the prosblogian a philosophy of religion blog
Admits we can't have a valid piror on theitsic arguements but we can have non numerical reasoning from comparing stength of evidence.
For instance, we might have the judgment that the evidential strength of the Problem of Evil (POE) as an argument against theism is no greater than the evidential strength of the Finetuning Argument (FTA) as an argument for theism. Two thoughts in support of this: (1) the low-entropy initial state of the our universe has been estimated by Penrose to be utterly incredibly unlikely (my paraphrase of his 10^(-10^123)) and some of the other anthropic coincidences come with what are intuitively extremely narrow ranges; the theist has proposed various theodicies--they may not be convincing, but it seems reasonable to say that the probability that together they answer the POE is no less, indeed quite a bit greater, than the incredibly tiny probabilities that FTA claims; (2) just as thinking about naturalistic multiverse hypotheses significantly decreases the force of FTA, thinking about theistic multiverse hypotheses significantly decreases the force of POE (cf. Turner and Kraay's work); (3) just as in the case of FTA we might worry that there is some nomic explanation of the coincidences that we haven't found, so too in the case of POE we have sceptical theism.
This means that the theist can simply sacrifice FTA to POE: the FTA either balances POE or outbalances POE (I think the latter, because of point (1) above).
Then the theist has a nice supply of other strong and serious theistic arguments, such as the cosmological, non-FTA design arguments (e.g., Swinburne's laws of nature argument), ontological, religious experience, moral epistemology (theism has a much better explanation than naturalism of how we can know objective moral truths), etc. The atheist has a few other arguments, too, but I think they are not very impressive (the Stone and other issues for the Chisholming of divine attributes, Grim-style worries about omniscience and infinity, worries about the interaction between the physical and nonphysical). At least once POE is completely out of the picture, even if FTA is lost, the theist can make a very strong case.
I don't think we have to lose either. While we can't know the ultimate reason for God's creation will probably always allude us, all we need to do is supply a logical reason for the allowance of pain to see that there is a logical reason. Even if our reason is totally speculative it's still illustration of the fact that there can be one. Thus we need not assume God is indifferent or non existence merely becuase he allows evil, pain, and suffering.
Logical Reason for POE/P/S
One such logical reason is my Soeteriological drama argument. This is the idea that God wants us to search for truth. The search doesn't have to take a life time, it could over very quickly. That is a matter that is up to the individual becuase some people are more stubborn than others. Here's what the argument looks like:
There are three basic assumptions that are hidden, or perhaps not so obivioius, but nevertheless must be dealt with here.
(1) The assumption that God wants a "moral universe" and that this value outweighs all others.
The idea that God wants a moral universe I take from my basic view of God and morality. Following in the footsteps of Joseph Fletcher (Situation Ethics) I assume that love is the background of the moral universe (this is also an Augustinian view). I also assume that there is a deeply ontological connection between love and Being. Axiomatically, in my view point, love is the basic impitus of Being itself. Thus, it seems reasonable to me that, if morality is an upshot of love, or if love motivates moral behavior, then the creation of a moral universe is essential.
(2) that internal "seeking" leads to greater internalization of values than forced compliance or complaisance that would be the result of intimidation.
That's a pretty fair assumption. We all know that people will a lot more to achieve a goal they truly beileve in than one they merely feel forced or obligated to follow but couldn't care less about.
(3)the the drama or the big mystery is the only way to accomplish that end.
The pursuit of the value system becomes a search of the heart for ultimate meaning,that ensures that people continue to seek it until it has been fully internalized.
The argument would look like this:
(1)God's purpose in creation: to create a Moral Universe, that is one in which free moral agents willingly choose the Good.
(2) Moral choice requires absolutely that choice be free (thus free will is necessitated).
(3) Allowance of free choices requires the risk that the chooser will make evil choices
(4)The possibility of evil choices is a risk God must run, thus the value of free outweighs all other considerations, since without there would be no moral universe and the purpose of creation would be thwarted.
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 entails. Thus there would be no mystery and people would be much less inclined to sin.
This is the point where Soteriological Drama figures into it. Argument on Soteriological Drama:
(5) Life is a "Drama" not for the sake of entertainment, but in the sense that a dramatic tension exists between our ordinary observations of life on a daily basis, and the ultiamte goals, ends and purposes for which we are on this earth.
(6) Clearly God wants us to seek on a level other than the obvious, daily, demonstrative level or he would have made the situation more plain to us
(7) We can assume that the reason for the "big mystery" is the internalization of choices. If God appeared to the world in open objective fashion and laid down the rules, we would probably all try to follow them, but we would not want to follow them. Thus our obedience would be lip service and not from the heart.
(8) therefore, God wants a heart felt response which is internationalized value system that comes through the search for existential answers; that search is phenomenological; introspective, internal, not amenable to ordinary demonstrative evidence.
In other words, we are part of a great drama and our actions and our dilemmas and our choices are all part of the way we respond to the situation as characters in a drama.
This theory also explains why God doesn't often regenerate limbs in healing the sick. That would be a dead giveaway. God creates criteria under which healing takes place, that criteria can't negate the overall plan of a search.
This argument doesn't have to prove as the "actual reason" for God's actions. It only has to be thought of as a plausible reaosn, that's enough to know that there is a valid reason. One of the major objections has been that many people have short lives, die in birth or in childhood thus they are cheated out of the chance to have the search. The problem with that is mitigated when we realize those who die as children are not subject to miss the rewards of after life, they are not blameworthy for sin becuase they have not reach age accountability. That they are cheated out of having life is a great tragedy but a necessary consequence since the perimeters of the search much be kept in a state of neutral seeming world. In other words if God intervened all the time there would be need for a search. No one would internalize the values of the good. The same is true of those who die after childhood but still in their youth. They don't have to a full life span. They would not get that anyway if there was no God. It's really just a complaint that life doesn't come with a guarantee.
Then of course atheist resort to the brilliant suggestion that death is so much better than life why don't we kill our children so they have a free pass to haven. Do we really to go into that one? They want to complain about missing the search on one hand but then get out of having to do it on the other.
One might question the basic concept that we need to internalize the values. That goes back to that universal atheist attitude, why doesn't God just make life to be perpetual summer camp where I'm allowed to do whatever the hell I wish and it never has to matter? That's just the necessity of taking love and morality seriously. If we take morality seriously then we want to be moral. WE don't want to just get out of having to be good. Unless we internationalize that value we would resent God's authority. The more one delivers lip service to something in which one does not believe, the more resentful one becomes. Through the search one comes to conviction that God is real, it's not just thrust upon us, and through conviction one comes to appreciate God's grace and to care about being good.
Then of course the exit ramps have to be kept intact. In other words there must be a way for the search to pay off and the truth to be found. One such way is the clues that one can pick up on and use to make God arguments. One such clue is the fine tuning argument. So there's no need to abandon a fine arguemnt when we can answer the problem of evil.
One of the major arguments against this theodicy is the short lives argument. There are so many who die in infancy or childhood or when they are young, they never get to do much searching. There are a couple of things to keep in mind. First, that I believe in the age of accountability. Children and infants die before they reach a level off maturity such that they are accountable for sin. They are not in eternal danger. Of course it's a tragedy. Tragedy is part of the world, it's part of life. Secondly, some people don't need to do that much searching. A lot of people are ready to make the leap of faith without prolonging the battle of the wills to resist God. Thirdly, if the search means anything the world must be kept open ended. It must be the kind of world in which one must be able to draw conclusions form the nature of the world but not the kind in which all doubt is removed. Again, this may not be the right answer, but that's not important. What matters is the possibility that there is an answer.
The fine tuning argument need not be given up, there is no trade off. It's not a dead give away as it would be if God worked a miracle to end all pain. It's a warrant from which one might draw a rational conclusion but it's not beyond all doubt.