Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Notes for responding to Craig's possible criticism of my evil god challenge

Finally (having provided all my other notes in postings below) here are my notes prepared for whatever Craig might have said in response to the evil god challenge. You can see I prepared for a much wider range of moves than he actually made. In fact, this is where I was weakest. I floundered a bit. I did nail him on his silly "evil proves there is a god" move (which he later acknowledged is not really a good objection to the problem of evil). But I failed to nail Craig him on the "earthly happiness" move, despite having it down here. Nor did I explain clearly enough that even if Craig did accept (as he did, amazingly) that there's no observational evidence at all against an evil god or good god, he is STILL stuck with the challenge of explaining why belief in a good god is more reasonable belief in an evil god, the latter being absurd (all Craig had left were his moral and resurrection arguments, which I did then go on to demolish). I should also have picked up on Craig's weak appeal to Wykstra (so weak I missed it was even supposed to an argument). The Wykstra quote is easily dealt with by pointing out it shows only the possibility of some long term higher value, not it's non-improbability given the observational evidence


1. CRAIG’S RESPONSES TO PROBLEM OF EVIL

CRAIG SUGGESTS AN EVIL GOD IS IMPOSSIBLE BECAUSE…. AND SO MY EVIL GOD CHALLENGE IS MET.

Even if it could be shown that an evil god is impossible while a good god is not, that would not deal with the evil god challenge that I set Prof Craig. For it remains the case that, irrespective of whether an evil god is impossible, the amount of good that exists would clearly be more than enough in any case to show that belief in such a god is downright unreasonable. But then why isn’t the amount of evil we observe more than enough to show that belief in a good god is downright unreasonable?

In short, the claim that an evil god is impossible, even if correct, does nothing to show that belief in a good god is any more reasonable than downright unreasonable!

PROF. CRAIG ARGUES THAT EVIL PROVES THE EXISTENCE OF GOD. SO MY ARGUMENT, BASED ON THE ASSUMPTION THAT EVIL EXISTS, IS SELF-DEFEATING.

This is just to overlook the fact that problem of evil can be set up without buying into the concept of evil at all. As an atheist, I don’t require the existence of evil to run the argument. Indeed, I can be a moral nihilist and deny the existence of both moral good and evil. All I require is the existence of, say, hundreds of thousands of years of extraordinary, untold gratuitous suffering. Craig’s God won’t unleash gratuitous suffering, whether we choose to call it evil or not.

AFTER LIFE.

Prof Craig suggests that the evils we experience in this world become easier to understand for a theist once we remember that we can each look forward to an eternity of bliss in heaven. That will more than compensate a young child for her rape and murder.

Well, as I already pointed out in my opening speech, such an afterlife explanation can also be run by someone who believes in an evil god. They can insist that goods we experience in this life will be more than adequately outweighed by the horrors of spending eternity in the company of the supremely malignant deity. As the same explanation can be run in defence of each god hypothesis, it fails to make belief in a good god more reasonable than belief in an evil god.

WE SHOULD REMEMBER THAT EARTHLY HAPPINESS IS NOT GOD’S ULTIMATE AIM. HIS AIM IS FOR US TO ENTER FREELY INTO A LOVING RELATIONSHIP WITH HIM. IT MAY TAKE CONSIDERABLE PAIN FOR THAT TO BE ACHIEVED.

Well, I haven’t assumed that earthly happiness must be God’s ultimate aim. But earthly pain and misery will surely be of some importance to Craig’s God. Craig’s God, is after all, good. He’s compassionate. He’s supposed to care about suffering. So he’s not going to unleash untold horror over hundreds of thousands of years for no particularly good reason. He must have a good reason. And how plausible is it that there is such a reason?

WE ARE NOT IN A POSITION TO JUDGE WITH ANY CONFIDENCE THAT IT’S IMPROBABLE THAT GOD LACKS MORALLY GOOD REASONS FOR CREATING OR ALLOWING ALL THIS SUFFERING

Prof. Craig argues our failure to discern god’s reasons is not a good reason to suppose he does not have them. Perhaps, in some way we cannot fathom, they contribute to our eternal salvation.

Well, as I pointed out in my opening speech, much the same reply can be made by someone who believes in an evil god. Evil god is also omnipotent and omniscient, so of course his reasons are also likely largely to be beyond our ken. Those goods that seem gratuitous with regard to the aims of an evil god may not be gratuitous at all. Show a little humility. Don’t presume to know the mind of evil God.

If this sort of sceptical smokescreen doesn’t succeed in salvaging belief in an evil god, then I fail to see why it salvages belief in Craig’s good god either.


PROF CRAIG POINTS OUT THAT IT CAN BE DIFFICULT TO PREDICT THE LONG TERM CONSEQUENCES OF EVENTS. A BUTTERFLY FLAPPING ITS WING CAN CAUSE A HURRICANCE.

But of course, despite the truth of chaos theory, we can still predict the weather pretty accurately. While a butterfly wing can cause a hurricane – that doesn’t stop us successfully predicting long-term general weather patterns. We know it’s likely to get hotter over coming decades for example. So, ironically, the butterfly wing example if anything confirms the extent to which we can still predict long term general outcomes, despite the fact that small events can have big consequences.

Let’s also remember that even if such unpredictability did entail that we can’t reasonably rule out the existence of Craig’s god on the basis of the evil we observe, then it would also entail that we cannot reasonably rule out the existence of an evil god on the basis of the good we observe. So Craig would still not have succeeded in showing that belief in his good god is any more reasonable than belief in an evil god.

ALSTON’S ARGUMENT

Prof. Craig mentioned Alston’s six “cognitive limitations” which are supposed to show we can’t know God doesn’t have sufficient reasons for unleashing hundreds of thousands of years of horror. The problem with Alston’s argument is it would succeed in showing that we can’t know an evil god doesn’t have sufficient reasons for unleashing a very great deal of good. So it’s quite useless in establishing that belief in a good god is more reasonable than belief in an evil god.

PUNCHLINE

So, Professor Craig has produced a range of moves designed to neutralize what appears to be overwhelming empirical evidence against his God.

The key point to notice is this: [most/all] of these moves work just as well to neutralize the overwhelming empirical evidence that exists against an evil god. So they do nothing show why belief in his god is any better supported by the evidence and arguments than belief in an evil god.

In short, Professor Craig’s responses to the problem of evil entirely fail to meet the challenge I’ve set him.


EXTRAS:

YOU CANNOT WEIGH UP GOOD/EVIL SO THERE MIGHT BE MUCH MORE GOOD THAN EVIL, MAKING GOOD GOD MUCH MORE LIKELY.

If it’s true that we can’t weigh up good and evil effectively, then it might be true there’s far more good than evil, making a good god much more likely.

On the other hand, if we can’t weigh up good and evil effectively, it also might be true there far more evil than good, making an evil god much more likely.

So even if it were true that we can’t weigh up good and an evil effectively, that fact would fail to lend any more support to belief in a good god than it would an evil god.


CRAIG SUGGESTS THE GOOD GOD HYPOTHESIS IS SIMPLER, AND SO MORE REASONABLE THAN THE EVIL GOD HYPOTHESIS.

Well, even if it was true that the good god hypothesis was significantly simpler, that would have little effect on it’s reasonableness relative to the evil god hypothesis. If two hypotheses have little supporting argument, and both face powerful disconfirmatory evidence, pointing out one is simpler than the other hardly raises it’s credibility by very much. So Craig’s appeal to simplicity, even if correct, fails to show the good god hypothesis is significantly more reasonable than the evil god hypothesis.

CLEARLY THERE’S MUCH MORE GOOD THAN EVIL IN THE WORLD. SO A GOOD GOD IS MUCH MORE LIKELY.

This objection misunderstands my argument. It doesn’t require there be more evil than good, or even at least as much. There could be less evil than good but still sufficiently vast quantities of both that there’s more than enough to justify both the conclusion that there’s no good god and the conclusion there’s no evil god.

48 comments:

Diego said...

It seems to me that the notion of "omniscient, omnipotent God" contains the power (among all others) to define what good and bad are in themselves. Good would thus be what said God defines as good, and bad, what said God defines as bad. The consequence would be that the notion of "good God" would be a tautology and the notion of "evil God" an absurdity. Not, I must stress, in the benefit of the former: after all, if "God defines" that a race or a gender dominating the other "is good", then it would have to be good for the whole universe, even if the only people to think so were the followers of said God. What kind of religion would think that way?

Oh, wait...

Bogdan said...

Thank you for sharing all this. Once the debate will be available online could you please provide the link to it?

ajollynerd said...

This comment is further from our twitter exchange (I am @ajollynerd)

I see where you were going with the "evil god" hypothesis, and I understand that it is a valid refutation of the "good god" hypothesis. There are, however, two weaknesses that I can detect.

1. To many, this will not sound like a refutation of a theist position, because you are still postulating a god.

2. WLC does not, necessarily, espouse the "good god" position. He is one of those who claim that god has justification for the bad things that happen and that we, as limited beings, cannot comprehend those reasons.

I know you probably hear a lot of "I would have…" comments, but one thing I would have done was stayed away from the words "evil" and "good" in favour of words like "suffering" and "compassion". They are less morally charged, so there is less basis for your opponent to use an "objective moral truths" argument.

Otherwise, well done!

Stephen Law said...

Thanks. Sure he espouses a good god position, though. he just says his good reasons are beyond out ken.

I did toy with idea of running the problem without good and evil terminology. but then i was rather looking forward to publicly mincing his "evil proves god" reply, which I knew he'd run.

Anonymous said...

I really like this argument. Though I think one of the more succesful objections to it is the last one you mention:

CLEARLY THERE’S MUCH MORE GOOD THAN EVIL IN THE WORLD. SO A GOOD GOD IS MUCH MORE LIKELY.

Your counter-objection is good, but it seems like it would be really hard to nail down precisely what "sufficiently vast amounts of both" means. I would agree that there are sufficiently vast amounts of both good and evil in the world, but that's just because it seems intuitive to me. I imagine it's probably not so intuitive to others.

There are probably a lot of happy-go-lucky people out there who truly believe the total amount of good in the world completely dwarfs the the amount of evil. And it seems that once you hit a certain ratio of good to evil, you can reasonably start claiming that there is more evidence for "good god" than "evil god." A ratio of 2:1 probably wouldn't do it, as I would still consider that "sufficiently vast amounts of both," but what about a ratio of 100:1? If someone truly believed there was that much more good than evil in the world, I think they'd have good reason to favor "good god" over "evil god."

It would be helpful if there actually were some way to estimate the relative amount of good and evil in the world.

PaulJ said...

Direct link to audio:
http://media.premier.org.uk/unbelievable/93da35ae-45a7-45fb-808c-dd7bde66dba7.mp3

PaulJ said...

Just curious — unless I missed it, the title of your latest book wasn't spoken out loud. Was that because the title is considered "profane"?

Anonymous said...

looking forward to publicly mincing his "evil proves god" reply, which I knew he'd run.

...and yet you didn't.

Moridin Damodred Al'Thor said...

Bogdan, I found audio here:


http://j.mp/pMKFKw

credit: http://winteryknight.wordpress.com/2011/10/18/audio-from-william-lane-craigs-debate-with-stephen-law/

----
Stephen, from the comments given by the Christian listeners it sounded like you were spanked.

I was surprised that he fumbled your arguments. I don't think he understands the implications of your arguments nor do I think he understands your arguments.

I think you did well. I am listening to your final rebuttal atm. I can't wait to hear the discussion period.

John said...

Stephen, with all due respect, I didn't see you "demolish" Craig's arguments at all.

Martin said...

Thanks for posting this (added to my bookmarks). I appreciate the strength of your argument even more having read those notes as I had missed that even if a theist says he can't dismiss a bad god because of good in the world either (as WLC must to be consistent), he's still left with no grounds for claiming good god exists when bad god is just as (un)likely.

I like'd how you said in the Q&A that we don't know for certain that there aren't other explanations for the appearance of objective moral values and the origin of the universe issues. WLC seemed pretty stuck faced with that. He seemed to try to claim that Atheism was a single position on the question of the origin of moral values so he could dismiss all non-theist explanations at once. Christians often seem very uncomfortable when non believers take agnostic positions on things.

piprod01 said...

Craig's definitions:
Theism: Belief in a god(s).
Atheism: Belief that god does not exist.

Craig: Goodness is an essential property of god. And so an evil god is a contradiction in terms.

Craig: Belief in an evil god is not worthy of the umbrella of Atheism.

Anonymous said...

Are you an atheist who asserts "God does not exist" or an agnostic who asserts "I see no reason to believe in God"

AIGBusted said...

Were you inspired to make your evil God challenge from reading David Hume? After all, Hume says in Diaolgues Concerning Natural Religion that we cannot infer the unmixed postulates (a completely good first cause or a completely evil first cause) from mixed phenomena (a world with both good and evil).

Michael Young said...

Diego,

"The consequence would be that the notion of "good God" would be a tautology and the notion of "evil God" an absurdity."

But yet we can make some sensible distinction between these two ideas. I think this suggests (strongly) that you ought to reject the idea that the notion of OO God already involves the notion of morality-defining-ness, since it does have such an implausible implication.

Mike Gage said...

Diego,

That doesn't seem to matter. Stephen's evil god takes up the position based on what we view as evil and based on what position would oppose the good god. If things were set up differently, then it's just a matter of switching the words around - it won't change the referent.

Also, I'm assuming evil god will also contain those omni-properties.


Stephen,

One of the other popular responses I've heard, but didn't notice if it was addressed, is that you can't have evil without good, as in dark/light.

Steven Carr said...

Craig can't really refute the 'evil god' argument, as Christians believe an evil god exists , called Satan.

Of course, theological correctness means they can't use the g-word when describing Satan, but their Satan remains a de facto god.

Steven Carr said...

Is Craig's position that his god spends a lot of his time issuing decrees to people not to cause evil in the world and that this evil eventually leads to a greater good?

Why then does Craig's imaginary god allegedly spend so much effort issuing commands to people to desist from causing pointless harm, when the pointless harm people cause often leads to a greater good (at least in Craig's world where 6 million Jews died so Israel could be reformed)?

Steven Carr said...

The Holocaust's Silver Lining has a reference to Craig claiming the Holocaust was allowed by his god because it produced a good thing.

Craig claimed his god had a morally good reason to allow 6 million Jews to die.

So who were we to try to prevent what Craig's god allows?

Paul McC said...

It's a bit sad to read this bluster about you demolishing his arguments. I would describe it more like a girly slap at his arguments: KCA - you ignored; moral argument - you said we don't *know* objective morals exist apart from God or exist at all (missing the point that a good argument just needs the points to be more plausible than their negations, not absolutely certain); resurrection - you're "argument" seemed to be weird stuff happens That we can't explain - hardly a demolition job.

Bogdan said...

Thank you Moridin Damodred Al'Thor

Mark CE said...

Er how about putting up the full text of Craig's contributions so that we can compare?

Peter said...

Hey Stephen,

Just wanted to let you know a number of theists (such as yours truely) really enjoyed your debate with Craig. Your evil-god challenge is probably the most interesting and thought provoking argument I have come across since William Rowe's 'The Problem of Evil and Some Varities of Atheism.' Whist I don't think it is the kind of argument that would cause me to change my mind on my own position, I do find it really thought provoking for the number of possible tangets and issues it throws up for the theist.

You had a number of good points to make to Craig, and not all of them were missed by everyone. In fact, I found your encounter with Craig the most interesting I have listened to so far. You have a partial new fan in me.

Peace

Peter

Anonymous said...

I find your use of the word "run" as in "to run an argument" dissmisive of philosophy and more liek political language to just try and "beat" someone by using whatever you can instead of trying to work out the truth.

Also the use of the words "ken" and "gerrymandering" although I understood them I am sure could be exchanged in a formal debate especially when the latter is too out of context to make proper sense.

Anonymous said...

It's a bit sad to read this bluster about you demolishing his arguments. I would describe it more like a girly slap at his arguments:

I could say the same thing about all the WLC fanboys. I may be a little biased, but it seems to me your side does even more sneering and posturing than the atheists. Of course, since none of the posturing advances the conversation at all one wonders if you might just be trolling?

KCA - you ignored; moral argument - you said we don't *know* objective morals exist apart from God or exist at all (missing the point that a good argument just needs the points to be more plausible than their negations, not absolutely certain);

WLC likes to say that but it's not necessarily true. The ancient Greek skeptics famously had a slogan roughly translated as: "Neither one," which was shorthand for the style of debate in which they would argue that their opponent's claims must not be true...and then do a 180 degree turn and argue that the negation of their opponent's claims cannot be true. There are many propositions for which neither the positive nor negative case are true. For example, "This object is the color pink." Color blind folks might describe the object as "orange." In reality, color terms are matched to observed wavelengths of light in a decidedly arbitrary way (this is proven by studies done with non-industrial cultures in which people have very different color discrimination abilities than westerners).

More subtly, I can say "this action is good," but it doesn't necessarily follow that either the statement or the negation is false. If "good" is a subjective value rather than a metaphysical absolute then good for the goose doesn't have to be good for the gander. This even applies in science: "Phlogiston exists." Phlogiston doesn't really exist in terms of being its own ontological entity, but one can model phlogiston as a lack of oxygen and under that model phlogiston does, indeed, exist. This is similar to the trick in solid state physics in which you can call a lack of an electron a positive charge even though it really isn't anything at all.

resurrection - you're "argument" seemed to be weird stuff happens That we can't explain - hardly a demolition job.

It's a fairly subtle argument, actually, and not widely enough appreciated. We have six billion people on earth right now. Say each has an "experience" every three seconds. Then every minute there are 120 billion human experiences. That means we can expect to see an event with probability of about 1 over 100 billion every few minutes. It's not weird that weird things happen, it would be weird if weird things didn't happen.

So given that weird, unexplainable things happen all the time and furthermore that we expect this to be true, the simplest explanation for a weird, unexplainable one-off unrepeatable event is that it is due to paredoilia, an invented memory (a surprisingly and disturbingly common phenomenon), or some other variety of self delusion.

-Dan L.

Paul McC said...

Hi Dan L

A couple of quick things: of course there's bluster on both sides, but my remark was addressed to Dr Law saying he demolished the arguments. WLC doesn't engage in that kind of macho talk. But my point wasn't even that bluster is wrong, I'm saying it's wrong here, because just saying "it ain't necessarily so" isn't a good reason for believing it's not so, and just waving your hand and saying weird things happen doesn't seem to be an adequate response to the evidence of an empty tomb, transformed disciples embracing a non-Jewish belief and abandoning the Jewish rituals.

I'll not get into your argument about the Greeks, colours and physics, because unless you can prove what you say is absolutely and necessarily true, then, according to your reasoning, I shouldn't believe it!!

Anonymous said...

But my point wasn't even that bluster is wrong, I'm saying it's wrong here, because just saying "it ain't necessarily so" isn't a good reason for believing it's not so, and just waving your hand and saying weird things happen doesn't seem to be an adequate response to the evidence of an empty tomb, transformed disciples embracing a non-Jewish belief and abandoning the Jewish rituals.

None of that even remotely qualifies as "evidence" under any reasonable definition. You have no eye-witness accounts of an empty tomb (even if you did, grave robbing, especially of celebrities, was quite common in the Mediterranean at the time). You have a single, dubious source (yes, the Bible is ONE source) that doesn't even seem to be intended as historical attesting to the empty tomb.

If even one historian contemporary to the events of the gospels corroborated in any way the gospel accounts you'd have evidence, but none of them so much as mentioned Jesus of Nazareth -- even the historians making long lists of apocalyptic semitic prophets. But there is no such historical evidence.

I'll not get into your argument about the Greeks, colours and physics, because unless you can prove what you say is absolutely and necessarily true, then, according to your reasoning, I shouldn't believe it!!

If you think that then you have misunderstood my arguments -- in fact, I would argue that nothing can ever be proven absolutely and necessarily true (I honestly don't see how you got what you did from what I wrote). It is possible for a proposition and its negation to both be false, or more likely, it is possible for neither to mean anything at all. More answers are wrong than right, but even more answers are "not even wrong." Thus, skepticism of purely philosophical arguments is always warranted.

-Dan L.

Classicist said...

Paul McC:

It's not proven that Jesus's original disciples abandoned Jewish custom in any way, shape, or form.

Paul McC said...

Hello again Dan L

When I said a good argument doesn't have to be absolutely certain, but just have premises more plausible than their negations, you said WLC likes to say this but it's not necessarily true. That's where I got it.

Eye witness testimony to an empty tomb - John 20. The Bible is only one source since the 4th century - it's a collection of documents, I know you know that, so I'm wondering what you were getting at. The disciples wouldn't have concluded a resurrection merely from an empty tomb, but they certainly wouldn't have concluded it without it. The fact that monotheistic Jews would worship a man who had been crucified and continue to believe in Him as Messiah risen from the dead takes some explaining. My point was, whatever Dr Law did on Monday, he didn't do that.

Hello Classicist - Peter's vision in Acts 11 leading to the abandonment of dietary laws is one example. Paul's refusal to have Titus circumcised was endorsed by Peter, John and James, according to Galatians 2.

Good night

Paul

Classicist said...

Paul McC:

Those are from the texts that we have now. They are not necessarily the original forms and cannot simply be taken as what Jesus's original disciples actually did. This is basic.

The texts we have are from the winning faction - not surprisingly that faction wanted to relax Jewish law to appeal to Gentiles. (and yes there was by this point a tradition of "Hellenistic" Judaism which complicates the question of what the tradition really was for any given group.)

Paul McC said...

Hi Classicist

But the Jews wouldn't just relax what they believed were God-given laws for the sake of Gentiles without believing they had divine authority to do it. It seems to me if they didn't believe Jesus was living they mustn't have believed God was living either!

What is basic is that all the evidence we have shows that the New Testament is substantially the same as what was written, and nothing of any import is in doubt. These texts show a real shift in the thinking of these first century Jews. You have Paul's writings in Colossians in which he says days and feasts etc. are the shadows that find their fulfilment in Christ, and his letter to the Philippians in which he says circumcision is now mere mutilation, and the letter to the Hebrews written before the destruction of the temple in which all Christians are viewed as priests, entering within the veil, and Christ's sacrifice has brought an end to all sacrifices. I hardly think the first century church could be described as winners, and so feel your scepticism is not justified, especially given the fact that I feel their claims and their Lord can be put to the test experientially!

I've never commented so much on a blog before, and may bow out now (it's possibly only you and me reading these comments now anyway!), so I'll give you the last word. Nice corresponding with you.

All the best

Paul

Steve Frenchman said...

I was thinking about your Evil God yesterday and I think I came up with an argument for why an Anti-God (I prefer that title given the derivation of the word 'God') is self defeating. An incompetent God who mollycoddled all his humans before sending them to Heaven would still broadly function as a concept, but an incompetent Anti-God?He would torment his victims too much removing all trace of light, but then why would humans not kill themselves? If all that follows after death is more suffering then Hell ceases to have any meaning unless it is the opposite, eternal pleasure. If by contrast Anti-God retained Heaven after death as a reward for unlimited cruelty practiced on earth then not only would he barely count as "Anti-God" but more to the point, human lives would be very brief - kill as many people as you can to get your Heavenly reward. A get out could be that humans are rewarded for torturing people but punished for killing them, but this would count as a fudge and lives would still in all probably be cut very short.

Now let's turn to the real God whose existence we are debating and who has created a world of both good and evil. According to a Christian and Islamic theology, if you behave well towards others, you will be rewarded with Heaven and Christianity adds that you have to recognize that you are a fallible human being. Anti-God reverses this, rewarding cruelty with Heaven, which is even more unremitting torment. But what about Hell? What about people who display unremitting kindness towards others? They are rewarded with a Hell of… even more unremitting torment! Alternatively Anti-God could dispense with an afterlife altogether, but given that free will is a concept largely disputed by biologists and scientists, and that tsunamis and the like can also be explained scientifically, God at this point becomes almost irrelevant - a deist world rather than one presided over by an interventionist deity. Alternatively Hell could be eternal bliss but that makes an absurdity to the idea of Anti-God being evil, and limits Anti-God's freedom to create suffering on earth, lest men commit suicide and go to a Hell of eternal bliss. Alternatively Anti-God could lie. In fact, if God is evil then that is precisely what he has done through books like the Bible, Qu'ran, Bhagavad Gita, etc.
. So man behaves himself expecting bliss in the next world only to find endless torment. However here is the problem? God can only do this by lying to man. If men knew the truth they would be tempted to kill themselves there and then. Yet anyone who has read the Marquis de Sade knows that the pleasure of watching someone finding that they have been duped is nothing to the cruel pleasure of watching children quake in fear. So again, Anti-God has less autonomy than Good God who is able to tell the truth to his children. This matters as the definition of a God is both omniscience and omnipotent. From this I infer that a good God is far more likely than an evil God and the heart of your objections to William Lane Craig collapse.

I have not incidentally emailed these comments to Bill Craig, sending them to you first off. I have not studied philosophy so approach this with appropriate trepidation. If you and other bloggers are truth seekers, however, you will consider them and respond to them. If you do not, then I will assume you support atheism in the unquestioning way that someone supports Aston Villa, and I will feel justified in sending them to Bill Craig.

teetee said...

@Paul McC, "WLC doesn't engage in that kind of macho talk."

Whoa! You haven't paid a lot of attention to him, now have you?

WLC is notoriously dishonest, and actively misrepresents the other side's arguments, then thumps his chest and declares victory after trying to ridicule the opponent rather than addressing their points.

Anonymous said...

Hi Dr. Law,
If you get rid of the concept of evil and replace it with suffering, does that mean that suffering is not evil and is completely stripped of any moral property?
If that is the case, then why would the presence of something that is not recognized as either good or evil (i.e. completely without moral property) be evidence against God?

L2Philosophy said...

I'm going basically to call you out on your bluff

Stephen your challenge is already in question once someone uses “The problem of Good” on this Evil God of yours.

I’m shocked that a top philosopher can’t see that all one has to do to put your Evil God objection into question is call your bluff, and ask why this Evil God is so pathetic at his doing job?

The Logical problem of Evil (Alvin Plantinga) answers the logical question on why does a good God allow Evil, but when we flip the scenario around to assert an Evil God I don’t see any reasonable answers on why this Evil God of yours allows Good in the world?

Your Evil God doesn’t appear to be a God that is practicing his maximally Evil attributes efficiently.

You mention an afterlife which doesn’t make any sense at all, here’s why:

Why would an Evil God have an afterlife in the form of a heaven and a Hell to begin with? What is the purpose when one would think we would all experience a place like Hell right off the bat?

So in regards to your Evil God, are we looking at a scenario in which a World that Evil reigns supreme by humans who serve this God, and those Evil human-beings get rewarded for their tasks or is it a world where everyone get screwed in the end, because their are no laws to follow?

Even if this God did lay down the rules, why one trust this God if rewards were presented?

So I’d like to hear your reply on this, because right now I’m just calling your bluff head on, While Looking around and wondering why there are so may happy people that I know off-hand? Meanwhile understanding why people suffer in this world, but I don't see how if the tables were turned why there would be a shred a good allowed in the world from an Evil God.

The only answer I could come up with is building a person goodness and then God breaking them down, but wouldn't we see a totally different world than what we live in today?

PaulJ said...

It seems to me that L2Philosophy is making Dr. Law's points for him...

L2Philosophy said...

How so?

I'm implying that Evil is a privation of Good, and not the other way around, because it can't work the other way around.

You can't use an inverse version of Plantinga's Free-Will Defense on Dr. Law's Evil God efficiently

Dr. Law should also read this objection from Professor Feser as it seems to hit home.

http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2010/10/laws-evil-god-challenge.html

Perhaps you are missing something PaulJ

L2Philosophy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
L2Philosophy said...

(Sorry I don't mean to come off as one who is clogging the comment section)


Actually it looks as though Steve Frenchmen beat me to the punch

Anyways I find this to be the best objection to Dr. Law's Evil God.

I commend Dr. Law on opening or at least bringing awareness to a new topic however, and I believe this isn't "fully" over yet.

Peter Millicin and Stephen Law are skeptics I can respect, I can't say the same for a few others, however every group has their bad apples.

Dr. Law is still one of the Top Philosophers in the world, though I disagree with his atheistic supernaturalism, agnosticism, pan-deism...whatever view he holds.

http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2010/10/laws-evil-god-challenge.html

Maryann Spikes said...

A falling short (sin), or privation (evil) [sin=evil], of the way things are supposed to be (the good), cannot exist unless there really is a way things are supposed to be. So--first exists the way things are supposed to be, without which a falling short (sin), or privation (evil), is impossible (again, sin=evil). That good--that 'way'--is God. God, because he is omnipotent, cannot fall short of himself, cannot be a privation of himself, cannot depart from the way things are supposed to be (himself). Such falling short, privation, departing--all of those things are weakness.

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neopolitan said...

Hi Stephen,

I am in the process of systematically identifying the errors in William Lane Craig's arguments (neophilosophical).

With respect to his Argument from Morality, there is an attempt to confuse and distract, with the double use of "not". His argument, in logical form, is:

Premise - If not A, then not B.
Assertion - B.
Conclusion - Therefore A.

These forms of argument is usually used with a general, proven statement in the Premise, then making a specific statement in the Assertion to make a specific Conclusion. For example:

Premise - If there is not (at least) a single cloud in the sky, then it is not raining.
Assertion - It is raining right now.
Conclusion - Therefore, there is (at least) a single cloud in the sky right now.

Craig doesn't do this with his pseudo-logic. His argument is functionally equivalent to:

Premise - If not squarks, then not doosits.
Assertion - Doosits.
Conclusion - Therefore, squarks.

or, alternatively, without the use of "not":

Premise - If doosits, then squarks.
Assertion - Doosits.
Conclusion - Therefore, squarks.

So long as you have not supported your Premise, adequately, this not functionally different to arguing:

Squarks.
Therefore, squarks.

Or in theist terms:

God exists.
Therefore, God exists.

Not a particularly satisfying argument, right?

Constructive criticism of my efforts to address all of his "logic" would be much appreciated.

I also extend the offer to comment to your readers.

/neopolitan
neophilosophical.blogspot.com

Michael Young said...

Neopolitan, I wonder if your criticism here doesn't actually boil down to saying that Craig needs to provide independent support for some claim like 'unless God, no morality'-- needs to, that is, if he means to convince anyone to whom this claim's truth is hardly obvious. That is probably something worth saying, but it seems to me that it can be said more simply and with less potential for confusion than by your criticism of Craig for being, supposedly, "pseudo-logical." I don't think the real point (for you, generally) is about logical form in Craig.

Charles Bailey said...

I was delighted to learn of Dr. Law's Evil God challenge in October of 2011 when he debated the preeminent 'used-god salesman' William Lane Craig. The reason is that, though I was previously unfamiliar with the Evil God challenge prior to the debate, I had come to think of a very similar response to Craig's moral argument quite independently as far as I'm aware (one never knows where one might have inadvertently drawn some inspiration).

The response came to me when I trained my attention on just how inconsistent Craig's apologetic against the problem of evil is with his argument that objective moral values--if they do, in fact, exist--would somehow prove that the God of the Christians exists. The bottom line of Craig's moral argument is simple: if objective 'good' actually exists, then a good God necessarily exists.

It seems to me that it follows from the logic of Craig's reasoning on this that if the existence of 'good' proves that a good God exists, that the existence of evil would prove that an evil God exists (the point, here, isn't to suggest that either of these 'arguments' provide any valid basis for believing that a God of any type exists, the point is that the logic of Craig's argument for the existence of God based on the existence of objective 'good' is a non sequitur since the same logic proves the existence of an evil God based on the existence of objective 'evil'.

Of course, Craig wants to assert that the existence of evil also proves that a good God exists since we couldn't have anything like objective evil unless we first had something that is objectively good. Unfortunately for Craig admirers, this is just flagrant special pleading since it is just as valid to say that the existence of good actually proves that an evil God exists since there could be no 'good' unless there first existed a 'necessarily evil' being to ontologically ground evil.

I think what Stephen's very well thought-out Evil God Challenge shows is that Craig's moral argument gets us nowhere. Objective moral values, if they exist in any sense at all, have no bearing on the question of whether or not there exists a deity or supernatural entity of any kind. Good is still good, and evil is still evil whether or not God actually exists.

neopolitan said...

Late reply!

Craig claims it as logic (or at least reason). Even if we accepted his premises, provisionally, we still find that the supposed logic (or reason) fails to bring us to his conclusions. So yes, his premises are unsupported, but his logic is also bad.

Anonymous said...

Seems to me Laws argument relies on assuming that good and evil are just kind of equal, 2 sides of the same coin. So what you can say of one you can say equally of the other. I'm not sure this is right? Isn't it live saying truth and lies are 2 sides of the same coin. So if "there is no truth" is self refuting then "there are no lies" is also self refuting - which it is not. Doesn't seem to follow that you can automatically treat opposites in the same way. So if God by definition is the explanatory stopping point it would seem that we need to appeal to no higher authority yo explain a good God but we would in order to explain an evil God.

Anonymous said...

Also if Craig says you cannot deduce a good God from observation then what does he do with this?Romans 1:19-20 NIV

since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

Anonymous said...

Also the Bible says reason is not the way to see if God exists. Says has made foolish our reason. 1 Corinthians 1:18-21, 23-25 NIV

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.” Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.

So Bible says of you want to know if God exists don't use reductive arguments (that is Greek thinking). Instead look at the cross of Jesus and the proof for God lies in the combination of perfect justice and love at the crucifixion of Jesus.