Friday, March 30, 2012

How Can Good God Make Bad World?


This is the progression of a discussion on CARM athiesit that has gone on for several threads. The atheist assert that God can't allow evil because good perfect God wouldn't allow anything bad. Of course we all know the world is can be horrible place so many of us ask this question.It's not just a question of doubt. It's a question we all ask. Those who care and who believe in God really struggle with answers, those who don't want answers only use it as a means of ridiculing the faithful. At one time or anohter in all our lives this becomes a serious question.

One problem with the atheists is that their view of the good is usually teleological, based upon outcomes, and their assumption about the nature of the good is utilitarian. So they only count as "good" the pursuit of pleasure and avoidance of pain. Most of them think they understand how the world would be better than the one God created. A great many of them propose such ideas and some have a sense that if they can prove they could design a better world this disproves God. To say "my idea for a world is better than God's" one must make the same calculation God does. We can't do it becuase you are not even aware that one of the major aspects of the proportion is that this doesn't have to be a good world. We assume good God must make good world. that get's ratcheted down to best possible world." So they think if they can imagine a slightly better world they are better than God. (so to speak).

The original premise that Good God can't make bad world is wrong headed. Good God must make POTENTIALLY bad world to have moral universe. Not becuase we need evil to be good for some mystical reason but becuase moral universe means a universe in which we make moral choices. We can't make moral choices if we lack the real possibility of making evil/wrong choices. We have to live in an universe where evil is a real possibility. the calculation comes in where you try to decide is it worth it? I say only God can decide that. The concepts of good and evil can't be lmited to utlilarian ideology. Good is more than just avoidance of pain, evil more than the presence of pain. In my Augustinian view good is based upon love, (the background of the moral universe) and derives from the "will to the value, dignity, and well being of the other." Evil is the absences of good, therefore, the absence of love. Pain in a physical universe is necessitated for a couple of reasons:

(1) we have physical nerve endings and physical pain is so easy to come by; stub your toe you have pain.

(2) intervening variables such as the need for a moral universe which necessitates free will means that God must allow the presence of evil choices, evil choices usually have pain for someone as a consequence. The reason this must be is becuase without the ability to choose the wrong as well as the right the choice is not real an dis meaningless, the moral agent is not truely free. Since the point of creation is to have free moral agents that willing choose the good, blocking the ability to choose wrongly or blocking the consequences would be a negation of the reason for creation.

When I say God must do a calculation I mean he must do the calculation that says if the trouble to create and the pain it causes on a massive scale is worth it compared to not having any creation at all. Would it really be better not exist than to have pain in the world? I think God is only agent who can make that calculation. The reason the choice is one between nothing vs existence rather than the world we have vs. any better world is because God has to know the outcome. This is why saying "it's a fallen world" is not enough of an answer. God had to know it would be a fallen world. So the question then becomes why would God create a world that would fall? That goes back to the issue that any moral universe requires the necessity that God risk people choosing wrongly.

Since any universe with free agency would result in a fall, and since God is good and perfect and can't tolerate anything less, one screw up would invalidate the whole thing as a world of pain. That means the choice is a stark one between any creation vs none at all. The one peice of the puzzell the atheist utilitairian thinking can't accept or anticipate is the necessity of allowing evil due to intervening variables. If God chooses that a moral universe is worth the pain to have and it's a moral important goal than just straight avoidance of pain, then that's a reason why a good God has to allow a bad world for a time. We can't make that callcuation because we are the one's in the "experiment." We don't have God's complexity or understanding of forethought, or his reasons for creation:on principle lab rats cannot decide if the experiment was a success. Not that God only sees us as lab rats.

The utilitarian/teleological assumptions of the atheists lead them to think in terms of all or nothing and of instant gratification. While the Christian answers sees the necessity of going through the process of overcoming a fallen world.

some atheist comments on carm:

Originally Posted by Lance View Post
I wasn't particularly satisfied with the objections to the argument in Occam's thread. Let's start anew, as I think this argument deserves more discussion.

A logical argument from evil attempts to prove deductively that God does not exist using only claims that are logically necessary, essential to theism, or entailed by theism. Common wisdom has it that Plantinga refuted the logical argument from evil in his 1967 work God and Other Minds, but some philosophers disagree. The following version of the logical argument from evil was presented by Quentin Smith in 1997.
The problem with this assessment is that they don't' even deal with ideas that are essential to theism they mainly create their own straw man God who can't brook a single evil event then try to use that as a basis for saying "see God can't make a world like this." The reasons that would lead one to think he could completely elude them.

Quinton Smith's Argument:

(1) God exists and is omnipotent, omniscient, and wholly good.

Omnipotent does not mean able to violate logical necessity. God can't have his cake and eat it too. He can't create good agents who have free will but can't do evil. I think this premise is here so that the skeptic can claim that a good God could and would prevent evil regardless of FWD , then it's wrongheaded.

(2) There is evil.


(3) An omniscient and omnipotent [and wholly good] being eliminates every evil that it can properly eliminate.

That's the premise that is meant to dislodge god wiht the existence of any kind of evil. It also necessitates the all or nothing approach so that the calculation is bewteen "some creation" vs none at all.

"that he can properly eliminate" probalby means he can't eliminate it and allow free will. To have moral universe there must be the possibility of not choosing the good. that means moral decision making is a decision between good and evil.Choosing not to do the good is a choice to do evil if only by default.

that means a moral must of necessity allow evil choices! that defeats this premise an it defeats the argument.

i say with all sincerity QED!

(4) It is possible for God to create free humans who always do what is right without there being any natural evil, and if God creates these humans, it will not create natural evil.

wrong. To be a true choice they have able to reject the good. if they can't truly reject the good it's not a moral decision. Therefore, the premise is false.

(5) There is no evil. [entailed by (1), (3), and (4)]
they are false premises. I just disproved them.

(Source: The Cambridge Companion to Atheism, p. 169)

An evil that God can "properly eliminate," as the term is used above, is an evil whose destruction does not entail eliminating a greater good or creating greater evil.Thoughts?
Lance is pushing for the idea of God as evil. But he would eliminate a greater good if he didn't allow evil. He would eliminate the good moral decision making. That means that God is not evil just because he allows an evil world for a time. The atheists are here missing several key concepts, so the claim using only claims that are logically necessary, essential to theism they don't do either one. For example the concept of redemption and also that of refining completely allude them. They posit ideas such as limited free will. The agent would have the freedom to choose the good but always and only choose good. But the choice isn't' real unless he possibility of coshing evil could really result in evil. If God blocked that it would mean blocking a higher good, that of free moral agency and a moral universe. Moral universe is one in which free moral agents freely choose the good. The choice is not free if the possibility of screwing it up is not real.

Originally Posted by simplelife View Post
Meta, I have to disagree. Why can God not arrange things such that people always freely choose good (by supplying adequate information, environment, motivation etc) to always choose good of their own free will?

Choosing good is NOT just a matter of education. No matter much information we posses you can't overcome self interest. That's the point of a decision process you have to choose yourself over the good. or the good over yourself hopefully. That whole drama of who will we choose, we have to do something all that will be avoided and I'm sure you want to avoid it. It takes away the responsibility from us and God wants us to have the responsibility.

Originally Posted by Lance View Post
Exactly! I'm glad you get this point. It is by our nature that we choose to do good and evil, and God determined our nature.

That's only half right. The aspect of nature that mandates this is the anxiety that follows form self transcendence. that's inherent in having a psychosocial creation. That's an aspect of how omnipotence can't overcome logical necessity.

Our motivations, our desires, and our ability to resist temptation and strength of will are all qualities God has endowed us with. It stands to reason, then, that God could have made us so that by our nature we would always freely choose good.

God plug's that stuff in when we choose it. It's a matter of choice first. It's first a matter of the will, of having the resolve to choose the good, then god gives us what we need to do it. We have the responsibly to choose.

The libertarian wants to say that there are some other things that factor into our choices that God is not in control of, but what are those things exactly? Many point to the very mysterious and poorly defined "soul", but that in of itself is quite a philosophical train wreak.

I refuse to be called a "libertarian" but I do argue that way. I just answered that. Soul is the issue. Soul is a metaphor for the relation between our lives and God. The point is we have to make the choice before we employ the strength to keep it. Then we will be given the strength spiritually when we choose the good and step out in faith.

Some people want the responsibility taken off their shoulders. they want to blame God for their stupid choices. Not to take responsibly for their loyalties.

In answer to anther poster's question about "do you want to feel god's love."

Originally Posted by Lance View Post
If God does in fact exist, yes I would like to experience such a thing. As of now I have not, though, and from where I stand the evidence appears to be against his existence.
that's becuase you don't want God exist. open your eyes and look at the rationalization you doing to yourself.

If god came down today in front your face and said "I am here, I want you to give up the things I say are sinful and then you can know me." You wouldn't do it would you? you would say "only if you force me to so I want have to choose."

is that actually what you are saying? I'm only going by the example you've given i coutner to the argument. (in previous exchanges he advocated certain sins as "awesome" saying "don't knock it until you have tried it").

Originally Posted by maybrick View Post
The problem you are not seeming to see is that according to your religion God can, and indeed will create a perfect world. This perfect world will be inhabited by (presumably) perfect (human?) beings. I put the "human" in brackets, because at this point in our theoretical existance I am not sure these beings would qualify as Human.

What you are not facing is the imagery of the Gospels about refining. Perfection comes after refinement, that comes through a struggle for spatial life that invovles having to take responsibility for one's choices. God created a perfect world and we chose to sin. Of course God knew it would happen so the issues are not really about that so much as an overall calculus of a painful world vs no world in which the good is met through choices, but the possibility of choosing wrongly is real and causes pain, vs no world at all, which means no sin at all but also mean no moral refinement, redemption, or perfecting.

The arguments your side is putting forth are about evading the responsibility of choosing. you want God to remove the problematic nature of choice making from you so you don't have take responsibility for bad choices.

But these beings will (again presumably) only ever choose the good over the bad. And they will be that way because God made them so.This world (as I am sure you know) is heaven.
NO! agian1 for the umptihjumpth time. people in heaven are there because when they go through the mill on earth and they get refined. only those are in heaven who want to be there. Only those are there who want to be there. They want to be there because they don't want sin. they don't' want sin because they internalized the good by seeking truth and they suffered for it. so they rally choose good.

Every assumption you have made is wrong. people in heaven are not automatically made perfect they are refined. they took responsibility for their choices and they chose rightly. They internalized the values of the good.

Unknown Atheist:
not the guys screen name, I just don't remember
who said this:

The only counter (that I have seen) is that we need our earthly life with all its suffering to appreciate heaven and only want to make the right choices. I think I have seen you make this argument, and I have certainly seen others do so.

you are kind of spining it to suit your needs. I never said "we need suffering to appreciate heaven" internalizing values is a bit stronger than that.

But this counter fails utterly on two fronts.

Unknown guy again:
The vast majority of humans (assuming life begins at conception) die well before they are in any position to make any decisions regarding good/evil and (again, presumably) go straight to heaven. Hence God simply doesn't attach that much importance to making good/righteous decisions and having beliefs. The pure numbers speak of a God who fasttracks most Homo sapiens to heaven. This obviously runs counter to Christian theology.

The vast majority don't die in infancy do they? Infant morality rate for the world is like 90%? I don't think so. Your counting sperm? this is jaundiced. Moreover, you are assuming they would all get eternal life. why assume this? maybe they just cease to be. Other possibilities:

(1) levels in heaven.

(2) purgatory

(3) Reincorporation?

There are alternatives.

(2) The counter implies that God cannot endow us with an inbuilt knowledge of evil and what making wrong decisions can lead to. But why? Is this a god who doesn't possess the knowledge that both you and possess right now?

I've expalined over and over. you are assuming that there is value in the process of learning. you are assuming people are machines and you just feed some data in and they do what the data shows and there's no learning, feeling, life, construct, experience, you don't have to experience something to understated and appropriate it. that's all antithetical to the spiritual life. Spiritual life is about learning its' about a process we must go through to be refined

If you read the gospels you see many many references to reefing fire, wheat from chaff, burning off the dross.

I understand right now the consequences of picking up a hammer and randomly beating my wife to death with it. Seemingly, God doesn't. I also didn't need 40 years on this planet to understand this concept.

what you are saying is you understand seeking pleasure over pain and immediate gratification but you don't' understand learning and being refined and making spiritual progress.

People in American society been so seperated form their spiritual heritage and the depth of an inner life (tv and one-dimensional society--consumerism) one-dimensional man has taken its toll. Apparently all you can understand is infantile stimulation of immediate gratification you don't understand the basics of a spiritual life.


Ignorance said...

Sorry for zooming in on a very small aside, but:

I refuse to be called a "libertarian" but I do argue that way.

May I ask why? Isn't it just the proper term for the view that rejects both determinism and indeterminism?

Joseph Hinman (Metacrock) said...

Ignorance said...

Sorry for zooming in on a very small aside, but:

I refuse to be called a "libertarian" but I do argue that way.

May I ask why? Isn't it just the proper term for the view that rejects both determinism and indeterminism?

yes well my comment was first and foremost a political joke. dry wit, I live to laugh, a lot of what I say is sarcasm. Adam West was my comedic hero.

It's also not entirely accurate. I don't completely reject determinism. It think many things are determined. freewill and determinism are compatible in some ways. Not everything is determined we have free will in general and in certain specific ways, such as the ability to make moral decisions.

Certain ways free will rules out determinism but only in those areas in which we have free will.