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Saturday, February 25, 2006

The Standard Problem of Evil Reformulated part 2

Here is my "ironclad PoE" :

(1) If a god exists, then it is Creator.
(2) If a god exists, then it is morally righteous.
(3) Given (1) and (2), a god would not have created a non-perfect universe (defined as containing natural or human evil/suffering).
(4) We observe natural and human evil/suffering.
(5) No god exists. (from 3 and 4)

In premises (1) and (2), I establish some properties of a "god" (or if you don't agree with my equation of "god" with monotheism, just replace it with "God") - Creator and morally righteous. The latter is not explicitly promoted by believers, but if a god is benevolent in any way, it must be morally righteous. So the criteria of moral righteousness is actually a lot more generous than what most believers use, and there's no problem of definition here (unlike "omnibenevolence", which like any other omni is wholly outside of human understanding).

(3) is the pivotal deduction, because this is where the restriction on Creation is introduced. More specifically, I am saying "because of a god's nature, it cannot create a universe with evil/suffering". On the one hand, a god controls all states of the universe by virtue of being Creator - it does not create one specific hurricane, or one specific tree, but all material existents. This is also why it can create a "perfect universe", insofar as such a notion is obviously logically possible (an empty spacetime, for example, would not contain any evil or suffering).

On the other hand, if it is benevolent at all, a god is morally righteous - in a scenario with equal costs, it desires to effect the best choice. So it desires to effect a perfect universe, just as we would in the same situation, or do in different situations.

But if both are true, we should not observe any evil or suffering. And yet we do. Note here that the issue is not whether we observe unexplainable suffering. Some PoEs concentrate on that issue, and that's fine, but my "ironclad PoE" concerns ANY suffering, including suffering that has a human explanation (such as going to the dentist). A morally righteous Creator could just as easily create a universe where no suffering is needed at all to obtain a second-order good, character, and so on.

This argument also makes all theodicies and objections useless, because they have no more gap to live in. For example, the Christian can no longer argue that suffering exists because of our free will, because God could have chosen to create a universe where free will is only benevolent. Even if a Christian believes that there is an inherent contradiction between free will and the absence of suffering, then we can simply reply that God could have creatred a universe where there is no such contradiction. We are not concentrating on specific actions or events, but rather on the Creative act, where by definition "all things are possible".

The only avenues left are to either deny (1), (2), or the deduction to (3). The first two options would completely destroy the notion of "god" as presented in the monotheistic religions (God is either a useless usurper or very stupid). But can someone accept (1) and (2) without (3) ? Even if someone argues that his god would only desire to create a universe where people believe in him, the passage still holds, as there are many different ways in which it could have created such a universe - including making atheism biologically impossible. Yet this is obviously not the case.

There are many different kinds of PoEs (logical, evidential, inductive, soteriological, as well as moral arguments) and they use various areas to make their point. My argument is just a straightforward reformulation of the original PoE, but I think it is a powerful one.

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9 Comments:

At 2/25/2006 10:14 AM, Blogger Zachary Moore declaimed...

And your previous post noted that theodicy cannot postulate a secondary good to arise out of a primary evil. This is the most common form that I've seen. The only escape from this is belief in an evil deity, or atheism.

 
At 2/25/2006 7:01 PM, Blogger BJ declaimed...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 2/25/2006 7:01 PM, Blogger BJ declaimed...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 2/25/2006 9:14 PM, Blogger Xyba declaimed...

"God could have chosen to create a universe where free will is only benevolent."

A free will that has limits to its expression is not free.

 
At 2/25/2006 10:58 PM, Blogger Francois Tremblay declaimed...

"A free will that has limits to its expression is not free."

Then there is no such thing as free will, according to your retarded deduction. Therefore you have contradicted yourself.

(If you doubt this, flap your arms and try to fly)

 
At 2/26/2006 9:48 AM, Blogger Xyba declaimed...

You misunderstand, a free will is not one that can do everything it wishes, but can express any desire it has.

 
At 2/26/2006 4:05 PM, Blogger Francois Tremblay declaimed...

"You misunderstand, a free will is not one that can do everything it wishes, but can express any desire it has."

Okay, I desire to fly. Let me flap my arms and try. Nope, still nothing.

 
At 2/26/2006 8:02 PM, Blogger Xyba declaimed...

But by inventing the airplane you do.

But that's still not the piont. A free will has to do with intent. I know you intend to fly...

Because you cannot do what you intend does not negate your will to do so. If you cannot intend to do something, you have no free will.

 
At 2/27/2006 6:49 PM, Blogger Zachary Moore declaimed...

As long as there are two choices for any instance, there's free will. You don't have to choose between killing someone and hugging someone. It could also be just between hugging someone and shaking their hand.

 

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