Philosophy of Religion: Problem of Evil

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Philosophy of Religion : 

Philosophy of Religion Teleological or Design Argument Take Aways Data underdetermines from among several possible Agent-based theories Apparently faulty designs need explanation in any case. Agent based explanations are equally as plausible given the probabilistic resources in the universe. . The question for today relates to each of these but most directly to the issue of apparent and real faults. These faults cause pain and suffering. Pain, suffering, and other evils come in two basic sorts: “natural Evil” and “Moral Evil” (or Agent-dependent evil) The question: How to square the obvious fact that evil exists with the existence of god.

Philosophy of Religion : 

Philosophy of Religion Teleological or Design Argument Critique Apparently faulty designs need explanation in any case. Naturalistic Explanations at least as plausible given the apparent faults in design. Is it true that the following set of statements is inconsistent? God exists (that is; a being who is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent) A being that is omnipotent can do anything A being that is omniscient knows how to do anything A being that is omnibenevolent wants to completely maximize good, and completely eliminate evil. Evil exists. J.L. Mackie, Oxford University, Great Britain

Philosophy of Religion : 

Philosophy of Religion Teleological or Design Argument Critique Apparently faulty designs need explanation in any case. Naturalistic Explanations at least as plausible given the apparent faults in design. Is it true that the following set of statements is inconsistent? 1. God exists (that is; a being who is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent) 1a. A being that is omnipotent can do anything (including maximizing good and completely eliminating evil) 1b. A being that is omniscient knows how to do anything (including maximizing good and completely eliminating evil) 1c. A being that is omnibenevolent wants to completely maximize good, and completely eliminate evil 2. If God exists, then good is maximized and evil completely eliminated. Therefore: good is maximized, and evil completely eliminated. Evil exists (in other words, it is not completely eliminated). 3. God does not exist. Expanding this set into an argument, we can derive an atheistic conclusion: J.L. Mackie, Oxford University, Great Britain

Philosophy of Religion : 

Philosophy of Religion Teleological or Design Argument Critique Apparently faulty designs need explanation in any case. Naturalistic Explanations at least as plausible given the apparent faults in design. Is it true that the following set of statements is inconsistent? 1. God exists (that is; a being who is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent) 1a. A being that is omnipotent can do anything (including maximizing good and completely eliminating evil) 1b. A being that is omniscient knows how to do anything (including maximizing good and completely eliminating evil) 1c. A being that is omnibenevolent wants to completely maximize good, and completely eliminate evil 2. If God exists, then good is maximized and evil completely eliminated. Therefore: good is maximized, and evil completely eliminated. Evil exists (in other words, it is not completely eliminated). 3. God does not exist. Expanding this set into an argument, we can derive an atheistic conclusion: This argument is valid: The form? 1. P 2. P>Q 3. Q 4. ~Q ___ 5. ~P Modus Tollens, plus a bit (for emphasis)

Philosophy of Religion : 

Philosophy of Religion Teleological or Design Argument Critique Apparently faulty designs need explanation in any case. Naturalistic Explanations at least as plausible given the apparent faults in design. 1. God exists (that is; a being who is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent) 1a. A being that is omnipotent can do anything (including maximizing good and completely eliminating evil) 1b. A being that is omniscient knows how to do anything (including maximizing good and completely eliminating evil) 1c. A being that is omnibenevolent wants to completely maximize good, and completely eliminate evil 2. If God exists, then good is maximized and evil completely eliminated. 3. Therefore: good is maximized, and evil completely eliminated. 4. Evil exists (in other words, it is not completely eliminated). 5. Evil exists, and evil is completely eliminated. 6. So, if God exists, then evil exists and evil is completely eliminated. 7. But, the consequent (5) is a contradiction, it cannot be true. 8. So, one of the assumptions it is based upon cannot be true, God does not exist. 1. P 2. P>Q 3. Q 4. ~Q 5. Q & ~Q 6. P > (Q & ~Q) 7. ~(Q & ~Q) ___________ 8. ~P In fact, you can expand this argument and its extras, deriving a contradiction from the assumption of God’s existence and the existence of evil. This is a bit more complicated, but still boils down to a use of Modus Tollens.

Philosophy of Religion : 

Philosophy of Religion Teleological or Design Argument Critique Apparently faulty designs need explanation in any case. Naturalistic Explanations at least as plausible given the apparent faults in design. 1. God exists (that is; a being who is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent) 1a. A being that is omnipotent can do anything (including maximizing good and completely eliminating evil) 1b. A being that is omniscient knows how to do anything (including maximizing good and completely eliminating evil) 1c. A being that is omnibenevolent wants to completely maximize good, and completely eliminate evil 2. If God exists, then good is maximized and evil completely eliminated. 3. Therefore: good is maximized, and evil completely eliminated. 4. Evil exists (in other words, it is not completely eliminated). 5. Evil exists, and evil is completely eliminated. 6. So, if God exists, then evil exists and evil is completely eliminated. 7. But, the consequent (5) is a contradiction, it cannot be true. 8. So, one of the assumptions it is based upon cannot be true, God does not exist. Mackie’s Challenge: ‘Examine each of the premises of my argument, and tell me where I go wrong!’ J.L. Mackie, Oxford University, Great Britain

Philosophy of Religion : 

Philosophy of Religion Teleological or Design Argument Critique Apparently faulty designs need explanation in any case. Naturalistic Explanations at least as plausible given the apparent faults in design. 1. God exists (that is; a being who is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent) 1a. A being that is omnipotent can do anything (including maximizing good and completely eliminating evil) 1b. A being that is omniscient knows how to do anything (including maximizing good and completely eliminating evil) 1c. A being that is omnibenevolent wants to completely maximize good, and completely eliminate evil 2. If God exists, then good is maximized and evil completely eliminated. 3. Therefore: good is maximized, and evil completely eliminated. 4. Evil exists (in other words, it is not completely eliminated). 5. Evil exists, and evil is completely eliminated. 6. So, if God exists, then evil exists and evil is completely eliminated. 7. But, the consequent (5) is a contradiction, it cannot be true. 8. So, one of the assumptions it is based upon cannot be true, God does not exist. Looking for trouble-spots, are there any in the first premise, and subsidiary assumptions?

Philosophy of Religion : 

Philosophy of Religion Teleological or Design Argument Critique Apparently faulty designs need explanation in any case. Naturalistic Explanations at least as plausible given the apparent faults in design. 1. God exists (that is; a being who is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent) 1a. A being that is omnipotent can do anything (including maximizing good and completely eliminating evil) 1b. A being that is omniscient knows how to do anything (including maximizing good and completely eliminating evil) 1c. A being that is omnibenevolent wants to completely maximize good, and completely eliminate evil 2. If God exists, then good is maximized and evil completely eliminated. 3. Therefore: good is maximized, and evil completely eliminated. 4. Evil exists (in other words, it is not completely eliminated). 5. Evil exists, and evil is completely eliminated. 6. So, if God exists, then evil exists and evil is completely eliminated. 7. But, the consequent (5) is a contradiction, it cannot be true. 8. So, one of the assumptions it is based upon cannot be true, God does not exist. How about this second premise? It too is an assumption, as was premise 1. Does it seem true to you? Why? Why not?

Philosophy of Religion : 

Philosophy of Religion Teleological or Design Argument Critique Apparently faulty designs need explanation in any case. Naturalistic Explanations at least as plausible given the apparent faults in design. 1. God exists (that is; a being who is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent) 1a. A being that is omnipotent can do anything (including maximizing good and completely eliminating evil) 1b. A being that is omniscient knows how to do anything (including maximizing good and completely eliminating evil) 1c. A being that is omnibenevolent wants to completely maximize good, and completely eliminate evil 2. If God exists, then good is maximized and evil completely eliminated. 3. Therefore: good is maximized, and evil completely eliminated. 4. Evil exists (in other words, it is not completely eliminated). 5. Evil exists, and evil is completely eliminated. 6. So, if God exists, then evil exists and evil is completely eliminated. 7. But, the consequent (5) is a contradiction, it cannot be true. 8. So, one of the assumptions it is based upon cannot be true, God does not exist. This statement is a statement of observable fact.

Philosophy of Religion : 

Philosophy of Religion Teleological or Design Argument Critique Apparently faulty designs need explanation in any case. Naturalistic Explanations at least as plausible given the apparent faults in design. 1. God exists (that is; a being who is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent) 1a. A being that is omnipotent can do anything (including maximizing good and completely eliminating evil) 1b. A being that is omniscient knows how to do anything (including maximizing good and completely eliminating evil) 1c. A being that is omnibenevolent wants to completely maximize good, and completely eliminate evil 2. If God exists, then good is maximized and evil completely eliminated. 3. Therefore: good is maximized, and evil completely eliminated. 4. Evil exists (in other words, it is not completely eliminated). 5. Evil exists, and evil is completely eliminated. 6. So, if God exists, then evil exists and evil is completely eliminated. 7. But, the consequent (5) is a contradiction, it cannot be true. 8. So, one of the assumptions it is based upon cannot be true, God does not exist. 5 is contradictory, partly derived via Modus Ponens from 1,2, then combined with statement of observable fact, 4.

Philosophy of Religion : 

Philosophy of Religion Teleological or Design Argument Critique Apparently faulty designs need explanation in any case. Naturalistic Explanations at least as plausible given the apparent faults in design. 1. God exists (that is; a being who is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent) 1a. A being that is omnipotent can do anything (including maximizing good and completely eliminating evil) 1b. A being that is omniscient knows how to do anything (including maximizing good and completely eliminating evil) 1c. A being that is omnibenevolent wants to completely maximize good, and completely eliminate evil 2. If God exists, then good is maximized and evil completely eliminated. 3. Therefore: good is maximized, and evil completely eliminated. 4. Evil exists (in other words, it is not completely eliminated). 5. Evil exists, and evil is completely eliminated. 6. So, if God exists, then evil exists and evil is completely eliminated. 7. But, the consequent (5) is a contradiction, it cannot be true. 8. So, one of the assumptions it is based upon cannot be true, God does not exist. The “Logical problem of evil” hinges on assumptions 1a and 1c

Philosophy of Religion : 

Philosophy of Religion Teleological or Design Argument Critique Apparently faulty designs need explanation in any case. Naturalistic Explanations at least as plausible given the apparent faults in design. 1. God exists (that is; a being who is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent) 1a. A being that is omnipotent can do anything (including maximizing good and completely eliminating evil) 1b. A being that is omniscient knows how to do anything (including maximizing good and completely eliminating evil) 1c. A being that is omnibenevolent wants to completely maximize good, and completely eliminate evil 2. If God exists, then good is maximized and evil completely eliminated. 3. Therefore: good is maximized, and evil completely eliminated. 4. Evil exists (in other words, it is not completely eliminated). 5. Evil exists, and evil is completely eliminated. 6. So, if God exists, then evil exists and evil is completely eliminated. 7. But, the consequent (5) is a contradiction, it cannot be true. 8. So, one of the assumptions it is based upon cannot be true, God does not exist. what if these two assumptions are false? Can they be false? Let’s look at them one at a time and see:

Philosophy of Religion : 

Philosophy of Religion Teleological or Design Argument Critique Apparently faulty designs need explanation in any case. Naturalistic Explanations at least as plausible given the apparent faults in design. 1a. A being that is omnipotent can do anything (including maximizing good and completely eliminating evil) 1a Really consists of two parts, two clauses.. Alvin Plantinga, Notre Dame (previously Wayne State, in ‘the D,’ Detroit!, and Calvin College, Grand Rapids MI.) Look at the first clause, and ask yourself whether or not it is true: Can God really do anything? Does omnipotence really mean this? Can God make it the case that he himself never existed? Can God make squares circular? Can he make a statement both true and false at the same time? Can he make the law of identity (A=A) false?

Philosophy of Religion : 

Philosophy of Religion Teleological or Design Argument Critique Apparently faulty designs need explanation in any case. Naturalistic Explanations at least as plausible given the apparent faults in design. 1a. A being that is omnipotent can do anything (including maximizing good and completely eliminating evil) 1a Really consists of two parts, two clauses.. Alvin Plantinga, Notre Dame (previously Wayne State, back in ‘the D,’ Detroit!, and Calvin College, Grand Rapids MI.) Look at the second clause, and ask yourself whether or not it is true? Can God really maximize good while completely doing away with evil?

Philosophy of Religion : 

Philosophy of Religion Teleological or Design Argument Critique Apparently faulty designs need explanation in any case. Naturalistic Explanations at least as plausible given the apparent faults in design. 1a. A being that is omnipotent can do anything (including maximizing good and completely eliminating evil) 1a Really consists of two parts, two clauses.. Richard Swinburne, Oxford University, Great Britain Not so if he wants to bring about higher order goods. Some higher order moral goods, those essentially dependent on free choices of autonomous agents, are not possible without freedom. Hence, they carry the risk of moral evil. Also, those higher order moral goods that are essentially dependent on the existence of evils, are not possible without those evils.

Philosophy of Religion : 

Philosophy of Religion Teleological or Design Argument Critique Apparently faulty designs need explanation in any case. Naturalistic Explanations at least as plausible given the apparent faults in design. 1a. A being that is omnipotent can do anything (including maximizing good and completely eliminating evil) 1a Really consists of two parts, two clauses.. Examples? Honesty, Magnanimity, Philanthropy, Courage, Compassion, Charity,

Philosophy of Religion : 

Philosophy of Religion Teleological or Design Argument Critique Apparently faulty designs need explanation in any case. Naturalistic Explanations at least as plausible given the apparent faults in design. 1a. A being that is omnipotent can do anything (including maximizing good and completely eliminating evil) 1a Really consists of two parts, two clauses.. Speaking in terms of possible worlds, God could have created possible worlds that lacked these higher order goods, but such worlds are not “maximally good.” Worlds that include these goods are better. God, wanting to create the best possible world, would naturally opt for one of these (indeed the optimal of the set of worlds that have the higher order moral goods.)

Philosophy of Religion : 

Philosophy of Religion Teleological or Design Argument Critique Apparently faulty designs need explanation in any case. Naturalistic Explanations at least as plausible given the apparent faults in design. 1a. A being that is omnipotent can do anything (including maximizing good and completely eliminating evil) 1a Really consists of two parts, two clauses.. So, the last clause is a special case of something that is not logically possible, and hence, something that “strictly speaking” God cannot do. It’s not essentially different than God not being able to make squares circular. But, when we do say God is omnipotent, we mean to point out that he created the universe, can annihilate it, can suspend natural laws, etc.. We don’t really mean that he can pull off logical impossibilities. In the important sense, he’s still omnipotent.

Philosophy of Religion : 

Philosophy of Religion Teleological or Design Argument Critique Apparently faulty designs need explanation in any case. Naturalistic Explanations at least as plausible given the apparent faults in design. 1c. A being that is omnibenevolent wants to completely maximize good, and completely eliminate evil These meditations on 1a allow us to deal with 1c This also answers 1c. Although it may be true that God wants to completely maximize good while completely doing away with evil, he knows he cannot do that while also bringing about the best possible world. Yet this does not in any way detract from his benevolence. Now, in terms of the major theodicies that are described in the textbook, which of them seem to be most exemplified by Plantinga’s argument here?

Philosophy of Religion : 

Philosophy of Religion Teleological or Design Argument Critique Apparently faulty designs need explanation in any case. Naturalistic Explanations at least as plausible given the apparent faults in design. Big Plan Punishment Suffering builds Character Limits of Knowledge Contrast Devil Test Theodicies

Philosophy of Religion : 

Philosophy of Religion Teleological or Design Argument Critique Apparently faulty designs need explanation in any case. Naturalistic Explanations at least as plausible given the apparent faults in design. Big Plan Punishment Suffering builds Character Limits of Knowledge Contrast Devil Test Theodicies Now, how might we answer this line of argumentation?

Philosophy of Religion : 

Philosophy of Religion Teleological or Design Argument Critique Apparently faulty designs need explanation in any case. Naturalistic Explanations at least as plausible given the apparent faults in design. Big Plan Punishment Suffering builds Character Limits of Knowledge Contrast Devil Test Theodicies Overkill objection: The nominal amount of evil necessary in order to make possible the higher order goods is in fact much below the amount of evil that does exist in the world. God could have accomplished his ends with less natural and less moral evils. For example: couldn’t courage be made possible without quite so many dangerous situations, just a few less?

Philosophy of Religion : 

Philosophy of Religion Teleological or Design Argument Critique Apparently faulty designs need explanation in any case. Naturalistic Explanations at least as plausible given the apparent faults in design. Big Plan Punishment Suffering builds Character Limits of Knowledge Contrast Devil Test Theodicies Perhaps, but it may also be that we are in a position not unlike that of a very young child who is enduring an injection, or a session of dentistry. We are intellectually unable to see the purpose for the apparently gratuitous level of harms being allowed to occur. The child is convinced the doctor is inflicting pain for no good reason, or to be mean, but in fact he is not, and he cannot accomplish his task with any less an amount of pain. So too, it may be with us, God, and the amount of natural and moral evil in the world. It has to be just the amount that does exist. God can see that, we cannot.

Philosophy of Religion : 

Philosophy of Religion Teleological or Design Argument Critique Apparently faulty designs need explanation in any case. Naturalistic Explanations at least as plausible given the apparent faults in design. Big Plan Punishment Suffering builds Character Limits of Knowledge Contrast Devil Test Theodicies I’ll grant that’s logically possible, but I see no reason to grant that it is likely. It’s just too apparent that there is an excessive amount of evil, too much for me to swallow as being ‘just the nominal amount necessary.’ But, leaving that aside, let’s focus on the free agents again. Couldn’t God have created genuinely free agents that always choose rightly? Yes, I mean, we do have options, and we sometimes choose to harm, or allow harm, but couldn’t God have chosen to create only free agents that choose in ways that do not end up harming?

Philosophy of Religion : 

Philosophy of Religion Teleological or Design Argument Critique Apparently faulty designs need explanation in any case. Naturalistic Explanations at least as plausible given the apparent faults in design. Big Plan Punishment Suffering builds Character Limits of Knowledge Contrast Devil Test Theodicies Yes, that’s certainly conceivable, but I think you’ll have to admit that it is also logically possible that any free agent that exists will invariably choose wrongly at least once in his life. Suppose this is true: Consider God’s complete knowledge of each potential person he could create as his complete acquaintance with a book that contains an exhaustive description of that person’s life in a possible world, including all of his or her choice situations in that world, and choices made in those situations, God is aware of the following:

Philosophy of Religion : 

Philosophy of Religion Teleological or Design Argument Critique Apparently faulty designs need explanation in any case. Naturalistic Explanations at least as plausible given the apparent faults in design. Theodicies All available books on all potential moral agents contain some parts that describe their wrong but free choices in some number of morally relevant choice situations. This is true for every book, and for every possible world that individual agents could reside in. So, if this is granted, no matter what possible world God chose to actualize, the following is true: If God wants to create moral agents, then he has no choice but to create some number of moral agents that choose wrongly. Let’s call this property TRANS WORLD DEPRAVITY or TWD for short.

Philosophy of Religion : 

Philosophy of Religion Teleological or Design Argument Critique Apparently faulty designs need explanation in any case. Naturalistic Explanations at least as plausible given the apparent faults in design. Theodicies God wants to create moral agents. (Why? We look at things Swinburne has to say. Any world containing moral agents with free and responsible choice is preferable to, and better than, worlds that lack such beings.) Therefore: He has no choice but to create a world of moral agents that choose wrongly. This shows there is no logical inconsistency in assuming an omnipotent and all good God exists, and that there is evil in the world in the form of bad choices by free agents. [This is my answer to Dr. Mackie’s charge that it is logically inconsistent to believe God exists and that evil exists.]

Philosophy of Religion : 

Philosophy of Religion Teleological or Design Argument Critique Apparently faulty designs need explanation in any case. Naturalistic Explanations at least as plausible given the apparent faults in design. Theodicies No one has made a convincing argument that shows it is in no way possible that TWD holds. There is nothing logically absurd in the supposition of TWD’s existence.

Philosophy of Religion : 

Philosophy of Religion Teleological or Design Argument Critique Apparently faulty designs need explanation in any case. Naturalistic Explanations at least as plausible given the apparent faults in design. Theodicies Hold on: Does it follow from the fact that someone chooses wrongly, that harms must result from the choice or choices? It seems the answer is ‘No’. The harms could in some way fail to materialize. I may choose to steal Fred’s wallet, take steps to do so, but be prevented by some third party, or Fred himself. Perhaps Fred does not have the wallet. Surely, there are possible worlds where freely chosen actions occur, people are still significantly free, yet consequences of those choices are less severe than they are in this world. The choice to harm is an evil, but the harm itself seems to be a second evil. TWD, if true, explains how the former is unavoidable for God, but it does not thereby seem to explain how the latter is unavoidable.

Philosophy of Religion : 

Philosophy of Religion Teleological or Design Argument Critique Apparently faulty designs need explanation in any case. Naturalistic Explanations at least as plausible given the apparent faults in design. Theodicies But perhaps we could propose a strengthened TWD: TWD2: Each possible moral agent God could create will choose the morally wrong option in at least one choice situation, and harm some entity by doing so. Or All available books on potential moral agents contain some parts that describe their wrong, but free choices in some number of morally relevant choice situations, and resultant harms from at least one of those choices. If it’s true that TWD2 is an unavoidable feature of agents, then it is not possible for God to eliminate all harms in the actual world, caused by free agents’ choices. [This more fully answers Mackie now. Harms are now seen as consistent with God’s existence because they are unavoidable consequences of creating free and responsible agents, and any world containing these (with TWD2 now) is better than any world that does not]

Philosophy of Religion : 

Philosophy of Religion Teleological or Design Argument Critique Apparently faulty designs need explanation in any case. Naturalistic Explanations at least as plausible given the apparent faults in design. Theodicies Something like this can even be argued in regard to natural evils, those harms that come about because of natural processes or events, for instance, aging or earthquakes. If all possible worlds (not just agents within them) have something akin to TWD, then, once again, it is not a contradiction that God exist, and evil exist. So, to sum up: if you agree that all of this is logically possible, then you have to admit the logical problem of evil is a non-starter in attempting to show that belief in God is necessarily irrational. Ok, but you have to admit that a demonstration of mere logical possibility isn’t going to be a very persuasive step toward showing that a God of the traditional monotheistic sort exists. And it does seem that you end up whittling quite a bit away from God’s alleged omnipotence along the way.