While I do not intened to make my Blog into a repeat of everything I say on CARM, the previous argument was answered by CARM poster Chad, who tends to be very deep and sharp. I am always challenged in squaring off with him and we always have a good exchange. So here is his refutation of my view, and my defense of it.
Chad's speeches are marked by > (greater than)
>>1)God's purpose in creation: to create a Moral Universe,
>>is one in which free moral agents willingly choose the Good.
>But is this a good purpose in and of itself? Does God's wish
>to have a Moral Universe outweigh the suffering in it?
Logically it has too, unless you are a utilitarian. But I don't think God is a utilitarian. The reason it has to is because otherwise the immeidate ends will always overshadow the ultiamte ends, then we never get around to fufilling ultiamte ends.
>>(2) Moral choice requires absolutely that choice be free
>>free will is necessitated).
>Our choices are constrained in many ways. Thus, if choice
>must be free the theist bears at least some burden to explain
>why our choices are not completely free and why they could not
>be a little bit less free.
that's pretty self evident. Our choices are free enough. I mean the crucial choices that govern if we have sinned or not are absoltuely free. We may be screened in by many factors, genetic, circumstantial, environmental, but none of them lead us to actually sin at the movement of truth where we really have to decide. We have veto power over our actions, and that's a scientiifcally proven fact.
Oddly enough Dennettee proves that the will is free enough for moral decision making.
Human Nature Review 2003 Volume 3: 152-154 ( 14 March )
URL of this document http://human-nature.com/nibbs/03/dennett.html
by Daniel C. Dennett
London, Allen Lane; New York, Viking Press, 2003.
Dennett’s principal thesis is that free will is an ability that human beings, and only human beings, have as a result of their evolutionary history. The ability to act freely, as Dennett understands it, is the ability to negotiate obstacles in the world successfully. It is, as he says, the power to make what was formerly inevitable into the ‘evitable’. This is a power that comes in degrees. Inanimate matter possesses none of it, bacteria possess a little, as a consequence of their ability to detect danger and to propel themselves away from it. Human beings have a great deal of this power, as a result of our ability to anticipate the consequences of our actions and to modify them accordingly. This ability, to construct counterfactuals of great complexity and to model the actions of thousands of interacting forces and agents, is what gives us free will, in the only sense that matters. It allows us, and requires us, to shape our actions to our moral obligations.
>An easy example would be a chemical trigger in the brain that
>caused would-be rapists to lose their ability to rape.
How could that possibly be expalined? Probably there is one already. But we have to figure out how to trigger it. but to have one that works perfectly and automatically, that's getting close to the designer label concpet, and the whole basis of the argument is to explain why God doesn't leave deisnger labels in the universe.
>>(3) Allowence of free chioces requires the risk that the
>>chooser will make evil chioces
>God has created beings who never choose to do truly heinous
>things. Why not create only such beings? Is it your
>position that God is incapable of creating "nice" people
>without also creating sociopaths and serial rapists?
but God didn't specifically set up an assymbly line for the explicit purpose of making a certian number of people who will never choose to be really bad. That's a matter of temperment and of spirutal choices. So the orignal anlaysis still applies, to have moral agency requries allowing the risk that moral agency will be misused.
>>(4)The possiblity of evil choices is a risk God must run,
>>the value of free outweighs all other considerations, since
>>without there would be no moral universe and the purpsoe of
>>creation would be thwarted.
>Again, the statement that the "purpose of creation" outweighs
>the suffering of the created is merely an assertion. On what
>basis do God's preferences justify rape, torture, etc.?
seems pretty self evident to me. If not, then it would mean God is a rotter. If has to be the case that some things outweight pain. We know that they do anyway, because we as moral agnets often volunteer to accept pain in exchnage for achieving some other end.
>>This leaves the atheist in the position of demanding to know
>>why God doesn't just tell everyone that he's there, and that
>>he requires moral behavior, and what that entials. Thus
>>would be no mystery and people would be much less inclinded
>The atheist can also raise the questions above.
>>This is the point where Soteriological Drama figures into
>>Argument on Soteriological Drama:
>>(1) Life is a "Drama" not for the sake of entertainment, but
>>in the sense that a dramatic tention exists between our
>>ordinary observations of life on a daily basis, and the
>>ultiamte goals, ends and puroses for which we are on this
>>(2) Clearly God wants us to seek on a level other than the
>>obvious, daily, demonstrative level or he would have made
>>situation more plain to us
>Does this mean you don't believe in the Biblical stories in
>which God clearly demonstrated himself in rather obvious
which stories? I am not aware of any story in which God made himself irrefutably aware to the entire world population. God can, or has to make himself known to some number of peple at some point in order to act in the world. But I'm talking about thing that would make God's existence as obvious as gavity to the entire population of the world.
>>(3) We can assume that the reason for the "big mystery" is
>>internalization of choices. If God appeared to the world in
>>open objective fashion and laid down the rules, we would
>>probalby all try to follow them, but we would not want to
>>follow them. Thus our obedience would be lip service and not
>>from teh heart.
>I find this baffling. Knowing that someone exists doesn't
>eliminate the potential to form a deep and meaningful
>relationship with him/her.
No everyone wants that. A lot of people are selfish and want their own pleasures above anyting else. They would fain obeidence, but in their hearts they would resent the need to fain obidence. God's way assumes that eveyone who is in the kingdom of God wants to be there because they all willinglly seek the good.
>Don't theists -- who are utterly convinced that God exists --
>want to obey him? Why then do so many of them argue that we
>can only want to obey God if he remains hidden in some way?
I beleive I just cleared that up. It's not that he has to remain hidden, it's that making himself too obvoious would cheat the need to internalize values.
Don't forget there's more to that issue as well, such as the nature of God as beyond the threhold of human understanding in the first place.
>>(4) therefore, God wants a heart felt response which is
>>internatilized value system that comes through the search
>>existential answers; that search is phenomenological;
>>intetrsubective, internal, not amienable to ordinary
>Two girls were recently raped in a bathroom in New Orleans,
>while many refugees stood by and did nothing. Was the ability
>of the rapist to choose to rape (or not) and the ability of
>the others to choose to do nothing (or something) more
>important than the suffering those girls experienced?
the ability to make the choice is more important than the pain of the choice being made, of course! what are we saying here. We are saying that it's more important to have free will, even though it means some people get hur tby some people's free choices, than to be robots and have no pain but no choices.
Now think about it, this is just a mimicking of utilitarian dictim, greatest good for the greaest number. After all, if not for the ability to choose freely, human freedom, we would not have personal fuflillment. What is the value of the absense of pain at the expense of the absense of pelaure or fufillment? If you value free thought at all I would think you could see that!
>>This pertians to natural disassters in the same manner. In
>>order to further the daram, the world must be a real world.
>>must have to take life and nature on their own terms without
>>speicail intervention everytime something goes wrong. That
>>sort of intervention might come, but only on a personal
>>level, and only in response to faith and other factors that
>>have to be lined up according to God's will. So in general
>>have to live in a real world, that is a naturalistic world,
>>and we have to take it on its own terms, and use our faith
>>a guide to make it through the stroms and stresses of this
>So in order for us to be able to choose God we have to live on
>a planet with fault lines, floods, etc.?
well we do live on such a plaent. We evoled here as part of the place. We have to take it on its own terms.
>Aside from the implausability of that argument, it boils down
>to the normal theist line of defense -- it's God's universe so
>he can do what he wants with it. If he wants to torture you,
>he can and you shouldn't presume to complain about it.
why are you so stuborn? I clealry just got through demonstrating something that is totally missing in the typical FWD and then you go "It just boils down to the typical theist line of defense." no it bleeding doesn't!!!
It boils down to the need for internatlization of values which necessitates taking life on its own terms in the mateiral world and seeking God in your heart; because there are traces of God in this world, if we look for them. But atheists spend all their time being sceptical of everything and so can never see them until they get over their game playing.