Jerry and I are having a constructive exchange on the problem of evil. My argument starts when Jerry asks me to define “good.”
Jerry, the issue is not how one would define “good” in any particular situation. The issue is whether it is possible to define good in a way that is not grounded in subjective preferences. The only way to do that is if there is some objective standard of good. Such an objective standard would necessarily stand over and above all men’s subjective preferences. The character of God is advanced as the source of that objective standard.
The argument goes like this:
The good is that which is consistent with the objective transcendent standard grounded in the character of God.
Evil is the privation of the good.
Therefore, the good, of which evil is the privation, also exists.
Therefore, an objective transcendent standard grounded in the character of God exists.
Therefore, God exists.
Thus, as Vivid has noted, the existence of evil – if the word “evil” means anything other than “that which I do not subjectively prefer” — is powerful evidence for the existence of God.
This all boils down this: Objective evil exists only if objective good exists. Objective good exits only if God exists. Objective evil exists. Therefore, God exists.
Now this does not necessarily mean that evil in the objective sense (i.e., the privation of the transcendent standard grounded in God’s character) exists. It may be that “evil” means nothing except “that which I do not subjectively prefer.” And if evil in the objective sense does not exist, the argument for the existence of God from the existence of evil (which implies the existence of objective good) never gets off the ground.
BUT, the atheist argument from evil never gets off the ground either. This should be plain from the my other post to which you have already alluded.
If you use your definition and not use the word evil but the phrase,. “privation of the good” then you will end up with nonsensical arguments.
False. One may agree or disagree with the argument I set forth above. It is not nonsensical.
But they [i.e., atheists] think their version of evil does exists and will point to examples.
It is certainly correct that all sane people, including atheists, understand that evil exists. That is why I am constantly saying that no sane person lives their life as if materialism is true.
So the standoff is to use logic to show that their definition is meaningless in the context of what the Christian God promise. That is what I am doing.
The challenge is to show that the atheist’s definition of evil is incoherent in any context. And I have done that in the prior post.
I doubt your definition, which come from Augustine, will win many converts because it does not sync with the typical atheist’s use of the term.
I advance arguments. The arguments stand or fall based on whether they are grounded in logic and evidence. A sound argument is sound regardless of whether it results in “converts.”
Yes, my definition of evil does not sync with the typical atheist’s use of the term. My project is to point out that when the typical atheist uses the term, they invariably do so in a way that is incoherent. By this I mean that they invariably argue that God, if he exists, has “done evil thing X” or “allowed evil thing X to happen,” and since God would not do that, God does not exist. The problem is that for the argument to work, “evil thing X” must actually be objectively evil. And for the atheist “evil thing X” means “that which the atheist does not subjectively prefer.” And it is incoherent to argue “God does not exist because he does not arrange affairs in a way I subjectively prefer.”
The theodicy argument breaks down because [atheist’s] version of evil is meaningless.
If by the “theodicy argument” you mean “the argument from evil,” we agree.
But I doubt atheists would accept your definition of evil.
Of course, their premises preclude them from accepting my definition.
So how can you claim that their argument is incoherent based on it.
Perhaps “incoherent” is the wrong word. Absurd is probably better. To argue that God does not exist on the ground that he does not arrange affairs in a way I subjectively prefer is not incoherent. All one has to do is advance the following syllogism:
Major Premise: If God exists, he would prevent evil (defined as “that which I do not subjectively prefer) from happening.
Minor Premise: Things that I do not subjectively prefer happen all the time.
Conclusion: Therefore, God does not exist.
The argument is not incoherent. Rather, it is based on an absurd major premise.
Do you have evidence that atheists use your definition?
You raise an interesting point. When they argue from the problem of evil, atheists implicitly use my (i.e., Augustine’s) definition of evil. Otherwise, as anyone who thinks about it for two seconds can see, the argument is absurd (see the absurd syllogism above). What does this mean? It means that atheists cannot adhere consistently to their own premises. And that is not surprising (no sane person . . .). Instead, as is often the case, they reject the existence of objective evil while smuggling that very thing in through the back door when they argue from the “problem of evil.”