Saturday, March 10, 2012

The Evil God challenge cartoon

Someone has taken the time to do a very nice animation based round my Evil God Challenge paper, and even added some good points of their own....

131 comments:

BenYachov said...

My Analysis.

So now you admit classical arguments tell us nothing about God's moral nature?

(That's going to kill djindra! Since he is no doubt as we speak writting a feverish rant about how all arguments for God's existence are empirical. Sad really.)

Anyway the classic Theist agrees with this in spite of the fact God is not a moral agent in the first place and can't coherently be conceived as such in the second. He doesn't have a moral nature. He is ontologically good. As pointed out & argued by Aquinas, Davies, McCabe, Trakakis, Kenny etc.

So the argument is in fact about a God who is either morally good or morally evil i.e a moral agent.

The "standard conception/3 O God" is ambigious. Since both th Theistic Personalist view of God and the Classic view can pocess the 3 O'. Even the Pantheistic God can have the 3 O's if we believe the Universe is ulitmatly infinite.

So you can eqiovocate with incompatible god concepts at will.

OTOH Omni-benevolent is problematic since do we mean by that term untimately ontologically good or morally perfect? They are not the same.

The rest of the argument deals with the effectiveness of theodicies(i.e. the modern meaning of this term of morally justifying God's actions) which is uninteresting since I already reject theodicies based on the arguments of Davies, Trakakis and I did glance at Z. Philips. An ontologically good God who is not a moral agent need a theodicu like a fish needs a skateboard.

Additonal observations and challenges.

If I step outside of the Christian Theological framework or classic metaphysics then how is the challenge meaningful or credible?

It's like challenging the scientific validity of Evolution in biological science and having the critic of evolution tell you to step outside biological science and the scientific method to look at the scientific validity of evolution.

That makes no sense. That is base sophistry.

"The Evil God creates in order to inflict suffering".

Suffering is ambigious here. A merely ontologically good Good God who creates a material realm formally creates suffering(like a baker "creates" a donut hole when he makes a donut) but not directly. Since material things compete with other material things for their perfection and at the expense of other material things.

So I still don't get it.

Marterial suffering isn't evil in the moral sense.

At the drop of a hat you equivocate between moral vs material evil.

Finally you end with what Dennett calls a "deepity".(google it).

Evil is too complex to be narrowly defined as privation etc... Which obsolves you from the logical incoherence of this argument.

Dr. Law simply admit it only applies to a specific set of God concepts and us it as a stick to beat the adherents of those concept to death.

Stop trying to make 2+2=5 in order to get rid of God. Even if God doesn't exist it is in fact a falure.

The Atheist Missionary said...

I like it. However, you have a way to go before you can beat out SpongeBob Squarepants with the 6-11 set around here.

Anonymous said...

I'm a fan of the evil god challenge, but someone just posted this critique on a facebook page I frequent. I'm at a loss for how to respond.

"Evil is not a great making property. It admits no intrinsic maximum, and is fundamentally incompatible with other great making properties. It's also impossible to fulfill alone, unlike goodness, and so cannot be possessed by God prior to creation. Before creation God's love was directed internally. If God were "perfectly" evil, he would be forced to hate himself, willing for his own degradation and suffering. This would compromise his other properties, as he would be at war with himself. Whereas a being who is perfectly good would will his own flourishing."

Stephen Law said...

Hi anonymous - that's an impossibility argument, which I deal with in the paper. The critics suggests there's some logical contradiction involved in the idea of an all- or maximally-evil God. But would the critic reject the evil god anyway, on the basis of empirical evidence, even if it turned out this contradiction was only merely apparent? If the answer is yes, then the challenge remains. They'd rule out an evil god on the basis of such empirical evidence, so why don't they rule out the good god on the basis of the same kind of evidence?

(In nay case the notion of a good god may also involves logical contradictions, in which case the symmetry remains)

Stephen Law said...

In nay case notice how opaque and/or dubious everyone single one of those quoted statements is. But like I say, it matters not if the notion of an evil God involves some logical or conceptual incoherence.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much posting!

What kind of empirical evidence are we looking for? I'd like to be able to point it out to them.

I do like your second point though. If might be incoherent, but that's okay because good god is incoherent!

BenYachov said...

@ Prof Law
>But would the critic reject the evil god anyway, on the basis of empirical evidence, even if it turned out this contradiction was only merely apparent?

But what if I believe what I call God cannot be proven or disproven by empirical means? That any powerful meta-being I come up with wither "good" or "evil" cannot be coherently be called "God" regardless of it's good or bad morals?

I can't prove or disprove the existence of a Galaxy with a microscope. But that brute fact cannot be changed by merely renaming a teloscope a microscope.

I can step outside my religion and imagine, like one of the fab four said "There is no Heaven" and it is easy if I try. I can imagine there is no God but the logic of the challenge still fails me and it seems to be based on deepity and massive argument by equivocation.

It is still a non-starter for a Classic Theistic view and it seems to only apply to a Theistic Personalist view or any view that concieves of God as a moral agent, a being alongside other beings who can be known empirically and not a posteriori which treats evil and good as metaphysically equal.


Sorry Prof. I didn't fail the challenge because you have been trying to challenge me & my fellow Thomists to a football match while I only play baseball.

Your EGC is to the Classic God like me telling Beckum he is a lousy footballer because his batting average sucks.

That's life.

BenYachov said...

>They'd rule out an evil god on the basis of such empirical evidence, so why don't they rule out the good god on the basis of the same kind of evidence?

What if we rule out the idea empiricism is involved at all to know anything about God?

Gotcha!

BenYachov said...

>"Evil is not a great making property. It admits no intrinsic maximum, and is fundamentally incompatible with other great making properties. It's also impossible to fulfill alone, unlike goodness, and so cannot be possessed by God prior to creation. Before creation God's love was directed internally. If God were "perfectly" evil, he would be forced to hate himself, willing for his own degradation and suffering. This would compromise his other properties, as he would be at war with himself. Whereas a being who is perfectly good would will his own flourishing."

I reply: The Theistic Personalist "god" strikes back! Of course I am a strong Atheist in regards to the possible existence of any Theistic Personalist God. Only the Classic Theistic God exists.

A "perfectly" evil god would lack existence so it's alleged perfect "self-hate" is about as ontologically meaningful as the fictional Anakin Skywalker's imperfect self hate.

But the above statement might make me rethink the effectiveness of the EGC against a Theistic Personalist God which I previously held.

Interesting!

BenYachov said...

@Aon I hate to burst your bubble.

>I do like your second point though. If might be incoherent, but that's okay because good god is incoherent!

A morally good God is incoherent based on the empirical evidence of evil in the world.

But if God is only ontologically good & cannot by nature be described as morally good or morally evil or any type of moral agent. Then it's still a non-starter.

Anonymous said...

What is the difference between a theistic personalist god and the classic theistic god?

AIGBusted said...

I think if there were any all-knowing being who also had desires, he would automatically be good, as I believe that moral truths logically follow from desires (See "Good and Real" by Gary Drescher). On the other hand, any being who had desires would also not be all-powerful or completely great, as having desires suggests an defiency within oneself. In that case, both the good god and the evil god are logically impossible. Which I happen to suspect is true for other reasons as well:
http://freethoughtblogs.com/carrier/archives/510

Paul P. Mealing said...

Just watched the video - I thought it was very good - a good exposition and cleverly executed. She (the character) hit the nail on the head when she references the Buddhist 4 noble truths, because suffering is the starting point of Buddhist philosophy as a fact of life.

Also her opening definition of 'God' includes the so-called 'classical' God (ontological arguments) that 'tells us nothing about the moral nature of God' and that 'you can't tell... if God is good or evil.' So the morality of God is added on by the Abrahamic monotheistic religions.

So God can be good or evil or amoral, but as the character points out: if God is good, why does evil exist and if God is evil, why does good exist? The logical answer is that God (the so-called classical God) is amoral.

Regards, Paul.

BenYachov said...

@Anon

>What is the difference between a theistic personalist god and the classic theistic god?

Start here.
http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2010/09/classical-theism.html

You can then go here if you are interested.

http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2010/10/god-man-and-classical-theism.html

How this applies the Law and why his argument remains a non-starter.

here.
http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2011/11/broken-law.html

Enjoy.

BenYachov said...

@Paul

>Also her opening definition of 'God' includes the so-called 'classical' God (ontological arguments) that 'tells us nothing about the moral nature of God' and that 'you can't tell...

100% correct. They tell us nothing of God's "moral" nature.

>if God is good or evil.'

I can't help but notice how you kneejerk equate morality with goodness.
Tonight I will watch a good comedy DVD while eating & drinking some good tasting junk food. Does my junk food cease to be good because it didn't oh stop the holocaust or prevent 9/11?

Of course not. Not all goodness is moral goodness. what makes something good?

>So the morality of God is added on by the Abrahamic monotheistic religions.

No, Brian Davies shows it is actually a post enlightenment concept with the rise of Theistic Personalism. The Rabbis and the Fathers all taught God had no moral obligations to us(thus he can't be a moral agent). But of course they all taught he was good.

>So God can be good or evil or amoral, but as the character points out: if God is good, why does evil exist and if God is evil, why does good exist? The logical answer is that God (the so-called classical God) is amoral.

You nearly got it.

The classic God is as Davies said in a sense "amoral" like science is "amoral". But science is in fact by nature good. God is Good because he is ontologically good. Things are good because they derive their goodness from God.

At this point Paul I can't write all of Brian Davies book into the comboxes here.

So if you are really interested. If you really want to expand your notions of good and evil and learn about them on a philosophical level. I recommend you get your own copy of the book THE REALITY OF GOD AND THE PROBLEM OF EVIL by Brian Davies.

I will never use another Theodicy as long as I live. I used to like the Free Will Theodicy a lot but now I have stopped taking it's calls.

I actually agree with Prof Law about Theodicies they are all bullshit. But not for the reasons he gives & concluding they are bullshit doesn't lead me to reject God or my Catholic Christian faith.

Cheers.

Stephen Law said...

Ben you say: "I actually agree with Prof Law about Theodicies they are all bullshit."

Great - would you mind going and telling Glenn Peoples that. And also tell Edward Feser to stop using them in his books.

I'll be doing a paper on the EGC and Brian Davies' brand of classical theism at some point when I get the time.

Daniel said...

Dear Dr. Law,

How might your challenge handle a kind of "Pascal's wager"? That is, if you believe in Good-God and happen to be right, better outcomes are possible, i.e. heaven, salvation, etc. If you believe in evil-god and you're wrong, you might ruin your chances at salvation. If evil-god happens to exist and you believed in Good-God, I'd imagine he'd torture you in hell. But if evil-god exists, and you're right, what would happen? If he rewarded you, then would he be all that bad? I think, if he were really evil, he'd damn you either way, like the robber who shoots you even after you cooperate by handing over your wallet.

The outcomes of the gambit are not symmetrical, as far as I can tell. I think Good-God comes out as the more rational belief to hold. How would you restore symmetry while maintaining evil-god's evilness?

BenYachov said...

@Prof Law:
>And also tell Edward Feser to stop using them in his books.

You just tipped your hand Prof Law. I have actually read Dr. Feser's books. It it clear to me as he once accused you that you have merely skimmed the books and didn't read them at all. At least not carefully.

It is simply a brute fact Feser doesn't use any Theodicy in THE LAST SUPERSTITION.

He agrees with Davies across the board(i.e. on moral agency & God, on Frege not so much) and cites him liberally.

Who do you think I got the idea to read Davies from?

I do remember you citing Page 162 & read his conclusions about evil as if they where arguments and reading into it the concept of Theistic Personalism. I also know in the index of TLS on page 295, lists pages 154, 161-65 under the heading evil, problem of. Where you no doubt skipped too directly without reading pages }vii{ to 267 to get a quick cheap answer.

Sir I am an old New Yorker. Don't bullshit me. It would be easier to convince Dawkins Evolution is bunk or ANSWERS IN GENESIS accepts Evolution then then to claim to me with a straight face Feser uses Theodicy. I know better.

On his own blog he wrote "Zamperini suffered, first at sea, and then in a series of notoriously brutal Japanese prisoner of war camps, give the lie to any facile theodicy."

or this:

"I was a student at Claremont Graduate School at the tail end of John Hick’s time there and the beginning of the late D. Z. Phillips’ tenure. Phillips was critical of Hick’s famous “soul-making” theodicy. I remember his mocking impression of God as a kind of moral personal trainer: “Here you go, a bit of cancer should help toughen you up!” As Phillips’ jokes tended to be, this was both funny and somewhat unfair – Hick is not a man prone in any way to minimize human suffering, and I don't think he would claim that we can identify a “soul-making” function for each and every instance of evil. All the same (and as I’m sure Hick himself would agree), we must not let our attempts to understand God’s reasons for allowing evil lead us to sentimentalize evil, to pretend that “Buck up, old chap, it’s all for the greater good!” should suffice to soothe just anyone’s pain."END QUOTE

You can't get any more anti-Theodicy then Phillips(or didn't you know that?). At best Feser may believe some criticisms of some theodicies are not fair or not every Theodicy has been definitavaly disproved.

Read it yourself.
http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2010/12/unbroken-and-problem-of-evil.html


Or this chestnut.
"Like other Scholastics, I would reject Leibniz’s idea that God has to create the best of all possible worlds, so that the evil that actually exists must have been necessary."END QUOTE

Does that sound like any Theodicy you have ever heard before?

read it yourself.
http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2012/03/levering-on-tls.html#more

>I'll be doing a paper on the EGC and Brian Davies' brand of classical theism at some point when I get the time.

So far you don't fill me with confidence. Indeed if you where rational you see that vain enterprise is as rational as writing a paper that claims refuting Cosmological Arguments for the existence of God also refutes Patheism.

Prof Law you are like the Gnu's I debated who think every Christian takes Genesis one literal. Well like St Augustine I do not.

Think man you are better than that.

BenYachov said...

Dr. Law your EGC is in every possible universe a non-starter objection to the classic theist.

If you want to argue the only knowledge you can have is empirical and therefore questions about God are empirical. Go for it. If successful that type of argument might challenge Classic Theism.

If you want to argue a posteriori arguments can't tell us about any possible God concept. Go for it.
If successful that type of argument might challenge Classic Theism.

Those types of arguments might do the heavy lifing for you. But not EGC.

In no possible universe is EGC anything but a non-starter to the Classic Theist.

Stephen Law said...

I've read the whole tedious tome, Ben.

Feser prefaces his theodicies on P161 by saying "we can turn once again to the problem of evil". The solution, he says, is this insight from Aquinas: "If God can bring out of the evils that we actually experience a good that is far greater than what would have existed without them, then of course He would allow those evils." Feser then offers some explanations as to what the greater goods are - he runs a compensatory afterlife theodicy and character-building theodicy.

That's Feser's actual solution to the problem of evil, at least in that particular book. The bit before, after his very first mention of evil on p154, is just a feeble presentation of some arguments for God and the resurrection, which are supposed to reassure us that his God exists. He then moves onto evil on p161. Feser says there is a so-called problem of evil but it's not much of a problem because of his Thomist explanations. And what are those explanations? As I say, he gives us a compensatory after life theodicy and a character-building theodicy. That's it.

I shan't bother responding to anything else you say Ben because frankly you are rude, tedious, irritating, and prone to making stuff up. Plus I can't be bothered... as for Brian Davies, who, unlike Feser, is no twit, wait for my next paper on the subject.

BenYachov said...

@Prof Law

>I've read the whole tedious tome, Ben.

Then my second choice "not [very] carefully" obtains.

>Feser prefaces his theodicies on P161 by saying

Yet at no time does he use the term Theodicy now does he? You argue against Theodicy all the time so you are projecting it on too his writings.

>he runs a compensatory afterlife theodicy and character-building theodicy.

Not really since he both in TLS and AQUINAS states rather explicitly God is not a moral agent and has no moral obligations to us. Theodicy presuposes a moral God who has obligations to us and tries to justify why it's moral for God to allow evil.

Feser gives mere reasons why God would allow evil but not moral justifications.

Daves does at least two chapters in his book (the title I cited to Paul) showing how Theodicy is tied with moral agency and all major proponents of Theodicy (Swimburne, Plantinga etc) equate theodicy with moral obligation & refer to God as being morally perfect.

Davies also outlines all the major Theodicies including Character building etc..
BTW the title of those two chapters are "HOW NOT TO VINDICATE GOD".
It's reasonable to think Feser is channeling Davies thought not the Neo-Swimburnism or Plantingaism you commonly deal with. Your claim is simply not reasonable.

>I shan't bother responding to anything else you say Ben because frankly you are rude, tedious, irritating, and prone to making stuff up.

If the shoe fits wear it Prof Laaaw(BTW what's with you misspelling Feser's name? What are you ten?). I merely relayed substantally what Feser himself replied to you in his own comm box too your page 162 citation(see bellow). .

QUOTE"What is at issue, and what has always been at issue between you and me, is whether the “evil god challenge,” specifically, even applies to classical theism. And it doesn’t, as I’ve shown many times now. (No point in repeating the points again, since you’ll just keep ignoring them. For example, you ignore them when you assert that your “evil god” stalemate approach applies to what I said about evil in TLS. Well, it would apply to it if I had defended a theistic personalist view of God in TLS, but since I defend a classical theist view there, it doesn’t apply. And if you insist that it does apply to classical theism too, then I guess we can add Begging the Question to your toolkit too.)END QUOTE

People can read the whole reply in context for themselves.

HERE

BTW FYI I was the one calling on people over at Feser Blog(go read it yourself) to give you the benefit of the doubt, be respectful and not assume a professional philosopher would act like the common Gnu who shows up and wastes our time with his silly anti-ID anti fundie rants.

But as I recall it was you who got hostile when challenged. Granted you had a dozen people coming at you & that might be a little intimidating. But after your proformance there I felt as thought I had egg on my face for pleading your cause.

>Plus I can't be bothered... as for Brian Davies, who, unlike Feser, is no twit, wait for my next paper on the subject.

That is until Davies points out your redacting of a Theistic Personalist god on top of his Classic View is not legit. Then no doubt as is your pattern to date you will also accuse him of intellectual dishonestly for disagreeing with you. Like you did with Feser.

If you have no response to my arguments because I am so beneath you then so be it.

I can't make you respond nor would I want too. It's your blog & I've given you many opportunities to dazzel me with rational logical responses.

Needless to say I am disappointed.

You have nothing. See you around.

BenYachov said...

Reasons for evil vs Theodicy & Obligation.

God might have a reason to do x but that is not the same as trying to morally justify God for doing x.

Nor is it the same as saying assuming God is a moral agent God is justified in doing x for reason y. Trying to argue God is justified

God might allow you to suffer & use that to build up both your soul and character but God can do the same just as easily without suffering.

Most scholastics will tell you that. But of course God doesn't owe it too you to build your soul one way or another. God is not a moral agent. God given His nature in Classic Theism can't coherently be conceived of as a moral agent (unequivocally compared to a human moral agent). His is not obliged to go one way or the other. But God is ontologically good. Indeed He is Goodness Itself. Thus it is part of His goodness that He can allow evil to bring good out of it.

But unfortunately it seems too many atheist philosophers seem to want to treat the later Thomistic Maxim (i.e. in bold) as a Theodicy.

It's not. It's not a moral justification for why God should allow evil. It's simply a philosophical explanation on why God given his nature classically can allow evil.

Nothing more. People both Theistic and Atheistic have to break out of the one size fits all apologetic and polemics mentality.

Different views require different arguments and similar views aren't always interchangeable.

That should seem obvious to any rational person.

The Atheist Missionary said...

BenYachov wrote: You have nothing. See you around.

I bet Stephen was tempted to use this line mid-way through his debate with WLC! It is amazing how people like WLC and Feser can build entire careers speculating about nothing.

BenYachov said...

@Atheist Missionary
>It is amazing how people like WLC and Feser can build entire careers speculating about nothing.

If that's true then it's even more amazing guys like Law will give demonstratively limited & flawed arguments in defense of their allegedly correct belief in nothing.

BenYachov's definition of a fundamentalist.

A Fundamentalist is a person who dogmatically holds fast to his obviously invalid argument at all costs even at the cost of his correct core truth.

That would be Law's mindless claim his EGC is an omni-challenge to all forms of Christian Theism and western Monotheism.

It's simply a brute fact the EGC is a non-starter objection to a Classical Theistic view of God.

It only applies to a view of god that accepts empirical verificationism to know god & not a posteriori reasoning.

It applies to a view of evil that sees evil as metaphysically equivalent to good. It applies to an anthropomorphic god who is seen as a thing alongside other things in Reality. Not Subsistence reality Itself.etc

I don't get it. There is a whole segment of post enlightenment Christian tradition the EGV would be effective against. Why ruin it by pretending it is omni-effective when it clearly is not.

djindra said...

Anonymous,

Regarding that critique you found on a facebook page:

"[Evil is] also impossible to fulfill alone, unlike goodness, and so cannot be possessed by God prior to creation."

If evil needs something to be evil against, it's just as true that goodness needs something to be good towards or about. Both are relational words.

"Before creation God's love was directed internally. If God were 'perfectly' evil, he would be forced to hate himself, willing for his own degradation and suffering."

If God is "maximum good" it would not need to create or support a material universe in the first place. It may make more sense that an "evil" (discontent) god would need to create that imperfect universe. But the main problem is that neither evil nor good make sense as qualities without some other thing or concept to use as a standard of measurement. Neither can be directed internally.

BenYachov said...

The Philosophy of Pastry

Good can exist without evil but evil by nature can't exist without good since good has substance and evil does not.

The donut can exist without a hole like a Jelly or Bavarian Cream from Dunkins. But the hole can't exist without the donut.

Now the simple minded might flippantly bring up Donut Holes. Little lumps of Donut bread that are small enough to fit in a donut hole.

But that is the fallacy of equivocation. A donut hole is by definition an absence of donut bread at the center of a donut.

Little pastry treats called "Donut Holes" are not actually at the center of any donut and are substantially cake/bread not an absence of such.

It's like confusing what Einstein called an "Atom" with what Democretus called an Atom.

djindra said...

"BenYachov",

"So I still don't get it. Material suffering isn't evil in the moral sense. At the drop of a hat you equivocate between moral vs material evil."

But you do get it when it serves your purpose. You equivocate when you compare technically "good" triangles to morally "good" human beings.

testinganidea said...

Dr Law

I see your Evil God Challenge (EGC) as very similar to Luftus' Outsider Test of Faith and McCormick's Salem Witch Trial Evidence arguments. In all of these approaches:

0- The Theist claims a rational belief in G
1- The Theist agrees that belief in A (an evil god, some other religion, real witchcraft in Salem) is not rational or at least very unlikely to be true.
2-The Theist is shown a body of evidence B that supports A.
3- The Theist is expected to say that despite B, A is still very unlikely to be true.
4-The Theist is shown that B is very similar to the evidence they use to support their “rational” belief in G.
5-The Theist is asked to acknowledge that:
5a-If belief in A is not reasonable given B than belief in G is also not reasonable
5b-If they want to claim G but not A they need to provide evidence (not special pleading) outside of the “shared arguments” in B that is sufficiently strong that if its equivalent were added to B they would accept A

Am I correct in assuming the shared logic behind these arguments? If not how does the EGC differ?

The argument I believe that Ben has been making is that B, the body of evidence you point to (Kalam, fine tuning, evidential argument from evil), is not how he supports G and therefore the argument fails at step 4 (it may also fail for him at both 2 and 3 but that is a side issue). He has no reason to move to step 5 since his belief in G is based on the “five ways” which you have not associated with the Evil God.

The approach taken by you, J. Luftus and M. McCormick can be very powerful in getting a believer to reexamine their rational but only to the extent that your evidence aligns to their current thinking and can therefore become the cause of significant cognitive dissidence. As a challenge and not a proof the EGC fails if this cognitive dissidence is not felt.

BenYachov said...

@testinganidea

Your clear thinking has earned a ticket to my good side.

>can be very powerful in getting a believer to reexamine their rational but only to the extent that your evidence aligns to their current thinking and can therefore become the cause of significant cognitive dissidence. As a challenge and not a proof the EGC fails if this cognitive dissidence is not felt.

He gets it!

If I die today it would take the Coroner ME a week to pry the smug grin off my face.

Thank buddy.

Cheers!

Stephen Law said...

Hi testinganidea - no that is not my argument, though I can see why you might think it is if you have only seen this animation. Try reading the paper...

BenYachov said...

Prof Law moves the goal post again.

You know if you did that in Football you would get a Red Card for that!

Now the cartoon is not an adequate explanation of the Evil God challenge.

Prof Law wrote:
"that's an impossibility argument, which I deal with in the paper. The critics suggests there's some logical contradiction involved in the idea of an all- or maximally-evil God. But would the critic reject the evil god anyway, on the basis of empirical evidence, even if it turned out this contradiction was only merely apparent? If the answer is yes, then the challenge remains. They'd rule out an evil god on the basis of such empirical evidence, so why don't they rule out the good god on the basis of the same kind of evidence?"END QUOTE

So is that still true?

I can not believe in the existence of a Good God(good as defined by Aristotle, Plato and Aquinas) based on the empirical evidence(as empiricism is defined in the post Bacon, Post Hume sense).

Just as I can not directly observe the Andromeda galaxy using a microscope & that fact doesn't change if I rename a telescope.

At this point I don't believe the EGC in fact really exists.

Stephen Law said...

Her's Millican on Pascal's wager. Not sure I agree entirely with Millican but anyhow it's something to chew on...

The Devil's Advocate (the full text of which can be found at http://www.millican.org/papers/1989DevAdv.pdf):

[Pascal's wager] will only be the least bit persuasive to those who are completely blind to alternative religious hypotheses, and who therefore accept that Pascal’s table of four outcomes indeed exhausts all the available
possibilities. But this assumption needs only to be stated to be seen to be ridiculous: why, for example, should we not consider the possibility that a Supreme Being exists who will reward disbelief, or who will punish the sort of self-inflicted brainwashing that Pascal advocates? Pascal’s argument makes no appeal at all to the plausibility of theism, so any number of crazy theories could be similarly supported. Suppose, for example, in order to focus on the Supreme Being’s moral qualities, that we consider the theory that instead of a good God, there is an
omnipotent, omniscient, eternal Creator who is supremely evil, and whom we might therefore call ‘Antigod’ (note that Antigod, who is entirely supreme, is not to be confused with the relatively limited devil of Christianity). To
show that Pascal’s Wager does nothing whatever to recommend belief in the Supreme Being’s goodness, we can put forward a parallel argument for belief in Antigod .... I do not wish to suggest that such an argument provides a convincing motive for taking up devil worship, but it is, I believe, no worse than Pascal’s. Pascal asks us to believe that a good God will punish rational doubt with eternal damnation, and reward his own self-interested religious observance with eternal bliss. Antigod is surely at least as credible a Deity: unrestrained by morality, He capriciously tortures those who do not worship Him, and
shares the sensual delights of His eternal debaucheries with those who are sufficiently corrupt themselves not to make Him feel uncomfortable (we can suppose that just as God dislikes the contemplation of wickedness, so
Antigod will dislike the contemplation of virtue).

Pascal’s Wager, then, is at best a two-edged sword. So far from legitimating belief in God, it can with equal plausibility be adapted into a recommendation for belief in Antigod. Since an omnipotent God and an omnipotent Antigod are mutually exclusive, however (clearly it is not possible for two different beings both to have unlimited power), this adaptation simply demonstrates that Pascal’s Wager is hopelessly unsound. Any method of argument which leads with equal plausibility to two contrary conclusions reveals itself to be untrustworthy.

BenYachov said...

But what if you are a Theist who rejects Pascal's wager & thinks it is a bad argument for God?

I can't get a "God" who is Purely Actual or Subsistent Being Itself (ipsum esse subsistens) out of Pascal's wager.

Anymore then I can from one of Dembski's ID arguments.

Thus it doesn't interest me & it is still a non-starter challenge to the Classic God I believe in.

Pascal's wager is Cosmic Gambling not either a modern empirical proof or a classical a posteriori proof.

It's an attempted practical argument.

So we might add the EGC could potentially vex persons who put their faith in Pascal's Wager as well as persons who generally believe in Theistic Personalist Deities.

But it's still a non-starter to the Thomist Classic Theist.

BenYachov said...

Indeed here is an interesting analysis of Pascal's Wager from a Thomistic perspective.

QUOTE"Pascal’s wager cannot be a “theistic argument” then, for such arguments consist in making something known, not in doing something. Neither can Pascal’s wager be a call to simply believe in God as belief is commonly understood."END QUOTE

http://thomism.wordpress.com/2007/10/06/what-pascals-wager-is-considered-as-a-wager/

But a serious Thomist can't take it in itself as a reason to believe in God for the problems Prof Law has already shown.

At best if I already accept the existence of God on Thomist premises I can us it as a supplement but it would not be necessary.

Just as I can take vitamins with my food. I don't have to do it but I do need to eat.

BenYachov said...

OTOH introducing Anti-God into the wager makes it impossible to win thus it not a true wager.

Unless one makes disbelief in Anti-God conditional upon being sent to Hell where the person is punished with everlasting happiness and looses everlasting misery in Heaven with the Evil Anti-God.

I don't know now I might have to re-think my earlier idea the EGC is really a challenge to Pascal's Wager as a Wager.

It might be a non-starter in that you have to turn the wager into a non-wager. But I might grant it could still defeat Pascal's Wager.

But it's still a non-starter too Classic Theism.

testinganidea said...

Dr. Law

I find EGC very effective when it forces that “penny drop” feeling. I use “emotion based” and visceral arguments in my discussions since if evidence based arguments were enough would over 40% of adults in the U.S. believe the earth is under 10,000 years old (Gallup Poll, Dec 10-12, 2010)?

I have now read your paper, The evil god challenge (Religious Studies, Cambridge University Press 2009) and found it very helpful. The interviews I have heard did not provide you the time needed for the details and objection handling.

I am still not sure where my observations go astray so I have taken the abstract from your paper and adjusted from my prior post statements 2, 3 and 4 into the negative to better align with your approach.

0- The Theist claims a rational belief in G
1- The Theist agrees that belief in A (an evil god, some other religion, real witchcraft in Salem) is not rational or at least very unlikely to be true.
2-The Theist is shown a body of evidence B that makes A unlikely to be true.
3- The Theist is expected to say that with B, A is very unlikely to be true.
4-The Theist is shown that the way B relates to A is very similar to way B' relates to G which implies they should see G as very unlikely to be true
5-The Theist is asked to acknowledge that:
5a-If belief in A is not reasonable given B than belief in G is also not reasonable
5b-If they want to claim G but not A they need to provide evidence (not special pleading) outside of the “shared arguments” in B/B' that is sufficiently strong that if its equivalent were added to B they would accept A

“Abstract: This paper develops a challenge to theism. The challenge is to explain why the hypothesis that there exists an omnipotent, omniscient and all-good god should be considered significantly more reasonable than the hypothesis that there exists an omnipotent, omniscient and all-evil god.”

This seems similar to the request for evidence in step 5b in my outline above.

The abstract continues:

“Theists typically dismiss the evil-god hypothesis out of hand because of the problem of good – there is surely too much good in the world for it to be the creation of such a being.”

This seems similar to step 3.

“But then why doesn’t the problem of evil provide equally good grounds for
dismissing belief in a good god?”

This seems similar to step 4

Now if the theist rejects step 3 (as Ben does) believing that there is no relationship between the good in the world and why he rejects the evil-god hypothesis then step 4, while still true,has no force. PoE does “provide equally good grounds” but both PoE and PoG are seen as weak or non-existent grounds for belief. The theist that rejects the notion of the PoG as playing any role in their non-belief in the evil-god is not rationally committed to accepting PoE as an issue for their belief in “good god”.

To use your scales analogy, you get the same size bolder on the against side of the the “does evil-god exist scale” as you get on the against side of the “does the good-god exist” scale. But the size of the bolder and therefore the amount asymmetric “evidence” needed to rationally accept “good-god” exists while rationally rejecting “evil-god” exists depends on if you accept step 3.

In answer to your primary challenge (my step 5b) Ben claims the “five ways” provides his “evidence” that applies to his god hypothesis that does not apply to the evil-god hypothesis and that is sufficiently strong to overcome the evidential problem of evil to which he attributes little if any weight.

It may be that Ben is wrong and that
1. the “five ways” are not valid arguments
2.the PoE is an issue for the “classic” god
3.the “five ways” may be flipped and applied to the evil-god
4.all the other reasons we have moved on from medieval thinking

but these are independent of the EGC.

Sorry for the long post but if I can use this argument even if step 3 is rejected I would like to do so

BenYachov said...

@testinganidea
It may be that Ben is wrong and that
>1. the “five ways” are not valid arguments.

Ireply: True but that would be doing the heavy lifting against CT not the EGC. It would still be a non-starter.

>2.the PoE is an issue for the “classic” god

Well POE is an issue for CT but not in the same way it is for the Theistic Personalist. But if we define POE strictly in terms of God being morally obligated to give us the best of all possible worlds then the "POE" is a non-problem. Thus EGC is still a non-starter.

>3.the “five ways” may be flipped and applied to the evil-god

They can't be flipped and be coherent. Even with some equivocation they would come up with a non-existent God. Since existence is part of God's goodness and perfection. An evil God would by nature not exist.

4.all the other reasons we have moved on from medieval thinking.

I submit the metaphysics of Aristotle are timeless regardless of religion or science.

But if that where not so then arguments against Aristotle and semi-Platonic metaphysics would do the heavy lifting against the Classic view. Not the EGC.

Still a non-starter.

Talk to you later. Gonna go to the movies.

BenYachov said...

About to leave soon for movies.

I'm seeing John Carter in 3D.

One little
edit:

Well POE is an issue for CT but not in the same way it is for the Theistic Personalist. But if we define POE strictly in terms of God being morally obligated to give us the best of all possible worlds then the "POE" is a non-problem. Thus EGC is still a non-starter.

Classic Theism rejects all notion that God has any obligations to us or that God is a moral agent unequivocally compatible to a human moral agent. God is metaphysically and ontologically good. God is not morally good.

The type of Theodicy that Prof Law polemics assumes God is a perfect moral agent(or an perfectly immoral agent for the "evil god").

God is neither. He is more comparable with being amoral but ontologically good.

So really there is no conceivable universe where the laws of logic and non-contradiction apply that can even get this argument off the ground for me.

I don't believe empirical evidence of "goodness" as Law understands it in e pre-theoretical sense can actually prove a "good" god. Much less having empirical evidence for "evil" doubt said god.

Non-starter.

Go read Sir Anthony Kenny or polemics against Oderberg then come back and talk to me.

But enough of the EGC applying to Classic Theism bullshit.

djindra said...

"BenYachov",

I followed the link to your "Unbroken and the problem of evil." Two sentences jump out at me.

1: "But I have also insisted that evil poses an enormous practical difficulty, because while we can know with certainty that God has a reason for allowing the evil He does, we are very often simply not in a position to know what that reason is in this or that particular case."

2: "We cannot presume to judge the latter; God alone can do that."

So it seems those who plead for a non-anthropomorphic God eventually hang anthropomorphic qualities onto that being. Humans look for reasons. Humans judge. A truly non-anthropomorphic god would not judge and would not use reasons. Only a theistic personalist would assert "God has a reason for allowing the evil He does."

Daniel said...

Dear Dr. Law,

Thanks! I will have to take a look at Dr. Millican's paper. Still, I have my doubts that it would be worth throwing in my lot with believing in anti-god though. Sure, he might reward me with debauchery. The problems, as I see it are: 1) debauched pleasure is an empty reward, especially as compared to the possible higher pleasures offered by Good-God. 2) I'd be trusting something worse than the devil to follow through with a promise. If it's between the two Gods, I still think the rational choice is belief in Good-God.

At some point I hope to have something more rigorous worked out. Thanks for pointing me in a new and, hopefully, fruitful direction.

BenYachov said...

Unbroken and the problem of evil

link here:
http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2010/12/unbroken-and-problem-of-evil.html#more

QUOTE"Don’t misunderstand: I have known people who have abandoned religion because of the real suffering they endured, and for whom I feel compassion. But I have also known people whose appeal to the problem of evil has seemed to me an exercise in self-righteous rationalization. “What a compassionate person I am for rejecting a God who would allow such evil, and how cold-hearted you religious people are for not doing so!” – that sort of thing. And I have also known people who have suffered enormously – in one case, to a degree that would make for a book worthy of the Laura Hillenbrand treatment – and yet whose faith in God has been their refuge."END QUOTE

I find self-righteous fundamentalist Gnu'Atheist objections such as in bold as tedious and offensive as so called religious assholes who show up at the funeral of a little girl and tell her mother "This is what you get for marrying outside the faith" or some such godless cruel shit they might say.

It's kind of eerie how Gnu's and Fundies are both cut from the same cloth.
Myself I live my life with the tragedy of knowing all three of my children have autism & try as I might I can't change that. But as bad as I have it I saw on the news a family with 6 autistic kids and I sometimes think of my cousin who lost her daughter at Seven.

I found confort in the knowledge God is not a moral agent and He can't coherently be concieved as such but He is in fact Metaphysically and Ontologically Good. It has freed me from blaming God. I can no more Blame God then I can blame the Autism that efflicts my kids. Still others anthopomorphize God and can't see Him as the Unknowable and faced with tragedy don't see God the way I do and treat Him like a human with power and moral obligations who fails to use them. I feel for them but till they pass threw their grief what I know won't confort them. Like Trakakis, Philips and others I find theodicy pointless and giving them can be cruel.

Of cousre these sentiments are not reason. I prefer to use reason over emotion. Sentiment and will must always serve the intellect.
I trust God for the Grace. I pray for reason to be in the hearts of men since that must come before Faith. Even without the Faith it does them some good. Without reason men become if they are believers Fundies or non-believers Gnus. Neither are a credit to mankind.

Patrick said...

testinganidea: “1- The Theist agrees that belief in A (an evil god, some other religion, real witchcraft in Salem) is not rational or at least very unlikely to be true.

2 - The Theist is shown a body of evidence B that supports A. 

3 - The Theist is expected to say that despite B, A is still very unlikely to be true.”

In the thread below I argued that the evidence for Christianity is indeed better that for some other religion. I sent my comments under the name “patrick.sele”.

http://debunkingchristianity.blogspot.com/2012/03/is-evidence-for-resurrection-of-jesus.html

As for Matt McCormick’s Salem witch trial argument, my objections to it can be found in the following thread:

http://randalrauser.com/2011/09/from-jerusalem-to-salem-a-conversation-with-matt-mccormick/

As for the EGC, it seems to me that compensatory afterlife theodicies are immune against it, as the EGC appeals to people’s experiences, but of an afterlife we have no experience. The theodicy outlined in the following, called “Theodicy from divine justice”, belongs to this category and therefore may not be affected by the EGC.

(1) God’s perfect justice prevents Him from relieving people with unforgiven sins from their sufferings (see Isaiah 59,1-2).
(2) Unlike God Christians are not perfectly just. Therefore, unlike God, they are in a position to help people with unforgiven sins. By doing this they may make those among them who haven’t yet accepted God’s salvation receptive of it (Matthew 5,16, 1 Peter 2,11-12, and 3,1-2), which in turn frees these persons from suffering in the afterlife.
(3) The greater God’s beneficial power due to His love, the greater God’s destructive power due to His justice (see Matthew 13,27-29). Striving to prevent as much suffering as possible God can only interfere to such a degree that the beneficial effect of the interference is not neutralized by the destructive effect of it.
(4) Someone who dies before he or she reaches the age of accountability, i.e. before he or she can distinguish between good and evil (see Genesis 2,16-17, Deuteronomy 1,39, and Isaiah 7,16) faces no punishment in the afterlife, as he or she would not have been able to commit sins. So, God may not be inclined to prevent such a person’s death.
(5) A person’s suffering in this life may have a redeeming effect (Luke 16,25) and consequently contribute to a decrease of the respective person’s suffering in the afterlife; the amount of suffering in this life is so to speak subtracted from the amount of suffering in the afterlife. So, God may not be inclined to relieve this person’s suffering.
(6) There are degrees of punishment in the afterlife depending on one’s moral behaviour (Matthew 16,27, 2 Corinthians 5,10), one’s knowledge of God’s will (Matthew 11,20-24, Luke 12,47-48), and, as mentioned before, one’s amount of suffering in this life (Luke 16,25).
(7) Those people who suffer more in this life than they deserve due to their way of life are compensated for it by receiving rewards in Heaven.
(8) As for animal suffering, animals will be compensated for it on the “new earth” mentioned in Isaiah 65,17-25, 2 Peter 3,13 and Revelation 21,1.

djindra said...

On Feser's quote:

"But I have also known people whose appeal to the problem of evil has seemed to me an exercise in self-righteous rationalization. “What a compassionate person I am for rejecting a God who would allow such evil, and how cold-hearted you religious people are for not doing so!” – that sort of thing."

No doubt you can find someone who believes almost anything. But I think that quote is a straw man.

The problem of evil doesn't really interest me. I don't find it compelling. Why would any god take an interest in me or humanity? I've always argued that believing in a "personal" god is the height of human conceit.

But there is a worse problem. Some of those who claim to reject a "personal" deity end up taking the heart out of their religion, and eventually themselves. That heartless god creates "natural" laws and doesn't want humans messing with those laws. Human variation is invisible to it. Human participation in our own fate is rejected as feeble, if not revolt. The only purpose in life is to obey. In short, that god is cold and authoritarian.

The accusation we usually hear is that a godless universe is cold, heartless, and purposeless. But this Classical Theism, where "good" is whatever "is", runs the risk of creating an environment that's no different, or even worse.

Where is the difference between a cold, heartless god and a cold, heartless universe? In a godless universe we can work together to fix what we don't like. In a classical god-given universe we are told to grin and bear it, it will all be over soon enough.

Anonymous said...

Hello Dr. Law,

I believe the crux your challenge has to start somewhere around the definition of the good. I believe that Good as defined by Aristotle and Aquinas is what all things desire. You seem to have rejected on this definition in your paper on the discussion of Charles Daniels' defense, which you seem to consider as ambiguous.

How would you then define what is good and what is not?Your response to Daniel's argument seem to stem instead from a subjective definition of the Good, and that what you desire could be called "evil" as well as "good. Allow me to quote your response to Daniel's definition of Good:

"But ‘good’ here need mean no more than, ‘that which I aim to achieve’. We have not yet been given any reason to suppose I cannot judge to be ‘good’, in this sense, what I also deem to be evil, because I desire evil."

Well your refutation above seems very much to me to be a play with words. Saying how the word "good" can be substituted with the word "evil" in the mind of the agent is one step from doublethink. If you cannot lay down a convincing definition of good, then any discussion on the moral nature of God (indeed morality in general) is worthless.

As Aquinas said, "When we say that good is what everyone desires, it does not mean that every kind of good thing is desired by all, but that whatever is desired has the nature of good." I think Daniel's example with smoking demonstrates how the evil of smoking is wrongly perceived to be "good" because of a disharmony between reason, knowledge (of smoking) and passion. WHAT we desire may not be good, but we do desire good itself.

The Socratic definition of good also seems to me to be rather consistent. As he said "no one commits evil with full knowledge". Twisting Daniel's example with smoking a bit, Socrates make sense. That is, when you have better knowledge of the (health) consequences of smoking, you would not do it, and imperfect knowledge of that will lead to you "committing evil" unknowingly.

Since the necessary definition of God is that He is omniscient and has full knowledge of all, from here we can conclude that he is not evil, and never desires/commits evil. Daniel's (and Aquinas') conclusion thus follows.

testinganidea said...

Patrick,

My guess is that your post death reward system can be mirrored by an evil-god that torments those who are innocent or had too much good in this life but I will leave that for others to discuss.

What caught my attention is your claims in points 4 and 7. I hope you are just taking extreme positions in order to get a reply (so I will post in that over the top context) since the logical consequences of these points given the value you place on experiences in the afterlife seem horrific at least to me.

If 4 is true then
A – If I want to dedicate myself to saving souls and I am willing to accept the personal price of damnation I should kill children (under the age of accountability) to ensure their souls are saved. The math is obvious even if children have an 80% chance of salvation on their own if I can kill 6 or more children at the cost of my own soul there is a net benefit.
B – I should not help the starving and sick children of the world. Most die prior to the age of accountability and are therefore better off dead.
C- God, if truly benevolent, should have given us all the mind of a severely mentally retarded individual as we would still have souls, free will and according to you no risk of hell.

If 7 is true than
A- The victims of the Holocaust and the Indonesian tsunami deserved to suffer and die as they did. There is no afterlife compensation for the majority of them; they are not going to heaven as they were not Christian but knew of Christ and rejected his teachings. Hence according to your theory, they did not “suffer more in this life than they deserved”. The gassing, “medical” experiments, starvation, having children ripped from their arms, and being buried alive were all deserved?
B – Some Christians get a “better” heaven than other Christians. If heaven were equal than it is no compensating reward for undeserved suffering there is just heaven.

djindra said...

From (as mentioned above) Brian Davies' "The Reality of God and the Problem of Evil," p146:

"If 'X is good' means (roughly) X has what we are looking for, then 'X is bad' means (roughly) that X does not have what we are looking for. We call something a bad X (e.g. a bad computer, doctor, or human being) when it does not come up to our expectations considered as what it is."

When we say Johnny didn't make good grades this term -- he didn't meet our expectations -- it's not like saying Ted Bundy murdered 30 women -- he didn't meet our expectations. If we were in the head of one of Bundy's victims as he bludgeoned her to death, would she be thinking, Wow, this guy really doesn't have what I look for in a man?

How could Ted Bundy's intentional, active rage be likened to a flimsy, passive absence of good? This trivializes evil. It makes a mockery of it in order to cling to an inoffensive concept of God.

To reach this nugget, Davies notes that a "small X" is not as descriptive as a "red X." That's because we must know something about X before we understand smallness in the context of X, whereas we know redness in any context. Goodness is like smallness in this line of reasoning. Goodness can only be understood in relation to X.

Is this significant? Is it a difference in kind or degree? I think it's insignificant and merely shows a difference in degree. For example, what I call red is not the same as my wife. I've been told many times that a certain dress is not red, it's hot pink or crimson. To me, they are all red.

More to the point, when someone shows me a big apple, I don't conceive of a small apple with bigness yanked out of it. Smallness is not privation of bigness. Davies' own line of reasoning should have shown him the absurdity of privation as a means of describing relational opposites.

Patrick said...

testinganidea: “My guess is that your post death reward system can be mirrored by an evil-god that torments those who are innocent or had too much good in this life but I will leave that for others to discuss.”

If I understand Stephen Law’s EGC correctly, its force doesn’t come from the fact that it is possible to construct reverse theodicies, but from the fact that Christian theists generally reject such theodicies as highly improbable, pointing to the large amount of good in the world. What Christian theists leads to such an assessment are their personal experiences. But with respect to the afterlife there are no personal experiences Christian theists can refer to. They simply don’t know how much good there is in the afterlife. So when having to rely on one’s personal experiences alone they cannot rule out that there might indeed be an evil God tormenting good and evil people alike in the afterlife. But if they concede this they can no longer be accused of applying a double standard when confronted with the EGC, and so it loses its force.

testinganidea: “If I want to dedicate myself to saving souls and I am willing to accept the personal price of damnation I should kill children (under the age of accountability) to ensure their souls are saved. The math is obvious even if children have an 80% chance of salvation on their own if I can kill 6 or more children at the cost of my own soul there is a net benefit.”

In the threads below I dealt at great length with this objection. I sent my comments under the names “Patrick” and “patrick.sele”, respectively.

http://www.daylightatheism.org/2011/07/they-have-no-answer.html

http://www.justinvacula.com/2011/08/god-rape-and-problem-of-evil.html

testinganidea: “I should not help the starving and sick children of the world. Most die prior to the age of accountability and are therefore better off dead.”

To this case point (2) of the theodicy can be applied. Moreover, as I pointed out in the thread below, where I sent my comments under the name “Patrick (Christian)”, someone who goes to Heaven because he or she had no opportunity to commit sins may be worse off than someone who goes to Heaven due to having turned to God and having lived a righteous life.

http://commonsenseatheism.com/?p=15584

testinganidea: “God, if truly benevolent, should have given us all the mind of a severely mentally retarded individual as we would still have souls, free will and according to you no risk of hell.”

As long as one has free will, one is able to commit sins and consequently has a risk of hell.

testinganidea: “The victims of the Holocaust and the Indonesian tsunami deserved to suffer and die as they did.”

This conclusion cannot be drawn from my theodicy.

testinganidea: “There is no afterlife compensation for the majority of them; they are not going to heaven as they were not Christian but knew of Christ and rejected his teachings.”

According to this theodicy everyone benefits from an afterlife compensation, either by receiving a lesser degree of punishment or a higher amount of rewards.

testinganidea: “Hence according to your theory, they did not “suffer more in this life than they deserved”.”

Some may, some may not.

testinganidea: “Some Christians get a “better” heaven than other Christians.”

From passages like Luke 19,11-27 or 1 Corinthians 3,10-15 such a conclusion can indeed be drawn. Coming back to your first point it may be that people who are killed before they reach the age of accountability may receive fewer rewards than if they had had the opportunity to become adults.

BenYachov said...

>From (as mentioned above) Brian Davies' "The Reality of God and the Problem of Evil," p146:

Actually that page is from Chapter Six titled HOW NOT TO EXONERATE GOD: II. It continues the discussion on the inadequacy of various types of Theodicy. All of which he rejects.

Davies doesn't really get into describing the different types of good and evil till Chapters 7 & 8. When he talks about natural & moral evil. In chapter 8 he talks about about what metaphysical and ontological goodness entails. He has at this point already discussed moral goodness Chapter 4 GOD'S MORAL STANDING when he shows that is it incoherent to describe God as a moral agent.

In Chapter three he outlines the basic conceptional differences between a Theistic Personalist "god" vs the Classic Theistic concept.

One has to actually read the book rather then pretend they did so.

BenYachov said...

Patrick it seems wishes to champion the pro-Theodicy arguments against Prof Law's critiques.

Well more power to him but as you all know I reject Theodicy since I reject the idea God given His Nature as defined Classically (i.e.via Aristotle, some Plato, Photus, Augustine, Maimonides, and Aquinas etc) cannot coherently be conceived of as a moral agent or morally good. God is merely metaphysically and or ontologically good.

Presupposed as I am to rejecting modern Theodicy some of the counter defenses against the critics have given me pause.

As Davies, & Nick Trakakis both pointed out modern Theodicy and it's major proponents presuppose a God who is a moral agent and a perfectly moral being. Theodicy is an attempt to morally justify a good God who is a moral agent allowing evil to take place.

Anyway I would like to see Prof Law respond to testinganidea last post.

When we tuned in last the cartoon video all of a sudden wasn't an adequate explanation of the EGC anymore as decreed by Prof Law.

To he sent testinganidea back to read the original paper. Forgive me but as far as I can tell testinganidea seems to come to the same conclusions as before in refer to my claim the EGC is a non-starter objection to a Classic View of God.

Law won talk to me because he doesn't like me. Fine but I would like to see his response.

Anything?

testinganidea said...

Patrick,

I am sorry for the cavalier reply in my prior post, I did not understand that you were seriously putting forward these arguments from a position of belief and not as a debating exercise. Your justifications exist in a moral framework that is so far removed from my own that I doubt my ability to even come to agreement on the basic terms required for a discussion. Again my apologies for starting down this path of theodicies.

On the EGC, I am unclear why you think a good god is significantly more likely than an evil god if you accept both might provide an afterlife to compensate for the good or evil in this world. You may not have a double standard on the afterlife but are you not left with:

1- I accept good-god
2- I have no argument to support the acceptance of good-god that does not have a counterpart that would support the acceptance of evil-god
3- I reject evil-god
4- therefore I have a double standard since I hold both 1 and 3

Perhaps you are saying that

1- Any and all knowledge of good and evil in the world fails to tell me anything about the nature of an all good personal god
2- Therefore the EGC has little force on my belief

which I could accept but I find 1 contradictory as by definition personal gods effect the world and this effect should reveal something of their nature.

For example can I say the resurrection of christ shows god's nature to be evil as it created religious strife and feelings of guilt or does this action show his nature to be good? Or do you claim, we just can not know if the resurrection was for good or evil?

David Span said...

A moral agent is a being capable of acting with reference to right and wrong.

A being that knows everything knows about acting with reference to right and wrong (doubly so if there are objective values).

An omnipotent being is capable of acting with reference to right and wrong (doubly so if there are objective values).

Therefore the god as conceived in classical theism is a moral agent.

BenYachov said...

@David Span
>A moral agent is a being capable of acting with reference to right and wrong.

God in the Classic sense is not "a being" alongside other beings.

You are equivocating between a Theistic Personalist concept of God vs the Classic concept. In a Theistic Personalist concept "god" is "a being" alongside other beings only more uber and according to Swimburne shares a moral community with us.

Go read chapter three of THE REALITY OF GOD AND THE PROBLEM OF EVIL or Chapter One of AN INTRODUCTION TO PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION both by Brian Davies then try again.

You have to deal with the God I actually believe in not the one you wish I believed in.

BenYachov said...

Anyway I would still like to see if Prof Law will answer testinganidea's post
"March 12, 2012 11:06 PM"


QUOTE"I find EGC very effective when it forces that “penny drop” feeling."END QUOTE

QUOTE"I am still not sure where my observations go astray so I have taken the abstract from your paper and adjusted from my prior post statements 2, 3 and 4 into the negative to better align with your approach."END QUOTE

He seems to be a fan of the EGC argument who never the less seems to agree(at least tentatively) with my contention that it is a non-starter objection to the Classic View of God.

Prof dismissed his original analysis on the grounds that it was based on the cartoon which now is no longer a valid explanation of the EGC. testinganidea has as per Prof Law's intructions gone back to read the paper & it seems hasn't changed his mind.

So what gives? Where is testinganidea going wrong here?

David Span said...

BenYachov, so just ignore the issue. Just come back with red herrings. Davies failed too in his book. An all-knowing, omnipotent 'god' can act with reference to right and wrong, and hence is a moral agent.

Are you saying this 'god' is not all-knowing or not omnipotent?

BenYachov said...

@David Span

Do you have anything better to offer than "Waaa! No fair you are not a fundamentalist!"?

Hey I can't help you if you live in some weird reality where all religious and philosophical god concepts are completely unequivocal. Without any distinctions or difference whatsoever.

IT'S ALL BUNK! IT'S ALL FAIRY TALES AND FLYING PASTA CREATURES!

Whatever dude. You and djindra can get together sometime & have a circle jerk.

Have fun.

BenYachov said...

>Davies failed too in his book.An all-knowing, omnipotent 'god' can act with reference to right and wrong, and hence is a moral agent.

Where in either of Davies books does he link omnipotent & omniscience with wither or nor God is or is not a moral agent? Page number? Chapter please? At least Prof could provide pages numbers for what he misuderstood.

You are making it up whole cloth Dave.

Anyway I would still like to see if Prof Law will answer testinganidea's post
"March 12, 2012 11:06 PM"

Steven said...

How could we consider good to be evidence against an evil god, if an evil god is impossible/incoherent?

Impossible propositions cannot receive any evidential confirmation at all.

Stephen Law said...

Steven

Suppose a being poessing properties X and Y each to an infinite degree is conceptually incoherent. Nevertheless there may be empirical evidence that there's no being of infinite X and greater-than-n Y. Thus there can be evidence that there's no all=powerful being of evil greater than n. And if there is, why isn't there evidence against an all=powerful being of good greater than n (which includes infinite goodness)?

Craig himself uses empirical evidence against an infinitely old universe despite the fact that he thinks an infinitely old universe is nonsensical. And he's right to do so. If there's evidence the universe is not older than N, that'll do.

So the conceptual/logical impossibility of an evil God (if it could be established, and if it could be established that the good god concept is not similarly incoherent - both big "ifs") doesn't get the theist out of trouble with the EGC. Not at all.

Stephen Law said...

Also, Steven, the issue is not confirmation. I am not suggesting we can confirm the evil god hypothesis.

I am suggesting it's ruled out empirically, in much the same way an infinitely old universe can ruled out empirically even if Craig is right about an infinitely old universe being conceptually ruled out.

If you want to show belief in a good good is significantly more reasonable than downright unreasonable, you'll have to do much better than that.

David Span said...

So again, BenYachov, with the red herrings. So neither you nor Davies can address the issue: an all-knowing, omnipotent 'god' knows and can act with reference to right and wrong, and hence is a moral agent.

But it is again satisfying to see you sink into your usual ad hominem attacks.

testinganidea said...

As Ben correctly states I am a fan of the EGC.

I am still trying to determine if/how I can use this argument when the theist denies the connection between the empirical observations of "good" and the nature of god. My intuition tells me that unless I can get an acceptance of the statement:

1- the evil god is, at least in part, ruled out by observations of good in the world

that I need to try a different argument. Is this correct or am I missing a move that allows the argument to proceed without 1 above?

I understand that I can argue that the theist is wrong to deny the connection between observation and god but this is not the EGC it is a more traditional challenge about the nature of god and the implications in our world of that nature.

BenYachov said...

I can't explain it any better than testinganidea.

Atheists can take comfort in the fact they have guy like him on their team.

He gets it.

Patrick said...

testinganidea: “You may not have a double standard on the afterlife but are you not left with:

[...]

2- I have no argument to support the acceptance of good-god that does not have a counterpart that would support the acceptance of evil-god”

One feature that in my view shows very clearly that there is an asymmetry between good and evil is the observation that it is possible that people do the good for the sake of good, out of sheer obligation, but that they seemingly never do the evil for the sake of evil. Moreover, unlike good evil has an inherent tendency to destroy itself, which can only prevented if there is at least some amount of good. A community can only be stable if its members strive at least to some degree for the good. Good can exist without evil but evil not without good.

testinganidea said...

Patrick,

I am a bit confused. Your reason for favoring a good god is based on your observation of how people behave (“people do good for the sake of good...”) but in the prior post you claimed that empirical evidence about good and evil in this world told us nothing about the moral character of god. Why does this observation deserve special treatment?

You also state that "Good can exist without evil but evil not without good". Not very Zen like but where is your argument for this claim? I have no experiance of the existance of good without evil so why should I accept this claim?

Steven said...

Ah, thanks Dr. Law. I suppose also, if you're unsure whether a proposition is true or false, but know it's either necessarily true or false, you can use evidence to decide. Finally, evidence might change your belief that a proposition is necessarily true or false. So, evidence can definitely be relevant to impossible propositions.

deathray32 said...

Hello, I'm the creator of the video. Thanks to Prof. Law for embedding it in his blog, and thanks to everyone who took the time to watch it. I made the video because when I looked at Christian theologians' responses to the EGC, I was struck by how they were cocooned in their particular conceptual framework and just couldn't see that any other framework is possible, let alone a mirror image framework.

Stephen Law said...

Well my thanks deathray32.

Hi testing an idea. In my experience, most Christians will rule an evil God out empirically, to begin with. That's their strong, and indeed correct, intuition. "Obviously, there's no evil God. Look around you!", they say. Or at least that's what they say until they realize the fatal consequences for their theism, at which point some then say we can't rule out any god hypothesis on the basis of experience. To justify this pretty counter-intuitive claim, they then need an argument, and it may be a skeptical theist argument, or because they think the theodicies work (Glenn Peoples), or because they define "good" such that whatever we observe will always qualify, etc. etc.

At that point, some additional counter-argument is indeed required, depending on which of these immunizing moves the theist makes. However, the fact is their argument is designed to reject what most people, before the penny drops, tend to recognize as true: that we can indeed pretty conclusively rule out an evil God on the basis of experience. The counter-argument is merely needed to deal with the theists' various attempts to avoid acknowledging this truth, and its, for them, unacceptable consequence - that what they believe is indeed empirically refuted.

I've dealt with all the above moves in various comments all over the place and don't really want to start all over again here. I'll do a paper on it at some point soon... EGC part 2.

Patrick said...

testinganidea: “I am a bit confused. Your reason for favoring a good god is based on your observation of how people behave (“people do good for the sake of good...”) but in the prior post you claimed that empirical evidence about good and evil in this world told us nothing about the moral character of god.”

I don’t see where I expressed the idea that empirical evidence about good and evil in this world tell us nothing about God’s moral character. In fact, as can be seen from the following quote from my second comment, I wrote the opposite:

“... Christian theists generally reject such [reverse] theodicies as highly improbable, pointing to the large amount of good in the world. What Christian theists leads to such an assessment are their personal experiences.”

It was only with respect to the afterlife that I pointed out that Christians are not in a position to assess this issue on evidential grounds.

testinganidea: “You also state that "Good can exist without evil but evil not without good". Not very Zen like but where is your argument for this claim? I have no experiance of the existance of good without evil so why should I accept this claim?”

I don’t think that you have to have a real experience of good without evil, a mere thought experiment may suffice. Just try to think if a community of people without at least some amount of virtues like love, honesty or faithfulness would last very long and in addition to this try to think if it would make a difference if such virtues would be around in abundance.

BenYachov said...

>I was struck by how they were cocooned in their particular conceptual framework and just couldn't see that any other framework is possible, let alone a mirror image framework.

I can "accept" for the sake of philosophical argument any framework.

What I can't except is the fallacy of equivocation & trying to pass off no starter arguments as valid in the face of brute logic.

I guess Prof Law has no meaningful response to testinganidea.

BenYachov said...

>The counter-argument is merely needed to deal with the theists' various attempts to avoid acknowledging this truth, and its, for them, unacceptable consequence - that what they believe is indeed empirically refuted.

Accept nothing I would call "god" can be know empirically unless I conceived of "god" as a being alongside other beings.

But that by definition is hardly Classic Theism now is it? It is however Theistic Personalism/Neo-Theism.

So congratulations Prof you cast doubt on the existence of a type of God concept not Thomist, Scotist or Classic Theist believes can exist anyway.

*Yawn!*

djindra said...

"BenYachov" asks, "Where in either of Davies books does he link omnipotent & omniscience with wither or nor God is or is not a moral agent? Page number? Chapter please?"

Let's examine Davies from another direction. Where does he provide a challenge to Evil God? The most relevant section of "The Reality of God and the Problem of Evil" is "God and morality" starting on page 98. Every sentence in that section could be rewritten for an Evil God and have similar effect.

Examples:

p99:

"Aquinas certainly does not think of God as an individual who is subject to duties and obligations, or as something displaying Aristotelian virtues, as Aristotle took good people to do."

Rewrite,

An EGC certainly does not need to think of God as an individual who is subject to evil duties and obligations, or as something displaying vices, as Aristotle may have taken bad people to do.

p100:

"With respect to analogical predication, I agree with Shanley that ... goodness is a matter of actuality (that to say that X is good is to say that it has succeeded in being in some way -- that, for example, a good cat is one which actually has what you look for in healthy cats)."

Rewrite:

An EGC can easily argue that evil is a matter of actuality (that to say that X is evil is to say that it has succeeded in being in some way -- that, for example, an evil cat is one which actually is a killing machine).

p102:

"[Aquinas] does not, of course, want to say that, for example, God can determine by fiat whether or not it is right to torture children (though there have been some who seem to have embraced this position)."

Rewrite:

An EGC does not, of course, need to say that, for example, God can determine by fiat whether or not it is right to hug children (though there have been some who seem to have embraced this position)."

p102:

"[Aquinas'] position is that God cannot effect (bring about) anything bad, since for God to create is for him to bring about what is real, and therefore (at least to some extent) good."

Rewrite:

An EG cannot effect (bring about) anything good, since for God to create is for him to bring about what is real (that is, material), and therefore (at least to some extent) evil. So it would make no sense to conceive of God as producing (and therefore as willing) good.

And,

If for Aquinas, "(a) God wills us to do what is good because it is good, and (b) what is good for us to do depends on the way in which God has made creatures to be;" (p102) then for an EGC, (a) God wills us to do what is evil because it is evil, and (b) what is evil for us to do depends on the way in which God has made creatures to be."

So the EGC could easily believe of Evil God, just as Davies does of his God, "that an end-of-term report on his moral standing (whether favourable or unfavourable) would simply fail to engage with what he is."

In short, Davies is no counter to an EGC. There's no reason an Evil God needs to be any more of a moral agent than the Davies/Aquinas (supposed) Good God. And rewriting the Davies arguments for an Evil God ends up showing us how morally impotent and irrelevant the Classical Theist God is, assuming anyone actually stuck to believing in such a thing.

BenYachov said...

Normally I would ignore djindra since I think he is clearly not all there.

But I couldn't resist.

>Let's examine Davies from another direction. Where does he provide a challenge to Evil God?

I reply: He never addresses the issue most likely because he would equate an "Evil God" with a Theistic Personalist concept of deity only morally malignant.

The rest of your rant is nothing more than a fallacy of equivocation. You take every maximum written by Aquinas & swap out the word "good" & replace it with "evil". But how is that coherent?

Example "A good man gives money to the poor. But an evil man steals from & exploits the poor."

So if you rewrite it to say "A evil man gives money to the poor. But an good man steals from & exploits the poor."

Does this even sound coherent? How does this give us a clear idea of what it means to be good or evil? It doesn't.

It's like I said trying to make 2+2=5 "true" by redefining the numeral symbol "5" to mean four objects. In which case you still don't actually make 2+2=5 it still equals four.

You haven't adapted Aquinas to fit the EGC. Rather you have shown even more clearly why it's category mistake to even try.

The EGC is a non-starter for any Classic Theistic view of God in any conceivable reality.

Now I will sit back & enjoy djindra's or Span's lunatic reason challenged responses.

I give the rest of you my word not to hold their wackyness against all Atheists.

BenYachov said...

>evil is a matter of actuality

Like saying.

A murder is when the public authority exercises it's lawful & just God given authority after due process to take the life of some found guilty of a capital crime.

vs.

It's like saying a civil execution is the unlawful & unjust taking of a human life by an individual without due process.

I do not know what kind of drugs djindra takes to this day.

But I wish I knew so I could score some.;-)

BenYachov said...

Anyway back to my Phiny the Younger impression.

I would still like to see if Prof Law will answer testinganidea's post
"March 12, 2012 11:06 PM"


Oh and Carthage must be destroyed!

testinganidea said...

Patrick,

My mistake; it is now clear to me that you accept observational evidence from this world does tell you about the nature of “god”. Given that outlook I would like to ask you two questions implied by the EGC:

On a scale of 1 (certainly false) to 10 (certainly true) how likely do you think it is that in our world a good god exists?

On a scale of 1 (certainly false) to 10 (certainly true) how likely do you think it is that in our world an evil god exists?

I would reply 1 (within rounding error for additional evidence) to both but I assume you would reply differently. Thanks in advance.

Patrick said...

testinganidea

With respect to an evil God my answer is 1, with respect to God the figure oscillates between 9 and 10.

testinganidea said...

Patrick,

If your thought experiment had gone the other way and you could imagine evil without good would you have responded that the likelihood of evil god was 9 or 10 and the likelihood of good god was 1?

If the thought experiment was shown to fail what would happen to your belief?

If the thought experiment could be shown to flip, would the likelihood of good god and evil god both shift to 5? Would they both shift to 1 (it is possible that both hypothesis are wrong)?

testinganidea said...

Patrick,

If your thought experiment had gone the other way and you could imagine evil without good would you have responded that the likelihood of good god was 1 and the likelihood of evil god was 9 or 10?

If the thought experiment could be shown to fail what would happen to your beliefs?

If the thought experiment can be flipped does the likelihood for both good god and evil god shift to 5? Or shift to 1 (it is possible that both are highly unlikely)?

testinganidea said...

Dr. Law,

Thank you for your reply as I believe it does answer my question.

I stated that if the theist does not accept:

1- the evil god is, at least in part, ruled out by observations of good in the world

then I need to try a different argument. And asked (in my prior post)

“Is this correct or am I missing a move that allows the argument to proceed without 1 above?

I understand that I can argue that the theist is wrong to deny the connection between observation and god but this is not the EGC it is a more traditional challenge about the nature of god and the implications in our world of that nature.”

Dr Law states:

“At that point, some additional counter-argument is indeed required, depending on which of these immunizing moves the theist makes.”

which I take to mean that my intuition was correct and I need 1 above. I am very comfortable with this answer since I find most (personal) theists on shaky ground when you separate god's moral character from its impact in our world often having to defend an extreme skepticism that they do not truly hold.

BenYachov said...

@testinganidea

You believe Prof Law has answered you? I sort of missed it but I will take your word for it. Let's look at it.

>At that point, some additional counter-argument is indeed required, depending on which of these immunizing moves the theist makes.”

When we made similar arguments over at Feser's blog it was like pulling teeth.

You pretty much came close to getting Prof Law to admit the EGC by itself is in effect a non-starter when applied to Classic Theism which doesn't admit to being able to know about God using modern empiricism.

Kudos! I guess he didn't want to show weakness in front of a bunch of Theists by such admission?

You can try(& most likely ultimately fail) to
use modern empiricism to come up with a Paley style, Intelligent Design "god"-of-Gaps with strong anthropomorphic tendencies but to a Thomist that is not God.


>I find most (personal) theists on shaky ground when you separate god's moral character from its impact in our world often having to defend an extreme skepticism that they do not truly hold.

I reply: The problem with this approach is you have to put on the hat of a Theistic Personalist religious apologist.

You have to prove to me a God neither of us believes exists in fact exists so you can use the EGC to undermine belief in said God.

But what take that tactic to prove to me that Classic Theism is false?

That's like me telling you I am a Theistic Evolutionist & your Atheist strategy? Prove to me YEC is true so you can then turn around and use your previously useless anti-YEC polemics.

Just learn Thomism and some Scotism & move on from there my friend. Start by at least reading Sir Anthony Kenny.

Trying to argue with a Classic Theist especially a Thomist that God is a moral agent is a non-starter.

Anyway I enjoyed your input here kudos.

Peace.

David Span said...

Except that a an all-knowing, omnipotent 'god' by definition is a moral agent.

testinganidea said...

Ben,
When the theist does not accept:

1- the evil god is, at least in part, ruled out by observations of good in the world

I would move on to other more traditional arguments but I do not do so with the intent of returning to the EGC. Without 1 I see no reason to argue EGC as the discussion needs to be about the god they understand and believe in or I am effectively (though perhaps not technically) in straw-man fallacy land.

Perhaps we will discuss other isues in the future though not until I have read Davies and a few of the other references suggested.

Patrick said...

testinganidea

If an assessment of the empirical evidence showed that the existence of an evil God is as probable as the existence of a good God, this might diminish my confidence concerning the Christian faith, as one might expect that if God created the world, there should be some evidence pointing to His existence, but I don’t think that it would shatter my faith, as there are other arguments in favour of a good God, such as the ontological argument or the compensatory afterlife theodicy, which, as I pointed out above, cannot be argued against on evidential grounds and is therefore immune against the EGC.

BenYachov said...

I like you testinganidea you get it.

Some additional recommendations if you can get a copy a paper by(Nick) N.N. Trakakis titled AGAINST THEODICY: A RESPONSE TO PETER FORREST that would help too.

Trakakis wrote a book tiled GOD BEYOND BELIEF in which he defends Rowe evidential argument from evil against the existence of God.

Trakakis himself is a "tentative Theist". He's developing a point of view called "anti-theodicy" in which he asserts Theodicy presupposes a "god" who is overly anthropomorphic and thus not the Transcendent God of classic Judeo-Christian religious tradition.

From his website:
" The Problem of Evil

“Anti-theodicy” is the view that a certain way of responding to the problem of evil – specifically, the response of theodicy, where one tries to identify the reasons why God permits evil – is deeply flawed. But, according to the anti-theodicist, theodicies are flawed not because we do not (or cannot) know the reasons why God permits evil, but because theodicies are committed to some dubious moral and metaphysical assumptions. I am in the process of developing further this “anti-theodicy” position, and defending it against objections that have been levelled against it."

As Davies said (To quote Trakakis quoting him from the paper I mentioned.

QUOTE" To be blunt, I suggest that many contemporary philosophers writing on the problem of evil (both theists and non-theists) have largely been wasting their
time... They are like people attacking or defending tennis players because they fail to run a mile in under four minutes. Tennis players are not in the business
of running four-minute miles. Similarly, God is not something with respect to which moral evaluation (whether positive or negative) is appropriate."END QUOTE

Cheers man.

testinganidea said...

Patrick,

You rated the likelihood of evil god at a 1 while the likelihood of God at a 9 or 10 and in your last post stated:

”but I don’t think that it [the failure of your though experiment] would shatter my faith, as there are other arguments in favour of a good God, such as the ontological argument or the compensatory afterlife theodicy”

As the afterlife theodicy can be flipped (as you noted when you introduced it) and the ontological argument (I assume a first mover since you did not specify which ontological argument) also applies equally well to the evil god these cannot be responsible for the difference in the likelihoods you assigned to evil god vs GOD.

Is your though experiment really what accounts for this difference (your last reply was unclear) or are there other reasons?

BenYachov said...

>Except that a an all-knowing, omnipotent 'god' by definition is a moral agent.

This is a mere Ad Hoc claim. That is like saying all gods are creators.

Well a Pantheistic God isn't a creator in any meaningful sense. How could a Patheistic God create the Universe when He/It is the same as the Universe?

I wonder though if this is what Prof Law might try if he follows through with his "threat" to write a paper on Davies' Thomistic view of God & on how his EGC could somehow apply?

Simply Ad Hoc declare all god concepts portray moral agants?

That's is not going to convince anyone with an IQ larger then the number three.

I hope Law has more common sense then Span.

djindra said...

"BenYachov"

Of me you claim: "He never addresses the issue most likely because he would equate an "Evil God" with a Theistic Personalist concept of deity only morally malignant."

That's idle speculation.

Then you take this dumb line of attack:

Example "A good man gives money to the poor. But an evil man steals from & exploits the poor."

So if you rewrite it to say "A evil man gives money to the poor. But an good man steals from & exploits the poor."


Yet I wouldn't need to rewrite it. I'd leave as it is: "A good man gives money to the poor. But an evil man steals from & exploits the poor." The fact that you think I'd need to rewrite it means you don't understand what a Classical Evil God would entail. We don't necessarily have to swap what we say it means to be good and evil in men. We merely have to swap your characterization of God's essence (or possibly "intent") in the vast scheme of things.

djindra said...

"BenYachov"

You clearly are confused as evident in:

"A murder is when the public authority exercises it's lawful & just God given authority after due process to take the life of some found guilty of a capital crime.

vs.

It's like saying a civil execution is the unlawful & unjust taking of a human life by an individual without due process."


Why do you think human law is necessarily God's law and executed by God's authority? Do you apply this standard to current law? For example, is the right to abortion God's law, in your opinion, or evidence of human misunderstanding or even revolt?

Civil law does not have to have anything at all to do with God's nature whether it's considered good, evil, or indifferent.

djindra said...

Classic Theism ... doesn't admit to being able to know about God using modern empiricism.

At best that's a half-truth. Without empirical evidence Classical Theism is a non-starter. And once it gets rolling it depends on empirical evidence to reach its conclusions about perfection and purpose. How can we know a heart is for pumping blood without the empirical evidence?

BenYachov said...

>evil is a matter of actuality.

>Yet I wouldn't need to rewrite it. I'd leave as it is: "A good man gives money to the poor. But an evil man steals from & exploits the poor." The fact that you think I'd need to rewrite it means you don't understand what a Classical Evil God would entail.

This is your brain on both Dawkins and anti-philosophy Gnu'Atheism.

Any questions?

Enough djindra. Let the grown ups talk. You have nothing worth responding too.

Word games & sophistry are not philosophy.

If there is any hope for you keep reading testinganidea's posts. He can show you how it's done. You have nothing.

djindra said...

BenYachov,

So I've stumped you. I called you bluff and you folded.

BenYachov said...

>So I've stumped you. I called you bluff and you folded.

Your are right claims you can really make 2+2=5 true by redefining the numeral "5" to mean four objects have stumped me.

Just as taking Aquinas arguments and swapping out the word "good" and replacing it with the word "evil" is an argument for an "evil" Classic Theistic God.

I am totally totally stumped on how anybody could possibly answer this intelligently.

Now show pity on everyone else & let the grownups talk.

Patrick said...

testinganidea: “As the afterlife theodicy can be flipped (as you noted when you introduced it) and the ontological argument (I assume a first mover since you did not specify which ontological argument) also applies equally well to the evil god these cannot be responsible for the difference in the likelihoods you assigned to evil god vs GOD.”

You seem to confuse the ontological argument with the cosmological argument. The latter is compatible with an evil God, the former, for all I know, isn’t. The ontological argument aims at demonstrating that a maximally great being necessarily exists. With respect to this argument the following links are very informative:

http://www.reasonablefaith.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=6155

http://www.reasonablefaith.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=7841

http://www.reasonablefaith.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=8139

http://www.reasonablefaith.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=8715

testinganidea: “Is your though experiment really what accounts for this difference (your last reply was unclear) or are there other reasons?”

Another evidential argument against the evil God hypothesis can be drawn from the unique character of the Christian miracles, for which I argued under the name “patrick.sele” in the following thread.

http://debunkingchristianity.blogspot.com/2012/03/is-evidence-for-resurrection-of-jesus.html

testinganidea said...

Patrick,

Two point on your statement:

“You seem to confuse the ontological argument with the cosmological argument. The latter is compatible with an evil God, the former, for all I know, isn’t.”

1) I picked the first mover argument which meet the definition of an ontological argument (wikipedia: An ontological argument for the existence of God (or simply ontological argument) is any one of a category of arguments for the existence of God. ... the arguments typically start with the definition of God and conclude with his necessary existence, using mostly or only a priori reasoning and little reference to empirical observation.) knowing that it might not be the one you intended. I cannot judge what your particular ontological argument until you provide the argument in some detail.

2) As you yourself seem uncertain as to whether your particular ontological argument does or does not apply to the evil god I can only conclude that it is not the reason you rated the likelihood of evil god and 1 and God at 9 or 10.

You then extend the list of your possible reasons for the differing likelihoods with:

“Another evidential argument against the evil God hypothesis can be drawn from the unique character of the Christian miracles”

If for the sake of argument I grant that these miracles occurred it is still true that

If you do not know/assume the nature of God (which is the issue in question and therefore cannot be assumed) prior to examining the miracles

the claim that

a- Evil god performs these miracles to encourage false beliefs that create and reinforce sectarian divides, intolerance, envy, and prejudice. Evil god give each group their own unique miracles so they “know good god is on their side” giving rise to more evil in the world.

is as likely as the claim that

b- Good god did them for the rational given on the sites you point to.

Without prior knowledge of the good/evil nature of God these events (even if true) are silent on the question at hand (without special pleading) and should therefore not be the reason for your dispirit likelihood ratings.

djindra said...

"BenYachov":

"Just as taking Aquinas arguments and swapping out the word "good" and replacing it with the word "evil" is an argument for an "evil" Classic Theistic God."

I can't help it if your arbitrary definition of good and evil in relation to God is open to such things.

David Span said...

Applying a definition consistently is not a fallacy.

An omnipotent, omniscient god would be capable of acting with reference to right and wrong. Hence such a god would be a moral agent.

This is not saying that "all gods are moral agents," hence it is not equivalent to "all gods are creators." Hence BenYachov is yet again sprouting red herrings.

Aquinas's conception of a god is a moral agent.

Benyachov said...

>Aquinas's conception of a god is a moral agent.

Aquinas clearly didn't think so. Making unequivocal comparisons between humans or creatures in general and God is a big no no.


QUOTE"AS the divine goodness comprehends within itself in a certain way all goodnesses, and virtue is a sort of goodness, the divine goodness must contain all virtues after a manner proper to itself. But no virtue is predicated as an attribute of God after the manner of a habit, as virtues are in us. For it does not befit God to be good by anything superadded to Him, but only by His essence, since He is absolutely simple. Nor again does He act by anything superadded to His essence, as His essence is His being (Chap. XLV). Virtue therefore in God is not any habit, but His own essence.

2. A habit is an imperfect actuality, half-way between potentiality and actuality: hence the subjects of habits are compared to persons asleep. But in God actuality is most perfect. Virtue therefore in Him is not like a habit or a science, but is as a present act of consciousness, which is the extremest perfection of actuality.


Summa Contra Gentiles 92 END QUOTE

Gnu'Atheists aren't just mere idiots they are f***ing idiots.

David Span said...

And more red herrings from BenYachov.

The conception of an omnipotent omniscient god is, as shown, by definition, a moral agent -- regardless of Aquinas's incoherent claims.

But please BenYachov, come back with more of your insults and red herrings -- makes you look really credible.

Benyachov said...

Gee Dave you sure convinced me.....;-)

testinganidea said...

David,

I know this is not my place in the discussion thread so I will bow out if any of you request that I do so but I am trying to become at least a bit familiar with the concepts of classic theism in case I cross its path elsewhere.

It appears that Aquinas took great care to lay out his definition of terms as he recognizes that his usage may not be ours.

When you state that

“an omnipotent omniscient god is, as shown by definition, a moral agent – regardless of Aquinas’s incoherent claims.”

Are you saying that

1- Given Aquinas’s definitions of terms for omnipotent and omniscient you can show that his entity god is a moral agent. Or that

2- His definition of omnipotent and/or omniscient is self refuting. Or that

3- The combination of omnipotent and omniscient under his definitions are logically inconsistent when applied to the same entity similar to a married bachelor. Or simply that

4- Under my definitions (not Aquinas’s) of omnipotent and omniscient, moral agency can be inferred.

If it is 4 then I will not expect to learn much about classic theism from the dialog but if it is 1, 2 or 3 could you please provide the details of how your reach this conclusion , starting with the classic theist definitions as you understand them.

Thank you in advance.

djindra said...

"BenYachov"

If God is not a moral agent (and I agree he is not) then God has no choice in moral matters and becomes irrelevant. This is the main reason I can't take your claim of God's non-agency as your terminal position.

Patrick said...

testinganidea: “As you yourself seem uncertain as to whether your particular ontological argument does or does not apply to the evil god I can only conclude that it is not the reason you rated the likelihood of evil god and 1 and God at 9 or 10.”

That evil cannot exist without good and is inferior to the latter is the main reason for my rating of the likelihood of an evil God. I cannot imagine that God could create anything superior to Himself. It was only for the sake of argument that I entertained the idea that evil could exist without good and what else would convince me of the existence of a good God. So, an evil God can be ruled out and therefore all arguments for God’s existence, no matter whether or not they tell us anything about God’s moral character, are automatically arguments for the existence of a good God.

testinganidea: “Evil god performs these miracles to encourage false beliefs that create and reinforce sectarian divides, intolerance, envy, and prejudice. Evil god give each group their own unique miracles so they “know good god is on their side” giving rise to more evil in the world.”

As the evidence for Christian miracle claims seems to be better than that for non-Christian miracle claims, this objection may not apply.

testinganidea said...

Patrick,

Within the framework where God, if existent, is a person, a moral agent who is active in our world, the question we are investigating is whether the one is justified in thinking both

1- the existence good god is very likely
2- the existence of evil god is very unlikely

given the balance of arguments used to support/refute good god and the balance of these same arguments reconfigured to support/refute evil god.

You seem now to be saying since evil god does not exist one does not have to apply the arguments to both sides and see if one is justified in their likelihood ratings. In saying this you are of course avoiding the very question we were trying to evaluate. You can retreat to I just know god is good by definition but for someone who claims to believe in a personal and active god, that is almost an contradiction , as you yourself stated one should be able to find the evidence in this world to justify the claim that good is good.

Let me summarize where I thought we were in the discussion. We have two balance scales, the first for the evaluating the proposition that good god exists. On this we place the arguments/evidence for god god’s existence on the right side and arguments/evidence against good god’s existence on the left side. The second scale is for the evaluating the proposition that evil god exists. On this we place the arguments/evidence for evil god’s existence on the right side and arguments/evidence against evil god’s existence on the left side. We agreed that the cosmological argument, the fine tuning argument, and perhaps your ontological argument (you were not sure and did not provide the details for us to examine this yet) go on the right side of both scales. The evidential PoE went on the left of good god’s balance but then so did the evidential PoG for evil god. Theodicies and their flipped counterparts went on the right sides. Miracles went on the right side of both since both good and evil god had reason to cause them. It would seem that you may say that both scales are tipped right, left or even but there is no rational for saying the good god scale tips heavily to the right but evil god scale tips heavily to the left.

There is however one piece of evidence left, your thought experiment that in this world good can exist without evil but evil cannot exist without good. After putting this evidence on the scales you claim likelihoods on 1 for evil god and 9 or 10 for good god.

So I ask again, if I can show you that your thought experiment fails, or that neither good nor evil can exist without the other will you accept as rational the statement that good god is only as reasonable as evil god?

Patrick said...

testinganidea

I don’t think that my thought experiment can fail and that you can show that evil can exist without at least some amount of good. I can’t imagine that it can. To some extent evil is always dependent on good. Try to imagine a world in which virtues like love, honesty, or faithfulness would be totally lacking.

As for the ontological argument, given that good and evil are not on a par, it is clearly supportive of a good God.

deathray32 said...

As Angie says in the video, it's simplistic to think that "evil = 100 - good". Good and evil are both generalizations, or as someone put it in another video I saw recently, they are adjectives rather than nouns. Arguing whether good can exist without evil or vice versa is really missing the point. Neither can exist without humans to conceptualize them.

testinganidea said...

Patrick,

I am sorry that I cannot yet respond to your statement on the ontological argument but I am still unclear which ontological argument you favor. I assume it is not the one BenYachov defends as that would not give you a personal god and is inconsistent with the theodicies you put forward. Can you provide some details so I can understand why you think this is an asymmetric argument?

Your thought experiment actually hinges not on if there can be a world without any good but on whether we can have, in this world, good without evil since if both require the other this example tell us little if anything about the nature of god. Also, since we cannot, in this discussion, just assert good god exists and evil god does not exist, by what yardstick are you measuring superior and inferior? If something is superior due to its relation to god’s nature then evil could be superior given the appropriate god.

Let me expand the options slightly. There is now a third scale this one is used to measure the reasonableness of a morally indifferent god. Arguments like the cosmological and fine tuning go on the right hand side of the balance. PoE, PoG and theodicies are not needed, which since the theodicies may fail, is a net plus to this god’s reasonableness. In general belief in this god is at least as rational as the others (good god and evil god) up until the point we consider your though experiment. When we add this argument you claim evil god becomes very unlikely (rated a 1) yet this argument has no impact on indifferent god (under indifferent god the fact that you cannot imagine a world without love, honesty and faithfulness comes from the fact that you are a social animal who needs these things to survive). Do you rate the likelihood of indifferent god as a 9 or 10 as it seems to have the same balance as good god?

testinganidea said...

Deathray32,

While I am inclined to agree with your approach to good and evil (although I think assuming that the consciousness that conceptualize the terms must be human is a bit self-aggrandizing) but if the EGC is to be effective I believe we must start from the terms, definitions and arguments provided by the theist. If we do not take this approach it is hard to see how EGC can be convincing to anyone.

testinganidea said...

Patrick,

A quick aside about your thought experiment as it seems to have interesting consequences if true. The informal outline below shows how if your claim is true it may actually prove good god false.

Let us assume that you are correct and that you can think of a world like ours but with only good and no evil.

1- One can imagine a world like ours but with only good

2- For your thought experiment to work this world must not be a logical contradiction like a square circle.

3- From your definition of good being superior to evil this world is better than our world. (If some specific evil makes a world better than it would be without it than this evil is superior to the good that would exist if this evil did not exist.)

4- An omnipotent god can do anything that is not logically impossible

5- An omnipotent god could create a world with humans but where evil does not arise

6- If this god crated our world instead of this possible world he crated gratuitous evil and is therefore not Omni-benevolent (as required of good god)

Note that theodicies cannot help here because you granted that it was possible to have good without evil and theodicies only explain why evil exists alongside of good.

Patrick said...

testinganidea: “I am sorry that I cannot yet respond to your statement on the ontological argument but I am still unclear which ontological argument you favor. I assume it is not the one BenYachov defends as that would not give you a personal god and is inconsistent with the theodicies you put forward. Can you provide some details so I can understand why you think this is an asymmetric argument?”

As Stephen Law in his paper “The evil-god challenge” argues that there can be a reverse ontological argument pointing to a maximally evil God and as I am not an expert on the ontological argument, I suggest that we leave this issue.

testinganidea: “Your thought experiment actually hinges not on if there can be a world without any good but on whether we can have, in this world, good without evil since if both require the other this example tell us little if anything about the nature of god.”

There are three possibilities how the relationship between good and evil can be seen:

(1) Evil is a lack of good.
(2) Good and evil are both positive qualities that are on a par, and thus evil can exist without good.
(3) Good is a lack of evil.

In my view (2) can be excluded, as it would entail that God being the origin of all qualities would have to be at the same time perfectly good and perfectly evil, which clearly is a logical impossibility.

Now (1) and (3) are the options that are left and the question arises which of these views is more reasonable. I think prima facie most people would suggest that (1) is more reasonable than (3). But (1) points to a good God.

testinganidea: Also, since we cannot, in this discussion, just assert good god exists and evil god does not exist, by what yardstick are you measuring superior and inferior?

My yardstick is as follows: “If x can exist without y, but y not without x, x is superior to y.”

testinganidea: There is now a third scale this one is used to measure the reasonableness of a morally indifferent god.

If of the three options mentioned above (1) is correct, God is perfectly good, if (3) is correct, God is perfectly evil. I’ve pointed out that we can exclude (2) and with it the concept of a morally indifferent God, as neither a perfectly good nor a perfectly evil God can be morally indifferent.

testinganidea: “An omnipotent god could create a world with humans but where evil does not arise”

What you are referring to here is the logical problem of evil. As can be seen from the following link it is widely acknowledged that this version of the problem of evil has been solved.

http://www.iep.utm.edu/evil-log/

testinganidea: “Note that theodicies cannot help here because you granted that it was possible to have good without evil and theodicies only explain why evil exists alongside of good.”

The point is that it is no problem to conceive of a world with only good but no evil, but that it is hardly conceivable that in a world where things would be the other way round humanity would survive for a long time.

BenYachov said...

Number "3" is meaningless at best & illogical at worst if there is no formal definition or metaphysical description of either good or evil.

It in essence makes the claim Being is evil or Existence is evil but a lack of existence or non-Being is good.

Which is weird since that would mean even a Morally good God by even Prof Law pre-theoretical concepts of Good & Evil would in effect be really evil for merely existing.

Of course I reject Theodicies for the most part and I am a (Classic) Theist so I don't have a dog in this fight.

Patrick said...

Theologian Michael Rundle formulated an objection to the EGC, which is worth considering. It can be read in the following link:

http://whatyouthinkmatters.org/blog/article/the-evil-god-challenge

A further argument against the EGC, put forward by Michael Rundle, seems to me also very interesting (source: http://sententias.org/2012/01/20/a-response-to-the-problem-of-an-evil-god-as-raised-by-stephen-law/):

„[I]f evilness itself requires some object which it can be evil toward then this god cannot be a necessary being but must be contingent. The existence of evil god would only make any sense in relationship to some other being to which it could be evil in relationship to. The necessary relationship is one where evil god is the perpetrator and there is some victim.“

It might be objected that the same applies to a good God, as He could also only be good in relationship to some other being. But to whom could God have been good to before He created anything? However, as Rundle pointed out, this needn’t be a challenge for Trinitarian monotheism (source: http://whatyouthinkmatters.org/blog/article/the-evil-god-challenge):

“The cosmological argument points to some ontically necessary being which does not depend on anything else for its existence. But evil god cannot fit that bill. In order to be necessary it cannot depend on anything else to exist as itself and evil god cannot meet that challenge. However, interestingly neither can a good god. However, a trinitarian good God can. Since there are a trinity of persons expressing love perfectly to each other in eternity.”

testinganidea said...

Patrick,

That “most people would suggest that (1) [evil is the lack of good] is more reasonable” makes no difference to whether or not it is true. The point of the EGC is that many people, such as you, say good god is more reasonable than evil god even when they have no justification for making that claim. We are asking why you claim good god is more reasonable and what evidence do you have to support that claim. You cannot simply assert the answer or claim truth is determined by majority rule.

If your argument boils down to “most people would suggest” then you have no argument and we are back to the question of why you have such different likelihood for good god and evil god.

A minor aside and not central to the discussion - Since you object to allowing god to have two opposing qualities what are your thoughts on:

God can have perfect indifference and good and evil are just the results of the lack of that perfection that is option (4) Good and evil are the lack of indifference

BenYachov said...

>That “most people would suggest that (1) [evil is the lack of good] is more reasonable” makes no difference to whether or not it is true.

How do you determine which of these is true?

Atheist? Non-Thomist Theists?

testinganidea said...

Patrick,

First, as you just discovered this argument, it could not have anything to do with the rational you used in determining your likelihood ratings so I am not sure it is relevant. The question is why do you believe so strongly in the good god and so easily reject the evil god. It seems that you are intent on rigging the game; whenever it looks like the scales are balanced you scour the internet looking for arguments that might bolster your current position rather than honestly confront the fact that you might believe in good god over evil god without any demonstrable reason and that both good god and evil god are equally likely.

That said, my preliminary analysis follows:

Michael Rundle’s argument he seems to be treating good and evil as verbs (that is actions taken by god toward something) and this is not the same sense (the nature of god’s attributes) as we have been using. Under this approach Rundle makes god a plural subject to avoid the initial target issue (the third person of the trinity is completely gratuitous and only postulated to match his preexisting belief and this should be an obvious case of results not support by the argument even to believers). If you want to use this definition and split god into multiple personalities the same can be done for evil god.

BenYachov said...

> It seems that you are intent on rigging the game; whenever it looks like the scales are balanced you scour the internet looking for arguments that might bolster your current position rather than honestly confront the fact that you might believe in good god over evil god without any demonstrable reason and that both good god and evil god are equally likely.

I cry bullshit!

This makes no sense so Patrick should just rely on his own knowledge when arguing & no research other responses to the EGC?

If the EGC is so formidable then it should be able to take on all comers?

Suppose Patrick where a follower of Michael Behe & he was debating you on why you believe in Neo-Darwinian Evolution but set up some Ad Hoc rule that forbade you to searching for responses to Behe's objections via his critics?

What if you where dumb enough(& I don't think you are) to accept this limit & as a result of it Patrick succeeds exploiting your ignorance to create cognitive dissonance and cause you to abandon evolution.

Would anybody see that as credible?

Mind you I think most of Patrick's argument are non-starters in the first place.

You are better than this testinganidea.

>you might believe in good god over evil god without any demonstrable reason and that both good god and evil god are equally likely.

I would actually agree with the above statement if you replaced the phrase "demonstrable reason" with "empirical".

Because that is what this is about.

Can God be known empirically?

BenYachov said...

>First, as you just discovered this argument, it could not have anything to do with the rational you used in determining your likelihood ratings ...

What does this matter? I always had a sense God was something Radically Other than what I am or other creatures are but when I discovered Thomism I could put my intuitions into a formal philosophical model.

Clearly there are good reasons to believe the choice is either good god or no god.

Of course you can use Theodicy to justify a morally good god or anti-theodicy to justify a morally evil one. All things being equal there isn't a reason to prefer one over the other till you start investigating what do we mean by "god" & what do we mean by "good" vs "evil".

Patrick said...

testinganidea: “That “most people would suggest that (1) [evil is the lack of good] is more reasonable” makes no difference to whether or not it is true. The point of the EGC is that many people, such as you, say good god is more reasonable than evil god even when they have no justification for making that claim. We are asking why you claim good god is more reasonable and what evidence do you have to support that claim. You cannot simply assert the answer or claim truth is determined by majority rule.

If your argument boils down to “most people would suggest” then you have no argument and we are back to the question of why you have such different likelihood for good god and evil god.”

I agree with you that what most people regard as true is not necessarily true. However, there must be a reason why so many people have such an intuition, and it’s certainly worth examining whether or not there is something substantial behind it.

testinganidea: “A minor aside and not central to the discussion - Since you object to allowing god to have two opposing qualities what are your thoughts on:

God can have perfect indifference and good and evil are just the results of the lack of that perfection that is option (4) Good and evil are the lack of indifference”

In my view indifference is not a positive quality but can be seen as a lack of interest. Moreover if good is a positive quality and therefore has its origin in God I don’t see how God could be indifferent to something that has its origin in Himself. Finally I wonder if an omniscient being to whom all things and beings owe their existence can be indifferent towards anything at all.

testinganidea: “First, as you just discovered this argument, it could not have anything to do with the rational you used in determining your likelihood ratings so I am not sure it is relevant.”

This argument is not meant to explain my assessment of the likelihood of an evil God in response to your question, as the comment is not addressed to you specifically.

testinganidea: “The question is why do you believe so strongly in the good god and so easily reject the evil god.”

An evil God certainly would do anything to promote evil in the world. Unlike a good God this God would have no moral restraints that would restrict his ability to pursue his goals. If such a God exists why would he allow the spread of a book claiming to be his revelation that promotes as its most important commandments to love God and to love of one’s neighbour and that holds out the prospect of punishment in the afterlife for evil behaviour? Why do miracle claims connected to this book seem to have better evidence than other miracle claims? Why is it that good can exist without evil, but not evil without good?

BenYachov said...

>If such a God exists why would he allow the spread of a book claiming to be his revelation that promotes as its most important commandments to love God and to love of one’s neighbour and that holds out the prospect of punishment in the afterlife for evil behaviour?

I am an equal opportunity critic & I don't play partisan favorites just because Patrick is a fellow Theist and Christian.

Why does the Good God who wrote the Bible tolerate the Book of Mormon/Koran/Vedas etc? This is not a good argument from the Theist side. I would never use it to polemic EGC.

Philosophical arguments that contrast God who by definition is Perfect with Evil which by definition describes imperfection are more successful in showing an Evil God is an incoherent concept when applied to Western Monotheistic God concepts.

Go back to that.

Patrick said...

Ben Yachov: “Why does the Good God who wrote the Bible tolerate the Book of Mormon/Koran/Vedas etc? This is not a good argument from the Theist side. I would never use it to polemic EGC.”

Point (3) of my theodicy outlined above may provide an answer. It aims at explaining why God often doesn’t interfere more conspicuously in order to prevent evil. It is formulated as follows:

“The greater God’s beneficial power due to His love, the greater God’s destructive power due to His justice (see Matthew 13,27-29). Striving to prevent as much suffering as possible God can only interfere to such a degree that the beneficial effect of the interference is not neutralized by the destructive effect of it.”

It may be of interest to you as a classical theist that this point is based on the concept of divine simplicity. For those who are not familiar with this concept, Edward Feser explains it very well as follows (source: http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2009/11/william-lane-craig-on-divine-simplicity.html):

“The doctrine of divine simplicity holds that God is in no way composed of parts. ... There is also no distinction within God between any of the divine attributes: ... Talking or conceiving of God, God’s essence, God’s existence, God’s power, God’s goodness, and so forth are really all just different ways of talking or conceiving of one and the very same thing. Though we distinguish between them in thought, there is no distinction at all between them in reality.”

This point of the theodicy shows that God’s power, God’s love and God’s justice are indistinguishable. As an evil God is neither perfectly good nor perfectly just, the constraint pointed to in this point doesn’t apply to such a God.

BenYachov said...

That's the problem with these discussions. People are talking past each other since we don't have an agreed on terminology.

I've seen the term "Theodicy" used in Thomist thought but in those cases is broadly means justification for belief in God.

In the modern sense "Theodicy" means the moral justification for a morally good God allowing evil.

This difficuly arsed when two theists talk it triples when it's Atheist to Theist.

testinganidea said...

Ben,

Thank you for your comments; they caused me to reexamine my last posts and see them differently.

I did not intend to tell Patrick to stop examining, evaluating and incorporating new arguments and evidence into his belief system. That is something that I do personally and I hope others do as well.

My point was that Patrick should rebalance his likelihoods to better reflect his actual situation prior to getting the next piece of evidence. I suggest that his current position should have the likelihood of evil god and good god at about the same level (such as both 8 or evil god 1, good god 2) as his current state of knowledge does not justify a large difference.

I understand that my Bayesian approach to the EGC colors my view. That said, I can and do expect new evidence to potential change Patrick's ratings but I also expect that until that evidence is evaluated his current background knowledge should be evaluated consistently.

I also did not intend to imply that I thought the EGC was a knockout argument (even when restricted to personal theism and empirical evidence). I think this is still to be shown and I look forward to Dr. Law's follow-on paper. I do however find it can highlight hidden assumptions, special pleading and the gap between "a creator exists" and "that creator is my god".

Finally, I was unfair to Michael R who claimed only that the trinity was consistent with the required multiple personalities not that the trinity was required or proved by his approach as I thought on my first reading.

testinganidea said...

Patrick,

“If such a God exists why would he allow the spread of a book claiming to be his revelation that promotes as its most important commandments to love God and to love of one’s neighbour and that holds out the prospect of punishment in the afterlife for evil behaviour?"

Four (of many more) possible reasons:

1- He wants to crate sectarian divides among mankind so he seeds the earth with multiple “revelations” to love and obey different gods knowing how ingroup / outgroup behavior will unfold

2- Getting gullible humans to believe they are saved by doing a small amount of good for a short lifetime makes the eternal punishment they face all the more evil

3- He knows the guilt and personal torment that will ensue when true believers fail to love our neighbor and avoid evil and as a result fear being condemned for all time

4- Evil god move in mysterious ways, who are we to judge his motives

“Why do miracle claims connected to this book seem to have better evidence than other miracle claims?”

Evil god causes each group to feel that their miracle claims are the best supported

“Why is it that good can exist without evil, but not evil without good?”

I have not accepted this assertion as I believe you have provided no evidence other than most people believe this which even if true, we both agree, proves nothing. As you stated this may imply there is something behind their rational but at this time it is as likely to be cultural bias as rational thought. The only worlds we know of have both good and evil.

Edward T. Babinski said...

EVIL GOD CARTOON!

http://chaospet.com/2012/02/23/224-god-is-hate/

BenYachov said...

testinganidea you have renewed my faith(pun intended) in the existence of rational Atheists of good will.

Peace.

testinganidea said...

Ben,

Thank you for the complement it is appreciated. I also appreciated the role you played here as I am certain I would have struggled to frame my question for Dr. Law without the clarity of argument and attention to using terms consistently that I found in your post prior to my joining in. (not to mention you calling him out which may have prodded him a bit though I like to think he would have responded regardless)

Regards

Anonymous said...

Let each individual take a sheet of paper and draw a line across it. Making the end furthest right consummate good, and that furthest left extreme evil. Next list a number of acts, while every participant marks its correct location on that standard scale.
Now, will any two of those evaluation sheets match up? If not, then who is it that claims to know good from evil?
We can pursue that which acts to eradicate us from the universe. Or we can pursue that which acts to conserve our kind. The rest is irrelevant.

When I dream I accept that experience as reality. No matter how preposterous it may be. When awake I have another experience. Which I may compare with my dream state to expose contractions. However I can never ‘wake’ from this second state, to secure one more means for correlation. I am cocooned in a unique rendition of questionable prominence. Which if unaware of, I may easily mistake for that actual reality I am not constructed to experience first hand.

grubvallance said...

There is no possible galaxy where the regulations of sense and non-contradiction apply that can even get this disagreement off the earth for me.

auto accident lawyer milwaukee

Robin Hoot said...


Your EG hypothesis and its alleged refutation are based on the assumption that this is the only world we are destined to live in.

However, according to the different theistic world-views, this world is perceived as a preliminary test or trial, and what is seen at stake is each individual's own morality through which he/she passes or fails the current test.

Therefore any claim as to God's moral character based on empirical observation in this world seems to be false, or at least it rests on an inadequate and insufficient premise that can be accepted as "true" only by a naturalist/materialist.

Free will is the key that the EG hypothesis primarily disregards. Free will is the freedom of each of us to choose between morally good or bad intentions/acts, which definitely reduces this world from it best potential to a much lower degree.
In this world to make the right choice is particularly demanding, because in many cases we find that those who are morally good, or at least refrain from intentional evil acts, are often subjected to suffering, and most often they become the victims of those who deliberately choose, justify and carry out evil deeds.

The high probability of suffering in this world from such perspective is very different from the Buddhist view, which actually does not worship any God at all, either personal or non-personal.

Theistic views are different because they claim that there are other worlds where those will live who have made the moral choice on the side of goodness (humility, loving kindness, justice, compassion, tolerance, mercifulness, etc) even if their choice inflict suffering caused by the evil-doers.

On a side note, it is a myth that Christianity is an immoral world-view. The original Christian world-view is represented by Christ and through his character, which manifests God's moral perfection. He himself rejected and revised the morally imperfect claims of the Old Testament.
He, as a human had to suffer by those who hated his moral goodness and preferred a world ruled by their evil deeds instead.

Another note: I am coming from an agnostic position, therefore my comment is not meant to be a means to proselytize.

Robin Hoot said...


Your EG hypothesis and its alleged refutation are based on the assumption that this is the only world we are destined to live in.

However, according to the different theistic world-views, this world is perceived as a preliminary test or trial, and what is seen at stake is each individual's own morality through which he/she passes or fails the current test.

Therefore any claim as to God's moral character based on empirical observation in this world seems to be false, or at least it rests on an inadequate and insufficient premise that can be accepted as "true" only by a naturalist/materialist.

Free will is the key that the EG hypothesis primarily disregards. Free will is the freedom of each of us to choose between morally good or bad intentions/acts, which definitely reduces this world from it best potential to a much lower degree.
In this world to make the right choice is particularly demanding, because in many cases we find that those who are morally good, or at least refrain from intentional evil acts, are often subjected to suffering, and most often they become the victims of those who deliberately choose, justify and carry out evil deeds.

The high probability of suffering in this world from such perspective is very different from the Buddhist view, which actually does not worship any God at all, either personal or non-personal.

Theistic views are different because they claim that there are other worlds where those will live who have made the moral choice on the side of goodness (humility, loving kindness, justice, compassion, tolerance, mercifulness, etc) even if their choice inflict suffering caused by the evil-doers.

On a side note, it is a myth that Christianity is an immoral world-view. The original Christian world-view is represented by Christ and through his character, which manifests God's moral perfection. He himself rejected and revised the morally imperfect claims of the Old Testament.
He, as a human had to suffer by those who hated his moral goodness and preferred a world ruled by their evil deeds instead.

Another note: I am coming from an agnostic position, therefore my comment is not meant to be a means to proselytize.

Anonymous said...

I was about to leave a comment but am too frightened for fear of being caught in the crossfire of dr stephen, ben, djindra, mr spam and testinganidea. I don't want to die. not in my lifetime. However, bless you all.

cowardly anonymous.

Anonymous said...

Well this one's easy.


It is more reasonable to conclude that God is good based on His creative abilities. ie. God instituted and uphold moral goodness as the foundation for all things known.