original tv play "Twelve Angry Men"
a Friend from CARM emailed me this article found on Internet Infidels.Its' a parable (or anti-parable) about the problem of pain. It supposedly critique twelve different views of God and the approaches taken by those who hold said views, and the inadequacy thereof. I promised this friend a critique. But I will only defend the views that I find close to my own. I may make comments on some of the views, but not all. I see no point in defending views I don't hold. Apparently this essay is a "must read" according to HRG (Hans R. Groum) the star of the atheist board on CARM.
Before getting started I have one general observation. The argument made here uses the medium of parable, and thus uses the idea of policemen watching a murder and not intervening as the analogy. The problem is, we hired cops to do a specific job, they are regular men and they have limited understanding. They are put up to a specific task which is understood of them and they have our own limitations in understanding the nature of the task or how to carry it out. This means the analogy is limited and dubious as analogous of God and the world. God is not hired to carry out a specific task. God allows things to happen in relation to divine wisdom, which is not something we understand well. We have to allow God to use his own judgment in how he things things should go. We can say to a cop "you know your job is to keep the pace and you allowed this crime to transpire right in font of your face" but we do no know God's role. We do not know God's understanding. We do not know God's limitations (if any). Thus this means there is no analogy. Where there is no analogy there is no argument.
Secondly. This essay carries the same weakness as the design argument. It doesn't outweigh God arguments it falls to them because it argues from the state of the world to the existence of God. If that is a mistake for design arguments, it's a mistake for theodicy arguments. If it is not a mistake for theodicy it is not a mistake for design; moot point at best.
thirdly, of course, I have made my own theory of theodicy, the "Soteriological Drama." Of cosrue this essay makes no mention of it. So any argument gleaned from this parable is countered by my essay. Please read it!
now to the parable:
The Tale of the Twelve Officers (2002)the Tale of Twelve Officers
The First officer:
It was, of course, sad to hear that Ms. K had been slowly raped and murdered by a common thug over the course of one hour and fifty-five minutes; but when I found out that the ordeal had taken place in plain sight of twelve fully-armed off-duty police officers, who ignored her terrified cries for help, and instead just watched until the act was carried to its gruesome end, I found myself facing a personal crisis. You see, the officers had all been very close friends of mine, but now I found my trust in them shaken to its core. Fortunately, I was able to talk with them afterwards, and ask them how they could have stood by and done nothing when they could so easily have saved Ms. K.
"I thought about intervening," said the first officer, "but it occurred to me that it was obviously better for the murderer to be able to exercise his free will than to have it restricted. I deeply regret the choices he made, but that's the price of having a world with free agents. Would you rather everyone in the world were a robot? The attacker's choices certainly weren't in my control, so I can't be held responsible for his actions."
I'm not correcting his spelling. If there is a misspelling in the block quote the atheist put it there.
Of course here we see the mocking of the Free will Defense. My Soteriological Drama is a free will defense. I urge the reader to read it as an answer. But notice here there is no reason for free will given. No attempt to weight the consequences of not having free will vs having it and having to suffer because of it. So no decision cam be made about the wisdom of such a course. The empty mocking of the position says it wall, "would you rather everyone be a robot?" Of course they would. atheists wish they were robots. rather they wish everyone else was a robot. So much for their disingenuous concern for humanity. They can't even understand the basic condition necessary for their own rebellion. if they were robots of God they could not be atheists. But that would suit them, they want to be absolved built and responsibly
The Second Officer:
"Well," said the second officer, "my motivation was a little bit different. I was about to pull my gun on the murderer when I thought to myself, 'But wait, wouldn't this be a perfect opportunity for some unarmed bystander to exercise selfless heroism, should he chance to walk by? If I were to intervene all the time like I was just about to, then no one would ever be able to exercise such a virtue. In fact, everyone would probably become very spoiled and self-centered if I were to prevent every act of rape and murder.' So I backed off. It's unfortunate that no one actually showed up to heroically intervene, but that's the price of having a universe where people can display virtue and maturity. Would you rather the world were nothing but love, peace, and roses?"
spoiled self centered people always mock those who lecture them on being responsible and selfless. I don't really know of any position that says God allows pain so we wont be selfish. I guess its' closest to the old "pain builds character idea" but I don't of anyone who is really willing to argue that seriously. C.S. Lewis argues something similar in the Problem of Pain But he is sophisticated enough to develop it into something more than that. Since I'm not defending Lewis I'll move on.
"I didn't even consider stepping in," said the third officer. "I probably would have if I hadn't had so much experience of life as a whole, since Ms. K's rape and murder admittedly seems pretty horrible when taken in isolation. But when you put it into context with the rest of life, it actually adds to the overall beauty of the big picture. Ms. K.'s screams were like the discordant notes that make fine musical pieces better than they would have been had all the notes been flawless. In fact, I could scarcely keep from waving my hands around, imagining that I myself was conducting the delicious nuances of the orchestra."
This is really a straw man argument. I don't know of any Christian apologist who argues that pain adds to the beauty of life. I sometimes tell myself "it's all part of the rich pageantry of life," but only as a facetious commentary on how generally screwed up things are. This is really a major misunderstanding that atheists have about Christian positions. I guess they must think Christians have to think everything is huncky duncky. I don't think that. I think the world is screwed. That might go along with the Christian concept of a fallen world. I certainly Don't blame God for it. But then atheists are looking for things things to blame ;God for. Then they catch themselves and say "but I don't believe in him." but they blame him for everything.
"When I first arrived on the scene, I actually drew my gun and pointed it right at the rapist's head," confessed the fourth officer, with a very guilty look on his face. "I'm deeply ashamed I did that. Do you know how close I came to destroying all of the goodness in the world? I mean, we all know there can't be any good without evil. Fortunately, I remembered this just in time, and a wave of such strong nausea came over me when I realized what I had almost done, that it knocked me to my hands and knees. Man, was that a close one."This is a misapplication of several arguments none of which say that if God stops evil good will be destroyed. I have argued against atheists views that try to make evil into an essence. Thus many times they will argue that some contradiction obtains because God is good and evil exits, thus God is contradicted by evil or some such idea. Sometimes they push this to the point of making evil an essential quality. I say evil is not a positive thing. It's the lac of good. But that doesn't mean that in space somewhere there's this big "lack of good" sitting around. The lack of Good is in the heart, the human heart, or the attitudes. That is not an argument that evil is in anyway necessary to good. The relationship of good to evil is like that of light to shade. Light does not depend upon shade for its existence. Shade does depend upon light.
"Look, there's really no point in my trying to explain the details to you," said the fifth officer, who we had nicknamed 'Brainiac' because he had an encyclopedic knowledge of literally everything and an IQ way off the charts. "There's an excellent reason for why I did not intervene, but it's just way too complicated for you to understand, so I'm not even going to bother trying. I mean, you admit you are nowhere near as knowledgeable as I am, so what right do you have to judge? Just so there's no misunderstanding, though, let me point out that no one could care about Ms. K. more than I did, and that I am, in fact, a very good person. That settles that."
this one is typical of the atheist not willing to allow God to be God. They can't allow that anything anywhere could know more than we do. I can't blame them entirely for this answer since I don't like mystifications either. Too often Christan will slough off an answers with this "no one knows the mind of God" sort of thing. On the other hand it is arrogant and stupid to pretend that we do know everything. We have to allow God to be all knowing and ou to be very ignorant. We ave to accept that we don't see the big picture. HOw could we? why shouldn't the big picture be beyond our scope?
There the atheists are looking for an all purpose handy dandy god defeater argument that has to be true. They use the excuse of point as a kings x. o God allowed this so there cant' be a God. It' just a big atheists Kings X.
"I would have defended Ms. K," said the sixth officer, who was notoriously careful about staying out of the public eye, "but it simply was not feasible. You see, I want everyone to freely choose to believe in me. But if I were to step in every time someone was about to be raped or murdered, then the evidence would be so clear-cut that everyone would be forced to believe in me. Can you imagine a more diabolical infringement upon their free wills? Obviously, it was better for me to back off and let Ms. K be raped and murdered. Now everyone can freely choose to believe that there is this extraordinary cop out there who loves them like his own children."
Ok now we are getting someplace! Even though he doesn't say it, this is aimed at me. this is my view which is unique. This means I've had an impact such that they have to answer my own view. Yeah yip yip ypiee!!! (exuse my outburst). This is based upon my view in Soteriological Drama
If one will read the link one finds that there is much more to this view that is left out of the atheist frame work He just said "I didn't help because I want people to believe in me." what's is missing is the all the analysis about how why direct intervention would negate belief and what that means.
(1) It totally misses the point that what would be negated is not just belief or not belief at all. I state explicitly we would all believe in God if God make it plain enough. Not the point.
(2) We would believe but at the price of resentment. If we felt that we had to be good no matter what, there's no ambiguity, God is watching at all times and if we screw up we are in trouble, we would resent it. We would resent God.
(3) God wants more than just belief. He wants us to internalize the values of being good.
(4) The only way to do that is to instill these values in such a way that we want to believe them.
(5) That's the logic of the search. If we have to search for the truth we embrace the truth we find. If part of that truth is the values of the good then embrace them. we internalize them.
(6) If God stopped based stuff all the time there would be no need for a search. there would be no internalizing the values.
This involves an answer similar to no 4, but if we are not careful we might think that this is no. 4. But it is not. I am not saying Good requires evil. Nor am I saying suffering builds character. thse are answered specifically on the page linked to above.
"What are you complaining about?" exclaimed the seventh officer when I turned to him, his eyebrows shooting up in exasperated disbelief. "I just saved a woman from getting raped and murdered last week! Do I have to jump in every time I see something like that about to happen? I would say the fact that more women are not raped and murdered in this city is almost miraculous testimony to my goodness."
The eighth officer, too, looked frustrated. "Nothing I do is good enough! Do you know how much worse it could have been? The thug actually had a blowtorch with him when he started out, but I said 'No way, not on my watch,' and knocked it away from him with my nightstick. Sure, I let him keep the switchblade, the pliers, the coat hanger, and the vial of acid, but think how much worse it would have been with a blowtorch! Ms. K should have thanked her lucky stars that someone so loving was there to watch over her."
both are highly inadequate parodies of positions I've given in the past. These answers were specific to certain atheist arguments. they are not meant to be general answers to the entire problem of pain. Atheists wont allow an honest answer. They can't take anything seriously and they can't represent an argument fairly. They always leave out the crucial bits that make so much difference. See above on Six see what was left out that makes a fine response look idiotic.
Seen and eight do not represent views of God. They are taken of out context. Which is what I would expect from atheists.
"I'll let you in on a secret," said the ninth officer."Moments after Ms. K. flatlined, I had her resuscitated, and flown to a tropical resort where she is now experiencing extraordinary bliss, and her ordeal is just a distant memory. I'm sure you would agree that that's more than adequate compensation for her suffering, so the fact that I just stood there watching instead of intervening has no bearing at all on my goodness."
here he's not even trying. Just mocking the concept of after life. I could make a better parody of the "God will make it up to us in heaven" mentality.
The tenth officer gave us all quite a start when he revealed a surprising secret about Ms. K. "I genetically engineered her from scratch. I made her, therefore she's my property, and I can do whatever I want with her. I could rape and murder her myself if I were so inclined, and it would be no worse than you tearing up a piece of paper you own. So there is no question of my being a bad person for not helping her."Of course here we have the atheist inability to argue within the guidelines of a position. I've seen them do this over an dover again. They think 'well it doesn't matter if those guys believe God created us, I don't believe th so he didn't." Then you get this sort of wired argument that doesn't quite accept the premise of it's opponent, even for the sake of argument, and yet expects one to go along with the argument anyway even though tit's not really Germain to anyone's actual belief. Why would we be surprised to find that God created humans? If a real cop said this of course it would be delusional, but not if God say sit. I can just hear the atheists missing the point and saying "but there is no God to say this."
The eleventh officer chimed in, gesturing at the tenth officer "I hired him to create Ms. K for me, because I wanted someone to love and worship me. But when I approached Ms. K about the matter, she actually turned away from me, as though she could find meaning and happiness with someone else! So I decided the loving thing to do would be to break her spirit by arranging to have her raped and murdered by a common thug, so that she might turn to me in her extraordinary suffering, thereby fulfilling the purpose for which she had been created. Well, mission accomplished, I'm happy to say! A few seconds before she died, she was so insane with terror and pain that she actually convinced herself she loved me, since she knew that only I could end her ordeal. I'll never forget the love in her eyes when she looked up at me the last time, begging for mercy, right before the thug bent over and slit her throat. It was so beautiful it still brings me to tears. Now I just have to go to that island so she can claim her prize of servitude."
I don't know of anyone who says that God allows pain so that we will have to love him. This is seems like the typical atheist misrepresentation and distortion they are constantly into. As I say they can never really gasp what an argument is about and they can never represent a Christian view point accurately.
"Well, this is quite a coincidence," chuckled the twelfth officer. "It looks like the thug got himself double pay, because I actually hired him to carry out the murder, too! Why? Oh, well it was just a test. Ms. K and I had been dating for some time (no offense, I didn't know she was someone else's property), and one beautiful night she finally told me she loved me. So, naturally, I wanted to see whether this was indeed love - that is, whether she would continue to adore me even while drowning in a pool of her own tears and blood, with me standing before her doing nothing."
I have to had it to him on this one. This is pretty much why I reject the "this is all a test" theory of spirituality. But of course their fuming hatred at people who say this marks their inability to empathize.
By now, it had become clear to me that any difficulty I might have had in reconciling the presumed goodness of the officers with their behavior that day was unfounded, and that anyone who sided against them could do so only for love of evil over good. After all, anyone who has experienced their friendship in the way I have knows that they are good. Their goodness is even manifest in my life - I was in a shambles before I met them, but now everyone remarks on what a changed person I am, so much kinder and happier, apparently possessed of an inner calm. And I have met so many others who feel exactly the same way about them - so many who, like me, know in their hearts the truth that others try to rationalize away with their cold reason and sterile logic. I am ashamed that I ever doubted the entitlement of the twelve officers to my loyalty and my love.
As I was getting ready to leave, the first officer spoke up again. "By the way, I also think you should know that when we stood there watching Ms. K. get raped and stabbed over and over, we were suffering along with her, and we experienced exactly the same pain she did, or perhaps even more." And everyone in the room, myself included, nodded his head in agreement.
Of course this is not kind of answer to the process theology position that says God suffers with humanity but can't save 100% of life. Pain and suffering are those things cannot be saved. The assumption made here by the author is that they could stop such things. Thus it fails to even speak to views such as process, or deism or a view of an impersonal God (the God principle) which assert that God cannot stop such things.
The usual atheist mentality is to mock and blaspheme such a God and to assert that he's not worth worshiping. Then they turn around and idealize Buddhism as atheist spirituality even though its essentially offering the same thing as an impersonal God principle, even though they don't' say that.
Now comes the passive aggressive bit.
Religious readers, do not take offense. I have made this parable as brazen as I could, but my purpose is not to insult or blaspheme.I just got through distorting and insulting your view of life, but I don't mean to insult you.
I have found that religious believers are often conditioned to accept trite solutions to the problem of suffering, and that it is all but impossible to shake that conditioning through dry analysis. The temptation to offer to an entity a moral blank check simply because it sports a nametag with "God" written on it, is overwhelming in our theistic culture. Hence, this attempt to make the point through a medium as far removed from dry analysis as possible. But again, it is all to make a point, not to cause anyone harm. I have not written anything that I would not have wanted directed at me when I myself was a believer.
yes I think you are a perfect idiot to hold your beliefs but don't' be offended.
Atheists are really stuck with the need to reduce answers to pablum because theodicy is one of the major arguments they possess. They can't prove there is no God, they can't win a God argument to save their lives. About the only thing they can do si throw up sweeping objections to the concept of God based upon the nature of the world. Of course we need to be aware of The reverse design argument. (see up top) The best they can get out of it is a moot point because it is either outweighed by God arguments, or equal tot hem; can't reason form the state of the world to God or rule out God's existence for same reason.
comparing God to a big cop in the sky is just another version of thinking of God as a big "guy in the sky." This seems to be about the only way atheists can think about god.
Oddly enough I was thinking of doing an argument along these lines. I don't think sufficient attention is given to the impersonal God option. Even though that is not my view I will do one on it, the impersonal God as an answer to theodolites. I'll put that up in a couple of days. I'll how it relates to a valid Christian position. In the mean time we should recognize that we don't need a definite answer tot he great oceanic questions to justify belief. If I' don't know why God allows pain" is the only answer, they must show why this is not good enough. Because they can't answer other oceanic questions without appealing to God. why aren't we robots? why do we have wills, why do we find meaning in belief? why is the human brain wired to respond to God talk? They can't answer that. At that level all of it has to reduce to personal decision.
The atheist fails to secure his big all purpose God beater argument.