Intelligent Design

How Are Evil and Chocolate Ice Cream Alike?

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The atheist declares there is no transcendent objective standard by which to measure ethical choices.  Thus, ethics ultimately boils down to subjective preference.  For the atheist, our subjective preference for the ethical rule against theft, for example, is impelled by evolution.  Theft is, on balance, maladaptive.  Therefore, our genes cause us not to prefer it.

To the extent this is true, out ethical choices are akin to our aesthetic judgments.  The evolutionary materialist says that our aesthetic judgments are also impelled by evolution.  We judge certain things to be beautiful or sublime not because they are beautiful or sublime in any objective sense, but because our aesthetic preferences have been formed by evolutionary adaptations in exactly the same way our ethical preferences have been formed by evolutionary adaptations.

Fair enough.  It seems to me, however, that if this is true the so-called “problem of evil” as an argument against the existence of God would evaporate instantly.

Consider the following argument:

1.  Evolutionary adaptations have caused me to prefer chocolate ice cream.

2.  An omni-benevolent, all powerful God would share my preference for chocolate ice cream.

3.  From the evidence available to me, I have concluded no deity exists who prefers chocolate ice cream.

4.  Therefore, God does not exist.

The argument is perfectly valid (i.e, the conclusion follows if the premises are true).  But only an idiot would think the argument is sound (i.e., the premises are true).

Now consider a similar argument:

1.  Evolutionary adaptions have caused me to prefer that theft never occur.

2.  An omni-benevolent, all powerful God would share and indeed enforce my preference that theft not occur.

3.  From the evidence available to me, I have concluded no deity exists who shares my preference that theft not occur.

4.  Therefore, God does not exist.

Again, the argument is perfectly valid but obviously unsound.  The argument  hangs on the assumption that my subjective preferences resulting from evolutionary adaptations should somehow be binding on God and if no deity acts in a way that is consonant with my subjective preferences, that is powerful evidence that no deity exists.

Left unanswered is the following question:  Why should the evolutionary adaptation that caused me not to prefer theft be any more binding on God than the evolutionary adaptation that caused me to prefer chocolate ice cream?

The argument against the existence of God based on the “problem of evil” works only if “evil” means more than “that which evolutionary adaptations have caused me not to prefer.”  Indeed, the argument works only if there is an objective ethical standard by which to judge God.  But such a standard can exist only if God exists. Therefore, the argument swallows its own tail.

 

 

34 Replies to “How Are Evil and Chocolate Ice Cream Alike?

  1. 1
    Jim Smith says:

    The problem of evil is not an argument against God it is an argument against specific claims made by certain religions. The problem of evil has no bearing on the empirical evidence for a creator such as the fine turning of the universe to support life, or the impossibility of a natural cause producing information, irreducible complexity, semiotic systems or cybernetic systems. It has no bearing on the fact that many people who have NDEs meet God, some of whom even get answers to the question of evil during their experience.

  2. 2
    Barry Arrington says:

    Jim:
    “The problem of evil is not an argument against God . . .”

    I grant that it is not a good argument against the existence of God. But it is often used as such nevertheless.

  3. 3

    Barry Arrington wrote: “The atheist declares there is no transcendent objective standard by which to measure ethical choices. Thus, ethics ultimately boils down to subjective preference.”

    It’s wrong, atheists don’t do subjectivity, because subjectivity is a creationist concept.

    Subjectivity means to choose about what the agency of a decision is, this procedure results in an opinion.

    Somebody makes some decision, then you choose the answer to the question what the agency of the decision was, choose between goodness and evil for instance, choose evil, then the opinion is that evil made the decision turn out the way it did.

    That is how the spirit, in this case evil, determined which way the universe turned out.

    Of course real life opinions are more sophisticated than just choosing between the words good and evil. There are laws to consider and such in forming an opinion.

    But for any opinion it must be true that it is chosen, and that it is about the agency of a decision, otherwise it is not a logically valid opinion. Forced answers for example, are not valid opinions.

    The message of religion is that subjectivity, faith, is a valid way to express what is real, and what is not real, but only applied to agency. The evil is held to be real in this case. But that the evil is held to be real does not therefore mean that the evil is objective. It is still simply subjective.

    Objectivity applies to how the decision is made, what the available options are, what the result is. Those are all matters of fact.

    Only creationism accepts the validity of both fact and opinion.

    Atheism, materialism, evolutionism, etc. only accept the validity of facts.

    Atheists use a different definition for subjectivity unrelated to choosing. Atheists conceive of subjectivity basically as; statements about nature dependent on what the observer consists of. Like; a woman will have this “opinion”, a man will have another “opinion”. The “opinion” is FORCED by the fact that the observer is a man, it is not chosen.

    Or the “opinion” may be forced by the position from which the observer is looking fom. etc.

    Atheists NEVER accept subjectivity is a valid way to reach a conclusion about what is real or not, atheists only do objectivity.

  4. 4
    Mung says:

    Barry, first they have to learn how to walk.

    For example, over at TSZ Elizabeth declared:

    But an argument based on a false premise will lead to a false conclusion.

  5. 5
    Virgil Cain says:

    For the atheist, our subjective preference for the ethical rule against theft, for example, is impelled by evolution.

    Or we could get rid of theft by calling it “sharing”. And if everyone “shared” then everyone would have. And if everyone had then no one would want. And if no one wanted then no one would steal. 😎

  6. 6
    Bob O'H says:

    Barry, I don’t see how the Chocolate Ice Cream argument is an argument against the Problem of Evil. The Problem of Evil uses the premise that an omnipotent god has declared some things to be evil. It doesn’t matter what I, you, or any other human thinks is evil: it’s that this omnipotent god thinks it’s evil.

    Incidentally, I’m not sure part 2 of the argument is logically valid: it needs the rather arrogant assumption that the person making the argument has god-like abilities to determine what is good or not. An inevitable aspect of subjectivism is the realisation that this isn’t the case (although, yes, some atheists do seem to forget this at times).

  7. 7
    Mung says:

    Hi Bob O’H:

    The Problem of Evil uses the premise that an omnipotent god has declared some things to be evil.

    All the time I see people raise what they consider to be natural evils, which have nothing to do with whether or not God declared anything at all.

  8. 8
    Bob O'H says:

    Yes, Mung, that’s definitely so, and is partly my point. But the Problem of Evil considers an omnipotent moral god who has defined some things to be evil. So it doesn’t matter, for the argument, what we mere humans think is evil. It’s what this god thinks is evil that matters for the argument.

  9. 9
    Barry Arrington says:

    Bob,

    “It’s what this god thinks is evil that matters for the argument.”

    So? I assume you are suggesting that the problem of evil has force if God fails to act by his own standard.

    And why does it matter that evolutionary adaptations have caused you to prefer a God who adheres to his own standard?

  10. 10
    Seversky says:

    The atheist declares there is no transcendent objective standard by which to measure ethical choices. Thus, ethics ultimately boils down to subjective preference. For the atheist, our subjective preference for the ethical rule against theft, for example, is impelled by evolution. Theft is, on balance, maladaptive. Therefore, our genes cause us not to prefer it.

    I would argue that most people would agree that human beings, being relatively weak and vulnerable creatures, survive better in groups than alone. I would also argue that most would prefer to belong to a group or society which looks out for their interests rather than one which is indifferent to them or actively tramples on them. Since most people have certain basic interests in common, it should not be too hard to come to some agreement about rules of behavior that should be observed by all for the good of all. So, yes, each individual’s views are subjective but it’s at least possible to reach common cause on many such issues through inter-subjective agreement.

    The argument from evil can be effective against a god but only where that god is defined in a certain way. If the motives and purposes of that god are held to be forever inscrutable to us, then we cannot know whether or not there is a contradiction involved.

  11. 11
    Barry Arrington says:

    Sev,

    Your point is not clear. Your first paragraph states more or less the same thing that I did. Under an atheistic paradigm rules of conduct are based on subjective preferences that further reproductive success. OK. You agree with me.

    I am not sure what point you are trying to make in your second paragraph. It seems to be that there are other arguments against the “problem of evil” that I did not mention. That is certainly true.

  12. 12
    Bob O'H says:

    So? I assume you are suggesting that the problem of evil has force if God fails to act by his own standard.

    Yes, that’s pretty much my understanding of the argument (assuming the God in question is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent).

    And why does it matter that evolutionary adaptations have caused you to prefer a God who adheres to his own standard?

    Err, what? For the Problem of Evil it’s utterly irrelevant what I prefer.

  13. 13
    StephenB says:

    Bob O’H

    Barry, I don’t see how the Chocolate Ice Cream argument is an argument against the Problem of Evil. The Problem of Evil uses the premise that an omnipotent god has declared some things to be evil. It doesn’t matter what I, you, or any other human thinks is evil: it’s that this omnipotent god thinks it’s evil.

    Let me try to explain it another way. One cannot argue against the existence of God on the basis of a “subjective” evil that emerges from an evolutionary process. You appear to agree. So, just follow the logic:

    The atheist can only argue against God if he also concedes that evil is an objective reality that God should have prevented but failed to do so either because He could not or would not.

    But if evil is an objective reality, then God must exist for one simple reason: Only God can create goodness, which is the sole determinant of what is evil.

    Evil cannot exist except as a parasite on (or in the absence of) a created good. Thus, if there is objective evil, there must be objective good. If there is objective good, there must be God.

  14. 14
    Bob O'H says:

    The atheist can only argue against God if he also concedes that evil is an objective reality that God should have prevented but failed to do so either because He could not or would not.

    Not quite – he can manage quite well by conceding that there are some acts that are considered evil in God’s eyes.

    The rest of your post is outlining one solution to the problem, but that wasn’t what Barry was posting about, or what I was commenting on. So I’m going to avoid getting pulled into that discussion. I have no problems with you trying to raise it, but I just want to focus.

  15. 15
    kairosfocus says:

    Mung . . . in re EL, false premises are routinely used in arguments that yield correct conclusions; e.g. in scientific or engineering theorising and modelling. The problem is that false premises are inherently unreliable and so cannot be trusted. In modelling and theorising, that is well known, and there is a concept of range of thus far validation that empirically reliable results are produced. KF

  16. 16
    kairosfocus says:

    Folks,

    a pivotal issue, is what is evil?

    In which context, what is good arises as more fundamental, and the classic ethical theistic answer is that the inherently good and wise God is Creator, and creates a cosmos in which creatures have purpose leading to a good order. Evil then arises as a secondary and contingent matter, the twisting, frustration, privation, perversion etc of what is good out of its creational and proper end and order. Where, that end is often evident from what has been created, e.g. rights to life, liberty and pursuit of the fulfillment of calling or purpose under God giving rise to true happiness. (And yes that is the actual ideas context of the US DoI 1776.)

    In such a context, e.g., theft is evident as the improper acquiring of another person’s rightful property by stealth, fraud or naked force. Lying, as the speaking with disregard to truth, in the hope that one profits from what is said or suggested being taken as true: THEFT OF TRUTH. Murder as theft of another’s life. Slander as attempted or successful theft of reputation. And so forth, including theft of law and it use to impose folly, ruin and evil on the community, robbing it of the civil peace of justice — as is ongoing all across our civilisation.

    And, I here also intend to point out how the core premises of moral law mutually reinforce.

    The moral law is thus as foundational to the order of the cosmos as any other, and we are under moral government, which is evident to us to the point where it is self evident at the core. This is how many seek to profit from creating the false perception that law is a matter of might or manipulation or so-called survival of the fittest. As core morality will resist distortion for most people, they imagine they can carve out exceptions or distortions at pleasure and to advantage.

    In so doing, they forget the point warned of by Kant, as evils spread across a society, the moral fabric unravels, and there is disintegration. This is one way civilisations die, by rotting from within through moral gangrene.

    Beyond a certain point, there is nothing left worth fighting for and the rotten house falls to some new tyranny and dark age.

    Which is exactly what is ongoing all around us.

    Those who promote or enable or blindly follow agendas that turn on the nihilistic, amoral premise that might and manipulation make ‘right,’ have much to answer for.

    And, there is no excuse.

    We are back to the IS-OUGHT gap, and such can only find a solid answer in the roots of reality.

    For which, there is exactly one serious candidate: the inherently good creator God, a necessary and maximally great (thus good) being who is worthy of loyalty and of the reasonable service of doing the good in accord with our evident nature. Which good includes appropriately responding to what can be known about God inherently, and/or what comes to us as credible revelation, record and witness in accord with that inherent goodness.

    As a civilisation, we have been weighed in the balance and are found utterly, inexcusably wanting.

    Fools, collectively, are we, on a willfully defiant march of utter folly to ruin. (Cf. here. And, that is my perpetual new year’s message.)

    Dembski summarises from Boethius, who wrote while awaiting unjust execution on false charges driven by ruthless power games in a Germanic prince’s court, as the western empire disintegrated further and further and fell into an age of chaos and darkness:

    In his Consolation of Philosophy, Boethius states the following paradox: “If God exists, whence evil? But whence good, if God does not exist?” Boethius contrasts the problem that evil poses for theism with the problem that good poses for atheism. The problem of good does not receive nearly as much attention as the problem evil, but it is the more basic problem. That’s because evil always presupposes a good that has been subverted. All our words for evil make this plain: the New Testament word for sin (Greek hamartia) presupposes a target that’s been missed; deviation presupposes a way (Latin via) from which we’ve departed; injustice presupposes justice; etc. So let’s ask, who’s got the worse problem, the theist or the atheist? Start with the theist. God is the source of all being and purpose. Given God’s existence, what sense does it make to deny God’s goodness? None . . . . The problem of evil still confronts theists, though not as a logical or philosophical problem, but instead as a psychological and existential one [as was addressed above] . . . .

    The problem of good as it faces the atheist is this: nature, which is nuts-and-bolts reality for the atheist, has no values and thus can offer no grounding for good and evil. As nineteenth century freethinker Robert Green Ingersoll used to say, “In nature there are neither rewards nor punishments. There are consequences.” More recently, Richard Dawkins made the same point: “The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind pitiless indifference.” [“Prepared Remarks for the Dembski-Hitchens Debate,” Uncommon Descent Blog, Nov 22, 2010]

    Those who willfully refuse or distort or foolishly neglect the lessons of sound history doom themselves to relive its worst chapters.

    Hence, our all too predictable fate, unless by some miracle of mercy we manage to turn back.

    KF

  17. 17
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: Locke’s warning in the intro to his essay on human understanding, Sect 5:

    Men have reason to be well satisfied with what God hath thought fit for them, since he hath given them (as St. Peter says [NB: i.e. 2 Pet 1:2 – 4]) pana pros zoen kaieusebeian, whatsoever is necessary for the conveniences of life and information of virtue; and has put within the reach of their discovery, the comfortable provision for this life, and the way that leads to a better. How short soever their knowledge may come of an universal or perfect comprehension of whatsoever is, it yet secures their great concernments [Prov 1: 1 – 7], that they have light enough to lead them to the knowledge of their Maker, and the sight of their own duties [cf Rom 1 – 2, Ac 17, etc, etc]. Men may find matter sufficient to busy their heads, and employ their hands with variety, delight, and satisfaction, if they will not boldly quarrel with their own constitution, and throw away the blessings their hands are filled with, because they are not big enough to grasp everything . . . It will be no excuse to an idle and untoward servant [Matt 24:42 – 51], who would not attend his business by candle light, to plead that he had not broad sunshine. The Candle that is set up in us [Prov 20:27] shines bright enough for all our purposes . . . If we will disbelieve everything, because we cannot certainly know all things, we shall do muchwhat as wisely as he who would not use his legs, but sit still and perish, because he had no wings to fly.

    Do we realise the matches we are playing with, the dragon’s tail we insist on tickling?

  18. 18
    Barry Arrington says:

    Bob
    “but that wasn’t what Barry was posting about”

    Actually, SB restated exactly the argument I made. That you don’t understand this means you did not understand the OP.

  19. 19
    Bob O'H says:

    Barry, the OP makes no mention of Good as the opposite of Evil, or indeed any other solution to the problem of evil, so no wonder I didn’t understand it!

  20. 20

    Bob,

    We often define God as a “maximally great being.” That concept would be completely without force absent “maximally.” It’s a quantification that encompasses all of God’s attributes, including His goodness.

    Try to see, then, that without even a concept of a maximally great being, or simply of maximal greatness in the moral sense, the concept of evil is meaningless. Atheists present the argument from having a concept of a maximally great being, just as do theists in their argument. Theists believe such a being MUST exist for there to be objective morality, based on the presence of “lesser greatness” (iow, evil); while atheists view the presence of evil as essentially the absense of maximal greatness. It’s incoherent. You can’t understand any level of “greatness” apart from the maximal (the standard). You can’t refute the god concept of maximal greatness without invoking it. So it doesn’t work.

    There also seems to be a category error going on here. Maximal greatness is at the top of the scale of greatness. Evil isn’t that which negates greatness; rather, it’s that which diminishes it.

  21. 21
    StephenB says:

    Bob O’H

    Not quite – he can manage quite well by conceding that there are some acts that are considered evil in God’s eyes.

    Not really. The atheist argues that evil in the world (as observed and understood by the atheist) cannot be reconciled with all loving, all knowing, all powerful God.

    The rest of your post is outlining one solution to the problem, but that wasn’t what Barry was posting about, or what I was commenting on.

    I was rephrasing the main points of Barry’s OP in order to emphasize some aspects that I felt were being ignored. His argument and my argument are exactly the same. Because I understand (and agree with) every phase of Barry’s argument, I can rephrase it in my own words. Because Barry understands my rephrasing, he can know that we are both saying the same thing.

    …the OP makes no mention of Good as the opposite of Evil, or indeed any other solution to the problem of evil, so no wonder I didn’t understand it!

    The atheist’s argument assumes that good and evil are opposites. He claims, in that context, that a good God is irreconcilable with evil in the world. As Barry points out, that argument self destructs.

  22. 22
    Bob O'H says:

    Not really. The atheist argues that evil in the world (as observed and understood by the atheist) cannot be reconciled with all loving, all knowing, all powerful God.

    No, it’s not for the atheist to identify evil – the Problem of Evil still exists even if an atheist doesn’t recognise evil exists. he logical requirement is that God is onmibenevolent, i.e. God gets to define Good and Evil.

    If you sand up and say “eating chocolate ice cream is evil” and I later catch you eating chocolate ice cream, it’s you who are the hypocrite regardless of whether I like chocolate ice cream or not.

  23. 23
    StephenB says:

    Bob O’H

    No, it’s not for the atheist to identify evil – the Problem of Evil still exists even if an atheist doesn’t recognise evil exists.

    That doesn’t make sense. How can the atheist say that evil is a problem if he cannot identify it or recognize its existence?

    The logical requirement is that God is omnibenevent, i.e. God gets to define Good and Evil.

    The atheist’s argument is [a] evil exists, therefore [b] God does not exist. Where in that argument do you find any references about “God’s definition” of evil?

    The atheist’s implied definition of evil is the same as the dictionary definition, namely something that is “morally bad” or something that “harms or injures people.” That is another way of saying that evil is a privation or lack of something good. Do you define evil in some other way? If so, what is your definition?

    (Interestingly, when the atheist stops arguing against God, he completely reverses his field and declares that there is no such thing as objective good, which also means there can be no such thing as objective evil. Accordingly, he reworks his definition of evil to mean anything he doesn’t like. Insofar as he is confused about what is good, the atheist is also confused about what is evil. Barry also made this point in his own way.)

    The logical requirement is that God is onmibenevolent, i.e. God gets to define Good and Evil.

    Logical requirement for what? You have not completed your thought.

    If you sand and up and say “eating chocolate ice cream is evil” and I later catch you eating chocolate ice cream, it’s you who are the hypocrite regardless of whether I like chocolate ice cream or not.

    Everyone agrees that hypocrites do not hold themselves accountable to their own moral standards. So what? Again, I would ask you to complete your thought.

  24. 24
    jerry says:

    No, it’s not for the atheist to identify evil – the Problem of Evil still exists even if an atheist doesn’t recognise evil exists. he logical requirement is that God is onmibenevolent, i.e. God gets to define Good and Evil.

    I will put in my two cents again on evil. What is the definition of evil?

    I have seen various attempts on this site at a definition of evil but no coherent definition that is meaningful, except in one instance.

  25. 25
    jerry says:

    The argument against the existence of God based on the “problem of evil” works only if “evil” means more than “that which evolutionary adaptations have caused me not to prefer.” Indeed, the argument works only if there is an objective ethical standard by which to judge God. But such a standard can exist only if God exists. Therefore, the argument swallows its own tail.

    There is another way of looking at the theodicy argument. Namely, the argument fails if there is no such thing that God does or allows that is evil. Except one?

    There has to be a definition of evil. Evil is just a term we apply to a range of unwanted consequences or willful acts of individuals that lead to unwanted consequences. But is such a vague definition meaningful? Nearly anything could be defined as unwanted by someone.

  26. 26
    StephenB says:

    The logical requirement is that God is omnibenevent, i.e. God gets to define Good and Evil.

    The atheist’s argument is [a] evil exists, therefore [b] God does not exist. Where in that argument do you find any references about “God’s definition” of evil?

    The atheist’s implied definition is the same as the dictionary definition, namely something “morally bad” or something that “harms or injures people.” That is another way of saying that evil is a privation or lack of something good. Do you define evil in some other way? If so, what is your definition?

    (Interestingly, when the atheist stops arguing against God, he completely reverses his field and declares that there is no such thing as objective good, which also means there can be no such thing as objective evil. Accordingly, he reworks his definition of evil to mean anything he doesn’t like. Atheists are irrational in that context. As a general rule, they cannot reason properly. Because they are confused about what is good, they are also confused about what is evil. Barry also made this point in his own way.)

  27. 27
    Mung says:

    Many atheists I’ve come across seem to think that God is evil.

  28. 28
    Ken_M says:

    Mung: “Many atheists I’ve come across seem to think that God is evil.”

    I respectfully disagree. There is not a single atheist who thinks that god is evil. It is simply not possible. But, there are many things that have been done in god’s name that are “evil” (whatever that means).

  29. 29
    Vy says:

    There is not a single atheist who thinks that god is evil

    This Atheist didn’t get the memo:

    Well, since we’ve established that God is evil by definition ..,

  30. 30
    jerry says:

    This Atheist didn’t get the memo:

    He has trouble with a definition of the word or the concept of “evil.”

    Again, I suggest we all agree on a definition of this word we tend to throw about. I suggested “unwanted consequences” which immediately causes problems because the range of unwanted consequences can range from the absurdly trivial to an agonizing experience of physical or mental pain or to death.

    So we have a ordered continuum of unwanted consequences. At what point on this continuum do we draw a line and call those consequences to one side, evil? The answer is there is no point that can be defined. We may agree that there are instances we might all agree are on one side of the line but this just shows the arbitrariness of the definition because there will be many instances on which we cannot agree.

    So is God to be associated with these unwanted instances? Or are we just using semantics when we make this association. Using the term “evil” in one sense here and in another sense some place else. In God’s eye or mind what may be evil may be very different from how we are using the word. In Christian theology there is only one real evil, that is lack of salvation.

    So if one is going to attack the Christian God for condoning evil, it must be on this basis and not on finite but extremely unpleasant circumstances. Because the Christian God is offering up something that dwarfs any unpleasant circumstance one can think of.

    On this basis the theodicy argument falls apart because there is essentially no evil caused by God, only a situation which we freely cause, actions that lead to a lack of salvation. Now if God damned us and we did not do anything to cause it, then maybe that is an evil God.

    This leads us to the purpose of “unwanted circumstances” of any intensity. And we can debate just what the purpose of these instances are. These instances may be necessary for a variety of reasons but they are not an impediment to avoiding the one real evil in Christian theology.

  31. 31
    Ken_M says:

    KairosFocus: “a pivotal issue, is what is evil?”

    In this, KF is absolutely correct. Is “evil” objective? Is it subjective? Is it a poor choice of terms? Unfortunately, there is no way to know. There are many things that are almost universally held to be “evil”. Such as torturing children for pleasure. But universality does not mean something is evil or good, it only means that it is a commonly held “belief”. Much of what we would call “evil” or “bad” can easily been shown to be “bad” for a functioning society. As such, we would expect rational humans to arrive at common conclusions. But, there will always be a handful of people that manipulate this fact for their own benefit. Are they “evil”? I really can’t answer that except on a case-by case basis. And it would merely be my opinion.

    KairosFocus: “In which context, what is good arises as more fundamental, and the classic ethical theistic answer is that the inherently good and wise God is Creator, and creates a cosmos in which creatures have purpose leading to a good order.”

    Even if we assume that god exists, how can we know for sure that he/she/it is inherently good and wise? If he/she/it exists, there is no doubt that he/she/it is extremely powerful, at least by human standards. But how do we know that the characteristic of inherently good and wise is not merely humans projecting these traits on god because we desperately want them to be true?

  32. 32
    Jack Jones says:

    Ken_M “Much of what we would call “evil” or “bad” can easily been shown to be “bad” for a functioning society.”

    If things that we call evil or bad are not objectively wrong then the most you could say is that a person was being anti-social but why should a person care about society if what they are doing is not objectively wrong?

    “Even if we assume that god exists”

    I would suggest that you do assume it. You do not and cannot live your life that evil is just a man made construct, you do live your life as if things are objectively right and wrong.

    If some stranger came up to you and punched you in the face for no other reason than they thought it was funny then your rejection of objective right and wrong would go out of the window, and don’t tell me otherwise, I won’t believe you.

  33. 33
    Ken_M says:

    Jack Jones: but why should a person care about society if what they are doing is not objectively wrong?”

    Because an intelligent person knows that it is in their long term best interest.

    Jack Jones: ” You do not and cannot live your life [thinking] that evil is just a man made construct,

    Sure I can. It’s easy.

    Jack Jones: …”you do live your life as if things are objectively right and wrong.”

    True. But I know that doesn’t make it so.

    Jack Jones: “If some stranger came up to you and punched you in the face for no other reason than they thought it was funny then your rejection of objective right and wrong would go out of the window…”

    Why? I can still object to someone else’s behaviour based on my own experiences and rationale without relying on it being “objectively” right or wrong.

  34. 34
    Mung says:

    Mung: Many atheists I’ve come across seem to think that God is evil.

    Ken_M: There is not a single atheist who thinks that god is evil. It is simply not possible.

    The atheist accuses the theist of holding contradictory beliefs, but somehow it is not possible for an atheist to hold contradictory beliefs.

    Ken_M: But, there are many things that have been done in god’s name that are “evil” (whatever that means).

    They have done evil, whatever that means. Got it.

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