Intelligent Design

The Argument From Evil Explained

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Many times we hear about the “argument from evil” as a knock-down argument for the non-existence of God.  For those of you who are not familiar with the argument, I will explain it.  It goes like this:

All good arguments depend on the precise, clear and unambiguous use of language.  The argument from evil is no exception.  It obviously demands an exacting definition of the word “evil.”  Richard Dawkins, the world’s most famous atheist, says the universe has “no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference.”  If he is right and there is no evil, that might seem like a problem for an argument from, well, evil.  But it is not.  Dawkins means there is no objective transcendent morality.  Stuff just happens for no reason and it is neither good nor evil in the sense of “conforming to an objective moral code” since there is no objective moral code.  But that does not mean we cannot nevertheless employ the word “evil” in a way that is useful for our argument.  We just have to define the word to mean “that which I do not subjectively prefer” or more loosely “icky stuff I don’t like.”

Now that we have the definitional issue out of the way, we can go on to the argument.  It is a simple augment really.  It amounts to the following syllogism that any child can understand:

Major Premise:  If God exists, he would prevent evil (remember our definition “icky stuff I don’t like) from happening.

Minor Premise:  Icky stuff I don’t like happens all the time.

Conclusion:  Therefore, God does not exist.

QED

342 Replies to “The Argument From Evil Explained

  1. 1
    PaoloV says:

    Why did God allow His own incarnation to suffer humiliated and crucified on a wooden cross? What for? Does it make any sense?
    Did that event have anything to do with the allegedly “nonexistent” concepts of good and evil?

  2. 2
    kairosfocus says:

    BA, anyone who seriously appeals to the argument from evil today shows himself to be at least 40 years out of date. If s/he uses it rhetorically, that is at best irresponsible, at worst, knowingly, wickedly deceitful. KF

  3. 3
    daveS says:

    I’m more familiar with versions of this argument where one begins by assuming, for example, that Christianity is true. Specifically, God is perfectly good and all-powerful.

    Is it then to be expected that events such as the Holocaust (clearly evil by Christian standards) are allowed to unfold by this perfectly good and all-powerful God?

    That’s a difficult question to answer. I don’t think it’s a knock-down reductio argument, however.

  4. 4
    kairosfocus says:

    DS, the argument is dead, at least since the 70’s. Plantinga. See 101 linked above. KF

  5. 5
    jdk says:

    Ooops. I didn’t bother to actually read Barry’s post, but just the comments. I see Barry is not being serious.

  6. 6
    daveS says:

    KF,

    There are clearly responses to the argument, including those on your website.

    Whether they are convincing is less clear.

    I’m told that God sometimes intervenes to protect people from harm (such as if they fall off a ladder). Isn’t it reasonable to ask whether God could have intervened differently to produce a better outcome to Nazi Germany?

  7. 7
    kairosfocus says:

    DS, it may help if you respond i/l/o the Plantinga Free Will Defense and as informed by the Boethius question. Notice, that was a man awaiting unjust execution. The context that the Christ, almost all apostles and many others beside faced lynching or judicial murder for truth, good and right should serve to give us pause in our talk on this matter. Recall, freedom to actually love (thus create a different order of good) carries with it the terrible gift, freedom. Including freedom to reason and be responsible. KF

  8. 8
    ET says:

    daves:

    I’m told that God sometimes intervenes to protect people from harm (such as if they fall off a ladder).

    Do you believe it? Do you really think that God is a micro-micro manager? Really?

  9. 9
    Barry Arrington says:

    daveS:

    Isn’t it reasonable to ask whether God could have intervened differently to produce a better outcome to Nazi Germany?

    That is a secondary question dave. The primary question is whether the “outcome to Nazi Germany” to which you refer was evil in a sense other than “icky stuff I don’t like.”

    If the answer is yes, then you are stuck with the existence of a transcendent moral code, which can be rooted only in God. Therefore God exists.

    If the answer is no, then your question, as I hope the OP demonstrated, is absurd.

    So which is it dave? I am sure you agree the holocaust was evil. If someone disagrees with you are they objectively wrong in the same way they would be wrong if they said 2+2=5 when you said 2+2=4. Or are they merely expressing a different preference in the same way you might prefer chocolate ice cream when they prefer vanilla?

  10. 10
    jdk says:

    Strawman alert!!! Barry defines evil as either “against a transcendent moral code” or “icky stuff I don’t like”, and then knocks down his own strawman definition. It must be fun to get to play with yourself like that.

  11. 11
    ET says:

    Jack- you haven’t provided any definition of evil- and in ore to say Barry erected a strawman that is what you have to do.

    Just baldly declaring strawman proves that you are clueless.

  12. 12
    daveS says:

    ET,

    I don’t, but I’ve heard vivid descriptions of such things from my friends. I don’t think it’s completely ridiculous that they could happen, btw.

  13. 13
    daveS says:

    Barry,

    That is a secondary question dave.

    I asked first. I’ll answer your questions if you answer mine.

  14. 14
    ET says:

    daves-

    God is not a micro-micro manager.

    I know a kid who fell over 60 feet from the top of a hemlock and lived. No broken bones, just a concussion. The same kid had a sister who died of a brain tumor @ 3+ years old years before the boy was born. By all accounts the girl was a beautiful child, very loving. The boy was a typical boy- rough and not so loving.

    Did God feel bad for the parents so the boy was spared?

  15. 15
    ET says:

    daves:

    Isn’t it reasonable to ask whether God could have intervened differently to produce a better outcome to Nazi Germany?

    You can ask. However to me Nazi Germany was a test to see how decent people would respond.

  16. 16
    Barry Arrington says:

    jdk @ 10

    So it is a strawman to suggest that any formulation of the concept of evil must be based on either a subjective or an objective standard?

    Who knew? All those millions of people who have assumed those are the two options for the last couple thousand years have been wrong all this time.

    OK. I’ll bite. Kindly demonstrate for us a formulation of the concept of evil that is based on neither an objective nor a subjective standard.

    After you fail, as you surely will, I will gladly accept your apology for your reckless and false charge of strawman argument.

  17. 17
    bb says:

    UD Editors: Comment deleted as violation of UD Policy.

  18. 18
    jdk says:

    re 16: reducing all theories of human morality that don’t recognize, and aren’t based on, some transcendent moral reality to “icky stuff I don’t like” is a strawman.

    There are lots of resources on morality from a secular humanist perspective, as well as some religious and philosophical perspectives that don’t include an omni-benevolent God who cares about how people act.

    You should go study some of these so as to broaden your own narrow perspective. Then maybe some day you will understand why to those who don’t believe that transcendent moral reality exists, your false dichotomy is in fact a strawman argument.

  19. 19
    vividbleau says:

    JDK

    Since there are lots of resources on morality from a secular humanistic perspective it should be relatively easy to answer Barry, pick one that is not based on neither an objective nor a subjective standard.

    Vivid

  20. 20
    jdk says:

    noun
    noun: strawman
    1.
    an intentionally misrepresented proposition that is set up because it is easier to defeat than an opponent’s real argument.

  21. 21
    bb says:

    That’s weird. My comment was deleted.

  22. 22
    ET says:

    OK, Jack, what is the real argument?

    There are lots of resources on morality from a secular humanist perspective

    All subjective and meaningless. If we have chimps as ancestors there aren’t moralities that are real.

  23. 23

    jdk said:

    There are lots of resources on morality from a secular humanist perspective, as well as some religious and philosophical perspectives that don’t include an omni-benevolent God who cares about how people act.

    You should go study some of these so as to broaden your own narrow perspective. Then maybe some day you will understand why to those who don’t believe that transcendent moral reality exists, your false dichotomy is in fact a strawman argument.

    vividbleau replies:

    Since there are lots of resources on morality from a secular humanistic perspective it should be relatively easy to answer Barry, pick one that is not based on neither an objective nor a subjective standard.

    At the very minimum, give us an specific example, jdk, of one such moral system that demonstrates the supposed straw man nature of Mr. Arrington’s argument. Please pick the one you think best makes your case. Just give us its name and, if possible, a link.

  24. 24
    jdk says:

    If there is no objective, transcendent moral nature, or any other aspect of human nature, then all of human nature is subjective in the sense that it arises from within us: love, hate, greed, altruism, shame, guilt, pride, ambition, courage, etc. are all parts of human nature that we feel and express.

    So the setting up of moral behavior as an “objective/subjective” dichotomy is a category error if in fact the quality of objective” doesn’t apply to human nature at all.

    Understanding human nature, including the nature and role of moral feelings and behaviour, is the subject of such fields as anthropology, sociology, and psychology as well as comparative philosophy and religion. A study of these fields shows that morality has a deep place in human nature from a psychological perspective, as well as cross-cultural commonalities and very broad differences.

    So the issue is not one of pointing to one particular “moral system”, but rather one of understanding morality in the broader context of human nature as it is expressed in its totality by the actions of human beings themselves.

    Therefore, if one wants to accurately understand morality from the point of view of someone who doesn’t believe in an “objective” human nature, one has to study the fields I mention above.

    Reducing that study to “icky things I don’t like”, or even to “things I prefer” is a vast oversimplification that meets the definition of strawman I posted above.

  25. 25
    Deputy Dog says:

    Calling it “icky things I don’t like” really trivializes the nasty shit that happens in this world.
    Is that really the phrase you choose to describe:

    Flesh-eating bacteria
    Ebola
    Smallpox
    Hemoragic fever
    Eye worms
    Cancer
    Sudden infant death syndrome
    Cancrum oris
    Leprosy
    Cutaneous Leishmaniasis
    Dracunculiasis
    Elephantiasis
    Harlequin Ichthyosis
    Lewandowsky-Lutz Dysplasia
    Myiasis
    Necrotizing Fascitis
    Porphyria
    Polio
    Etc. etc. etc ?

  26. 26
    bb says:

    UD Editors: Deleted. We don’t argue about our moderation decisions. If you don’t like our policy or the application thereof, there are literally millions of other websites you can go to.

  27. 27
    Barry Arrington says:

    Deputy Dog

    Calling it “icky things I don’t like” really trivializes the nasty sh** that happens in this world.

    Dog, trivializing EVERYTHING is the whole materialist shtick. When Dawkins says everything is meaningless, that is exactly what he means. Nothing has any inherent meaning. There is just stuff he prefers because his evolutionary antecedents compel him to prefer it, and stuff he does not prefer for the same reason.

    Your comment is very interesting though. I presume you believe that when the things on that list happen, it would be terrible to dismiss them with something like “Stuff happens; the universe doesn’t care; get over it.” I agree. You should reflect on your own response. One of two things is true. Your evolutionary antecedents have caused you to have a strong visceral reaction to those things, but at a deeper level you still understand everything is ultimately meaningless. Or, just maybe, events occur — even bad events — within a context of transcendent meaning. If you believe the first thing, your response to my comment is absurd. If you believe the second, you agree with me.

    Or perhaps you can join Jack in his search for a tertium quid (third way). If you find one, let us know.

  28. 28
    Barry Arrington says:

    Barry at 16:

    Kindly demonstrate for us a formulation of the concept of evil that is based on neither an objective nor a subjective standard.

    Jack at 24
    [Word salad that does not even address the challenge, far less meet it.]

  29. 29
    daveS says:

    ET @ 14 & 15,

    Sparing the boy after the girl died so young? That sounds totally appropriate to me. Otherwise the parents would have to deal with two very painful losses.

    When you say in #15 that it was a test, was that test conducted deliberately?

  30. 30
    Deputy Dog says:

    @Barry Arrington #27

    Wow. You just strawman the crap out of everything, don’t you. First you trivialize evil, then you assume I trivialize the entire universe. Is that your best argument? If it is, it SUCKS.

    Meaning is always about context. If the entire cosmos is the context, then our lives have little meaning. But in the context of our families, friends and society, our individual lives have a great deal of meaning.

    But, what is a “context of transcendent meaning” ? Sounds like woo-salad to me. Sounds like the sort of words that let you decide what YOU want to hold as important, and attribute it to God, ex-post-facto.

  31. 31
    jdk says:

    I bow to Barry’s elegant, precise response to my post: Ha 🙂

    More seriously, I did not address the challenge or attempt to meet it. I explained why it was a false challenge.

    But I certainly won’t expect a real response from Barry.

  32. 32
    bornagain77 says:

    At 24 jdk states:

    “If there is no objective, transcendent moral nature, or any other (transcendent) aspect of human nature, then all of human nature is subjective in the sense that it arises from within us: love, hate, greed, altruism, shame, guilt, pride, ambition, courage, etc. are all parts of human nature that we feel and express.”

    It is chilling how closely jdk’s words reflect the original sin:

    Genesis 3:5
    “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

    jdk apparently thinks we can, minus God, make up our own moral code “from within us” from what we subjectively know to be true about good and evil.

    jdk is hardly the only one who thinks God is superfluous to man developing a moral code to live by.

    Entire societies have been built on the notion that God is superfluous to man having a moral code to live by. i.e. Governments basically claiming that “we know good and evil “from within” ourselves and we don’t need God”.

    Exactly how did that ‘being a god unto ourselves’ experiment work out for those various atheistic societies?

    The unmitigated horror visited upon man, by state sponsored atheism, would be hard to exaggerate,,, Here’s what happens when Atheists/evolutionists/non-Christians take control of Government:

    “169,202,000 Murdered: Summary and Conclusions [20th Century Democide]
    I BACKGROUND
    2. The New Concept of Democide [Definition of Democide]
    3. Over 133,147,000 Murdered: Pre-Twentieth Century Democide
    II 128,168,000 VICTIMS: THE DEKA-MEGAMURDERERS
    4. 61,911,000 Murdered: The Soviet Gulag State
    5. 35,236,000 Murdered: The Communist Chinese Ant Hill
    6. 20,946,000 Murdered: The Nazi Genocide State
    7. 10,214,000 Murdered: The Depraved Nationalist Regime
    III 19,178,000 VICTIMS: THE LESSER MEGA-MURDERERS
    8. 5,964,000 Murdered: Japan’s Savage Military
    9. 2,035,000 Murdered: The Khmer Rouge Hell State
    10. 1,883,000 Murdered: Turkey’s Genocidal Purges
    11. 1,670,000 Murdered: The Vietnamese War State
    12. 1,585,000 Murdered: Poland’s Ethnic Cleansing
    13. 1,503,000 Murdered: The Pakistani Cutthroat State
    14. 1,072,000 Murdered: Tito’s Slaughterhouse
    IV 4,145,000 VICTIMS: SUSPECTED MEGAMURDERERS
    15. 1,663,000 Murdered? Orwellian North Korea
    16. 1,417,000 Murdered? Barbarous Mexico
    17. 1,066,000 Murdered? Feudal Russia”

    This is, in reality, probably just a drop in the bucket. Who knows how many undocumented murders there were. It also doesn’t count all the millions of abortions from around the world.
    http://www.hawaii.edu/powerkills/NOTE1.HTM

    As noted historian Aleksander Solzhenitsyn stated, “if I were asked today to formulate as concisely as possible the main cause of the ruinous Revolution that swallowed up some sixty million of our people, I could not put it more accurately than to repeat: Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened”

    “More than half a century ago, while I was still a child, I recall hearing a number of older people offer the following explanation for the great disasters that had befallen Russia: Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.
    Since then I have spent well-nigh fifty years working on the history of our Revolution; in the process I have read hundreds of books, collected hundreds of personal testimonies, and have already contributed eight volumes of my own toward the effort of clearing away the rubble left by that upheaval. But if I were asked today to formulate as concisely as possible the main cause of the ruinous Revolution that swallowed up some sixty million of our people, I could not put it more accurately than to repeat: Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.
    What is more, the events of the Russian Revolution can only be understood now, at the end of the century, against the background of what has since occurred in the rest of the world. What emerges here is a process of universal significance. And if I were called upon to identify briefly the principal trait of the entire twentieth century, here too, I would be unable to find anything more precise and pithy than to repeat once again: Men have forgotten God.
    The failings of human consciousness, deprived of its divine dimension, have been a determining factor in all the major crimes of this century.”,,,
    Aleksander Solzhenitsyn – “Men Have Forgotten God” – The Templeon Address – 1983
    http://www.roca.org/OA/36/36h.htm

    And indeed Darwin himself was warned, by Sedgwick, about the disastrous moral implications on man implicit in his theory,,, “humanity in my mind, would suffer a damage that might brutalize it—& sink the human race into a lower grade of degradation than any into which it has fallen since its written records tell us of its history.,,,”

    From Adam Sedgwick – 24 November 1859
    Cambridge
    My dear Darwin,
    Excerpt: I have read your book with more pain than pleasure. Parts of it I admired greatly; parts I laughed at till my sides were almost sore; other parts I read with absolute sorrow; because I think them utterly false & grievously mischievous.,,,
    There is a moral or metaphysical part of nature as well as a physical. A man who denies this is deep in the mire of folly. Tis the crown & glory of organic science that it does thro’ final cause , link material to moral; & yet does not allow us to mingle them in our first conception of laws, & our classification of such laws whether we consider one side of nature or the other— You have ignored this link; &, if I do not mistake your meaning, you have done your best in one or two pregnant cases to break it. Were it possible (which thank God it is not) to break it, humanity in my mind, would suffer a damage that might brutalize it—& sink the human race into a lower grade of degradation than any into which it has fallen since its written records tell us of its history.,,,
    https://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/letter/DCP-LETT-2548.xml

    The 1831 ‘prophecy’ of Heinrich Heine is also chilling: “Thought precedes action as lightning precedes thunder. German thunder … comes rolling somewhat slowly, but … its crash … will be unlike anything before in the history of the world. …
    At that uproar the eagles of the air will drop dead, and lions in farthest Africa will draw in their tails and slink away. … A play will be performed in Germany which will make the French Revolution look like an innocent idyll.”

    “Christianity — and that is its greatest merit — has somewhat mitigated that brutal German love of war, but it could not destroy it. Should that subduing talisman, the cross, be shattered the frenzied madness of the ancient warriors, that insane Berserk rage of which Nordic bards have spoken and sung so often, will once more burst into flame. …
    The old stone gods will then rise from long ruins and rub the dust of a thousand years from their eyes, and Thor will leap to life with his giant hammer and smash the Gothic cathedrals. …
    … Do not smile at my advice — the advice of a dreamer who warns you against Kantians, Fichteans, and philosophers of nature. Do not smile at the visionary who anticipates the same revolution in the realm of the visible as has taken place in the spiritual. Thought precedes action as lightning precedes thunder. German thunder … comes rolling somewhat slowly, but … its crash … will be unlike anything before in the history of the world. …
    At that uproar the eagles of the air will drop dead, and lions in farthest Africa will draw in their tails and slink away. … A play will be performed in Germany which will make the French Revolution look like an innocent idyll.” –
    Heinrich Heine – Religion and Philosophy in Germany, 1831

    To end this post on a positive note, Christianity is making an explosive comeback in Russia,, and even China is seeing an explosive growth in Christianity:

    Pew: Here’s How Badly Soviet Atheism Failed in Europe
    In 18 nations across Central and Eastern Europe, religion is now essential to national identity. (massive study based on face-to-face interviews with 25,000 adults in 18 countries}
    Jeremy Weber – 5/10/2017
    Excerpt: “The comeback of religion in a region once dominated by atheist regimes is striking,” states Pew in its latest report. Today, only 14 percent of the region’s population identify as atheists, agnostics, or “nones.” By comparison, 57 percent identify as Orthodox, and another 18 percent as Catholics.
    http://www.christianitytoday.c.....#038;w=380

    China on course to become ‘world’s most Christian nation’ within 15 years – 19 Apr 2014
    Excerpt: Officially, the People’s Republic of China is an atheist country but that is changing fast as many of its 1.3 billion citizens seek meaning and spiritual comfort that neither communism nor capitalism seem to have supplied.
    Christian congregations in particular have skyrocketed since churches began reopening when Chairman Mao’s death in 1976 signalled the end of the Cultural Revolution.
    Less than four decades later, some believe China is now poised to become not just the world’s number one economy but also its most numerous Christian nation.
    “By my calculations China is destined to become the largest Christian country in the world very soon,” said Fenggang Yang, a professor of sociology at Purdue University and author of Religion in China: Survival and Revival under Communist Rule.
    “It is going to be less than a generation. Not many people are prepared for this dramatic change.”
    China’s Protestant community, which had just one million members in 1949, has already overtaken those of countries more commonly associated with an evangelical boom. In 2010 there were more than 58 million Protestants in China compared to 40 million in Brazil and 36 million in South Africa, according to the Pew Research Centre’s Forum on Religion and Public Life.
    Prof Yang, a leading expert on religion in China, believes that number will swell to around 160 million by 2025. That would likely put China ahead even of the United States, which had around 159 million Protestants in 2010 but whose congregations are in decline.
    By 2030, China’s total Christian population, including Catholics, would exceed 247 million, placing it above Mexico, Brazil and the United States as the largest Christian congregation in the world, he predicted.
    “Mao thought he could eliminate religion. He thought he had accomplished this,” Prof Yang said. “It’s ironic – they didn’t. They actually failed completely.”
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/new.....years.html

    And that explosion in Christianity, after the horror of unfettered Atheism on those people groups, is VERY GOOD NEWS! 🙂

  33. 33
    kairosfocus says:

    JDK, a longstanding understanding is that evils are not primary entities but twisted parasites on what is good. Namely, the frustration, perversion or twisting of what is good and valuable (to be prized) out of alignment with its proper end. An end, which is often naturally evident. Thus, evil is an index of purpose as a core part of reality. Where, in particular, we are responsibly and rationally free towards the truth and the right, leading to duties of care of mindedness. Duties, we sense as laws of our morally governed nature. Which, if delusional are so pervasive that this alone would point to grand delusion of mindedness, making shipwreck of reason, responsibility and freedom. Such would pervert ability to think, argue and persuade into means to advantage by cleverness, in short we are looking at radical undermining of community, including community of the life of the mind, ending in a chaos of mistrust and might/manipulation substituting for anything rising above nihilism. Tough row to hoe. Where, instead, taking the sensed duties seriously points to law and to purpose built in by a lawgiver and creator at the root of reality. Ethical theism is not merely an arbitrary, imposed, resented option. KF

  34. 34
    kairosfocus says:

    BA, much of what is happening is that as we are subjects who consciously contemplate, much of the fruit of reflection is imagined subjective. That is the domain of abstracta is imagined non-objective, not having credibly independent reality that rises above figments of imagination. The first answer is to point to mathematics, numbers, geometric forms, structures otherwise, many linked necessary rational properties and how many are framework to any possible world. There is no good reason that ordering laws of physical nature lack objectivity. Just so, there is no good reason to disregard and dismiss the objectivity of laws governing our morally governed nature. The attempt to do so ends in implying grand delusion and utterly undermining reason as well as community. All of which should be big clues. KF

  35. 35
    jdk says:

    re 35: Hmmm. I have a lot of friends who believe more or less as I do, and we are not all like kf describes. In fact, if you just paid attention to how we acted, you’d find us much like a bunch of ethical theists.

  36. 36
    ET says:

    jdk:

    I have a lot of friends who believe more or less as I do, and we are not all like kf describes. In fact, if you just paid attention to how we acted, you’d find us much like a bunch of ethical theists.

    There is a reason for that and you ain’t going to like it.

    You act the way you do because of the existence of a transcendent moral code. It is inherent in our intelligently designed fabric and soul.

  37. 37
    bornagain77 says:

    Funny, I never heard of a Christian claiming that he and his friends acted like a bunch of “ethical atheists”.

    Jesus is the morally perfect standard by which Christians judge themselves by.

    But then that just goes to prove the entire point about objective morality. You compare yourself to ‘ethical theists’ to see if you are indeed acting morally and Christians compare themselves to Christ who IS the standard of moral perfection.

    Moreover, the argument is NOT that atheists can’t act morally without God. The argument is that there is no objective morality without God.

    The Moral Argument – Dr. Craig videos
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OxiAikEk2vU

  38. 38
    ET says:

    Deputy Dog @25- How many of those did we cause?

    And in a perfect world what would be the impetus to learn more about it?

    How could anyone find out about who they really are?

  39. 39
    ET says:

    daves:

    Sparing the boy after the girl died so young? That sounds totally appropriate to me. Otherwise the parents would have to deal with two very painful losses.

    The boy was young, too- about 5ish. But why not just spare the girl?

    When you say in #15 that it was a test, was that test conducted deliberately?

    It depends what you mean. We bring it all upon ourselves. So yes, we were deliberately given some semblance of dominion over our lives and this is what has happened. That is the test.

    And yes if there are other than good forces at work to try to push us away from our purpose. Which is part of the same test

  40. 40
    daveS says:

    ET,

    The boy was young, too- about 5ish. But why not just spare the girl?

    He could have done that as well.

    In fact, many people will say that a loved one survived an accident or illness because God intervened. And that their prayers made a difference.

  41. 41
    jdk says:

    re 36: When I wrote, “I have a lot of friends who believe more or less as I do, and we are not all like kf describes. In fact, if you just paid attention to how we acted, you’d find us much like a bunch of ethical theists.”, ET responded:

    There is a reason for that and you ain’t going to like it.

    You act the way you do because of the existence of a transcendent moral code. It is inherent in our intelligently designed fabric and soul.

    Yes, I understand that would be the standard position of one who believes that the soul and a transcendent moral code exist: that all people partake of the presence within them, and the potential to realize it, of the soul, and thus draw on the transcendent moral code, whether they acknowledge that or not.

    However, I offer the counter-position. All people reach their moral convictions and decisions in the same way as I have very briefly implied: from a combination of common biological and psychological capabilities and tendencies, cultural upbringing, and mature, rational consideration. (One might google Kohlberg’s theory of moral development about this.)

    Cultures then create, over time, religious stories meant to provide a framework for understanding, and adding authority to, the culture’s moral standards and other norms. Your religious beliefs about the soul, etc., are not true in any ontological sense, but they are the religious stories that are central to the community and culture that you have grown up with and assimilated into your personality.

    So we return to the central point: does God, and more generally a transcendent reality to which human nature has access and references, exist, or not. Whichever you choose to believe, they are corollary reasons one can advance about what is really going on with people who believe the opposite.

    So we both can explain the source of the morals in the other in terms of our own position on the issue. This is a symmetrical situation.

  42. 42
    EricMH says:

    Seems like a valid argument that DaveS pointed out:
    1. If god exists there is a definition of evil.
    2. If god exists he is all powerful and all loving.
    3. An all loving and all powerful being would not allow evil to happen.
    4. Events that fit definition in 1 occur all the time.
    5. Therefore, god does not exist.

    In this formulation, the definition of evil does not actually have to be objective.

    It is like saying if there were a king, he would declare an arbitrary set of acts as not allowed. We know of this set of acts because they are listed in a document supposedly authored by the king. However, if this king existed, then he should be powerful enough to stop the acts that are against his will. The acts are not stopped, therefore this king does not exist, and the document is a forgery.

    Nothing stands out as obviously incorrect with this argument.

  43. 43
    john_a_designer says:

    When I was growing up my parents got to know a doctor who worked with the poor in Bangladesh– a so-called medical missionary. One incident that occurred during this man’s life has always stood out to me. It happened in the late 1960’s, when I was in high school. The clinic this doctor was working out of for some reason just got overwhelmed with Bengali’s seeking medical treatment (some had very serious conditions.) He and his staff had no choice but to turn people away knowing that many of them would die. It was during this period that Dr. K. had a massive heart attack. His friends said the circumstances literally broke his heart. However, miraculously, he didn’t die. His staff was somehow able to save his life.

    They then had him flown to Europe where he underwent surgery and then began rehabilitation.

    I remember having a discussion with some of the adults at our church after a special prayer meeting we had for Dr. K. One of the questions I heard them asking was, what was he going to do next? It seemed obvious to all of us that he couldn’t go back to his work. But after he recovered that’s what he did. That’s what he had to do. That was his calling.

    Three points:

    First, a lot of atheists use the so called argument from evil to argue against the existence of God, but they then turn a blind eye to the suffering around them. This man believed in God and that is what motivated him to do something about the suffering in the world. Who’s the hypocrite? It appears to me that atheist uses the so-called argument from evil as an excuse to do nothing about what they term “evil.”

    Second, if more people like Dr. K. existed we would be able to mitigate a lot more of the suffering that exists in the world. But if mitigating suffering is not really (objectively) good then why would anyone be obligated to do anything about it?

    And finally, if there is no such thing a moral truth* (objective moral values and obligations) as many atheists argue then Dr. K. was no more moral than Hugh Hefner who at the time was advancing the hedonistic playboy philosophy. According to atheistic materialism there is absolutely no moral difference between Hugh Hefner and Dr. K. They just made different freewill moral choices (ironically, using free will that the materialists say is just an illusion.) In fact from that perspective Dr. K. was a fool. He should have set up his medical practice here in the U.S. where he could have made a lot more money and enjoyed life a lot more.

    (*Of course, if there are no objective values and obligations then there is no real evil– thus there is no problem of evil. Maybe that’s what the atheists are really arguing.)

  44. 44
    Marfin says:

    I have asked this question so many times and to this point have not yet received an attempt at an answer by anyone who does not believe God made us, but believes we are a product of evolution.If all we are is a product of evolution how can someones desire to help old ladies across the street be good while his brothers desire to steal old ladies money be evil, seeing that these desire both come from brains which are just a product of evolution.So if all our wants and desires are just a product of evolution how can they be deemed good or evil and not just the desires we happened to get.

  45. 45
    kairosfocus says:

    JDK, ET is right in 36 above, and I will cite a classic statement on the point:

    Rom 2:14 When Gentiles, who do not have the Law [since it was given only to Jews], do [c]instinctively the things the Law requires [guided only by their conscience], they are a law to themselves, though they do not have the Law.

    15 They show that the [d]essential requirements of the Law are written in their hearts; and their conscience [their sense of right and wrong, their moral choices] bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or perhaps defending them 16 on that day when, [e]as my gospel proclaims, God will judge the secrets [all the hidden thoughts and concealed sins] of men through Christ Jesus. [AMP]

    Of course, the Apostle here also points to perhaps the most powerful answer to the problem of evil of all and similarly evidence for the reality of God.

    I cite the C1 core testimony, with relevant dates and places (cf. here on historical authenticity):

    C. AD 50:

    Ac. 17:22 So Paul, standing in the center of the Areopagus, said: “Men of Athens, I observe [with every turn I make throughout the city] that you are very religious and devout in all respects.

    23 Now as I was going along and carefully looking at your objects of worship, I came to an altar with this inscription: ‘TO AN [d]UNKNOWN GOD.’ Therefore what you already worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you.

    24 The God who created the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; 25 nor is He [e]served by human hands, as though He needed anything, because it is He who gives to all [people] life and breath and all things. 26 And He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their lands and territories.

    27 This was so that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grasp for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us.

    28 For in Him we live and move and exist [that is, in Him we actually have our being], as even some of [f]your own poets have said, ‘For we also are His children.’

    29 So then, being God’s children, we should not think that the Divine Nature (deity) is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination or skill of man.

    30 Therefore God overlooked and disregarded the former ages of ignorance; but now He commands all people everywhere to repent [that is, to change their old way of thinking, to regret their past sins, and to seek God’s purpose for their lives], 31 because He has set a day when He will judge the inhabited world in righteousness by a Man whom He has appointed and destined for that task, and He has provided credible proof to everyone by raising Him from the dead.” [–> with 500+ eyewitnesses] [AMP]

    and,

    c. AD 55, reporting a c 35 – 38 AD formal summary of the 500 (with c 20 leading witnesses named or directly implied at a time when that constituted painting a target on one’s back — the storm would break in the mid 60’s with a false accusation of treasonous arson):

    1 Cor 15:3 For I passed on to you as of first importance what I also received,

    — that Christ died for our sins

    — according to [that which] the Scriptures [foretold] [cf. esp Isa 52:13 – 53:12], 4 and

    — that He was buried, and

    — that He was [bodily] raised on the third day

    — according to [that which] the Scriptures [foretold], 5 and

    — that He appeared

    to Cephas (Peter), then to the [a]Twelve. 6 After that He appeared to more than five hundred brothers and sisters at one time, the majority of whom are still alive, but some have fallen asleep [in death]. 7 Then He was seen by James, then by all the apostles, 8 and last of all, as to one [b]untimely (prematurely, traumatically) born, He appeared to me also . . .

    11 So whether it was I or they, this is what we preach, and this is what you believed and trusted in and relied on with confidence. [AMP]

    That is, we here have authentic C1 testimony reduced to writing and passed down to us at fearsome cost. God is real and answers evils in the real world, first by coming among us and taking its full force into himself, fulfilling 700 year old prophecies and thus demonstrating his power over the future, life and death.

    Ultimately, that resurrection power manifested to the 500 is the point of test. For us, as it is adequate warrant that we do or should know and respond appropriately to. And, it is a sign authenticating another prophecy, that there is an ordained day when the ultimate Grand Court will sit. With the same risen one on the Judge’s bench. To him, shall we all account.

    KF

  46. 46
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: A certain Wm A Dembski helps us put the problem in its joint problem of GOOD AND EVIL context, by way of citing Boethius in his Consolation of philosophy — written, while awaiting execution on trumped up charges:

    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]

    This is the core of the issue, and it sets up the decisive discussion in Plantinga. Which, I notice, objectors studiously avoiding.

    KF

  47. 47
    Bob O'H says:

    daveS @ 6 –

    I’m told that God sometimes intervenes to protect people from harm (such as if they fall off a ladder). Isn’t it reasonable to ask whether God could have intervened differently to produce a better outcome to Nazi Germany?

    In KF’ post that he links to, there are a couple of explanations:
    1. God has to let bad things happen, in order to stop worse things. Apparently God is not omnipotent enough to stop the worse things
    2. God has to give people free will, so will not intervene to stop evil. Although apparently if people deny other people their free will (e.g. by killing them), then God’s OK with that.

    The other problem with the free will defense is the Old Testament, where God often intervenes, for a variety of reasons. Including to stop evil (e.g. Sodom & Gomorah).

  48. 48
    Bob O'H says:

    Barry, I think you’ve mis-stated the argument from evil. I think a better formulation would be:

    Major Premise: If God exists, he would prevent evil (our new definition “icky stuff He don’t like) from happening.

    Minor Premise: Icky stuff I don’t like happens all the time.

    Conclusion: Therefore, God does not exist.

    QED

    The point being, God is the omnipotent being who gets to define of Good and Evil (and Richard Dawkins isn’t God*), but then won’t stop what he has defined as Evil.

    * that mantle belongs to David Attenborough

  49. 49
    kairosfocus says:

    BO’H:

    Perhaps, this from my long since linked 101 (summarising Plantinga) may pass your muster and may give a little missing context.

    I am astonished, frankly, to see that this dead issue seems to be taken seriously in some quarters still, 40 years after it was definitively laid to rest:

    Plantinga’s free-will defense, in a skeletal form, allows us to effectively address the problem. For, it is claimed that the following set of theistic beliefs embed an unresolvable contradiction:

    1. God exists
    2. God is omnipotent – all powerful
    3. God is omniscient – all-knowing
    4. God is omni-benevolent – all-good
    5. God created the world
    6. The world contains evil

    To do so, there is an implicit claim that, (2a) if he exists, God is omnipotent and so capable of — but obviously does not eliminate — evil. So, at least one of 2 – 5 should be surrendered. But all of these claims are central to the notion of God, so it is held that the problem is actually 1.

    Therefore, NOT-1: God does not exist.

    However, it has been pointed out by Plantinga and others that:

    2a is not consistent with what theists actually believe: if the elimination of some evil would lead to a worse evil, or prevent the emergence of a greater good, then God might have a good reason to permit some evil in the cosmos.

    Specifically, what if “many evils result from human free will or from the fact that our universe operates under natural laws or from the fact that humans exist in a setting that fosters soul-making . . . [and that such a world] contains more good than a world that does not” ?

    In this case, Theists propose that 2a should be revised: 2b: “A good, omnipotent God will eliminate evil as far as he can without either losing a greater good or bringing about a greater evil.” But, once this is done, the alleged contradiction collapses.

    Further, Alvin Plantinga – through his free will defense — was able to show that the theistic set is actually consistent. He did this by augmenting the set with a further proposition that is logically possible (as opposed to seeming plausible to one who may be committed to another worldview) and which makes the consistency clear. That proposition, skeletally, is 5a: “God created a world (potentially) containing evil; and has a good reason for doing so.” Propositions 1, 2b, 3, 4, and 5a are plainly consistent, and entail 6.

    The essence of that defense is:

    “A world containing creatures who are significantly free (and freely perform more good than evil actions) is more valuable, all else being equal, than a world containing no free creatures . . . God can create free creatures, but he can’t cause or determine them to do only what is right. For . . . then they aren’t significantly free after all . . . He could only have forestalled the occurrence of moral evil only by removing the possibility of moral good.” [NB: This assumes that moral good reflects the power of choice: if we are merely robots carrying out programs, then we cannot actually love, be truthful, etc.] [From: Clark, Kelley James. Return to Reason. (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1994), pp. 69 – 70, citing Plantinga, God, Freedom and Evil, (Eerdmans, 1974), p. 30.]

    Nor is the possible world known as heaven a good counter-example. For, heaven would exist as a world in which the results of choices made to live by the truth in love across a lifetime have culminated in their eternal reward. This we may see from an argument made by the apostle Paul:

    Rom 2:6 God “will repay each person according to what they have done.” 78 But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. [NIV]

    Anticipating the onward response that in at least some possible worlds, there are free creatures, all of whom freely do what is right, Plantinga asserts a further possibility: trans-world depravity. That is, in all worlds God could create in which a certain person, say Gordon, exists; then that person would have freely gone wrong at least once. And, what if it is further possible that this holds for every class of created, morally capable being? (Then, there would be no possible worlds in which moral good is possible but in which moral evil would not in fact occur. So the benefit of moral good would entail that the world would contain transworld depraved creatures.)

    Moreover, Plantinga proposes that there is a possible state of affairs in which God and natural evil can exist. For instance, if all natural evils are the result of the actions of significantly free creatures such as Satan and his minions, then since it is logically possible that God could not have created a world with a greater balance of good over evil if it did not contain such creatures, God and natural evil are compatible.

    At this point, albeit grudgingly, leading atheologians (Such as Mackie and Williams) concede that the deductive form of the problem of evil stands overturned. Thus, a new question is put on the table.

    It is: But what if the world seems to contain too much evil, and evil that is apparently pointless, i.e. gratuitous? First, the greater good “absorbs” at least some of the evils. To this, the Christian Theist further responds that there are goods in the world that are left out of the account so far; especially, that the fall of mankind led to the greatest good of all: that God loved the world and gave his Son, setting in motion the programme of redemption as a supreme good that absorbs all evils. That is, it is rational for a Christian to believe there are no un-absorbed evils, even though the a-theologian may beg to differ with the Christian’s beliefs.

    However, it should be noted that there is an existential or pastoral form of the problem of evil (as we saw above): where the overwhelming force of evil and pain brings us to doubt God. To that, no mere rational argument will suffice; for it is a life-challenge we face, as did Job. And, as a perusal of Job 23:1 – 7, 38:1 – 7, 40:1 – 8, 42:1 – 6, God may be more interested in exposing our underlying motives and calling for willingness to trust him even where we cannot trace him, than in satisfying our queries and rebutting our pained accusations. That is, it is at least possible that God is primarily in the business of soul-making.

    Where then does the problem of evil stand today?

    On balance, it is rational to believe that God exists, but obviously there are many deep, even painful questions to which we have no answers. And, those who choose to believe in God will have a radically different evaluation of evil than those who reject him.

    We may now carry this forward, to briefly address the vexed problem of the fairly common attempt to reduce morality to subjective or otherwise relative perceptions imposed by persuasion or force. For this, it is perhaps best to start with a very concrete case, one which is unfortunately not just theoretical:

    ASSERTION: it is self-evidently wrong, bad and evil to kidnap, torture, sexually violate and murder a young child. Likewise, by corollary: if we come across such a case in progress, it is our duty to try to intervene to save the child from such a monster.

    Almost all people will agree that such a case is horrible, and to be deplored. So also, they will agree that a duty of rescue obtains, or at least succor for someone left half dead. Thus, we see the significance of the Good Samaritan as a paradigm of neighbourliness across racial, religious, political and other dividing-lines or even outright enmity . . .

    I suggest, the yardstick self-evident moral truth just above will allow us to draw out much. For example:

    We may elaborate on Paul, Locke, Hooker and Aristotle, laying out several manifestly evident and historically widely acknowledged core moral principles; for which the attempted denial is instantly and patently absurd for most people — that is, they are arguably self-evident (thus, warranted and objective) moral truths; not just optional opinions.

    So also, it is not only possible to

    (a) be in demonstrable moral error, but also

    (b) there is hope that such moral errors can be corrected by appealing to manifestly sound core principles of the natural moral law.

    For instance:

    1] The first self evident moral truth is that we are inescapably under the government of ought.

    (This is manifest in even an objector’s implication in the questions, challenges and arguments that s/he would advance, that we are in the wrong and there is something to be avoided about that. That is, even the objector inadvertently implies that we OUGHT to do, think, aim for and say the right. Not even the hyperskeptical objector can escape this truth. Patent absurdity on attempted denial.)

    2] Second self evident truth, we discern that some things are right and others are wrong by a compass-sense we term conscience which guides our thought. (Again, objectors depend on a sense of guilt/ urgency to be right not wrong on our part to give their points persuasive force. See what would be undermined should conscience be deadened or dismissed universally? Sawing off the branch on which we all must sit.)

    3] Third, were this sense of conscience and linked sense that we can make responsibly free, rational decisions to be a delusion, we would at once descend into a status of grand delusion in which there is no good ground for confidence in our self-understanding. (That is, we look at an infinite regress of Plato’s cave worlds: once such a principle of grand global delusion is injected, there is no firewall so the perception of level one delusion is subject to the same issue, and this level two perception too, ad infinitum; landing in patent absurdity.)

    4] Fourth, we are objectively under obligation of OUGHT. That is, despite any particular person’s (or group’s or august council’s or majority’s) wishes or claims to the contrary, such obligation credibly holds to moral certainty. That is, it would be irresponsible, foolish and unwise for us to act and try to live otherwise.

    5] Fifth, this cumulative framework of moral government under OUGHT is the basis for the manifest core principles of the natural moral law under which we find ourselves obligated to the right the good, the true etc. Where also, patently, we struggle to live up to what we acknowledge or imply we ought to do.

    6] Sixth, this means we live in a world in which being under core, generally understood principles of natural moral law is coherent and factually adequate, thus calling for a world-understanding in which OUGHT is properly grounded at root level. (Thus worldviews that can soundly meet this test are the only truly viable ones. If a worldview does not have in it a world-root level IS that can simultaneously ground OUGHT — so that IS and OUGHT are inextricably fused at that level, it fails decisively.*)

    7] Seventh, in light of the above, even the weakest and most voiceless of us thus has a natural right to life, liberty, the pursuit of fulfillment of one’s sense of what s/he ought to be (“happiness”). This includes the young child, the unborn and more. (We see here the concept that rights are binding moral expectations of others to provide respect in regards to us because of our inherent status as human beings, members of the community of valuable neighbours. Where also who is my neighbour was forever answered by the parable of the Good Samaritan. Likewise, there can be no right to demand of or compel my neighbour that s/he upholds me and enables me in the wrong — including under false colour of law through lawfare; usurping the sword of justice to impose a ruthless policy agenda in fundamental breach of that civil peace which must ever pivot on manifest justice. To justly claim a right, one must first be in the right.)

    8] Eighth, like unto the seventh, such may only be circumscribed or limited for good cause. Such as, reciprocal obligation to cherish and not harm neighbour of equal, equally valuable nature in community and in the wider world of the common brotherhood of humanity.

    9] Ninth, this is the context in which it becomes self evidently wrong, wicked and evil to kidnap, sexually torture and murder a young child or the like as concrete cases in point that show that might and/or manipulation do not make ‘right,’ ‘truth,’ ‘worth,’ ‘justice,’ ‘fairness,’ ‘law’ etc. That is, anything that expresses or implies the nihilist’s credo is morally absurd.

    10] Tenth, this entails that in civil society with government, justice is a principal task of legitimate government. In short, nihilistic will to power untempered by the primacy of justice is its own refutation in any type of state. Where, justice is the due balance of rights, freedoms and responsibilities. (In Aristotle’s terms as cited by Hooker: “because we would take no harm, we must therefore do none; That since we would not be in any thing extremely dealt with, we must ourselves avoid all extremity in our dealings; That from all violence and wrong we are utterly to abstain, with such-like .”) Thus also,

    11] Eleventh, that government is and ought to be subject to audit, reformation and if necessary replacement should it fail sufficiently badly and incorrigibly.

    (NB: This is a requisite of accountability for justice, and the suggestion or implication of some views across time, that government can reasonably be unaccountable to the governed, is its own refutation, reflecting — again — nihilistic will to power; which is automatically absurd. This truth involves the issue that finite, fallible, morally struggling men acting as civil authorities in the face of changing times and situations as well as in the face of the tendency of power to corrupt, need to be open to remonstrance and reformation — or if they become resistant to reasonable appeal, there must be effective means of replacement. Hence, the principle that the general election is an insitutionalised regular solemn assembly of the people for audit and reform or if needs be replacement of government gone bad. But this is by no means an endorsement of the notion that a manipulated mob bent on a march of folly has a right to do as it pleases.)

    12] Twelfth, the attempt to deny or dismiss such a general framework of moral governance invariably lands in shipwreck of incoherence and absurdity. As, has been seen in outline. But that does not mean that the attempt is not going to be made, so there is a mutual obligation of frank and fair correction and restraint of evil.
    _________________

    * F/N: After centuries of debates and assessment of alternatives per comparative difficulties, there is in fact just one serious candidate to be such a grounding IS: the inherently good creator God, a necessary and maximally great being worthy of ultimate loyalty and the reasonable responsible service of doing the good in accord with our manifestly evident nature. (And instantly, such generic ethical theism answers also to the accusation oh this is “religion”; that term being used as a dirty word — no, this is philosophy. If you doubt this, simply put forth a different candidate that meets the required criteria and passes the comparative difficulties test: _________ . Likewise, an inherently good, maximally great being will not be arbitrary or deceitful etc, that is why such is fully worthy of ultimate loyalty and the reasonable, responsible service of doing the good in accord with our manifestly evident nature. As a serious candidate necessary being, such would be eternal and embedded in the frame for a world to exist at all. Thus such a candidate is either impossible as a square circle is impossible due to mutual ruin of core characteristics, or else it is actual. For simple instance no world is possible without two-ness in it, a necessary basis for distinct identity inter alia.

    But, widespread or even general acknowledgement of many or most of the above as more or less useful rules of conduct is not the same as to further acknowledge that the sort of wrong we are contemplating is bindingly, objectively, universally something that OUGHT not to be done. And indeed, many will boldly assert today that it cannot be proved that it is absurd to reject the notion that core moral principles are objective and universally binding. Indeed an actual argument made is oh, how can you PROVE that such a list of truths is coherent?

    (My reply was, after several rounds:

    “truths must all be so together, a key point of a coherent world: on distinct identity the triple first principles obtain and so no x is both A and not-A, and so too no two truths x and y can be such that y = NOT-x. In this context, each of the 12 being in turn directly credibly true on grounds of patent absurdities on attempted denial, they are immediately credibly coherent. Next, it so happens that the principles are in fact linked together in a chain so they are mutually supportive and relevant, in fact framing the basis for moral principles in governance.”

    The onward question was absolute certainty regarding coherence, to which I responded that not even Mathematics — the logical study of structure and quantity — post Godel is absolutely certain, and that the relevant degree of certainty is moral, where I would be confidently willing to cast the weight of my soul on the above, and would be prepared to bet the future of civilisation on them. [Indeed, whatever moral view we take, we are casting the weight of our souls and the future of civilisation on it. The ethical component of our worldviews is awesomely momentous.])

    So in the view of too many today, we are left to the feelings of revulsion and the community consensus backed up by police and courts on this.

    Not so.

    Compare a fish, that we lure to bite on a hook, then land, kill and eat for lunch without compunction. And even for those who object, they will do so by extension of the protective sense we have about say the young child — not the other way around. But, unless there is a material difference between a young child and a fish, that sense of wrong is frankly delusional, it is just a disguised preference, one that we are simply willing to back up with force.

    So, already, once we let radical relativism and subjectivism loose, we are looking at the absurdity and chaos of the nihilist abyss, might (and manipulation) makes for ‘right.’

    Oops.

    At the pivot of the skeptical objections to objective moral truth, notwithstanding persistent reduction to absurdity, is the pose that since we may err and since famously there are disagreements on morality, we can reduce moral feelings to subjective perceptions tastes and preferences, dismissing any and all claims of objectivity much less self evidence.

    So, the objector triumphantly announces: there is an unbridgeable IS-OUGHT gap, game over.

    Not so fast, as there is no better reason to imagine that we live in a moral Plato’s Cave world, than that we live in a physical or intellectual Plato’s Cave world.

    That is, we consider the imagined world of Plato where the denizens, having been imprisoned from childhood, all imagine that the shadow shows portrayed for their benefit are reality. Until, one is loosed, sees the apparatus of manipulation, then is led outside and learns of the reality that is there to be discovered. Then he tries to rescue his fellows, only to be ridiculed and attacked:

    Video:

    Where, again, let us understand how worldviews shape community life:

    Now, the skeptical question is, do we live in such a delusional world (maybe in another form such as the brains in vats or the Matrix’s pods . . . ), and can we reliably tell the difference?

    The best answer to such is, that such a scenario implies general delusion and the general un-trustworthiness of our senses and reasoning powers.

    So, it undercuts itself in a turtles all the way down chain of possible delusions — an infinite regress of Plato’s cave delusions.

    Common good sense then tells us that the skeptic has caught himself up in his own web, his argument is self referentially incoherent.

    KF

  50. 50
    kairosfocus says:

    BO’H: I point out to you that ability to love and ability to be rational require genuine freedom, so that we can act opposite to such things. For example, highly intelligent and educated people paid to teach high level rationality or to render policy counsel, too often choose to pursue the selfish, agenda-driven, irrational or even civilisation-suicidal. But if we are free we are just that, free. There is no possible world in which moral good is possible where moral evil is not also possible — and moral good opens a world of good that is not otherwise possible. Or, perhaps you wish to deny the premise of freedom, on which stands denial of responsible rationality, leading straight over the cliff into civilisational suicide. Resemblance to a train wreck of a once great and once Christian civilisation (all the reformation struggles and sins of Christendom notwithstanding) is not coincidental. KF

  51. 51
    bornagain77 says:

    Since UD tries to focus on science from time to time, let’s look at what type of scientific evidence supports the Christian’s claim that morality is objectively real.

    Perhaps the most compelling piece of evidence comes from the fact that Atheists themselves are unable to live their lives consistently as if objective morality did not really exist.

    As the following author stated, “Fortunately, materialism is never translated into life as it’s lived. As colleagues and friends, husbands and mothers, wives and fathers, sons and daughters, materialists never put their money where their mouth is. Nobody thinks his daughter is just molecules in motion and nothing but; nobody thinks the Holocaust was evil, but only in a relative, provisional sense. A materialist who lived his life according to his professed convictions—understanding himself to have no moral agency at all, seeing his friends and enemies and family as genetically determined robots—wouldn’t just be a materialist: He’d be a psychopath.”

    The Heretic – Who is Thomas Nagel and why are so many of his fellow academics condemning him? – March 25, 2013
    Excerpt: ,,,Fortunately, materialism is never translated into life as it’s lived. As colleagues and friends, husbands and mothers, wives and fathers, sons and daughters, materialists never put their money where their mouth is. Nobody thinks his daughter is just molecules in motion and nothing but; nobody thinks the Holocaust was evil, but only in a relative, provisional sense. A materialist who lived his life according to his professed convictions—understanding himself to have no moral agency at all, seeing his friends and enemies and family as genetically determined robots—wouldn’t just be a materialist: He’d be a psychopath.
    http://www.weeklystandard.com/.....tml?page=3

    In the following article Nancy Pearcey lists many leading atheists who concede that it would be impossible to live as if they had no moral agency,

    Darwin’s Robots: When Evolutionary Materialists Admit that Their Own Worldview Fails – Nancy Pearcey – April 23, 2015
    Excerpt: Even materialists often admit that, in practice, it is impossible for humans to live any other way.,,,
    When I teach these concepts in the classroom, an example my students find especially poignant is Flesh and Machines by Rodney Brooks, professor emeritus at MIT. Brooks writes that a human being is nothing but a machine — a “big bag of skin full of biomolecules” interacting by the laws of physics and chemistry. In ordinary life, of course, it is difficult to actually see people that way. But, he says, “When I look at my children, I can, when I force myself, … see that they are machines.”
    Is that how he treats them, though? Of course not: “That is not how I treat them…. I interact with them on an entirely different level. They have my unconditional love, the furthest one might be able to get from rational analysis.” Certainly if what counts as “rational” is a materialist worldview in which humans are machines, then loving your children is irrational. It has no basis
    within Brooks’s worldview. It sticks out of his box.
    How does he reconcile such a heart-wrenching cognitive dissonance? He doesn’t. Brooks ends by saying, “I maintain two sets of inconsistent beliefs.” He has given up on any attempt to reconcile his theory with his experience. He has abandoned all hope for a unified, logically consistent worldview.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....95451.html

    Dawkins himself admitted that it would be ‘intolerable’ for him to live his life as if atheistic materialism were actually true

    Who wrote Richard Dawkins’s new book? – October 28, 2006
    Excerpt:
    Dawkins: What I do know is that what it feels like to me, and I think to all of us, we don’t feel determined. We feel like blaming people for what they do or giving people the credit for what they do. We feel like admiring people for what they do.,,,
    Manzari: But do you personally see that as an inconsistency in your views?
    Dawkins: I sort of do. Yes. But it is an inconsistency that we sort of have to live with otherwise life would be intolerable.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....02783.html

    In what should be needless to say, if it is impossible for you to live as if your worldview were actually true then your worldview cannot possibly reflect reality as it really is but your worldview must instead be based on a delusion.

    Existential Argument against Atheism – November 1, 2013 by Jason Petersen
    1. If a worldview is true then you should be able to live consistently with that worldview.
    2. Atheists are unable to live consistently with their worldview.
    3. If you can’t live consistently with an atheist worldview then the worldview does not reflect reality.
    4. If a worldview does not reflect reality then that worldview is a delusion.
    5. If atheism is a delusion then atheism cannot be true.
    Conclusion: Atheism is false.
    http://answersforhope.com/exis.....t-atheism/

    Moreover, the ‘psychopathic’ characteristic inherent to the atheistic/materialistic philosophy, when they try to deny the reality of objective morality, (and deny the reality of God and their own soul as well), is born out empirically. That is to say that people who do not believe in a mind/soul tend to be more psychopathic than the majority of normal people who do believe in a mind/soul.

    A scientific case for conceptual dualism: The problem of consciousness and the opposing domains hypothesis. – Anthony I. Jack – 2013
    Excerpt page 18:  we predicted that psychopaths would not be able to perceive the problem of consciousness.,,
    In a series of five experiments (Jack, in preparation), we found a highly replicable and robust negative correlation (r~-0.34) between belief in dualism and the primary psychopathic trait of callous affect7.
    Page 24: Clearly these findings fit well with the hypothesis (Robbins and Jack, 2006) that psychopaths can’t see the problem of consciousness8. Taking these finding together with other work on dehumanization and the anti-social effects of denying the soul and free will, they present a powerful picture. When we see persons, that is, when we see others as fellow humans, then our percept is of something essentially non-physical nature. This feature of our psychology appears to be relevant to a number of other philosophical issues, including the tension between utilitarian principles and deontological concerns about harming persons (Jack et al., accepted), the question of whether God exists (Jack et al., under review-b), and the problem of free will9.
    http://tonyjack.org/files/2013.....281%29.pdf

  52. 52
    bornagain77 says:

    Moreover, Immanuel Kant’s requirement for the moral argument to be considered valid was that influences could arise from outside space-time. He considered it a major weakness in the moral argument that such influences could not be empirically established.
    Dr Suarez explains Immanuel Kant’s empirical requirement for the moral argument to be considered valid in this following video, and shows that Kant’s empirical requirement for the moral argument has now been experimentally met in quantum mechanics:

    God, Immanuel Kant, Richard Dawkins, and the Quantum – Antoine Suarez – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EQOwMX4bCqk

    And although, Dr. Suarez certainly makes a compelling case that Kant’s criteria has been met for validating the moral argument for God, the physical reality of objective morality can be even more firmly established with empirical evidence than Dr. Suarez had apparently realized in the video.
    Indeed, we find much empirical evidence to support the Christian’s claim that morality is indeed objectively real.
    For instance, the following studies actually show that our moral intuition itself transcends space and time: Specifically, in the following study, they found that subjects responded strongly to emotional images compared to neutral images, and that the emotional response occurred between a fraction of a second to several seconds BEFORE the image appeared

    Quantum Consciousness – Time Flies Backwards? – Stuart Hameroff MD
    Excerpt: Dean Radin and Dick Bierman have performed a number of experiments of emotional response in human subjects. The subjects view a computer screen on which appear (at randomly varying intervals) a series of images, some of which are emotionally neutral, and some of which are highly emotional (violent, sexual….). In Radin and Bierman’s early studies, skin conductance of a finger was used to measure physiological response They found that subjects responded strongly to emotional images compared to neutral images, and that the emotional response occurred between a fraction of a second to several seconds BEFORE the image appeared! Recently Professor Bierman (University of Amsterdam) repeated these experiments with subjects in an fMRI brain imager and found emotional responses in brain activity up to 4 seconds before the stimuli. Moreover he looked at raw data from other laboratories and found similar emotional responses before stimuli appeared.
    http://www.quantumconsciousnes.....Flies.html

    And in the following meta-analysis of 26 reports published between 1978 and 2010, the researchers found that your body can anticipate morally troubling situations between two and 10 seconds before it happens

    Can Your Body Sense Future Events Without Any External Clue? (meta-analysis of 26 reports published between 1978 and 2010) – (Oct. 22, 2012)
    Excerpt: “A person playing a video game at work while wearing headphones, for example, can’t hear when his or her boss is coming around the corner.
    But our analysis suggests that if you were tuned into your body, you might be able to detect these anticipatory changes between two and 10 seconds beforehand,,,
    This phenomenon is sometimes called “presentiment,” as in “sensing the future,” but Mossbridge said she and other researchers are not sure whether people are really sensing the future.
    “I like to call the phenomenon ‘anomalous anticipatory activity,'” she said. “The phenomenon is anomalous, some scientists argue, because we can’t explain it using present-day understanding about how biology works; though explanations related to recent quantum biological findings could potentially make sense. It’s anticipatory because it seems to predict future physiological changes in response to an important event without any known clues, and it’s an activity because it consists of changes in the cardiopulmonary, skin and nervous systems.”
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....145342.htm

    Thus, Kant’s criteria for accepting the validity of the moral argument has now been met on two levels. First, it has been met by showing that there are indeed influences arising from outside space-time as he had stipulated, and secondly, and more importantly, it has been more specifically met by showing that the human body possesses moral intuitions that transcend space and time.

    Moreover, in the preceding paper one of the researchers remarked that ‘we can’t explain (the anticipatory activity of the body) using present-day understanding about how biology works; though explanations related to recent quantum biological findings could potentially make sense.’… And, exactly as she thought, quantum biological findings do indeed shed light how it might be possible for the body to anticipate morally troubling situations before they happen. In fact, as this following video shows,,

    Darwinian Materialism vs Quantum Biology – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LHdD2Am1g5Y

    ,,,findings in quantum biology go much further and gives us strong physical evidence that humans possess a transcendent component to their being on the molecular level that is not reducible to materialistic explanations. That is to say, quantum biology gives us fairly compelling evidence for a ‘soul’ that is capable of living beyond the death of our material bodies.

    Looking beyond space and time to cope with quantum theory – 29 October 2012
    Excerpt: “Our result gives weight to the idea that quantum correlations somehow arise from outside spacetime, in the sense that no story in space and time can describe them,”
    http://www.quantumlah.org/high.....uences.php

    That is a brief overview of some of the scientific evidence supporting the reality of objective morality. Several more lines of evidence are gone over in the following videos.

    Morality: Objective and Real or Subjective and Illusory? – video
    https://youtu.be/BnrrIvz8mSE

    Atheistic Materialism vs Meaning, Value, and Purpose in Our Lives – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aqUxBSbFhog

    In conclusion, the atheist himself testifies to the reality of objective morality in that he himself is not able to live his life consistently in his stated belief that morality is not objectively real.

    Moreover, physical evidence itself, from several different lines of scientific inquiry, testifies to the reality of objective morality.

    Thus, the atheist’s claim that morality is not objectively real is empirically falsified.

    Too bad that atheist’s constantly ignore the scientific evidence when it directly contradicts how they personally prefer, and imagine, the world to be.

    Of supplemental philosophical note to the ‘argument from evil’

    This Theologian Has An Answer To Atheists’ Claims That Evil Disproves God – Jan, 2018
    Excerpt: In “The Last Superstition: A Refutation Of The New Atheism,” Feser, echoing Thomas Aquinas, notes that the first premise of the problem of evil is “simply false, or at least unjustifiable.” According to Feser, there is no reason to believe that the Christian God, being all-good and all-powerful, would prevent suffering on this earth if out of suffering he could bring about a good that is far greater than any that would have existed otherwise. If God is infinite in power, knowledge, goodness, etc., then of course he could bring about such a good.
    Feser demonstrates his reasoning with an analogy. A parent may allow his child a small amount of suffering in frustration, sacrifice of time, and minor pain when learning to play the violin, in order to bring about the good of establishing proficiency. This is not to say that such minimal suffering is in any way comparable to the horrors that have gone on in this world. But the joy of establishing proficiency with a violin is not in any way comparable to the good that God promises to bring to the world.
    In Christian theology, this good is referred to as the Beatific Vision: the ultimate, direct self-communication of God to the individual. In other words, perfect salvation or Heaven. Feser describes the Beatific Vision as a joy so great that even the most terrible horror imaginable “pales in insignificance before the beatific vision.” As Saint Paul once said, “the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”
    Your Argument Assumes Its Conclusion
    I can already see the disciples of the Four Horsemen readying their keyboards, opening a copy of Dawkins’ “The God Delusion,” and preparing their response. An atheist may claim that he cannot possibly imagine anything in the next life that could possibly outweigh the Holocaust, children’s suffering, or any other instance of significant suffering in this world. According to Feser, this response is precisely the reason he states that the problem of evil is “worthless” as an objection to arguments in favor of the existence of the Christian God.
    The problem is that the only way the atheist can claim that nothing could outweigh the most significant suffering on earth is if he supposes that God does not exist and therefore there is no Beatific Vision. But he cannot presume that God does not exist in the premise of an argument that aims to prove the conclusion that God does not exist. By doing so, he is begging the question, or arguing in a circle, and therefore does not prove anything at all.
    As Feser goes on to demonstrate, the atheist is essentially stating: “There is no God, because look at all this suffering that no good could possibly outweigh. How do I know there’s no good that could outweigh it? Oh, because there is no God.”
    http://thefederalist.com/2018/.....oves-gods/

  53. 53
    jdk says:

    re 49, re Plantinga theistic beliefs:

    4. God is omni-benevolent – all-good

    This may not be true: in fact given the evidence, it doesn’t appear to me to be a supported assumption. Thus the “problem of evil” disappears.

  54. 54
    Barry Arrington says:

    Bob at 48.

    You are missing the point. Whether the concept of evil is inserted into the argument as “icky stuff I don’t like” or “icky stuff I imagine a God I admire would not like,” the essential point remains the same.

  55. 55
    ET says:

    Bobby:

    The point being, God is the omnipotent being who gets to define of Good and Evil (and Richard Dawkins isn’t God*), but then won’t stop what he has defined as Evil.

    Right, an “argument” from total ignorance.

  56. 56
    ET says:

    Bobby:

    In KF’ post that he links to, there are a couple of explanations:

    That’s it- just a couple? I bet you are wrong about that

    God has to let bad things happen, in order to stop worse things. Apparently God is not omnipotent enough to stop the worse things

    Or God just allows things to take their course as we mostly or totally caused it.

    2. God has to give people free will, so will not intervene to stop evil. Although apparently if people deny other people their free will (e.g. by killing them), then God’s OK with that.

    God didn’t have to do so but did. And people choose to kill other people- it is all part of what God intended so our resolve in justice can be tested. That way we can be judged. And the people who get shot and killed have a chance to get into Heaven, which is the Prize we live for anyway.

    The other problem with the free will defense is the Old Testament, where God often intervenes, for a variety of reasons. Including to stop evil (e.g. Sodom & Gomorah).

    How is that a problem,? Just baldly asserting it is doesn’t cut it.

  57. 57
    ET says:

    Jack:

    All people reach their moral convictions and decisions in the same way as I have very briefly implied: from a combination of common biological and psychological capabilities and tendencies, cultural upbringing, and mature, rational consideration. (One might google Kohlberg’s theory of moral development about this.)

    Umm those tendencies are because of the Intelligent Design of humans.

    Rational consideration? Given what you accept as scientific that doesn’t apply to you.

    Again, if we have chimps for ancestors then morality is whatever we want it to be. Want to eat babies? That’s OK- chimps eat monkey babies.

    The point is, Jack, that you don’t have a scientific explanation for our existence. And the only way you could possibly be right is if evolutionism is right. However evolutionism is not even wrong.

  58. 58
    ET says:

    daves:

    He could have done that as well.

    How do you know?

    In fact, many people will say that a loved one survived an accident or illness because God intervened. And that their prayers made a difference.

    And others curse at God for taking a loved one before the alleged right time. Many have turned against religion because of evil

  59. 59
    daveS says:

    Bob O’H,

    In KF’ post that he links to, there are a couple of explanations:
    1. God has to let bad things happen, in order to stop worse things. Apparently God is not omnipotent enough to stop the worse things

    2. God has to give people free will, so will not intervene to stop evil. Although apparently if people deny other people their free will (e.g. by killing them), then God’s OK with that.

    The other problem with the free will defense is the Old Testament, where God often intervenes, for a variety of reasons. Including to stop evil (e.g. Sodom & Gomorah).

    Yes, I think that your point #2 is a strong argument against the free will defense.

    I’m sure we can cite a number of cases where God is claimed to have protected someone by thwarting someone else’s free will.

    The pastor John Hagee testifies that in 1971 he was approached by a man while he was preaching in church. The man pulled out a gun and announced he was going to shoot Hagee (from about 8 feet away). He fired six times, but every shot missed, which is remarkable given the size of Hagee. Hagee says he believes that angels protected him by deflecting the bullets. This would obviously be an example of God intervening to save a person, if not technically interfering with his free will.

    My question is, why does God save lives one or a few at a time, while declining (on occasion, such as the Holocaust) to step in to save millions?

  60. 60
    ET says:

    Deputy Dog:

    If the entire cosmos is the context, then our lives have little meaning.

    That is your uneducated opinion, anyway. But hey, go ahead and try to make your case- I challenge you to do so. You will find that is going to be much harder than your emotional outbursts.

  61. 61
    daveS says:

    ET,

    How do you know?

    This whole argument takes place under the assumption that God is all-powerful. Without that assumption, the entire issue disappears.

  62. 62
    ET says:

    daves:

    Yes, I think that your point #2 is a strong argument against the free will defense.

    Really? I say it’s the dumbest argument against free will that I have ever read. It doesn’t even follow.

    My question is, why does God save lives one or a few at a time, while (on occasion, such as the Holocaust) stepping in to save millions?

    You do realize that dead people get a chance to enter Heaven and be done with the mess on Earth, right?

    You do realize that our time here is very limited anyway, right?

  63. 63
    ET says:

    daves:

    This whole argument takes place under the assumption that God is all-powerful.

    It’s supposed to be a non-intervention scenario so that we can be judged by how we respond to adversity.

  64. 64
    daveS says:

    ET,

    Really? I say it’s the dumbest argument against free will that I have ever read. It doesn’t even follow.

    You should slow down a bit—it’s not an argument against free will.

  65. 65
    Barry Arrington says:

    In comment 48 Bob O’H weighs in with a common variation on the argument from evil. Bob’s argument does not meet the challenge of the OP. It merely smuggles the subjective basis of the argument in through back door. Let’s see how.

    I assume that Bob will be the first to admit that he is not God. It follows that Bob cannot really know for certain what a perfectly omniscient, omnipotent and omni-benevolent God would do. Such knowledge is above his pay grade. If Bob cannot really know for certain what God would do, how can he make an argument that utterly depends upon such certain knowledge? Simple. Bob assumes that if God exists, he would behave in a way Bob prefers. Bob has smuggled in his subjective preferences by attributing his own subjective preferences to God.

    Here is how the argument looks when we prevent this back-door smuggling:

    Major Premise: If God exists, I imagine he would dislike the same icky stuff I dislike and prevent the icky stuff I dislike from happening.
    Minor Premise: Icky stuff I don’t like happens all the time.
    Conclusion: Therefore, God does not exist.

  66. 66
    ET says:

    OK daves- it is a dumb argument against the free will defense. It doesn’t even follow

  67. 67
    Bob O'H says:

    Barry @ 65 –

    Major Premise: If God exists, I imagine he would dislike the same icky stuff I dislike and prevent the icky stuff I dislike from happening.

    No, Barry. I’m imagining that God would not like the icky stuff which He has said is evil. I’m judging God by his standards, not mine.

    In addition, if one there is a perfectly omniscient, omnipotent and omni-benevolent God, would one not expect that god to use their infinite power to be omni-benevolent?

  68. 68
    ET says:

    Bobby:

    I’m imagining that God would not like the icky stuff which He has said is evil.

    Right and that is how we are judged- did we do the icky stuff God said is evil? How did we respond to it when it was in our presence?

    In addition, if one there is a perfectly omniscient, omnipotent and omni-benevolent God, would one not expect that god to use their infinite power to be omni-benevolent?

    So Bobby thinks God is beholden to our definitions and our conceptions.

    How old are you Bobby, 4?

    In a perfect world we wouldn’t learn and grow. We could not be judged- it would be a sham

  69. 69
    mike1962 says:

    Barry @65: “…Bob cannot really know for certain what a perfectly omniscient, omnipotent and omni-benevolent God would do, Such knowledge is above his pay grade. If Bob cannot really know for certain what God would do, how can he make an argument that utterly depends upon such certain knowledge? …Major Premise: If God exists, I imagine he would dislike the same icky stuff I dislike and prevent the icky stuff I dislike from happening. Minor Premise: Icky stuff I don’t like happens all the time. Conclusion: Therefore, God does not exist.”

    I say fair enough, with regards to your conclusion about Bob. Nobody can know what a mysterious Omni-God does. It’s beyond human comprehension. But then, same for you and everyone else: there is no basis on which to judge this Omni-God about anything; there is no earth bound evidence, including our own feelings about any event, that could possibly demonstrate or falsify it’s existence.

  70. 70
    jdk says:

    That’s right. As I said before, even if we accept omnipotence, how in the world (literally) do we know it is omni-benevolent?

    If Bob can’t know what such a being would do (including even caring what human beings do), how do Barry, kf, ET, Plantinga etc know? Where does their privileged knowledge come from?

  71. 71
    bornagain77 says:

    At 30 Deputy Dog states:

    “Meaning is always about context. If the entire cosmos is the context, then our lives have little meaning.”

    It is funny that a atheistic materialist, i.e. a Darwinist, would appeal to context.

    Atheistic Materialism simply does not do context. As the following article which extended Godel’s Incompleteness Theorem to physics stated, “even a perfect and complete description of the microscopic properties of a material is not enough to predict its macroscopic behaviour”.,,, The researchers further commented that their findings “challenge the reductionists’ point of view, as the insurmountable difficulty lies precisely in the derivation of macroscopic properties from a microscopic description.”

    Quantum physics problem proved unsolvable: Gödel and Turing enter quantum physics – December 9, 2015
    Excerpt: A mathematical problem underlying fundamental questions in particle and quantum physics is provably unsolvable,,,
    It is the first major problem in physics for which such a fundamental limitation could be proven. The findings are important because they show that even a perfect and complete description of the microscopic properties of a material is not enough to predict its macroscopic behaviour.,,,
    “We knew about the possibility of problems that are undecidable in principle since the works of Turing and Gödel in the 1930s,” added Co-author Professor Michael Wolf from Technical University of Munich. “So far, however, this only concerned the very abstract corners of theoretical computer science and mathematical logic. No one had seriously contemplated this as a possibility right in the heart of theoretical physics before. But our results change this picture. From a more philosophical perspective, they also challenge the reductionists’ point of view, as the insurmountable difficulty lies precisely in the derivation of macroscopic properties from a microscopic description.”
    http://phys.org/news/2015-12-q.....godel.html

    Thus that renders ANY appeal to any sort of ‘context’ invalid for the atheistic materialist.

    To put it even more simply, “Anything you can draw a circle around cannot explain itself without referring to something outside the circle—something you have to assume but cannot prove”.

    Gödel’s incompleteness theorem (1931), proves that there are limits to what can be ascertained by mathematics. Kurt Gödel (ref. on cite), halted the achievement of a unifying all-encompassing theory of everything in his theorem that: “Anything you can draw a circle around cannot explain itself without referring to something outside the circle—something you have to assume but cannot prove”.
    Cf., Stephen Hawking & Leonard Miodinow, The Grand Design (2010) @ 15-6

    And as Godel himself pointed out in the following quote, a soul or a mind is necessary in order to provide “context” for material particles. i.e. to be ‘outside the circle’

    “In materialism all elements behave the same. It is mysterious to think of them as spread out and automatically united. For something to be a whole, it has to have an additional object, say, a soul or a mind.”
    Kurt Gödel – Hao Wang’s supplemental biography of Gödel, A Logical Journey, MIT Press, 1996. [9.4.12]

    And as Pastor Joe Boot stated in the following video,

    “If you have no God, then you have no design plan for the universe. You have no preexisting structure to the universe.,, As the ancient Greeks held, like Democritus and others, the universe is flux. It’s just matter in motion. Now on that basis all you are confronted with is innumerable brute facts that are unrelated pieces of data. They have no meaningful connection to each other because there is no overall structure. There’s no design plan. It’s like my kids do ‘join the dots’ puzzles. It’s just dots, but when you join the dots there is a structure, and a picture emerges. Well, the atheists is without that (final picture). There is no preestablished pattern (to connect the facts given atheism).”
    – Pastor Joe Boot – Defending the Christian Faith – video – 13:20 minute mark
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wqE5_ZOAnKo

    It is also interesting to note that Atheists will often try to claim that our lives have no real meaning or purpose by referring to the Copernican Principle and/or the Principle of Mediocrity. Specifically, the ‘principle of mediocrity’ assumes that nothing is special about humanity’s situation

    Copernican principle
    Excerpt: In physical cosmology, the Copernican principle, is an alternative name of the mediocrity principle,,, stating that humans (the Earth, or the Solar system) are not privileged observers of the universe.[1]
    Named for Copernican heliocentrism, it is a working assumption that arises from a modified cosmological extension of Copernicus’s argument of a moving Earth.[2] In some sense, it is equivalent to the mediocrity principle.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copernican_principle

    Carl Sagan coined the term ‘principle of mediocrity’ to refer to the idea that scientists should assume that nothing is special about humanity’s situation

    Mediocrity principle
    Excerpt: The (Mediocrity) principle has been taken to suggest that there is nothing very unusual about the evolution of the Solar System, Earth’s history, the evolution of biological complexity, human evolution, or any one nation. It is a heuristic in the vein of the Copernican principle, and is sometimes used as a philosophical statement about the place of humanity. The idea is to assume mediocrity, rather than starting with the assumption that a phenomenon is special, privileged, exceptional, or even superior.[2][3]
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mediocrity_principle

    Stephen Hawking, via the Copernican Principle and/or The Principle of Mediocrity, once stated “The human race is just a chemical scum on a moderate-sized planet, orbiting around a very average star in the outer suburb of one among a hundred billion galaxies. We are so insignificant that I can’t believe the whole universe exists for our benefit.,,,”

    “The human race is just a chemical scum on a moderate-sized planet, orbiting around a very average star in the outer suburb of one among a hundred billion galaxies. We are so insignificant that I can’t believe the whole universe exists for our benefit.,,,”
    – Stephen Hawking – 1995 TV show, Reality on the Rocks: Beyond Our Ken,

    And yet, despite the fact that practically everybody, including the vast majority of Christians, hold that the Copernican principle, and by default “The Principle of Mediocrity’, are unquestionably true, the plain fact of the matter is that the Copernican Principle has now been overturned by reference to the Cosmic Background Radiation, to General Relativity and to Quantum Mechanics.

    First off, there are now found to be ‘anomalies’ in the Cosmic Background Radiation that strangely line up with the earth and solar system.

    What Is Evil About The Axis Of Evil? – February 17, 2015
    The Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) Radiation contains small temperature fluctuations.
    When these temperature fluctuations are analyzed using image processing techniques (specifically spherical harmonics), they indicate a special direction in space, or, in a sense, an axis through the universe. This axis is correlated back to us, and causes many difficulties for the current big bang and standard cosmology theories. What has been discovered is shocking.
    Two scientists, Kate Land and João Magueijo, in a paper in 2005 describing the axis, dubbed it the “Axis of Evil” because of the damage it does to current theories, and (tongue in cheek) as a response to George Bush’ Axis of Evil speech regarding Iraq, Iran and, North Korea.
    (Youtube clip on site)
    In the above video, Max Tegmark describes in a simplified way how spherical harmonics analysis decomposes the small temperature fluctuations into more averaged and spatially arranged temperature components, known as multipoles.
    The “Axis of Evil” correlates to the earth’s ecliptic and equinoxes, and this represents a very unusual and unexpected special direction in space, a direct challenge to the Copernican Principle.
    http://www.theprinciplemovie.com/evil-axis-evil/

    At the 13:55 minute mark of this following video, Max Tegmark, an atheist who specializes in this area of study, finally admits, post Planck 2013, that the CMBR anomalies do indeed line up with the earth and solar system

    “Thoughtcrime: The Conspiracy to Stop The Principle” – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=0eVUSDy_rO0#t=832

    And here is a animated video clip that explains these CMBR “anomalies” very clearly:

    Cosmic Microwave Background Proves Intelligent Design (disproves Copernican principle) (clip of “The Principle”) – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=htV8WTyo4rw

    Of related note:

    Is there a violation of the Copernican principle in radio sky? – Ashok K. Singal – May 17, 2013
    Abstract: Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation (CMBR) observations from the WMAP satellite have shown some unexpected anisotropies (directionally dependent observations), which surprisingly seem to be aligned with the eclipticcite {20,16,15}. The latest data from the Planck satellite have confirmed the presence of these anisotropiescite {17}. Here we report even larger anisotropies in the sky distributions of powerful extended quasars and some other sub-classes of radio galaxies in the 3CRR catalogue, one of the oldest and most intensively studies sample of strong radio sourcescite{21,22,3}. The anisotropies lie about a plane passing through the two equinoxes and the north celestial pole (NCP). We can rule out at a 99.995% confidence level the hypothesis that these asymmetries are merely due to statistical fluctuations. Further, even the distribution of observed radio sizes of quasars and radio galaxies show large systematic differences between these two sky regions. The redshift distribution appear to be very similar in both regions of sky for all sources, which rules out any local effects to be the cause of these anomalies. Two pertinent questions then arise. First, why should there be such large anisotropies present in the sky distribution of some of the most distant discrete sources implying inhomogeneities in the universe at very large scales (covering a fraction of the universe)? What is intriguing even further is why such anisotropies should lie about a great circle decided purely by the orientation of earth’s rotation axis and/or the axis of its revolution around the sun? It looks as if these axes have a preferential placement in the larger scheme of things, implying an apparent breakdown of the Copernican principle or its more generalization, cosmological principle, upon which all modern cosmological theories are based upon.
    http://arxiv.org/abs/1305.4134

  72. 72
    bornagain77 says:

    In regards to General Relativity overturning the Copernican Principle, Einstein himself stated that, The two sentences: “the sun is at rest and the earth moves” or “the sun moves and the earth is at rest” would simply mean two different conventions concerning two different CS [coordinate systems].”

    “Can we formulate physical laws so that they are valid for all CS [coordinate systems], not only those moving uniformly, but also those moving quite arbitrarily, relative to each other? […] The struggle, so violent in the early days of science, between the views of Ptolemy and Copernicus would then be quite meaningless. Either CS could be used with equal justification. The two sentences: “the sun is at rest and the earth moves” or “the sun moves and the earth is at rest” would simply mean two different conventions concerning two different CS.”
    Einstein, A. and Infeld, L. (1938) The Evolution of Physics, p.212 (p.248 in original 1938 ed.);

    Fred Hoyle and George Ellis add their considerable weight here, in regards to General Relativity overturning the Copernican Principle, in these following two quotes:

    “The relation of the two pictures [geocentrism and geokineticism] is reduced to a mere coordinate transformation and it is the main tenet of the Einstein theory that any two ways of looking at the world which are related to each other by a coordinate transformation are entirely equivalent from a physical point of view…. Today we cannot say that the Copernican theory is ‘right’ and the Ptolemaic theory ‘wrong’ in any meaningful physical sense.”
    Hoyle, Fred. Nicolaus Copernicus. London: Heinemann Educational Books Ltd., 1973.

    “People need to be aware that there is a range of models that could explain the observations… For instance, I can construct you a spherically symmetrical universe with Earth at its center, and you cannot disprove it based on observations… You can only exclude it on philosophical grounds… What I want to bring into the open is the fact that we are using philosophical criteria in choosing our models. A lot of cosmology tries to hide that.”
    – George Ellis – W. Wayt Gibbs, “Profile: George F. R. Ellis,” Scientific American, October 1995, Vol. 273, No.4, p. 55

    As Einstein himself noted, there simply is no experimental test that can be performed that can prove that the earth is not the center of the universe:

    “We can’t feel our motion through space, nor has any physical experiment ever proved that the Earth actually is in motion.,,,
    If all the objects in space were removed save one, then no one could say whether that one remaining object was at rest or hurtling through the void at 100,000 miles per second”
    Historian Lincoln Barnett – “The Universe and Dr. Einstein” – pg 73 (contains a foreword by Albert Einstein)

    “One need not view the existence of such centrifugal forces as originating from the motion of K’ [the Earth]; one could just as well account for them as resulting from the average rotational effect of distant, detectable masses as evidenced in the vicinity of K’ [the Earth], whereby K’ [the Earth] is treated as being at rest.”
    –Albert Einstein, quoted in Hans Thirring, “On the Effect of Distant Rotating Masses in Einstein’s Theory of Gravitation”, Physikalische Zeitschrift 22, 29, 1921

    Even Stephen Hawking himself, who claimed that we are just chemical scum on an insignificant planet, stated that it is not true that Copernicus proved Ptolemy wrong,,, the real advantage of the Copernican system is simply that the equations of motion are much simpler in the frame of reference in which the sun is at rest.”

    “So which is real, the Ptolemaic or Copernican system? Although it is not uncommon for people to say that Copernicus proved Ptolemy wrong, that is not true. As in the case of our normal view versus that of the goldfish, one can use either picture as a model of the universe, for our observations of the heavens can be explained by assuming either the earth or the sun to be at rest.
    Despite its role in philosophical debates over the nature of our universe, the real advantage of the Copernican system is simply that the equations of motion are much simpler in the frame of reference in which the sun is at rest.”
    Stephen Hawking – The Grand Design – page 39 – 2010

    In fact, in the 4-Dimensional space-time of Einstein’s General Relativity, it is left completely open for whomever is making a model of the universe to decide for themselves what is to be considered central in the universe:

    How Einstein Revealed the Universe’s Strange “Nonlocality” – George Musser | Oct 20, 2015
    Excerpt: Under most circumstances, we can ignore this nonlocality. You can designate some available chunk of matter as a reference point and use it to anchor a coordinate grid. You can, to the chagrin of Santa Barbarans, take Los Angeles as the center of the universe and define every other place with respect to it. In this framework, you can go about your business in blissful ignorance of space’s fundamental inability to demarcate locations.,,
    In short, Einstein’s theory is nonlocal in a more subtle and insidious way than Newton’s theory of gravity was. Newtonian gravity acted at a distance, but at least it operated within a framework of absolute space. Einsteinian gravity has no such element of wizardry; its effects ripple through the universe at the speed of light. Yet it demolishes the framework, violating locality in what was, for Einstein, its most basic sense: the stipulation that all things have a location. General relativity confounds our intuitive picture of space as a kind of container in which material objects reside and forces us to search for an entirely new conception of place.
    http://www.scientificamerican......nlocality/

    Even individual people can be considered central in the universe in the four-dimensional space-time of General Relativity,,,

    You Technically Are the Center of the Universe – May 2016
    Excerpt: (due to the 1 in 10^120 finely tuned expansion of the 4-D space-time of General Relativity) no matter where you stand, it will appear that everything in the universe is expanding around you. So the center of the universe is technically — everywhere.
    The moment you pick a frame of reference, that point becomes the center of the universe.
    Here’s another way to think about it: The sphere of space we can see around us is the visible universe. We’re looking at the light from stars that’s traveled millions or billions of years to reach us. When we reach the 13.8 billion-light-year point, we’re seeing the universe just moments after the Big Bang happened.
    But someone standing on another planet, a few light-years to the right, would see a different sphere of the universe. It’s sort of like lighting a match in the middle of a dark room: Your observable universe is the sphere of the room that the light illuminates.
    But someone standing in a different spot in the room will be able to see a different sphere. So technically, we are all standing at the center of our own observable universes.
    https://mic.com/articles/144214/you-technically-are-the-center-of-the-universe-thanks-to-a-wacky-physics-quirk

    ,,, Moreover, when Einstein first formulated both Special and General relativity, he gave a hypothetical observer a privileged frame of reference in which to make measurements in the universe.

    Introduction to special relativity
    Excerpt: Einstein’s approach was based on thought experiments, calculations, and the principle of relativity, which is the notion that all physical laws should appear the same (that is, take the same basic form) to all inertial observers.,,,
    Each observer has a distinct “frame of reference” in which velocities are measured,,,,
    – per wikipedia

    The happiest thought of my life.
    Excerpt: In 1920 Einstein commented that a thought came into his mind when writing the above-mentioned paper he called it “the happiest thought of my life”:
    “The gravitational field has only a relative existence… Because for an observer freely falling from the roof of a house – at least in his immediate surroundings – there exists no gravitational field.”
    http://physics.ucr.edu/~wudka/.....ode85.html

    Whereas, on the other hand, in Quantum Mechanics it is the measurement itself that gives each observer a privileged frame of reference in the universe. As the following researcher commented, “It proves that measurement is everything. At the quantum level, reality does not exist if you are not looking at it,”

    Experiment confirms quantum theory weirdness – May 27, 2015
    Excerpt: Common sense says the object is either wave-like or particle-like, independent of how we measure it. But quantum physics predicts that whether you observe wave like behavior (interference) or particle behavior (no interference) depends only on how it is actually measured at the end of its journey. This is exactly what the ANU team found.
    “It proves that measurement is everything. At the quantum level, reality does not exist if you are not looking at it,” said Associate Professor Andrew Truscott from the ANU Research School of Physics and Engineering.
    http://phys.org/news/2015-05-q.....dness.html

    Moreover Steven Weinberg himself, an atheist, noted that in quantum mechanics, in what is termed ‘the instrumentalist approach’, humans are brought into the laws of physics at the most fundamental level instead of humans being a result of the laws of physics as Darwinists had falsely imagined us to be.

    The Trouble with Quantum Mechanics – Steven Weinberg – January 19, 2017
    Excerpt: The instrumentalist approach,, (the) wave function,, is merely an instrument that provides predictions of the probabilities of various outcomes when measurements are made.,,
    In the instrumentalist approach,,, humans are brought into the laws of nature at the most fundamental level. According to Eugene Wigner, a pioneer of quantum mechanics, “it was not possible to formulate the laws of quantum mechanics in a fully consistent way without reference to the consciousness.”11
    Thus the instrumentalist approach turns its back on a vision that became possible after Darwin, of a world governed by impersonal physical laws that control human behavior along with everything else. It is not that we object to thinking about humans. Rather, we want to understand the relation of humans to nature, not just assuming the character of this relation by incorporating it in what we suppose are nature’s fundamental laws, but rather by deduction from laws that make no explicit reference to humans. We may in the end have to give up this goal,,,
    Some physicists who adopt an instrumentalist approach argue that the probabilities we infer from the wave function are objective probabilities, independent of whether humans are making a measurement. I don’t find this tenable. In quantum mechanics these probabilities do not exist until people choose what to measure, such as the spin in one or another direction. Unlike the case of classical physics, a choice must be made,,,
    http://www.nybooks.com/article.....mechanics/

    Because of such evidence as this from quantum mechanics, Richard Conn Henry, who is Professor of Physics at John Hopkins University, stated this “It is more than 80 years since the discovery of quantum mechanics gave us the most fundamental insight ever into our nature: the overturning of the Copernican Revolution, and the restoration of us human beings to centrality in the Universe.”

    “It is more than 80 years since the discovery of quantum mechanics gave us the most fundamental insight ever into our nature: the overturning of the Copernican Revolution, and the restoration of us human beings to centrality in the Universe.
    And yet, have you ever before read a sentence having meaning similar to that of my preceding sentence? Likely you have not, and the reason you have not is, in my opinion, that physicists are in a state of denial, and have fears and agonies that are very similar to the fears and agonies that Copernicus and Galileo went through with their perturbations of society.”
    – Richard Conn Henry – Professor of Physics – John Hopkins University
    http://henry.pha.jhu.edu/quantum.enigma.html

    Moreover, on top of the overturning of the Copernican principle by the CMBR, General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics, in the following video physicist Neil Turok states that we live in the middle, or at the geometric mean, between the largest scale in physics and the smallest scale in physics:

    “So we can go from 10 to the plus 25 to 10 to the minus 35. Now where are we? Well the size of a living cell is about 10 to the minus 5. Which is halfway between the two. In mathematical terms, we say it is the geometric mean. We live in the middle between the largest scale in physics,,, and the tiniest scale [in physics].”
    – Neil Turok as quoted at the 14:40 minute mark
    The Astonishing Simplicity of Everything – Neil Turok Public Lecture – video (12:00 minute mark, we live in the geometric mean, i.e. the middle, of the universe)
    https://youtu.be/f1x9lgX8GaE?t=715

    And here is a picture that gets his point across very clearly:

    The Scale: 10^-35m to 10^-5m to 10^25m – picture
    http://www.timeone.ca/wp-conte.....-scale.jpg

    Thus, besides the CMBR, Quantum Mechanics and General Relativity overturning of the Copernican principle, the centrality of life in the universe is also established by yet another fairly impressive angle in physics in which life is found to be at ‘the geometric mean’ or quote unquote ‘the middle’ of the universe.

    In conclusion, atheistic materialism, via Godel’s Incompleteness Theorem, has no hope of ever providing any kind of ‘context’ for anything, not even for the smallest particle. Whereas on the other hand, the Christian Theist is literally swimming in scientific evidence that our lives have real “context”.

  73. 73
    ET says:

    mike1962- There is a thing called the Bible.

    But then, same for you and everyone else: there is no basis on which to judge this Omni-God about anything

    That is just hilarious- Us judge God? Really?

  74. 74
    ET says:

    jdk:

    If Bob can’t know what such a being would do (including even caring what human beings do), how do Barry, kf, ET, Plantinga etc know?

    More than you, obviously. At least we don’t live in denial

  75. 75
    mike1962 says:

    ET @74,

    I do not agree. We’ll just let it go at that.

  76. 76
    ET says:

    mike1962- whatever. Your willful ignorance is neither an argument nor a refutation

  77. 77
    Deputy Dog says:

    @Mike1962 #69

    and

    @JDK #70

    I find it amusing that theists appeal to the mysterious, unknowable nature of God, right after they finish telling you exactly what God expects of us.

  78. 78
    Deputy Dog says:

    @ET #62

    ET:
    You do realize that dead people get a chance to enter Heaven and be done with the mess on Earth, right?

    And then what? What comes after that? Eternal bliss? Sounds purposeless (not to mention boring) to me.

  79. 79
    ET says:

    Deputy Dog:

    I find it amusing that theists appeal to the mysterious, unknowable nature of God, right after they finish telling you exactly what God expects of us.

    And we find your ignorance amusing. The Bible says what God expects of us.

  80. 80
    ET says:

    You do realize that dead people get a chance to enter Heaven and be done with the mess on Earth, right?

    Deputy Dog:

    And then what?

    Something better than this

    Sounds purposeless (not to mention boring) to me.

    Your ignorance is not an argument. Your belligerence is not an argument.

    I find it strange that you think otherwise

  81. 81
    bornagain77 says:

    34 minute mark, after talking about how incomprehensibly wonderful it was like to be in the presence of God, Robinson then remarks, “It is never going to be boring in heaven”
    In The Presence Of Almighty God – The Near Death Experience of Mickey Robinson – video (testimony starts at 27:45 minute mark)
    https://youtu.be/voak1RM-pXo?t=1655

    On the other hand, people who have hellish experiences don’t talk about being bored either. Their testimonies pretty much center on the incomprehensible terror they experience, not boredom.

    What About Hell? – John Burke – video
    https://vimeo.com/143542740

  82. 82
    Deputy Dog says:

    @BA77 #81

    NEAR death.

    Not actual death.

    NEAR death.

    I don’t think I would ever accept the words of a living person on what it’s like to be dead.

  83. 83
    kairosfocus says:

    Folks,

    I find it interesting that in a world of both mathematics and philosophy, it is found so hard to conceive of God and his ways. Godel, for one would want a word with us, as would Cantor!

    More directly, it should be obvious that a creation would reflect its creator, especially responsible, rational, morally governed, significantly free creatures. Where, mystery in this context refers to that which one must be inducted into, i.e. a theology of revelation that opens up understandings otherwise inaccessible would be relevant. And, the mystery of the transfinite should give us an idea that there are things that we can understand even as there are also those that go beyond such.

    The problem of the one and the many in a world with morally governed creatures is a useful entry point, especially in seeing a coherent world in which is and ought can be brought together.

    That points to the only level where such unity is feasible, the world-root.

    Cutting to the chase scene, there is just one serious candidate for such unity: the inherently good creator God, a necessary and maximally great being, one worthy of loyalty and the reasonable, responsible service of doing the good in accord with our evident nature. Where of course, these terms are all extremely compressed, but there is enough to see a way forward.

    As a phil exercise, of course, the only serious candidate claim is open to comparative difficulties tests: put up an alternative that has superior coherence, factual adequacy, explanatory power etc.

    From the theology perspective, morally governed creatures points to a desire or purpose for relationship by the creator, leading to the moral gateway, starting with conscience and the principle that conscience guides mind in its duties to truth and reason etc. Undermine conscience and you undermine rationality, ultimately ending in what theologians term a reprobate, utterly depraved mind.

    So, there is a baseline.

    Going beyond, such opens the door to authentic revelation from God to man.

    KF

  84. 84
    vividbleau says:

    Bob O re 47

    “2. God has to give people free will, so will not intervene to stop evil. Although apparently if people deny other people their free will (e.g. by killing them), then God’s OK with that.”

    Bob as a theist I would first like to say that I too struggle with with the concept of Gods benevolence, omnipotence and the existence of suffering in the world. All that to say that I do not want to minimize opposing points of view regarding these concerns.

    Is it your position that God should overrule the killers choice to kill by preventing him or her to do so?

    Vivid

  85. 85
    bornagain77 says:

    Deputy Dog, there are NDEs documented from people who came back to life while in the morgue.

    Let me google that for you:

    Near Death Experience morgue
    https://www.google.com/search?source=hp&ei=J_mGW7C-EZGE8AP4g6Qg&q=Near+Death+Experience+morgue&btnK=Google+Search&oq=Near+Death+Experience+morgue&gs_l=psy-ab.3

    Just how dead does a person have to be before you will accept their testimony?

    Let me honestly answer that for you, “no matter what anybody ever says that will never be enough for me”.

    Luke 16:31
    “He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.'”

    Turin Shroud Hologram Reveals The Words “The Lamb”
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Tmka1l8GAQ

    Also of note:

    Near-Death Experiences: Putting a Darwinist’s Evidentiary Standards to the Test – Dr. Michael Egnor – October 15, 2012
    Excerpt: Indeed, about 20 percent of NDE’s are corroborated, which means that there are independent ways of checking about the veracity of the experience. The patients knew of things that they could not have known except by extraordinary perception — such as describing details of surgery that they watched while their heart was stopped, etc. Additionally, many NDE’s have a vividness and a sense of intense reality that one does not generally encounter in dreams or hallucinations.,,,
    The most “parsimonious” explanation — the simplest scientific explanation — is that the (Near Death) experience was real. Tens of millions of people have had such experiences. That is tens of millions of more times than we have observed the origin of species , (or the origin of life, or the origin of a protein/gene, or of a molecular machine), which is never.,,,
    The materialist reaction, in short, is unscientific and close-minded. NDE’s show fellows like Coyne at their sneering unscientific irrational worst. Somebody finds a crushed fragment of a fossil and it’s earth-shaking evidence. Tens of million of people have life-changing spiritual experiences and it’s all a big yawn.
    Note: Dr. Egnor is professor and vice-chairman of neurosurgery at the State University of New York at Stony Brook.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....65301.html

    I.e. We have far more observational evidence for the reality of souls than we do for the Darwinian claim that unguided material processes can generate functional information. Moreover, the transcendent nature of ‘immaterial’ information, which is the one thing that, (as every ID advocate intimately knows), unguided material processes cannot possibly explain to origin of, directly supports the transcendent nature of the soul:

    Information is Physical (but not how Rolf Landauer meant)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H35I83y5Uro

    Darwinian Materialism vs. Quantum Biology – video
    https://youtu.be/LHdD2Am1g5Y

    And whereas, atheists have no compelling evidence for the various parallel universe and/or multiverse scenarios that they have put forth, Christians, on the other hand, can appeal directly to the higher dimensional mathematics behind Quantum Mechanics, Special Relativity and General Relativity to support their belief that God upholds this universe in its continual existence, as well as to support their belief in a heavenly dimension and in a hellish dimension.

    Quantum Mechanics, Special Relativity, General Relativity and Christianity – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h4QDy1Soolo

  86. 86
    nkendall says:

    I think the problem of “evil” is best restated as the problem of “pain and suffering”. The pain and suffering resulting from evil is a subset of all pain and suffering.

    For a Theist, who believes in a benevolent and loving God, experiencing pain and suffering must be essential in the two universal evolutionary processes: 1) Bringing God to man, 2) Bringing man to God.

    How does it bring God to man? An idealist (as opposed to a materialist) believes that matter is a derivative of an ultimate mind. It follows from this that our mind and soul and consciousness and all that is wrapped up in those terms, is an endowment of this ultimate mind. If the experiential nature or essence of man is an endowment from an ultimate mind–our Creator–then it must also be the case that our Creator is co-experiencing all the pain and suffering that we experience; thereby bringing God to man.

    But pain and suffering is also essential in bringing man to God. How? The bringing of man to God–the ascension toward God–must be one of choice, not coercion, or it would be meaningless. But a choice requires understanding the nature of God and the alternative to God. We are clearly dual nature beings–part God, part animal–and we are mortal…we all die. This finite, material world exhibits some qualities of God but also brings qualities that can best be described as the absence of God. Our tenure on this imperfect world, where experiencing pain and suffering is unavoidable, is essential to understanding that alternative to God and therefore essential to making the ultimate choice to seek God.

  87. 87
    ET says:

    I was always told that evil was Satan’s work in an effort to corrupt us and turn us away from God.

    But now I realize that we are the problem and to stop blaming someone or something else.

  88. 88
    OldAndrew says:

    While I don’t agree with the argument from evil, I certainly understand it.

    What’s funny is that no one is trying to give a really clear, meaningful answer. The purpose seems to be to mock those who would ask the question. Not having been given any satisfactory answer, they’re going to conclude that your beliefs are a bunch of hocus-pocus and mock you right back. What an exercise in futility. What did you think was going to happen?

    I realize that many people wouldn’t be swayed by a good answer or even take it seriously. And this forum isn’t the place for it. But if you can’t persuade them with that, how is antagonizing them supposed to help?

  89. 89
    ET says:

    Who gets to decide whether or not a really clear, meaningful answer has been given?

  90. 90
    EricMH says:

    If free will requires the ability to choose evil, at least at some point, why is God both free yet unable to choose evil? It seems problematic to say it is because whatever God chooses is by definition good. So, the free will defense is not quite satisfactory to me.

  91. 91
    Amblyrhynchus says:

    The argument from evil is no exception. It obviously demands an exacting definition of the word “evil.”…

    The relevant definition here is “whatever the religion in question says is evil”. The argument does not depend on Dawkins, Dave S or anyone else personally believing in absolute mortality. Instead, it’s an argument about the self-consistency of a set of religious beliefs.

  92. 92
    jdk says:

    Very good point, Ambly. However, I’m not sure that the “self-consistent” part is always true, even if that is part of the definition. Real moral decisions and situations are often so full of competing elements that a certain amount of ad hoc reasoning (or rationalizations) has to go into justifying a decision, and my guess is that is not always consistent from one situation to another.

    But yes, the relevant definition of evil is that which one’s religion or philosophy says is evil. Declaring that there is an objective referent to one’s beliefs about what is evil is a cultural belief added to give an aura of authority, but that doesn’t really change the subjective nature of the judgment of evil as a pronouncement of a particular culture.

  93. 93
    Barry Arrington says:

    Bob, Jack, Dog, et al.

    All of you evade the obvious point. The argument from evil works only if “evil” means something other than “what I subjectively prefer.” And “evil” can mean something other than “what I subjectively prefer” only if God exists, because if God does not exist Dawkins as quoted in the OP is certainly correct.

    Therefore, the argument from evil works only when it does not work. In other words, it is incoherent.

  94. 94
    jdk says:

    Barry, we have not “evaded your obvious point.” We have pointed out various ways in which your “obvious point” is flawed.

    You are so enamored of your cute logic, with all it’s hidden assumptions, that you can’t or won’t make any effort to try to understand views other than your own.

    Among other things, you dismissed my post at 24 as “word salad”, which it most assuredly was not, without making any attempt to address any of the points I made. It’s hard to take you or your claim of “evasion” seriously.

  95. 95
    Amblyrhynchus says:

    All of you evade the obvious point…

    Check out my post above for the clearest explanation of the point you are missing that I can manage (similar points have been made by lots more here, too).

  96. 96
    tribune7 says:

    We take it as self-evident that things like cruelty, indifference to suffering etc. are evil.

    Atheists of the Darwinian flavor want to remove the evil while keeping cruelty and indifference.

    That’s pretty evil.

    What some of us forget too is that the scientific method cannot define evil. It seems some also use this an excuse to declare that evil can’t exist.

    Misusing the scientific method is anti-science.

  97. 97
    EricMH says:

    On the other side, it seems a fair point that evil and God’s existence are not necessarily incompatible, as Plantinga’s argument points out. At the very least, if we have free will, and there is evil, God cannot stop us from choosing it by necessity, otherwise our will would not be free. Thus, omnipotence and omnibenevolence is not incompatible with evil existing in our choices.

    So, the argument from evil is not a knock down case, either. It just looks that way because some of the standard counter arguments are not so good.

  98. 98
    Bob O'H says:

    vividbleau @ 84 –

    Is it your position that God should overrule the killers choice to kill by preventing him or her to do so?

    It’s not for me to say what God should (or should not) do. But what I could say is that if God is omnipotent and omni-benevolent, then I would expect that he would (somehow) stop evil from happening. As a fall-back position, I would expect him to stop people from suffering the effects of evil.

  99. 99
    Bob O'H says:

    Barry @ 93 –

    The argument from evil works only if “evil” means something other than “what I subjectively prefer.” And “evil” can mean something other than “what I subjectively prefer” only if God exists, because if God does not exist Dawkins as quoted in the OP is certainly correct.

    I guess your post crossed with Amblyrhynchus & Jack’s discussion @ 91, 92:

    The relevant definition here is “whatever the religion in question says is evil”.

    But yes, the relevant definition of evil is that which one’s religion or philosophy says is evil. Declaring that there is an objective referent to one’s beliefs about what is evil is a cultural belief added to give an aura of authority, but that doesn’t really change the subjective nature of the judgment of evil as a pronouncement of a particular culture.

  100. 100
    Bob O'H says:

    Barry @ 93 – now I think about it, you should look up proof by contradiction, which is the essence of the Problem of Evil. Mathematicians do this all the time: they assume something is true, show that this assumption leads to a contradiction, and thus demonstrate that the assumption must be false. The incoherence is the point of the argument.

  101. 101
    kairosfocus says:

    BA et al,

    it is interesting to see how a 40 years dead argument — cf 49 above for a 101 — still has rhetorical power in some quarters.

    The interesting question is, why.

    The answer comes back, and it is not pretty. Namely, that people are persuaded by arguments that fit their wishes/ interests and will often resist even the soundest ones that cut across those wishes.

    In this case, the problem of evils (which over recent years has been conspicuously avoided by atheists in and around UD) is the last argument for atheism, the focus of the claim that God as conceived by Ethical Theism (and especially the Judaeo-Christian, Biblical tradition behind historic Christendom) CANNOT or at least cannot plausibly, exist as key characteristics are incompatible. Or else, the magnitude of evil persuades — often emotionally — that such a God is a monster.

    So, given the detailed substance put on the table by Plantinga and the obvious success of his answer to the logical form, why is there a clinging to a broken argument? Likewise, given the balance of issues regarding freedom and the world of love, rationality and responsibility it opens up, why do so many cling to arguments that as arguments must fail if they succeed? (As in, if evolutionary materialists actually show their case, as Haldane et al long since pointed out, they destroy the freedom required for rationality thus undermining their own argument.)

    The answer is, that there is a large scale movement and we have bounded rationality, so many will look to the movement and will not take up the challenging task of working through complex arguments and evidence that would lead elsewhere. Likely, they only know caricatures of the arguments from the side they have been polarised against. Until there is sufficient breaking of the momentum, even self-defeating or broken arguments will suffice. As we saw with Marxism, as we are seeing in the face of the fiasco in Venezuela, and so forth. Indeed, we of the ID movement are all too familiar with how powerful interests frequently caricature our case and misrepresent those who have put forward the argument on evidence that should long since have been decisive.

    On track record, by the 1920’s von Mises et al had shredded the core case for centrally planned, socialist economies. It took until the late 1980’s for the economy to so break down and for the technological war to have been lost while a less ruthless leader held power in the Kremlin for that case to win.

    And, socialist populism is rising again, millions having been indoctrinated by cultural marxists.

    In our case, Plantinga put on the table a clearly definitive answer. Ethical theism is compatible with the existence of evils, period. In Ethical Theism, the room for key goods starting with freedom to think, love and act to the right, is compatible with even great evils and a struggle to reform communities and civilisations. In the Christian tradition, the greatest good, at awful price, absorbed all the force of evils and has announced an amnesty: redemption backed by resurrection power attested to by 500+ eyewitnesses.

    Going further, you and others are quite right to point out that we recognise certain cases as self-evidently evil, leading to the question, what sort of world is inherently moral such that evil exists. It is interesting to see that none of the objectors are able to provide a definition and rooting that can provide a serious alternative to the answer of Ethical Theism.

    In effect, evil is a secondary, not a primary phenomenon, a destructive parasite that wrenches, frustrates or cuts off the good from its proper end. Where, end points to a world pervaded by purpose — yet another anathema to the atheists, which they will rise up against, not knowing how they thereby expose the fatal flaws in their systems.

    For instance, DNA exhibits complex alphanumerical code that functions cybernetically in the living cell (including those in our own bodies). That is language expressed in machine code and carried forward by molecular nanotech execution machinery. That was already obvious to Crick in 1953 and it remains so today.

    Cosmological fine tuning carries that to the next level.

    So, we have excellent reason to hold that purpose and design are compellingly evident in the world. But such will be studiously ignored, deflected or dismissed until the movements that energise atheism are broken beyond repair. So, we face a cultural contest in the face of well-funded movements that often resort to agit prop, lawfare and now patently illicit grand scale censorship and slander. (We are all denialists, racists, Nazis etc for daring to challenge the politically correct agendas. It is therefore almost amusing to see the studious, seemingly sullen silence in response to the parallel thread on Bernays and his cat out of the bag statement on proparanda. Never mind, evidence is all around us.)

    Coming back, Dr Wm A Dembski was quite correct to point to Boethius’ Consolation of Philosophy, as was noted in 46 above:

    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]

    Today’s atheists have no better answers than Ingersoll or the increasingly outdated so-called new atheists.

    The challenge of evils leads straight to the issue of the one and the many in the form, good vs evil. To define evil, you have to ground the good and no worldview that lacks a solid moral root at source of reality can do that. The absence of effective answer to this above is a case of the dog that did not bark when it should. For in an Internet age, were there a serious answer it would have long since been triumphantly announced, clicked and linked.

    The very absence of such in the above speaks volumes.

    Going forward, we must note the theist answer as to root of a morally pervaded reality: the inherently good and wise creator God, a necessary and maximally great being, worthy of loyalty and of the reasonable, responsible service of doing the good in accord with our evident nature.

    A serious candidate necessary being (thus, candidate to be part of the framework of this or any possible world) either is impossible as a square circle is impossible, or else is actual. The sole candidate argument of atheism to make God out to be impossible is the problem of evils, isolated from the problem of good vs evil.

    So, atheists face a dilemma: clinging to a dead argument vs facing the logic of God as serious candidate necessary being.

    The above thread shows the result.

    KF

  102. 102
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: Similarly, note the onward lack of a sound, substantial response on the alleged incomprehensibly mysterious nature of God, once 83 above was on the table. That is a further sign of the fundamentally rhetorical nature of the atheist’s argument. Let me bring forward:

    I find it interesting that in a world of both mathematics and philosophy, it is found so hard to conceive of God and his ways. Godel, for one would want a word with us, as would Cantor!

    More directly, it should be obvious that a creation would reflect its creator, especially responsible, rational, morally governed, significantly free creatures. Where, mystery in this context refers to that which one must be inducted into, i.e. a theology of revelation that opens up understandings otherwise inaccessible would be relevant. And, the mystery of the transfinite should give us an idea that there are things that we can understand even as there are also those that go beyond such.

    The problem of the one and the many in a world with morally governed creatures is a useful entry point, especially in seeing a coherent world in which is and ought can be brought together.

    That points to the only level where such unity is feasible, the world-root.

    Cutting to the chase scene, there is just one serious candidate for such unity: the inherently good creator God, a necessary and maximally great being, one worthy of loyalty and the reasonable, responsible service of doing the good in accord with our evident nature. Where of course, these terms are all extremely compressed, but there is enough to see a way forward.

    As a phil exercise, of course, the only serious candidate claim is open to comparative difficulties tests: put up an alternative that has superior coherence, factual adequacy, explanatory power etc.

    From the theology perspective, morally governed creatures points to a desire or purpose for relationship by the creator, leading to the moral gateway, starting with conscience and the principle that conscience guides mind in its duties to truth and reason etc. Undermine conscience and you undermine rationality, ultimately ending in what theologians term a reprobate, utterly depraved mind.

    So, there is a baseline.

    Going beyond, such opens the door to authentic revelation from God to man.

  103. 103
    tribune7 says:

    Well said KF @101 and 102.

  104. 104
    Barry Arrington says:

    KF @ 101.

    Indeed. Note especially Jack’s responses in this thread. They really are fascinating, not as arguments (they hardly even nod in that direction) but as studies in the psychology of denial and deflection.

  105. 105
    daveS says:

    Bob O’H (& Ambly, et al),

    now I think about it, you should look up proof by contradiction, which is the essence of the Problem of Evil. Mathematicians do this all the time: they assume something is true, show that this assumption leads to a contradiction, and thus demonstrate that the assumption must be false. The incoherence is the point of the argument.

    Yes, this is a key point. A common proof that √2 is irrational begins with “Assume that √2 is rational“. The proof that follows can be logically valid even though the author of the proof of course does not ever believe that √2 actually is rational.

  106. 106
    jdk says:

    I’ve reached the conclusion that a key issue here is that Barry et al like playing with words, and I’m talking about real people.

  107. 107
    jdk says:

    So, playing with words, let’s change Barry’s syllogism a bit:

    Definition: objective standards of morality exist, and define evil

    Major Premise: If God exists, he would prevent evil from happening.

    Minor Premise: Evil things happen.

    Conclusion: Therefore, God does not exist.

    Q.E.D.

    The major premise is falsified irrespective of how you define evil.

  108. 108
    Marfin says:

    Bob o`H- Bob you are trying to move on to the second premise while ignoring the first, answer my question at 44 honestly and then see how that reflects on the argument re Gods non existence because of evil in the world.

  109. 109
    daveS says:

    jdk @107,

    I think there are fairly strong theistic responses to the premise “If God exists, he would prevent evil from happening” (although the argument is obviously valid).

    If “evil” includes pain and suffering, does that premise mean that God prevents literally all pain and suffering? So if you accidentally hit your finger with a hammer, you feel no pain and suffer no injury?

    I can’t imagine that would be the case; that would be a very strange world.

    So if God allows some pain and some pain and suffering in the world, exactly what level is acceptable? I would put that question to the evo-mat. I suspect s/he will have a difficult time answering.

  110. 110
    jdk says:

    re 109: Yes, the issue is that the major premise is not accepted Christian theology, irrespective of how you define evil. There have been some attempts to respond to that in this thread, and throughout history.

    From a non-Christian perspective, I have suggested that if God exists, he is not omni-benevolent.

    However, I am puzzled when you write, “So if God allows some pain and some pain and suffering in the world, what level is acceptable? I would put that question to the evo-mat. I suspect s/he will have a difficult time answering.”

    Assuming by “evo-mat” you mean an atheist or materialist (they are not equivalent), I don’t see how the question would even apply to them. If I don’t believe in an omni-benevolent God, then the question of “allowing pain and suffering” isn’t even a question to consider.

  111. 111
    Mung says:

    Have you ever noticed how people who deny there is an objective moral code consistently act as if there is one?

  112. 112
    ET says:

    Ambly:

    Instead, it’s an argument about the self-consistency of a set of religious beliefs.

    Cuz you say so? Really?

    Why is it that you people think you can just spew stuff and you think it’s an argument? Why is it that you never actually formulate a coherent argument to support your asinine claims?

    Ambly:

    Check out my post above for the clearest explanation of the point you are missing that I can manage (similar points have been made by lots more here, too).

    You never provided any explanation.

  113. 113
    ET says:

    jdk:

    We have pointed out various ways in which your “obvious point” is flawed.

    No, you haven’t. All you have shown is that you are clueless.

    Among other things, you dismissed my post at 24 as “word salad”

    It is.

  114. 114
    ET says:

    Bobby:

    But what I could say is that if God is omnipotent and omni-benevolent, then I would expect that he would (somehow) stop evil from happening.

    Spoken like a 3 year old. What would be the purpose, Bobby? How could we be judged if we were 100% protected from evil?

    As a fall-back position, I would expect him to stop people from suffering the effects of evil.

    Again, what would be the purpose, Bobby?

    The problem is you people are clueless and you think that your cluelessness is an argument. It isn’t.

    According to the Bible humans were kicked out of the Garden of Eden where they would have been so protected. Once out it all became OUR responsibility.

    Only morons would try to blame God for what we are doing to ourselves. Enter Bobby and the band of anti-theistic chimp-wannabees.

    It isn’t as if the evil is some supernatural power that we cannot control and therefore God is needed.

    Grow up, already

  115. 115
    ET says:

    jdk:

    From a non-Christian perspective, I have suggested that if God exists, he is not omni-benevolent.

    That is your uneducated opinion, anyway. I see that you are too afraid to actually make a case.

  116. 116
    daveS says:

    jdk @110,

    Oops, you are right in the last two paragraphs—guess I need a second cup of cofee.

    First, I was using the mildly insulting term “evo-mat” ironically. As you say, it is often applied to “us” whether it fits or not.

    To clear up the problem you identified, I imagine my (Christian) pastor friend and I are looking at the major premise from your #107.

    We both agree that even if the Christian God exists, perhaps some evil would be allowed, so I have to temporarily withdraw the argument for repairs.

    I would think the premises must be changed to:

    Major Premise: If God exists, he would prevent some evil (perhaps evil beyond a particular level) from happening.

    Minor Premise: Evil beyond this particular level happens.

    My pastor friend asks, ok, exactly what is this “particular level”? There I would get stuck. I don’t think I can identify a particular level such that my Christian friend would (or should!) accept both premises. So perhaps that’s one way to derail this argument.

  117. 117
    ET says:

    What would be the purpose of God preventing humans from doing evil on any level?

    Why can’t it be that we humans have to fend for ourselves against other humans? And that we, ourselves, caused the problems in the first place?

    Why can’t it be as religious people have said for thousands of years? The evil humans do is a test to see if we are worthy or not. Clearly those committing the evil are not.
    So why can’t it be that it all gets sorted in the end because in reality our lives are but a blink in eternity?

  118. 118
    daveS says:

    ET,

    The evil humans do is a test to see if we are worthy or not.

    Have you ever read the Gospels?

  119. 119
    ET says:

    daves- Make your point- if you have one. And yes, I have read them.

  120. 120
    GCS says:

    It is interesting to see this argument coming around and going around again and again.

    The difficulty is not in our minds, but in our hearts. We do not want God to be – for whatever reasons or fears we have.

    The logical answer is very clear.

    By definition God is greater than I am in knowledge and understanding.

    I can not honestly say “God would not permit evil” precisely because I do not have the knowledge that God has. The only honest thing to say is that I do not know why God would permit evil or I would not allow it.

    If you want an answer to the mystery you have to ask God. Interestingly, the people with a relationship with God already have the answer and are at peace with it, even if they are not able to articulate it completely.

    The people who resist the relationship are the ones not at peace.

    I know that God exists, not because of any proposition or argument, but because I have met Him. Because I know and trust Him I can accept even those things I do not fully understand.

    Last Sunday’s reading was from the end of John 6. Peter says – Where can we go . . . We have come to believe. The Apostles did not understand what Jesus was saying about eating His body anymore than all the disciples who walked away. What they did know was that they could trust Jesus, the person they had come to know, even though they did not understand.

  121. 121
    daveS says:

    ET,

    This criticism only applies if you are a Christian, but “the evil humans do is a test to see if we are worthy or not” is totally counter to Christian doctrine.

    Christians believe that humans do evil because they are inherently sinful, and that no one is worthy on their own. It’s only by accepting Jesus’ gift of salvation that one can “pass” and go to heaven.

  122. 122
    ET says:

    GCS- Nicely done.

  123. 123
    ET says:

    daves:

    This criticism only applies if you are a Christian, but “the evil humans do is a test to see if we are worthy or not” is totally counter to Christian doctrine.

    There are many non-Christians in the world. And you have not shown anything is counter to Christian doctrine

    Christians believe that humans do evil because they are inherently sinful, and that no one is worthy on their own.

    They do? I never heard that. I have heard that the weak are easily corrupted.

  124. 124
    jdk says:

    re 120: GCS gives a nice explanation of the Christian view.

    However, he is wrong when he says “The people who resist the relationship are the ones not at peace.”

    There are many paths to inner peace, and religious belief of any kind is not a prerequisite. I don’t think GCS can judge that no one but those who have the same religious beliefs, and experiences, as he does, can find inner peace.

  125. 125
    R J Sawyer says:

    I have always thought that the argument that the existance of evil is proof that God does not exist is a non-starter. For obvious reasons. But what the existance of evil does call into question is what most judaeo-Christian organized denominations teach about the nature of God.

  126. 126
    ET says:

    jdk:

    However, he is wrong when he says “The people who resist the relationship are the ones not at peace.”

    So you say but will never support.

    There are many paths to inner peace, and religious belief of any kind is not a prerequisite.

    How do you know, Jack?

  127. 127
    ET says:

    RJ:

    But what the existance of evil does call into question is what most judaeo-Christian organized denominations teach about the nature of God.

    In what way? Please be specific.

  128. 128
    john_a_designer says:

    Let’s take God out of the equation. Does evil exist? If it does where does it come from? Take for instance evil in human society. Where does evil in society come from? Isn’t the source man himself? Who then is responsible to take care of the evil?

    At 43 above I wrote about a missionary doctor my family knew who was actually doing something about the moral evil and suffering in the world. I then pointed out,

    [That] a lot of atheists use the so called argument from evil to argue against the existence of God, but they then turn a blind eye to the suffering around them. This man believed in God and that is what motivated him to do something about the suffering in the world. Who’s the hypocrite? It appears to me that atheist uses the so-called argument from evil as an excuse to do nothing about what they term “evil.”

    https://uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/the-argument-from-evil-explained/#comment-663836

  129. 129
    jdk says:

    JAD writes, “but they [atheists] then turn a blind eye to the suffering around them.”

    I think this is an inaccurate generalization, and I don’t know why you think it is true. I doubt that there is any difference in general in how religious people and non-religious people respond to the suffering around them, even in specific cases in their lives or in general in society.

    This is like GCS’s comment that only Christians can know inner peace. It just isn’t true that one has to believe in God to have inner peace, care about other people, or want to alleviate suffering in the world, etc.

  130. 130
    bornagain77 says:

    RJS states: “what the existance of evil does call into question is what most judaeo-Christian organized denominations teach about the nature of God.”

    Come again???

    The Problem of Evil by Benjamin D. Wiker – April 2009
    Excerpt: We still want to cry, Job-like, to those inscrutable depths, “Who are you to orchestrate everything around us puny and pitiable creatures, leaving us shuddering in the darkness, ignorant, blasted, and buffeted? It‘s all well and good to say, ‘Trust me! It‘ll all be made right in the end,‘ while you float unscathed above it all. Grinding poverty, hunger, thirst, frustration, rejection, toil, death of our loved ones, blood-sweating anxiety, excruciating pain, humiliation, torture, and finally a twisted and miserable annihilation — that‘s the meal we‘re served! You‘d sing a different tune if you were one of us and got a taste of your own medicine.”
    What could we say against these depths if the answer we received was not an argument but an incarnation, a full and free submission by God to the very evils about which we complain? This submission would be a kind of token, a sign that evil is very real indeed, bringing the incarnate God blood-sweating anxiety, excruciating pain, humiliation, torture, and finally a twisted and miserable annihilation on the cross. As real as such evil is, however, the resurrection reveals that it is somehow mysteriously comprehended within the divine plan.
    With the Incarnation, the reality of evil is absorbed into the deity, not dissolved into thin air, because God freely tastes the bitterness of the medicine as wounded healer, not distant doctor. Further, given the drastic nature of this solution, we begin to recognize that God takes the problem of evil more seriously than we could ever have taken it ourselves. ,,,
    http://www.crisismagazine.com/.....em-of-evil

  131. 131
    ET says:

    jdk:

    This is like GCS’s comment that only Christians can know inner peace.

    That wasn’t in the comment, Jack. Clearly you have issues.

  132. 132
    jdk says:

    GCS wrote,

    The people who resist the relationship are the ones not at peace.

    This directly implies that non-Christians are not at peace.

    However, of course the statement that non-Christians “resist” the relationship with God is wrong, but that is a different point.

    Unless you interpret the sentence to mean that people with non-Christian beliefs can be at peace if they are not resisting being a Christian, in which case I suppose the direct implication I mention is wrong.

    But I’m pretty sure GCS meant what I said. Maybe he will clarify.

  133. 133
    bornagain77 says:

    “but they [atheists] then turn a blind eye to the suffering around them.”

    jdk responds:

    “I think this is an inaccurate generalization, and I don’t know why you think it is true. I doubt that there is any difference in general in how religious people and non-religious people respond to the suffering around them, even in specific cases in their lives or in general in society.”

    Really???

    Atheist Myth: “No One Has Ever Killed in the Name of Atheism” – Nov. 2016
    Excerpt” “where are the army of atheists humanitarian traipsing about Africa and Asia giving hope to the poor and disadvantaged? Certainly none of the famous atheist polemicists have ever done so. Christopher Hitchens was asked on multiply occasions if he or other atheists who similarly had a poor opinion of St. Mother Teresa have actually gone to India and rolled up their sleeves to bathe lepers. I’ve asked many atheists including P.Z. Myers, Patricia Churchland and Christopher Hitchens and none have responded in the positive. Madalyn O’Hair never mentioned having done so. Mao and Stalin were busy killing tens of millions of their compatriots by engineering famines in their respective countries so it’s hard to imagine they also helped poor people. When I volunteered at Mother Teresa’s street clinics in Calcutta, I never met an atheist doing the same work but I routinely met Catholics doing so.”
    http://www.ncregister.com/blog.....of-atheism

    Moreover, besides the mass slaughter witnessed in Atheistic societies over the past century that testify to the lack of compassion from atheists, we can look directly at charitable giving

    Who really cares? The fallacy of charitable secularism – Dec 18, 2017
    Excerpt: “Charitable”? “Giving”? Really?
    The most laughable part comes when Sam (Harris) begins arguing about “charitable giving.” He knows he cannot honestly claim that atheists give more to charitable causes than religious folk, so he uses the word “charitable,” but narrows the definition of the word almost into nothingness. He says,
    “Countries with high levels of atheism are also the most charitable both in terms of the percentage of their wealth they devote to social welfare programs and the percentage they give in aid to the developing world.”2
    Such a fact might shock the average casual reader until he sniffed out Sam’s fishy “terms.” Then we, together, have a good full belly-laugh. If by “devote” and “give” Sam means “devote through government confiscation, and give by forced taxation,” then he can hardly call it charity. Is this the charity of atheism? “Giving” when you may not want to, an amount you may not want to, and to be spent somehow you may not care for? What a blessed assurance! My, how charitable our atheist is with other people’s money. No, charity is voluntarily given. If it’s tax-generated, it ain’t charitable. Besides, boasting that less religious countries take more in government welfare reveals about as much as pointing out that Christians put more in church offering plates than atheists do. What? Really? Get outta here!
    If, however, Sam means “devote” and “give” in the true sense of “charity,” then his claim is so embarrassingly bogus that not even a third-world tax bureau would accept his tax returns. Unfortunately for Sam, he wrote this nonsense in his Letter to a Christian Nation just a few months before the actual science was done on charitable giving. November 2006 saw the release of the definitive in-depth study on the subject of charitable giving: Who Really Cares? by Syracuse professor Arthur Brooks. Results? Across the board, in every category, accounting for every variable, no matter how you slice the pie, the single biggest factor behind charitable giving is . . . religious faith.3 The amount of private charitable giving from American individuals alone (not including foundations, corporations, etc.) could easily finance the entire gross domestic product of Sam’s more “atheistic” nations, Sweden, Norway, or Denmark.4
    The results must be alarming for all secularists. The working poor in America give more than the poor on welfare who have the same income. In fact, the working poor give a larger percentage of their income than the middle class. Two-thirds of American private donations go to other than religious activities (in other words, about 70% in places other than church offering plates). Yet, religious people are more likely to donate even to secular causes than non-religious people are. America gives as much to foreign aid as other nations do, the difference is that we do it mostly through private charity and not government aid. We give it freely—not through socialist government compulsion. No European nation comes close to us in freely-given charitable donations.
    https://americanvision.org/1820/who-really-cares-the-fallacy-of-charitable-secularism/

  134. 134
    kairosfocus says:

    JDK, I again draw your attention to the outline of Plantinga’s decisive discussion — the logic is clear, the logical form of the problem is dead period as it is shown that the theistic set is coherent, and the inductive form is decisively undermined. Such was linked long since then clipped in 49 above. You will see how you have failed to adequately represent the matter, even having such readily to hand. Moreover, the above and onward remarks at 1-1 – 2 will show that BA has in fact pointed to a substantial issue, one that has been on the table since Boethius. To appeal to evil, one must ground good vs evil, and there is just one serious candidate for such. KF

  135. 135
    jdk says:

    kf, I am not arguing that the argument from evil is evidence against God. I don’t believe in the God that Plantinga supports, and as I have specifically mentioned, that God (or whatever root of reality one supports) is omni-benevolent.

    Therefore the argument against God from evil is a non-issue for me.

  136. 136
    kairosfocus says:

    Mung, 111, yup. They show that the requirements of moral government are stamped in their hearts, though of course one may dull one’s senses and thinking through insistence on drowning out the inner voice. And of course you can fill in the chapter and verse I allude to, KF

    PS: Taking a break from bureaucracies in two islands on two sets of issues. For all that I could say about frustrating systems, there are some wonderful people out there.

  137. 137
    kairosfocus says:

    ET & JDK, actually, there are two cases where people may have inner peace: [a] having come to peace with God, [B] having so resisted light and put darkness in its place that conscience is seared with a hot iron and is now permanently numb. The theological term for such a state is to have a reprobate mind. KF

  138. 138
    jdk says:

    kf writes,

    For all that I could say about frustrating systems, there are some wonderful people out there.

    And here is something I can whole-heartedly agree with kf about!

  139. 139
    ET says:

    “Inner” peace? Why can’t it be total peace, or just peace, as GCS said?

  140. 140
    kairosfocus says:

    JDK, it is clear that you have not distinguished generic ethical theism from the Judaeo-Christian tradition. The former is a philosophical worldview which is just that, generic. Next, you have failed to distinguish a theodicy from a defense. Plantinga, a former president of the American Philosopher’s Association, in the 60’s – 70’s, put out some landmark work on the problem of evil and the existence of God. During that work, he definitively showed that the existence of God (conceived much as I have summarised above in terms of God of the Philosophers) is logically consistent with a world in which evil exists. Evil as intuitively recognised, first, then as we may proceed to define. It is reasonable to expect that that demonstration will be acknowledged for what it is, hence the issue that this problem identifies a central incoherence so that the God of ethical theism is impossible of being is answered. As a bonus, the inductive form has been decisively undermined also. This landmark achievement is not on trial, our responsiveness to it is, and right now the indications are revealing. KF

  141. 141
    jdk says:

    re 137: That is a statement that I whole-heartedly disagree with kf about!

    How insulting. Is there any possibility, kf, that some of the wonderful people you mention in 136 are also non-Christians whose “conscience [has been] seared with a hot iron and is now permanently numb”?

    Or are all the “wonderful people out there” Christians, and you don’t know any wonderful non-Christians?

    Or can someone whose “”conscience [has been] seared with a hot iron and is now permanently numb” also be a wonderful person?

  142. 142
    kairosfocus says:

    ET, in this world of a bitter fight over every soul, every moment, every life, every place, every time, outer peace is not a given. Inner peace is a prize in one form, and a literally damning curse in the other. Dead inside before you have gone cold outside. A truly horrible state, one achieved it seems by the likes of a Hitler. Unfortunately, he does not stand alone, too many have gone past feeling and are dead to the duties of reason towards the truth, the right, the wise. The ultimate, a literally damned fool. And yes, I here use that word in its proper, awful, terrifying sense. KF

  143. 143
    jdk says:

    re 139. I assumed GCS was referring to an inner, spiritual peace. I would be surprised if he was referring to a “total peace”, if by that one means that one would have no actual conflicts in the world around one.

    Maybe GCS will come back and clarify.

  144. 144
    jdk says:

    re 142: I assume GCS was referring to an inner peace as a “prize in one form,”, as he was referring to it as something that comes with a relationship with God.

    Other religious and philosophical traditions have different ways of understanding inner peace, but I don’t think the phrase is used in the second of the contexts kf mentions.

  145. 145
    ET says:

    kairosfocus:

    ET, in this world of a bitter fight over every soul, every moment, every life, every place, every time, outer peace is not a given.

    And yet it can be achieved. Especially once you realize that this is temporary, the problems are of our own doing and there is still a positive flow to follow. Jesus would be such an example

    You do not have to let the bad stuff splatter all over you until you become overwhelmed. You cannot save the entire world. But you can make yours a little better

  146. 146
    kairosfocus says:

    JDK, you are on a tangent. You may need to know that I am a Rom 2 inclusivist, holding as follows:

    Rom 2: 6 He will pay back to each person according to his deeds [justly, as his deeds deserve]: 7 to those who by persistence in doing good seek [unseen but certain heavenly] glory, honor, and immortality, [He will give the gift of] eternal life. 8 But for those who are selfishly ambitious and self-seeking and disobedient to the truth but responsive to wickedness, [there will be] wrath and indignation. AMP

    By no means do I hold that all who are not Christians are in the horrible, dead before they die state I just pointed out. If that were so, repentance due to Spirit-awakened conscience, would be impossible. The scriptures are clear that God gives to the nations the gift of repentance and I fully expect to see the remnant of every kindred, tribe and nation. But I am aware that one can by willful persistence in wickedness so dull the mind and benumb the conscience that one is reprobate. I have seen murderers (even murderers who dismembered their victims) repent and change their lives. That said, there are those who have reached a terrible, irreversible state by their persistence in evils, becoming like the yardstick case, Hitler. If you ever have the misfortune to deal with such, you will know what I mean; men who would kill you without even a twinge, as though you were an inconvenient mosquito; some might even get some thrill from watching you in your death agonies (having shot or stabbed you in a way calculated to make you writhe in agony) — only something like that would for a moment give them some feeling, some pleasure; and once they do that a few times, they have to go on to the next further extreme of feeding off fear and agony like a demon. My native land, sadly, has too many like that. They are also to be found in intelligence agencies of the most destructive sort, and the like. The sociopath’s sociopath. Believe you me, such men exist. I guess there must be women like that too but thank God I have never seen one. KF

  147. 147
    kairosfocus says:

    ET, yes, by turning to the light of God that comes to every man, we can receive the gift of peace with God, finding peace. KF

    PS: I see, some here apparently have never met men who are dead inside before they die. You have walked in some rough corners, maybe you can help them know about the walking damned, men who do not even care about their own lives much less that of others. The demonic reality that makes zombie movies look like a picnic.

  148. 148
    john_a_designer says:

    Notice that I didn’t say @ 128, ‘all atheists or most atheists’ but rather, I said “a lot of atheists.” Specifically, I had in mind the internet atheists (who for some reason are obsessed with this site) who think the “argument from evil” somehow justifies their world view. It’s totally hypocritical, if not absurd use that kind of argument to bolster a world view which is morally, spiritually and intellectually bankrupt and offer no real solutions for addressing or solving the world’s problems. It’s a self-centered, angry way of thinking which is only aimed at bringing the other side (“religion” in this case) down to their level.

    If you want to have an argument start with the premise that a lot, if not most, of the human suffering in the world is caused by human beings themselves. How do we solve that problem? Atheism is not a solution because it offers no solutions.

  149. 149
    vividbleau says:

    Bob O H

    “It’s not for me to say what God should (or should not) do. But what I could say is that if God is omnipotent and omni-benevolent, then I would expect that he would (somehow) stop evil from happening. As a fall-back position, I would expect him to stop people from suffering the effects of evil.”

    Thanks for your response.
    I guess I am more interested in the “how” a omnipotent,omnibenevolent God would stop evil from happening. I certainly dont have the expectation that you would necessarily have the answer however I do think it is something one should be thinking through especially those who think that the two are incompatible. The “somehow” is an important thing to deleniate, at least I think it is.

    Vivid

  150. 150
    R J Sawyer says:

    BA77@130, I’m sorry, but if don’t see what this has to do with my comment. Could you possibly paraphrase it for me. Thank you.

  151. 151
    jdk says:

    Well, this has been an somewhat entertaining and enlightening thread, and could probably go on and on and on …..

  152. 152
    Bob O'H says:

    vividbleu @ 149 –

    I guess I am more interested in the “how” a omnipotent,omnibenevolent God would stop evil from happening. I certainly dont have the expectation that you would necessarily have the answer however I do think it is something one should be thinking through especially those who think that the two are incompatible. The “somehow” is an important thing to deleniate, at least I think it is.

    Yes, I agree that that’s an important issue, unfortunately I think you have to be omniscient to give an answer that isn’t slightly trite. But I would expect an omnipotent being would find a way (he writes, tritely).

  153. 153
    GCS says:

    I apologize if I was not clear on the “peace” issue.

    I was not making an argument about total peace or of other religious / philosophical systems providing some peace to a person. Ultimately I can only encourage others to search, because I know the difference it made for me (a difference that people who had known me at work for 20 years told me they saw in me). I have been on both sides of the issue.

    What I was primarily concerned with is the lack of “peace” that I see in the arguments of people who have to prove scientifically that God does not exist. Please correct me if I am totally off base, but I sense that undertone in this and other comment streams on similar subjects.

    My concern is not to win the argument; my concern is to introduce you to someone much greater than us.

    The answer ultimately is in not beating other persons in arguments (our human history has shown us what that has succeeded in doing), but rather in understanding our real role in this great creation.

  154. 154
    ET says:

    GSC:

    What I was primarily concerned with is the lack of “peace” that I see in the arguments of people who have to prove scientifically that God does not exist.

    Philosophically, not scientifically.

    My concern is not to win the argument;

    While we are busy showing that it isn’t an argument but a strawman.

  155. 155
    R J Sawyer says:

    GCS

    What I was primarily concerned with is the lack of “peace” that I see in the arguments of people who have to prove scientifically that God does not exist.

    I don’t think that anyone is trying to prove “scientifically” that God doesn’t exist. Because I don’t think it is possible to do so. However, I have read many comments that go along the lines of ‘…I have not seen any compelling evidence for the existance of God. Some here would say that there is plenty of compelling evidence, and others would say that there is not. And, the strange thing is , they are both correct.

    I have known many atheists who appear to be at peace, and I have known many Christians who do not appear to be at peace. Declaring that one way is the only way to peace, in my mind, is arrogance stemming from lack of true understanding of the other side.

  156. 156
    kairosfocus says:

    BO’H: Kindly see the discussion summarising Plantinga at 49. KF

  157. 157
    vividbleau says:

    Bob O H

    “But I would expect an omnipotent being would find a way (he writes, tritely).”

    Then again maybe there is no way that an omnipotent God could find a way simply because the “way” does not exist.

    There are certain things God cannot do. When I say “God is omnipotent” I am not declaring that God can do anything rather God can do anything that is possible to do.It may well be that creation itself is only possible if within creation there must be a possibility of evil., actually that is my view. This goes along with the idea that evil is a derivative of good, that is you cannot have good without the possibility of its corruption. If this be the case, and I think it is, there is no contradiction between Gods benevolence and His omnipotence.

    Vivid

  158. 158
    kairosfocus says:

    Vivid, it has already been pointed out that a world with the freedom required for responsible rational thought and for the keystone virtue, love, is a world with just that: freedom. Freedom implies the power of abuse, thus evil. A very good reason for creating a world with free, morally governed creatures is that only in such a world can the wonders of creative minds and loving hearts exist. KF

  159. 159
    vividbleau says:

    KF

    I dont think it has been pointed out that to say God is omnipotent does not entail that God can do anything, think square circles.

    Vivid

  160. 160
    kairosfocus says:

    Vivid, yes. A square circle is impossible of being so it is no proper objection to the power of God to complain that he cannot build one. KF

    PS: Catholic Encyclopedia is helpful:

    Omnipotence is the power of God to effect whatever is not intrinsically impossible. These last words of the definition do not imply any imperfection, since a power that extends to every possibility must be perfect. The universality of the object of the Divine power is not merely relative but absolute, so that the true nature of omnipotence is not clearly expressed by saying that God can do all things that are possible to Him; it requires the further statement that all things are possible to God. The intrinsically impossible is the self-contradictory, and its mutually exclusive elements could result only in nothingness. “Hence,” says Thomas (Summa I, Q. xxv, a. 3), “it is more exact to say that the intrinsically impossible is incapable of production, than to say that God cannot produce it.” To include the contradictory within the range of omnipotence, as does the Calvinist Vorstius, is to acknowledge the absurd as an object of the Divine intellect, and nothingness as an object of the Divine will and power. “God can do all things the accomplishment of which is a manifestation of power,” says Hugh of St. Victor, “and He is almighty because He cannot be powerless” (De sacram., I, ii, 22).

    As intrinsically impossible must be classed:

    Any action on the part of God which would be out of harmony with His nature and attributes;

    Any action that would simultaneously connote mutually repellent elements, e.g. a square circle, an infinite creature, etc.

  161. 161
    jdk says:

    Therefore, God certainly has the power to prevent specific evil acts, I would think.

    And people regularly give credit, as Dave and I have pointed out, to God for saving them from some calamity. Also, Christians believe in the efficacy of prayer: God has been credited for any number of miraculous recoveries.

    Therefore, even though evil in general may be a corollary of good existing, as vivid states in 157, that is certainly not an argument for him preventing or allowing any particular evil acts to occur.

    The Holocaust happened. How could an omni-benevolent and omnipotent God let that happen? Those of us skeptical of the existence of this God think that is a meaningful question that is not answered by these philosophical propositions about the existence of evil.

  162. 162
    kairosfocus says:

    PPS: Above and elsewhere I have noted of God at a prior level to the usual theology of attributes, that we need to coherently explain a world with moral ordering (thus, freedom) and that this is only possible at world-root level. It is easy enough to see there is — after centuries of debate — just one serious candidate. (If you doubt, just put up another and apply comparative difficulties.)

    To wit, the inherently good (and wise) creator God, a necessary and maximally great being; worthy of loyalty and the reasonable, responsible service of doing the good that accords with our evident nature.

    — inherently good (and wise) implies that God’s character is morally flawless so that he is properly the yardstick of goodness. Inter alia, this means that the Euthyphro dilemma fails as God’s moral principles are non-arbitrary, coherent and in accord with the purpose of responsible rational creatures who are morally governed.

    — creator, implies, author of all worlds that came to be, which therefore depend on him for origin and sustained existence

    — necessary being implies possible and framework to any world possible of being, so that any actual world comes from him. An implication is, eternal. Not an arbitrary category as once something contingent is, something else must be necessary. Also, a serious candidate to be necessary will either be impossible of being or else actual. Non-serious candidates include any composite entity made up of independently existing components or the like. This for instance is where the ill-advised flying spaghetti monster parody is manifestly un-serious.

    — maximally great implies not just actually supreme and nonpareil, but that nothing else will possibly exceed. Further, is marked by all great-making properties, to ultimate degree. Thus, omnipotence as just defined, omniscience , omni-benevolence, eternality, etc. These attributes are ways of fleshing out the supreme greatness of God.

    — worthy of loyalty flows from these.

    — worthy of reasonable, responsible service implies our moral government and duty to our creator and Lord

    — accordance with our evident nature implies that the requirements of duty point to our purpose made manifest to us by reasonable means. For instance, that we are capable of love and reason implies duties of care to self, neighbour and world that in many ways can be explored through responsible reflection. They also open the door to response to the God who is there and not silent once there is credible evidence that claimed revelation is authentic. This of course will open the door to fair-minded assessment of the gospel and Jesus’ call to repentance and discipleship under his instruction.

    — and more.

  163. 163
    kairosfocus says:

    JDK, have you read the summary in 49 above? In so doing, did you see the error in the objector’s set that Plantinga corrected, and the corrective in 2a –> and 5a? In particular, note: “Theists propose that 2a should be revised: 2b: “A good, omnipotent God will eliminate evil as far as he can without either losing a greater good or bringing about a greater evil.” But, once this is done, the alleged contradiction [–> as proposed in 2a] collapses.” If so, kindly explain persistence in pressing an argument pivoting on a corrected error. Beyond a certain point, that is plainly a resort to strawman fallacy. You are either at, or about to be at, that point. There is a reason why the logical form of the problem of evil has been dead for at least 40 years. KF

  164. 164
    jdk says:

    2b: “A good, omnipotent God will eliminate evil as far as he can without either losing a greater good or bringing about a greater evil.” But, once this is done, the alleged contradiction collapses.

    So we are supposed to accept that allowing the Holocaust prevented some greater evil?

    Plantanga’s solution, like so much about the inscrutability of God, allows the believer to rationalize anything.

    I don’t buy it.

  165. 165
    daveS says:

    An hypothesis: If there in a God, He no longer intervenes whatsoever in the world. It appears to me no one is minding the store.

  166. 166
    Deputy Dog says:

    @kairosfocus #163

    … the logical form of the problem of evil has been dead for at least 40 years

    The number of comments to this post would indicate otherwise.

  167. 167
    kairosfocus says:

    JDK, it is not just that there was one holocaust, there is another ongoing at a million per week and demonstrably amounting to 800+ millions in the same past 40 or so years; the slaughter of living posterity in the womb under false colour of choice and rights. It is that in principle every evil is open to the same objection, why permit it? The answer is the same: as I just pointed out, there are evident duties manifest from our nature as responsible, rational, significantly free creatures, duties of neighbourliness summed up in the premise that neighbour love does no harm, no wrong to neighbour. So, why doesn’t God in anticipation prevent all acts of wrong and harm? Why didn’t he just stop c. 1941 or whenever that conference leading to he holocaust was and stop all evil, or the same on January 20, 1973? The answer is patent and it is being rhetorically dodged in interests of clinging to a dead argument. To stop all power of evil for a morally governed world of soul making would require stopping all responsible rational freedom, poof, we all go out of existence into nothing or are transformed into robots incapable of doing good, creation, reasoning, loving. In anticipation, we see a sterile world without reason, love, goodness, creativity etc. The clay vessel cries out at its maker, potter, why have you made me capable of holding water. Your objection is to the existence of a world in which moral good is possible. Including the very rationality you are using to make your argument and the duty to truth and reason that you imply is binding by the very fact of making an objecting argument. Your argument shatters itself into utter incoherence at ever so many levels. KF

  168. 168
    kairosfocus says:

    DS, if a world continues, he is active; as, in him we live and move and have our being. Were he to withdraw that support, poof, gone as though it never was. KF

  169. 169
    kairosfocus says:

    DD, no. What we see above is clinging to a shattered mainstay of an ideology and cultural agenda. This is exactly what happened to marxism for decades until the well ran truly dry. The defense shows beyond reasonable dispute that the logical form of the problem of evil has failed. The correct theistic set is consistent, period. Inductive forms stand defanged too by pretty direct extension. Existential or pastoral challenges as Job faced, remain. Joseph, he kept in irons until iron entered his soul. KF

  170. 170
    Deputy Dog says:

    @kairosfocus #167

    “To stop all power of evil for a morally governed world of soul making would require stopping all responsible rational freedom, poof, we all go out of existence into nothing or are transformed into robots incapable of doing good, creation, reasoning, loving. In anticipation, we see a sterile world without reason, love, goodness, creativity etc.”

    Unfortunately for you, your rationalization of God’s inaction is indistinguishable from him not existing at all.

  171. 171
    kairosfocus says:

    DD, kindly see my remark to DS on the claimed inaction of God and to JDK on the alleged failure to stop evils. The objection is self-shattering as it appeals to what it would undermine. Then, go back to 49. KF

  172. 172
    jdk says:

    kf, dd quoted you from your response to me at 167 and I responded to a key point from Plantinga that you pointed out. Sending us back there again doesn’t address the points we’ve made: it just sends us around in circles.

  173. 173
    Deputy Dog says:

    @kairosfocus #171

    More “Affirming the Consequent”

    Give me a break !!!

  174. 174
    vividbleau says:

    jdk

    “Therefore, even though evil in general may be a corollary of good existing, as vivid states in 157, that is certainly not an argument for him preventing or allowing any particular evil acts to occur.”

    Hmmm I never made that argument are you referring to someone
    else?

    Vivid

  175. 175
    kairosfocus says:

    DD, no. It is clear that the key issue is the existence of morally ordered good, which requires the radical freedom implied by rationality and responsibility. Freedom, by definition, is not programmed nor is it random. No freedom, no choice, no possibility of abuse, certainly. But then, no rationality, no love, no creativity, no goodness either. The logical form problem of evil is trying to have its cake and eat it, appealing to rationality, responsibility and linked duties to truth and reason, while seeking to destroy the foundation of such. That is why it shatters itself. That is not if P then q, q so p. No, it is if P, Q, so not_Q implies not-p, which is perfectly logical. On the direct argument, what you will not acknowledge is that once theists are properly represented, their view is strictly consistent. That is not on trial, our willingness to acknowledge it is. KF

  176. 176
    kairosfocus says:

    Vivid, of course, the problem is one of galloping cases: case 1, then case 2, then ultimately every case, there is no limiting factor but arbitrary choice. Once we see that, then we are right back at the implications of removing freedom from the world, which removes even rationality. Self-defeat. KF

  177. 177
    daveS says:

    KF,

    So, God never performs any action which would infringe on someone’s free will. Right?

  178. 178
    jdk says:

    Hi Vivid. As was responding to these sentences of yours from 157

    It may well be that creation itself is only possible if within creation there must be a possibility of evil., actually that is my view. This goes along with the idea that evil is a derivative of good, that is you cannot have good without the possibility of its corruption. If this be the case, and I think it is, there is no contradiction between Gods benevolence and His omnipotence.

    I summarized this as “evil in general may be a corollary of good existing.”

    The second half of my sentence “that is certainly not an argument for him preventing or allowing any particular evil acts to occur” was not in direct response to what you wrote, but to the idea that you presented that God can not do the impossible. I am making the distinction between the idea that creating a universe that has good without evil might be impossible, and the idea that God can’t or couldn’t prevent specific evil acts.

  179. 179
    R J Sawyer says:

    KF

    To stop all power of evil for a morally governed world of soul making would require stopping all responsible rational freedom, poof, we all go out of existence into nothing or are transformed into robots incapable of doing good, creation, reasoning, loving.

    But are we really talking about God stopping all evil, or all suffering? I think that we would agree that things like the holocaust, and abortion, and torture are at a different level of “evil” than things like stealing, adultery, fighting and thousands of other “lesser sins”. Wouldn’t we still be morally governed beings with responsible rational freedom if God opted to not allow the more serious evils to occur? After all, I am no less morally governed and my responsible rational freedom is no less because I don’t have the means to perpetrate a holocaust or set off a nuclear bomb in a populated city.

  180. 180
    vividbleau says:

    JDK
    “I am making the distinction between the idea that creating a universe that has good without evil might be impossible, and the idea that God can’t or couldn’t prevent specific evil acts.”

    Thanks for the clarification. I get it you want good without the possibility of evil , me too!! Is that possible?

    Vivid

  181. 181
    vividbleau says:

    JDK

    Let me clarify, is it possible to have good without the possibility of evil if in fact evil is the deprivation of good.

    Vivid

  182. 182
    kairosfocus says:

    RJS,

    galloping cases again.

    DS,

    the fundamental freedom is for example the premise of rationality.

    Responsibility goes with it.

    We may so abuse that we end in an endarkened, benumbed state that is termed the depraved, reprobate mind.

    That is our doing, a sort of moral self-destruction.

    I think you suggest hypercalvinism, which is an extreme view, though of course its champions are enthusiastic. I suggest to such that freedom is integral to rationality, learning, knowledge and more. Hypercalvinism undermines rationality.

    As to limits on human freedom, we are finite, fallible, morally struggling and too often ill-wiled. Those are intrinsic, and we have to watch that we don’t spiral down into moral self-destruction.

    As to God putting a further terminus, the passing of generations within a fairly limited time puts a limit. God “infringing” on our responsibility and/or rationality is a charge of God doing evil. Issuing us with, conscience, one, does not infringe, it guides. Authentic revelation and command from the inherently good for our good, again, guides and sets up parameters for the civil peace of justice within which we thrive. Such are not infringements.

    If you mean, God turns some into robots, no, that is an error.

    JDK,

    you continue with the galloping cases. Instead, you need to examine Plantinga’s points step by step. Notice the above is extremely compressed, we are talking several weighty books in the end that go into all sorts of nuances and details. But just in the summary, there is enough to see the issue. Notice, again why 2a is adjusted to 2b and what the import of 5a is, in 49 above.

    KF

  183. 183
    jdk says:

    re 180 and 181: No, I don’t “want that”(as if what I want makes a difference) because everything, including what we judge to be good and bad (and evil at the extreme) comes in a spectrum.

    What we seem to be discussing is the theological question, in a Christian context, is not only why does evil exist (the answer seeming to be because good could not exist without not-good to distinguish it), but why God lets egregiously evil things like the Holocaust happen, and (a separate question) could he or does he somehow at times in fact prevent evil things from happening.

    God may have inscrutable reasons for his actions (assuming he can and does at times act), but I find it hard to accept he would let something as terrible as the Holocaust happen.

    To be clear, I personally don’t believe in an omni-benevolent God, so my interest here is not in respect to my own beliefs, but to trying to understand how the Christian reconciles all this.

  184. 184
    daveS says:

    KF,

    So does God ever perform any actions which limit someone’s free will? I’m looking for a clear yes or no answer please.

  185. 185
    R J Sawyer says:

    KF

    galloping cases again.

    That is not an answer to my question. Or are you suggesting that it is not possible for us to be morally governed beings with responsible rational freedom unless we are given the freedom to perpetrate the most horrendous of acts? Frankly, I find this hard to believe.

    Here is a hypothetical. If I had the power to make all existing and future firearms incapable of functioning, and everyone was aware of this, would I be making people less morally governed or reduce their responsible rational freedom by invoking this power?

  186. 186
    vividbleau says:

    jdk re 183

    I am more than willing to address your comments in 183 but I would like an answer to my question in 181.

    Vivid

  187. 187
    daveS says:

    KF,

    PS to my #184: I get the sense that you don’t believe God would physically prevent someone from carrying out a violent act.

    As an example, suppose a man enters a school with a semiautomatic rifle and prepares to fire. In such a situation, would God ever cause the rifle to malfunction, thwarting the will of the shooter?

  188. 188
    jdk says:

    re 186: Hmmm. I thought I answered your question. I wrote above

    what we judge to be good and bad (and evil at the extreme) comes in a spectrum.

    What we seem to be discussing is the theological question, in a Christian context, is not only why does evil exist (the answer seeming to be because good could not exist without not-good to distinguish it)

    That is, as a general matter of the complementary nature of opposites, good and not good (of which evil is at the far end of the spectrum, exist together and are defined in part by their opposition to each other.

    As to your specific question, “is it possible to have good without the possibility of evil if in fact evil is the deprivation of good”, the answer is no, especially as in the question itself you define evil in respect to the absence of good.

    I should make it clear that this answer seems clear irrespective of how one understands what good means: assuming that “good” can be applied to a set of actions, behaviors, or situation, those that deviate far enough from “good” can be called “bad”.

    This all seems obvious, and I thought I’d answered your question, so I’m not sure why you asked again in 186???

  189. 189
    vividbleau says:

    jdk

    It should be obvious why I asked again because you never answered it, now you have.

    Vivid

  190. 190
    vividbleau says:

    jdk

    “As to your specific question, “is it possible to have good without the possibility of evil if in fact evil is the deprivation of good”, the answer is no, especially as in the question itself you define evil in respect to the absence of good.”

    Sheesh your own post demonstrates that you did not answer my question until 188.

    Vivid

  191. 191
    vividbleau says:

    jdk

    In 183 you bring up the question about why God let’s “egregiously” evil things like the Holocaust happen. To you and others it’s egregious but theire are others who don’t agree or deny that it even happened. After all as one very wise person has stated

    “If there is no objective, transcendent moral nature, or any other aspect of human nature, then all of human nature is subjective in the sense that it arises from within us: love, hate, greed, altruism, shame, guilt, pride, ambition, courage, etc. are all parts of human nature that we feel and express.”

    “So the issue is not one of pointing to one particular “moral system”, but rather one of understanding morality in the broader context of human nature as it is expressed in its totality by the actions of human beings themselves.”

    To say it is “egregiously” evil is your particular “moral system” that is shared by many but it is not shared by all. Furthermore should not one try to understand morality in the broader context of human nature regarding the Holocaust and take into account the subjective nature of human experience that may differ from your own?

    Vivid

  192. 192
    kairosfocus says:

    RJS, freedom is freedom. Where, you will note above that I point out a worse case that is currently in progress. To “solve” the “problem” of freedom implies removing an order of goods tied to it. Where, it also seems to me that your talking point is shifting responsibility by projecting blame to God for choices WE have made or are making in the teeth of self-evident moral principles. To see my point, ponder how ever so many today find ways to “justify” an ongoing holocaust that mounts up at another million victims per week, with 800+ million victims in 40+ years. That, of living posterity in the womb. Notice, how the remnant of those who object have been routinely treated and the indoctrination embedded in our media, education systems, etc. Notice, what has been ruled from the bench of justice or passed in legislatures and how it corrupts. I do note, that such evils are clearly our individual or collective responsibility but far too often those who are quick to project blame to others or to try to drag God into the dock only succeed in demonstrating that moral law is written in their hearts, condemning themselves by the blame projected to others. God, why don’t you stop us as we choose evils? How, by erasing you or turning you into a robot instead of offering redemption and transformation, destroying an entire order of good? And, what are you doing about substantially equivalent evils in your situation? The answer speaks for itself. Your objection is to what allows us to be reasonable and responsible, undermining even the premise of reasoned discussion. It shatters itself. KF

    PS: I must underscore that in exchanges, there is a tendency to blur lines between theodicy and defense. We may wish to object to an attempted justification of God, that we find it implausible (thus reflecting yet another facet of the moral law at work). A defence is different and for its restricted purpose, far more powerful. A set of claims, c1, c2, c3 . . . cn is alleged to be in incoherence. After suitable examination and correction, it is shown that by adding an augment a1 describing a logically possible state of affairs, the augmented set is coherent, that is the vetted set c1′ AND c2′ . . . cn’ AND a1 are such that no two propositions x and y are such that x = NOT-y. Once that holds, perforce, c1′, c2′ . . . cn’ cannot be in contradiction. That is what Plantinga achieved, and it removes the force of the claim, contradiction. Onward discussion on plausibility etc may address issues of understanding, inclinations, opinions etc but as a matter of reasoning, the claim, contradiction, is dead.

  193. 193
    vividbleau says:

    jdk

    I am also curious about the cutoff point of where something is egregiously evil compared to the standard run of the mill off the shelf evil. There were 6 million Jews slaughtered in the Holocaust and to you that qualifies as “egregiously evil” so what’s the cutoff point.? One million? Hundred thousand? One thousand?

    Vivid

  194. 194
    DillyGill says:

    ET @14
    You say
    “God is not a micro-micro manager.

    I know a kid who fell over 60 feet from the top of a hemlock and lived. No broken bones, just a concussion. The same kid had a sister who died of a brain tumor @ 3+ years old years before the boy was born. By all accounts the girl was a beautiful child, very loving. The boy was a typical boy- rough and not so loving.

    Did God feel bad for the parents so the boy was spared?”

    The trouble for people who believe that this life is all that exists, is that God can never seem reasonable. If we were to know that the family in question were to be restored in the next life with full health, with full understanding of why they suffered in this life and were secure for all eternity then the suffering in this life whilst great at the time would pale into insignificance compared to an eternity with out danger nor evil.

    That is what the Bible promises. This life is not all there is. For those that have swallowed the pill of philosophical materialism and put their faith in science and the vain babblings of people who can not even accept the argument from design as reasonable , what hope do they have of ever accepting the hope on offer?

  195. 195
    kairosfocus says:

    DS, You pose an interesting case, in effect demanding a miracle to stop a particular type of crime that is currently headlined. The same galloping cases challenge obtains, and it seems to me there is an intervention on the table long since, one deeply embedded in our rational, responsible consciousness that testifies to the law that binds a morally governed creature: neighbour love does no harm or wrong to a neighbour. The fact that we object most forcibly when we feel ourselves wronged speaks to us in warning, and is a corrective at work in the would be shooter (or bomber, or gasser etc). So, the issue is, our personal, direct responsibility and rationality, we are in position to know and do better, so the first and primary locus of blame is our own selves. But of course, we can so practice self-deception and addictive benuming that gradually, we lose the compass-sense that points elsewhere. In the extreme case, we reach reprobation, dead inside before dead outside. For that to become a trend instead of a rarity, a culture or community normally becomes involved, drumming home a message and an agenda that reinforces en-darkenment and benumbing. That too is not too hard to trace in this case, and it is connected also to the ongoing, worst holocaust in history. We set out to blame God for failing to take away rational, responsible freedom, when he has already set in place a means to guide us aright in that freedom, and we enable a culture of endarkenment and benumbing then complain of its predictable consequences as some become benumbed to murder and seek to draw demonic enjoyment from acts of gross evil. Our thinking again shatters itself. KF

    PS: It seems appropriate to again point to Locke and Hooker:

    [2nd Treatise on Civil Gov’t, Ch 2 sec. 5:] . . . if I cannot but wish to receive good, even as much at every man’s hands, as any man can wish unto his own soul, how should I look to have any part of my desire herein satisfied, unless myself be careful to satisfy the like desire which is undoubtedly in other men . . . my desire, therefore, to be loved of my equals in Nature, as much as possible may be, imposeth upon me a natural duty of bearing to themward fully the like affection. From which relation of equality between ourselves and them that are as ourselves, what several rules and canons natural reason hath drawn for direction of life no man is ignorant . . . [This directly echoes St. Paul in Rom 2: “14 For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them . . . “ and 13: “9 For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law . . . “ Hooker then continues, citing Aristotle in The Nicomachean Ethics, Bk 8:] as namely, That because we would take no harm, we must therefore do none; That since we would not be in any thing extremely dealt with, we must ourselves avoid all extremity in our dealings; That from all violence and wrong we are utterly to abstain, with such-like . . . ] [Eccl. Polity ,preface, Bk I, “ch.” 8, p.80, cf. here. Emphasis added.] [Augmented citation, Locke, Second Treatise on Civil Government, Ch 2 Sect. 5. ]

  196. 196
    kairosfocus says:

    DG, that is a relevant consideration, one tied to the dynamic that redemption bought at awful cost by the God who took the full force of evil into himself at the cross counter-weights and over-balances any and all evils in a world of soul-making that is not our ultimate destination. And indeed, by giving and fulfilling prophecies of messiah across centuries [esp. cf. Isa 52 – 53] and by having 500 unstoppable witnesses who refused to recant known, life transforming truth in the face of dungeon, fire, sword and worse, there is adequate warrant for those willing to heed. But that focusses the challenge: we have known duties to rational, responsible behaviour and thought. This is a test in a world of soul-making. Our responsibility as people who have grown up in a civilisation with the greatest access to light, is grave. KF

  197. 197
    Marfin says:

    Can anyone on this thread who is arguing that if evil exists then a benevolent God cannot exist , please give a definition of evil and tell us how you reached that definition.Its a simple request now lets see how many takers we get.

  198. 198
    Bob O'H says:

    Marfin – the argument from evil assumes that the definition is given by the omni-benevolent God. Thus, if you want a definition, I suggest you ask those who believe in God.

  199. 199
    daveS says:

    KF,

    I’m not familiar with the term “galloping cases”—would you please elaborate?

    Based on your post #195, I take it that you do not think God would ever cause the rifle to malfunction in such a scenario? Or perhaps are you not certain?

  200. 200
    jdk says:

    re 199:

    in 195, kf wrote,

    DS, You pose an interesting case, in effect demanding a miracle to stop a particular type of crime that is currently headlined.

    My question to kf is this: is the only way God can make things happen in the world is through miracles? That is, the only two possibilities are

    1. things happen through natural causes and through the free acts of human beings, without God’s active presence, or

    2. God steps in and performs a miracle.

    This seems to be what kf is implying.

  201. 201
    kairosfocus says:

    DS, I used a descriptive phrase which I already explained above. You are now simply repeating a claim as though a substantial answer is not already on the table. KF

  202. 202
    jdk says:

    kf first mentioned “galloping cases” in 176, but I can’t make sense out of what he was saying.

    Also, I have no idea what “substantial answer” is on the table to the question can God, and does God, ever intervene to stop an evil act.

  203. 203
    daveS says:

    KF,

    What jdk said in #202.

  204. 204
    daveS says:

    KF,

    Have you read/watched Billy Graham’s address after the September 11 attacks? He gives what I think is the strongest response possible to the problem of evil. And I mean that unironically. It was a very powerful statement.

    An excerpt, with one sentence bolded:

    The Bible says, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea.”

    But how do we understand something like this? Why does God allow evil like this to take place? Perhaps that is what you are asking. You may even be angry at God. I want to assure you that God understands these feelings that you may have.

    We’ve seen so much that brings tears to our eyes and makes us all feel a sense of anger. But God can be trusted, even when life seems at its darkest.

    What are some of the lessons we can learn?

    First, we are reminded of the mystery and reality of evil. I have been asked hundreds of times why God allows tragedy and suffering. I have to confess that I do not know the answer. I have to accept, by faith, that God is sovereign, and that He is a God of love and mercy and compassion in the midst of suffering.

  205. 205
    kairosfocus says:

    BO’H:

    You have over simplified to the point of caricature, in an area where precision and complexity are unavoidable, given a multitude of shaping issues.

    Let me pull a few things together.

    We intuitively recognise evils, especially key self evident cases, we also recognise and prize certain goods on much the same basis, I explored that in 49 which you do not seem to have seriously engaged.

    The issue is, then, what best explains and grounds a world with morally governed creatures, leading to an answer that has to be at world root level, has to coherently bridge is and ought, and has to lead to reasonable grounds for moral government, which includes discerning good and evil. Where, too, as our rationality is governed by duties to truth, right, sound logic etc, prudence, due recognition of what is valuable and management of risk, and more, our whole world of reasoned thought is in the picture.

    From this we can see the only serious candidate: the inherently good and wise creator God, a necessary and maximally great being, worthy of loyalty and of the responsible reasonable service of doing the good in accord with our evident nature. If you doubt, simply put up an alternative that can bear the same weight, I am not going to hold my breath.

    In that context, the concepts of good and evil take part in light of purpose of a morally governed, highly valuable order of creation. Us. Other beings of that order. Free, reasonable, responsible, conscience-guided, creative.

    The good fulfills its creational mandate and purpose. This is manifested in thriving and in production of valuable outputs, of thought, speech, work, relationships, generations etc. This is not arbitrary, it is naturally evident in substantial part and works out as a coherent whole.

    The evil is then a secondary, destructively parasitical phenomenon, pivoting on abuse of freedom in ways that frustrate, deprive, pervert etc from fulfilling that creational purpose. This is the context for Dembski’s prepared remarks for his exchange with Hitchens, as were cited above but were studiously avoided.

    Let me again clip:

    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]

    So, the definition of evil is not a mere arbitrary exercise of power, it is connected to an intuitive recognition and to re-thinking our understanding of the world in ways that make sense of such. This then leads literally to the roots of reality and to the role of God as the good creator and Lord, who has purpose for creation and creates a morally governed order that opens up a world of freedom tied to responsible rationality, love and virtue that is transformative and highly valuable. This is good, precious, excellent. Evil then seeks to undermine that order through perverse abuse of freedom, thus destroying quasi-infinite value. The difference is often readily evident to the un-jaded, sensitive eye, mind, conscience and heart.

    That is why the usurpation of power by evil must rest on systematic distortion, deception, distraction, stirring of hostility, suppression of truth and more, keeping us headed for the cliffs like the proverbial lemmings. (Ironically, real lemmings are not like that, but us humans . . . )

    By contrast, evolutionary materialism and linked scientism, have nothing significant to say that can hold up as a coherent, sensible account.

    KF

  206. 206
    Marfin says:

    Bob o`H – Now at least we can make some progress , in that you have accepted that you cannot provide a definition of evil without God ,so either you accept there is no such thing as evil or the benevolent God created or allows evil.
    Which way do you want to proceed.

  207. 207
    kairosfocus says:

    DS, there is of course a dimension of the hidden in what unfolds, but we must note that Mr Graham was an Evangelist with a background in Anthropology, not someone trained or particularly practised in philosophy or even Christian Apologetics. There have been thousands of years of exploration of these matters and there are some results that are on the table. In particular, it remains so that Plantinga made a landmark achievement on the problem of evil, 40 – 50 years ago; again cf the 101 summary in 49 above (the full-orbed argument is three serious pro grade phil works); it is almost amusing but then saddening to see how we struggle with a formal, successful demonstration. The result of his definitive demonstration that an appropriate theistic set is undeniably coherent, is that the logical problem of evil is now a dead problem. Linked, the inductive one has been tamed, and what remains is that which is ever before us, the existential/pastoral challenge. That one is answered by encounter with God. KF

  208. 208
    Bob O'H says:

    Bob o`H – Now at least we can make some progress , in that you have accepted that you cannot provide a definition of evil without God

    No, please. That’s absolutely not what I wrote. IF God exists, and IF God is the arbiter of good and evil, then God can tell you what is evil.

  209. 209
    daveS says:

    KF,

    DS, there is of course a dimension of the hidden in what unfolds, but we must note that Mr Graham was an Evangelist with a background in Anthropology, not someone trained or particularly practised in philosophy or even Christian Apologetics.

    The man was 82 years old at the time and had been thinking about these issues for a lifetime. I submit that his wisdom attained through life experience was more relevant than what classes he took in his late teens/early twenties.

  210. 210
    kairosfocus says:

    DS, what is on the table is a logical demonstration that, properly vetted, a set of propositions known as the theistic set, is logically coherent. That stands demonstrated for 40- 50 years. The logical form of the problem of evil is dead, and the inductive form has been seriously defanged; something that is demonstrably so but which you seem loath to acknowledge. Mr Graham is not a world class authority or expert on that matter, Plantinga is. What remains is what Graham spoke to, the existential or pastoral challenge of evil, and he correctly pointed to the need for trusting relationship with God, one which is resolved through redemptive encounter with God. KF

  211. 211
    kairosfocus says:

    BO’H: Kindly cf. 205 above. KF

  212. 212
    bornagain77 says:

    As to the nature of reality, the main empirical claim coming from Atheistic Materialists is that the universe is neither good nor evil but is amoral. Or is “pitilessly indifferent”.

    As Richard Dawkins put it, “The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference.”

    “In a universe of electrons and selfish genes, blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference.”
    – Richard Dawkins, River Out of Eden: A Darwinian View of Life

    And although Dawkins’s own supposed area of expertise, molecular biology, reveals something very different than “pitiless indifference”, for instance in the following article Stephen Talbott challenges scientists and philosophers to “pose a single topic for biological research, doing so in language that avoids all implication of agency, cognition, and purposiveness. One reason this cannot be done is clear enough: molecular biology — the discipline that was finally going to reduce life unreservedly to mindless mechanism — is now posing its own severe challenges.”

    The ‘Mental Cell’: Let’s Loosen Up Biological Thinking! – Stephen L. Talbott – September 9, 2014
    Excerpt: Many biologists are content to dismiss the problem with hand-waving: “When we wield the language of agency, we are speaking metaphorically, and we could just as well, if less conveniently, abandon the metaphors”.
    Yet no scientist or philosopher has shown how this shift of language could be effected. And the fact of the matter is just obvious: the biologist who is not investigating how the organism achieves something in a well-directed way is not yet doing biology, as opposed to physics or chemistry. Is this in turn just hand-waving? Let the reader inclined to think so take up a challenge: pose a single topic for biological research, doing so in language that avoids all implication of agency, cognition, and purposiveness 1.
    One reason this cannot be done is clear enough: molecular biology — the discipline that was finally going to reduce life unreservedly to mindless mechanism — is now posing its own severe challenges. In this era of Big Data, the message from every side concerns previously unimagined complexity, incessant cross-talk and intertwining pathways, wildly unexpected genomic performances, dynamic conformational changes involving proteins and their cooperative or antagonistic binding partners, pervasive multifunctionality, intricately directed behavior somehow arising from the interaction of countless players in interpenetrating networks, and opposite effects by the same molecules in slightly different contexts. The picture at the molecular level begins to look as lively and organic — and thoughtful — as life itself.
    http://natureinstitute.org/txt.....ell_23.htm

    And although Dawkins’s own supposed area of expertise, molecular biology, reveals something very different than “pitiless indifference”, Dawkins did not limit his claim for “pitiless indifference” to molecular biology alone but also claimed that the entire universe itself is, at bottom, pitilessly indifferent.

    And like his claim for molecular biology, Dawkins is also wrong in his claim that the universe itself is, at bottom, pitilessly indifferent.

    Our best scientific description for the “bottom” of the universe comes from Quantum Mechanics.

    Yet in Quantum Mechanics we find that instead of pitilessly indifferent ‘electrons and blind physical forces’ that could care less about our own personal concerns, we find instead, as Steven Weinberg himself, (an atheist), admitted, that “humans are brought into the laws of nature at the most fundamental level”.

    The Trouble with Quantum Mechanics – Steven Weinberg – January 19, 2017
    Excerpt: The instrumentalist approach,, (the) wave function,, is merely an instrument that provides predictions of the probabilities of various outcomes when measurements are made.,,
    In the instrumentalist approach,,, humans are brought into the laws of nature at the most fundamental level. According to Eugene Wigner, a pioneer of quantum mechanics, “it was not possible to formulate the laws of quantum mechanics in a fully consistent way without reference to the consciousness.”11
    Thus the instrumentalist approach turns its back on a vision that became possible after Darwin, of a world governed by impersonal physical laws that control human behavior along with everything else. It is not that we object to thinking about humans. Rather, we want to understand the relation of humans to nature, not just assuming the character of this relation by incorporating it in what we suppose are nature’s fundamental laws, but rather by deduction from laws that make no explicit reference to humans. We may in the end have to give up this goal,,,
    Some physicists who adopt an instrumentalist approach argue that the probabilities we infer from the wave function are objective probabilities, independent of whether humans are making a measurement. I don’t find this tenable. In quantum mechanics these probabilities do not exist until people choose what to measure, such as the spin in one or another direction. Unlike the case of classical physics, a choice must be made,,,
    http://www.nybooks.com/article.....mechanics/

    Needless to say, Atheists, (including Weinberg himself), don’t like the “instrumentalist approach” of quantum mechanics since it, by letting free will into the laws of nature at the most fundamental level., directly undermines the Darwinian worldview from within. Yet, the “instrumentalist approach”, in spite of how atheists may personally feel about it, is experimentally confirmed to be true by contextuality and/or by the Kochen-Speckter Theorem.

    In regards to contextuality we find that In the quantum world, the property that you discover through measurement is not the property that the system actually had prior to the measurement process. What you observe necessarily depends on how you carried out the observation.,,, and,,, Measurement outcomes depend on all the other measurements that are performed – the full context of the experiment.
    Contextuality means that quantum measurements can not be thought of as simply revealing some pre-existing properties of the system under study.

    Contextuality is ‘magic ingredient’ for quantum computing – June 11, 2012
    Excerpt: Contextuality was first recognized as a feature of quantum theory almost 50 years ago. The theory showed that it was impossible to explain measurements on quantum systems in the same way as classical systems.
    In the classical world, measurements simply reveal properties that the system had, such as colour, prior to the measurement. In the quantum world, the property that you discover through measurement is not the property that the system actually had prior to the measurement process. What you observe necessarily depends on how you carried out the observation.
    Imagine turning over a playing card. It will be either a red suit or a black suit – a two-outcome measurement. Now imagine nine playing cards laid out in a grid with three rows and three columns. Quantum mechanics predicts something that seems contradictory – there must be an even number of red cards in every row and an odd number of red cards in every column. Try to draw a grid that obeys these rules and you will find it impossible. It’s because quantum measurements cannot be interpreted as merely revealing a pre-existing property in the same way that flipping a card reveals a red or black suit.
    Measurement outcomes depend on all the other measurements that are performed – the full context of the experiment.
    Contextuality means that quantum measurements can not be thought of as simply revealing some pre-existing properties of the system under study. That’s part of the weirdness of quantum mechanics.
    http://phys.org/news/2014-06-w.....antum.html

    And in regards to the Kochen-Specker theorem,

    Antoine Suarez
    Excerpt: Suarez cites the Free Will Theorem of John Conway and Simon Kochen as making free will an axiom (within quantum mechanics), without which science itself could not proceed.
    http://www.informationphilosop.....ts/suarez/

    The free will theorem of John H. Conway and Simon B. Kochen,,,
    Since the free will theorem applies to any arbitrary physical theory consistent with the axioms, it would not even be possible to place the information into the universe’s past in an ad hoc way. The argument proceeds from the Kochen-Specker theorem, which shows that the result of any individual measurement of spin was not fixed (pre-determined) independently of the choice of measurements.
    http://www.informationphilosop.....eorem.html

    ,,, And in regards to the Kochen-Specker theorem we find that, as Anton Zeilinger states in the following video, “what we perceive as reality now depends on our earlier decision what to measure. Which is a very, very, deep message about the nature of reality and our part in the whole universe. We are not just passive observers.”

    “The Kochen-Speckter Theorem talks about properties of one system only. So we know that we cannot assume – to put it precisely, we know that it is wrong to assume that the features of a system, which we observe in a measurement exist prior to measurement. Not always. I mean in a certain cases. So in a sense, what we perceive as reality now depends on our earlier decision what to measure. Which is a very, very, deep message about the nature of reality and our part in the whole universe. We are not just passive observers.”
    Anton Zeilinger –
    Quantum Physics Debunks Materialism – video (7:17 minute mark)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=4C5pq7W5yRM#t=437

    Thus very much contrary to Dawkins’s claim that the universe, at bottom, reveals nothing but blind pitiless indifference, the fact of the matter is that, according to Quantum Mechanics, the universe “cares” very much what we choose to do. We are not just helpless victims of blind pitiless forces. Or as Zeilinger succinctly put it, “We are not just passive observers”.

    That is to say, as far as science is concerned, Dawkins’s claim for an amoral universe is empirically falsified by quantum mechanics.

    Moreover, in regards to humans, and free will in particular, being “brought into the laws of nature at the most fundamental level” it is important to point out that although free will is often thought of as allowing someone to choose between a veritable infinity of options, in a theistic view of reality that veritable infinity of options all boils down to just two options. Eternal life, (infinity if you will), with God, or Eternal life, (infinity again if you will), without God.

    C.S.Lewis states the situation as such:

    “There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, “Thy will be done,” and those to whom God says, in the end, “Thy will be done.” All that are in Hell, choose it. Without that self-choice there could be no Hell.”
    – C.S. Lewis, The Great Divorce

    And exactly as would be expected on the Christian view of reality, we find two very different eternities in reality. An ‘infinitely destructive’ eternity associated with General Relativity and a extremely orderly eternity associated with Special Relativity:

    Quantum Mechanics, Special Relativity, General Relativity and Christianity – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h4QDy1Soolo

    Verse

    Deuteronomy 30:19-20
    I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you today that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing. So choose life, so that you and your descendants may live, and that you may love the LORD your God, obey Him, and hold fast to Him. For He is your life,,,

  213. 213
    daveS says:

    KF,

    The logical form of the problem of evil is dead, and the inductive form has been seriously defanged; something that is demonstrably so but which you seem loath to acknowledge.

    I acknowledged that the problem of evil is not known-down argument against the existence of God from the start. The theistic set is obviously not logically inconsistent.

    I don’t know what it means to “tame” or “defang” a philosophical problem, but in any case, I don’t think any form of the problem of evil is a very strong argument against the existence of God.

    But Billy Graham and others in this thread still think these questions are worth asking. Why was Sandy Hook allowed to happen, while an angel caught 85-year-old uncle Jerry as he fell off a stepladder?

  214. 214
    jdk says:

    kf, see the questions at 200.

  215. 215
    R J Sawyer says:

    KF@91, you assert that if one evil was prevented by God that an offsetting good must also be removed from the equation. I suggest that this is merely opinion. There is no indication that good and bad act as matched opposites. If we consider murder (including abortion) to be the matched opposite of birth (or conception), eliminating murder would have no impact on birth except, possibly, in a positive manner.

    If the impact of eliminating certain evils would result in removing offsetting goods, why do we make every effort to eliminate violence and hatred? Wouldn’t that, according to your assertion, be counterproductive?

    To put it another way, how do we know that are not possible evils out there that God, for whatever reason, has not given us the free will to perpetrate? And if your assertion is true, does this not mean that he is denying humanity the ability to perform some great goods? Food for thought.

  216. 216
    kairosfocus says:

    RJS, first, examine the difference between a theodicy and a defense from the charge of logical incoherence. The former does engage plausibility, the latter only that there is a possible state of affairs such that. On which, coherence of the theistic set follows. That is primary, turning the logical problem of evil into a dead issue for 40+ years now. Also, greatly weakening and defanging the inductive form, leaving the pastoral challenge to be addressed in a context where attempts to make God seem impossible or implausible have lost most or even all of their force. In that context, you need to examine whether there is an order of being requiring responsible, rational freedom under moral government to properly function. To wit, ours. I put it to you that any scheme that tries to account for rationality sans significant and genuine freedom, shatters itself not least as the arguments advanced require what they seek to undermine. Freedom is freedom, and by direct meaning is open to abuse. So, no, merely injecting the truth/warrant is opinion move fails, fails through self-referential incoherence. KF

  217. 217
    kairosfocus says:

    DS, the logical form problem was advanced for centuries as allegedly decisive; I am glad to see we are agreed it is dead as the vetted theistic set is coherent. Plantinga’s defense works. Next, defang etc is in the context that inductive arguments are by degree of support or plausibility, cogency if you will. The circumstances of the wider discussion undermine much of the potency of the inductive form. The pastoral one is addressed through living, healing encounter with God. That is a context in which why did God allow X arises, and it is a context in which why do we walk in the corrosive, entangling, endarkening, addictive, benumbing ways of evil also applies. That is a different world of questions. KF

  218. 218
    kairosfocus says:

    JDK:

    200: is the only way God can make things happen in the world is through miracles?

    Obviously not, though the foundation of a world in which we have forces of mechanical necessity, those of chance process and those of intelligent, free, morally and intellectually governed action would be the miracle of creation. The root of reality is beyond nature.

    However, the matter on the table is preventing evils, leading to galloping cases and ending in the issue of not opening up a world of love, creativity, relationship, reason, etc or else erasing it, poof. God has acted by giving us conscience-guided reason and wisdom, pointing out that these are for our good. Something we can see, if we are willing.

    So, freedom comes with grave responsibility.

    And, this is a soul-making world in which we face tests, it is not all of reality.

    Let me put on the table a real event. For some reason, some years past a gunman invaded a church service in progress in my native land, attacking a particular woman; this is one of those areas where police response would take some time. The weapon would not fire. There was a second chance for all.

    Now, ordinary people are disarmed there, by and large.

    They did not close the service or somehow find a way to hide the woman.

    The gunman, having repaired the mechanical malfunction, returned some considerable time later and shot the woman dead right there in the church.

    Real case, not fiction.

    I think there are many types and levels of failure of duty and wisdom in this case, but it goes to support the point that we do have significant freedom, which we may foolishly or wickedly abuse.

    KF

  219. 219
    daveS says:

    KF,

    To summarize, if asked why God allowed Sandy Hook to happen but protected uncle Jerry, I think any reasonable (Christian) person would do as Billy Graham did and admit “I do not know the answer”. I doubt anyone can honestly say “I do know the answer”.

  220. 220
    jdk says:

    re 218: I still don’t know what “galloping cases” means.

    But kf, I don’t see an answer to the questions in your story.

    Yes, we have freedom, and a price for freedom is the existence of evil.

    But the questions are, in current events such as your church story,

    Is the only way God can make things happen in the world is through miracles? That is, the only two possibilities are

    1. things happen through natural causes and through the free acts of human beings, without God’s active presence, or

    2. God steps in and performs a miracle

  221. 221
    PaoloV says:

    daveS @219:

    Did you read the first comment in this thread?
    Thanks.

  222. 222
    daveS says:

    PaoloV,

    Yes, I did.

  223. 223
    PaoloV says:

    jdk,
    Please define evil in your own understanding. Don’t copy/paste a definition from an online source.
    Thanks.

  224. 224
    Bob O'H says:

    Yes, we have freedom, and a price for freedom is the existence of evil.

    We have freedom, unless we’ve been killed by an evil act. Apparently God wants evil people to have more freedom than innocents.

  225. 225
    PaoloV says:

    daveS @222:
    Good.
    Can you respond it in your own words?
    Please, don’t quote another source.
    Thanks.

  226. 226
    daveS says:

    PaoloV,

    I would accept whatever answers the Christian with whom I am conversing gives. This is important. Then the question is whether what the Christian says is coherent and plausible. My own opinions on these matters are unimportant.

  227. 227
    Marfin says:

    Bob O H . So you still won`t give that definition of evil I keep asking for, I wonder why that is.
    My position simply is , that if an all knowing, all powerful, all wise creator exists and he made us then he gets to call the shots re good and evil, and if he does not exist then evolution is the only alternative and there is no such thing as good or evil only reproduction and survival. Now if man enough how about you provide that evolution based definition of evil.

  228. 228
    PaoloV says:

    daveS @226:

    That wouldn’t be correct in this case to accept whatever another person tells you about this.
    Can you think why that wouldn’t be correct?

  229. 229
    jdk says:

    re 233: I don’t think a simple “definition” of evil exists.

    Do you have a definition, PaoloV?

  230. 230
    daveS says:

    PaoloV,

    No, please tell me.

  231. 231
    PaoloV says:

    daveS,
    Sure, my pleasure.
    Simply because the reason is clearly explained in the Christian Bible.
    Anything else I or somebody else could tell you is baseless.
    Have you ever read it yourself?
    Thanks.

  232. 232
    daveS says:

    PaoloV,

    My interest is in whether this particular person’s account resolves the problem of evil (or teaches me something new), therefore I want to hear what he or she says. People help each other learn this way. I have read the bible, fwiw.

  233. 233
    jdk says:

    re 231 and 229: Does the Bible provide a definition of evil?

  234. 234
    PaoloV says:

    daveS,
    My question was specifically about whether you have read the explanation we’re discussing now, not the Bible in general.

  235. 235
    daveS says:

    PauloV,

    Sorry, I misunderstood. Would you cite the passages, please?

  236. 236
    kairosfocus says:

    JDK, the problem of galloping cases was explained when I first used the phrase above, as was already noted to you; it was responsive to why doesn’t God stop X, and the point is, that’s just X1, 2, 3 etc follow unless you impose an arbitrary stop point and it ends at the same issue, not having freedom and the good that comes of it including reasoning [so, the argument is self-shattering], or erasing us from existence, effectively the same. Plantinga has addressed the essential point, cf 49 above. I later added remarks on misdirected responsibility, as we have adequate guidance and responsibility. KF

  237. 237
    jdk says:

    re 236: Therefore you conclude that God never stops something evil from happening – true?

  238. 238
    PaoloV says:

    daveS @235,
    No problem. Perhaps my comment wasn’t clear enough.
    I misunderstand many things every day. I’m human.
    It seems like you’re human too, unless I’m having this friendly chat with an advanced AI robot. 🙂
    I’m on the road. My wife is driving, because this morning I wasn’t feeling well. I’ve been sick the last couple of weeks. Why does God allow that to happen to me? Specially today, when He knew we were traveling and I prefer to drive, so that my wife can relax.
    Please, note that in the biblical passages related to what you and I are discussing, God not only allowed it to happen, but actually made it happen.
    To start, I suggest you look at Isaiah 53.
    Thanks.

  239. 239
    Bob O'H says:

    Marfin @ 227 –

    Bob O H . So you still won`t give that definition of evil I keep asking for, I wonder why that is.

    I can tell you, it’s not difficult. Because it’s not relevant to the Problem of Evil. The problem of evil is that God says that there are evil acts, and apparently does nothing to stop many of them.

    My position simply is , that if an all knowing, all powerful, all wise creator exists and he made us then he gets to call the shots re good and evil,

    Fair enough, but then if this god is omni-benevolent, why does he allow evil acts to happen?

  240. 240
    daveS says:

    Thanks, PaoloV.

  241. 241
    ScuzzaMan says:

    42

    Nothing stands out as obviously incorrect with this argument.

    This is an opinion, and an opinion about your own perceptions, not an argument nor an objective measurement.

    In point of fact part 3 of your syllogism is the source of your error. It assumes that God behaves (or a theoretical God would behave) as you do and for your reasons.

    (Remember here that Christians believe in a God who says of himself that “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,“.)

    This is making God in your own image, completely opposite to the actual case, and is therefore a strawman, also of your own making.

    In sum, it has no suasive power because it is not at all relevant to the point at issue.

  242. 242
    PaoloV says:

    daveS,
    Regarding 238.
    The “Suffering Servant” is Jesus Christ. This passage is quoted or referred to many times in the New Testament. Christ’s suffering in the place of His sheep gives them eternal life.

    Is. 53:1
    what they heard from us.
    The gospel proclaimed by the believing remnant.

    Is. 53:2
    root out of dry ground.
    His origins were not promising (Zech. 4:10; John 1:46).

    Is. 53:3
    despised and rejected.
    See 49:7; Ps. 22:6; Lam. 1:1–3; 2:15, 16.

    Is. 53:4
    smitten by God.
    They believed this about the Servant because the Law said, “a hanged man is cursed by God” (Deut. 21:23; cf. Gal. 3:13). The onlookers thought Christ was suffering only what He deserved, but His experience of pain and anguish was for His people (1 Pet. 2:24). The extremity of His suffering shows that His compassion is real and not theoretical (Heb. 2:17, 18).

    Is. 53:5
    we are healed.
    The sufferings of Christ remove the penalty that His people would otherwise owe, and as a result He will undo the effects of sin in them. Death itself will be undone at last (1 Cor. 15:26).

    Is. 53:6
    All we.
    Even as we all sinned, so He died for all of us (2 Cor. 5:14, 15). See “Definite Redemption” at John 10:15.

    sheep . . . astray.
    See 1 Pet. 2:25. See “Original Sin and Total Depravity” at Ps. 51:5.

    laid.
    The guilt of our sins was transferred to Jesus, and He offered Himself as a sacrifice in our place. As Paul wrote, God “made him to be sin who knew no sin” (2 Cor. 5:21).

    Is. 53:7
    lamb . . . sheep.
    Christ is the Lamb of God (John 1:29; 1 Cor. 5:7; Rev. 5:6) in obedience and submission to God (cf. Matt. 26:63; 27:12, 14; 1 Pet. 2:23).

    Is. 53:8
    By oppression and judgment.
    He was put to death as a result of injustice. See “The Atonement” at Rom. 3:25.

    Is. 53:9
    wicked . . . rich.
    Although people supposed that Jesus was dying as a common criminal, through the intervention of Joseph of Arimathea Jesus was buried in honor. His suffering for sinners had been successfully completed.

    violence . . . deceit.
    He was wise and righteous (1 Pet. 2:22), but died a criminal’s death (Luke 23:33).

  243. 243
    ScuzzaMan says:

    @239

    Fair enough, but then if this god is omni-benevolent, why does he allow evil acts to happen?

    What would an omnisicient ominpotent ominbenelvolent God do to prevent them, in your philosophie?

    Would he allow the causal act but magically remove the symptom?

    Would he physically restrain his creations at the instant before the act is completed and thus void the intended effects?

    Would be simply create plants (biological machines without moral choices or the capacity to make them) but somehow imbue them with the illusion that they have moral choices and the capacity to enact them? (And then for some perverse reason of his own populate their delusions with the most vile horrors of which mankind is guilty?)

    Which of these possible alternatives would more closely satisfy your own sense of what is really benevolent?

    I learned a long time ago that when people try to put you in a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” dilemma, when they vilify you for acting and for refraining from acting, then you are not the problem.

    They are.

  244. 244
    PaoloV says:

    daveS,
    Continuing 242:

    Is. 53:10
    it was the will of the Lord.
    This amazing statement is true because Christ was delivered up “according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God” (Acts 2:23).

    offspring.
    The offspring are those who come to life through His death (John 12:24; Gal. 3:29).

    Is. 53:11
    knowledge.
    This is a reference to His insight into the divine plan (52:13 note).

    righteous.
    See Rom. 5:19.

    accounted righteous.
    Christ’s righteousness is imputed to His people (53:6 note), and in return He accepted their guilt so as to “bear their iniquities.” See “Justification and Merit” at Gal. 3:11.

    Is. 53:12
    Therefore I.
    The Lord divides the spoils of victory with His triumphant Servant (52:13).

    poured out his soul.
    He gave Himself for the sins of others (v. 4; Luke 22:37; Phil. 2:7, 8; Heb. 9:28; 1 Pet. 2:24).

    intercession.
    He prayed for sinners (Luke 23:34; Heb. 7:25).

  245. 245
    vividbleau says:

    Scuzza RE 243

    Excellent questions ones that I have asked in previous posts.

    Can we call a free choice a choice if the effects are negated?

    Vivid

  246. 246
    daveS says:

    Paolo,

    Would you mind summarizing briefly the clear explanation you refer to in post #231?

    What is to be explained is why Sandy Hook (a notorious school shooting in the US) was allowed to happen, while an ~85-year-old man was caught by an angel after falling off a stepladder.

  247. 247
    PaoloV says:

    daveS,

    Regarding 244.

    The word “will” appears in reference to God’s will.
    We may have free will, but God is absolutely sovereign.
    As the ultimate Creator, God may give and take away as He wishes.
    He doesn’t have to consult with me or anybody else, no matter how much I would prefer that to happen.
    Like a painter who may come to his/her gallery, remove all his/her paintings and destroy them, even if I don’t like that action and may even consider it very rude.

  248. 248
    bornagain77 says:

    What are the tangible effects of the Atheist’s rejection of God and of His objective morality? Not Good!

    Study: Religiously affiliated people lived religiously affiliated lived “9.45 and 5.64 years longer…”
    July 1, 2018
    Excerpt: Self-reported religious service attendance has been linked with longevity. However, previous work has largely relied on self-report data and volunteer samples. Here, mention of a religious affiliation in obituaries was analyzed as an alternative measure of religiosity. In two samples (N = 505 from Des Moines, IA, and N = 1,096 from 42 U.S. cities), the religiously affiliated lived 9.45 and 5.64 years longer, respectively, than the nonreligiously affiliated. Additionally, social integration and volunteerism partially mediated the religion–longevity relation.
    https://uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/study-religiously-affiliated-people-lived-religiously-affiliated-lived-9-45-and-5-64-years-longer/

    Can Religion Extend Your Life? – By Chuck Dinerstein — June 16, 2018
    Excerpt: The researcher’s regression analysis suggested that the effect of volunteering and participation accounted for 20% or 1 year of the impact, while religious affiliation accounted for the remaining four years or 80%.
    https://www.acsh.org/news/2018/06/16/can-religion-extend-your-life-13092

    “I maintain that whatever else faith may be, it cannot be a delusion.
    The advantageous effect of religious belief and spirituality on mental and physical health is one of the best-kept secrets in psychiatry and medicine generally. If the findings of the huge volume of research on this topic had gone in the opposite direction and it had been found that religion damages your mental health, it would have been front-page news in every newspaper in the land.”
    – Professor Andrew Sims former President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists – Is Faith Delusion?: Why religion is good for your health – preface
    https://books.google.com/books?id=PREdCgAAQBAJ&pg=PR11#v=onepage&q&f=false
    “In the majority of studies, religious involvement is correlated with well-being, happiness and life satisfaction; hope and optimism; purpose and meaning in life; higher self-esteem; better adaptation to bereavement; greater social support and less loneliness; lower rates of depression and faster recovery from depression; lower rates of suicide and fewer positive attitudes towards suicide; less anxiety; less psychosis and fewer psychotic tendencies; lower rates of alcohol and drug use and abuse; less delinquency and criminal activity; greater marital stability and satisfaction… We concluded that for the vast majority of people the apparent benefits of devout belief and practice probably outweigh the risks.”
    – Professor Andrew Sims former President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists – Is Faith Delusion?: Why religion is good for your health – page 100
    https://books.google.com/books?id=PREdCgAAQBAJ&pg=PA100#v=onepage&q&f=false

  249. 249
    kairosfocus says:

    JDK, God gives us freedom. Freedom comes with responsibility, which is conscience-guided. Bad actions have consequences and become in the end counter-acting or self-limiting. They also lead others to act in their own defence. The repeated attempts to set off galloping cases fail, fail in ways that suggest that there is a problem with understanding freedom. KF

  250. 250
    jdk says:

    re 245: Vivid, I understand clearly, I think, that the freedom to make choices is essential to the question and existence of good and evil. However, I still have the questions that I asked kf:

    1. Can God act to prevent an evil act (or any act) from happening?

    2. Does God ever act to prevent an evil act from happening?

    Or are all human actions irrevocably free, and it is totally up to us to both handle our own actions appropriately and deal with the actions of those whom we think are acting badly, or even evilly?

    What do you think?

  251. 251
    jdk says:

    re 249: kf, I have no idea what you mean by galloping cases: are you referring to the problem that if God acts in one case, its’ a slippery slope to God acting in so many cases that freedom becomes excessively restrained, or are you just referring to me asking questions?

    Anyway, can you answer this question:

    Therefore you conclude that God never stops something evil from happening – true?

  252. 252
    PaoloV says:

    daveS,
    Regarding 246 & 247.

    God’s thoughts and ways are infinitely superior than mine or anybody else’s.

    God’s plan is revealed to God’s people in the Scriptures, but sometimes they could be very difficult to grasp entirely.

    However, His people believe God is in control and loves me.
    God’s word assures His people that no matter what happens during this relatively brief physical existence, at the end we shall be in God’s glorious presence and enjoy it forever.
    Such an assurance gives His people enormous reason for true joy, though we suffer seeing many people, included close relatives, who still haven’t seen this.
    That’s salvation. Through saving faith alone, by God’s amazing grace alone.

    Like in the painter’s example, we all could be removed from this earthly “gallery” and destroyed by God’s sovereign will. But God decided to graciously provide a unique Way for us to be saved from that otherwise unavoidable fate.

    There’s no reasonable argument against this.

    Science, specially today, can’t argue coherently against this undeniable truth.

    Yes, uncounted number of times people have tried unsuccessfully to punch holes in this truth.

    I pray that you see this well. God loves you and me.

    This is not “I love chocolate”. Not even the kind of “love” described in Paul McCartney’s song “my love”.

    This is agape love. God loves me despite the undeniable fact that I’m totally unlovable in God’s terms.
    Unbelievable, isn’t it?

  253. 253
    PaoloV says:

    daveS,

    Regarding 252.

    Correction:

    His people believe God is in control and loves us.

  254. 254
    PaoloV says:

    daveS,

    I have to get off our conversation for awhile, but will try to be back as as soon as I’m allowed to.

    Thanks for your comments.

  255. 255
    R J Sawyer says:

    BA77

    What are the tangible effects of the Atheist’s rejection of God and of His objective morality? Not Good!

    That’s all very interesting. But what does that have to do with the concept of evil and whether God can prevent some of it? The truth about something isn’t dependent on its impact, positive or negative, on humans.

  256. 256
    ET says:

    Bobby Deareest:

    The problem of evil is that God says that there are evil acts, and apparently does nothing to stop many of them.

    So what? We are the problem and we are the solution. Only babies need someone else to do their bidding

    Fair enough, but then if this god is omni-benevolent, why does he allow evil acts to happen?

    It’s part of the plan. You cannot be judged in a [perfect world. And the evil isn’t supernatural. It’s us and it’s up to us to do something about it.

  257. 257
    ET says:

    Bobby Dearest:

    We have freedom, unless we’ve been killed by an evil act.

    The concept of Heaven is beyond Bobby’s meager mentality.

  258. 258
    ET says:

    jdk:

    And people regularly give credit, as Dave and I have pointed out, to God for saving them from some calamity.

    So what? Does that make it so?

    If there was an evil we couldn’t do something about- a supernatural evil- then I would expect supernatural help.

  259. 259
    ScuzzaMan says:

    “But what does that have to do with the concept of evil and whether God can prevent some of it?”

    Have you read the book of Job?

  260. 260
    R J Sawyer says:

    SM

    Have you read the book of Job?

    Yes.

  261. 261
    R J Sawyer says:

    SM

    Have you read the book of Job?

    Yes .

  262. 262
    mike1962 says:

    Bob @239: Fair enough, but then if this god is omni-benevolent, why does he allow evil acts to happen?

    Good question, but I think the more foundational, and thus more important, question is, why does the Omni-God create a universe at all? And assumption is that this Omni-God is complete in every day. Absolutely nothing lacking. Nothing. And yet for some reason creates a system of beings that leads to all manners of pain and suffering. Sure, the pain and suffering may be temporary (for some, with eternal hell for most others, in some theologies.) It makes no sense. That is, it makes no sense if the All-Complete-Lacking-Nothing Omni-God is the creator. It implies It is the worst kind of monster for creating all the misery, when It needed not, esp if you beleive in eternal torment for most of the creatures. (Fortunately, there are other options.)

    These sorts of morality arguments never really get anywhere, because the underlying assumptions are much more complicated than what usually get fleshed out in casual blog chats. I usually don’t participate, what the heck it’s Friday night.

  263. 263
    ET says:

    mike1962:

    And yet for some reason creates a system of beings that leads to all manners of pain and suffering.

    I thought God created two humans, maybe three (Lilith anyone?). One was cast out of Eden and the other two followed. And from there we have caused most, if not all, of our misery and suffering.

    But hey, blaming and belittling God is much easier than accepting responsibility and trying to actually do something about it.

    Pathetic, really.

  264. 264
    bornagain77 says:

    Interestingly, the argument from evil, and bad liberal theology in general, rather than actual scientific evidence, figured centrally in Darwin’s “Origin of Species”

    Charles Darwin, Theologian: Major New Article on Darwin’s Use of Theology in the Origin of Species – May 2011
    Excerpt: The Origin supplies abundant evidence of theology in action; as Dilley observes:
    ,,, 9. A ‘distant’ God is not morally culpable for natural pain and suffering.
    10. The God of special creation, who allegedly performed miracles in organic history, is not plausible given the presence of natural pain and suffering.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....46391.html

    To this day, since Darwinists still have no scientific evidence substantiating their grandiose claims, Darwinists are still heavily reliant on bad liberal theology in order to try to make their case.

    Methodological Naturalism: A Rule That No One Needs or Obeys – Paul Nelson – September 22, 2014
    Excerpt: It is a little-remarked but nonetheless deeply significant irony that evolutionary biology is the most theologically entangled science going. Open a book like Jerry Coyne’s Why Evolution is True (2009) or John Avise’s Inside the Human Genome (2010), and the theology leaps off the page. A wise creator, say Coyne, Avise, and many other evolutionary biologists, would not have made this or that structure; therefore, the structure evolved by undirected processes. Coyne and Avise, like many other evolutionary theorists going back to Darwin himself, make numerous “God-wouldn’t-have-done-it-that-way” arguments, thus predicating their arguments for the creative power of natural selection and random mutation on implicit theological assumptions about the character of God and what such an agent (if He existed) would or would not be likely to do.,,,
    ,,,with respect to one of the most famous texts in 20th-century biology, Theodosius Dobzhansky’s essay “Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution” (1973).
    Although its title is widely cited as an aphorism, the text of Dobzhansky’s essay is rarely read. It is, in fact, a theological treatise. As Dilley (2013, p. 774) observes:
    “Strikingly, all seven of Dobzhansky’s arguments hinge upon claims about God’s nature, actions, purposes, or duties. In fact, without God-talk, the geneticist’s arguments for evolution are logically invalid. In short, theology is essential to Dobzhansky’s arguments.”,,
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....89971.html

    And as William Dembski stated in his book “Finding a Good God in an evil World”,,, “Instead of presenting scientific evidence that shows atheism to be true (or probable), the neo-atheists moralize about how much better the world would be if only atheism were true. Far from demonstrating that God does not exist, the neo-atheists merely demonstrate how earnestly they desire that God not exist.”

    “Instead of presenting scientific evidence that shows atheism to be true (or probable), the neo-atheists moralize about how much better the world would be if only atheism were true. Far from demonstrating that God does not exist, the neo-atheists merely demonstrate how earnestly they desire that God not exist.8 The God of Christianity is, in their view, the worst thing that could befall reality. According to Richard Dawkins, for instance, the Judeo-Christian God “is arguably the most unpleasant character in all of fiction. Jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic-cleanser; a misogynistic homophobic racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.”9 Dawkins’s obsession with the Christian God borders on the pathological. Yet, he underscores what has always been the main reason people reject God: they cannot believe that God is good. Eve, in the Garden of Eden, rejected God because she thought he had denied her some benefit that she should have, namely, the fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. 10 Clearly, a God who denies creatures benefits that they think they deserve cannot be good. Indeed, a mark of our fallenness is that we fail to see the irony in thus faulting God. Should we not rather trust that the things God denies us are denied precisely for our benefit? Likewise, the neo-atheists find lots of faults with God, their list of denied benefits being much longer than Eve’s—no surprise here since they’ve had a lot longer to compile such a list!”
    William Dembski – pg. 10-11 – Finding a Good God in an evil World
    http://designinference.com/doc.....of_xty.pdf

    If I wanted to learn the intricacies of Theodicy, I certainly would not pick it up from internet atheists but would delve into the rich history of Christian literature in regards to Theodicy. As Michael Egnor stated, “Even to raise the problem of evil is to tacitly acknowledge transcendent standards, and thus to acknowledge God’s existence. From that starting point, theodicy begins. Theists have explored it profoundly. Atheists lack the standing even to ask the question.”

    The Universe Reflects a Mind – Michael Egnor – February 28, 2018
    Excerpt: Goff seriously misunderstands the problem of evil. Evil is an insoluble problem for atheists, because if there is no God, there is no objective standard by which evil and good can exist or can even be defined. If God does not exist, “good” and “evil” are merely human opinions. Yet we all know, as Kant observed, that some things are evil in themselves, and not merely as a matter of opinion. Even to raise the problem of evil is to tacitly acknowledge transcendent standards, and thus to acknowledge God’s existence. From that starting point, theodicy begins. Theists have explored it profoundly. Atheists lack the standing even to ask the question.
    https://evolutionnews.org/2018/02/the-universe-reflects-a-mind/

    Moreover, the ‘scientific’ question is not “Would the world be better if God acted like atheists prefer Him to?” Not in the least, rather the ‘scientific’ questions are, “Does God actually exist?”, Did God create all life on earth?, “Is there life after death?”, “Do heaven and Hell actually exist?”, and “Did Jesus really rise from the dead?” etc… etc…

    And unlike the claims from Darwinists, there is much scientific evidence that can be presented to answer each of these questions in the affirmative.

    But alas, scientific evidence for such things has never been a big concern for Darwinian atheists. Darwinism is now, and always has been, based primarily on, as mentioned previously, bad liberal theology.

    As the atheist Michael Ruse himself admitted:

    “Evolution is promoted by its practitioners as more than mere science. Evolution is promulgated as an ideology, a secular religion a full-fledged alternative to Christianity, with meaning and morality. I am an ardent evolutionist and an ex-Christian, but I must admit that in this one complaint, and Mr. Gish is but one of many to make it, the literalists are absolutely right. Evolution is a religion. This was true of evolution in the beginning, and it is true of evolution still today.”
    Ruse, M., How evolution became a religion: creationists correct? Darwinians wrongly mix science with morality, politics, National Post, pp. B1, B3, B7 (May 13, 2000)

  265. 265
    vividbleau says:

    jdk

    “1. Can God act to prevent an evil act (or any act) from happening?

    2. Does God ever act to prevent an evil act from happening?

    Or are all human actions irrevocably free, and it is totally up to us to both handle our own actions appropriately and deal with the actions of those whom we think are acting badly, or even evilly?

    What do you think?”

    Hi jdk

    I would first like to point out that in my investigation of various world views I have found everyone to have certain difficulties including my own ( Christian Theist). KF labels them as comparative difficulties which I think is a good term for the problem we face sifting through where we land. I obviously think that the Christian worldview has the least “difficulties” But I do recognize that my worldview is subject to honest criticism.

    Can God act to prevent an evil act from happening? Yes

    Does God act to prevent an evil act from happening? This requires a much more nuanced answer but I dont want to seem like dodging it as I think both questions are honest inquires. I would say definitely God does thwart evil acts from their ultimate implications but does not prevent them.

    Hope this helps.

    Vivid

  266. 266
    jdk says:

    Thanks for the straightforward answers, Vivid.

  267. 267
    PaoloV says:

    daveS,
    In the first paragraph of your post 246 you refer to my post 231 in reference to your second paragraph in 246.
    Please, note that my first post addressed to you (221) and my following posts are in reference to the first post in this thread.
    That would lead us to the case you refer to in your second paragraph in 446, but we’re not there yet.
    I appreciate your patience shown in our friendly chat here.
    More next.

  268. 268
    PaoloV says:

    daveS,
    Continuing 267.
    Posts 247, 252, 253 relate to the first paragraph in your post 246, but still linked to 221, therefore 1.
    However, they don’t meet your requirement (brief summary).
    I’ll get there next.

  269. 269
    kairosfocus says:

    JDK,

    I can see from your 202 that you know the point where the issue of galloping cases was introduced with an explanation:

    176 kairosfocus August 30, 2018 at 6:06 pm

    Vivid, of course, the problem is one of galloping cases: case 1, then case 2, then ultimately every case, there is no limiting factor but arbitrary choice. Once we see that, then we are right back at the implications of removing freedom from the world, which removes even rationality. Self-defeat

    This responds to VB replying to you:

    174 vividbleau August 30, 2018 at 6:03 pm

    jdk

    “Therefore, even though evil in general may be a corollary of good existing, as vivid states in 157, that is certainly not an argument for him preventing or allowing any particular evil acts to occur.”

    Hmmm I never made that argument are you referring to someone
    else?

    Vivid

    As recently as 236:

    236
    kairosfocusAugust 31, 2018 at 10:15 am

    JDK, the problem of galloping cases was explained when I first used the phrase above, as was already noted to you; it was responsive to why doesn’t God stop X, and the point is, that’s just X1, 2, 3 etc follow unless you impose an arbitrary stop point and it ends at the same issue, not having freedom and the good that comes of it including reasoning [so, the argument is self-shattering], or erasing us from existence, effectively the same. Plantinga has addressed the essential point, cf 49 above. I later added remarks on misdirected responsibility, as we have adequate guidance and responsibility

    A compounding issue is misdirected responsibility, in effect blaming God because he does not stop evils from happening, where we are responsible, rational, conscience-guided creatures charged to do the good. E.g.:

    192 kairosfocus August 31, 2018 at 1:07 am

    RJS, freedom is freedom. Where, you will note above that I point out a worse case that is currently in progress. To “solve” the “problem” of freedom implies removing an order of goods tied to it. Where, it also seems to me that your talking point is shifting responsibility by projecting blame to God for choices WE have made or are making in the teeth of self-evident moral principles. To see my point, ponder how ever so many today find ways to “justify” an ongoing holocaust that mounts up at another million victims per week, with 800+ million victims in 40+ years. That, of living posterity in the womb. Notice, how the remnant of those who object have been routinely treated and the indoctrination embedded in our media, education systems, etc. Notice, what has been ruled from the bench of justice or passed in legislatures and how it corrupts. I do note, that such evils are clearly our individual or collective responsibility but far too often those who are quick to project blame to others or to try to drag God into the dock only succeed in demonstrating that moral law is written in their hearts, condemning themselves by the blame projected to others. God, why don’t you stop us as we choose evils? How, by erasing you or turning you into a robot instead of offering redemption and transformation, destroying an entire order of good? And, what are you doing about substantially equivalent evils in your situation? The answer speaks for itself. Your objection is to what allows us to be reasonable and responsible, undermining even the premise of reasoned discussion. It shatters itself.

    Meanwhile, it is clear that evil is undeniably real, and that this reflects a facet of the problem of the one and the many: good vs evil. How can we find coherent unity on such? Only, at world-root. Post Hume, any later level will be seen to fail, and likewise IS and OUGHT must be unified.

    A scan of the above will show that there is only one coherent and cogent account of evils on the table: perversion, privation, frustration etc of what is good out of its proper end. That is, we are here pointing to purpose and to creation. Thus, to Boethius’ challenge: “If God exists, whence evil? But whence good, if God does not exist?”

    Those who object to God, appealing to evils, imply goods, proper (often naturally evident) ends thus purpose. Indeed, they do so simply by arguing and seeking to persuade. For, they imply appeals to our sense that the mind is directed to truth, sound reason, prudence, etc and that we have duties to same. Proper — good — ends, and evils by extension as privation, perversion, frustration, etc. So, we see an implicit acknowledgement of the theistic understanding of good and evil.

    This of course immediately points to how such can be coherently accounted for at world root level.

    There is just one serious candidate (as can readily be seen in a Google-it age by virtue of the simple fact of no alternative being put up): the inherently good, wise creator God, a necessary and maximally great being; worthy of loyalty and the responsible, reasonable service of doing the good in accord with our evident nature.

    This is the context in which we find conscience guiding responsible, rational freedom. A context in which the implication is patent: just to be serious about argument, we imply responsible, rational freedom and thus a primary locus of responsibility for thoughts, speech, decisions and actions . . . US.

    For instance, take Hitler’s holocaust. Decisions to carry out the notorious final solution were made, collectively, at the Jan 20, 1942 Wannsee conference. By that time, genocide was already under way. By then, millions of Eastern Europeans were being starved etc to death by dint of deliberate, planned invasion and seizure or destruction of means of subsistence. Wars of conquest and extermination of perceived inferiors were being undertaken. The alleged life unworthy of being lived were being eliminated through a euthanasia programme. Freedom of expression, public debate and the power to peacefully change government hell-bent on evil were banned and persecuted by the Gestapo. The safeguards of conscience, soul and mind were systematically undermined, producing God knows how many hot iron seared consciences and reprobate minds that would act as dead-souled walking demons of death and destruction.

    All of this was deliberately done, in the teeth of readily accessible warnings and lessons of history.

    Likewise, we can point to Jan 20, 1973 or thereabouts as a fatal anniversary of that terrible conference.

    So, what is the response?

    Oh, why didn’t God stop the holocaust from happening, etc.

    Misdirected responsibility.

    Oh, yes, God can and does work miracles at relatively rare times and places where in his view it is appropriate to act beyond the usual course of events, in part as a sign. For instance, were that not so, I would have died as a child from illness. More significantly, we have a prophesied messiah, fulfilled and demonstrated by resurrection with 500 witnesses. Note, God did not stop the trials under false colour of justice as they set out on judicial murder. He did not stop the crucifixion. Jesus did not come down from the cross as was mockingly demanded. He did say to a penitent thief on a cross just beside, today you will be with me in paradise. Hope and warning even at the last. Why didn’t the other thief heed it?

    Then, resurrection, fulfilling centuries of prophecies [esp Isa 52 – 53] and with 500 witnesses who could not be stopped, forced to recant, by dungeon, fire, sword or worse.

    Again and again, we see conscience, duty, responsibility, reason not being heeded.

    If blame is to be assigned, let us start with us in our failure to do what we should. That is a far more promising start than playing games with galloping cases and displacing responsibility to God.

    And all the while, the tangents, side tracks, trying to run before one can crawl etc do not overturn a pivotal fact from the OP on: the logical problem of evil is 40+ years dead, definitively overturned. The inductive form is decisively defanged.

    What remains is the existential, pastoral challenge of evil, but the best solution is to turn to God for healing and transformation, insight and wisdom. Precisely what many are ever so wont to flee or oppose.

    Self-defeating behaviour, yet again.

    KF

  270. 270
    kairosfocus says:

    BA77, you make a key observation. The problem of evils is also directly connected to Darwinist rhetoric, from Darwin’s day to ours — and this includes the life impact of his loss of a daughter he loved deeply who died of illness in childhood. And of course, by playing the evils card while dressed in the lab coat, they can freely lock out the worldviews frame in which such may be seriously addressed. Indeed, oh that’s religion being imposed, that’s creationism etc are ever so frequently trotted out to tilt the field. It seems to me the key observation is, just to argue is to appeal to and/or assume known and acknowledged duties of rational, responsible, conscience-guided freedom. So, what grounds that? GIGO-limited, organisation based computational substrates aren’t even in the right category to freely reason, understand and draw logical inferences. This is immediately self-falsifying through undermining mindedness, as we have seen from Haldane on. On evolutionary materialistic scientism, too, we have no hope of bridging IS and OUGHT, no hope of seriously addressing good vs evil thus the wider challenge of the one and the many. But of course as we saw in recent threads, imposition of such naturalism as ideology locks out the wider context of comparative difficulties. Again, we must heed the implied warning in AmHD, sense 3 for naturalism: “The system of thought holding that all phenomena can be explained in terms of natural causes and laws.” Telling. We need to set aside such self-defeating ideologies and start afresh, with what sort of world can ground responsible, rational, conscience-guided freedom that allows creatures such as we are to reason in a context of duties to truth, logic, prudence, wisdom, etc. That would then rebalance the field for discussion on a sounder — nay, saner — basis. KF

  271. 271
    kairosfocus says:

    Vivid, we do need to go to comparative difficulties through unfettered assessment of worldview options on factual adequacy, coherence and explanatory power etc. This means that all the relevant live options must sit to the table, with the humbling admissions that we are finite, fallible, struggling with plain duties, too often ill-willed. Also, indeed, the humbling recognition that under such circumstances all worldview options will bristle with difficulties. That’s where the force of COMPARATIVE difficulties analysis becomes fully recognised and operational. In that context, as I just argued to BA77, we would be best advised to start with how we come to be able to reason, exhibiting duties of care to truth, logic, warrant, prudence and much more. In the further context that GIGO-limited computational substrates inherently cannot account for actual rationality like that, they are just blindly grinding out input, signal processing, output cycles per their organisation and/or programming. Hence, garbage in, garbage out. Were the duties just described delusional, the whole project of responsible, rational discussion would collapse. So, what sort of world, from its roots, allows for that? Once we see this, all else will come into due, balanced perspective. KF

    PS: Reppert is as usual, ever so pivotal in his extension to C S Lewis and to J B S Haldane:

    . . . let us suppose that brain state A [–> notice, state of a wetware, electrochemically operated computational substrate], which is token identical to the thought that all men are mortal, and brain state B, which is token identical to the thought that Socrates is a man, together cause the belief [–> concious, perceptual state or disposition] that Socrates is mortal. It isn’t enough for rational inference that these events be those beliefs, it is also necessary that the causal transaction be in virtue of the content of those thoughts . . . [But] if naturalism is true, then the propositional content is irrelevant to the causal transaction that produces the conclusion, and [so] we do not have a case of rational inference. In rational inference, as Lewis puts it, one thought causes another thought not by being, but by being seen to be, the ground for it. But causal transactions in the brain occur in virtue of the brain’s being in a particular type of state that is relevant to physical causal transactions.

  272. 272
    ScuzzaMan says:

    @KF

    You wrote:

    What remains is the existential, pastoral challenge of evil, but the best solution is to turn to God for healing and transformation, insight and wisdom. Precisely what many are ever so wont to flee or oppose.

    Self-defeating behaviour, yet again.

    True enough. And yet proselytizing Christians are not immune from self-defeating errors. Indeed one of our most common is to turn people (who might otherwise have been interested) away from God, by our own self-contradictory (thus self-defeating*) behaviour.

    I’ve rarely heard from or heard of Christians who apprehend this application of the 3rd commandment, the prohibition against taking God’s name in vain. Typically believers have been taught, and believe, that it’s about the casual misuse of God’s name, especially as an expression of anger or pain. Blurting out “Christ!” when they bang their thumb with a hammer, for example.

    But the more pertinent and more important meaning is that when we call ourselves by our God’s name, when we name ourselves Christians, taking the name of our God but not living the life he lived, we do so in vain. And in so doing we slander him in the eyes of unbelievers and drive them from him. The complaint that “If that’s their God’s way of doing things I want nothing to do with him!” is so common it’s a cliche. But it’s common not solely because of the recidivist wickedness of unbelievers, but also in large part because of the recidivist wickedness of believers.

    And we ought to really take it more seriously, because it comes with a terrible warning attached to it:

    … for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.

    I’m not accusing you, overtly or covertly, of this error. I thought it worthy of further explication, jumping off from your comment.

    (* “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”)

  273. 273
    PaoloV says:

    daveS,
    Continuing 268.
    May I suggest reading Isaiah 55:8-9 if you will?
    Thanks
    More next.

  274. 274
    kairosfocus says:

    BA77,

    let us recall that, claimed contradiction entailing impossibility of being for God having been put on the table, Plantinga quite correctly addressed a defense not a theodicy.

    Where, the latter seeks to plausibly justify God; a project fraught with further difficulties given the problem of setting up a crooked yardstick for standard of straight, upright and accurate. Nothing actually such can pass the crookedness test, so it will be rejected.

    You need instead a plumb line, which is more or less patently upright and straight.

    Then, crookedness can be exposed and clinging to crookedness in the teeth of clear correction becomes obvious. Plantinga’s defense is a plumb line test.

    Where

    claims c1, c2, . . . cn are alleged contradictory (i.e. some x and y in the chain are directly or by implication in mutual denial),

    but vetting to more accurate forms

    c1′, c2′, . . . cn’

    and

    augmenting with a1

    leads to a coherent joint statement

    c1’AND c2′ AND . . . cn’ AND a1 –> COHERENT

    that is

    there are no two x and y in the chain such that:

    x = NOT-y

    then

    all of c1′ to cn’ must also be coherent.

    Now, too, to claim that such a contradiction exists so that something (here, God) is incoherent implies there is no possible vetting and no possible augmentation ax that could render the above result. That’s actually a pretty stiff burden of warrant assumed by the objector who uses the logical form problem of evil to imply that the God of ethical theism is impossible of being.

    Where, a key component of ethical theism is that God is the required necessary being at the root of a reality with many contingent beings and possible (thus contingent!) worlds. A serious candidate necessary being. Indeed, the eternal one — nb’s do not begin nor can they end, they are framework for any world to exist, think about when distinct identity thus two-ness began, or how they could cease or how a world could be without such in the framework — who is framework to all worlds as creator and sustainer in whom we live, move and have our being, upholding creation by his word of power.

    Thus, too, either impossible of being or else possible and indeed actual.

    The atheist, especially one who stands on evolutionary materialistic scientism and argues for impossibility of God on the argument from evil, takes up a heavy burden of warrant.

    One, that has never been successfully borne.

    Hence, so much of what we see above, observe in and around UD, and across our civilisation.

    KF

  275. 275
    kairosfocus says:

    SM,

    you raise the issue of growth in grace and transformation of life through discipleship, a perpetual challenge that moves to the level of a civilisation-transforming vision and call which we can never utterly fulfill but must stretch out towards, showing substantial progress over time as we go through the four R’s, repentance, renewal, revival, reformation (thus, too raising the point that as we struggle, what we would have been otherwise is something to shudder about):

    2 Peter 1 [a]Simon Peter, a bond-servant and apostle (special messenger, personally chosen representative) of Jesus Christ,

    To those who have [b]received and possess [by God’s will] a precious faith of the [c]same kind as ours, by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ: 2 Grace and peace [that special sense of spiritual well-being] be multiplied to you in the [true, intimate] knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.

    3 For His divine power has bestowed on us [absolutely] everything necessary for [a dynamic spiritual] life and godliness, through [d]true and personal knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. 4 For by these He has bestowed on us His precious and magnificent promises [of inexpressible value], so that by them you may escape from the immoral freedom that is in the world because of disreputable desire, and become sharers of the divine nature.

    5 For this very reason, applying your diligence [to the divine promises, make every effort] in [exercising] your faith to, [e]develop moral excellence, and in moral excellence, knowledge (insight, understanding), 6 and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, steadfastness, and in your steadfastness, godliness, 7 and in your godliness, brotherly affection, and in your brotherly affection, [develop Christian] love [that is, learn to unselfishly seek the best for others and to do things for their benefit].

    8 For as these qualities are yours and are increasing [in you as you grow toward spiritual maturity], they will keep you from being useless and unproductive in regard to the true knowledge and greater understanding of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 For whoever lacks these qualities is blind—shortsighted [closing his spiritual eyes to the truth], having become oblivious to the fact that he was cleansed from his old sins.

    10 Therefore, believers, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you [be sure that your behavior reflects and confirms your relationship with God]; for by [f]doing these things [actively developing these virtues], you will never stumble [in your spiritual growth and will live a life that leads others away from sin]; 11 for in this way entry into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly provided to you. [amp]

    and again

    Titus 2:11 For the [remarkable, undeserved] grace of God that [a]brings salvation has appeared to all men. 12 It teaches us to reject ungodliness and worldly (immoral) desires, and to live sensible, upright, and godly lives [lives with a purpose that reflect spiritual maturity] in this present age, 13 awaiting and confidently expecting the [fulfillment of our] blessed hope and the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, 14 who [willingly] gave Himself [to be crucified] on our behalf to redeem us and purchase our freedom from all wickedness, and to purify for Himself a chosen and very special people to be His own possession, who are enthusiastic for doing what is good. [amp]

    with this, yet again:

    Eph 4:17 So this I say, and solemnly affirm together with the Lord [as in His presence], that you must no longer live as the [unbelieving] Gentiles live, in the futility of their minds [and in the foolishness and emptiness of their souls], 18 for their [moral] understanding is darkened and their reasoning is clouded; [they are] alienated and self-banished from the life of God [with no share in it; this is] because of the [willful] ignorance and spiritual blindness that is [deep-seated] within them, because of the hardness and insensitivity of their heart.

    19 And they, [the ungodly in their spiritual apathy], having become callous and unfeeling, have given themselves over [as prey] to unbridled sensuality, eagerly craving the practice of every kind of impurity [that their desires may demand].

    20 But you did not learn Christ in this way!

    21 If in fact you have [really] heard Him and have been taught by Him, just as truth is in Jesus [revealed in His life and personified in Him], 22 that, regarding your previous way of life, you put off your old self [completely discard your former nature], which is being corrupted through deceitful desires, 23 and be continually renewed in the spirit of your mind [having a fresh, untarnished mental and spiritual attitude], 24 and put on the new self [the regenerated and renewed nature], created in God’s image, [godlike] in the righteousness and holiness of the truth [living in a way that expresses to God your gratitude for your salvation]. [amp]

    Discipleship is an ideal, a challenge, call and strategy that are the substance behind the label we meet in Ac 11:26, Christian. One that implies an agenda of repentance, renewal, revival, reformation, thus salvation, healing, blessing, transformation. But such will always face bitter opposition and undermining so that revival runs in a race with demonically ruinous riot. Which wins in a life, a family, an organisation, a community, a civilisation, depends on our responsible, reasonable action in the face of the truth and the right we know or should know.

    That is why this thread is important, as we see here one of the wellsprings of the current suicide in progress of our civilisation highlighted and corrected so that we may change our minds towards the truth and the right, renew our thinking and living and go on towards that critical mass that triggers reformation.

    A challenge.

    But with what is on the table and the crumbling cliff-edge we are heedlessly dancing on as a civilisation, it is a challenge we must take up. Now, only because we have not adequately taken it up long before now. And, for all our flaws (the Allies in WW 2 were anything but perfect!) we had better act together as a Christian civilisation — oh yes, we demonstreably are that, apostasies notwithstanding — before it is too late.

    And frankly, from time to time, I have a horrifying vision of S Manhattan as a massive hole with radioactive clouds rising.

    Those are the sort of matches we are carelessly playing with.

    KF

  276. 276
  277. 277
    ScuzzaMan says:

    @260

    In the book of Job, God himself declares Job to be a perfect and upright man, who fears God and eschews evil.

    It is hard to imagine any description of a man more worthy of God’s protection, yet Job suffers incredible misfortunes, all with the explicit permission of God.

    God does not do these things to Job, an accusation his friends and fellow-believers make against God (an accusation echoed by many believers today in their claim that every evil is “part of God’s plan” and “God’s will”) but nor does God explain himself to Job.

    It’s one of the enduring fascinations of the story that WE get to see behind the scenes, to the causes of Job’s suffering, but he never does.

    And Job’s opening statement about God, in answer to these accusations, is this:

    Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him.

    (Note that this doesn’t say that God does slay his followers, as some people take from it; only that were he to do so, Job would still trust in him.)

    So, in that context, to this: “But what does that have to do with the concept of evil and whether God can prevent some of it?

    God can prevent all of it, in the simplistic sense of his possessing the power to do so. But that’s the least interesting part, a bit like Dr Malcolm the Mathematician’s warning from Jurassic Park: “Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.

    God stops to think if he should. And knowing a lot more than we do his calculus is necessarily a lot more complex than ours, not to forget that his calculus is unerring, a claim none of us can make.

    But however exacting the detail of his analysis and the complexity of the problems he addresses, the principles are simple enough for us to grasp. God’s love for his creation is aptly described in two major premises:

    1. Complete commitment to the welfare of his creation.
    2. Complete freedom of his creation to reciprocate or not.

    Modern mankind suffers a great deal through misapprehending these principles. The modern western notion of love is fairly much a copy of Crowley’s satanic principle: “Do as thou wilt”. Or in more modern terms, “whatever”. It’s the second principles but missing the first. Do whatever you like, follow your own truth, seek your own bliss, it’s all the same to me. The moslems have the opposite problem, but the same problem the pre-reformation church had; even if you grant their concern is/was motivated by a genuine commitment to the welfare of sinners, there is no freedom granted by them and so they will happily burn heretics at the stake / rape their own sisters to death, in order to “save” them and others. This is what we in the west might call the stalker’s notion of love.

    If you are interested in further developing these points and their implications I’d be happy to do so, but I’m not sure that discussion fits the context of this debate. We can take it offline by email if you prefer.

    The point is that these two principles are both necessary OR the self-described God of revelation can not and does not exist.

    All of human history – all the great evils of which skeptics have complained from the beginning – flows from this point.

  278. 278
    daveS says:

    PaoloV,

    Thanks for the clarifications in 267 and 268, as well as the rest of your detailed posts.

    Regarding the sovereignty of God, which you refer to in 252, do you believe God has a responsibility to take care of his creation? At least creatures such as humans who are capable of suffering?

    For example, I can imagine a wicked God who gratuitously abuses (or neglects) the beings he has created; it seems to me that this would be a violation of the universal moral code.

  279. 279
    R J Sawyer says:

    MF169, if I am reading you correctly, you are using the term ‘galloping cases’ much in the same way that ‘slippery slope’ is used to argue against same sex marriage. In the ‘galloping case’ if God is going to prevent holocausts, why not mass shootings? Why not murder? Why not assault? Why not jay walking? In the ‘slippery slope’ argument, if we allow same sex marriage, why not sibling marriage? Why not polygamous marriage? Why not inter-species marriage?

    Is this correct?

  280. 280
    daveS says:

    Ah, “galloping cases” == “slippery slope” would clarify things, if correct.

  281. 281
    jdk says:

    That is my understanding of what kf means. However I think God would be able to avoid the slippery slope! 🙂 Surely in his infinite wisdom he could make appropriate judgments.

  282. 282
    kairosfocus says:

    DS, galloping cases is more specific and tied to the context. We could say, nevertheless, there is a slippery slope headed to a crumbling cliff’s edge and that the runaway gallop will head there. Where, one does not have to actually run off the cliff, it can collapse underfoot, coming to you — with implication that once you have slid down to the cliff’s edge it is very hard to get back on safe ground again. And yes, there are real slippery slopes and there are intellectual circumstances aptly and pointedly so described. Slippery slope is not to be automatically deemed fallacy and dismissed. KF

  283. 283
    R J Sawyer says:

    KF, I don’t think that you have answered my earlier question. I apologize if you have and I just haven’t understood it.

    How would we know that there are not possible evils out there that are worse than any we are aware of, that God simply has not allowed us the free will to perpetrate?

    Where I am getting to with this is that the severity of some of the evils that have been perpetrated are largely dependent on the knowledge, and the tools derived from this knowledge. For example, mass killings along the scale we have recently seen would not be possible without the knowledge to build weapons and explosives. Before the discovery of metallurgy and chemistry, the ability for a single person to kill large numbers of people simply did not exist. Yet I don’t think that anyone is suggesting that they were any less morally governed or have any less responsible rational freedom than we have today.

    Is it not possible that God prevents us from the freedom to perpetrate some evil simply by denying us the knowledge necessary to doing so?

  284. 284
    kairosfocus says:

    JDK, there goes the gallop down that slope heading over the cliff again. The problem contemplated is not God, but us in our argument tendencies. What of case X? But X is only X1, 2, 3, . . . are to follow without any but an arbitrary terminus on our part. Lost in the cloud of the gallop is respect for the wisdom and purpose of God, as well as Plantinga’s very careful vetting as summarised in proposition 2b, which requires very careful, balanced reading. Observe, from 49:

    Plantinga’s free-will defense, in a skeletal form, allows us to effectively address the problem. For, it is claimed that the following set of theistic beliefs embed an unresolvable contradiction:

    1. God exists
    2. God is omnipotent – all powerful
    3. God is omniscient – all-knowing
    4. God is omni-benevolent – all-good
    5. God created the world
    6. The world contains evil

    To do so, there is an implicit claim that, (2a) if he exists, God is omnipotent and so capable of — but obviously does not eliminate — evil. So, at least one of 2 – 5 should be surrendered. But all of these claims are central to the notion of God, so it is held that the problem is actually 1.

    Therefore, NOT-1: God does not exist.

    However, it has been pointed out by Plantinga and others that:

    2a is not consistent with what theists actually believe: if the elimination of some evil would lead to a worse evil, or prevent the emergence of a greater good, then God might have a good reason to permit some evil in the cosmos.

    Specifically, what if “many evils result from human free will or from the fact that our universe operates under natural laws or from the fact that humans exist in a setting that fosters soul-making . . . [and that such a world] contains more good than a world that does not” ?

    In this case, Theists propose that 2a should be revised: 2b: “A good, omnipotent God will eliminate evil as far as he can without either losing a greater good or bringing about a greater evil.” But, once this is done, the alleged contradiction collapses.

    This obtains globally and locally, in the context where we have long since been cautioned on good authority:

    Isa 55:7 Let the wicked leave (behind) his way
    And the unrighteous man his thoughts;
    And let him return to the Lord,
    And He will have compassion (mercy) on him,
    And to our God,
    For He will abundantly pardon.

    8 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
    Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord.
    9 “For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
    So are My ways higher than your ways
    And My thoughts higher than your thoughts.
    [AMP]

    The issue is, to so reflect and turn that we trust the infinitely wise and good beyond beyond what we can see. In that context, we trust that he has given us sufficient to guide us to the right, also that in his acts that go beyond the ordinary course of morally governed day to day responsibility and rationality are judged in his wisdom that immeasurably exceeds ours.

    That is part of the existential, pastoral challenge we face.

    And here, I think John Locke’s counsel in the introduction, sec 5, of his essay on human understanding has a telling force:

    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.

    KF

  285. 285
    kairosfocus says:

    RJS, kindly see the just above. Note, too, that all too soon for us, time up prevents unlimited growth of evils, as does the point that if evil is in entrenched power in a community it soon becomes a menace, a plague upon the earth that leads others to band together in their common defence. Likewise, the Categorical Imperative shows how major evils become self-limiting through the premise that evils profit only as a parasite, that this is not the universal praxis. Classically, Cretans are liars, lazy and gluttonous. But if any or all of these three were to be the all Cretans every time praxis, Cretan society would collapse. Lying profits from that normal speech is truthful, laziness and gluttony from the diligence of others. Universalise and collapse. And yes, real slippery slopes over a cliff. In my native land checks are effectively dead because too many were rubbery. My neighbourhood supermarket posted a board with a few dozen, to explain why. So, there are built in limits on evils. Beyond, further, we must apply Plantinga’s 2b i/l/o the gap in understanding at work, recognising also that there is sufficient evidence to warrant reasonable trust in God. But of course in a world of selective hyperskepticism and crooked yardsticks imposed as standards of straight, upright and accurate, the willingness to be led by a plumbline is too often a very relevant question. KF

  286. 286
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: RJS, since you insist on using a loaded example to try to pretend that “slippery slopes” don’t exist and pointing to such is inevitably fallacious — BTW, after the history of WW1 then the rise of Bolshevism and that of the 3rd Reich and WW2 I don’t know how such can be said with a straight face by any reasonably historically informed person! — not all that is under colour of law is lawful. For cause, despite a crooked yardstick imposition, there is and can be no same sex “marriage.” Marriage, being rooted in naturally evident creation order, is simply not something we can redefine at pleasure. What we face is an utterly ill-advised imposition under false colour of law, part of the ongoing disintegration of a civilisation insistently in rebellion against all that is good and sound. I draw the attention of those willing to set aside crooked yardsticks, here. I fear, we will only wake up to our folly as a civilisation when we lie broken-backed at the foot of a cliff.

  287. 287
    R J Sawyer says:

    KF@286. I think that you are reading something into my comment that isn’t there. I was just trying to understand what you meant by ‘galloping case’. In my opinion, ‘slippery slope’ arguments are valid in some cases and not valid in others.

  288. 288
    kairosfocus says:

    RJS, if you mean to say that which is conceded by all — e.g. safe ground contrasts with slippery slopes leading to cliffs — then please don’t use what is a patent a case in point of sliding or galloping (both are possible together as traction is lost) towards that crumbling cliff’s edge. KF

    PS: We must not ever forget that we have nukes and similar horrors in play. Ponder, S Manhattan as a smoking hole in the ground, with radioactive clouds rising as the waters begin to rush in. Then, please, please, please, let us think twice, thrice, a dozen times on what we are collectively doing as a civilisation.

  289. 289
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: One of the telltale signs that something is amiss with the attempt to pull what I discussed into the slippery slope debate [which now also stands duly corrected], is that I actually gave a specific dynamic at work that creates the galloping cases problem, that picking case X has no inherent reason to stop the chain X1, 2, 3 . . . so that we end up in the problem the very precise wording of 2b above correctively speaks to. We are dealing with yet another subject where very careful thought and vetting of wording are called for, to get concepts right. A survey of the thread above will show that for over 200 onward comments, there has not been a proper reckoning on the objectors side with the reasoning behind the vetting Plantinga gave, and how it contributes to the defense. KF

  290. 290
    Seversky says:

    So, I’m still not clear what is meant by evil here. Is personified in a being such as Satan? Is it a force such as electromagnetism or gravity to which we are all subject to some degree or is it how we judge the acts of other human beings and, by extension, other intelligent beings?

    Another point, any free will defense founders on a God with foreknowledge of our future. What God knows will be, will be. We can do nothing to change it, so how can we have free will?

    Yet another point, if you argue that God is unable to prevent a lesser evil because He wants to achieve some greater good then you are conceding He is less than omnipotent. Unless you can demonstrate that it is logically and physically impossible to achieve this greater good without the lesser evil then an omnipotent being should not be so constrained.

    Finally, why should we not be told why and how this is the case? Why shouldn’t we know why and how God arrived at His moral prescriptions for us?

  291. 291
    kairosfocus says:

    Seversky,

    I note on points for reference, though some (such as the first) were already answered above:

    >>I’m still not clear what is meant by evil here.>>

    1: The “here” is probably operative, as it projects questions of arbitrary imposition or question begging. So, we first note that evil is generally recognised intuitively (e,g. murder, rape, abuse of the state powers of policing, judgement, the sword, media dominance etc), which is a likely start point for those favouring this now dead objection. And, as Boethius noted, it is also intimately connected to another intuitive and commonplace concept, the good.

    2: Evil is directly connected to the is-ought issue, e.g. in reasoning we sense that we ought to seek and logically assess truth, warranting it, which is a good. By contrast, to miss the mark of truth, sound reasoning and warranting what we accept is evil, and to be avoided.

    3: Where, too, this is self-referential: we find ourselves under government of duties of care to truth, logic, wisdom, prudence etc. If that sense of oughtness is delusional, then it radically undermines mindedness, communication and argument into little more than tools to take advantage of the weak. Such nihilism is absurd and we have good cause to accept that we are under government of duties, and enjoy responsible, rational freedom which allows us to ground conclusions etc.

    4: Evil, then is evident as what twists good capabilities out of track with their proper ends; which ends are often naturally evident or self evident. The privation, perversion, frustration, etc of things out of line with their proper ends is evil. This will be seen to be useful on many key cases, justifying — another oughtness word — general use.

    5: And yes this then raises big questions about the roots of a world that has purpose embedded in such pivotal domains as the life of the mind.

    6: By contrast, many popular or dominant worldviews and cultural agendas today are radically nhostile to the purposive, and this rapidly leads to their amorality and chaotic impact, starting with the life nof the mind. Hence the degree of ruthless manipulation, deceit and rhetoric games evident all around and patently destructive to human community and thriving. Evolutionary materialistic scientism, I am looking straight at you.

    7: Likewise, after a 100-year run which saw the likes of a Hitler, a Stalin, a Mao and others of like ilk, to see a rhetorical stance that even remotely suggests that evil is a dubious concept trips a rhetorical hurricane warning.

    >> Is personified in a being such as Satan?>>

    8: Evil, patently is not a person, it is the privation of the good, but many persons can so fill themselves with evil ways that their names become bywords for evil.

    >> Is it a force such as electromagnetism or gravity to which we are all subject to some degree or is it how we judge the acts of other human beings and, by extension, other intelligent beings?>>

    9: Evil is a destructive perverted parasite on the good.

    >>Another point, any free will defense founders on a God with foreknowledge of our future. What God knows will be, will be. We can do nothing to change it, so how can we have free will?>>

    10: I have seen this ill-advised objection, which works by getting things twisted out of proper order.

    11: God is creator and sustainer, actively supporting the world. So, he is naturally aware of every event. That by no means implies that the after the fact outcome and knowledge of it have causal power to reach back to force the outcome. Cause runs forward temporally.

    12: Where also, our very mindedness we use to reason, warrant and acknowledge conclusions critically depends on our having significant responsible, rational freedom. Consequently, any argument that implies that we lack that rational freedom is self-defeating.

    13: That holds for the futuristic determinism fallacy, and it holds for the evolutionary materialism that would reduce mindedness to GIGO-limited computation on a wetware substrate.

    >>Yet another point, if you argue that God is unable to prevent a lesser evil because He wants to achieve some greater good then you are conceding He is less than omnipotent.>>

    14: Unable is error, and the implicit definition of omnipotence is just as flawed. It would have been helpful if you had first interacted with the above thread, which would have made for a more constructive engagement.

    15: I just note, that key theological terms are very carefully structured, as are mathematical definitions and the wording of laws, for very similar reasons, they can be twisted into destructive or chaotic errors. That said, let me again cite the Catholic Encyclopedia:

    Omnipotence is the power of God to effect whatever is not intrinsically impossible. These last words of the definition do not imply any imperfection, since a power that extends to every possibility must be perfect. The universality of the object of the Divine power is not merely relative but absolute, so that the true nature of omnipotence is not clearly expressed by saying that God can do all things that are possible to Him; it requires the further statement that all things are possible to God. The intrinsically impossible is the self-contradictory, and its mutually exclusive elements could result only in nothingness. “Hence,” says Thomas (Summa I, Q. xxv, a. 3), “it is more exact to say that the intrinsically impossible is incapable of production, than to say that God cannot produce it.” To include the contradictory within the range of omnipotence, as does the Calvinist Vorstius, is to acknowledge the absurd as an object of the Divine intellect, and nothingness as an object of the Divine will and power. “God can do all things the accomplishment of which is a manifestation of power,” says Hugh of St. Victor, “and He is almighty because He cannot be powerless” (De sacram., I, ii, 22).

    As intrinsically impossible must be classed:

    1] Any action on the part of God which would be out of harmony with His nature and attributes;

    2] Any action that would simultaneously connote mutually repellent elements, e.g. a square circle, an infinite creature, etc.

    >>Unless you can demonstrate that it is logically and physically impossible to achieve this greater good without the lesser evil then an omnipotent being should not be so constrained.>>

    16: All that is required is to first open eyes and see that freedom is the key to creative, rational mind, to love, to relationships, to virtue and more, then to realise the problem of galloping cases that start from some X but then that is just X1, 2, 3 . . . follow and the argument seeks to eliminate an entire order of being including the basis for argument itself.

    17: This also misdirects responsibility, in effect trying to blame God for our willful moral failures. Why have you, Mr Potter made me a bowl capable of holding fluid, don’t you see I can hold poison? Shouldn’t you eliminate bowls to prevent poisoning? Of course, we are more active than a bowl is.

    >>Finally, why should we not be told why and how this is the case? Why shouldn’t we know why and how God arrived at His moral prescriptions for us?>>

    18: Of course, as say 49 above drew out, core morality is quite substantially evident to the willing eye of reason. But if one insists on making a crooked yardstick his standard for straight, upright and accurate, what is actually so will never pass the crookedness test and too often such a party will look at a plumbline and will dismiss its correction to the crooked yardstick.

    KF

  292. 292
    ET says:

    Seversky:

    Another point, any free will defense founders on a God with foreknowledge of our future.

    Cuz you say so, really? And if God knows ALL possible futures that negates your strawman

    Yet another point, if you argue that God is unable to prevent a lesser evil because He wants to achieve some greater good then you are conceding He is less than omnipotent.

    And another cuz you say so. God is able to prevent any and everything. What would be the point?

    If this is a universe designed for scientific discovery that would mean at all levels. Look how much we have learned about biology thanks to the impetus of imperfection.

    Finally, why should we not be told why and how this is the case? Why shouldn’t we know why and how God arrived at His moral prescriptions for us?

    Willful ignorance isn’t an argument, Seversky

  293. 293
    vividbleau says:

    Sev
    “So, I’m still not clear what is meant by evil here. Is personified in a being such as Satan? Is it a force such as electromagnetism or gravity to which we are all subject to some degree or is it how we judge the acts of other human beings and, by extension, other intelligent beings?”

    I can tell you what it is not. Evil is not a thing.

    “Another point, any free will defense founders on a God with foreknowledge of our future. What God knows will be, will be. We can do nothing to change it, so how can we have free will?”

    If you mean by free willl self determined choice to know what someone will do necessarily Is not at odds with self determination. For example a coach may manuever a game in a manner that that he knows ahead of time that the other coach will call a timeout? Will the other coach call a timeout? Yes. Is he he free to not call the timeout? Yes

    Vivid

  294. 294
    PaoloV says:

    daveS,

    Regarding 278.

    Maybe I don’t understand your comment.

    What do you mean by “universal moral code”?

    Based on what?

    Thanks

  295. 295
    ScuzzaMan says:

    “Another point, any free will defense founders on a God with foreknowledge of our future. What God knows will be, will be. We can do nothing to change it, so how can we have free will?”

    This gambit always amuses me. Not because of anything inherently funny in the argument itself but because it is so poorly aimed at Christians. It only has traction with those Christians that don’t know the Word in any detail.

    “Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men”

    and

    “Put not your trust in princes.”

    You see, Seversky, God tells us two things:

    1. He knows the end from the beginning
    2. Choose.

    None of your inability to understand HOW these can both be valid has any impact on our understanding that they ARE both valid.

    For we know whom we have believed, and are persuaded …

  296. 296
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: The issue of universal or objective morality has been raised, let me clip from 49 above (which in turn comes from a 101 discussion elsewhere):

    We may elaborate on Paul, Locke, Hooker and Aristotle, laying out several manifestly evident and historically widely acknowledged core moral principles; for which the attempted denial is instantly and patently absurd for most people — that is, they are arguably self-evident (thus, warranted and objective) moral truths; not just optional opinions.

    So also, it is not only possible to

    (a) be in demonstrable moral error, but also

    (b) there is hope that such moral errors can be corrected by appealing to manifestly sound core principles of the natural moral law.

    For instance:

    1] The first self evident moral truth is that we are inescapably under the government of ought.

    (This is manifest in even an objector’s implication in the questions, challenges and arguments that s/he would advance, that we are in the wrong and there is something to be avoided about that. That is, even the objector inadvertently implies that we OUGHT to do, think, aim for and say the right. Not even the hyperskeptical objector can escape this truth. Patent absurdity on attempted denial.)

    2] Second self evident truth, we discern that some things are right and others are wrong by a compass-sense we term conscience which guides our thought. (Again, objectors depend on a sense of guilt/ urgency to be right not wrong on our part to give their points persuasive force. See what would be undermined should conscience be deadened or dismissed universally? Sawing off the branch on which we all must sit.)

    3] Third, were this sense of conscience and linked sense that we can make responsibly free, rational decisions to be a delusion, we would at once descend into a status of grand delusion in which there is no good ground for confidence in our self-understanding. (That is, we look at an infinite regress of Plato’s cave worlds: once such a principle of grand global delusion is injected, there is no firewall so the perception of level one delusion is subject to the same issue, and this level two perception too, ad infinitum; landing in patent absurdity.)

    4] Fourth, we are objectively under obligation of OUGHT. That is, despite any particular person’s (or group’s or august council’s or majority’s) wishes or claims to the contrary, such obligation credibly holds to moral certainty. That is, it would be irresponsible, foolish and unwise for us to act and try to live otherwise.

    5] Fifth, this cumulative framework of moral government under OUGHT is the basis for the manifest core principles of the natural moral law under which we find ourselves obligated to the right the good, the true etc. Where also, patently, we struggle to live up to what we acknowledge or imply we ought to do.

    6] Sixth, this means we live in a world in which being under core, generally understood principles of natural moral law is coherent and factually adequate, thus calling for a world-understanding in which OUGHT is properly grounded at root level. (Thus worldviews that can soundly meet this test are the only truly viable ones. If a worldview does not have in it a world-root level IS that can simultaneously ground OUGHT — so that IS and OUGHT are inextricably fused at that level, it fails decisively.*)

    7] Seventh, in light of the above, even the weakest and most voiceless of us thus has a natural right to life, liberty, the pursuit of fulfillment of one’s sense of what s/he ought to be (“happiness”). This includes the young child, the unborn and more. (We see here the concept that rights are binding moral expectations of others to provide respect in regards to us because of our inherent status as human beings, members of the community of valuable neighbours. Where also who is my neighbour was forever answered by the parable of the Good Samaritan. Likewise, there can be no right to demand of or compel my neighbour that s/he upholds me and enables me in the wrong — including under false colour of law through lawfare; usurping the sword of justice to impose a ruthless policy agenda in fundamental breach of that civil peace which must ever pivot on manifest justice. To justly claim a right, one must first be in the right.)

    8] Eighth, like unto the seventh, such may only be circumscribed or limited for good cause. Such as, reciprocal obligation to cherish and not harm neighbour of equal, equally valuable nature in community and in the wider world of the common brotherhood of humanity.

    9] Ninth, this is the context in which it becomes self evidently wrong, wicked and evil to kidnap, sexually torture and murder a young child or the like as concrete cases in point that show that might and/or manipulation do not make ‘right,’ ‘truth,’ ‘worth,’ ‘justice,’ ‘fairness,’ ‘law’ etc. That is, anything that expresses or implies the nihilist’s credo is morally absurd.

    10] Tenth, this entails that in civil society with government, justice is a principal task of legitimate government. In short, nihilistic will to power untempered by the primacy of justice is its own refutation in any type of state. Where, justice is the due balance of rights, freedoms and responsibilities. (In Aristotle’s terms as cited by Hooker: “because we would take no harm, we must therefore do none; That since we would not be in any thing extremely dealt with, we must ourselves avoid all extremity in our dealings; That from all violence and wrong we are utterly to abstain, with such-like .”) Thus also,

    11] Eleventh, that government is and ought to be subject to audit, reformation and if necessary replacement should it fail sufficiently badly and incorrigibly.

    (NB: This is a requisite of accountability for justice, and the suggestion or implication of some views across time, that government can reasonably be unaccountable to the governed, is its own refutation, reflecting — again — nihilistic will to power; which is automatically absurd. This truth involves the issue that finite, fallible, morally struggling men acting as civil authorities in the face of changing times and situations as well as in the face of the tendency of power to corrupt, need to be open to remonstrance and reformation — or if they become resistant to reasonable appeal, there must be effective means of replacement. Hence, the principle that the general election is an insitutionalised regular solemn assembly of the people for audit and reform or if needs be replacement of government gone bad. But this is by no means an endorsement of the notion that a manipulated mob bent on a march of folly has a right to do as it pleases.)

    12] Twelfth, the attempt to deny or dismiss such a general framework of moral governance invariably lands in shipwreck of incoherence and absurdity. As, has been seen in outline. But that does not mean that the attempt is not going to be made, so there is a mutual obligation of frank and fair correction and restraint of evil.
    _________________

    * F/N: After centuries of debates and assessment of alternatives per comparative difficulties, there is in fact just one serious candidate to be such a grounding IS: the inherently good creator God, a necessary and maximally great being worthy of ultimate loyalty and the reasonable responsible service of doing the good in accord with our manifestly evident nature. (And instantly, such generic ethical theism answers also to the accusation oh this is “religion”; that term being used as a dirty word — no, this is philosophy. If you doubt this, simply put forth a different candidate that meets the required criteria and passes the comparative difficulties test: _________ . Likewise, an inherently good, maximally great being will not be arbitrary or deceitful etc, that is why such is fully worthy of ultimate loyalty and the reasonable, responsible service of doing the good in accord with our manifestly evident nature. As a serious candidate necessary being, such would be eternal and embedded in the frame for a world to exist at all. Thus such a candidate is either impossible as a square circle is impossible due to mutual ruin of core characteristics, or else it is actual. For simple instance no world is possible without two-ness in it, a necessary basis for distinct identity inter alia.

    But, widespread or even general acknowledgement of many or most of the above as more or less useful rules of conduct is not the same as to further acknowledge that the sort of wrong we are contemplating is bindingly, objectively, universally something that OUGHT not to be done. And indeed, many will boldly assert today that it cannot be proved that it is absurd to reject the notion that core moral principles are objective and universally binding. Indeed an actual argument made is oh, how can you PROVE that such a list of truths is coherent?

    (My reply was, after several rounds:

    “truths must all be so together, a key point of a coherent world: on distinct identity the triple first principles obtain and so no x is both A and not-A, and so too no two truths x and y can be such that y = NOT-x. In this context, each of the 12 being in turn directly credibly true on grounds of patent absurdities on attempted denial, they are immediately credibly coherent. Next, it so happens that the principles are in fact linked together in a chain so they are mutually supportive and relevant, in fact framing the basis for moral principles in governance.”

    The onward question was absolute certainty regarding coherence, to which I responded that not even Mathematics — the logical study of structure and quantity — post Godel is absolutely certain, and that the relevant degree of certainty is moral, where I would be confidently willing to cast the weight of my soul on the above, and would be prepared to bet the future of civilisation on them. [Indeed, whatever moral view we take, we are casting the weight of our souls and the future of civilisation on it. The ethical component of our worldviews is awesomely momentous.])

    So in the view of too many today, we are left to the feelings of revulsion and the community consensus backed up by police and courts on this.

    Not so.

    Compare a fish, that we lure to bite on a hook, then land, kill and eat for lunch without compunction. And even for those who object, they will do so by extension of the protective sense we have about say the young child — not the other way around. But, unless there is a material difference between a young child and a fish, that sense of wrong is frankly delusional, it is just a disguised preference, one that we are simply willing to back up with force.

    So, already, once we let radical relativism and subjectivism loose, we are looking at the absurdity and chaos of the nihilist abyss, might (and manipulation) makes for ‘right.’

    Oops.

    At the pivot of the skeptical objections to objective moral truth, notwithstanding persistent reduction to absurdity, is the pose that since we may err and since famously there are disagreements on morality, we can reduce moral feelings to subjective perceptions tastes and preferences, dismissing any and all claims of objectivity much less self evidence.

    So, the objector triumphantly announces: there is an unbridgeable IS-OUGHT gap, game over.

    Not so fast, as there is no better reason to imagine that we live in a moral Plato’s Cave world, than that we live in a physical or intellectual Plato’s Cave world.

    That is, we consider the imagined world of Plato where the denizens, having been imprisoned from childhood, all imagine that the shadow shows portrayed for their benefit are reality. Until, one is loosed, sees the apparatus of manipulation, then is led outside and learns of the reality that is there to be discovered. Then he tries to rescue his fellows, only to be ridiculed and attacked:

    Video:

    Where, again, let us understand how worldviews shape community life:

    Now, the skeptical question is, do we live in such a delusional world (maybe in another form such as the brains in vats or the Matrix’s pods . . . ), and can we reliably tell the difference?

    The best answer to such is, that such a scenario implies general delusion and the general un-trustworthiness of our senses and reasoning powers.

    So, it undercuts itself in a turtles all the way down chain of possible delusions — an infinite regress of Plato’s cave delusions.

    Common good sense then tells us that the skeptic has caught himself up in his own web, his argument is self referentially incoherent.

    KF

  297. 297
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: Evils, of course will parasite on and violate oughts. That is, they frustrate, twist out of line with, divert from etc, moving towards proper purpose, which in many cases is naturally evident. They profit from the fact that most of the time we don’t act like that: if Cretans were lying 100% of the time, Cretan society would collapse, lying is indulged in hope of profiting from deceit or misleading those who take what is said or suggested without regard for conformity to reality for truth. A community in which deceit was the universal pattern would collapse through fatal disconnect from reality. Likewise if Cretans were 100% lazy and gluttonous, they would collectively starve. Similarly, the example of a yardstick in points 7 – 10 above pivots on our intuitive recognition that a child is valuable in himself and is not a disposable toy to be sexually abused and murdered for someone’s sick pleasure. Something that is pretty hard to deny but we can see the warning flags trip when an objector becomes evasive or tries to distract focus or studiously ignore. Resemblance to the about 250 comments since 49 above is NOT coincidental. That noted, this case then allows us to draw out much broader principles, on close reflection. We should beware of worldviews that undermine core moral thought and principles as they are not compatible with human thriving, regardless of what they pretend otherwise.

  298. 298
    daveS says:

    PaoloV,

    KF’s post #296 might be helpful. I’m assuming you believe that self-evident moral truths exist, but please correct me if I’m wrong. One example which is cited here frequently is that is immoral to torture a person for pleasure.

    I don’t know whether these truths have to be based on anything; perhaps they exist necessarily.

    Anyway I’m guessing that you believe this moral code exists and that God cannot and would not violate it.

  299. 299
    kairosfocus says:

    DS, the context for such yardstick cases is our manifest human nature, with the self-referential point that absent responsible, rational freedom even argument collapses. KF

  300. 300
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: God is situated quite differently from us in the system of a morally pervaded world, as creator and sustainer.

  301. 301
    daveS says:

    KF,

    Is God obliged to adhere to the universal moral code?

  302. 302
    bornagain77 says:

    Sev argues that free will is incompatible with God’s omniscience.

    It is not. Foreknowledge does not equal coercion.

    On the other hand, free will is completely incompatible with Sev’s atheistic materialism. Moreover, Sev’s denial of free will directly undermines his claim that he is making a logically coherent argument against the reality of free will in general and/or against the validity of “the free will defense” in particular.

    Sam Harris’s Free Will: The Medial Pre-Frontal Cortex Did It – Martin Cothran – November 9, 2012
    Excerpt: There is something ironic about the position of thinkers like Harris on issues like this: they claim that their position is the result of the irresistible necessity of logic (in fact, they pride themselves on their logic). Their belief is the consequent, in a ground/consequent relation between their evidence and their conclusion. But their very stated position is that any mental state — including their position on this issue — is the effect of a physical, not logical cause.
    By their own logic, it isn’t logic that demands their assent to the claim that free will is an illusion, but the prior chemical state of their brains. The only condition under which we could possibly find their argument convincing is if they are not true. The claim that free will is an illusion requires the possibility that minds have the freedom to assent to a logical argument, a freedom denied by the claim itself. It is an assent that must, in order to remain logical and not physiological, presume a perspective outside the physical order.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....66221.html

    “It seems to me immensely unlikely that mind is a mere byproduct of matter. For if my mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms in my brain I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true. They may be sound chemically, but that does not make them sound logically. And hence I have no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms.”
    Haldane – “When I am Dead” in Possible Worlds (1927)

    The denial of free will by atheists such as Sev should be the very definition of a ‘self-refuting idea’.

    Self-refuting ideas or self-defeating ideas are ideas or statements whose falsehood is a logical consequence of the act or situation of holding them to be true.
    – Self-refuting idea – Wikipedia

  303. 303
    kairosfocus says:

    DS, the code such as it is, reflects God’s character as creator-sustainer. However, one of the differences is, God is Lord and judge who acts in defense of the right. That said, the code — actually, core, intelligible principles on the duties of neighbour love, service to truth, sound readon, justice etc — is not arbitrary and imposed by might or manipulation. Though, given the crooked yardstick problem, we can become blind, numb and utterly resistant to the manifest truth and right, ending up as a destructive, menacing plague upon the earth. Hitler, Stalin, Mao et al seem to be capital cases in point in the past 100 years. KF

  304. 304
    PaoloV says:

    daveS,

    Regarding 298.

    Your guess is off target in this case. It seems like you’ve missed important points in our conversation.

    Please, try again. No rush. Take your time. Read well our mutually addressed posts. Don’t mix our conversation with other discussions in this thread. Thus you should be able to correct your guess.

    Thanks.

  305. 305
    daveS says:

    PaoloV,

    I appreciate your efforts, but I think if we follow this strict Socratic dialog format it’s going to take forever to get anywhere. Remember we’re speaking across a cultural divide, so some of your questions appear very open-ended to me, even if to you there is an obvious and clear answer.

  306. 306
    daveS says:

    KF,

    That said, the code — actually, core, intelligible principles on the duties of neighbour love, service to truth, sound readon, justice etc — is not arbitrary and imposed by might or manipulation.

    That’s close to what I’m saying. My understanding was that this objective/universal morality is literally universal, and not specific to humans. If there is other intelligent life in the universe, then they would have discovered these same principles. And they apply to God as well. Now God is perfect, so He would never violate the code; that would be as impossible as 1 + 1 = 3 being true or a square circle existing.

    Do you agree?

  307. 307
    kairosfocus says:

    DS, I have already pointed out the ontological differences at stake, which make for significant differences. God is creator, Lord and judge. We, properly, are accountable before him. As would be other creatures of like morally governed nature. KF

  308. 308
    daveS says:

    KF,

    Would you be able to illustrate this difference by naming a principle of objective morality which God is exempt from?

  309. 309
    kairosfocus says:

    DS, I have repeatedly pointed out a key role, supreme judge — enforcing the core principles. Even human judges have very different responsibilities and duties than those who come before them. A linked role is, Saviour who provides a path of rescue for those in material breach — us. Behind, lies the responsibilities and powers of creator-sustainer who judges how to make a world in which moral good obtains. KF

  310. 310
    daveS says:

    KF,

    Can we at least agree that God never in fact does violate principles of objective morality? I don’t know if this will advance the discussion at all, but it’s something.

  311. 311
    daveS says:

    PaoloV,

    My revised guess is that you believe that God has absolutely no obligations towards us, and may treat us in any way He likes. Is that more accurate? I suspect that your position is actually more nuanced than that, so please correct me if necessary.

  312. 312
    PaoloV says:

    daveS,

    Regarding 305.

    Please, would you mind answering the questions in 294?

    Your answer, not someone else’s.

    Thanks.

  313. 313
    daveS says:

    PaoloV,

    I’m not sure a universal moral code actually exists, but if it does, I would guess it consists of moral truths which exist necessarily, that every intelligent being is obliged to follow. They would be the same in every possible world, so I’m don’t know that God would have any role in “establishing” them.

  314. 314
    R J Sawyer says:

    One of the pillars of the existance of evil is that it is not possible to have good without evil. I simply don’t buy that. If we assume that there is no evil, individuals can still give to charity, still open their doors to a homeless person, still save a drowning child. All of these things are good, and these acts would not be diminished in any way because people don’t murder others. Or because governments don’t jail people who disagree with them. Or because there were no more abortions. Or donate a kidney. Or because people no longer rape, torture, steal or lie.

  315. 315
    kairosfocus says:

    DS, God as to core nature is love. Love imposes duties but what we see is far more than duty, grace. Why you apparently wish to suggest God is the ultimate nihilist is beyond me. KF

  316. 316
    kairosfocus says:

    RJS, it is not possible to have moral good without freedom. Such include: love, rationality, knowledge, logical thinking and much more. Freedom implies the capability of abuse and that cannot be eliminated without eliminating freedom. Including the freedom that enables you to argue and appeal to our intellectual duties. KF

  317. 317
    daveS says:

    KF,

    I don’t wish any such thing. Please note that I do not get into analysis of your motives.

  318. 318
    R J Sawyer says:

    KF

    RJS, it is not possible to have moral good without freedom.

    The people who performed all of the good acts I listed above were free to not make those decisions. Morality does not require that we have the freedom to do evil. If nobody had the freedom to decide to murder anyone else, would we not still be morally governed? Would we not still have the freedom to decide along moral grounds?

  319. 319
    PaoloV says:

    daveS,

    Regarding 311.

    Yes, that’s much closer.

    Thanks.

  320. 320
    PaoloV says:

    daveS,

    Please, note that the questions in 294 are related to what you wrote in 278.

    Thanks.

  321. 321
    daveS says:

    PaoloV,

    Regarding #294, yes, that’s what I concluded.

  322. 322
    kairosfocus says:

    RJS, freedom implies the ability to use it well and also the ability to not use it well. Evil is the name for the latter, when it is privation of proper ends (which are often naturally evident). Without freedom, we cannot reason, warrant and know, nor could we have duties to do so aright. Mere assertions to the contrary have no weight. KF

  323. 323
    daveS says:

    PaoloV,

    Regarding #319, I find that view very difficult to understand. So much so that I would find it impossible to accept any further reasoning based on it. I don’t mean I have evidence showing it’s false, mind you.

  324. 324
    R J Sawyer says:

    KF@322.. I’m afraid that I have to disagree that the failure to use our freedom well is not evil. Evil is at the extreme end of the spectrum. We all make decisions that are neutral or bad that nobody would call evil.

  325. 325
    mike1962 says:

    What was the Omni-God lacking that compelled It to want to create “free moral agents?”

  326. 326
    jdk says:

    re 325: Believers. See Small Gods by Terry Pratchett! 🙂

  327. 327
    kairosfocus says:

    RJS, evil is the privation of the good, which involves abuse of freedom. Just a reminder. KF

  328. 328
    ET says:

    re 326: Disbelievers. See Small Minds by Hoo Flung Poo! 😛

  329. 329
  330. 330
    R J Sawyer says:

    KF

    RJS, evil is the privation of the good, which involves abuse of freedom. Just a reminder. KF

    I can accept that as a definition. But that doesn’t mean that good is dependent on the existance of evil, or the existance of the freedom to perpetrate evil.

    I agree that the existance of evil puts our good acts into perspective, but that doesn’t mean that the existance of evil makes our good acts any more ‘good’.

  331. 331
    jerry says:

    Evil has been discussed on this site since its beginning. A quote pointing to the inability to define evil from over 10 years ago

    We have discussed evil here many times and the same arguments seem to always come up. One of them is what is evil. There seemed to be a certain naivety as to what is truly evil.

    There is actually one true evil if you believe in the Judeo/Christian God. That is the eternal deprivation of the presence of God. All else is trivial in comparison. Of course if you do not believe in the Judeo/Christian God evil is just icky stuff we do not like and a meaningless concept.

  332. 332
    kairosfocus says:

    RJS, no-one has argued that good is dependent on evil, or that freedom is dependent on evil. Just the opposite is so. Read Koukl for some perspective. KF

  333. 333
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: Moral goods, such as reason, creativity, warrant, love, etc require freedom. A computational substrate does not reason, for example.

  334. 334
    ScuzzaMan says:

    kf

    Thanks very much for the essay on discipleship. A lot of meat in that spread.

  335. 335
    kairosfocus says:

    SM, welcome (cf. 276 above, onlookers). You may also find the unit on God useful, it’s all part of a draft for an online course: http://nicenesystheol.blogspot.....n-god.html . Notice, how material above on linking generic ethical theism to the traditional theology of God’s attributes and the Athanasian creed have been worked in over the past days, so the grain of sand contributes to a pearl. I have also recently been doing a personal blog series, starting here: http://kairosfocus.blogspot.co.....tural.html

    Also see:

    http://kairosfocus.blogspot.co.....imple.html

    http://kairosfocus.blogspot.co.....lture.html

    http://kairosfocus.blogspot.co.....m-hit.html

    http://kairosfocus.blogspot.co.....s-our.html

    I think the churches have been on the wrong track for a long time. KF

  336. 336
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: A warning on a main root of evil:

    Rom 1: 19 . . . that which is known about God is evident within them [in their inner consciousness], for God made it evident to them.

    20 For ever since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through His workmanship [all His creation, the wonderful things that He has made], so that they [who fail to believe and trust in Him] are without excuse and without defense.

    21 For even though [d]they knew God [as the Creator], they did not [e]honor Him as God or give thanks [for His wondrous creation]. On the contrary, they became worthless in their thinking [godless, with pointless reasonings, and silly speculations], and their foolish heart was darkened.

    22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory and majesty and excellence of the immortal God for [f]an image [worthless idols] in the shape of mortal man and birds and four-footed animals and reptiles . . . . 28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God or consider Him worth knowing [as their Creator], God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do things which are improper and repulsive, 29 until they were filled (permeated, saturated) with every kind of unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil . . . [AMP]

    KF

  337. 337
    Deputy Dog says:

    @mike1962 #325

    mike asked: “What was the Omni-God lacking that compelled It to want to create ‘free moral agents’?”

    That’s a question I have pondered. If companionship was the need, and I was an omni-god, I would create another omni-god – someone I could actually have a conversation with.

    Why bother with messy, mortal, biological beings, unless I just wanted some hobby-toys.

    Yes, ET, that is just my puny opinion.

  338. 338
    ET says:

    mike1962:

    What was the Omni-God lacking that compelled It to want to create “free moral agents?”

    It’s you who is lacking, mikey.

  339. 339
    ET says:

    Deputy Dog:

    Why bother with messy, mortal, biological beings, unless I just wanted some hobby-toys.

    Your omni-ignorance can’t do much of anything. And it still stands that you have nothing to explain our existence.

  340. 340
    kairosfocus says:

    DD, It seems you have not seriously read the discussion. The point of a morally governed order of creation is that it opens up a world in which love is possible, creativity, reason, virtue and such like. Your objection is implicitly self-referential and undermines the very premise of reasoned discussion: responsible, rational freedom. The bowl challenges the potter, why have you made me so, I could hold poison. KF

  341. 341
    kairosfocus says:

    DD

    This reveals key gaps in background understanding:

    If companionship was the need, and I was an omni-god, I would create another omni-god – someone I could actually have a conversation with

    God is a necessary being and a maximally great one, framework to any world existing.

    As such, God is ontologically, catergorically different from creation.

    There can only be one maximally great, supreme being.

    KF

  342. 342
    ScuzzaMan says:

    @KF:

    I think the churches have been on the wrong track for a long time. KF

    I’d very much like to continue that point with you. Perhaps by email? I am my handle at gmail.

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