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 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 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.
(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?
Originally Posted by simplelife 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 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.
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.
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
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 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.Meta:
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.
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.
(1) levels in heaven.
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?
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.