mind cannot understand.

    I would formulate it like this, keeping some of Craig's language:

    1.  Only an omniscient mind could determine if the evil in our world is gratuitous.

    2.  Human beings are not omniscient.

    3.  Therefore, human beings cannot determine if the evil in the world is gratuitous ("What makes the probability here so difficult to assess is that we are not in a good epistemic position to make these kinds of probability judgements with any sort of confidence".)  Epistemic is related to the field of philosophy known as epistemology, which is concerned with questions such as how do we know what we know, or how do we know anything at all, or what is knowledge? 

    I am also defining "cannot determine" as not justified, and therefore cannot know the answer.

    If I have mischaracterized Craig's argument in any way, I would appreciate feedback.

    Now, what happens if 3 is true, that human beings cannot determine if the evil in the world is gratuitous.  What follows is that we must remain agnostic on the question.  If atheists are not justified in claiming the suffering is gratuitous because they aren't omniscient, neither can the theist claim God is morally justified in allowing the current suffering in the world.

    Thus, the theist can only say that they are agnostic on the question of whether the evil in the world is gratuitous or not.  I think a tie here is a win for the atheist.   
     
    http://www.reasonablefaith.org/theistic … of-atheism

  2. janesix profile image59
    janesixposted 3 years ago

    Not all theists claim god is morally justified in allowing suffering in the world.

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      Sooner28posted 3 years ago in reply to this

      Some theists say God is morally reprehensible?

      1. janesix profile image59
        janesixposted 3 years ago in reply to this

        Possibly but that's not what I said.

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          Sooner28posted 3 years ago in reply to this

          What are you saying?

          1. janesix profile image59
            janesixposted 3 years ago in reply to this

            I'm saying I don't know yet whether or not I think God is justified in letting us suffer like we do.

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              Sooner28posted 3 years ago in reply to this

              That's the position I was defending in the discussion.  But if you don't know if God is justified, you must also be agnostic about God's goodness.

              1. janesix profile image59
                janesixposted 3 years ago in reply to this

                You are right.

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    Emile Rposted 3 years ago

    Why do we attempt to find guilt in a deity for our own actions?

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      Sooner28posted 3 years ago in reply to this

      Natural disasters, cancer, heart disease, aging, natural phenomena built into the very fabric of reality that cause immense suffering.

      God designed it that way.  Nothing to do with free will.

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        Emile Rposted 3 years ago in reply to this

        I don't know. It simply seems to me if God were evil we wouldn't be here. If God were evil, he'd be going out of his way to inflict suffering. Since it is obvious that we are here and  there is no evidence that any force is going out of its way to inflict suffering I am left to assume that God is not evil.

        Life as we know it represents less time than a hang nail; if there is such a thing as eternity for us. It simply seems to me that the position we currently hold doesn't give us sufficient clarity to make such a determination. Death will provide the clarity needed. Imo.

        1. A Troubled Man profile image60
          A Troubled Manposted 3 years ago in reply to this

          2013 World Hunger and Poverty Facts and Statistics

          http://www.worldhunger.org/articles/Lea … 202002.htm

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            Emile Rposted 3 years ago in reply to this

            I get, to a degree, the argument about natural disasters. I think world hunger is a pointless thing to blame on a deity. Unless it is your argument that there aren't resources enough to feed the world...if those with more than enough weren't so selfish.

            1. A Troubled Man profile image60
              A Troubled Manposted 3 years ago in reply to this

              We aren't talking about resources, we are talking about an evil god and suffering. A good god would not allow the suffering exposed in those statistics.

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                Emile Rposted 3 years ago in reply to this

                I suppose that is true by your definition of what a god would be.  I simply don't see it that way. If we were all doing everything within our power and there was still widespread starvation, maybe. But, let's look at it from a different angle. If your next door neighbor was starving and you had a freezer full of food...if they died from lack of nourishment would you feel completely guiltless? Would you blame it solely on the shortcomings of the Food Stamp program? At what point did we wash our hands of responsibility?

                1. A Troubled Man profile image60
                  A Troubled Manposted 3 years ago in reply to this

                  Sorry, but I personally have no definitions of any gods.



                  If my next door neighbor were a devote Christian, they could pray to get food from their god, the same god they pray and praise to find their lost car keys, their wallets and to get them out of gridlocked traffic jams.

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                    Emile Rposted 3 years ago in reply to this

                    So, you would let them starve out of obstinacy. Okee dokee.

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        Motown2Chitownposted 3 years ago in reply to this

        Sooner, I'm going to jump in here with a highly unpopular view from a theist.  While it's difficult to speak to the issue of evil and at the same time speak of a benevolent God, it's difficult to speak to the issue of good and speak of a wrathful God - which, in general, is the God that the atheists see in Scripture, etc.  I, for one, am a theist - I believe that one God, superior to any and all others, created this universe and is responsible, on one hand, for its maintenance and ultimate destruction.  On the other hand, that same God that I believe in appears to A) allow pointless (in our opinion) suffering and evil to continue without abatement, and B) allows those who are evil to live in peace, luxury, and receive abundance when they clearly do not deserve it.

        Now, I also consider myself an agnostic in that there are things about this God and about this universe that I do not, and may never, know and understand - at least until this earthly life has been taken from me and I see as God sees.

        I don't feel that this lack of knowledge takes away from God's existence.  More, it's like following the guidelines laid out for me by a loving parent, perhaps without quite understanding why, in an effort to grow up to be a wise adult.  I've yet to encounter even the wisest of men/women who knows it all.  It is my belief that this is so because only God knows it all.  Only God sees the bigger picture.  In terms of existence, Emile is right.  What we've got going on here on earth is a drop in the bucket of what has been and what will be.  Consider the fact that for as many billions of people as there are on earth today, as many, if not more, have already lived and died and are buried in the ground, or have had their ashes scattered by wind and water.

        Everyone - nonbelievers and believers alike - wants the world we know and its existence to be black and white.  It just isn't, IMO.  As human beings, we are constantly growing and changing and will until our existence has been blotted out entirely.  Even scientists say that matter cannot be destroyed, so in essence, whether you believe in God or a traditional afterlife or don't, we will always exist.  Which means we have always existed in some way, shape, or form.  So, in essence, our earthly presence is simply a moment in a period of time that ultimately cannot be measured.

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          Sooner28posted 3 years ago in reply to this

          Except God built in our cognitive limitations.  As a parent, why would you want your child to be eternally dependent on you?  Our lack of perspective is because God made us that way.

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            Motown2Chitownposted 3 years ago in reply to this

            I don't think God did design us to be eternally dependent on Him.  To love Him, yes, and to turn to Him in times of sorrow and trouble, but certainly not to exist in some sort of sick, codependent relationship as many Christians do.

      3. HeadlyvonNoggin profile image86
        HeadlyvonNogginposted 3 years ago in reply to this

        Why do you equate death and suffering with evil? Death is necessary in this finite existence. It's a part of life. More than that it makes life urgent, makes moments precious. Without inevitable death there would always be tomorrow. As for suffering, it's all relative. If there were an alternate universe where everything were covered in nerf and nobody could ever really do anything bad and nothing really bad ever really happened then the story of the one guy back in '02 who took a second helping of potatoes knowing full well there were others who had not yet eaten would be the single worst thing you had ever heard of. And the alternate you in that alternate nerf universe would be wondering how God could possibly let things be so bad. It's all relative.

        The fact is, without suffering on one end of the spectrum there'd be no perspective to appreciate when things are good. Like if you were to spend every day of your life in a climate controlled room that has always been a steady 75 degrees. Then one day after decades at the same temperature someone drops the thermostat 5 degrees making that temperature the absolute coldest temperature you've ever felt. You would then have a concept of cold, yet would not even be able to imagine truly cold temperatures. To you 70 degrees is the coldest temperature you know.

        And if nothing bad ever happens and nobody ever gets hurt, then there's no weight to anything we do. There's no risk and no danger. No reward. Life has sharp edges, people do really horrible things, others do truly incredible things, death could come tomorrow or decades from now. Without pain and suffering and eventually death, would free will really matter? Would life really matter?

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          Sooner28posted 3 years ago in reply to this

          Are you claiming that God does have morally sufficient reasons for allowing "suffering" to occur?  You seem to be disagreeing with Craig's argument. 

          Why would it be acceptable to believe you could make a judgment about the organization of the entire world without having a divine perspective?

          Putting that aside, I don't know if it's necessary to have a polarity to understand the beauty, usefulness, or goodness of something.  Do you need to understand anything but an orgasm to understand how it feels?  Or, the taste of pizza?  I think both would still be good without a comparison of nonorgasm (I guess, whatever that is), and a crappy piece of pizza.  I would still feel tremendous pleasure from both activities.

          Or, if you don't like that argument, let's assume you are right.  God is the one who created us with human nature, with all its limitations and pitfalls.  God would then be responsible for this very nature that needs a polarity in order to give life meaning at all.  God would then bear direct responsibility for the suffering, because he designed us in such a way that we would need all of the death and slow, painful suffering to make our lives meaningful.

          In addition, what about God?  God doesn't need to experience a polarity to understand good and evil, right?  Does God therefore not have a "meaningful life" because of its (I refuse to use a gender to refer to God, and it is genderless in English.  This is not meant to be flippant in any way) lack of experience in death?

          Furthermore, heaven is described as paradise, as the best there is, and in heaven there is no pain, no hunger, no tears, nothing bad.  Is life in heaven therefore not meaningful either?

          I don't know if you are a christian or not, but if you believe in theism, I am assuming you believe in some sort of blissful afterlife with God.

          1. HeadlyvonNoggin profile image86
            HeadlyvonNogginposted 3 years ago in reply to this

            Think about this. Every couple who conceives a child is, through their choices and actions, bringing a child into a world where that child is guaranteed to experience pain, maybe hunger, broken bones, disease, heart break, the death of loved ones, and eventually they will experience death themselves. And the parents know all of this ahead of time. Would you say they're responsible for the pain, suffering, and eventual death that child will inevitably face? Afterall, they didn't have to bring that child into the world. They had the choice. And the child didn't. Wouldn't you agree life is still worth it?

            Let's think about the logistics of what you're proposing. How can it work both ways? I assume you'd prefer to have a mind and a will of your own, right? Capable to choosing your own actions, doing what you want to do? In a vacuum, just you by yourself, there's no problem. But give that same right to countless multitudes of other people. Will there just never be conflicting wills? Is everyone going to play nice? How do you ensure that? Restrict their ability to play not-nice? Is that really your own mind and your own will? Wouldn't you rather choose of your own volition to play nice? And not have some built in governor, or some outside natural law, force you to be good? Wouldn't relationships have more meaning if those you love treat you with love of their own free will and not because that's how they're programmed?

            So, how do you do both? How does everyone have the free choice to behave however they like AND their be no conflict or suffering or pain or bad things happening? Would their not need to be some sort of rules established? Some sort of order? And who has the authority to impose rules on us free willed beings? Rules that everyone will adhere to without fail so that there can be no conflict or bad happenings of any kind?

            Isn't that what God is asking of us? To acknowledge Him as the authority and no other? The one being with the perspective and the knowledge to be that authority? Like Jesus said, the most important of God's laws is 'love God, love one another'. That's it. And if you'll recall, death was not originally part of the deal. It's only when Adam/Eve willfully broke the one rule they were given that death came into play.

            Free will is the trick here. Sure, God could make an existence just as you would like. Everyone and everything could just work without a hitch. Everyone could be amply provided for. For all eternity. The only thing is, nobody could actually be free to do as they please. As soon as you add that wrinkle to the equation it gets complicated.

    2. A Troubled Man profile image60
      A Troubled Manposted 3 years ago in reply to this

      The same reason we praise a deity for our own actions.

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        Emile Rposted 3 years ago in reply to this

        So, counter one nonsensical thought with another nonsensical thought? I suppose that makes sense. roll

        1. A Troubled Man profile image60
          A Troubled Manposted 3 years ago in reply to this

          Exactly, but it actually doesn't make sense at all, does it?

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            Emile Rposted 3 years ago in reply to this

            The problem I have is that sometimes people don't see that they are being nonsensical. They do see that you are being nonsensical. What is gained?

            1. A Troubled Man profile image60
              A Troubled Manposted 3 years ago in reply to this

              So, you're saying that to praise a god but not blame a god is sensible? Okee dokee. lol

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                Emile Rposted 3 years ago in reply to this

                You are too quick to find fault. I didn't say that. I simply wonder why you use a nonsensical argument. I don't think it accomplishes what you are hoping it will.

                1. A Troubled Man profile image60
                  A Troubled Manposted 3 years ago in reply to this

                  It isn't nonsensical. It is to the believer, of course, but that is another explanation.

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                    Emile Rposted 3 years ago in reply to this

                    You already agreed that both were nonsensical. I don't follow this tap dance.

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    Motown2Chitownposted 3 years ago

    ATM, by virtue of the fact that you are a human being, I should think you would never actually take this stance, "If my next door neighbor were a devote Christian, they could pray to get food from their god, the same god they pray and praise to find their lost car keys, their wallets and to get them out of gridlocked traffic jams."  I can guarantee that if the shoe was on the other foot, I'd silently thank my God for the ability to share with you and make sure you and yours were fed, without ever questioning your religious worldview.  Ever.  If I have the abundance to feed myself and someone else who might not have enough, I will share with that person no matter how ridiculous I find their beliefs, or lack thereof.

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      Sooner28posted 3 years ago in reply to this

      This doesn't appear to address the argument at all.  What point are you trying to make?

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        Motown2Chitownposted 3 years ago in reply to this

        It was in response to a specific point made by ATM in an earlier post, and I agree, it doesn't address the original argument any more than did the post it responded to.

        smile

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          Sooner28posted 3 years ago in reply to this

          Sorry.  I assumed it was a response to my post because it didn't have a specific person it replied to at the top.

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            Motown2Chitownposted 3 years ago in reply to this

            Sorry.

            Yay for confusion.  No wonder we can never get anywhere in these discussions....lol

    2. A Troubled Man profile image60
      A Troubled Manposted 3 years ago in reply to this

      But, you're missing the point here. This isn't about feeding neighbors, this is all about praising and blaming gods. I am trying to make a point from the Christian perspective that if gods are praised for completely innocuous events such as finding car keys, they should also be blamed for not finding car keys.

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        Motown2Chitownposted 3 years ago in reply to this

        Ah.  I see.  You are basically pointing out the type of Christians I mentioned to Sooner - those who have an unrealistic, immature, codependent, but oddly self-centered faith in God.  I'm sorry then - I thought you were actually taking that attitude and I was horrified, and sad, because whether or not you believe, I think you are, in general, a decent person. 

        Thank you for clarifying, sir.  smile

        1. A Troubled Man profile image60
          A Troubled Manposted 3 years ago in reply to this

          No problem, too bad the other believers here don't use their brains like you do. smile

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            Emile Rposted 3 years ago in reply to this

            See I find this agreement to be the low road.

 
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